Plutarchy and other tales.
1925 I was 14 years old and lived in Toulon. One day, while I was out for
a walk, I saw an ad of a talk on «The role of bankers in society».
The conference hall was full of gentlemen with long beards. The lecturer
was Horace Finaly, the chairman of the Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas.
During the discussion which followed I asked to speak. To the surprise
of everybody, Finaly said he would meet me personally at the end of the
As a result of this chance we established a special friendship. During
14 years we regularly met in his Paris home. He was a highly cultivated
person and influential. He was of Jewish descent and had been born in Budapest
in 1871. He had succeeded his father, Hugo, at the head of the Banque de
Paris et des Pays Bas, one of the most important banks of the time.
In one of the meetings something of primary importance took place,
which occured in my restless and daring 18 years of age. The meeting was
in his office at half past eight in the evening. On arrival a kindly manservant
told me that Mr. Finaly could not see me immediately because he had an
important meeting, but he asked me to wait for him in his library.
At first I kept busy going through some books. Then I sat at his
table and casually found that some drawers were open. The remorse which
I felt at the bottom of my soul did not stop me from going through the
drawers. It was all very orderly, in well-marked folders, all of them extremely
interesting. Being a cunning teenager, I cautiously kept the order of the
folders. At the bottom of the very last drawer I found a folder with the
word «Confidential» on it. Drawn by my curiosity, I read its
contents without really understanding much of it. It was the report of
an important meeting held in Paris in 1919. I remember that the exclusive
participants at the meeting had been J.J. Morgan (Morgan Bank), Sir H.
Deterding (Royal Dutch/Shell), and Finaly as the host. They had been alone
in the meeting, but they had repeatedly sent for different experts to have
their explanations. What I found most interesting was the final abstract.
It contained two points and one conclusion:
First point. According to the experts, but also according
to the general opinion of the great economists of before and during the
1914 war, the gold reserves were only allowed to cover the war expenses
during three months. To overcome this difficulty, international bankers
-such as they were- had suggested to the governments at war to forsake
the convertibility to gold of their respective paper money, at least inside
Second point. If paper money, cut off from gold, which had been proclaimed
and carried out during the war, was «rationalized» at the end
of it, it would allow international bankers and the heads of the leading
classes -according to the experts- to earn more money than with the uninformative
and anonymous currency which had been the dominant one up until then (and
up until today).
Conclusion. The decision was that they were not interested in rationalizing
the more common irrational paper money because they already had enough
money, and the irrational paper money allowed the (foul) play of the world
While I was thinking, engrossed in the document I had just read in my
hands, I received a terrible blow which sent me to the floor. For a moment
I did not know what had happened, then Finaly, changing his attitude, kindly
helped me to get up and begged my pardon. He showed me I had been tactless
by knowing that he trusted me by leaving me alone in his library while
his drawers were open. He told me that not even one of his servants would
have dared do what I had done (I doubt it, but surely he had more spies
in other peoples' houses than the other way round).
After this accident we had dinner. Nobody knew of Finaly's sharp
reaction. During dinner he asked me what I had understood of the report.
I told him that almost nothing.
-«The word which most attracted my attention is 'plutarchy'».
-«Little by little I shall explain it to you,»- he said.
That day he did not explain anything. Afterwards he yielded to the temptation
to open his mind to me on these intoxicating matters. He took pleasure
in opening up his most hidden mind to a thirsty teenager who, with a dark
intuition, had guessed the importance of a knowledge which was being kept
secret by this «superior caste» of great bankers.
Together with the bank secrets, he transmitted to me elements of
Plato's unwritten tradition. One of them concerned Plato's attempts at
Siracusa to re-establish a personalized-documented currency, and how he
had failed because of the shortage of enough slaves-scribes to take note
of all the operations. According to Finaly, in his travels through the
Mediterranean Plato had discovered the existence of a Golden Age, where
the currency was not gold or silver and where there was peace and a responsible
All these revelations perplexed me. Was it possible and feasible
to have a rationalized currency, to be the accounting mirror of every sale-purchase?
Before gold and silver appeared on the stage, had there been some other
sort of non-anonymous and informative currency? Could the type of currency
help or avoid wars to happen? Was it true that a few influential men -international
bankers and business men-decided the fate of millions of peoples beyond
what politicias could do?.
With these questions in my mind, only partially expressed, years
went by. One day, in 1939, I was late at our meeting and Finaly could not
see me. I never saw him again. The war took him to the U.S.A. Some years
later I learned that he died in New York in 1945.
Some of these questions became dramatically important with those
years' events. In September 1936, in Barcelona, just one month after the
military revolt, Abad de Santillán, a CNT leader, told me: «We
have already lost the war and revolution because we were unable, from the
very beginning, to control currency and bank as instruments at the service
of the people: we thought that weapons and violence were everything!»
These words confirmed those of another important CNT leader, Mariano Vazquez,
who admitted: «During twenty years we have been preparing to get
the moon, and now that we have it we do not know what to do. We have studied
and practiced all the paths of revolution, but not the paths to know what
to do with the unfettered control revolution has given us.» Strangely
enough, these conversations led me to the same conclusions which had sprung
from the long conversations with banker Finaly.
With these keys to interpretation and with these doubts, research
became both thrilling and arduous. Forty years went until new data helped
me to guess that the bold affirmations made by Finaly on a different sort
of currency, personalized and informative, were not only technically feasible,
but that a monetary system of this sort had already existed before the
use of anonymous gold and silver currencies.
In August 1978 in the magazine «Investigación y Ciencia»
there appeared an article on «El primer antecedente
de la escritura» (The Earliest Precursor of Writing) showing a
new outlook on the working of the towns of Western Asia in the period going
from the ninth to the second millennium before the Christian era. It discussed
the discovery of a complex system of tokens and clay records which allowed
markets to work in an area which went from the Caspian Sea to Khartum and
from the Indus to the Mediterranean. This surprising study apparently confirmed
Plato's hypotheses on a Golden Age without wars and with a type of liable
exchange instruments without an intrinsic value.
Strangely enough, this discovery allowed to work out a bold hypothesis
on the origin of «history» and of imperialisms. History started
officially with the introduction of writing, that is just when the Sumerian
tablets were introduced. According to the researcher, the tablets were
an evolution of the previous system of records and tokens. Evolution ended
with this system. All the above happened approximately when Sargon I, king
of Akkad, became in a few years the head of the first historic imperialism,
conquering -we do not know how- many of the small walled towns which, along
7,000 years, had been independent. And exactly at that moment started to
appear the use of precious metals as an accepted currencie thanks to the
invention of precision scales, the toughstone and aqua regia, which allowed
to measure quantities and qualities.
Couldn't all this information suggest that there was a direct relationship
between peace-empire-responsible currency (which lasted 7,000 years) and
between war-imperialism-anonymous currency (for the last 4,500 years)?.
The other fact, with views to the future, was the quick expansion
of electronic and telematic systems in the field of money. In 1920 it was
not technically feasible to substitute banknotes and coins for rational
currency (cheque-invoices). But through the introduction of electronic
payment systems, not only did feasibility became total, but monetics (electronic
money) meant a progressive reduction in the use of paper money and in the
conception of currency as a «third commodity».
Historic research and technical research started to back up the intuitions
which had been held for many years.
The Spanish political transition confirmed the importance of having
available very precise and powerful tools, able to supply the ideals of
social transformation with something more than free manifestations or elections.
The disillusionment produced by politics is the price we are paying for
not having learnt from most revolutions and social changes that those who
really have power allow «everything to change so that everything
carries on as always».
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà.