I often see many Christians, Catholics in particular, attempting to defend the Pope or their religious teachers who decry money and wealth as something evil by saying something similar to the following:
"It's not money that the Pope [or Jesus, or minister] was decrying--it's the love of money."
Let's examine this. One can only love that which one values. Money is a product of each individual man's efforts to sustain his existence. Money is simply a tool which we use as a means of exchange. Rather than trading actual products as primitive tribal societies do--we trade paper. It is a method mainly of convenience. What would it be like if every time you went to the grocery store--you had to lug along with you two sheep and a goat in exchange for your groceries? There is also a long discussion to be had about the fact that our paper money is now fiat money because we took our currency off the gold standard; now inflation is par for the course. But, that could be another whole blog post entirely.
My point in regards to money is this:
It is not an evil. Money is a reflection of what any particular individual or society values. When people bandy about the phrase in quotes above it is usually uttered as a package deal--that money is intrinsically evil. In philosophy, the Intrinsic Theory of Values, to explain briefly is as follows [from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand]:
"The intrinsic theory holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory that divorces the concept of 'good' from beneficiaries, and the concept of 'value' from valuer and purpose—claiming that the good is good in, by, and of itself."
"The intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality, independent of man’s consciousness."
"If a man believes that the good is intrinsic in certain actions, he will not hesitate to force others to perform them. If he believes that the human benefit or injury caused by such actions is of no significance, he will regard a sea of blood as of no significance. If he believes that the beneficiaries of such actions are irrelevant (or interchangeable), he will regard wholesale slaughter as his moral duty in the service of a 'higher' good. It is the intrinsic theory of values that produces a Robespierre, a Lenin, a Stalin, or a Hitler. It is not an accident that Eichmann was a Kantian."
I put bold emphasis on that one sentence in particular because man is a being of volitional consciousness. It is an individual's own beliefs which can either help or destroy him. There are many philosophies out there who hold that man is not responsible for that which happens to him. If that were the case there would be no need for the concept "justice." The Intrinsic Theory is invalid because you cannot divorce the concept of "good" from the beneficiaries of what is good, nor can you have values without a valuer.
There is nothing inherently bad about being proud of the fact that your production, the degree to which you are rational and able to support your existence through your own means is evil. People can do bad things with money--but that doesn't make all money evil. A man can appreciate money properly and completely lose it all because he has no rational understanding of money. We've all heard of the person who wins it big in the lottery. Then, a few months later, we hear of how he lost it all. It was spent frivolously on homes, a couple of new cars, gifts for friends. I can guarantee you, when you see this happen to someone--it has happened to someone who had no real understanding of the value of money in the first place. The man who has won the lottery and lost it all had an intrinsic view of money. He views money as something he believes will solve all his problems--but what he doesn't understand is that unless he values that money--it will not perform his thinking for him.
Let's take another example:
One of the oft-cited beratements of the collectivist Left against capitalists is that they are materialistic and greedy. That capitalism is a system by, of and for the greedy. But let's examine who really are the materialists. Who is it that typically believes that all of man's problems will be solved by, not production, but the expropriation of wealth? That if we just expropriate enough from the haves and give to the have nots--all the while holding no real value towards those who do the producing of the values by giving them neither the credit they deserve nor the liberty to continue creating wealth--that all poverty and misery will be eliminated. Notice again what is happening here: they are upholding the Intrinsic Theory of Values. They are attempting to divorce the value of money from the valuer--which cannot be done. They want the benefits of wealth without having to recognize: who produces the wealth, where it comes from (man's mind), and then proceed to demand that those who need it need not be reminded of where it came from--because it will make them feel bad. They want the effects of money without having to feel "dirty" for needing it.
One of the best philosophical descriptions of the value of money is Fransisco d'Anconia's money speech in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. In a previous post on this blog I presented his money speech. Please feel free to visit and read it here.
To conclude, men must create the values they need in order to survive. There is no shortcut around this. Nature does not permit man to exist in a vacuum, it does not permit him, or any other biological being for that matter, to exist without effort. Reality does not permit men to ignore reality at the expense of fantasy. And when both the collectivists and mystics attempt to do this, reality still wins out. Collectivist societies collapse because they are not rationally supportable by the necessary requirements which reality imposes. Men cannot change this fact of nature: it is the Law of Identity which is reflected in this fact. Things cannot be other than what they are. The parasites in any given society don't look to the future--they only look so far in regards to what they can expropriate from others--and when those others run dry they will move to the next rung on the ladder and expropriate from those in turn. It is a wish to escape existence--but, existence cannot be escaped. It is only their arrogance which allows them to believe that they can continue destroying the producers--and then not recognize that even the producers have their limit on what they will and will not put up with. The parasite only seeks to "get away" with living for as long as he thinks he can.
This moves to all other issues in man's existence. The wish to escape existence is also what allows men to believe they have no stake in moral values. And this is the greatest evil--that most, if not all, of the world's religions attempt to hold death, a "zero," the afterlife--as the standard of value--and then they wonder why the world collapses around them, decade after decade, century after century, when one civilization after the next collapses and falls. Why? Because they refuse to exist, because they refuse to want to exist. If you ask why we have so many in our society who seem to relish in the efforts of their own destruction through drug-abuse, alcoholism, crime--ask yourself what knowledge regarding themselves and the nature of their existence--was not imparted to them. I don't mean to simplify those issues. My point is--how much are those issues exacerbated because mankind still has not grasped to this day that it is precisely because he is a volitional being that values and morality must be passed on. That thinking, understanding the reality of his existence and the requirements of upholding it, are so important.
The biggest injustice on the face of the globe--is that those of us who wish to exist, allow those who don't wish to exist to draw up the terms by which we are allowed to exist. That is the most intolerable injustice which is coming to its climax in our very own country to this day. And if the looting is not stopped, no amount of wishing is going to bring back the values that have been destroyed. Atlas Shrugged makes this point very clearly--once the wealth is gone and destroyed--it cannot be regained or re-created for generations.
So, this Easter, when you're sitting around glorifying a morality of sacrifice for the shadow of an after-life which you cannot rationally be sure of, when you see poverty spreading its fingers even wider across the country, when doctors, scientists and businessmen--in frustrated helplessness--give up and you begin to see your code of sacrifice with its real-world consequences begin to destroy everything around you--don't sit and wonder what happened. You will know what happened--because I just explained it.
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This is a video project created by Mr. Richard Gleaves. His channel GaltSpeaking can be found on YouTube and his blog Uncommon Sense can be found by clicking here. He has taken John Galt's speech from Atlas Shrugged and artistically enhanced it utilizing videography and music to add to the experience of the speech. There are currently 18 episodes. The project has not yet been entirely completed. Please hit the drop down list and scroll down to video #1.