Wednesday, October 09, 2013

I believe you believe

Money and the global village.

Money is one of our most purely constructed imagined realities. It's value depends almost entirely on the fact that other people find it valuable. Coins were invented in Lydia 2700 years ago, but their usefullness was soon apparent. India started accepting the Roman Denarius, and when they started making their own coins, copied the Roman coin down to the image of Augustus on the face.

Yuval Noah Harari calls money the most universal and undiscriminating product of culture. People all over the world would accept Roman coins whether they hated Rome or loved it, and similarly the American dollar today.

So why should cultures who disagree on every other value put their faith in money? Mostly it's a matter of knowing that other people trust it, that plus supply and demand. Of course money also depends on the fact, or imagined fact, of a powerful government dedicated to protecting its value.

Too bad the Republican congress won't take Harari's course. Not that they are smart enough to understand the point that screwing with people's trust in money is an enormous calamity. Either that, or they are Galtian millenialists trying to end the world as we know it so that even the dumb high school nerds can rule it.