Cash and Enlightenment

TrackI wrote this a year ago in a comment on an article published in The Spectator. The article’s author [apparently a convicted felon] was “arguing” for the abolition of cash money as “Such measures are there for all our safety”.

Here was my response (slightly edited for readability/typo’s):

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” — Ben Franklin

While a Guppy may not understand that our free society is based on the free pursuit of prosperity and happiness; i.e. materially and emotionally; it is NOT based on the consumption of more and more of a diminishing resource. It is based on quasi-anarchic — empowered by the Enlightenment — pursuit of what is better. Most people recognize that more is not necessarily better. Absent constraints of what may be produced or sold, economies adapt rapidly to changes in demand and supply. Changes stimulate economic and technical innovation.

The Enlightened live our lives by the Rule of Law, where the Law is established by what “most” consider to be reasonable. In theory, anyway. And that is what civilization strives towards; because the alternatives are tyranny, oppression and servitude.

Our personal beliefs, values and our morals are guided by society; some societies codify beliefs into religions where compliance with the moral code is rewarded metaphysically. Belief in such things is often sufficient reward.

The Enlightenment did not dethrone God or religion. The Enlightenment provided for a rational mechanism to deal with the challenges of the real, physical world; without appeal to imagined metaphysical entities to set things “right” when things don’t happen as we would like. The Enlightenment drew the lines between physical and metaphysical; between science and beliefs based on nothing more than wishful thinking.

Further, the Enlightenment made us conscious of OUR RESPONSIBILITY for what happens in the real world. Kings etc would rule over Earthly realms; Church and State would separate. It became irrational to blame events on metaphysical things; on factors that could not be explained by the physical laws of science; nor independently observed. Superstitions persist; but not as a foundation of our [previously stable Western] societies.

That rational mechanism wasn’t money. Money existed WAY before The Enlightenment. Money was simply a portable way of compensating others for the goods and services provided. Remember it said that it is THE LOVE OF MONEY, that is the root of all evil. In reality, it is the passionate pursuit of a single purpose without regard for others. Money is just one thing that some people worship.

Since the Enlightenment, we have built a prosperous world with unprecedented LOW levels of world poverty. Our individual self interests have fuelled innovations that would be indistinguishable from witchcraft in the ages before Enlightenment. More than 7000-million human souls currently enrich the planet. We have developed technologies, without resort to metaphysical powers, that produce enough food to feed all those people. We live in “inhumane’ places thanks to technology.

Our only failures have been in failing to share the experience of the Enlightenment globally; and the tendency for people to become lazy and gullible; falling once again under the influence of belief systems that promise things which aren’t deliverable in the physical world.

“It’s Communist thinking”, responded a subsequent non-reader.

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