The Machine Will Never Triumph, part ten
Money is our madness, our vast collective madness.
And of course, if the multitude is mad
the individual carries his own grain of insanity around with him.
I doubt if any man living hands out a pound note without a pang;
and a real tremor, if he hands out a ten-pound note.
We quail, money makes us quail.
It has got us down, we grovel before it in strange terror.
And no wonder, for money has a fearful cruel power among men.
But it is not money we are so terrified of,
it is the collective money-madness of mankind.
For mankind says with one voice: How much is he worth?
Has he no money? Then let him eat dirt, and go cold.—
And if I have no money, they will give me a little bread
so I do not die,
but they will make me eat dirt with it.
I shall have to eat dirt, I shall have to eat dirt
if I have no money.
It is that I am frightened of.
And that fear can become a delirium.
It is fear of my money-mad fellow men.
We must have some money
to save us from eating dirt.
And this is all wrong.
Bread should be free,
shelter should be free,
fire should be free
to all and anybody, all and anybody, all over the world.
We must regain our sanity about money
before we start killing one another about it.
It’s one thing or the other.1
Money has been called the root of all evil, but it is not money that is evil, but what people will do with and for money that is evil. Money, metaphysically, is a nothing; it has no meaning. Symbolically, money stands for power, prestige, and so nearly everyone fights nearly everyone else to end up on top. Money as a concept should not exist and should never have existed. No animals make use of currency, and human tribes only started to use money in the relatively recent past. Money should be abolished from the face of the earth, but that will only help if avarice is also abolished from the hearts of men.
Fear is a dreadful thing, and it is fear that causes so many lives to be miserable and wasted. A person should be free, free not to waste their lives, but free like the birds and bees to work in loving harmony with nature, and in fulfilment of the inner self. A person should be able to freely paint or write, or simply meditate on the nature of reality without having to worry about income. But, today, few can do what they like, and fewer still can truly lead beautiful lives devoted to the beautiful since they need to think about food, shelter, clothing, and health care. Food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare should be free to all, whether or not a person works! The money idea is deeply entrenched in our society, but we can change that for the young. Lawrence writes:
If I were talking to the young, I should say only one thing to them: Don’t you live just to make money, either for yourself or for anybody else. Don’t look on yourself as a wage-slave. Try to find out what life itself is, and live. Repudiate the money idea.
And then I’d teach ’em, if I could, to dance and sing together. The togetherness is important.
But they must first overthrow in themselves the money-fear and money-lust.2
If children learned the art of togetherness and beauty for beauty’s sake, and if everything they needed was provided, they would not be subject to soul-hardening fear. But everything today is “[b]uilt of money, blossomed of money, and dead with money. The money-deadness! Money, money, money, prostitution and deadness.”3 The way we use money and power today rots the minds of the masses and makes them into slaves. Ezra Pound wrote one of the most powerful poems about greed and money:
With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting
that design might cover their face,
hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luz
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,
seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and sell quickly
with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper,
with no mountain wheat, no strong flour
with usura the line grows thick
with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling.
Stonecutter is kept from his stone
weaver is kept from his loom
wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura
Usura is a murrain, usura
blunteth the needle in the maid’s hand
and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning. Pietro Lombardo
came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura
nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin’ not by usura
nor was “La Calunnia” painted.
Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
Came no church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.
Not by usura St. Trophime
Not by usura Saint Hilaire,
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;
Azure hath a canker by usura; cramoisi is unbroidered
Emerald findeth no Memling
Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom
They have brought whores for Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet
at behest of usura.4
Usury is avarice in action, and as Pound states so clearly in Canto XLV quoted above, usury and avarice tend to undermine and destroy everything that is good in the world. With avarice, even bread, which was once wholesome, becomes nutritionally empty, unhealthy white bread, which tastes more like factory made cardboard than the grain and salt of the earth. The wealthy are greedy, and so are the poor, but ultimately money means nothing and cannot fill holes in empty lives. This is why so many people who win the lottery go on to commit suicide. Power may have meaning, but money does not. As Lawrence states: “Money is power, they say. Is it? Money is to power what margarine is to butter: a nasty substitute.”5
Money is the oil that greases the wheels of the capitalist system, which is also the technological system; so to do away with money means to do away with capitalism and the technological system too. Our money madness blocks us from the divine realities, and sets brother against sister, rich against poor. We must get free from the curse of money and get back to the vitality of the cosmos. Lawrence puts this powerfully as follows:
We have tried to build walls round the kingdom of heaven: but it’s no good. It’s only the cabbage rotting inside.
