It seems I am the expert on things economic. Ha ha ha. Actually I'm the furthest thing from it. I never understood economics. Curiously enough, I did it in high-school as a major and did quite well at it. I even momentarily considered studying it at uni. But the truth is, I never got it. It was like I knew how to use a sextant to find a true midday, but I didn't care what time it was, nor knew why it mattered. It's a less than brilliant analogy, but whatever.
And whatever! Here we are on the edge of the economic armageddon I cleverly predicted years ago and obviously I must know the ins and outs of it. So a friend who didn't care for any of my ideas then, is now emailing me with questions like, 'Why is the Australian dollar falling?' Ha! Hell if I know! Instead I told her about Alexander and the Gordian knot.
This is a myth, sure, with various versions and various meanings. But since we're here, this is my version. And my version is less interested in what the knot looked like, say, than in whose knot it was and what purpose it served. Apparently the knot was tied on the brace of the first king of Gordia's ox-cart. Or was it a chariot? Who knows? Who cares? The main thing was that the cart was in the temple and it belonged to the priests. The knot was their impossible riddle to ensure that no one else took the reins of power (ahem).
And sure enough, everyone fell for it. 'I want to have a go at the puzzle!' 'No, me!' People came from far and wide to see if they were smart enough to solve the priests' genius puzzle. But truth be known, it wasn't a genius puzzle. It was a con. The only genius in its making was in ensuring that it couldn't be solved and that no one would be any the wiser. The trick with impossible riddles is that they're hard to solve but easy to make.
Does anyone remember that old sitcom 'WKRP in Cincinnati'? I used to like that show. I recall an episode where, in a desperate attempt to boost ratings, the staff decided to host a competition with an absurdly large cash prize. They didn't have the cash natch, so they made a name-that-tune competition that no one would ever be able to solve. There were ten songs jammed into one second and all you got was pi,ca,fa,mb,pe,ho,ip,un,ca,gr. Nuts. But where would a sitcom be without a situation? The comedy situation was that the listeners unbelievably solved the puzzle and the team had to flail about looking for the money. Thank you ball-boy, thank you scriptwriters.
In the real world however, with no writers pulling the deus-ex-machina strings, the puzzle would never have been solved. Just like the Gordian knot. For those who don't know, the fellow to 'unsolve' the Gordian knot was Alexander the Great. Whilst uttering the famous words 'Fuck this shit!', he cut the knot in two with his sword. And sure enough went on to win whatever it was the solver of the riddle was promised - the keys to Asia or something. Mind you, I expect having a big army helped somewhat.
If it hadn't been for Alexander's involvement this story would have been a very minor footnote. It's Alexander's action that counts here. The conventional wisdom on the Gordian knot is that it represented 'an intractable problem' and Alexander's cutting of it was a 'bold stroke'. God forbid we should discuss it in terms of who made the knot and why, nor should we view Alexander's actions as an emphatic rejection of an impossible riddle and the bullshit artists who made it. We may not have that discussion because where would the priest class be then? Impossible riddles is all they have. And God forbid they should be called bullshit on it.
'Hmm... is he having a go at religions now?' Sure, why not? The logic works and the argument is sustainable. But let's do a quick double-pike-with-twist and say that between God and money, money wins. The old religions ain't a patch on the new one. The religious might pray and go to church but the other ninety five percent of their waking lives are devoted to things economic. Bankers comprise our priest class now.
And in the last couple of years they've really topped themselves haven't they? Their impossible riddles have reached impossible heights. Take derivatives. Please! No one understands them. Except for Warren Buffet who famously called them 'Weapons of Financial Mass Destruction'. And what - we think that the people who invented derivatives don't know that? Ha ha ha, of course they do. In fact, it's why they invented them. And you'll note that Buffet isn't explaining derivatives so much as calling them out as bullshit. Well almost anyway. He's Alexander without a sword and without wishing to cause offence. These be powerful priests.
Mind you, derivatives are just the piece-of-resistance, the final curlicue, on the insanely busy Gordian knot that is control-of-the-money-supply and usury. This impossible riddle isn't sitting harmlessly on an ox-cart in a temple. It has each and every one of us tied up. And how we labour looking for the end of the snarl! We tug and we pull and spend our entire lives labouring to free ourselves. And all we want is what we see on TV. We want big houses, cars, nice clothes, and a life that doesn't seem to involve much work.
And yet madly, we imagine that this can be done with debt. We imagine that interest is natural and right. We imagine that those who've accumulated heaping great sums of money should be rewarded with yet more money for letting people use their piles of otherwise inedible paper. At a really fundamental level there's no logic to this. Like there was no logic to a knot on the brace of an ox-cart in a temple in Gordia.
The only answer to the Gordian knot was Alexander's anti-bullshit sword. The only answer to the current impossible economic riddle is to likewise call bullshit to the whole caper. Monetarism is bullshit. Interest is bullshit. Banks are bullshit. Throw them all down. And the priests? They can all fuck off.
Governments may print money. People with an excess of money may put it in a safe place - say, a non-profit publically-owned bank. Those with more money than others may consider themselves fortunate. But that's it. Their money doesn't then go on to earn more money by way of some imagined gravitional pull. All debt is reconsidered with interest viewed in a new (and unflattering) light. Any interest paid to date is counted against the principal. This consideration is only extended to real humans. Debts to banks, the IMF, and other supranational entities - wiped off the board. Tabula Rasa Time.
And that is how you cut a Gordian knot.