The Public vs. Private Dialectic, or: Money as Part of the Commons
Source: Real Currencies
by Anthony Migchels on July 19, 2013
It’s a given that state money is better than money provided by private bankers. But ultimately, private monopoly and the state are competitors for power, and both are a threat to the individual and the commonwealth. Transcending a dialectic does not mean choosing sides: it means addressing the issues both forces have in common. Like materialism and the concentration of power.
Surely it’s a no-brainer to say that the government at this stage must urgently retake the monopoly on currency from the money power. To service its national debt, the US Government pays $450 billion per year in interest payments to international banks and to other governments. With the BIS now openly calling for higher interest rates, it will quickly get much worse. Government money allows for a reasonable financing of the state and is the very least monetary reform should aim for.
But to say something is better is not to say something is ideal. And government money can be designed in good and bad ways. The good ways decentralize power, the bad ways centralize power. Usurious public banking ends interest payments on the national debt, but continues interest-slavery for the many and keeps capital scarce and expensive for small business.
Interest-free public banks would be much better, as they would completely end the uncanny power centralization through usury. But it would still mean that technocrats would decide who would be financed and who not, meaning technocrats would decide the direction in which society develops. It’s also not clear whether government would really properly manage the volume of money. Both inflation and too-scarce money would be risks.
How should government be organized?
At this point, it seems fair to say that there is no known reasonable way of organizing state power.
Democracy has failed and has been exposed as a pleasant curtain to hide behind for the monied classes. According to the Protocols, it has given them ‘the power of appointment’: they just put some of their useful idiots in front of the public to choose between.
They describe how they want to give everyone a vote, both to dilute the vote of those actually knowing what they talk about and to be able to say: ‘you wanted this, you voted for it’.
Voting is not a ‘right’: it’s a sacred responsibility and it should be left to the competent. And who are the competent? God only knows. I’d say, let only 50+ year old heads of households vote. But perhaps 60+ is better.
Because of democracy’s denouement, some call for more autocratic methods: monarchy, or even fascism. But a strong leader is grand, as long as he is strong. A monarchy thrives with a good king, but history shows they are far from the norm.
In short: it’s not clear how government must be run, and automatically assuming that public is better is risky without a clear-cut appraisal of the who, what and how of government.
For sure, a mountain is not built top-down, and we need models of self-governance.
Furthermore, behind the public vs. private dialectic, there are bigger questions. For instance: what drives people?
Part of the dialectic is the fact that ‘private’ is associated with the profit motive, and ‘public’ with the public interest.
But both are wrong.
It’s a disgrace that economic theory promotes the despicable lie that people are solely driven by ‘self-interest’ – by profit. This is an utterly materialistic world view and one of the key lies upon which the whole house of cards is built.
Memehunter’s ‘The Satanic Core of Libertarianism’ explores how Mandeville’s The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits ‘pointed out that self-interest and the desire for material well-being, commonly stigmatized as vices, are in fact the incentives whose operation makes for welfare, prosperity, and civilization’ (Mises).
Keynes and the libertarians eulogized it. It provides the rationale to claim ‘greed is good’, because Mandeville created the illusion that ultimately, society is served when individuals relentlessly seek self-interest.
Public workers, on the other hand, are supposed to serve the public interest. They don’t. They serve the interests of the state. The state is not the commonwealth! It is not the sovereign. But historically it has always usurped sovereignty. So the state does not serve the public interest. It serves private interests: its own. That of its workers. And, of course, that of those bribing the politicians and civil servants.
It’s not black and white: the public gets something in return for putting up with the insolence of office. But the point is clear.
Both public and private workers serve other aims than the public interest; these aims and the paradigms associated with these aims are materialistic in nature.
For true liberation for mankind, we need to get rid of this materialistic outlook – the notion that there can be such a thing as ‘private interests’.
There is no permanent happiness in private gain. Private gain creates the fear of loss. The great joy of mankind is in service of both each other and the One. Both within the family and in the world.
