Going From “You Owe Me” to “Money”

The history of money:

Standard economic theory is that once upon a time all transactions were exclusively barter:  e.g., 20 chickens for your cow, a basket of corn for your basket of wheat, 3 animal furs for your spear.  Then inconveniences arose when your neighbor didn’t need that many chickens right now but you still needed his cow – so then money was invented as an arbitrary medium of exchange that you both could agree had value.

However, anthropologists have never found places where everyday transactions look like Adam Smith’s theory of the exclusive barter system – the place where everybody in the community does business via on-the-spot trades.  What anthropologists do observe among primitive communities is an exchange system more like:  “Take the cow and now you owe me one.”  If these communities are tribal [e.g., Native Americans], there is often no exchange at all – rather things are shared commonly or allocated by a tribal council, etc.

In other words – the story doesn’t go:

barter –> money –> debt

rather, it goes the other way:

debt –> money –> barter

There was never a community of on-the-spot traders that sought out a medium of exchange, that then became money.  There was a “Just take it and now you owe me one” system of tribal-sharing that turned into a system of measured obligation [called debt – where money is the unit of measure].  And then on-the-spot trading and bartering systems only appear among people in money-based systems where the currency has collapsed.

The role of the state:

What made the “Just take it and now you own me one” turn into a system of measured obligation and money?  For millions of years humans organized themselves according to their tribe and their tribe’s land – and nothing else.

Advancements such as monoculture and city-states created large groups of largely unrelated persons living together – humans began “bonding” through commerce or business or information.  While civilization has undoubtedly caused great benefits for the human species, having larger communities bound by principles other than kinship created a greater potential for war [leading to plunder and slaves to be divided up] and a greater interest in taxation.

We observe complex financial systems of measured credit and debt at the beginning of recorded history.  Meaning, by the time historical records began to be written, humans had already come to a point past the tribal-sharing model, and were full-swing into a monetary-based system such as:  “just compensation shall be 20 heifers of the finest quality, if not he shall be put to death.”

In Egypt, a strong centralized state excised taxes from everyone else.  In Mesopotamia, the state emerged rather unevenly – beginning first with large temple-districts [e.g., Gobekli Tepe], and then later palace-complexes.  In any event, the state is where money begins as a unit of measure – used to allocate resources within these new systems of human organization.

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

There three ways to understand this scripture:

  • Nothing belongs to Caesar because all things are God’s.  So render nothing.
  • Some things do belong to Caesar, but the United States is not under a “Caesar”, but is a representative democracy.  “We the People” are “Caesar”.  So you don’t have to render, but you can/should.
  • Money belongs entirely to Caesar and God has nothing to do with it.  Render it all.

Now show me some tribute money — and what is the image and superscription you find?  All money pertains to Caesar.  There aren’t legitimate parts of the state that have claim on some of our money and illegitimate parts that do not.  Legal tender belongs to the state alone and those who want to be free of its control can’t be half in Caesar’s game and half out.

Meaning you can’t charge money for your labor, spend money to buy the fruits of another’s labor, and lay-up your money for a rainy day, etc. — and not expect to fall under the jurisdiction of Caesar who wants his due rendered to him.  Caesar’s is a money-based community.  God’s is a money-free community.

Once you convert something of real value [e.g., your time or your labor] into something of no value [like dollars] – it is lost forever.  The only way to retain the value is to stay in Caesar’s game.  Find someone else who plays and trade with them.

Dollars are like inches. They are only a unit of measure [dollars = value, inches = length].  We know we don’t carry around inches in our pocket – yet many actually believe dollars to be something.  And money falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state.  As such, once you work for dollars, the thing of value disappears and is replaced by the thing of no-value.  The only way to get back value is to find someone who plays the same game and do a value-for-no-value trade with them – perpetuating the whole thing.

The role of the gospel:

Jesus’ ministry cost very little – a couple taxes paid via miraculous means.  God finances His operation in His own way.  However, the Gentile LDS church has not been able to recreate this.  We instead maintain a significant financial operation – making it obvious to any outside observers that it’s the power of money [not of the priesthood] that carries the work forward in these latter-days.  We have sufficient for our needs and invest the difference.

