A Secret History of Money Power

Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Economy with 0 Comments

Image result for world money historyDr. Kr Bolton | New Dawn

The most hated sort [of moneymaking], and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural use of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term usury which means the birth of money from money is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of making money, this is the most unnatural. – Aristotle (384-322 BCE)1

Aristotle’s definition of usury is perhaps the most cogent ever made. Usury, as originally defined, is any money made from a loan. The Christian and particularly Catholic opposition to usury were founded on the dictum in the Gospel of Luke about giving without expecting anything in return, and on the Old Testament precepts against charging interest.

Opposition to usury seems to have been instinctive in many diverse civilizations and cultures, with an intuition it is something unnatural, parasitic and outright sinful. When a civilization accepts usury as normal business practice, as does Western civilization, it is symptomatic of an advanced cycle of decay.

The Vedic scripts of ancient India (2000-1400 BCE) call the “usurer” kusidin, a lender charging interest. Brâhmanas (priests) and Kshatriyas (warriors) were prohibited from practicing usury. The Sacred Laws of the Aryas states:

God weighed in the scales the crime of killing a learned Brâhmana against the crime of charging interest; the slayer of the Brâhmana remained at the top, the charger of interest sank downwards.2

As in the Western and Classical civilizations, the definition of usury was compromised over time. By the second century CE, the Laws of Manu defined usury as beyond a “legal” interest rate, after which the interest cannot be recovered. The fact there is now a legal rate of interest, rather than an outright prohibition, indicates a compromise of the type that arose in Western Christendom and Classical Greece and Rome. Additionally, like the exemption of the Jews from laws on usury under Mediaeval Christendom, the Hindu merchant caste was permitted trade in usury:

To invest money in interest, to be a jeweler, to tend cattle, tillage, and trade – these are declared as occupations for the Vaisya caste.3

Siddharta Gautama Buddha offered a more unequivocal stance:

One discerns wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood and right livelihood as right livelihood. And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, and charging interest. This is wrong livelihood.4

Plutarch (46–127 CE), in his essay “Against Running In Debt, Or Taking Up Money Upon Usury,” described usurers as “wretched,” “vulture-like,” and “barbarous.” Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE) compared usury to murder. Cicero (106–43 BCE) stated, “these profits are despicable which incur the hatred of men, such as those of… lenders of money on usury.”

Contemporary financial analysts Sidney Homer, who worked for Salomon Bros., and Professor Richard Sylla, in their historical study of interest rates, state that the first known law on the issue was that of Hammurabi, 1800 BCE, during first dynasty Babylonia, who set the maximum rate of interest at 33⅓% per annum “for loans of grain, repayable in kind, and at 20% per annum for loans of silver by weight.”5Sumerian documents, circa 3000 BCE, “show the systematic use of credit based on loans of grain by volume and loans of metal by weight. Often these loans carried interest.”

As early as 5000 BCE in the Middle East, dates, olives, figs, nuts, or seeds of grain were probably lent to serfs, poor farmers, or dependents, and an increased portion of the harvest was expected to be returned in kind…. Earliest historic rates were reported in the range of 20–50% per annum for loans of grain and metal.6

In Greece, 600 BCE, Solon established laws on interest when excessive debt caused an economic crisis. Likewise, in Rome, the “Twelve Tables” of 450 BCE, establishing the foundations of Roman law, after the pervasive debt was causing servitude and crisis, established a maximum interest rate of 8⅓% per annum. When Brutus tried to charge the City of Salmais 48% for a loan, Cicero reminded him that the legal maximum was 12%. The interest rate was often 4%. Some Greek “loan sharks” charged 25% per annum and even 25% per day.7

In the Old Testament, Jews were prohibited from usury: “Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money; usury of victuals; usury of anything that is lent upon usury” (Deut. 23:19). Critically, for history, the Jews were allowed to charge usury to non-Jews: “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury, that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it” (Deut. 23:20).

