Is money just the thing that corporations use to control humans?
[ 14/September/21 ]
It is much more complex than “just” that.
And it is certainly used to influence/control at many levels by many agents.
At its root money is a symbol of trust.
It is founded in the idea that you trust that if somebody gives you the symbol for some good or service you supply, that somebody else will redeem that symbol for some other good or service you want at some later time.
In that sense, money is purely myth. It works only because people believe it will work. And to maintain that belief, there are many layers of systems to deter cheats from wrecking the system, but not enough.
The biggest single issue with the money system is the type of value that it measures – “market value” or “value in exchange”.
If you think about air, it is arguably the most valuable thing for any of us, yet it has no market value because we can each get all we want simply by breathing.
Air is both valuable and abundant, but that abundance means it has no value in exchange, and therefore no market value.
The flip side of that is the fundamental issue with money that we now have.
In a system that measures value in markets, there can be no value in meeting all the reasonable needs that everyone has, as doing so means that the “market value” of those goods and services drops to zero, by definition, just like air has zero market value.
So the often spoken idea that money can meet all needs is actually false.
In an age where fully automated systems can relatively easily actually meet all the reasonable needs of everyone on the planet, there can be no internal market incentive to actually do that.
So there are incentives, and meta incentives, and meta-meta incentives (continue as far as you are able) to actually maintain scarcity when abundance is easily available.
As automation increases in complexity, the fraction of people who can deliver market value with their labor drops.
A short term fix, to buy us some decades to do the complex work required to create replacement systems, would be to deliver a dividend to every person (a sum of money that could be thought of as coming from the sum of human inventiveness and work over deep time). Ensuring that everyone has at least some money to participate in the current system is one way of keeping it going a little longer, but it still has a fundamentally broken idea at its core, and does need to be replaced.
So sure, corporations use money to gain influence, but so do all levels of agents and agency in our current very complex set of levels and classes of agents present.
Most of the worst impacts of that come from people using very simple and very short term models of what is actually in their own long term self interest.
In an age of automation, with digital memory that never forgets, there is no way to cheat and get away with it long term. The consequences of actions will eventually catch up at some point. So it is actually in the long term self interests of everyone (all levels of agents) to cooperate, to accept and respect any and all diversity that is not actually a direct threat, and to ongoingly develop and deploy cheat detection and mitigation systems.
With such levels of cooperation and respect, we can safely deploy productive technologies that are suicidaly dangerous in competitive environments. We can achieve degrees of security and freedom never before possible. Technology is a tool that allows that to happen, but only if we are far sighted enough to actually use it wisely, in our own long term self interests.