To be poor and join the church — one will be immediately confronted with the image of a wealthy group with certain expectations.  It is a wealthy church with a self-perpetuating financial arm that is able to use interest profited off of tithing contributions to fund for-profit ventures that “fund the work of the Lord”.

While it could be argued that, practically-speaking, currency is just simply required to “spread the gospel” and that leaders are just being “good stewards” — I don’t think anything about the gospel reads as being “practically-minded”.

The corporation that carries the trademarked name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, like any other business, dependent on money.  It must play Caesar’s game.  No operation playing that game can sustain itself without engaging in at least a bit of for-profit venturing, shrewd investing, and fund-raising here-and-there.  And I would not expect them too.  I do not fault that corporation for it’s handling of and dealings with money – I find fault for the claim that it is the same organization that existed in the primitive church, but not doing it.

One can never be free while still playing Caesar’s game:

Jesus and the kingdom have no use for money.  Jesus taught His disciples to live contrary to the principles of surplus economics and instead rely alone on God to provide [not self-reliance and provident living].

There is a reason Jesus sent missionaries out without purse or scrip – commanding them to take no thought for food, drink, or clothing – to freely give miraculous works to any who receive them – to rely on the mercies of the world to provide for their needs.  It is because only the poor are intended to teach and preach the gospel.

And only the poor [who are meek] will inherit the abundance of spiritual manifestations and the Earth.  Zion is to be a money-free community where all members live together and have all things common – where all mine are thine and we are glorified together.

When humans lived in the Edenic state of multihusband-multiwife tribes – money did not exist.  The idea of “having any money” was foreign to Adam, who only kept the tokens associated with his priesthood.  Any return to such a paradisaical lifestyle will only be associated with complimentary return to the manner of connectedness and cooperation humans shared before statism, monogamous family-units, and monetary-based systems of exchange.

Want to start a real revolution this new year?  It takes a revelation…give it a try

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  1. I’m glad there’s at least one other person who thinks this way. I always found it ironic that our fetish for wealth is set against the background of a re-enactment of the fall of man wherein we find that money was first introduced into the world by Lucifer: “You can buy anything in this world with money…” That little aspect of our ritual goes unnoticed, yet it was the adversary’s first action after the fall. Even before the fall, he announced the introduction of money as the strategy for taking revenge on God: “Then with that enmity I will take the treasures of the earth and buy up armies and navies,” etc.

    I ask myself how we miss this? It’s right there in one of the ceremonies we consider most sacred. Yet who is more to blame — the spiritually blind Latter-day Saint who can’t see the obvious when it’s presented right in front of his eyes, or those of us who see it but continue our search for wealth. It ain’t easy to extract oneself from Babylon…

    I remember teaching an Elders Quorum class once in which I reviewed the commandments given by the Lord to Israel in Deuteronomy. We went over the myriad financial rules, and particularly the prohibition of interest on loans. I mentioned that although Christians were granted a reprieve from some of the outward rituals of the law of Moses, Jesus was much stricter on laws governing our interactions with others, and so we can’t count on the financial aspects as having been repealed — indeed we are likely under sin if we don’t follow these rules. The class was very upset by this concept, and turned quite hostile. The standard response that “usury” only means excessive interest was given, to which I responded that the Hebrew “nashak” is any sort of “bite” or charge for lending money, and this corresponds well to the use of the word “usury” in the time that the King James translation was done. I was told that I was obviously wrong because our entire financial system depends on the concept of interest — apparently it’s unwritten scripture (an oxymoron, I know) that God must approve of our financial system. I myself took all the warnings about Babylon to mean precisely the opposite…

  2. I was told that I was obviously wrong because our entire financial system depends on the concept of interest — apparently it’s unwritten scripture (an oxymoron, I know) that God must approve of our financial system.

    This dynamic is common in more than just money-issues. It’s a typical human response — to assume that what you’re doing is acceptable and make all else fit into that context.

