Free money for everyone

Everyone should be rich

“No whining, everyone should be rich, vote Opposition Party, together for ourselves.” The Opposition Party was a fictional political party in the Netherlands run by two dubious characters. The creators of the fiction, Van Kooten and De Bie intended to mock populist politicians. If the Opposition Party had been for real, the party would have fetched a few seats in parliament in 1981. The problem isn’t that there are rich people but that there are poor people. Why isn’t everyone rich? The obvious answer is that many people haven’t enough money.

So perhaps everyone should get some money for free. This is more commonly known as a universal basic income. Only most people don’t get rich by doing nothing. Except for inheritance and crime, people make money by working and entrepreneurship. Without work there are no products and services people can buy. This has been true for as long as humans exist. Giving people money for free is undermining one of the pillars of human civilisation, which is that you have to work for a living. But there are some reasons to believe that we may need a guaranteed income in the future.

A game of Monopoly

One can think of the capitalist economy as a game of Monopoly. If you have played the game, you may have observed that at first players build capital in the form of houses and hotels. You can get rich by making the right investments. There is also an element of luck involved. The game ends when most players are bankrupt. It is possible to extend the game by letting the losers borrow money from the winners. In this way the winners can enjoy being rich while the losers can stay in the game. Of course the losers can never repay their debts. The players could stop pretending and let the winners give some money to the losers so that the game can continue.

monopoly1935

The alternative would be to start from square one, or more precisely, removing all the houses and the hotels, and start a new game. That might be fun for a game but in the real economy this would be a horrendous disaster. Imagine all the houses, roads, and factories gone. There would be nothing to buy and everyone would be poor. Economists figured this out long ago. The famous economist John Maynard Keynes thought that the state should borrow money from the winners and spend it so that the losers would be employed and have some money to spend so that the game could continue.

Keynes’ plan did get a lot of attention and that’s why he is so famous. Other economists weren’t so pleased. Governments could now justify lavish spending by borrowing money from the rich to spend it on the poor. And if there is no starting from square one, the rich are getting richer, while the rest isn’t getting ahead. Furthermore, the state borrowing money from the winners makes things worse as interest must be paid. In this way the losers end up paying taxes to pay interest to the rich.

This could become a huge problem in the long run. “In the long run we’re all dead,” Keynes said. Now the long run has arrived and Keynes is dead. Before he died Keynes realised that Natural Money, which is money with a holding tax that allows for negative interest rates, is far a better idea than the state borrowing money from the winners. Negative interest rates are a way of making the winners give money to the losers so that they have money to stay in the game. And the winners would do so willingly because negative interest rates would emerge in a free market.

The game of Monopoly has a bank too. The Monopoly bank is a magical source of money. Every time you finish a round, a fixed sum of is given to you. That is great for a game. If it wasn’t for this everlasting fountain of money, the game would have ended after a few rounds. This idea of giving free money to everyone is called a universal basic income. It can help to keep the economy going. Adding money to the real economy can make money worth less. If people have more money, prices often go up, as there is more money to buy the same stuff. For example, if everyone craves for that latest model mobile phone, producers can raise prices, unless people run out of money and can’t buy them. In a game of Monopoly the prices of rents are fixed, but the prices of streets rise. If you buy a street when there is a lot of money in the game, you pay more. The rich are then bidding up prices of assets. In the real economy something similar happens. Inflation is low but prices of assets like stocks and real estate are rising.

There are reasons to fear a universal basic income. Proponents tell us that it will all be fine and dandy and that we will be free to realise our dreams. If you always wanted to become a blogger or a vlogger, you can become one when there is a universal basic income because you don’t have to work for a living. The opponents of a universal basic income paint a dismal picture of people sinking into an abyss of idleness filled with writing blogs nobody wants to read and making videos nobody wants to see. A job can make you feel useful. And there must be a compelling reason to do unattractive jobs, otherwise they won’t be done. Many countries already have benefits for people without a job. In these countries the unattractive low paying jobs are often done by immigrants who don’t have access to those benefits.

Machines taking over?

In the future machines may become better than humans at most jobs. Until very recently only simple tasks have been taken over by machines. This already put a lot of people out of work. The surplus of workers could be employed in the government and the service sector. Computers in the future can do much more. Self driving cars will replace human drivers and cause fewer accidents. Robots can care for the elderly, and this could be an improvement as robots don’t have moods. Computers will be better at diagnosing diseases and operating them.

Few professions appear safe from the coming onslaught. Economists tell us that robots will create many new jobs for humans, for example programming and maintaining them, but that may be wishful thinking. There is however one big problem blocking progress, or our descend into the abyss of idleness if you like. If people lose their jobs they also lose their incomes so that they don’t have the money to spend on the products and services the machines produce.

