The Mystery of Money – Beyond Greed and Scarcity | TOC – Introduction | Bernard Lietaer (2002)

Reproduced from: http://docs.banks-need-boundaries.net/en/Lietaer__Mystery_of_Money.pdf

The Mystery of Money  © Bernard Lietaer 2002

Published in German and 7 other languages under the title:
Mysterium Geld: Emotionale Bedeutung und Wirkungsweise eines Tabus
(Munich: Riemann Verlag, 2000)

Please do not reproduce more than three copies without permission from the author at blietaer@earthlink.net.

 The Mystery of Money
Beyond Greed and Scarcity

Copyright B. Lietaer
email: blietaer@earthlink.net


About the Author

Bernard Lietaer, one of the original architects of the European single currency, wrote “The Future of Money” and “The Mystery of Money” while a Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources at the University of California at Berkeley and a Visiting Professor in Archetypal Psychology at Sonoma State University, California.

He has been active in the domain of money systems for a period of 25 years in an unusual variety of functions. His first book (MIT Press 1969) developed new technologies for multinational corporations to manage multiple currency environments. He then moved to the other end of the spectrum by consulting to developing countries on how to improve their hard currency earnings.

Subsequently he became Professor of International Finance at the University of Louvain, the oldest university in his native Belgium, before moving on to become the top executive in charge of the Organization and Computer Departments at the Central Bank in Belgium. His first project in this capacity was to design and implement the single European currency system. During that period, he also served as President of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System, credited as the most comprehensive and cost effective payment system in the world.

Before starting work on his current book, Bernard co-founded one of the largest and most successful off-shore currency funds becoming its General Manager and Currency Trader. Business Week identified him as “the world’s top currency trader” in 1992.