    When I’ve shared the idea of having sacrament meals where all eat and drink until they are filled with church acquantencies — I’ve heard, “Well, our wards are all so large, it would take so much bread/drink and so much time for everyone to be filled… etc.”

    But it’s reversing the thing. We shouldn’t take what we are currently doing and see how we can make the word of God fit with that [e.g. saying that ‘nashak’ must just mean exorbitant interest] — but take the word of God and have that inform what we are currently doing.

    Back to the sacrament example — the people who’ve said that to me have to just ignore the directive of Jesus for all to eat and drink until they are filled [or spiritualize away any meaning to what He said] because we have large congregations where we obviously can’t do that in a reasonable way. Whereas, I look at the same situation and conclude that maybe that should tell us that we are making our congregations too large.

    In other words, we should cut away at our actions that don’t conform to the word of God — not cut away at the word of God that doesn’t conform to our actions.

  3. It is real simple and yet so deeply embedded in all our lives that we do not see it. To believe reality you must accept that a very large conspiracy exists against eternal truth and God’s ways. It is called Satan which is a group of many billions of spirits headed by Lucifer. They (Satan) have been active since before the creation to destroy the purpose of creation namely the exaltation of those spirits who chose to follow Christ as the redeemer.
    I have not been following all the transpires on this blog. Justin and I have no back channel of communication set up. And yet during my months of relative inactivity here I have been very active in studying and attempting to practice the truths I have learned.
    I too have been seeing that money will not be and can not be part of Zion. We say that money is just a medium of exchange. That is what it could be but that is not the only nor the primary purpose of what we use as money. What is used as money is not so much a medium of exchange as it is a method of control. Lucifer’s plan was to destroy agency and give himself control over others. We can’t even comprehend living in a world without money therefore we can’t comprehend not being controlled by Satan.
    In Revelation it tells of a time when in order to buy and sell people would have to take upon themselves the mark of the beast. And then is says something like “and here is the patience of the saints.”
    Even if we used only silver or gold as a medium of exchange there is a problem. Those things can be hoarded and stored up and then used to control others and the rich end up controlling the lives of the poor. The true medium of exchange is love manifested by sharing all the God given abilities of our bodies and our minds. In a society where all consecrate by their own agency their time, talents and everything with which God has blessed us to the building up the happiness and peace of each other (Zion is our extended family or tribe functioning properly) money whether precious metals, bank notes or central bank credits has no function.
    I am here in a society where we are just one step from living off the land and just one more step from living altogether in love. And where you are it is actually the same.
    The first step is eliminate the mindset of who owes who what. Once that is done money is gone. But it really can’t happen unless we really love each other enough to be willing to give all we have in sharing. If Justin and I are part of the same small group of families living in close proximity to each other and he can gather twice as many nuts as me (I am older and has more stamina) then he won’t lie down at night thinking “he owes me”. He will be thinking, “Oh I got a lot of nuts today. I am tired but I am so happy not only is there enough for me but DYC and his family have enough for the next week also.” He will have not only food and security food brings but he will have the peace and happiness that comes from loving other people.
    And I will lie down at night thinking, “Oh I am so thankful that Justin worked so hard and got so many nuts. What can I do to show my thanks? Hey since we have the food for his week I can build that labor saving water pump I have designed. That way even the little kids can pump the water no problem.”
    A fantasy you say? No that is the future. In reality it is the only future there is. All things (gold, silver, the stock market, the central bank etc) shall fade away. But charity is never faileth. It is the only self sustaining principle.

  4. I was invited to this blog. I do not share the basic absolutist “reactionism” of the author, as in “there was NEVER a….”

    We might agree on the following, however. As a child, there was general anarchy in my midst, at least in the sense of no formal economic or court system. Then organisms such as parents and siblings took from and gave to me. If they had the capacity to take from me, they did, sometimes explaining in language and sometimes not. Also, if I had the capacity to play with a toy in my midst as in grab an object, then I simply did. Language and such categories as “mine” and “yours” and “ours” eventually developed.