Perhaps the market will be able to deal with the issue so that there will still be jobs, but we can’t know for sure. It is also possible that the economy will collapse because there are fewer jobs. Progress may halt if the economy can’t operate with fewer jobs. Without jobs people have no money so that humans may need to keep on doing jobs machines can do better. If there is an income guaranteed that is sufficient to live off, the economy may not need these jobs. In that case there will also be less need for minimum wages because of the income guarantee. In this way people could do a job cheaper than machines if they really like to do it. And so humans can still care for the elderly in the future while robots do the heavy lifting. And that may be good because when humans do their jobs because they like to do them, and not because they need the money, they can have better moods too.

That sounds great. Perhaps it will work out this way. A universal basic income can improve the bargaining position of workers. It might lead to the following situation:

  • unattractive jobs that machines can do will be done by machines;
  • unattractive jobs that machines can’t do will be paid well;
  • attractive jobs that machines can do will be paid poorly as there will be volunteers;
  • attractive jobs that machines can’t do will be done by humans, but it is hard to predict how these jobs will be paid.

Obstacles on the way

Implementing a guaranteed income may not be easy. There will be obstacles on the way. Some of them may be hard to predict as they will emerge once the income guarantee has been introduced. A few questions can be raised already. For instance, does an income guarantee make people fill their time with idleness or does it give them the possibility to realise their potential? It is plausible that both will happen.

Many people believe that the income guarantee should come in the form of a universal basic income that replaces existing welfare schemes. It would reduce the amount of bureaucracy as the administration would be relatively simple compared to existing schemes. Existing social security schemes redistribute money to those who lack sufficient means of existence. A universal basic income is given to everyone, including the people who don’t need it.

A universal basic income could easily become expensive and would require much higher taxes. This could lead to tax evasion. And why should the rich receive a universal basic income too? An alternative is a guaranteed income that is to be settled with the income tax. People with low incomes would receive income tax instead of paying it. For example, if the income guarantee is € 1,000 and the income tax is 50%, the scheme would work out as follows:

gross income
income tax
net income
€ 0
– € 1,000
€ 1,000
€ 1,000
– € 500
€ 1,500
€ 2,000
€ 0
€ 2,000
€ 3,000
€ 500
€ 2,500
€ 4,000
€ 1,000
€ 3,000
€ 5,000
€ 1,500
€ 3,500

If machines are to replace human labour, other sources of taxing may have to replace the income tax to fund the income guarantee, but it is still uncertain to what extent that will happen and how long that will take. How a guaranteed income can be paid for remains a puzzle and the answer to that question may emerge over time.

Featured image: De Tegenpartij poster. Van Kooten and De Bie (1981). [copyright info]

Other image: Monopoly game.

Mayan Calendar: That'll freak somebody out someday. Dan Piraro. bizarrocomic.blogspot.com.

On numerology

If you intend to give your critics a field day, just mention astrology or numerology in your argument. They may burst out laughing. Numerology is a way to give meaning to events using numbers. Numbers have no meaning, except the number itself. Nevertheless meaningful coincidences may indicate that there is a script. Many of these coincidences could easily have happened by chance, at least if there was chance. And chance can have a dramatic impact.

Chaos theory is about the huge consequences small events can have. An example often used is that the flight of a butterfly may cause a storm that can derail events that were to happen in the future if the storm hadn’t materialised. Just imagine that another sperm fertilised the egg of Adolf Hitler’s mother. There were millions of sperms out there.

The reference to the end date of World War I on Franz Ferdinand’s car might therefore imply complete control of everything. World War I consisted of countless actions of countless individuals so the end date would impossible to predict otherwise, unless you could time travel to the past. Only time travel would derail the events that were to happen. That’s chaos theory.

This justifies a closer look at coincidences like 11:11 turning up on clocks again and again. Some numerologists claim that eleven is a Master Number. And this quality comes with all kinds of esoteric attributes, numerologists explain:

The 11 (a double 1) has the traits and personality of the 1 twice, and when added (11 = 1 + 1 = 2) becomes a 2, thereby combining the most powerful male energy (the 1, Zeus) with the equally potent female energy (the 2, Hera). Considering that the 1 and the 2 are on opposite ends of the spectrum and the sum of their combined attributes pretty much overshadows all other attributes assigned to the numbers 3 through 9, you can perhaps imagine a merging of the strongest, most driven and aggressive warrior, an unstoppable masculine energy, with the supremacy of the most intuitive, feminine, and cunning goddess. And even that does not reveal the true essence of the 11 Master number: The 11 symbolises the potential to push the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception; the link between the mortal and the immortal; between man and spirit; between darkness and light; ignorance and enlightenment. This is the ultimate symbolic power of the 11.

