The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Monday, 25 June 2012
on the economy... 'grip of death'
First, though, a confession: I can't raise much interest in the global economy, and very little enthusiasm for money as a subject. I expect that's not only ignorant but also unjustifiable, and possibly dangerous. (TM, were he to be a hands-thrower-upper-in-disgust, would be doing this with relentless frequency; what he does is his much more restrained, subtle, English version of disbelief and amazement every time it becomes apparent, yet again, that that's the case with me.) But that's how it is.
You see, I'm not a Digger-Luddite-come-old-hippy for nothing. I reject our materialistic value-system. I want to do, as I always have, work I love and believe in, that at the least causes no harm to anyone/anything, even if the financial rewards are small.
I don't have, have never had or even applied for, a credit card. I don't own a house and have never wanted a mortgage. I have no loans and no debts, and very few possessions that are worth anything in financial terms (though quite a few that speak to my heart). Although I'm in a minority, I'm sure I'm not alone in resisting. I like the 'less is more' focus of simplicity – plus if you don't have much you don't fear losing it. Seems to me also that on a writer's income (hardly any writer earns more than £20K p.a., and most of us less than £10K, and that via other writing-related activities, usually) it would be foolish to borrow money that I conceivably won't ever be able to pay back. This way I feel a certain freedom. Not to mention smugness – but I am not speaking of this to be smug, but to say that we get so caught up in the machine of 'the system' that it's hard to imagine removing ourselves, even slightly.
But there are alternatives; maybe in addition, or as a replacement of a small part of the way we live: what about a barter economy? When I was younger I taught myself a number of self-sufficiency skills, and later, in my 20s and 30s, a great deal of what I needed to live on was an exchange – whether for furniture or pottery, firewood or accounts, clothes, food or maintenance of my van, for the shoes I was making as a small business.
Some of you in England may remember Mark Boyle, and the flak he attracted for showing that it was possible to live without money for an entire year. I'm not suggesting we do that, and networks are important; I'm just mentioning that it is possible, if tough. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/09/mark-boyle-money
Our debt-based culture relies on our fears and our desires. TM tells me that if everyone did as I do – refuse/d to have a credit card or run up a debt – the economy would collapse tout de suite. I do realise that that might not be A Good Thing, but I also know we need to completely revision not only our relationship to money and our enslavery, our enthrallment, to our debts, but also our worldview rooted in a capitalist dream of infinite resources, on this little finite planet of ours. What will it take? Total collapse of the planet's own integral infrastructure? Without an ecology there can be no economy; and the former is where I put my efforts and passion.
However, that aside, another little aside: did you know that 'mortgage' literally means 'grip of death'?
And so few people seem to understand the implications of the fact that in our society, in GB at least, 97+%, yes 97+%, of all money in circulation is debt – in other words, only 3% of our circulating money is represented by actual money, and the rest is conceptual, virtual, promises, figures shifted between computers, that's all... debt with nothing, no 'real cash', no ingots in the vaults of the Bank of England, to flesh out – metal out – the promises.
I hadn't either. Still don't, without stretching my braincell rather a lot.
TM thinks highly of Michael Rowbotham's book on this, which is, I think, entitled Grip of Death. It's quite an extraordinary concept, the fact that almost none of our money actually exists; well, is imaginary.
We need to start to envision a different kind of relationship to money – surely?
If you want a very clear, concise, depiction of exactly how our debt-based economy works, in precisely 2 minutes and 37 seconds, have a look at this: http://www.positivemoney.org.uk
Normal service will hopefully be resumed after a kip.
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