Chapter 2. Subtle weapon.
Relationships among individuals, nations and societies grow or
dwindle, are balanced or unbalanced, become just or are perverted with,
in, and for currency.
The traitor and the murderer is paid with a coin, and with the same
coin we buy food and pay the labourer. We try to win the elections with
some banknotes and with the same banknotes the winner is subtly subdued.
We work, steal, invest, destroy, wars are made and peace is signed, we
love and we hate, all for money.
It is no big news that everything is done with and for
currency. Every day our experience and most of the media-news are impregnated
with «economic interests» and «profit motives»
which function more or less legally or rightly.
But there is another aspect of which generally little is known: in
itself currency works miracles or disasters. Its abundance or shortage
cause inflation or deflation, growth of production and consumption, or
the shutdown of factories.
How is currency invented? That is an important question. How is currency
created or destroyed? What relationship is there between currency and inflation?
These subjects are full of mystery. Everybody knows that in every state
there is a body which issues currency (coins and notes). But also everybody
experiences being able to move lots of money by means of cheques, credit
cards and current accounts, without ever seeing the corresponding banknotes.
The whole matter is very complex, and in order not to get confused we
shall leave it for a later chapter (chapter 7).
At present, we only need to remember that when banks grant a credit, they
are «inventing money». And that in our Western societies paper
money does not represent over a 10 per cent of the money which is moved
every year. It only increases when black money enters the scene. «The
hoarding of cash in Spain by those who want to evade tax paying, and the
expansion of hidden economy, with a greater number of cash operations,
are the cause for the increase of the amount of banknotes and coins in
the hands of individuals and companies [...] from 2.300 billion pesetas
in 1987 to 4.400 billion in 19911».
What we should do, is be aware that the mysteries concerning currency
come from afar, and that those who know them, use them as a subtle weapon,
wrapped in rites, incense and marble. It is a very powerful weapon and,
at the same time, completely unknown to the people, who suffer the consequences
without knowing it.
We suffer a number of problems that are difficult to understand and,
therefore, even more difficult to solve.. For example, how is it possible
for monetary inflation to be so difficult to control? How is it possible
that without an apparent benefit for anybody, there is a crisis of overproduction
-surpluses- and at the same time there are millions condemned to destitution
Reading the Bible may bring us comfort in times of despair. The following
choice of texts from the Bible and most of the comments are by Lluis M.
Let us take chapter 41 of the Book of Genesis.
Versicle 44. «Pharaoh told Joseph: I am the pharaoh,
but without your permission nobody shall lift a hand or a foot in the whole
country of Egypt».
This is probably the most authentic nucleus, dated about 1700 before the
Christian era, around which a late writer wove the story of Joseph and
his brothers. The story makes reference to the time when Egypt was invaded
by the shepherd peoples, the Hyksos, who were mainly semitic. We know that
in this period there was a pharaoh named Joseph-el and another one Jacob-el.
The writer feigns that Joseph is a lieutenant of the Pharaoh, because Egypt,
for the Jews, was a place of debauchery. It was not edifying that a Pharaoh
of Egypt was a Jew. But it is necessary to praise Joseph's «wisdom»
as a statesman. The story shows clearly that the State is not the servant
of the «common good», but defends superprivate goods: those
of the dominating lineage or group. Joseph, apparently the lieutenant of
the Pharaoh, is actually a real «central banker» who, while
promoting the growth of the «central bank», will collect his
commissions behind the Pharaoh's back.
Versicle 46. «After that, Joseph went out of the
presence of Pharaoh and travelled through the whole country of Egypt».
Joseph, who is intelligent, does not let himself be carried away by presumptions
or idealisms, which is frequently the result of the intoxication of power.
His head is clear. He looks for information, probably poorly quantified
because the anonymous metal currency was already in force, but intuitively
he discovers the spectacular increase of production. Or, he maliciously
generates excess production and restrains the circulation of the new currency
(he creates subconsumption).
Versicle 47. «During the seven years of plenty
the land produced profusely».
The situation of spontaneous overproduction or of provoked infracapacity
of purchase describes a clear deflationary situation: there is more production
Versicle 48. «And he put together all the foodstuffs
of the seven years of plenty which were in the country of Egypt, and he
put the foodstuffs away in the towns, depositing in each one the food coming
from the surrounding countryside».
We see here the picture of the pharaoh's imperialism over all the polis
(in Egypt they were called nomos). We observe also that every polis
controlled a farming «district» that was the centre of the
The temple in every polis was the storage place for all the produce
from the countryside. A good example of this function is, among others,
the magnificent warehouse-temple of Cnossos, the centre of the island of
Versicle 49: «Joseph stored wheat as if it were
sand from the sea, in such quantities that they gave up counting it, as
it was beyond all measure».