Others believe that 11:11 is a sign from angels. From a more rational perspective, you can surmise that if you are seeing some number all the time, it may be either the result of selective remembrance or your mind being controlled. The latter is probably true anyway, even if you don’t see 11:11 all the time.

Eleven is the first double-digit number. It forms a pair like many coincidences that attract attention. A coincidence is often a pair of similar events happening in a short time. This may be why eleven attracts attention. You get a number and then the same number again. To me eleven symbolises coincidence. It is my personal interpretation.

If you take this to the next level, you get 11:11. 11:11 symbolises two pairs of coincidences to me. Eleven is the fool’s number in the Netherlands, so I think of them as the extremely weird happening, for instance events that show traces of design like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But then again, this is my personal opinion. Quran verse 36:36 states that God created everything in pairs. This is a bit peculiar. 36:36 is like 11:11 as 36 = 6 * 6, a miracle of the Quran, a Muslim would say.

And the extremely weird has been happening to me. Take for example, the following incident. I had been investigating eleven related coincidences for my research so I dedicated a webpage to them on the Natural Money website. The page had links to other websites about eleven and 11:11. After uploading the page to the server I noticed that something amazing had happened. The registered upload timestamp of the associated 11coincidencegallery.html file was 11:11. I didn’t do this on purpose.

Natural Money website upload page 1
Natural Money website upload (1)

Even more remarkable was a discovery I did more than one year later. I was also researching the coincidences surrounding the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. After uploading excerpts from the Killtown’s 9/11 Coincidences website, I found out that they were uploaded on 11 April 2011 on 9:11 AM. At that time, the page 11coincidencegallery.html was last uploaded on 11 September 2010. And I didn’t make any effort make this happen too. I discovered it seven months later.

Natural Money website upload (2)
Natural Money website upload (2)

The first coincidence was already amazing. It was followed by an equally amazing and closely related coincidence. To me 11:11 symbolises events like these. It may look like an observer effect. Something like that happened during my investigation of curse of the Omen. It may appear that doing research made these coincidences happen. It is more likely that my research was destined to happen and these incidents were destined to happen too. My actions were part of the script, just like these incidents, so that the coincidences emerged.

A trick often used by numerologists is compressing numbers, which is adding up the digits of a number until you get a single digit. For example 1589 is 1 + 5 + 8 + 9 = 23. You then iterate this process until you get a single digit number. 23 adds up to 2 + 3 = 5. There is an exception to this rule. You don’t perform this trick on 11, so the number 911 adds up to 11 as 9 + 1 + 1 = 11. You stop there. You don’t go further by doing 1 + 1 = 2. Why? Perhaps, 11 is to beautiful a number to be broken down further.

The exception is meaningless but it freaked out a few people. Many people were seeing 11:11 on clocks again and again. And perhaps you remember the fuss about the winter solstice of 21 December 2012. The world as we know it would end, the Mayans allegedly predicted. The estimated time for the solstice was 11:11 GMT while the digits of the date 21 December 2012 add up to 11 (2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 2+ 0 + 1 + 2). This also freaked me out. It seemed another sign that the End of Times could be near.

Weird things happened in the stock markets too. The S&P500 hit a low of 666 on 6 March 2009 (date 6/3 while 666 is three sixes). The exact low was 666.79, so to be fair, it should be rounded up to 667, but it is peculiar nonetheless. The financial crisis was stemmed after the FED committed $7.77 trillion to rescuing the financial system.1 Early 2014 IMF Chief Christine Lagarde made some frisky numerological comments on the Magic 7 at the US National Press Club following the IMF’s annual review of the US economy.2

Then on 24 June 2016, the stock markets had a correction after the results of the Brexit vote came out. In the United States, the Dow was down 610, the NASDAQ was down 202, and the S&P 500 was down 76, a total loss of 888 points.3 This happened exactly 7 years, 7 months, 7 weeks and 7 days after the Dow crashed 777.7 points at the height of the financial crisis on 29 September 2008.4 Soon Lagarde’s remarks about the Magic 7 were picked up again on the Internet by conspiracy theorists.

Another trick is translating letters to numbers via the following scheme: A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, D = 4, and so on. In this way the letters AD represent the number 14. In the same fashion A5 could represent 15. There are many possible connections you could make in this way, so something will fit some scheme most of the time. That is why sceptics don’t take numerology seriously. Numbers don’t have meaning. Only people attribute meaning to them. Despite that peculiar numerical coincidences happen. They might be evidence of a script. And the script might make use of our tendency to give meaning to numbers

Featured image: Mayan Calendar: That’ll freak somebody out someday. Dan Piraro. bizarrocomic.blogspot.com (2009).