    I invite you to “get” language first. When I say get language first, I do mean to introspect and relax, and even to seek first the kingdom of heaven which is within you. But what does that word heaven mean? 😉

    Here is a starting point for exploring language:


    So, there is always barter and always racketeering and always debt. None of them are morally wrong in some extra-linguistic way. Racketeering is typically monopolized by court systems of organized violence, or even when the tribal council threatens to economically excommunicate someone from the ward or the tribe. In some cases, like in a family or household, a single oldest alpha male may be the entire tribal council, like a mother bird is absolute ruler over the new chicks. That’s enough for now.

  5. We can make up questions like “how should I operate” and “what should the state do.” However, all of those questions are rooted in sin, vanity, suffering, and shame. Witness your shame and give it up.

    Note that there is no such thing- at least not inherently- as a “God’s way” which contrasts with “Caesar’s way.” We can make up that God has no authority over a particular group such as the USA, and that God creates everything, except for the USA, which is beyond God’s influence, or that God is going to destroy the evil money-changers or at least expel them from the temple.

    God may expel them from the temple. God may raise a Confederacy or bring it down- along with Confederate dollars. God may even form a belief in you or me about what should be. That may be part of the process of humbling the arrogant or at least weeding out the shameful.

    We bring upon ourselves our condemnation of money and wealth. Yes, we may inherent various ideas, but we do not have to worship the ideas and ideals we inherit, including the allegedly sacred rules of the USA or a particular Testament. At some point, one may notice the authority of God which forms rules, enforces them, reforms them, and then discards and forgets them. All of human history is just a momentary flash in the wink of the eye of God.

  6. jrfibonacci it is a little difficult agree with someone who says one thing then contradicts that idea and says that might be true also.
    But there is one precept which you mention which I just want to state my belief that it is completely false. In fact if a person holds to this idea then any exchange of ideas with them is fruitless.
    You wrote “At some point, one may notice the authority of God which forms rules, enforces them, reforms them, and then discards and forgets them. All of human history is just a momentary flash in the wink of the eye of God”
    This places God outside of truth meaning God does not operate by truth and is as likely to do one thing as He is to do its opposite. Such a principle is self destroying and will be just as likely to destroy itself as to create anything.
    And if you truly believe that human existence is a momentary flash of a completely capricious being then why did you take time to type this? Why did you take time to get up. Why bother thinking or studying if everything is a mass of changeable contradictions? Your world has neither truth nor falsehood and is not capable of bringing forth any good thing.
    That is just my opinion.

  7. Great Question. My short response is this: “why not?”

    Also, there is no good thing. God alone is good. The rest is the imaginative idolatry of a persona or personality. If you knew God, you might not be so interested in “the world,” by which I know that you really just mean your own self-image. All your attachment to “the world” is vanity. You are the creator of the world and the creator of attachment, but you do not know yourself for you do not know God.

    Ideas are fruitless. You are already free. You make up ideas to deny your own freedom, which, apparently, you are entirely free to do.

  8. fibonacci:

    I was invited to this blog.

    I’m wondering why you prefaced with this — I’ve found your comments on this post and on my other post to be enjoyable. Did you think I’d be wondering why you are commenting here?

    I do not share the basic absolutist “reactionism” of the author, as in “there was NEVER a….”

    I wasn’t really speaking philosophically or normatively when I wrote: “There was never a community of on-the-spot traders that sought out a medium of exchange, that then became money.” It was a descriptive statement — I was reporting what anthropologists have found as it relates to the “origin of money” theories circa Adam Smith.

    Philosophically-speaking, however, I am not absolutist — though funny enough, your comments do strike me with a fair bit of absolute idealism — so maybe you’re more absolutist than you think?

  9. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for welcoming me. First, I don’t know how people usually get to this blog. In noting that how I got here is that I was invited and accepted the invitation, I could have added that I am not very familiar with some of the LDS references here. For the most part, they do not especially interest me so far, by the way.

