The Evolution of the Trinity of Agriculture, Money & Usury
You'll likely not find the ideas in this 20-minute video anyplace else. I'm feeling good about them.
Through the evidence of Indo-European and Semitic language etymology, as well as through the Hebrew Bible, through mythology and logical deduction, I show how agriculture, money and usury are inextricably linked since their inception thousands of years ago.
As well as demonstrating the destructive nature of interest (usury), I also show how the very nature of money itself separates the consumer from the producer, separates human actions from accountability, making it a thousands-year-old breeding ground for corruption, poverty, and environmental destruction.
Something I forgot to mention in this video is how also in the Quran, not just in the Bible, the Fall From Grace story is also about the introduction of money and possessions, as interpreted by Quranic scholars, seen in Arabic linguistics. See my blogpost about this from November, 2019:
Please come back soon to this very page if you want to see a written essay and transcript to coincide with this video. For now I just want to publish the video.
[I'm realizing the video doesn't show up for some reason for some mobile phones, so I just put the link here too]:
Suelo's website, with FAQ on living moneyless:
Quotes from the world's religions & philosophers denouncing usury:
Some of Suelo's other essays correlating with this video:
In case you're new here, my name is Daniel Suelo. I'm known as "The Man Who Quit Money." I lived without money for 15 years, from 2000 through 2015. Then I had to start taking care of my parents, and now just my mother. So I don't exactly live without money now. I still live minimally and use money sparingly. But I have to manage my mother's finances and do grocery shopping and pay bills, etc., etc. Anyway, if you want to know more about my life without money you can check out my website. It has Frequently-Asked Questions, and the link is below
Today I want to talk about money and usury. This is in response to a comment somebody made a few weeks ago. They said that usury is the problem; money is not the problem. And I've talked extensively about usury and I've talked about the evils of usury. And there's a link, also below, about that--what the world's religions and philosophers say about usury. In this video I want to talk about how usury and money are inextricably linked, from the very beginning, from the very conception of money in the beginning, and how we can tell the history of money and the evolution of money just by our language, by the etymology of our words.
For example the word "pecuniary" and words "fee" and "feudal" and "fiefdom": they all come from the same root, which is "pecu", which means cattle.
And also the word "capitalism" comes from "cattle." "Capital" means "head," "kaput." "Cattle" comes from that same root, "kaput." You count heads of cattle. And "capitalism" means the principle for interest.
Even look at our words for "stock," like "stock broker," "stock market." This comes from "livestock," "cattle."
It's also interesting to look at the Spanish word for "cattle." That's "ganado." "Ganado" means wages for something gained and "ganar" literally means to earn wages.
Now this gets really fascinating when we look up the word for money in Greek. The Greek word for money is "nomisma." The root of "nomisma" is "nomos." "Nomos" means "law," as in "the law of Moses" or "the law of the land." Now the root of "nomos" is "nemo" which means "to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals." Here we see at its root is agriculture, grazing and agriculture.
Also you can see, not only the evolution of money from the idea of "cattle" in Indo-European languages, such as English, but you can also see it in Semitic languages, such as Hebrew. Like, the word for cattle in Hebrew is "mikneh." And the root word of "mikneh" is "qana." "Qana" means "to purchase" or "to own." Also, the Hebrew words for jealousy come from "qana." "Jealousy" and "own" and "possession." And "mikneh" means both "cattle" and "possessions." Basically, "mikneh" means "money" and "cattle" simultaneously.
So let's talk about the very beginnings of civilization and why I believe that money and civilization and agriculture are inextricably linked, that they're based on the same principle, and this is the principle of money. It's actually a pretty simple concept. It isn't that complicated
Our words for money, like, as in "cattle,"
they also come from agricultural concepts. Like, we talk about seed money. You invest a seed and you reap the reward. You harvest seed, the fruit of the seed. This is investment. And this is what civilization is based upon. It's based upon agriculture: planting a seed and waiting for the reward; whereas wild nature is based upon a pay-it-forward system.
So, basically, civilization, from its very beginning, is based upon owning other living beings, enslaving. We call it domestication, but domestication is actually just a euphemism for slavery. They mean the same thing: you own another creature, you exploit that creature, you use that creature. This is where the word "usury" comes from. It comes from using, exploiting, exploitation.
So, basically, you own a creature. You control the creature's food supply. You control the creature's sexual reproduction. And this is for your own profit.