1. Report: Fed Committed $7.77 Trillion To Rescue Banks. Eyder Peralta. NPR (2011). [link]
2. How One Speech Ignited A Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory About The Occult Allegiances Of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde. Peter Farquhar. Business Insider (2014). [link]
3. Crazy Day For Dow, S&P 500 And NASDAQ. Robert H. Anderson. Investing.com (2016). [link]
4. Dow Falls 777 as Market Reels From House Vote. Cindy Perman. CNBC (2008). [link]

Sepphoris Mosaic

Sarah, mother of the Jews

Judaism is a matriarchy

This universe might be a virtual reality created for entertainment for someone we call God. And God may use avatars and appear like an ordinary human to us. Hence, quite a few biblical personalities might have been avatars of God. Sarah is the matriarch of the Jews. Jewish tradition holds that Jewishness is inherited via the matriarchal family line so Jews are children of Sarah. This resembles the concept of Christians being born of God and children of God. Hence, Sarah could have been an avatar of God.

This post is part of a series called God Is A Woman And Jesus Was Her Husband. It is advised to read the other articles first in the order suggested below:

Inventing a nation and a religion

Long ago El was the supreme deity of Israel and the goddess Asherah was his wife.1 Baal was also worshipped by the Israelites. Over time El became the generic word for god so the supreme deity of Israel became Yahweh. Asherah then became Yahweh’s wife. When Israel and Judah became kingdoms, the kings were the head of the national religion of Yahweh. The kings of Judah used religion to exert their authority. Other kingdoms in the region also had national deities, for example Molek was the god of Ammon and the god of Moab was Chemosh.2

Jews began to worship Yahweh alone after the advent of Zoroastrianism, the first major monotheist religion. The prophet Zoroaster believed in a good creator god and an opposite evil power. Zoroastrianism came to prominence around 600 BC in Persia and was widespread at the time the Jewish priests were compiling the Torah. Zoroastrianism exerted a great influence Judaism. Zoroastrianism included messiahs, free will, heaven and hell. Under the influence of Zoroastrianism some of the Greek philosophers around 400 BC became monotheists.

Around 450 BC Jewish society was at the brink of being wiped out. The Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great allowed Jews to return to Israel and commissioned the Jewish temple to be rebuilt. People already living in Israel opposed their return as well as the building of the temple. A political struggle unfolded. After seven decades the Ezra and Nehemiah succeeded in rebuilding the temple. Judaism as a monotheist religion and the identity of Israel as a nation began to take shape. In this era the Torah was written. It was compiled from existing tales and writings, some of them as old as five centuries.3

There is little archaeological evidence supporting the account of events in the Torah from before the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The editors of the Torah may have used sources such as Mesopotamian myths, royal archives and oral traditions to forward their agenda, which was to preserve Jewish identity around a common religion, history and cultural heritage. The biblical scholar Jacob Wright claims that the stories about Abraham, Isaac, Moses and David may have been based on legends from different local communities connected into a historical narrative to promote a sense of single nation.3

The absence of archaeological evidence for many of the stories in the Torah can be an issue when looking for potential avatars of God. A question that might arise is how could God exist while having played a role in tales that never happened? If this universe is a virtual reality running a script then the contents of the Torah can be the way our creators meant them to be. The potential avatars could have emerged because of some consideration of the editors of the Torah.

How the avatars may have emerged

Wright points out that the authors of the Torah may have refashioned the role of men and women in order to involve men in raising children and preserving Jewish culture. In the Torah men play a significant role in family life while women contributed to military victories. One of the great Jewish heroines was Deborah in the Book Of Judges. Wright contends that these stories were meant to undermine the pretence males had to power. The men in the Torah weren’t valiant warriors.3 For example, Abraham said that his wife was his sister because he was afraid of being killed.4 Isaac did the same.5

The Jews didn’t have the military power to maintain a state of their own. They had little to gain by military adventurism, which was a typical activity on which male power in society was based. Wright thinks that the authors of the Torah recognised this, hence there is no commemoration of the war dead in the Torah.3 Women determined the fate of the most important male prophets and kings such as Moses and David. And so it may be possible to identify potential female avatars of God in the Torah.

Sarah and Abraham

According to the Torah Judaism started off with Sarah and Abraham. God wanted Sarah to become the Mother of the Jews. She became pregnant at the age of 90.6 Jewish tradition holds that Jewishness is inherited via the matriarchal family line. And so Jews are children of Sarah. The will of God coincided with the wishes of Sarah several times. God summoned Hagar to return to her mistress Sarah.7 God told Abraham to send Hagar away when Sarah wanted this.8 The Egyptians were subject to plagues when the Pharaoh tried to make Sarah his wife.9 King Abimelech received threats from God when he tried to do the same.10 Sarah may have been an avatar of God. She may have put up a charade when three angels came along informing Abraham that she would become pregnant.