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION 8

PART ONE: ARCHETYPES AND MONEY 13

Plan of Part One 13

Core Ideas of Part One 13

CHAPTER 1: THE LANGUAGE OF ARCHETYPES 16

Some Concepts of Collective Psychology 17

Archetypes 18

Shadows 20

Yin, Yang and Jung 21

The Shadow is not the enemy 25

A Map of the Human Psyche 26

CHAPTER 2: THE CASE OF THE MISSING ARCHETYPE 31

The Great Mother 32

The Great Mother Archetype and Early Money Systems 37

Defining Money 37

Cattle: the first working-capital asset 38

The ubiquitous Cowrie 42

Other “Primitive” Money 44

Some Early Coins 46

The Repression of the Great Mother 49

Indo-European Invasions 53

Mesopotamian Civilization 54

Greek Civilization 55

Judaism 56

Christianity 59

Protestantism 64

Male Heroism and the Repression of Feminine 64

Exceptions: Pockets of Historical Survival of the Great Mother cults 67

Monetary Consequences of the Repression of the Great Mother Archetype 69

CHAPTER 3: THE ARCHETYPAL HUMAN 71

Gender and Yin-Yang energies 72

The Archetypal Human and the Material World 76

Archetypal Five 78

The Shadows of the Archetypal Human 79

Shadow Resonance 81

Fear as common denominator 82

Conclusion 82

Testing the Map 83

PART TWO: EXPLORING MONEY SYSTEMS WITH ARCHETYPES 84

Plan of Part Two 84

CHAPTER 4: EXPLORING BOOMS AND BUSTS WITH THE MAGICIAN 91

The Boom-Bust phenomenon 92

Reactions by Authorities 95

Reactions by Economists 96

Economic Man 97

Denial 97

Economic Explanations 98

An Archetypal Approach 102

The Meaning of Myths 102

The Apollo-Dionysus Pair 103

The Relevance of the Apollo-Dionysus Myth for Today 113

CHAPTER 5: CASE STUDY OF THE CENTRAL MIDDLE AGES 116

A Money Connection 117

Medieval Demurrage 118

Egyptian Demurrage 120

So What? 122

The Trail of the Black Madonna 122

Why does She matter to us Today? 123

Esoterism vs. Exoterism 125

Why is She Black? 129

The Egyptian Connection 137

Economic Results in Medieval Europe 139

Europe’s First Renaissance 139

Demurrage-charged Money: the Invisible Engine? 144

Economic Expansion 147

Prosperity For All 148

A Renaissance for the People, by the People? 152

A Half-Renaissance for Women 154

The time of the Cathedrals 162

How the Music Stopped 167

The Backlash of 1300 168

Population impact 171

Demurrage Systems Abused 173

Centralized Authority 174

War and the Gunpowder Revolution 176

How Money Scarcity was created 178

Conclusion on An Unconscious Monetary Experiment 179

CHAPTER 6: CASE STUDY OF EGYPT 180

Egyptian demurrage 180

Egyptian Economy 182

The Isis Cult 187

Return to Our Core Thesis 189

The Status of Women in Egyptian Society 190

Marriage “Contracts” 191

Women’s Legal Status 192

Women’s Work 193

Women Rulers 195

A Greco-Roman Ending 197

Looking Back for what is Common between the two civilizations using demurrage currency 199

Relevance for Gender Relations 200

Relevance for Money Systems 201

Relevance for Today 201

An Agenda for Research 202

PART THREE: WHY NOW? 204

A Synthesis of the Relevant Concepts from “The Future of Money” 205

CHAPTER 7: EXPLORING CONTEMPORARY MONEY WITH THE GREAT MOTHER 208

A Short History of “Yang” Money Evolution 208

Commodity money: 209

Authority-Issued Standardized Coinage 209

“Fiat” Currency 210

Monetary Evolution on the Archetypal Map 210

The Archetypal Human and the National Money System 213

The National Money System as a Strong Yang construct 214

Consequences of the Repression of the Great Mother Archetype 214

Yang Shadow Resonance 214

Historical Origins: The Dark Middle Ages as an Emotional Imprint? 215

What kinds of emotional shifts are most relevant? 216

Calling Huizinga to the Witness Stand 217

Money as Information Replicator 228

Some Positive Effects 229

Some Pathological Consequences 229

Role of Money Systems in shaping societies 232

Back to the Future? 234

CHAPTER 8: WHERE ARE WE NOW? 239

Consciousness Evolution 240

Jean Gebser’s Work 240

Integrating Gebser into Archetypal Evolution 243

A Lesson from 30,000 years of Archetypal History 245

Where are We Now? 250

The Traditionalists 252

The Modernists 252

The Cultural Creative Subculture 254

The Cultural Creatives: A Global Shift? 258

Archetypal Mapping of the Subcultures 261

Recent Challenges to Modernism 263

Back to Money 265

The Meaning of Our Crisis 269

CHAPTER 9: OUR FUTURE, OUR MONEY 270

Updating the Archetypal Vocabulary 272

Holding Paradoxes 273

Money Outlook 273

EPILOGUE: A FUTURE TALE 275

APPENDIX A: A BRIEF GLOSSARY 283


Introduction

Why has money become such an influential force in the world today?

Why does it generate such powerful and polarized emotions in most individuals?

Collectively, why do supposedly rational financial markets periodically suffer from extraordinary irrational and destructive manias and crises?

The journey to which this book invites you will provide the key to understanding the core emotions that are implanted in our money system, and make it such a powerful compulsion in our societies. It is a journey inside our own heads, bringing to conscious awareness one of the last taboos of Western society: our money. Talking about a taboo is hazardous. Pointing to a society’s shadows is, by definition, risking to upset many people. Talking about emotions and archetypes in a book on money is unconventional. So why this book that deals with the taboo of money by exploring the collective emotions it generates?

To truly understand how money shapes society “out there”, we need to complete the circle and bring into the light how it connects “in here”, inside our own psyche. After all, that is where the engine that is driving it all is hiding.

In a previous book, The Future of Money1, I made the forecast that the Information Age is fundamentally changing not only the form of money (e.g. e-cash, smartcards, etc.), its geographical spread (the Euro), but also our very concept of money (who issues it, for what purposes, what emotional patterns it generates and what social behaviors it encourages). In fact, this has already started to happen, as over 4000 communities around the world have started creating their own local currency systems. These systems act not as a replacement, but as a complement to the conventional national currencies. People use them to address problems that conventional money has proven unsuccessful at resolving. Issues like community healing, creation of meaningful work, ecological sustainability, or elderly care in a rapidly graying society.