Rudolf Steiner said that a society can only thrive if people are willing to give away the added value of their production to society. Jesus said to give away everything to follow Him. We can own anything that furthers the kingdom of heaven, as long as it does so. No more, no longer and not as a goal in itself. The great paradox of this is, of course, that we would all live in far greater abundance and security.
Altruism is truly enlightened selfishness and not that stupid great satanic turnaround we are brainwashed with.
Of course, this always was and remains a radical proposition. Many will not agree. Others will say it’s a nice idea, but it’s certainly not what we have now.
And since it certainly is true that our current ways are very different, we must be careful of power centralization in either public or private hands.
All this may sound ‘philosophical’ or ‘idealistic’ or even irrelevant, but ultimately it’s fundamental to the entire equation. We as a species will either have to move on and start living more from this mindset, or continue to put up with the selfishness of bureaucracy and the cruel banality of the ‘market’.
Perhaps the simplest thing to say is that money is part of the commons – like water, air and land.
We see how the transnationals are now attacking water as part of the commons. Water is ‘not a human right’. Land has long ago been privatized. But land and monetary reform are in many respects the same fight, and we can add water to the equation too.
Money has never been fully appreciated as an intrinsic part of the commons, because so few people actually realized that the nature of money was something we could think about. And those who did were mostly led astray by the silly ‘theories’ the money power keeps inventing.
The rape of the commons, of our human heritage, must end. We must reclaim what rightfully belongs to us. Why are we paying rents on land and money and soon water, to ancient families, corporations and governments?
Instead of benefiting from our fair share, we’re simply exchanging ever more of our labor for it. This is invisible slavery to artificial scarcity.
The commons by nature should serve the individual, families, tribes and the commonwealth; no one can own them or exploit them for their own purposes.
The commons are public and they must be exploited in the public interest, meaning they provide all commoners equitable access to their fair share.
When we look at monetary reform, we want interest-free, stable money. We need local communities to be able to have a say in where the money is going to. We need equitable individual sovereign access to capital.
This is what it means to optimally exploit money as part of the commons in the mutual interest of all individuals.
Relating to the public vs. private issue, this means that private entities can never ‘own’ the commons. That kind of ‘private’ is not appropriate and is to be rejected.
The commons are, or should be, owned by none. Not by the government, nor by private interests. Government perhaps has a mandate to protect the commons from private usurpation. But that is not ownership.
Exploitation of the commons in the interest of the commoners can be done by both private and public entities. Private entities don’t automatically serve private interests, nor do public entities automatically serve public interests. They should have a clear charter explaining their goals: low-cost water, land or money services to the commoner.
Both have their place and their own problems. Bureaucrats love rules; businessmen love cutting costs, often hurting quality. They like rents. Both will continue to try to grab control beyond their needs.
Ultimately, the commoner needs to know his rights and duties. The money power’s mind controllers have a great grip on our collective consciousness. It remains a great challenge coming to terms with all of this.
Money is part of the commons. This is what I suggest is behind the public vs. private dialectic.
There’s a great struggle going on in which the money power is privatizing more and more of the commons. Land was robbed from the commoner long ago, and nowadays the pirates are after water.
But in reality, the commons cannot really be privatized. For instance: land should be reasonably made available to the commoner. This is the basis of Henry George’s work.
Money never was a conscious part of the commons, as most people didn’t realize it was possible to even consider its nature, let alone come to sound conclusions. But its crucial importance – the very fact that it depends, for its existence, on the agreement of those using it – makes it part of the commons.
The question is how to manage the commons. Practice shows that having the government do it leads to problems. The government takes rents, centralizes power and is usually just a big &^%$%^&$# to deal with, especially for the less credulous.
It’s usually certainly better than private ownership of the commons or control for profit. But to firmly entrench money power in the commons, we need to look beyond government and rationally look at what role private market players have to play in providing the necessary services to the commoner.
Because everything that centralizes power in the hands of the state will simply empower Leviathan. And Leviathan will always look to turn against its master.