Those prohibitions, as well as the general ethical character of the New Testament, and the Classical heritage including the Aristotlean, inherited by the Catholic Church, established the basis for Catholic social doctrine in which opposition to usury was a key element. In 325 CE the Council of Nicaea banned usury among clerics. Under Emperor Charlemagne (768–814 CE) the prohibition was extended to laymen. Here usury simply meant the extraction of more than what was lent. This is in accord with what Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (6:35) stated, that one should not expect back more than one gives. In 1139, the Second Lateran Council in Rome declared usury theft, and usurers would have to give restitution. In the 12th and 13th centuries, strategies that concealed usury were also condemned. In 1311 the Council of Vienne declared that anyone claiming usury, not a sin was a heretic and should be excommunicated.8

Dante (1265–1321) placed usurers in the seventh rung of Hell, where the usurer would spend eternity with a heavy bag of money around his neck. Dante wrote:

From each neck there hung an enormous purse, each marked with its own beast and its own colors like a coat of arms. On these, their streaming eyes appeared to feast.9

But the Church often allowed the Jews to practice usury. Moreover, when laws against usury slackened the pretext was an adaptation of Deut. 23:20, allowing Christian lenders to charge usury on loans to non-Christians, such as Muslims, who for their part were also forbidden usury, which the Qur’an calls the sin of riba (Al-Baqarah, 2:275). Likewise, the loophole for the Muslim lender has been that of being able to charge a “fee” for a loan, rather than interest.

The Church attitude from Medieval times was inconsistent – in some places usury remained prohibited while in other places what was instead called “interest” was permitted and justified for the recovery of “losses” by the lender, such as late payment. Hence the Lombards who, like the Jews, also became identified with money-lending, did not charge “usury” but “interest” as high as 100%. Genoa became a center of merchant banking where usury was pursued and the Church felt powerless to act.

In Medieval England, personal loans could range from 52-120% a year, depending on collateral. Frederick the Fair of Austria was borrowing at 80%, while merchants in Italy could borrow at 5-10%. The Crown of Spain was paying 40% for short-term loans, while Dutch merchants could borrow at 1¼%.10

Usury Triumphant

The Reformation ushered in a revolt against the traditional order of Europe. The Protestant attitude towards usury was in flux but soon clarified with Zwingli, Luther, and Calvin stating there are circumstances in which usury is acceptable. Under the division of Church and State, economic theorists began to write in defense of usury as a “progressive” form of commerce, laying the basis for the amoral merchant outlook that now grips most of the world. Money-lending was defended as a “service,” a concept that is, of course, now taken for granted by almost everyone, as argued by the French jurist Molinaeus in his 16th-century Treatise on Contracts and Usury. The Church banned Molinaeus’ book and forced him into exile, but his ideas spread. It is significant that England was the first to establish a legal rate of interest, at 10%, in 1545 under Henry VIII, after he embraced the Reformation. According to Homer and Sylla:

During the Reformation, many Protestant leaders defended interest and credit. As a result, the usury doctrine, which had held a firm grip on Jews and Christians for 2,000 years, was weakened and finally deserted.11

A century later the focus on economic thinking shifted to Holland where usury was defended as productive and essential by economic theorists such as Claudius Salmasius (1588–1653). Holland became the center of banking and the model for the Bank of England. English utilitarian philosophers such as Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham who wrote A Defence of Usury justified the social utility of usury. Other fathers of English economics, David Ricardo, Jean-Baptiste Say and John Stuart Mill, went further in stating there should be no restraints on contracting parties in money-lending.

In the 17th century, the Bank of England was founded as a private institution lending to the state. The Napoleonic war plunged Europe into colossal debt with its subsequent social, moral and political devastation. It set the pattern for the “modern age.” This era of revolutionary upheaval throughout Europe, reaching to its far-off colonies, and ending with Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, saw the rise of the Rothschilds and other money-lenders to become the real masters of Europe. While Metternich of Austria tried to establish a new social order for Europe based around Throne and Altar, the real rulers would henceforth be the bankers. Historian Adam Zamoyski writes:

Every government in Europe taxed whatever it could to pay off wartime borrowing. Britain had spent more in real terms than it would on the First World War, and its national debt was astronomical. Russia’s had multiplied by twenty times between 1801 and 1809, and would more than double again by 1822. Austria was technically bankrupt: over the next three decades an average of 30 percent of state revenue would be siphoned off to service this debt.12

Zamoyski states that the five Rothschild brothers (who had been placed strategically throughout the capitals of Europe by their father Mayer Amschel Rothschild):

and particularly James in Paris and Salomon in Vienna had lent most of the governments of Europe, and particularly those of Austria and France, large sums of money in return for government bonds… Metternich had close links with Rothschild, who had resolved many difficulties for him in the past and who had now arranged for his mother-in-law’s 400,000-franc debt to be written off.13

As for the Church’s traditional bulwark against usury:

The Papal states were bankrupt by 1832, and Metternich saved the pope by persuading the Viennese banking house of Rothschild to provide him with a loan.14

The Great Depression & Social Credit

Moving forward in history to the Great Depression of 1929-1939. This spurred a widespread awakening among all sectors of society as to the character of the banking system. Proponents of a “new” yet traditional economics began appearing in many lands across the world around the same time. During the 1930s Major C.H. Douglas’ lectures on Social Credit impacted on nations such as Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Norway and Australia (see ‘What is Social Credit?’ on page 53). The famous New Zealand Labour politician John A. Lee remarked that the problems of credit and banking were discussed widely everywhere, in pubs, on buses, in the home. The First Labour Government in New Zealand was largely elected on the issue of banking.

Who now, in this era of universal communications and education, gives five minutes to such questions, especially in pondering how to exercise one’s futile vote? Our grandparents and great-grandparents, although they might not have gone to school beyond the primary level, knew immensely more about such matters than subsequent generations. They saw the effects of “poverty amongst plenty.”

As the Hermetic dictum goes: “As above so below.” What occurs in the mundane, earthly realm is a manifestation of a spiritual dichotomy. As discussed at the start of this article, the great philosophers, the primary religions, and most civilisations during those eras in which they remained attuned to their original divine origins, knew that money was a source of “evil” if it was permitted to be used beyond its original purpose and assume a power of its own. The Bible succinctly references the “love of money” as “a root of all kinds of evils”:

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. (I Tim. 6:9-10).

Paul stated this fight is against more than terrestrial powers, but those emanating from another realm:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6: 12)

Like the great religious codes that formed the spiritual foundations of civilizations over millennia and across the Earth, those who have sought a return to traditional values cannot but see the role of usury and money as a commodity in the demise of our spiritual, moral and cultural being.

The influential English occultist Aleister Crowley, the founder of the religion and philosophy of Thelema, was fully awake to the character of money, writing:

What is money? A means of exchange devised to facilitate the transition of the business. Oil in the engine. Very good then: if instead of letting it flow as smoothly and freely as possible, you balk its very nature; you prevent it from doing its True Will. So every restriction on the exchange of wealth is a direct violation of the Laws of Thelema.15

Apparently, Social Credit is Thelemic. This might be more than coincidence. While it is reasonable to suppose that Crowley was aware of the strictures on usury by traditional religions, Crowley knew of A.R. Orage’s literary and political journal The New Age. Orage was a guild-socialist and a prominent Fabian. He was also a follower of Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, and had been a theosophist to the point of being called “The Mystic of Fleet Street.”16

Orage was the most avid and earliest promoter of Major C.H. Douglas’ Social Credit theory and had a primary influence on the doctrine. Ezra Pound and New Zealand poet Rex Fairburn were familiarized with Major Douglas’ ideas through Orage. They would both become lifelong champions of Social Credit as the means by which the rule of Mammon could be dethroned and culture again allowed to bloom. For Orage, the economic question had to be dealt with for spiritual rebirth to succeed. Hence, his commitment to both Gurdjieff and Social Credit were part of the same process. T.S. Eliot, who also adopted Social Credit, stated of Orage, whom he met in 1922:

[A]ny real change for the better meant a spiritual revolution; and he [Orage] said that no spiritual revolution was of any use unless you had a practical economic scheme.17

Read the rest of the article.

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