Our last wall is the golden wall of money. This is a fatal wall. It cuts us off from life, from vitality, from the alive sun and the alive earth, as nothing can. Nothing, not even the most fanatical dogmas of an iron-bound religion, can insulate us from the inrush of life and inspiration, as money can.
We are losing vitality: losing it rapidly. Unless we seize the torch of inspiration, and drop our moneybags, the moneyless will be kindled by the flame of flames, and they will consume us like old rags.
We are losing vitality, owing to money and money-standards. The torch in the hands of the moneyless will set our house on fire, and burn us to death, like sheep in a flaming corral.6
In fact, money has become an ends rather than a means, and it has become a religion with no god, which has banks for churches, and the stock market for the holy spirit. When a man worships nothing but the absolute nullity of money, then the Gods hate that man. That man may get all the money he desires, but his soul is cut off from the eternal realities of the Divine.
[M]oney became the one absolute. And man figures as a money-possessor and a money-getter. The absolute, the God, the kingdom of heaven itself, became money: hard, hard cash. “The kingdom of heaven is within you”—now means “The money is in your pocket.”—“Then shall thy peace be as a river” now means: “Then shall thy investments bring thee a safe and ample income.”7
If we have any hope of getting back in touch with Life, with the cosmos, and with the Divine, we must kill money.
Kill money, put money out of existence.
It is a perverted instinct, a hidden thought
which rots the brain, the blood, the bones, the stones, the soul.
Make up your mind about it:
that society must establish itself upon a different principle
from the one we’ve got now.
We must have the courage of mutual trust.
We must have the modesty of simple living.
And the individual must have his house, food and fire all free
like a bird.8
We should end the tyranny of money. We could live purely and simply, and free from the fear of want. That should be the program for a sane society. The society we live in now is insane: “Civilised society is insane. Money and so-called love are its two great manias; money a long way first. The individual asserts himself in his disconnected insanity in these two modes: money and love.”9 Without money, without avarice, without possessive love, there would be far fewer conflicts. But so long as these things exist, mankind will be slaying itself and the world in the name of these false idols.
Just as the Hydra has many heads, so does the Machine; and one of the Machine’s heads is named Mammon. Mammon, the personified vision of money as an evil entity, ruins the world, since all factories, all progress, all development of machinery, and the rape of the earth is in the name of Mammon. Lawrence writes:
[L]ife is lovely, and you, Mammon, prevent life. I love to see a squirrel peep round a tree: and left to you, Mammon, there will soon be no squirrels to peep. […] But that which is anti-life, Mammon, like you, and money, and machines, and prostitution, and all that tangled mass of self-importance and greediness and self-conscious conceit which adds up to Mammon, I hate it. I hate it, Mammon, I hate you and I am going to push you off the face of the earth, Mammon, you great mob-thing, fatal to men—10
Hate for Mammon is a good, positive emotion that proves one is among the living and not one of the living-dead. All lovers of life should hate Mammon, machines, and the human civilization of today. Whether one worships Dionysus, Allah, Hermes, Jesus, or Odin, one should be against the terrible Mammon. As Klages writes: “The god of the modern age is “Mammon,” and its symbol is money (paper, thus unreal; “capital,” thus heartless). Mammon’s temple is the Stock Exchange. Slavery and depravity are its servants: both are narcotics, both are counterfeit, both are perverted.”11
I would rather sit still in a state of peace on a stone
than ride in the motor-car of a multi-millionaire
and feel the peacelessness of the multi-millionaire
If given the choice, and whether we know it or not, we are given the choice every moment of our lives, we should always choose the path of peace, the vivifier, rather than the path of money, the destroyer. Leading a simple life, and making do with less purifies the soul. Buddha was right: possessions cause attachments, and attachments lead to suffering. Communism was a great fight against the beast of money but it failed, as mass movements will always fail, but the free individual can free his self from the tyranny of money right here, right now. As Lawrence writes:
The world is in a bad way. It is in the grip of a hopeless bassesse, lowness, commonness. Nations are slowly strangling one another in “competition.” The cancer of finance spreads through the body of mankind. Individuals are diseased with the same disease. To get money, and to spend money, nothing else remains. And with it goes the strangling and the bullying, and the degradation, the sense of humiliation and worthlessness of life, which is bitterest of all.
