Five Usurys: Currency, Land, Patents, Intellectual Property and Tariffs.
By Charles Eisenstein
Jul 12, 2009 - 7:57:00 AM
Five Usuries: Currency, Land, Patents, Intellectual Property and Tariffs.
Comment on Reality Sandwich Blog by Propaganda Anonymous:
' ...Ezra Pound was super into Gessel's work. Pound seemed also very influenced by Henry George, the idea of Social Capital, as well bunches more.
I am super into the idea of negative-interest currency systems. And as you say, Irving Fischer was so awed by Gessel's system he started his own scheme here in the states. Which was pretty huge back then because Irving was just as well known and respected as Keynes was. But most people today only 'know' the name of Keynes.
When the Great Depression hit here in the 30's many alternative currencies cropped up in the US. Roosevelt got word of this and he took action to stop communities from making alternative forms of currency.
Which raises the question that many great thinkers have debated before us. How does all this decentralization happen in such a way that won't leave a leaking hole.
Meaning, Benjamin Tucker debated Henry George in his magazine 'The Egoist' (I think that was the name) about which area should be best 'liberated' Currency and/or Land.
Tucker believed that some reasons that the economy wasn't really working in the way Adam Smith proposed because there were four 'usuries' that kept our system from being a truly Free Market.
These were 1. Land 2.Patents 3. Tariffs 4. Currency
As long as some 'authority' held a tight grip upon any and all these four things, liberation was far off.
So I'm hearing lots about Alternative Currencies these days, which is great!
For me I'm also tempering this with a deeper understanding of Land politics And the notion of Patent monopolies And how countries use Tariffs as a weapon..
Response submitted by Charles Eisenstein on Sun, 04/20/2008 - 09:21.
'Yes, I actually had a paragraph about Fisher that I deleted to keep the article succinct. He was a Yale economist, prominent in the 1930s, and actually published a booklet promoting Free-money, known in the U.S. as stamp-scrip. http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~roehrigw/fisher/. This was a practical manual; I haven't found any theoretical treatment of it beyond Gesell and a little in Keynes.
Speaking of Gesell and land, Gesell actually did advocate "free land" in addition to free-money. Then as you mention, Tucker adds tarriffs and patents to the usury list. When you examine it deeply, following the thread of Proudhon, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that all property is a form of theft. It originates in theft, and it is immoral to profit from theft, which is what usury is. To take land as an example, you don't think you stole your land because you purchased it from someone who had a legitimate deed. But where did they get it? Trace it back far enough, and at some point someone owned it simply because they took it. Same for the raw materials of other material creations. That is why Henry George advocated only being able to profit on improvements to land, and not land itself. Only our labor is truly ours; everything else we borrow from nature, or, if we have no intention of treating what we borrow with respect or returning it undamaged, we steal.
As for "intellectual property", the inspirations, stories, images, and so on that we claim as our own actually arise from a source beyond ourselves. The Greeks called it the Muse, and I believe all artists and poets sometimes are aware of being a channel for their art, and not its originator. Certainly indigenous artists thought that way. (I have citations for these claims in The Ascent of Humanity.) Certainly, the great stories have been told and retold through history, in slightly different form. All we add to a story is the labor of its telling. Intellectual property too is theft.
In keeping with this, my book is on line in its entirety for free or voluntary donation. I discuss these issues in depth in chapter 4 (www.ascentofhumanity.com/chapter4-1.php).
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