Asenath and Joseph

According to the Book of Genesis, Joseph was a handsome man. When Joseph was Viceroy of Egypt, he married Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian high-priest. The Torah tells very little about her. There is an account of this marriage dating from the first century BC. It probably was invented to explain how Joseph came to marry a pagan priestess. According to the story known as Joseph and Asenath, Asenath was proud and despised men, the story tells us, but she became impressed by Joseph’s good looks.11

Joseph at first did not want to marry her because she bowed before idols and did not worship the God of Abraham. Asenath then showed penitence and an angel from heaven came to her chamber to bless the marriage. When she told Joseph of the angel, he changed his mind and decided to marry her.11 Asenath’s penitence and change of faith appear insincere and the result of a desire to marry Joseph. The marriage nevertheless was approved by God. Asenath may have been an avatar of God.

The Quran dedicates an entire chapter of 111 verses to Joseph. It expands on his good looks as well as the desire women had for him.12 Hence, Joseph may have been important to God and his good looks may have been worth mentioning.

Zipporah and Moses

In the Book of Exodus it is written that Moses was married to Zipporah. Zipporah saved Moses’ life. God wanted to kill Moses for neglecting the rite of circumcision of his son. Zipporah averted this by hastily performing the circumcision.13 She apparently knew of God’s intention to kill Moses even though this happened without notice. She apparently also knew the reason why. Zipporah may have been an avatar of God. In the Quran it is written that Moses sighed and said: “My Lord, indeed I am in need for whatever good You would send down to me.” Then one of the daughters of Reuel came to him and invited him to the house where the proposal for marriage was made.14

Bathsheba and David

Bathsheba caused severe embarrassment to King David. She was bathing on a roof where David could see her naked from his palace. David ordered her to come to his palace. She became pregnant after sleeping with him. David then commanded her husband Uriah to go home hoping that he would sleep with her so that the scandal would remain unnoticed. Uriah didn’t comply. David then asked his general to place Uriah in front line of the battle so that he would die. After Uriah died David married Bathsheba.15 The marriage was considered to be a sin but God loved Bathsheba’s son Solomon who was destined to become King.

David lost control over his kingdom so Bathsheba turned out to be a fate changer. The prophet Natan told David that his house would be cursed because of his act.16 David’s eldest son Amnon was killed by his half brother Absalom after he had raped Absalom’s sister Tamar.17 Later Absalom was killed after he had declared himself king and raised a revolt against David at Hebron.18 In this way two potential heirs to the throne were eliminated. In David’s old age Bathsheba secured the succession to the throne of her son Solomon as David had promised this to her.19 An obvious question to ask is why Bathsheba was bathing naked on a roof where David could see her? Bathsheba may have been an avatar of God.

Featured image: Sepphoris Mosaic. Pbs.org. [copyright info]

1. Dijkstra, Meindert (2001). “El the God of Israel-Israel the People of YHWH: On the Origins of Ancient Israelite Yahwism”. In Becking, Bob; Dijkstra, Meindert; Korpel, Marjo C.A.; et al. Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah
2. 1 Kings 11:7 [link]
3. Wright, Jacob L. (2014). The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future. Coursera.
4. Genesis 20:2 [link]
5. Genesis 26:7 [link]
6. Genesis 17:17 [link]
7. Genesis 16:9 [link]
8. Genesis 21:12 [link]
9. Genesis 12:17 [link]
10. Genesis 20:3 [link]
11. Joseph and Aseneth
12. Quran 12 [link]
13. Exodus 4:24-26 [link]
14. Quran 28:24-27 [link]
15. 2 Samuel 11 [link]
16. 2 Samuel 12:10-11 [link]
17. 2 Samuel 13 [link]
18. 2 Samuel 15 [link]
19. 1 Kings 1 [link]

New World Order

The direction of history

The direction of history is towards a single integrated world order that is sometimes called the New World Order. Humanity is converging in three major ways, intellectually, economically and politically. The spread of religions and ideologies made it possible to unify different peoples under the same set of ideas. Trade and money enabled the cooperation between strangers all over the globe. And the increased cooperation between nation states is paving the way for a closer integration of governments.1

The world is now run by a global elite of business people, politicians, bureaucrats, engineers, journalists, scientists, opinion makers, writers and artists. No matter where they live, whether it is New York, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Dubai or Cape Town, these people increasingly have the same interests, the same viewpoints about the world, the same culture, and increasingly live similar lifestyles. The individuals in these elites have more in common with each other than with their fellow countrymen.1

The need for global cooperation

Global issues such as climate change, human rights, international crime and financial markets might require international agreement and cooperation. The Old World Order was based on the sovereignty of nation states, which means that there was no higher authority than the nation-state. All nation states were equally sovereign, at least in theory, and their power was only restricted by the treaties they signed voluntarily.

