Books and documents:
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà, Brauli Tamarit Tamarit.
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà.
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà.
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà.
Magdalena Grau, Agustí Chalaux.
Chapter 3. The two faces of currency.
This ambivalence of currency is caused by its application:
of domination, of power, of corruption... or instrument of exchange, of
responsibility, of shared information.
The ambivalence of currency is caused by the use made by its owner and,
especially, by those owning it so plentifully as to be able to direct its
prevailing application. In Greek mythology, Pluto, who was at the same
time god of the lower world and of wealth, had two faces: a terrifying
face and a kind face. This is the tragic nature of human instruments. This
divine ambivalence becomes, all through history, «plutarchy»:
the persons and government institutions which have power because
they have wealth, which is the factual power of money. This terrible
ambiguity of currency, however, partially conceals the kind face of Pluto:
shared responsibility and information. The word money comes from the Latin
the name of the mint in Rome. From the possible Greek origins of the name
we can derive several functions: monas (the measuring unit for the
exchange); monitor (informer-adviser of an exchange that is being
The difficulty in facing the «goodness» of currency is that
both its faces must be confronted simultaneously. In the cultures where
it is considered essential for the exchanges, it is at the same time blamed
for being the cause of many ills. But this ambivalence is not taken into
account when a remedy must be found. It is considered that there is only
one possible type of currency which, intrinsically, allows a double use:
good and bad. With this reasoning it all depends on personal responsibility,
on the morals of politicians, bankers and businessmen. These morals are
always affirmed and are never doubted of in spite of the scandals which
are reported every week by the newspapers in one country or another and
which attain some members of the ruling classes, who oridinarily are just
there to renounce. But these scandals are most certainly the tip of a giant
iceberg which practically attains all the people who deal with currency.
And not because most of the human race lack morals or ethics, but because
the type of ruling currency in itself, is a perfect instrument to encourage
the most saintly person to do something «small» or «large»
which he should not do. In the lawfull State, in the domain of law, almost
everything is directly or indirectly corrupted by this sort of running
currency, which leaves no trace.
To ask for morals and responsibility with this sort of currency is like
asking for it from prisoners in a concentration camp, with little food,
and where prisoners had daggers (insufficient tools to run away, but vitally
useful for survival). In order to survive, each of us in his own social
level, we use currency by any means. There is no other way. However, some
use it not only to survive but also to ensure their own level of wellbeing
and power. In the concentration camp guardians ensure their authority by
making daggers and introducing them among prisoners. Permanent fights among
prisoners is the best guarantee for the camp guardians. The distribution
of daggers to some given groups and under given conditions sets up a system
of control inside the camp more brutal than that carried out by the nice
and decent guardians, the keepers of public order.
Some persons, very few, have much to do with the great speculative exchange
transactions, the great companies for the tapping of natural resources,
the great concerns for the manufacture and sale of arms or for the production
and distribution of drugs, the great networks for the production of information...
They have much to do with them either because they are the ones who take
decisions or because they are the owners. But in both cases the goal is
to obtain money and power, or power and money, both items being inseparable.
Money gives power, and power is obtained, increased and maintained with
money. These few persons (more or less anonymous, more or less antagonistic,
more or less fostering organizations and companies) are, in fact, a government
under cover, which determines most of the important decisions. They are
the actual factual power which, directly or indirectly, bears pressure
on governments or places men of straw in parliaments and institutions.
It is a great maffia -whether accepted or persecuted- which is omnipresent
in key places. Its coarsest forms are the Sicilian maffia and the Colombian
cartels. Its most refined forms are as large and subtle as allowed by each
social system (they usually are the «business» of honorable
bankers, businessmen and politicians).
Most of us are very much responsible for the fact that this situation
is as it is. Our small-scale participation, our small complicity (untrue
income tax declaration, little jobs of hidden economy, tips in order to
obtain favours...) make us fearful of transparency. In order for each of
us to maintain our own little dark game, we conceal the foul play which
converts the thin profits we may obtain from our tricks into nothing.
The other face of currency must still be discovered, because up to now
it was very difficult even to imagine it technically and socially. And
what we do not see or what we cannot imagine is if it did not exist. How
can a piece of metal or a bank note help to leave a track of that for which
they were used? How can those, who take advantage of the situation, be
interested in changing things?