You use the creature for, not only labor (such as workhorses and work oxen), but also as money, as currency. And you can see that the first currency was cattle, as I pointed out in our Indo-European and Semitic roots. So, basically, civilization is based upon the concept of agriculture, money and ownership and banking.
The very first land is the very first bank. This is what agriculture is: it's a bank. It's setting up land as a bank, and you invest your seeds in that bank, and those seeds reproduce and they bear interest. You put your cattle on land and the cattle reproduces, the capital reproduces. And beyond the capital is interest. That's your usury: using other living beings. And this is slavery. This is chattel. The word "chattel" comes from "cattle." Also, "chattel" and "capitalism" come from the same root: "kaput."
So, basically, you can put your cattle on my land, you can invest your money in my bank, and the cattle reproduce and bear interest. Then you profit and I profit. You keep some of the profits and I keep some of the profits. It seems like a win-win situation.
However, the problem with cattle is they're big and bulky, and also they take up resources. This isn't money from nothing as is usury nowadays. It's money that actually comes from expendable resources of your land. This is why many herding tribes have to keep on the move, because the cattle deplete one bit of land, so they have to move to another.
But if you're in a sedentary community and you have cattle, they basically deplete the land and then you have to buy or use other land, to put your cattle on it. Also, if you're trading money, if you're trading your cattle as money. It's difficult to keep carrying cattle everywhere.
Hence, this is when non-living currency was invented. This is when people started using things like metal ingots or other forms of trade, other currency of trade. And metal ingots evolved into coinage, of course
But the concept of interest (usury) remained, and the concept of banking remained. This time your bank is your house, or a bench. That's what the word "bank" means--"bench." You set up your bench, people bring your their ingots or their coinage and you hold it for them. And the fee that comes from holding money is called "interest." The money, like the cattle, bears interest. It multiplies.
But, this time, your money currency, because it's a non-living entity, doesn't deplete resources. That sounds great. Now you're making profit from nothing! With cattle, you're making profit with something. You're also aware that your exploitation depletes resources. But, with the new money, with ingots and coins, you realize that your money is actually an idea in the head, and an idea in the head can come from nothing.
Basically you are, when you're charging interest, you are creating money out of thin air, and you are profiting from nothing! You are profiting from no resources, no goods and services, no labors, nothing. You're not working for your money, your money is "working" for you. This is the saying of an investor: "Let your money work for you, don't work for your money." By the investor's very own admission, the investor doesn't work for money. Money comes from nothing. So, for the banker, for the investor, this sounds great! You're getting money from nothing!
Let's step back and look at the bigger picture. Money from nothing. You're accumulating massive amounts of wealth, now. This is what bankers do! From nothing! Not from your own work, but from thin air!
So, basically, usury (gaining money from nothing) is really the same concept of counterfeiting money. We consider that criminal. Yet it's the very same principle as interest, gaining interest. And what happens is, you accumulate all of these nothings, which is what money is--it's nothing. It's an idea, an idea in the head. You're taking your nothings and trading them for somethings. You're trading them for goods and services produced by other people, produced by the environment.
And this is exactly why goods and services flow from the workers to the non-workers! This is why goods and services flow from the poor to the rich! This is why there is massive poverty in the world. This is why there's massive environmental destruction in the world.
We believe that we can trade nothings for something. Money creates the illusion that there are unlimited resources, because money itself is an unlimited, so-called "resource." But it is nothing! But the goods and services, that we trade for money, are limited--limited resources.
This is what's insidious about money: the very idea of money separates the producer from the consumer; so we are unaware of where our goods and services are coming from.
The goods that we use are produced, say, overseas in sweat shops, exploited labor. They're produced by environmental destruction, say, in the Congo by Congolese children digging up minerals, day in and day out, in slave labor, so that we can have our computers and our cell phones, etc.
So we're unaware of the exploitation that our lifestyles are producing. This is why I'm adamant about figuring out a way to make money go obsolete, living without money.
I want to talk a little bit more about the etymology of money and the mythology of money. We can even see it in the very beginnings of our mythology. By mythology I don't mean non-truth. I define mythology in the same way that Joseph Campbell defined it. It's a story that reveals deep principles within us, and deep principles within our civilization.
So I was talking about the Hebrew word for "cattle" being "miqneh." The root of "mikneh" is "qana." "Qana" means "purchase." And "qana" means "possession." And also the Hebrew word for "jealousy" comes from "qana."