Nation states are increasingly under pressure to conform to global standards because actions of one nation affect other nations as well. The global elite makes decisions on these issues. But would an informed citizenry decide otherwise? The global elite may believe that it acts to the benefit of mankind and that we need more international cooperation or even a global government. This is reflected in the words of the British politician Denis Healey, who had been involved in Bilderberg Conferences in which members of the elite gathered in secrecy. He told the Guardian:

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.2

It is hard to get a clear picture of the influence of meetings like Bilderberg. It seems that these meetings influence the issues that are on the political agenda. For instance the European Union has been discussed at Bilderberg and it is plausible that these meetings helped to create the European Union by making the elite agree on the idea. And as Europe had just been ravaged by two world wars, it might have seemed a good plan.

Neofeudalism

The New World Order is sometimes seen as a new form of feudalism. The share of the wealthy of global wealth and income has increased in recent decades. An Oxfam report from 2017 points out that the world’s eight wealthiest people own as much as the poorest 50%.3 Nation states are losing their grip on large corporations and billionaires. Until now there is no global government and there are no sufficiently binding international treaties, so nation states end up competing to please large corporations and billionaires.

Deep state

Politicians come and go but other government officials often remain within the governmental institutions for a long time. Most are not democratically elected. In most cases they believe they work in the best interest of their country. These people can yield significant influence. They can obstruct democratically elected officials.

On the other hand, democratically elected officials can press governmental institutions into forwarding their political agenda. The power of unelected officials, and most notably the intelligence agencies, is sometimes referred to as the deep state. As intelligence agencies operate in secrecy, they might be state within the state.

Conspiracy theory

The New World Order conspiracy theory claims that the elite has a secret plan to create a New World Order in which ordinary humans will be mere serfs. Rather than seeing the emerging oligarchy as a result of social and economic developments, the conspiracy theory alleges that this was deliberately planned by the elite in secret. The alleged plan is believed to be worked out in secretive meetings like Bilderberg.

In the United States corruption in politics is so pervasive that many people seek refuge in conspiracy theories. Politicians need to fund their campaigns. Those who don’t accept money from large corporations and wealthy individuals have less chance of being elected. Only around 10% of Americans believe that their Congress is doing a good job.

Conspiracy theorists tend to invent and mischaracterise facts and intentions in order to spin them into their twisted narrative. On the other hand, traditional media tend to underreport or ignore issues that can threaten the current social order. With the advent of internet and social media everyone can start a website and become a source of information and opinion. Traditional media are losing their grip on the public opinion.

Global government

Whether or not a global government is desirable is a matter of debate. The more power is concentrated, the more pervasive the corruption is likely to become. On the other hand, some issues can only be dealt with on a global level. The more people agree on what needs to be done and how differences must be settled, the less need there might be for a centralised government. That might require rational debates dominating politics and direct democracy standing at the basis of decision making.

Natural Economic Order

What the New World Order will look like is difficult to tell, but many people think they already know. Perhaps the course of events will take an unexpected turn. In 1916 Silvio Gesell published his book The Natural Economic Order in which he proposed a tax on money. His ideas stand at the cradle of Natural Money. His book was first published in German and named “Natürliche Wirtschaftsordnung”, which can be abbreviated to NWO. Hence, if Natural Money is to become the money of the future, this would be a peculiar coincidence. And it may not be a coincidence as the license plate on Franz Ferdinand’s car suggests. There may be a secret plan for a New World Order the elite is unaware of. And Natural Money could be part of  that plan.

Gesell was inspired by natural selection like many of his contemporaries. Natural selection was a cool theory back then. He viewed competition as beneficial to mankind. He believed that effort and talent, and not money and privilege, should determine one’s economic rewards. Gesell realised that the Natural Economic Order will not arise spontaneously as it requires selecting a type of money that allows for negative interest rates. In the preface of The Natural Economic Order he wrote:

The economic order here discussed is a natural order only in the sense that it is adapted to the nature of man. It is not an order which arises spontaneously as a natural product. Such an order does not, indeed, exist, for the order which we impose upon ourselves is always an act, an act consciously willed.

The proof that an economic order is suited to the nature of man is furnished by observation of mankind’s development. The economic order under which men thrive is the most natural economic order. […] For human work can, ultimately, only advance with the advance of the human race. “Man is the measure of all things” including the economic system under which he lives.