It appears clearly that the plutarchy, the power of money, does not
have a great interest in creative imagination, and it has summoned no «convocation»
to study and submit alternatives to this type of currency which allows
foul play to take place without leaving any trace. But it is also possible
that the complexity of the present world, and the intrinsic inability of
the present type of currency to face it, may have started to jeopardize
the mysterious meeting of the three great «bankers», Deterding,
Morgan and Finaly, the experts assured them that, if they rationalized
currency they would earn even more money. Strange paradox! Fair play is
healthy not only for the social body, but, according to the experts, it
would also allow to take greater advantage of the creation of wealth. Most
of the uncertainties of finances and investments, of the present day compulsory
and risky speculative operations would be modified by a powerful and exact
information system, which would avoid, with full knowledge of the facts,
the great crises and ups and downs, and would improve a more rational exploitation
of spoiled resources.
It usually happens that, if somebody does a foul play in a given system,
it is because if he does not, he will be left out. This means that not
everybody wishes to do foul play. In this case there is usually a wish
to change the rules of the game and, above all, to establish a mutual trust
wich will ensure that the new rules of fair play will be duly protected.
But usually this will and this hope is thwarted if no new effective rules
of the game are submitted and accepted with a guarantee system for their
application, or at least a penalty for those transgressing them.
We must therefore discover a face of currency to foster simultaneously
the free creation of wealth (within an ecological and solidary framework)
and to ensure that to act in this way it is not necessary to sully one's
hands, because everybody knows «that everybody knows» that
it is no longer necessary to do so.
These sort of problems are rather common. The most apparent ones are
shown in children's games:
- When a game is started, all are informed of the rules. Those who do not
comply are rejected by the others.
- When, because of some accident, a foul play is introduced, they may stop
and say «enough»!. They start their game again and, if necessary,
they appoint an umpire.
But in adult life there are also delicate situations which are to no one's
advantage and whose solution can be provided only by a new framework and
new rules. But the change must be the same for everybody, otherwise nobody
will accept it. It also happens that it is difficult to imagine the new
framework because the present one makes a clear introduction of the new
one impossible. Let us see the problem of traffic in the great cities.
The two options, private car or public transport, have great drawbacks,
while the idea is to maintain both, simultaneously and consistently. The
steps taken to foster one system usually are prejudicial to the other,
and in the end both are harmed. Surface public transport cannot be efficient
while private transport hinders it. And therefore the supporters of private
transport, in spite of the daily torture, will not make up their minds
to live the torture of public transport. The result is the permanent collapse
of the transport system (with all the suffering, expenses and impairment
of the situation for everybody; as far as quality of transport is concerned,
nobody profits from it, neither the rich nor the poor). There must be somebody
to take some advantage indirectly (car manufacturers, oil companies, traffic
controllers, repair shops). But even they, who at the beginning of a change
seem to be assigned for loss, must have a place to live.
How shall we respect those who wish, or need, to go alone, quietly,
in their vehicle, from door to door, without jeopardizing the whole transport
system? How shall we offer, simultaneously, an efficient, quick, cheap
collective transport, which does not interfere with personalized transport?
There are a number of technical solutions which allow the substitution
of private vehicles for taxicabs and underground and surface public transport,
which is efficient, non-polluting and very cheap. Let us imagine that the
million cars to be found in a town are substituted for an adequate fleet
of non-polluting taxis (electric, hydrogen...), standing at stops at every
corner, which can circulate together with collective transport through
uncluttered streets, without any private car circulating or parked. These
taxis can carry large parcels, a wheel-chair, a child pram. These taxis
may, depending on the customer, make daily individual or collective routes
to and from work. All the advantages of the private car and very few of
the disadvantages. Besides, for those who do not want a driver there are
electric autotaxis which work with an intelligent monetary card that can
be obtained and dropped off later at several parking places. At the end
of the month you pay the transport cost registered in the autotaxi's cash
register and in your own card (its system is explained in chapter
This is one example. There are many technical solutions available, waiting
for the political decision that will allow manufacturers to start solving
the problems of congestion within the towns and to reduce the unavoidable
crisis in the market of classic automobiles. None of these solutions will
be efficient if it must contend with present day traffic jams. These are
the least competitive and economical of all, but they are maintained through
inertia, through the weight of vested interests and the inability of the
democratic system, by the way it is organized, to take decisions to go
beyond the four years of the term of office. Curiously enough this happens
when most of the great problems can only be solved by changing the framework,
which usually takes a period of longer than four years.
This is therefore the contradiction among a system of decision-making
which has become anachronistic and which goes beyond the framework, terms
of office and the ability of the system itself to make a decision.
