As We Forgive Our Debtors
By MICHAEL DICKINSON
Money, which has hitherto been the root, if not of all evil, of great injustice, oppression, and misery to the human race, making some slavish producers of wealth, and others its wasteful consumers or destroyers, will be no longer required to carry on the business of life: for as wealth of all kinds will be so delightfully created in greater abundance than will ever be required, no money price will be known, for happiness will not be purchasable, except by a reciprocity of good actions and kind feelings.
Robert Owen, Book of the New Moral World, 1842-4
At least half a million protesters are expected to march in the streets of Edinburgh on July 2nd, demanding that world leaders gathering for their G8 summit meeting there comply with demands raised by global movement Make Poverty History. Demonstrations will continue through the week.
The UK lobby group, comprising a wide cross section of nearly 400 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups and celebrities, are demanding debt cancellation to poor (mostly African) nations, the doubling of aid, and trade justice.
Speaking at a Make Poverty History rally in London's Trafalgar Square earlier this year, Nelson Mandela said:
"The G8 leaders, when they meet in Scotland in July, have already promised to focus on the issue of poverty, especially in Africa. I say to all those leaders: do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.
"Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.
"Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up."
He also said: "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."
By abolishing money, perhaps? That isn't natural, either. Wouldn't that be the best solution in the world?
Because even Make Poverty History admits it's not going to actually make poverty history. Along with Bob Geldof's pop pressure group Live 8, they are merely reminding world powers to do what they had already promised to do when they endorsed the Millenium Development Agreement in the year 2000 to cut by half the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day by 2015 - ten years from now. This would slowly wipe away only the worst instances of poverty and starvation in the world today, giving the afflicted the bare essentials of life and just enough food to stop them from dying. That goal achieved would still leave hundreds of millions of others still living below the one-dollar threshold.
Poverty and inequality would still be rampant. New challenging arguments for effective change demand to be examined.
It's 2015. The lucky half finally gets their dollar a day. Hip hip hooray! In the meantime prices have rocketed, and as the ungrateful recipients point out, they can't eat money. It doesn't taste nice. Can't we have food instead?
The gap between rich and poor is immense. The richest fifth of the world population has approximately 75 times the wealth of the poorest fifth.
More than 1.0 billion people in developing countries lack access to safe water. Every year more than 10 million children die of preventable illnesses. More than 500,000 women a year die in pregnancy and childbirth, with such death 100 times more likely in Sub-Saharan Africa. Around the world 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 39 million of them in developing countries. Tuberculosis remains the leading infectious killer of adults, causing up to 2 million deaths a year. Malaria deaths, now 1 million a year, could double in the next 20 years.
"Oh, it would cost too much to eradicate these problems just like that!" say our leaders. "Give to charities! Do your bit, and we'll get there one day!" Instead of saving lives and bettering the existence of others with their money, the British and American governments, for example, prefer to spend billions every month on weapons of war and on their illegal occupation of Iraq, a bloody fiasco which has caused the deaths of countless thousands.
Capitalism just 'aint fair. It's a system of inequality and injustice; it fosters division and hatred, and it's dominated by the big corporations which in turn dominate our govenments with the powerful influence of their cash.
Money is God, and every day countless victims are sacrificed upon its altar, slain to appease the unquenchable thirst for profit.
It's not only our friends from the third world who suffer under the tyrannous suzerainty of Money. The poor in the developed world hardly get off lightly. Mass unemployment, living off welfare, crap housing, crap education, lousy second rate health care, struggling to pay the bills which arrive with sickening regularity month after month after month until it's finally time for the funeral oops! Did you remember to pay for that?
Meanwhile, as the poor suffer their life of drudgery, the lifestyle of the rich is flaunted in their faces; the mansions and automobiles, hairdressers and health spas, the laughing parties, the drinking and feasting; free from care, 'cos they got it, and you'aint.
Things have change little since D.H. Lawrence wrote this poem in 1929:
Money is our madness, our vast collective madness.
And of course, if the multitude is mad
the individual carries his own grain of insanity around with him.
I doubt if any man living hands out a pound note without a pang;
and a real tremor, if he hands out a ten-pound note.
We quail, money makes us quail.
It has got us down; we grovel before it in strange terror.
And no wonder, for money has a fearful cruel power among men.