There is nothing to do, en masse. But every youth, every girl can make the great historical change inside himself and herself[.]13
Everyone who makes this change inside herself or himself will feel more free and more powerful than ever before. It will be the power and freedom of the Gods flowing through them. This freedom is a liberation from the diseased money system that is as evil as the industrial military complex, which causes wars to be waged. As R. S. Thomas writes:
But the financiers will ask
in that day: Is it not better
to leave broken bank balances
behind us than broken heads?
And Christ recognising the
new warriors will feel breaching
his healed side their terrible
pencil and the haemorrhage of its figures.14
The only people I ever heard talk about My Lady Poverty
were rich people, or people who imagined themselves rich.
Saint Francis himself was a rich and spoiled young man.
Being born among the working people
I know that poverty is a hard old hag,
and a monster, when you’re pinched for actual necessities.
And whoever says she isn’t, is a liar.
I don’t want to be poor, it means I am pinched.
But neither do I want to be rich.
When I look at this pine-tree near the sea,
that grows out of rock, and plumes forth, plumes forth,
I see it has a natural abundance.
With its roots it has a grand grip on its daily bread,
and its plumes look like green cups held up to sun and air
and full of wine.
I want to be like that, to have a natural abundance
and plume forth, and be splendid.15
To say we must do without avarice and without money, does not mean we must live in abject poverty or privation. Abject poverty and privation are, in fact, symptoms of the money system we wish to see destroyed. No, we must live royally, but be royalty like a lion. We must be aristocrats, like an old redwood tree. Plants and animals live with abundance, but they never take too much. We should be like that. How noble it would be for us to embody the best of both the lion and the unicorn. But this is a path for spiritual aristocrats. As for the masses, Lawrence writes:
[T]he mass of men are incapable of looking on bread as a mere means of sustenance, by which man sustains himself for the purpose of true living, true life being the “heavenly bread”. It seems a strange thing that men, the mass of men cannot understand that life is the great reality, that true living fills us with vivid life, “the heavenly bread,” and earthly bread merely supports this. No, men cannot understand, never have understood that simple fact. They cannot see the distinction between bread, or property, money, and vivid life. They think that property and money are the same thing as vivid life. Only the few, the potential heroes or the “elect,” can see the simple distinction. The mass cannot see it, and never will see it.
Dostoevsky was perhaps the first to realize this devastating truth, which Christ had not seen. A truth it is, none the less, and once recognized it will change the course of history. All that remains is for the elect to take charge of the bread—the property, the money—and then give it back to the masses as if it were really the gift of life. In this way, mankind might live happily, as the Inquisitor suggests. Otherwise, with the masses making the terrible mad mistake that money is life, and that therefore no-one shall control the money, men shall be “free” to get what they can, we are brought to a condition of competitive insanity and ultimate suicide.16
Or, in sum, as Ludwig Klages states: “Many first possess wealth, and are then possessed by it. Many lose their wealth, and, in turn, become the richer for their loss.”17
Klages, Ludwig. Cosmogonic Reflections. Translated by Joseph D. Pryce. London: Arktos, 2015.
Lawrence, D. H. Introductions and Reviews. Edited by N. H. Reeve and John Worthen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Edited by Michael Squires. London: Penguin Books, 2009.
———. Late Essays and Articles. Edited by James T. Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Movements in European History. Edited by Philip Crumpton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays. Edited by Michael Herbert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
———. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Edited by James T. Boulton, Margaret H. Boulton, and Gerald M. Lacy. Vol. VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Pound, Ezra. New Selected Poems and Translations. Edited by Richard Sieburth. New York: New Directions, 2010.
Thomas, R. S. Collected Poems. London: Orion Books, 2000.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 421–22.
D. H. Lawrence, The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. James T. Boulton, Margaret H. Boulton, and Gerald M. Lacy, vol. VI (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 240.
D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, ed. Michael Squires (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 261.
Ezra Pound, New Selected Poems and Translations, ed. Richard Sieburth (New York: New Directions, 2010), 184–85.
D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, ed. Michael Herbert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 324.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:422.
Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 97.
D. H. Lawrence, Late Essays and Articles, ed. James T. Boulton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 272–73.
Ludwig Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections, trans. Joseph D. Pryce (London: Arktos, 2015), 21.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:431.
D. H. Lawrence, Movements in European History, ed. Philip Crumpton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 266.
R. S. Thomas, Collected Poems (London: Orion Books, 2000), 305.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:432.
D. H. Lawrence, Introductions and Reviews, ed. N. H. Reeve and John Worthen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 129–30.
Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections, 20.