I concluded that – if the best models were implemented systematically – such monetary innovations could make “Sustainable Abundance” a reality within one generation on this planet. Sustainable Abundance was defined as a process that would provide humanity with the ability to flourish and grow materially, emotionally, and spiritually without squandering resources from the future. All the relevant concepts from The Future of Money will be synthesized later in the current book (introduction to Part Three).

However, one core question that remained open is: should these ongoing monetary innovations be dismissed as a short-term fad, or are they early signs of a fundamental shift in the nature of money? Why could we expect an essential change to occur now in the nature of money? The claim that the nature of money is radically changing may appear at first sight quite preposterous. After all, our money system has not undergone a fundamental change in many centuries.

Indeed, every modern society – independently of its cultural or political background – has accepted the current money system as self-evident. When the French or Russian Revolution overthrew the established order in their countries respectively in 1697 and 1917, they changed just about everything—but not the money system. Both societies completely rebuilt their legal systems. The French overhauled the entire measuring system (the metric system dates from then), and even tried to change the calendar. The Russians threw out the very concept of private ownership, and they nationalized the banks. Both issued currency engraved with new mottoes and different heroes. But the currency remained – exactly as before and now – artificially scarcity-based, issued via bank debt, and centrally controlled. When Mao’s communist takeover occurred in China, or when one hundred developing countries gained their independence over the past half-century, exactly the same thing happened.

In assessing fundamental change in our money system, we need to address some other pertinent questions first, such as:

  • Where is the desire or need for this kind of money system coming from?
  • Are greed and scarcity, as is explicitly assumed in all our economic theory and most of our conventional wisdom, an indelible reflection of human nature and material reality? Or could it be that it is the current money system itself that constantly creates and re-enforces those specific collective emotions of greed and fear of scarcity?
  • Why is money a taboo topic?
  • In short, what is the origin and mechanism of the emotional dimension of money?

Sidebars and Images

Sidebar boxes like this one will be used to provide additional insights or remarkable anecdotes relating to the material where they appear. For a reader in a hurry, they can be skipped without loss of understanding of the main arguments.

This book is also abundantly illustrated with images, which provide a parallel comment to the text. The reason is that the language that will be used to describe collective emotions is the one of archetypes, and that archetypes are primarily images. This association of images and text also practices what is being proposed here: to integrate the information of the left and right brain, our two complementary information systems.

I have come to the conclusion that it is only if we become aware of the way whereby money systems shape our collective emotions – or better still, how collective emotions shape our choice in money systems – that we can make a conscious choice in money systems. As Europe moves into its next monetary experiment with the Euro, as monetary crises topple the economies of entire continents, as our fixation with short-term financial results may threaten our very survival, the stakes for making conscious money choices have never been as high.

*

*          *

One of the contributions of the American philosopher Ken Wilber has been to provide a simple but powerful framework to classify all forms of knowledge.2 This framework can also provide us with a very compact way to clarify what is – and what is not – dealt with in the books “The Future of Money” and “The Mystery of Money”. Wilber structures fields of knowledge in four quadrants in which the two distinguishing dimensions are on the one side the Interior (the domains where the aim is the interpretation of meaning) vs. the Exterior (where the purpose is description of behavior); and on the other the Individual-Collective (see Figure I.1). For instance, physics, biology, and all behavioral and empirical sciences correspond to the upper right quadrant (Exterior-Individual domains). In contrast, the domains explored by Aurobindo, Plotinus, Buddha and all other spiritual traditions fall into the upper left quadrant; as do the theories of Freud, Piaget and others focusing on individual psychology (they all correspond to Individual-Interior concerns). Similarly, systems theory, economics, political economy or the study of social systems fall in the lower right quadrant (Exterior-Collective). Finally, Cultural History, Collective Psychology or Evolutionary Psychology would fall into the lower left quadrant (Interior-Collective).


