Diamonds and Pearls

I was told once that capitalism is natural. Of course, I questioned the validity of this claim. What seems to be natural about it? Is it just an economic system, or is it a culturally manifested state of social normality? Then, I take it further. What is money? Why is money? What is this driving force that has the uncanny ability to rule lives across the globe? This is a hypersensitive part to the sphere of value. 

A person works. A person gets paid a “currency” for his work. In turn, he reinvests his earnings by purchasing goods from other workers who, in turn, repeat the cycle; the capitalist system at work, in motion. This is the driving economic force of the world. Some are fortunate enough to enjoy their work; to completely feel a calling to their “job.” Some work three jobs or more and despise all of them. Then comes the question: Were it not for money, would we work? Why do we work? 

For one reason or another, whether this be instinct or cultural conditioning, humans feel the need to be compensated for what they produce. Is it such a foreign thought to work or produce because you simply “want to” without being compensated for it? Because you simply feel a purpose for what you do? Must you believe that you will receive in order to give? To many, this concept is completely illogical. Why would I work for nothing? Right? 

The volunteer works for nothing more than a cause, or a sense of duty and obligation. The Inca civilization thrived without the use of money. Native Americans traded furs and goods among other tribes before wampum was spread across North America. Other indigenous peoples gave gifts in exchange for goods out of respect. Many communal tribes produced what the tribe required, with no compensation whatsoever. Many more examples exist, but these days are long gone.

Over the centuries, value has been assigned to many items; gold, silver, diamonds, precious metals, minerals and many other things. Any of these items can be used as currency, or considered to be currency, but this exchange has led to inflation, poverty, thievery, slavery, war and atrocity. Albeit, some argue that without currency, anarchy would reign; that a currency allows for control of large populations; that without currency, human greed takes over and people would begin to hoard if everything was free. 

These are all viable arguments, and quite possibly true. But have we ever known anything other than the current “values” of the economic system? How are we to say what would happen then?

The desire for objects has always perplexed me. Who was the first to see a piece of gold or a diamond and decide that it was valuable? These things can be useful, but, value is only assigned to objects by human beings. To survive, you need food, water and shelter. These are naturally valuable. You don’t need a gold bar or a pretty rock to survive. These are objects of desire. And when you become dust, these objects of desire will remain. 

Though the concepts here are slightly of utopian vision, the possibility exists for humans to exalt from this paradigm. We must remember; the sphere of value is very powerful, and we should be cautious of its margins. In the end, currency may be required for civilization to operate, but currency should not operate the human being. 

Perhaps when the children of men can look upon a rainbow and see only its brilliance of color instead of looking for a pot of gold; when we can all look upon a diamond and not see the glimmer in our eyes, but the reflection of spirit and starlight; when a man can look at all other men and call them his brothers and only wish to help them, perhaps then, the world will know peace. 

 

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I am an artist, writer, author, philosopher and lover of nature and life. My blog offers a glimpse into my world, my thoughts, my sphere. Enjoy!

34 thoughts on “Diamonds and Pearls

  1. to me, all “systems” look good on paper…..they all never account for the one thing you can’t put in black and white….human laziness and human greed.

  2. Thanks again 🙂
    Watching a goat staring at me in a meadow on a sunny afternoon is one of the things that is priceless to me. Or my dog sitting close to my side, or hugging another person. (A few of thousands). I enjoyed your post!

  3. “If you over esteem great men, people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.” –The Tao te Ching

    “this exchange has led to inflation, poverty, thievery, slavery, war and atrocity”. I think this is its own type of anarchy.

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts. I wish the thoughts in my head went down on paper as well as your thoughts do. I have always wondered who made the “rules”. Your comment on who decided the value of diamond and gold was a classic “Laurie” questions. Ha! I’m always asking “Who said?” Keep blogging please. You are brilliant. -Laurie

  5. I see where you are going with this. Actually bartering for commodities for other commodities was probably the best form of commerce there was. When civilizations seemed to grow so did their want for more with less work. In this being self sufficient almost completely died out. Those who farm the lands or people whose society remains or remained simple did fine with barter. Greed kicks in as people put more enfisis on what is shiny and compact (jewels, gold, silver then later paper money and coins). I want to read more about this if you don’t mind.

  6. I agree, is important to question society, its rules and regulations. Work for example is an excellent subject, the factory hour most people work and who benefits from your arduous work.

    Have you read ‘Utopia’ by Thomas Moore? it is a such a lovely book, your last paragraph reminds me of one of the chapters in the book. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do, you’ll enjoy the subject matter.

  7. Capitalism comes from John Locke and Adam Smith, mainly. It is about serving the interests of the property owners, introducing specialization to make mass production possible is an example of this.

    It is not natural at all, and it is not as simple as simply working for money. The problem with capitalism today is that it is unregulated. if you take the USA (the country you come from, I assume). There are three main bodies of government. The two that are on the same level are congress and the presidency. Above them is the constitution, and the people that have been tasked to interpret it are the Supreme Court (if I understand correctly). That seems A-okay so far, but here is the thing:

    The corporations are not regulated or taken into account, their power is unchecked. They are allowed to expand as much as they want, this activity exploded after the Reagan era and his “trickle down theory”; the theory that if the corporations get rich and expands, we will ALL share in its fruit…
    Trickle down my ass!

    But yeah, good post! I am liking your blog.

    1. The only thing that trickles down is the sweat from a man’s brow while he works his hands to the bone. I realize that it is much more than money. This post was more of an illustration on the value that people place on objects. The basic concept of capitalist thought is that one works or produces goods to gain capital, and this actually has several definitions depending on personal politics. The basic model of the economic engine happens to be just as you illustrated, with unchecked corporations that run everything including governments. With a capitalist system, it keeps things “running.”

