Monthly Archives: December 2010

Cantona’s Goal

With the unerring skill of the consummate football-artist that he is, Eric Cantona scored a remarkable goal with his call for people to bring down a corrupt establishment by striking at its central pillar – the bank – and by calling people to simply withdraw their funds. Now, the banking system has not come tumbling down, but nevertheless Cantona has struck a target no less significant than that of the child who, pointing to the emperor’s new clothes, remarked that the emperor was naked. He has shown clearly that we are not the helpless tyrannised citizens of a dystopian New World Order, but that we are, in fact, the ones sustaining that order and thus the only ones who can bring it down and build something entirely new.

Our other heroic figure at this juncture is ex-Wall Street broker Max Keiser with his equally uncomplicated suggestion about what to do with the cash once withdrawn: buy silver. Brilliant though it is, one need not subscribe to his particular motive for doing so, i.e. to sink J.P. Morgan, whose perpetual ‘shorting’ of silver on the world market keeps its price depressed, which they do in order to maintain the comparative attractiveness of the dollar and other paper instruments. Rather, with the simplicity of Hans Christian Anderson’s child, one has merely to wake up to the difference between a piece of paper on which is printed the promise of payment, and something tangible and of real value such as silver. Mr Keiser is himself completely aware of that reality and has been articulating it for some time, for which we are very grateful to him.

However, having followed this trail in which first we withdraw our money from the banks, and then we buy silver with it, we come to the question: what do we do with the silver? Having made our approach so far by such an elegantly simple route, it would be very disappointing at this point if the answer turned out to be an elaborate economic theory padded out with statistics and arcane monetarist jargon. In fact, the answer is as simple as the preceding two steps: we must spend the silver. That requires us to recognise that at last we have real money in our hands and while such money is a store of value and thus can be buried in the earth or hidden in the attic, it is also a medium of exchange; so we need to restore silver’s use as an everyday medium of exchange.

To be perfectly frank, as one of the people who has been saying this for more than two decades, I did not honestly expect to hear the same signal coming back to me from such illustrious voices, nor to sit in the virtual company of thousands of others who cheer their words and are cheered by them. Therefore, I have come to fully expect the unexpected, which in this case is that, freed of the sinister pseudo-science of economics, people will begin to engage in actual trade, in ways that bear resemblance to that which people have always done before we were deceived into thinking that numbers on paper were tangible realities and that we could trust the state or bankers not to take off into the stratosphere of infinite digits.

In terms of the history known to people whose memory goes no further back than Richard Nixon unpegging the dollar from gold or the Bretton Woods agreement, we are sailing into uncharted waters. As for the rest of the planet who can remember somewhat further back – as in Goethe’s memorable phrase “he who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth” – then our irresistible onward movement will bring us into waters that are surprisingly transparent.

We are going to rediscover things that were self-evident for most people on the earth throughout history: the nature of a just exchange, where to go to buy and sell, and how cities and towns are built to accommodate these transactions. Some of this will be like remembering something after an amnesia. On the inside it will feel strangely puzzling, but outwardly we have no choice but to reveal the obvious; just like the child and the emperor’s clothes.

The significance of Cantona’s simple initiative extends far beyond the economic realm. It is a profoundly important return to tangible realities rather than ephemeral hypotheticalities. We simply cannot afford to leave ourselves in the hands of economists, politicians and bankers, implementing arcane monetary policies and transactions which they themselves barely understand while, under cover of an impenetrable fog of smoke and mirrors, our wealth is filched from us for generations to come.

Abdassamad Clarke


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