A disapproving ex-housemate linked me to this fascinating article about the continuing relevance of the Classics to our life. Money, properly understood, was invented in Greece in the sixth century in Ionia. And from then onwards we see the development of a scepticism in Greek culture to the easy to believe fallacy that money can be infinitely accrued. Seaford uses the example of the myth of Erysichthon, who cuts down a sacred grove to make a banqueting hall and then finds that no food fills him up. Eventually he eats himself.
I look forward to the Hollywood adaptation.
He writes of how money liberates us to limitless activities:
This liberation is just one element in a universal deregulation or “unlimitedness” that has in the last generation changed the world. This has involved the destruction of limits of all kinds: limits on the movement of capital (once controlled by nation-states); limits articulating cultural space, with the result that a Holiday Inn in Minneapolis is now exactly the same as a Holiday Inn in Mombasa (money homogenizes); limits on the salaries-cum-bonuses that the money-controllers pay themselves; limits on the gap between rich and poor (an unlimitedness that makes common purpose impossible). It has also destroyed the limitation of speculative price by any internal relation to its financial or artistic product (investing in junk bonds is essentially the same as investing in junk art, and done by some of the same people).
Which got me thinking about Naomi Klein’s op-ed from July in the Guardian about how the financial bailout “is a robbery in progress” that looks like a legal portrait of… Sarah Palin.
Klein argues that Palin, in her desire to fuel unending economic growth by digging toxic holes for oil in the Alaskan wilderness represents the very limitless love of money. The very thing that Aristotle, Plato and their forebears feared. Klein talks of “the most comforting and dangerous lie that there is: the lie that perpetual, unending growth is possible on our finite planet”. Klein reminds us that capitalism, that development of money that makes us yearn not just for more things but for more innovation of things is the myth of constant discovery. This myth is what we are spending billions supporting. This myth that costs trillions when babies die for the sake of pennies. This myth that has been exposed for what it is from the first days of drama continues to live and thrive in Obamaland. Klein explains the meaning of this:
myth of constant “discovery”, and what it tells us about the economic system that they’re spending trillions of dollars to save. What it tells us is that capitalism, left to its own devices, will push us past the point from which the climate can recover. And capitalism will avoid a serious accounting – whether of its financial debts or its ecological debts – at all costs. Because there’s always more. A new quick fix. A new frontier.
Your Correspondent, Sleeping strange, with a head full of pesticide