It is possible that he did not collect wheat compulsively. He simply bought
it with invented money (the State is strong) by noting down a figure (acknowledgement
of debt) in the current accounts that each temple opened in the name of
the farmers of the land of the corresponding polis. It must be pointed
out that purchase was done, at a very low price because of the outrageous
deflation which «was being undergone». Therefore, in each current
account small amounts were noted, while wheat, on the contrary, could not
even be counted!
Genesis, chapter 47 (following previous chapter in the original).
Versicle 13: «There was no bread to be found in
the whole country, so extreme was the hunger. The country of Egypt and
that of Canaan were weakened by hunger».
The imperialism of Mesopotamic Semites appeared again in all its subtlety.
For the first time Canaan depended on Egypt. In this imperialist economic
area there appeared an inversion of the crisis, which was another crisis:
from deflation come a terrible inflation. The relationship between production
and purchasing power was reversed. Now there was no wheat and money was
useless. As a result, people died of starvation.
Versicle 14: «Joseph in the meantime collected
all the money available in the country of Egypt and in that of Canaan,
in exchange for the wheat which was being bought, and carried this money
to the pharaoh's house».
Now the «central bank» effected the opposite operation: to
withdraw money from circulation on the pretence that it produced inflation.
He sold wheat at rising prices, at an over-high price because of the outrageous
inflation which «was being born». In the current accounts of
people money had been noted on falling prices, and now it was being withdrawn
at rising prices: soon the available money was finished, and the people
had to give out the cash hidden «under the bed». However, up
to this point the whole operation perhaps was justified in order to neutralize
the runaway inflation!
Versicle 15: «When all the money of the country
of Egypt and of that of Canaan was finished, the whole of Egypt went to
Joseph and said: «Give us bread. Should we die in front of you because
we have no money left?».
Versicle 16: «Joseph said: 'Since you have no money left,
bring your cattle and I shall give you bread in exchange for your cattle'».
Versicle 17: «They therefore brought their cattle to Joseph
and he gave them bread in exchange for their horses, for their large and
small cattle, and for their donkeys. This is how, in exchange for all their
cattle he gave them bread that year».
This is how the State got hold of all the cattle of Egypt just giving out
bread, crumb by crumb. And this just by the sheer invention of money!
Versicle 18: «When that year was over, they met
him again the next year and they told him: 'We cannot conceal from our
Lord that money is gone and our cattle belongs to our Lord. Only our bodies
and our lands remain now at the disposal of our Lord'».
Versicle 19: «Should we die in your presence, together
with our land? Take us then, ourselves and our lands in exchange for bread:
we shall be slaves to the pharaoh, ourselves and our lands. But give us
seeds for sowing, so that we may live and we do not die, and our lands
do not become waste».
Versicle 20: «Therefore Joseph obtained for the pharaoh
all the lands of Egypt, as each of the Egyptians sold his field, so extreme
was hunger. And the lands became the property of the pharaoh».
Now the imperialist Egyptian State, thanks to its Minister of Economy,
takes hold of all the land. It is not a socialization of the land. The
land becomes the private property of the State, and, this time, not through
a right of conquest but through a legal purchase with invented money.
From elementary change to elementary change, from year to year, from
crisis to crisis, the people do not realize that everything is being taken
from them in a sort of infernal roulette. It is the same mechanism of «foreign
debt» which holds most of the empoverished countries of the world
through the process of expropriation.
Versicle 21: «And he submitted the people into
slavery from one end of Egypt to the other».
Finally the appropriation is consumed by reducing the whole people to slavery.
Slavery is one of the unmistakable signs of historic imperialisms. At first
they were war slaves, conquered slaves. Then came slavery for an economic
cause: those who cannot pay their debts. Finally appeared the plain hunt
of man by man in order to obtain plentiful labour.
Versicle 22: «The only land he did not get was
that of the priests, because they held an income from the pharaoh and they
lived on the income they received from the pharaoh. Therefore they did
not sell their lands».
the bottom of it all we discover the crux of the matter! How naïve
the Jewish chronicler is. The priests poor pensioners, live like retired
persons! Would they have died poor, had they sold their lands to live like
everybody else? Marx used to say that the State is not a public institution
at the service of the common good, but a private institution, apparently
public, at the service of the ruling class. Heads of State, ministers,
Administration, Army... they are all «poor» people at the service
of the ruling class, which is rarely seen. Things must be faced up by the
«poor» people «in command». Here, for a short time,
we have seen the bright, golden sun: the priest-bankers caste which stands
behind the great operation of Joseph and the pharaoh. They do not sell
their lands simply because they should have to sell them to themselves.