      1. Money kind of has to exist as a medium between the exchange of services. What would you think of a more socialist system with a mix of regulated capitalism (so there is at least some economic freedom)?

      2. I believe capitalist economics are much better. I would not want a socialist economy, even though it seems we are heading in that direction. The problem with capitalism is the abuse at the top by the very wealthy. But human greed is a powerful force in this world, sad but true.

  8. I’ve always thought of money, like time to be a language we’ve (as humans) have agreed on. You thoughts about value are something to ponder. Being on unemployment after a lifetime of working hard and supporting myself has changed my noble ideas about money just a bit…

  9. this whole idea of money, has it caused more harm than good in this world I often wonder …. and then for some reason, almost every time I think of or hear the word “money” the old Pink Floyd song comes to mind quite automatically at times where the word “money” and “bullshite” reside in the same lyrics …. excellent perspective you have presented here on this topic, thanks for sharing …. Jimi

  10. I draw the economic line at Hobbes and Locke. This was the turbulent time of Hobbes’ “Leviathan” where social contract theory had its beginnings. Prior to the social contract there existed a state of nature where is a war of every man against every man and life was nasty, brutish, and short. This was an argument for relinquishing personal rights to a higher power for protection. (No, not that one.) Hobbes believed there should be a king to guarantee the rights of the individual and that the individual must surrender these rights in exchange for protection.
    Locke generally agreed with Hobbes except that rule should be invested in a civil government. He also believed that men had equal rights to the bounty of nature and one should not hoard goods that might spoil. By “inventing” money (which, not subject to spoilage, could be hoarded). Despite equality under God, this allowed some humans to be more equal than others. Capital begot capital and here we are, ruled by pigs.

  11. This is so true. The obsession with stuff and things is ridiculous in the grand scheme of life. When we die it will mean nothing, however the legacy we leave behind will go on forever… Make it a positive one filled with love and caring of others instead if material things.

  12. I don’t know if capitalism is natural but I do know wanting things is. We have to survive. So we need shelter and cover. We also need to be able to celebrate the beauty of a flower and a rainbow. You can’t do the latter unless your former needs are met.I think the value is placed on the stones and metals etc because of how rare it is to get them. Not saying any of it is right or wrong and I believe in charity as well. But when I volunteer I am getting something worth more than money. I like your post. Lots of good brain food.

  13. Every time I read your words
    It’s me who is talking
    I feel so identified
    I’ve havent done a manicure in ages
    I have long hair which I cut ( sonetimes)
    and someday somehow I’ll live without All of this materialistic stuff which tend to make us numb to the Real thing
    Right now I am enjoying my way through painting
    meditation
    similar minded people ( and the rich conversations we share)
    helping animals
    and doing Reiki
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart
    😉

  14. Great post and well said. Value is assigned by man and interestingly gold is more expensive than any grocery item but as you rightly said, one cannot eat gold to survive.
    I recently saw a documentary on a group of people living in Germany, who have sworn of materialism. Some earn just enough to pay the rent of an apartment. Grocery shopping is done after opening hours, when the supermarkets throw away their non-sellable items in huge bins. They run a center, where people can leave the stuff that they no longer need and others can take what they need. You would think that people would take advantage of this situation, however they have much more than they can store that they have to organise garage “giveaways” to make space for new donations.
    I cannot imagine going through bins to shop for grocery but that could only be a case of conditioning by society. Society says, you earn money and spend this money to buy food, shelter and other stuff (mostly things you don’t need). 🙂

  15. A wonderful, thought-provoking post. I think most of us would prefer to be free from the burden of bills and jobs whose only value is in the paycheck. Unfortunately, I don’t think most would be as enthusiastic about giving up all the things they WANT to buy. Still, I can not help but must at how upside-down things would become under the bartering system…. once they traded/sold their already-acquired possessions, most of our world’s richer people would have nothing to offer in such a system, and many of our world’s poorer people would have the most. The thought makes me smile 🙂

  16. Yeah this one hit home a little bit more than one would like, that’s what my whole blog and writing is about, My Renaissance Life in that I’m done with the materialistic mindset, I feel it was no coincidence that when I started to value myself there was a shift in what then valued. To see myself as a moneymaker meant I was to make money, to see myself as a mother, one who likes the starry skies, one who likes to share stories as they stem from my heart…shifted my focus. I feel that it’s not the materials that’s the problem but how we view them and as you describe above the value we give them. I also contemplate “where did this original desire and value come from?” I saw a documentary “I am” and in it Tom Shadyac talks of his journey in redefining what he values but also that the ancient civilizations you speak of would think of our culture as “insane” in the way we work, achieve, do not help others as much as we could, ie creating levels of humanity rather than the equality of being human. In being connected, when we hurt another, we hurt ourself. So why do we hurt ourself? ~Kristy

  17. As a child, I always considered materialism as natural. Admittedly, I’ve been extremely materialistic, as a child, as an adolescent, and as a young grown-up, which may have let me towards some unfortunate decisions.
    On the other side, life and the decisions made in it gave me a great lesson.
    The lesson of valuing small things, small events, that were self-evident before.
    In a situation and a period in which I was so estranged from something with the most Beautiful meaning, Love, I learned to value it. Just being human, caring.
    And to acknowledge that people need each other and Love, not golden or silver goods, not a handbag of Prada, not shoes from Louboutin, etc…

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