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"Moloch merely shovels babies into the Iire oI productive capitalism. Mammon hooks them
on the dead heroin oI envy." - Peter Lamborn Wilson
Peter Lamborn Wilson Tells the Truth About Money
AIter much whinging and gnashing oI teeth, I Iinally decided / was persuaded by the lovely
Rose Darling to hop the Fung Wah Bus and make my pilgrimage to New York City to see
Peter Lamborn Wilson AKA Hakim Bey speak. For those oI you not hip, Peter Lamborn
Wilson is one oI the last men standing Irom his generation which also included Robert Anton
Wilson, Christopher Hyatt, Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs and just about everyone
responsible Ior my view oI the world. He rarely makes public appearances due to declining
health, so the chance to see him was impossible to resist, even given my Iurious, blinding
hatred oI New York City and all its skinny-jeaned, up its own ass, selI-congratulatory glory.
Short story? It was worth it. Pics to prove it:
Hakim Bey and Ulysses Lazarus, Together at Last
Peter's talk was on money, speciIically, a long historical view oI money viewed through
magickal / hieroglyphic lens. Like a lot oI people I know and a lot oI people I hear, he claims
that he saw the whole economic collapse coming about a year ago. This is either an example
oI 20/20 hindsight on a massive scale or the collapse was that obvious to see coming over the
horizen. I tend to believe the latter. Mostly because oI something that Mr. Wilson himselI
said. "An important key to understand reality is economics." People that tend to understand
reality tend to understand economics- at least in the larger strokes. Still, I think it will Iorever
conIuse me why people like Mr. Wilson don't do something with this knowledge. He claims
that iI he had a million dollars last year he could have twelve millions today. It's not so much
that I doubt the veracity oI this claim so much as I lament it staying in the stage oI the
unveriIiable. Money may not be wealth, but it can get you some very useIul commodities like
cigarettes, guns, Iood, land, housing, etc.
Mr. Wilson points out that "the Stone Age knows starvation but it does not know poverty." In
other words, there might be a Iamine, your village might get raided, there might be crop
blight, but the village will either thrive together or starve together. The Stone Age knew
starvation, but it did not know a parasitic ruling class gorging itselI while masses outside
starved to death. Money, Mr. Wilson says, begins as Sumerian clay tokens shaped into the
tradable commodities (oxen, barrels oI wheat, bars oI silver, etc.). Records oI debt (at
usurious interest rates up to 33.3° annually) were kept by (who else?) the scribes and priests
oI the temples who at that time monopolized the art oI writing. This kept not only the
peasantry and laboring classes in debt peonage, it also kept the merchant class in thrall to the
temple. Peter has considered the anthropological Iacts about money alongside the more
mytho-poetic evidence existing Irom the time, such as the Babylonian creation myth oI the
war between Tiamat and Marduk, and the legends oI Staghorn and Gilgamesh.
Clay tablets existed in ancient Mesopotamia. Specie, that is coinage, did not. This is an
invention oI the ancient peoples oI Asia Minor and the Greek Islands. Here we see money
gaining a more explicit religious and magickal quality. Gold was plentiIul in this area, and is
also a malleable metal easy to imprint with both words and images. When temple sacriIices oI
the local bull cults became so popular that not everyone could get a piece oI bull, an ingenius
method was reached to give every pilgrim a symbol oI involvement in the ritual- the temple
token. Rather than a piece oI bull, pilgrims were given a small piece oI gold with a bull
impressed on one Iace. The two sided coin comes later with an image on one side and a
caption on the other. Money becomes qualitatively more magickal with this step, uniting the
image and the word into a talismatic object which has a value unrelated to its real value as
commodity. It is no longer simply a magickal document recording debt and / or wealth. It is a
magickal object whose value comes Irom belieI. As Peter points out: !"" # $%&'(# )*# +),- #
$%&'(.#/%"0#1,*#&%#)&1'2'&-#3,"4'. It's shiny, and makes cool jewelry and all that, but it is
not what the anarcho-capitalist types will have you believe, a universal medium oI exchange.
Sure, it holds value over millenia (particlarly with regard to silver), but there is not reason to
use gold more than say, diamonds or uranium or coal or any other commodity in limited
supply. Quoth Mr. Wilson: "Money is prooI that magick works, it is perhaps the only prooI."
Peter gave the room an interesting story to illustrate this. Paracelsus the Alchemist was
travelling through medieval Germany when he was invited to the court oI the Count oI one oI
the local statelets oI the Holy Roman Empire. The Count begins asking the great alchemist
about the secrets oI alchemy. This, oI course, leads to the Count asking Ior the secret oI
transmuting base metals into gold. The alchemist tells the Count that he is merely a puIIer or a
quack while the Count is a true alchemist who already knows the secret oI making gold out oI
thin air. He tells the Count to give a license to create a bank and then borrow money Irom the
bank. Remember that the United States, United Kingdom, and Euro countries do not mint
their own currency. They have a private company such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank oI
England do it and then borrow that money at interest. As is oIten the case the alchemists oI
the middle ages knew more than we give them credit Ior.
In the Iinal analysis, money is debt just as property is theIt. II you take a look at what Mr.
Wilson calls the "one dollar Bible oI America" you will see an inscription which says that the
bill is legal tender Ior all 0'5-* public and private. It is not legal tender Ior wealth. It is said
that iI one had all the money in the world one could buy all the wealth in the world three
times over, a Iigure which Mr. Wilson estimates to be closer to ten times. All banks- not just
the Federal Reserve- create money, but they do not create wealth. And it gets worse.
Gresham's Law, a maxim oI economics, states that bad money will always drive out good
money which makes things like Labor Dollars (you know them as Ithaca Hours) and Social
Credit inherently unworkable unless the entire world switches all at the same time. Two
excellent prooIs oI this are the migration oI productive capital to the 3rd world, and the Soviet
Ruble which was not available Ior export.
Indeed, the last point about the Soviet Ruble is also an operation prooI Ior another oI Mr.
Wilson's claims. That Marxists do not understand the spiritual nature oI money. I would go
one Iurther and say that they do not understand the spiritual period and that is why they
alienate most working class people. Peter arrived at his analysis oI money through what he
calls a Hermetic and Hieroglyphic technique. He suggests that we Iight the power oI money
by creating our own myths to compete with it. But as any truly wise man will also tell you, he
says he doesn't know what to do and doesn't have any real answers. He only raises questions.
And iI enough people start contemplating those questions then maybe one day we'll come up
As suggested bv Peter Lamborn Wilson on the subfect of monev
The Gift - Lewis Hyde
The Accursed Share - Georges Bataille
Jesus the Magician - Morton Smith
Confessions of an Economic Hitman - John Perkins
Honore de Balzac