Lo and behold, we find the concept of qana in the very first stories of the Bible, in Genesis, for example: Cain. There's a play on words in the story of Cain and Abel. When Cain is born, Eve says, "I have purchased a man from the Lord." The word for "purchase" is "qana." It's a play on words with "Cain." Cane represents purchase. Cain is the child of purchase.
Google Translate translates it for what it says: "And the man knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain and said 'I have bought a man for the Lord." So, yeah!
So, then, let's look at the story of Adam and Eve and taking the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This story is actually about the birth of money and interest and agriculture. What we miss out in English is that the Hebrew in the Bible is full of puns, and these puns reveal deeper meanings. Let's look at the story of the Serpent in the garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve taking the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
First of all, in Jewish rabbinical literature, it's said that Cain is the offspring of the Devil. He's the offspring of the Serpent. He's the offspring of purchase. This is what I want to show. In Genesis 3:13, after Adam and Eve had taken the fruit, Eve says, "The serpent deceived me." The word for "serpent," interestingly, is "nahash." And the word for "deceived" is "nasha." "Nasha" ("deceived") also means "to charge interest" and "to lend at interest."
Also, it's interesting to look at the word for "snakebite" in Hebrew. The word for snakebite is "nashach."
For example, when, later in the Torah, in the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, snakes come along and bite them. That word for bite, snakebite, is "nashach." "Nashach" not only means snakebite, but it also means "to lend on usury." It's an entering into of debt.
Now remember that, in the New Testament, Jesus uses the words "debt" and "sin" synonymously. For example, in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our debts even as we forgive our debtors."
In another Gospel it says "Forgive us our trespasses." So "trespassing," "sin" and "debt" are synonymous. And these are core principles in Judaism and Christianity.
Snakes are actually symbolic of the creditor, and the snakebite is the lending at interest.
Even other words for "serpent" and "dragon," such as "leviathan," represent the same idea. "Levi," or "levy," in "leviathan," also means "to bind with debt."
And this is the whole idea of the Levitical Law, like the book of Leviticus. It's law. It represents binding in debt.
And this is the idea in Christianity, of freeing ourselves from debt. "Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors." Freeing ourselves from the old law of debt, credit and debt.
And this is the very first concept of money. This is the knowledge of good and evil. Like the New Testament calls the Law the knowledge of good and evil. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Tree of Credit and Debt, the Knowledge of Credit and Debt.
This is confirmed by the very vocabulary, the Hebrew vocabulary, of the Genesis stories. So, when Eve says, "The serpent deceived me," she's also literally saying, "The serpent bit me"! She's also literally saying, "The creditor charged me interest"! It can mean any of those things!
And, in the end, the great curse for Adam and Eve was agriculture! No longer does the Earth provide for them, as the Earth does for all wild creatures. Now they're living in a world of domestication. Now they're living in the world of agriculture. And this is the curse, said in Genesis:
"Cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground."
And what is Cain's deal? Cain is the first agricultor. Cain brings produce from the ground. And Cain is the son of purchase. That is the meaning of Cain's name! And this play on words goes into the land of Canaan. The land of Canaan is the place where money and agriculture are said to have begun, in the Levant. From there spreads the commerce of the world.
Reclaiming Canaan, and returning it to the state of Grace, is actually the subtle theme of the entire Bible.
I talk more about these things in my website. Along with the Frequently-Asked questions, I have essays, and one of them is called "The Seven-Headed Dragon." And there are other essays also that talk about these concepts. These essays talk about these concepts in the Bible and other world mythologies.
Your investigations into language and root meanings is great. It reminds me of reading about Hebrew words appearing in a local North Indian language (fundamental words such as the word for goat)and hinting at prehistoric links with the Biblical world. It made for a very convincing argument.ReplyDelete
Suelo, are you interested in what is known as the raw food diet // raw veganism // fruitarianism (a diet of only uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds)?ReplyDelete
Dan, it's great to hear from you. I hope you are doing well! I want to say thank you for all you have done. When I first heard of you, I thought your ideas were pretty wild. Nevertheless, I was intrigued, and I was inspired by the conviction that led you to truly walk the walk.ReplyDelete
After a couple years of following your blog, I don't have a doubt in my mind anymore. I think your fundamental analysis is correct. I think this because of your linguistic/cultural analysis, and also because I have learned more about hunter gatherer cultures and traditional societies. It seems that much of our "diseases of civilization" which manifest as psychological/social/health issues truly are rooted in money, agriculture, and usury; and these have then gone on to multiply and evolve through our increasingly technological complexity. It seems we are living in a time of "evolutionary mismatch," where the human species is truly in over its head.