The prosperity of mankind, as of all living beings, depends in the main upon whether selection takes place under natural laws. But these laws demand competition. […] Only then shall we be justified in hoping that humanity may in time shake off the burden of inferior individuals imposed upon it by thousands of years of unnatural selection – selection vitiated by money and privileges.5

1. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. Who pulls the strings? (part 3). The Guardian (2001). [link]
3. Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world. Oxfam (2017). [link]
4. 10% of Americans like Congress: Are they nuts? Dean Obeidallah. CNN (2013) [link]
5. The Natural Economic Order. Silvio Gesell (1916).  [link]

one ring to rule them all

Multiculturalism

A very successful ideology

Perhaps the most successful ideology ever is multiculturalism. For thousands of years it has seen an endless sequence of victories. There were a lot of temporary setbacks, but the long-term historic trend is unmistakable. The world is gradually becoming one with the help of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism was initially thought of by kings who conquered an empire of different peoples and wanted to rule them all. These different peoples could keep their own customs and settle most of their own affairs as long as they didn’t pose a threat to the social order. This brought peace and stability, which improved trade and prosperity. For example, Cyrus the Great, who ruled around 550 BC, was one of the first to use multiculturalism to rule his vast empire. He respected the religions and traditions of the peoples he ruled. For instance, he helped the Jews to go back to Israel and rebuild their temple.

Multiculturalism has been imposed upon conquered peoples with force but the alternative was often more wars. If the empire lasted long enough, these peoples together began to form a common culture and became one. Over time smaller cultures became integrated into larger cultures. This happened, for example, in the Roman empire. Many Roman emperors came from the provinces such as France, Africa or Arabia. When the empire finally collapsed, the conquered peoples didn’t reappear as independent nations. They had become Romans.1 Roman culture was dominant. People in the rest of the empire took over many customs from the Romans while the Romans took over some customs from the provinces. The world is closely interconnected nowadays so a global culture may emerge without conquest.

Why do many people think multiculturalism is a failure? Most importantly, it is hard to believe that multiculturalism is great when foreigners come to your country in large numbers and remain loyal their tribe. This can threaten the social order. If large numbers of immigrants keep coming, and if they don’t adapt and get a lot of children, the nature of society can profoundly change over time. Many people in Europe and the United States fear that it will not be for the better. If Europe becomes like Africa or the Middle East, then hardly anyone currently living in Europe will consider this to be an improvement, not even the people who came from Africa and the Middle East. Similarly, many people in the United States fear that the their country can become like Latin America, and hardly anyone currently living in the United States would consider this to be progress either.

Proclaiming that multiculturalism is a failure when it is on the brink of final victory is a form of historical ignorance. It may seem hard to foresee how the future global culture will look like but if war can be avoided and human civilisation doesn’t collapse then all the peoples of the world are going to be integrated into a single global culture. There will still be differences but tribes will become less important. There will be a framework that allows for everyone to coexist relatively peacefully and gradually integrate into the global culture. This process may require a similar level of education, governance and democracy all over the globe, and a rational approach to matters of importance. Currently this seems a bit of a stretch to say the least, but the more people become educated and can be made to agree on using rational debates to revolve differences, the less need there will be for an elite to guide them, or for the use of force to maintain the social order.

multiculturalism

Setting matters straight

Many people believe that their own culture is superior. Every nation desires to have a sense of pride about its cultural heritage but it is hard to come up with valid arguments why this or that nation, tribe or religion is superior to others. Yet, there is something that can’t be ignored either. Many people desire to go to Europe or the United States, and not somewhere else. This has something to do with oppression and poor living conditions elsewhere. One can surmise from this that if the rest of the world becomes more like Europe or the United States, this would generally be seen as an improvement. Cultural superiority thinkers are eager to point out that this is because of the superiority of Western culture. But what is this so-called cultural superiority?

It can’t be moral superiority for sure. Huntington wrote that the West didn’t win the world by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. He believed that the West is still hated because of this.2 But is this really true? Most people in developing nations realise that they are shaping their own future. People in other parts of the world can’t blame their former colonisers until eternity. Most people in Indonesia don’t hate the Dutch for being their former coloniser, despite the oppression, exploitation and killings that took place during the colonial era. The Indonesians hardly think of the Dutch any more. And blaming the Dutch doesn’t help them.

Is there no superiority in ideas whatsoever? During the last 500 years science has completely altered the way we live. That happened because European scientists began to believe that when observed facts contradict religion and tradition, facts should take precedence. In other parts of the world tradition and religion held precedence. This made Europeans the masters of the world for a while until other countries followed the same path. Europeans were so successful in spreading their cultures that today billions of people have adopted significant parts of these cultures. Indians, Africans, Arabs, and Chinese learned French, English and Spanish. They began to believe in human rights and self-determination. They began to adopt Western ideologies such as liberalism, capitalism, communism, feminism, and nationalism that emerged in modern Europe.1

People in Europe weren’t more rational than others. There were rational people all over the world but they didn’t challenge existing wisdom and religion to the same extent Europeans did. Most Europeans remained religious, but when facts contradicted their religions, they learned to deal with it. People in Europe began to separate religion from worldly affairs so that these became different realms. This is reflected, for example, in the separation of church and state. As the search for new knowledge began to take off in Europe, Europeans used their new knowledge to conquer the world. But would things have been better if the Chinese or the Africans had developed science and conquered the world?