Figure I.1 Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrants Classifying Fields of
Knowledge
3

The same four quadrants can also describe all our ways of knowing about the money phenomenon (see Figure I.2). For instance, the upper-right quadrant (Individual-Exterior) deals with how individuals can earn more money, spend or invest their money. This is the one quadrant that will be left out in my work. Not because it lacks interest, but because there are already thousands of books available which address these issues. So I have focused instead on the less frequently visited other three quadrants.


Figure I.2 The Topics of Money on Ken Wilber’s quadrant map.

My previous book “The Future of Money” dealt with the social dimensions of money – i.e. the lower right quadrant (or Exterior-Collective) – and used whole systems theory as its main approach. The current “Mystery of Money” deals with the two left-side quadrants: the individual and the collective Interior dimensions, and uses archetypal psychology as its key investigative tool. This book has been titled the “Mystery of Money” because it covers the whole range of issues of the left side of Figure I.1: i.e. topics that could have been described as the Soul of Money, the Meaning of Money, the Psychology of Money, or the Cultural History of Money.

What is important to understand is that in the Exterior and Interior domains, different types of questions are being raised. In the Exterior domain, precise descriptions of behaviors or processes are the aim. In the Interior domain, interpretations of meaning are the aim.

We can never apprehend such Interior realities directly, be they archeological, historical or contemporary ones. For example: can you show me bliss, patriarchy or an economically successful society? What you can show me, what can be apprehended of any such “Interior” realities, are only their corresponding “Exterior” manifestations (i.e. signs exhibited in the “right-hand side” of Figure I.1). For example we can interpret a radiant smile as a sign of a state of bliss, laws discriminating against women as a sign of patriarchy, or the positive convergence of a series of economic indicators as sign of an economic boom. The best that anybody will ever be able to do is to interpret these Exterior signs, see whether they are coherent or convergent with other signs, and infer from them the reality and validity of the corresponding psychological or cultural reality. Therefore, as pointed out by Wilber, “proof” in this domain can never become a simple mechanical, “objective” measurement like in Physics. Scientific proof in the psychological and cultural domains is always by necessity limited to the convergence of Exterior signs that justify an interpretation fitting specific psychological and cultural patterns.

It should be noted that seeing money systems from this Interior perspective is new terrain – particularly to the extent that this involves exploring the collective unconscious of money (the lower left quadrant). Thus the material presented here is work in process, a very green first approximation of what may actually be happening. I emphasize, therefore, that this should be looked upon as an exploration, as an offer of the evidence uncovered so far. In any case, I hope to make the point that further research and discussion in this domain is warranted.

Mill Valley, October 2000


LINKS TO OTHER CHAPTERS

Table of Contents | INTRODUCTION

PART ONE: ARCHETYPES AND MONEY | CHAPTER 1: THE LANGUAGE OF ARCHETYPES

CHAPTER 2: THE CASE OF THE MISSING ARCHETYPE

CHAPTER 3: THE ARCHETYPAL HUMAN

PART TWO: EXPLORING MONEY SYSTEMS WITH ARCHETYPES | CHAPTER 4: EXPLORING BOOMS AND BUSTS WITH THE MAGICIAN

CHAPTER 5: CASE STUDY OF THE CENTRAL MIDDLE AGES

CHAPTER 6: CASE STUDY OF EGYPT

PART THREE: WHY NOW? | CHAPTER 7: EXPLORING CONTEMPORARY MONEY WITH THE GREAT MOTHER

CHAPTER 8: WHERE ARE WE NOW?

CHAPTER 9: OUR FUTURE, OUR MONEY | EPILOGUE: A FUTURE TALE | APPENDIX A: A BRIEF GLOSSARY

Endnotes

  1. Future of Money (London: Random House, 2000)
  2. The most synthetic of his books that describes this classification is: Wilber, Ken A brief history of everything (Boston: Shambhala, 1998).
  3. Wilber, Ken: A Brief History of Everything (Boston: Shambala Publications, 1996) adapted from pg 71 and 84.

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