I an very grateful for the inspiration you provide through your lived experience, for your deep, thoughtful analysis and research, and for opening my eyes to the problem at the root of it all. Knowing this has really helped me to make sense of my suffering and the suffering of others.
Hope you are well, happy, and safe!
It's always kind of interesting and refreshing when I come back to some of your "moneyless" ideas, because some of them I agree with and intuitively try to live myself, others I may not agree with, and it's hard to figure out what kind of life to live given the circumstances and some of our desires to do good with physical goods or to do good without them.ReplyDelete
For example, I have Christian views and as far as I can tell the Bible seems to have no problem with people having and using money, it just cautions over putting trust in money and having much and over certain uses and abuses of money. Proverbs 30:8 asks neither for riches nor poverty but just enough for what people need. Even Jesus paid taxes, and worked as a carpenter (therefore selling labor and presumably using money). So I don't see an explicit rejection of money in Jesus, but have seen some Christian saints like Francis of Assisi tend in that direction. I found a book "St. Francis of Assisi: Omnibus of Sources" which has some stories of Francis, who loved the virtue of (voluntary) poverty, which I wanted to share. Of course I would want to urge caution on making sure the translation is accurate, but these stories sound like they're probably translated fairly accurately (it's worth double checking with originals though to ensure accuracy).
The chapter on poverty is on page 1148 on the archive site, or 1127 in the scanned book's pages, can be read here: https://archive.org/details/OmnibusOfSources/page/n1147/mode/2up
Francis reportedly referred to money as "dung". It says on one page "the friars lay on the ground and had nothing beneath them but a little straw, and a few poor broken-down pallets, and no pillows ... He did not even find a table in the place, because the friars used to eat on the ground" (friars were those who were a part of the organization of Francis). They "would not seek or accept more alms than were necessary to support them for a single day" (alms being donations to support their needs, sometimes being actual foods rather than money I think). Francis "hated money above all else. He always urged his brethren both by word and example to avoid it as they would the devil. And he told the friars to have as little love and use for money as for dung."
One story discusses how a person visiting their church (I think?) left a donation/alms and one friar unthinkingly and picked it up and moved it. Francis rebuked the friar for touching money and directed him to place the money on a pile of donkey's dung.Delete
I'm just trying to give you a taste of this mentality that seems alien to the mentality that exists today, that thinks of a lot of money-seeking as "necessary" and expected of every single person in society today, even people who take the name of "Christian".
Francis "desired that friars should on no account possess more than two habits" (habit is a form of clothing). "He regarded it as theft to obtain alms beyond one's needs". "I have always accepted less than my needs, lest other poor folk should be cheated of their share; for to act otherwise would be theft."
I think some of this "lifestyle" was only intended for a select few dedicated religious people, but the tendency towards some of these virtues is intended for all Christians, I think. The world cannot run on everyone depending on alms/donations from another person (someone would have to be the one donating), but that doesn't mean that Christians need to go after lots of money and possessions either.
Christ told Francis (in a prayer apparently) "He did not wish friars to possess anything, either in common or individually." Instead, God "will always be ready to provide for this family, however great it may become".
Francis wished "books to be few and held in common, and suitable to the needs of penniless friars. They were so badly provided with beds and blankets that whoever had some threadbare rags spread over straw regarded it as a fine bed. He also told the friars to build their houses small and their cells of wood, not of stone, and he wanted them built in a humble style ... everything should proclaim their poverty and remind them that they were pilgrims and exiles." These houses they would use, but not own, I assume - this seems to be another distinction lost on modern society.
Francis said, "I assure you, brother, that it has been and remains my first and last intention and desire ... that no friar should possess anything but a habit, a cord, and an undergarment, as our Rule allows."