    I was invited by someone with whom I have recently been exploring the spectrum from aggression to relaxation. I am skeptical of any claims of anti-aggression. Anti-aggression is like anti-resistance. It is just more aggression or resistance.

    I may or may not promote contempt toward any economic system or any alleged enemy or perceived threat. I may or may not promote “saving the world” from economics or politics or whatever.

    I am aware of what seems to me like a background of normative judgment, contempt , blame, and shame. If the LDS institution encourages that, that is not especially unusual. Many or even most churches do, right?

    I am not a rebel against contempt either. I have had contempt against churches and individuals (like a few times today so far). My experience of contempt for churches may be labeled by me as in response to their teaching me to have contempt for myself and others. In other words, I can blame them for any contempt toward them…. or not.

    Contempt is really not so bad, but perhaps not so good either. It is just hell, that’s all.

    Peace be within you

  10. I have no doubt that in this sphere we are capable of being influenced by unseen entities. This is as it should be. It is up to us to choose what we will be influenced by. Once we adopt the type of influences we choose they will work through us to further their goals. I like God and His ways. He motive is to benefit all humans. He know who we are eternal beings of infinite potential and therefore of infinite worth not just to Him but to all existence. And He knows that giving all intelligences their freedom to chose is the only way that produces good.
    I am not sure what jrfibonacci may or may not be talking about since he is not sure if he is or is not etc continuing on with all possible contradiction and otherwise useless babble. I certainly don’t cling to any “world” because I know there is truth, things as the are, were and are to come. Things that are real. Lies like darkness are not reality they simply serve to obscure reality. And jrfibonacci has been a great influence to divert the discussion on this post from a real powerful clue that can wake people up the the existence of a false matrix into which we were all born.
    That clue can be seen by considering this reality point and then answering a question or two about it.
    Reality point: Money is a convention made by men. It only possess meaning and power as a group of humans give it that power. If you doubt this take the equivalent of $10,000 USD in Chinese government issued money the Yaun and try to buy a big mac meal in say Denver, or nearly any other US city. Now if you take a US dollar and try to by something in a different county you might get a little further but in most places not. A small shop keeper deep into Mexico or Indonesia or any other country will not take a $10 bill as payment. It has no value to him because the other humans where he shops and banks don’t value it either. Of course he can go to a currency exchange in a big city. But you see the fact that these funny pieces of paper or thin plastic (the Mexican 20 peso bill is plastic it is so cool its waterproof!) with intricate pictures on them have only the value we assign them. It is a 100% contrived fantasy.
    Now answer this question is it possible for you to be a functional part of your community or to even be able to survive without any money or at least instruments which invoke money (credit/debt cards or checks)?
    Then isn’t it a fact that a huge portion of our lives and even our total civilization is controlled by a thing which is itself fully controlled by a group of men?
    Yes waking up and getting rid of this clinging to a “world” a “matrix” which enslaves us and so totally controls us that we don’t even know it is there is a real good thing. So back to the topic at hand does anyone out there care to give their ideas on how a person can free themselves of this matrix?

  11. First, there is no such thing as a false thing. There are just labels which apply better or worse, like “false teeth” is a label for what is otherwise known as “dentures.”

    So, we are in the midst of a perceptual or interpretative matrix made of language. That is precisely the kind of issue that is primary over the exchange of opinions in language. Some of you may have very little relatedness to what language is. Language itself is far more powerful than opinions (which are just creations in language anyway).

    However, there are no false perceptions. That is like saying false imaginations. Perceptions are just perceptions like imaginations are just imaginations. Photographs of your cat are not your cat, and not a false cat, but just a photograph of a cat. Also, the word cat is not a cat, but the word cat is not a false cat. It’s just a word. So is “money.”

  12. Now, what gives money purchasing power? Is it language? Is it ink on paper? Of course not- though that is RELATED.

    My assertion remains that the root of money is the organized violence of whatever agents of court systems which enforce financial contracts including tax codes (AKA racketeering systems), which are presented as a type of legitimate contract (though full of coercion and duress of course). However, all the propaganda about the coercion of a system of organized racketeering is just words and emotional associations, as in a mythology or religion.