That's ridiculous! And their incomes were the «prudent percentages»
of the great appropriation which was taking place. What more do they want!
It is not accidental that Joseph's father-in-law was the priest of Heliopolis,
the centre of the sun cult which had a capital political role in Egypt.
Versicle 23: «Afterwards Joseph said to the people:
'Look, as from today I take you together with your lands for the pharaoh.
Here are the seeds, go on and sow your lands'».
Versicle 24: «'At harvest time you will give a fifth of
it to the pharaoh, while the other four parts will be for sowing the fields
and for feeding yourselves, your families and your children'».
Versicle 25: «They replied: 'You saved our lives. Let us
just find favour in the eyes of our Lord and we shall be slaves to the
For the State to give the impressions of a public imperial institution
at the service of the common good, the pharaoh is portrayed as a kind protector
of the people against starvation. The people, subjected to a tremendous
brainwashing, willingly accept slavery. It is the unfortunate complicity
of the oppressed with their oppressor.
Joseph maintains men and land together, because the land without men
or men without land are nothing.
An income of 20% yearly is a good income in those times of productive
slowness, as compared with our feverish times. The rest is used for the
seeds, irrigation works, feeding the oxen, the workers, the women producers
of workers, the future workers and the future women producers of workers
(sustenance economy). Present day tenant farmers in large areas of Catalonia
still pay a fifth to civil and ecclasiastic masters.
Versicle 26: «Joseph made a law, which is still
in force in our days, according to which a fifth of the land of Egypt belonged
to the pharaoh. Only the priests' lands did not belong to the pharaoh».
Plunder is legalized. In imperialism, law, like religion, always plays
the role of the concealer of pillage under the cloak of justice and stabilizer
of oppression with the force of law.
Only the priests were free, who were, as we know in the case of Ammon,
the ones who ruled over the pharaoh. They were extremely powerful and rich,
and nothing could be done without them. It was so extreme that they even
appointed the pharaohs.
Those distinguished banker-priests worked therefore with anonymous official
currency as far as the common people were concerned, and with the control
of the current accounts for the utilization of the invented accounting
currency. With their methods they jeopardized the wealth of the conquered
nations and of their people. They varied and alternated the inflationary
and deflationary crises through the simple recourse of inventing more or
less money. Through inflation they would devaluate, and through deflation
they would revalue the official currency without even touching the citizens'
wallets. The banker-priests would pay for the lavish ceremonies, bribed
the legislators, judges, rulers and soldiers. They entered into their chests
the money which had been earned with great effort and saved with sacrifice,
as a payment of credits made with invented currency.
If they had managed the production's plusvalue without appropriating
it, and devoting it to productive credits and communal financing, they
would have played a good historic role. But if this tale is more than a
«sacred text» or a «story» it is because it reveals
to us a very subtle oppressing class, able to create imbalances, not because
of the invention of money, nor because of the administration of invented
money, but because of the appropriation of surpluses, which become a sort
of «communal plusvalue», different from and possibly more important
than the «plusvalue» produced by work. Communal plusvalue should
revert to the whole of society. This hypothesis is very difficult to demonstrate
in a regime of anonymous and uninformative currency, both with respect
to reporting it and with respect to the practical possibility of setting
up a distribution system of the communal plusvalue. It is all too dark.
We have seen that in the exchange market the abstract
monetary units allow the exchange to take place face to face, at that
particular moment and in a balanced position. With the introduction of
the monetary instrument the market is modified: it becomes deferred
in space and time. And this happens whether it is a debt acknowledgement
entered in a current account, or if it is done taking gold pieces from
Human reality has been deeply altered with, in, or through monetary
instruments. Monetary instruments have become a subtle weapon. Henry Ford
had clear ideas about this: «whoever manages to solve the problem
of money, will have done more for humanity than the greatest strategists
through the ages3».
miedo al fisco dispara el acaparamiento de billetes», La Vanguardia,
Maria Xirinacs. «Tercera Via». 1983. This unpublished work
was the first overall compilation of Agustí Chalaux's contributions.
It has been the basis for the later development carried out in the collection
of file cards «Disseny de Civisme».
Nitsche (1970), «El dinero», Editorial Noguer S.A., Barcelona,
1971, p. 7.