But it is not money we are so terrified of,
it is the collective money-madness of mankind.
For mankind says with one voice: How much is he worth?
Has he no money? Then let him eat dirt, and go cold. --
And if I have no money, they will give me a little bread so I do not die,
but they will make me eat dirt with it.
I shall have to eat dirt, I shall have to eat dirt
if I have no money. It is that that I am frightened of.
And that fear can become a delirium.
It is fear of my money-mad fellow-men.
We must have some money
to save us from eating dirt.
And this is all wrong.
Bread should be free,
shelter should be free,
fire should be free
to all and anybody, all and anybody, all over the world.
We must regain our sanity about money
before we start killing one another about it.
It's one thing or the other.
D. H. Lawrence, Pansies, 1929
Slaves and prostitutes...that's we all are under the capitalist system and money is a kind of syphilis that infects all who come in contact with it. A nasty disease that spreads pride, envy, anger, avarice, sadness, gluttony and lust the seven deadly sins on tap in one clever human creation Money!
Poverty, misery, corruption and waste will never cease as long as we remain under the thrall of the filthy lucre. It's time to grab the golden calf by the horns and topple it. Let's think about doing away with money!
Start by making a list of all those occupations in which millions of people are enslaved at the moment, performing jobs which would become entirely useless in a moneyless world, not the slightest good to anybody. That would include everything to do with costing and selling:
Bankers, bookkeepers, accountants, cashiers, salesmen, customs officers, security guards, locksmiths, wages clerks, tax assessors, advertising men, stockbrokers, insurance agents, ticket punchers, slot machine emptiers, industrial spies all of these would go for a start. Other occupations harmful to humanity such as the manufacture of pesticides, food additives and armaments would also be obsolete. Everybody working in these jobs would be redundant. But it wouldn't matter a bit, because they wouldn't have to worry about paying bills. There wouldn't be any. No money no bills. Relax!
Some jobs would of course still be necessary in the new moneyless society. Essential services like food production and distribution, waste disposal, furniture and clothing manufacture, but with so many freed workers available to do them, as well as modern technology and robots, working hours would be at a minimum and people would be able to devote most of their time to pastimes, education, the arts, music, sport, science whatever they liked.
Everything would be free (there is more than plenty even now!), and everybody would work for free willingly. When you wanted something you'd go get it from the Free Mall, or call and ask for the service.
"Give to him that asketh, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away," would be the norm, and in may ways this moneyless world is the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth which Jesus advocated in his Sermon on the Mount; the rightful reward for the meek and poor in spirit, where there will be no need to worry about what we shall eat or what we shall drink or wherewithal we shall be clothed.
Once the free and just moneyless world (the kingdom of Heaven) is established, "all these things shall be added unto you." They that mourn shall be comforted, and they which hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.
"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon (money)," Jesus said, so let's opt for the former, by serving each other. You don't even need faith in a supernatural creator to see the righteousness in the only real law necessary - "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Anyway, in the new society Mammon will be extinct.
The ancient Babylonians called gold 'the shit of hell'. Jesus didn't like money either. Remember how he tipped over the tables of the money-lenders in the temple, condemning them as a bunch of thieves? It's time for us to turn the tables on the system.
The environmental crisis which looms over the entire world today and threatens our future is a result of capitalist activities and will only become worse if we let them continue. Finding a new fair way of managing things is of paramount importance. We all share this single planet earth, and we'd better start thinking globally, or the human race is doomed!
Is it insane to question whether money is a sensible social institution? It's not all that long ago that it was considered heresy to question whether the earth was really flat.
John Lennon's 'Imagine' was voted the number one song of the last millennium, suggesting there are more than a few 'dreamers' out there. If you're one of them, why not share your ideas? Talk about the ideal society that the world might have; discuss, argue, plan - in pubs, cafes, schools, churches, temples and mosques; even at work! Let's make poverty history for definite. Abolish money!
MICHAEL DICKINSON is a writer and artist who works as an English teacher in Istanbul, Turkey. He designed the cover art for two CounterPunch books, Serpents in the Garden and Dime's Worth of Difference, as well as Grand Theft Pentagon, forthcoming from Common Courage Press. He can be contacted at www.stuckism.com, where collages from his recently banned website can be seen.
"You've got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?"
Happy Talk (from 'South Pacific')