Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Debt: The first five thousand years - The Long Now Blog

Debt: The first five thousand years - The Long Now Blog: "“Societies” are really states, the logic of states is that of conquest, the logic of conquest is ultimately identical to that of slavery. True, in the hands of state apologists, this becomes transformed into a notion of a more benevolent “social debt”. Here there is a little story told, a kind of myth. We are all born with an infinite debt to the society that raised, nurtured, fed and clothed us, to those long dead who invented our language and traditions, to all those who made it possible for us to exist. In ancient times we thought we owed this to the gods (it was repaid in sacrifice, or, sacrifice was really just the payment of interest – ultimately, it was repaid by death). Later the debt was adopted by the state, itself a divine institution, with taxes substituted for sacrifice, and military service for one’s debt of life. Money is simply the concrete form of this social debt, the way that it is managed. Keynesians like this sort of logic. So do various strains of socialist, social democrats, even crypto-fascists like Auguste Comte (the first, as far as I am aware, to actually coin the phrase “social debt”)."

This is an impressive piece. Heavy but interesting.