Behind it all is a writing project entitled
London, Spring 2019
EDIT [Autumn 2023]: I’ve done a more pristine edit with the below paper for the SYSTEMICS II book, where it is part of 16 collected essays in total …
[fundamentals of barter and exchange or the reclamation of values]
No matter how many tomes have been composed on the topic of economics, trade and commerce, the bottom line still hasn’t summed-up the matter like the statement I’d been given by the owner of one of the last coin shops in London:
“Every transaction means that you agree on an exchange rate that you then have to live with until you exchange again”
In other words, we’ve all been doing barter trade all along, only that money, as so called ‘legal tender’, has confused things. Sure, at the time where silver, gold and copper exchanged hands, carrying the official ‘imprints’ of the governing cesars during monarchies or portraits of the great goddess during republics (“money” and “mint” stem from the word “moon”, apparently), you didn’t need a bank to tell you what it’s worth, since the piece you exchanged had an intrinsic value, a value that was based on the current precious metal value. Even copper had a lot of value, being called the ‘gold of Africa’ in local currency. It was collected, exchanged and stored in the tent or hut to conveniently provide an ongoing household budget. The worth of the precious metal (before the bankers had done their daily fixing over the phone each morning in London) was the matter of an Universal Law of Values – Scarcity and Demand.
The exchange of mutually accepted values like precious metals, pearls, jewels, spices (and of sex, alcohol and cigarettes to the desperately craving) meant to balance-even all transactions on what I call a ‘no-man’s land’. It’s otherwise difficult to negotiate whether fixing a computer is possibly equivalent to cleaning a toilet. That’s acually the great thing about money that from the moment you exchange into legal tender, it gives you the freedom to go on and again exchange it – at your own leisure – into whatever else you please.
Trouble are the banknotes, though. And the game is finally over with fictional currency such as mere figures changing ownership on a computer. Actually, the thing about banknotes is interesting in itself and can teach us a lot. They’re called ‘obligations’. The carrier of a banknote holds a cheque or an obligation in his or her hand that is accepted by other people as a legally binding promise of the value printed on it.
Originally, the value printed on it obliged the issuing bank to give you back the amount in gold or equivalent silver again. Change it back to where it came from. Have a look at notes before 1920, they’ll have this printed on them as ‘gold or silver standard’ or ‘to be redeemed in legal tender metal coins’. That’s the interesting thing about banknotes. They’re not currency as such but obligations to carry around with you. Faking them was punishable with death penalty in ancient China, that’s how serious paper values can be.
Most of the banknotes people should’ve changed back into gold or silver coins at the first opportunity. But they didn’t. Only in very rare cases some of the banknotes – it turns out – now exceed the value of the equivalent gold in a collector’s market. Take an uncirculated £ 1,- note from King Edward or George, for instance. £ 1,- back then was 1 gold Souvereign. If it isn’t uncirculated, it’d be different.
Yet most banknotes today are worth hardly anything in comparison to its equivalent original gold or silver value. The issuers been taking the piss, lol. It would’ve helped if the banks (and governments) hadn’t had the audacity to withdraw some of their obligations from circulation and declare the remainder null and void. As a matter of fact – if seen from higher, divine realms – since no expiry date had been printed on these issued obligations, I personally feel that suddenly not redeeming them anymore can in fact be regarded as fraudulent. A promise or an obligation will surely remain one, even though out of the blue sky they decide to slap-on an expiry date afterwards. So-called ‘Notgeld’ usually had an expiry date. Banknotes didn’t.
Anyway, be it coins, banknotes or even computer figues – bartering them into some tangible assets would generally prove more beneficial in the long run, while in the short run it keeps one’s life volatile and dynamic. The key question then being:
What to exchange them to?
And here, it all comes down to a level of personal (even political) choice – or a little remainder of freedom on the material plane, as any monetary decision will have major impacts not only on our personal but also on our collective fate.
Now – the world having come to this present stage, with mass-media and mind-control technology, with international supply-chains and worldwide brand-strategies or marketing-campaigns – it’s fairly easy for quite considerable wordly powers to manipulate either scarcity or demand – even both – and thus falsify the true picture in order to make tremendous profits and purposefully mislead people. Consequently, the big question to solve for our economic survival is to have a vision and a rationale as to the underlying truth of what’s truly scarce and what’s truly in demand and what’s maniputated to only appear valuable. After you’re done throwing out of your window all the money that you haven’t handed over as taxes – when you’re levelheaded again and not emotionally on a hook by tacky seducers – you can prove what you believe, say and envision by putting your money where your mouth is and see how you fare.
There’s one more thing that adds enormous difficulty to really comprehending the true situation. That’s the law of mass production and mass distribution – the Law of Units. Ever wondered why many of the things you bought for 50,- or 100,- or even 500,- a little while ago nobody wants to buy off you for even 1,- lately? Well, that’s because the truth only reveals itself at the very last moment. There are just too many of these things around, they can be obtained too easily, and they oftentimes aren’t manufactured to a high standard, either. From the outset, the powers have had a laugh at all those people who buy into their mass-produced stuff. None of them themselves would ever buy anything that can’t be sold on a profit. They know the Law of Scarcity and Demand in and out and are well aware of the principle of barter trade and of exchanging with a view of gaining an advantage. They’d think, “who’d buy an item for 99,- that cost to produce perhaps 0,20 and almost nothing to package and distribute?” Perhaps advertising and marketing runs up a cost and usually by far the most. And perhaps when you resell it, if the marketing campaign is still fresh enough to stick in people’s minds, or has been done for a considerable length of time to have shaped the public perception, you’ll still benefit from it (get maybe 15,- to 20,- instead of not even 1,-). But you’re obviously exchanging at a loss at this time, even considering the fact that you’d been using the item for a period of time (which wouldn’t weigh much on truly valuable items – quite the opposite sometimes).
What this tells us is to stay away from mass-produced things as much as we can, really, either from a buyers’ or a sellers’ point of view. From a sellers’ point of view, perhaps the most obvious reason is to avoid by all means engaging in a futile struggle against powers beyond imagination. If many of the same articles are available, any possible buyer will inevitably always choose the cheapest one. And to be the cheapest (unless you steal or use slaves like China), you’ll inevitably have to be the biggest in order to command the best production and distribution deals. And because you’re the cheapest then, you’ll be the only one who really gets going those millions of units. Only by getting going very large numbers will the Law of Units work out in the end. Which in turn will make you even bigger – to the point that you’re finally so big that everyone else around you has already died. That’s the Law of Units at work.
Only then, when you have the monopoly after the trade war, will you be able to ask about any price for what you have to offer. Neatly packaged fancy new iPhones. Introducing lollipop-flavour Coca Cola to your happy crowd. Hooking people while you’re on that journey to total triumph will obviously help a lot never to be abandoned again after you’ve succeeded.
Didn’t Rockefeller say that “competition is a sin?”
[ tags: money, values, mass production, scarcity, demand, numismatics, banknotes, obligation, redeeming, intrinsic value, coins, gold, silver, copper, hand-made, law of units, vintage, second hand, slave labour, monopoly, stealing, hooking people, … ]