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The Roots of Money, Authoritarian Power and Democracy

By       Message Howard Switzer     Permalink
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"Political democracy can go no further in freeing man until it is itself emancipated by economic democracy whose sheathed sword is money."  -- E. C. Riegel

A new movie, called Legalize Democracy put out by Move to Amend, presents a considerable list of laws and actions cited to illustrate how corporations have taken hold of our government.  Their proposal is to amend the Constitution to eliminate "Corporate Personhood' and "Money as Free Speech' both effects of what Martin Van Buren called the "Money Power' being left in private hands.  The movie is an excellent exposure of how government and the courts were manipulated to favor a few enormously powerful men and their corporations.  However, it does not address the primary mechanism by which the power to influence government and the courts was obtained in the first place.  Without that story we cannot fully understand or protect ourselves against Money Power.

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(Image by U.S. national archives)
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constitution by U.S. national archives

The story goes back much further than the founding of our nation which represented a significant if brief challenge to the Money Power that had been already long established. 

The critical feature of our money is that it is issued as interest bearing debt which has been a feature of money for several thousand years.  Jesus rails against it in the Bible.  This power to issue money by money changers and later banks remains essentially unchanged today.  As national states emerged Money Power soon took its place in controlling those governments, beginning when Sweden went to war with Denmark and needed money to pursue the war. The money was borrowed at interest and the debt was so great that the power to issue the state's money, that is complete control of its monetary system, was given exclusively to the privately owned Riksbank of Sweden in 1668. Next was the Bank of England in 1694, in a war with Spain, and this proceeded similarly until it was so in nearly every nation state today.

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From the very outset the colonies were beset with money problems and because the Crown refused to allow them a monetary system keeping them in continual monetary stress.  By 1640 there were more people moving back to England that moving to the new world, so out of necessity the colonies became a laboratory for monetary solutions.  The states devised many monetary systems, many failed but the successful ones created intense tensions with England. As Benjamin Franklin and others have stated ,and despite the flap over relatively minor skirmishes at Concord and the Boston Tea Party, it was the Crown's suppression of the colonist's paper money systems, plunging them into economic distress,  that precipitated the revolutionary war.

The whole purpose of writing our nation's Constitution was to devise a way to avoid authoritarian rule, which we had just fought a war to defeat, and the Separation of Powers and the Bill of Rights seemed to do that.  However, as James Madison pointed out a few years later, sadly it did not do that.  The private financial interests of the day worked very hard to prevent the nation from being able to issue its own paper money. This was strange since it was that very power, established by the first Continental Congress to issue paper money, the Continental currency, spent into the economy which funded the revolution.  The Constitutional Convention was beset with propaganda from the private financial interests, represented by Alexander Hamilton of the Federalists, and opposed by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin, the anti-Federalists.  

In the end it was the lack of clearly defining the nation's monetary system that created a trap door in the back wall of our Constitution that allowed the private financial interests to enter and establish an authoritarian government, which they did. While they managed to keep authoritarianism out politically and religiously they had allowed it to sneak in monetarily! Thus as Mayer Rothschild put it so well, "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes her laws." This story would make a good movie. As long as this Constitutional trap door remains open the people will lose and the mechanism for concentrating wealth, promoting predatory competition and demand for irresponsible growth will continue driving us into economic ruin and trashing the planet. THIS the LARGER issue.

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Born in 1945 days after the bombs were dropped on Japan. Grew up in Illinois. Went seeking community after the military and found The Farm where I lived until 1983 when they stopped being a collective. 2 of my 3 children were born there. Became an (more...)
 

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The Roots of Money, Authoritarian Power and Democracy