As far as how money is created, it is kind of created out of nothing. It does perform a useful function I believe of allowing for a price to be put on items to make transactions easier, like instead of knowing how many potatoes to trade for how many apples, we know how much a certain amount of pounds or potatoes cost and therefore can exchange money rather than inefficiently bartering. Therefore I might be more of a "reformer" of money, I think that money in itself is an ok tool to use, but I wouldn't want it to be abused or for people to succumb to greed. However, I also think that we should make it easier for more people to live a "moneyless" life if they want to live that way, because it does seem to be spiritually acceptable for certain people (I'm not sure if I think it's for everyone). I'm against a total rejection of money I think though.ReplyDelete
So money is created from nothing, it has no value in itself, but since it becomes an efficient way to make transactions, the value it gains comes from how it 1. tangibly makes transactions simpler, and 2. from the items themselves. So that's where money gets actual value, it does have value. You can visualize it concretely, with #1 that it might have taken a minute to determine how many potatoes to trade for how many apples in barter, and that minute is now saved by monetary prices - such time or energy could be put directly in to labor, as another way of visualizing how money does create value. The other way money gets its value is with #2, if someone decides to accept a newly created money, they take value and money starts to acquire that value. Take a modern example with bitcoin - some years ago, someone paid 10,000 bitcoins for a pizza. Bitcoin was created and had no value, then people started doing labor and being paid in bitcoin, or offering a good and bitcoin was offered for the good, or the bitcoin transactions tangibly prevented people losing money to fees, thus it gained value from all these instances (I am curious what your thoughts are about cryptocurrency, as I don't think I've seen you talk too much about this on your site or this blog - I assume you reject it as being money). So, that's how money gets value, I think. When new money is created, it automatically dilutes the value of money that already exists (inflation), it takes value from the other money in circulation (and again that money in circulation gained its value only through people choosing to start accepting a trade of the worthless money for tangible labor, capital, or goods to begin with).
The problem with usury is that it forces the economy to innovate to create this new value that's being demanded that doesn't exist. If I loan you a coat, and ask for the coat back, that's only asking for what exists to be given back and what I gave you in justice - that seems to be fair to ask back. Maybe if you rip the coat, asking for a buck and the coat back is still asking for the original value of the coat back. The Bible for example encourages Christians to be even more virtuous and loan without expecting anything in return - to loan and expect a "loss", if you want to look at it that way (but, God often seems to send things to people without them having to pay for them as well when they give without expectation, so it's not always necessarily a loss). Going in the opposite direction of vice, usury loans and then asks for more back than what was loaned - that's what is kind of "theft" about it. And compounding interest can start to ask for a ridiculous amount back over what was loaned.Delete
I've seen some people say that it's impossible to pay back loans at interest, because there isn't enough money in circulation to cover the payment. I don't think this is true, though, because basically say I loan you a coat, and now I ask for a coat back and an apple (the apple being interest). Well, you have to go pick an apple (labor to produce a good) to pay me back. The same thing happens with money, physical bills don't get exchanged, people just work for however many hours and that money is electronically erased off off their debts. But since they have debts that grow (at interest), they have to work more to pay them; if the interest rate is at a certain amount, they're forced to work only to pay interest payments, which creates a kind of interest slavery (never being able to pay off the principal or the original loan - say, the coat in the example). It's like they're being asked to pay a bushel of apples for a loan, but they don't pay in time, then that bushel has grown to many bushels, and at some point all they can do is give a bushel here or there, they cannot pay these loans at interest. I think that is the temptation of usury, of hooking people in to perpetual slavery to paying the interest on loans they can never repay. If someone were to successfully loan to people like this, they basically create slaves that financially enrich them in perpetuity of the people being in debt at interest. So if it's "slavery" at a high rate like that of only being able to pay interest, even at lower rates it is wrong and a kind of enslavement, which is not the same as the justice of asking for a loan back not at interest.
I find this very inspiring, and I am simplifying my own life this Lenten season. It is amazing how little I need and how much is given. All know well that I need grace more then money if I plan on detaching from this world of greed.ReplyDelete
Some good points about the evil of usury and money. it takes strength (that I don't have yet) to break free.ReplyDelete
No me aparece disponible la parte de:ReplyDelete
¿Es la banca criminal? Lo que dicen los antiguos filósofos y religiones del mundo.
Agus, puede probarlo ahora. Creo que solucioné el problema. Gracias por informarme.Delete
(Si aún no funciona para usted, aquí está el enlace web:
Go Dan. Live your best life mate. I am afraid I embrace a lot of what you say, but I am a bit light on actions or commitment.ReplyDelete
I suffer greatly from trying to conform to societies "lifestyle" it holds little meaning to me ,other than being identified as an extreme irritation. The older I get, the less I care about possessions, money, or any of that. I felt you were a breath of fresh air for me. Thank you.ReplyDelete
I hope you are doing ok! Please update us on your life when you get time, I know many people care about you and your family. I have enjoyed your writing for many years! Stay safe and continue to embrace life!ReplyDelete