Reason overcame religion in Europe. Many social, economical and political experiments have been tried in Europe that have not taken place anywhere else. Europeans developed models for society called ideologies. Tens of millions of people were killed in wars of conquest and clashes of ideologies. The Europeans made more historical errors than anyone else, simply because they had so many ideas to try. And there have been two destructive world wars for the most part caused by errors made in Europe and for the most part fought in Europe. In this way the Europeans had more opportunity to learn from their mistakes than anyone else. You can call that cultural superiority if you like, but it might be better to call it experience. And it would be a waste of time and cause unnecessary suffering to go through all these historical processes including all the wars, again everywhere around the globe, only to discover what you could already have learnt from studying history. In this sense Europe can still be a guide to the world.

Us and them

Us and them
And after all we’re only ordinary men
Me and you

Humans are group animals. We divide humanity between us and them. Us is the good people and them is the evil others that act differently, look differently, have funny accents and wear peculiar outfits. Welcome to human nature. This is who we are. In modern times it becomes harder to identify who are us and who are them. People differ in skin colour, religion, political preference, or some other quality, so that it is still possible to make these distinctions. And that helps to feel good about yourself because us is the good part of humanity. Even if you think you’re open-minded you are likely to consider the narrow-minded others as the evil them. When you are an outsider, and subject to exclusion and regular bullying, life isn’t so great. The us and them question is often narrowed down to racism and discrimination.

There is no reasonable basis for racism but discrimination is a more difficult issue. People have the right to associate with the people they prefer. And most people prefer the company of their own kind. This often leads to exclusion and bullying and making certain groups and people feel inferior. Should that be allowed? And what about the problems caused by cultural differences? A lot of people from specific ethnic groups have difficulties in finding a place in society. These groups often dominate the crime statistics. Is it because they are discriminated or because they don’t adapt very well? The answer is often both. It helps when everyone agrees on that and that this issue should be resolved. There is a good chance that it will happen over time and it helps if everyone is willing to work on it. Multiculturalism has turned so many thems into usses in the past that this trend may continue until there’s no real them any more. That may be of little solace to those who are discriminated or suffer from the misconduct of people from certain ethnic groups, but we shouldn’t lose perspective.

To a hippie flowers and love can do wonders. Indeed, bringing people together can sometimes do miracles. A nationalist may think that everyone should stay in his or her own country. And indeed that could have saved us from trouble, but in the end nations will disappear and the world will become one, unless human civilisation fails, that is. Immigration can revitalise a nation but it can also destabilise it. Most immigrants seek a better life and want to work hard. They are on the move because they don’t see opportunities in their home countries.

But many immigrants aren’t successful and have trouble adapting or are not willing to contribute to society. Ignoring the facts or distorting them isn’t helpful. People from different cultural backgrounds have different views about what is acceptable conduct and what is not and this can lead to conflict. But these conflicts can be seen as historical processes that have to be resolved so that a common ground can be reached. Bigotry as well as political correctness don’t contribute to solutions. In a rational debate all genuine concerns are brought into the open. This requires both honesty and respect, which can be very difficult indeed as people tend to have very different ideas about honesty and respect to begin with.

Multiculturalism is on its way to final victory. It might help when people agree on some basic norms and values as well as the predominant culture. The modern world is shaped by Europe, and most notably scientific progress. A tacit acknowledgement of this, and acting accordingly, should suffice. There’s no reason to use these facts to offend or humiliate others. There should be room for an acknowledgement of the achievements and benefits of other cultures. It is also not helpful to think that European culture is evil because of all the bad things that happened in the past.

Civilisation is just a thin veneer that can easily disappear. If the world descends into chaos, no culture, religion or ideology can protect us from the beast that lives within us all. That is perhaps the most compelling reason for being a cultural relativist and for embracing multiculturalism and allowing a global culture to emerge. It is not an achievement to be born with a specific cultural heritage nor should it be a reason for blame. On the other hand, overcoming the limits of your own culture and contributing to a better future might be an achievement, and you could be faulted for failing to do so.

Featured image: One Ring to Rule Them All. Xander (2007). Public Domain.

1. A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. The Clash of Civilizations And the Remaking of World Order. Samuel Huntington (1997). Simon & Schuster.