  13. As for freeing yourself from the matrix of operations of organized violence and money, that may be quite a challenge. Much easier is to be free of the propaganda matrix in language, such as the linguistic ideal that you would prefer to be free of money and organized violence.

    No you wouldn’t. If you preferred that, you would have already done it. You would stop using money. You could even just walk in to speeding traffic. Or, you could march down to federal court or the closest US army base and demand that they immediately abandon the building in which you allege that they are unlawfully trespassing, then retreat (never to return) and leave you to your constitutional right to pursue happiness… but never quite get to it. 😉

    Or you could just apply for residency at a mental hospital. There, you could continue to worship the idea that you are controlled and enslaved, but should not be. You could continue to worship the idea that your suffering would be relieved if you simply destroyed all of the monetary systems on this planet and elected someone honest like Ron Paul to be imperial dictator of the UN.

    However, you have only made up your own suffering. You have made it up using words (like “should”). You were trained in those words and you may have never questioned them (and may not ever).

    Here are two songs (like with music) relating to the power of the language of should:

    By the way, there are a multitude of adaptions that may be relevant to you as far as revising one’s relationship to court systems and economic trends and financial choices. That’s my business… if you are so interested in prosperity that you would be willing to trade in ALL of your proudest contempts for the perhaps rather trivial prize of being happily prosperous. You are welcome to let me know directly (privately)

    Further, here is a 45 minute presentation on the subject of how to benefit from change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwpPjbD1JB0

  14. Fibonacci has good points.

    The last one about “No you wouldn’t. If you preferred that, you would have already done it.” What one believes and what one values may not always be congruent. I believe that being in shape and eating healthy food is important but my actions aren’t congruent with that, because I don’t value it.

    As far as language goes, I had a professor who was agnostic and who felt poetry is how he connected with the divine metaphysical world. He would share stories about The Carpenter’s Son (as he would call Him) and be in awe. The same with Stories about The Siddhartha. He would ask us, “Who is God? God is nothing, it is just a three letter word. So then is God, Jesus? Jesus is just a mask! We have to go past the mask. The mask is just these stories, legends, ideas we have for Jesus. Even if he was a real man, what we know about Him for the most part are these stories that we create this mask to cover God. We have to go past the mask.”

    I asked him how to go past the mask and he used examples from poetry where the poet’s words are used to help one have spiritual experience and in that experience they are able to relate with what the author was trying to express. The words couldn’t convey the message, but using the words to create or remind the reader of experiences that connected with the poets intention was the goal of some great works.

    So relating some what to Fibonacci, the words are words, but it is what results from the words that is what should be of more importance to us.

  15. As far as moneyless societies, “The Continuum Concept” is a great book. It is written by a lady who ended up in the jungles of Venezuela years ago, when there were still tribes that had virtually no contact with the modern world.

    The idea is great, basically we don’t use money within our own family (well some do and some don’t) and that was their style. Whatever someone wanted they gave freely or traded freely. Of course you guys brought up the point that even without money we still use coercion out of strength or intelligence, etc. When we are comfortable with who we are and who God is. When our concern is for others and we have perfect love that casteth out all fear, and in a society where others are of that same mind and heart, then we can be in a system without money/advantageous coercion.

  16. Rob, I agree that the effect of words is what matters about words. If one experiences contempt, that is the effect, or appreciation, or anxiety, or boredom or vitality or what. By the way, I am also very interested in nutrition. I recently shared a free PDF I found online of the 1921 book “Studies in Deficiency Disease” which might as well be a banned book. 😉

  17. Of course when it is favorable to cooperate, people do. However, there are other times as well.

    Symbiosis is amazing, like the bacteria being allowed in to the cells of animals and developing in to mitochondria, as I have had that evolutionary shift explained to me in those terms. Further, the slaughter of cows and kids in a bomb is nearly as dramatic as that of a big earthquake.

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