Within this policy we should now analyze the effectivity of the economic
and political systems of our century. The evaluation of most of the political
bosses is similar to that made for town traffic: it is not so bad! There
are problems, but they are being solved through ring-roads, new parking
places, more computerization, automatic tolls...
Now that many consider socialism a failure, it would be advisable to
introduce some sort of indicator to measure the degree of success or failure
of the economic and political systems, in order to find out if the democratic
capitalism is a success or not, and whether it is the least evil path.
Are the gross interior product and the per-capita income good economic
indicators? The answer is no. In the first place, for their calculation,
we add as production what should really be deducted (decontamination, destruction
of non-renewable resources, health expenses, armament, hyper-exploitation
and poverty of the inhabitants of the countries supplying raw materials...).
In the second place, the per-capita income conceals in its distribution
the great differences among social classes. In the case of Europe, official
figures allow us to count at least 90 million people living in poverty,
which are distributed more or less evenly between the East (socialist)
and the West (capitalist). In the USSR, «according to Soviet sources,
20 per cent of the population -43 million people-live below the level which
is considered the «minimum material security1».
In 1985, only in the EEC, «the poverty level was at 44 million citizens
-14 per cent of total population2-».
We should add to these figures countries which do not belong to the EEC
nor to the USSR. Forced poverty, destitution, famine, starvation, are good
indicators of the effectivity degree of a system, and in this sense neither
real capitalism nor socialism, neither the north and even less the south,
can pass the examination.
Therefore, we cannot say that real socialism is a failure without acknowledging
at the same time that real capitalism in the mother countries and, mainly,
in dependent countries, must solve the same problems or even more of them
(both in the «economic» and in the «democratic»
aspects). At this time of human history there are two key questions:
Is it possible to have a free market (only of marketable goods) which
fosters the creation and distribution of wealth, and is it possible that
this wealth will not cause of the destruction of nature, nor the consequence
of poverty and famine among the population?
Is it possible to have a political system where foul play does not go
unpunished, where the lawful State is not thwarted by factual powers, and
where decisions are taken keeping in mind both the will of the population
and the effectivity of the results?
When we ask if it is possible, we do not mean a Utopian possibility,
but a real ability -human, technical, instrumental, organizational- meeting
a real need. Why have the two systems of this century not been able to,
or have not wanted to reconcile the market and solidarity, a lawful State
It is very difficult to answer these questions, especially when they
are so complicated. However, we can try to state hypotheses of «things»
which have been lacking, in order to see in the present-future if this
shortage was something decisive to solve the contradictions.
The two systems have produced within themselves a great contradiction
between the spectacular growth of complexity and the upkeep of mechanisms
of information, selfcontrol and decision-making which is unfamiliar to
less sophisticated societies. This means that, both in the political and
in the economic field, the setting up of great over-sates, great economies,
great markets, great plannings... has been done with the mentality and
the structures of societies of one or two centuries ago.
At the turn of the 21st century we know that in complex systems there
is a very high degree of chance, of unpredictability. We know that the
climate can be foreseen, but the weather cannot be forecast beyond a few
hours. This complexity can only be possibly reduced with a suitable, agile,
permanent and exact system of information (with photographs of meteorologic
satellites allow a greater approach to reality). Without the right information
we cannot try to control or regulate any complex system.
With respect to the importance of a correct information system, we can
take foot-ball as an example. There is a regulation which, generally speaking,
is not questioned. Whether the players are white or black, Russian or American,
their goals are the same. The problem in this case, does not lie in the
rules of the game, but in the umpire's interpretation. Foot-ball games
have taken a great social importance; the umpire has a heavy responsibility
and cannot do to the task well even if he wanted to. In both cases the
umpire has a system of «technical arbitration» which, even
if it does not yet have a legal force, it has an actual force. This competing
system is television and, mainly, the moviola: the slow-motion repetition
of the conflicting moves. The «foot-ball institutions» do not
want to introduce the moviola in the umpires' job. One of the results is
the violence and discontent of the public. The loss of credibility. Why
not use an available technical means, that is more exact, that can improve
decision-making and which the public accepts as more precise?
Similarly, we should ask why the judges do not use the new technical
means (to support their sentences), the economists (to stop lucubrating
far from reality with uncontrastable theories and indices) and politicians
(to avoid foul play and lack of responsibility).
Taibo, «La Unión Soviética de Gorbachov», Editorial
Fundamentos, Madrid, 1989, p. 59.