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Money is Speech

“Money is Speech” August 10, 2011

“What is money, anyway,” asks my nephew
“Money is Speech.” answers the Supreme Court of the United States in Buckley v Valeo

Whoever controls words controls thoughts. Whoever controls symbols – and words are sometimes although not always symbols – has tremendous influence over thoughts. Whoever controls communication controls the thoughts of those who are most arrogantly and stupidly convinced of their intellectual independence and free will.

Money is a complex instrument, but it is among other things a means of communication. For the clever and the very wealthy, it is a means of storing wealth. For the foolish and the very poor it is merely a medium of exchange. For those who have enough, it is a means of communication.

In Buckley v Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that money is speech. This decision has been grotesquely fortified by the The ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205.

Whatever you or I want to think or to believe, regardless of whatever my friends in the blogosphere maintain, the Supreme Court has ruled, just as Adam Smith predicted they would. The interests of the masters are served by the laws because the masters make the laws.  Or as Adam Smith says in words that timelessly describe conspiracies of the master class, “the law, besides, authorizes, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen.

But matters are even more sinister than that. As Jack Vance argues in his satirical and brutal novel The Languages of Pao, the thinking of people is controlled, with varying degrees of success, by the master class. Whoever controls vocabulary and syntax controls thought. Mao and Stalin and Freud’s nephew, Eddie Bernays understood this, as did the War propaganda office of Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately there are many people walking around with prestigious degrees who don’t understand this.

It is not enough to get a masters degree in German, Chinese, or Hebrew. That doesn’t necessarily mean you understand how language works. One needs to understand the extent to which language controls perceptions of reality. This is the classic, but contested theory of the so-called Sapir-Whorf theorists. There is a great deal of discussion of this controversial theory, which should be discussed thoroughly, but not accepted dogmatically.

Rupert Murdoch understands this, and so does Michele Bachmann. But there are lots of otherwise smart people who don’t understand this.

The Koch brothers certainly understand that money is speech, whether they understand semiotics, I cannot say. But what does it matter? Eddie Bernays is working for them, and Sapir-Whorf offers food for thought as to why the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch invest so much money in the control of language and syntax.

The people who are currently rioting in Britain are expressing discontent, but if they are capable of articulating the sources of this discontent, the press is not reporting it. The media portray them as inarticulate.

The 1% of the population who constitute the master classes are easier to organize and more aware of their interests. All of this discussion of the powers of the Fed, the volatility of the market, the behavior of the Obama administration are of relatively little importance when one reflects on the fact that it is the masters who control the government and make the laws.

Adam Smith noted this with sorrow, contrary to popular mythology, although he recognized that from his premise only a dismal prediction concerning the rights of workers could follow.

Robert Malthus proposed means of redistributing wealth, and his ideas were adopted a century later by John Maynard Keynes, but Keynes has few defenders today. Certainly the Obama administration is not willing to consider putting money directly into the hands of workers. They endorse the Friedman-Greenspan-Bernanke method of creating large sums of money and putting it in the hands of the upper classes, ie, the big banks.

It is sufficient, unfortunately, to proclaim by fiat that Keynes has been discredited, and the misguided working people unfortunately contribute to Keynes defamation, preferring the bromides of Hayek, von Mises, Friedman, Rand, Bastiat, and all the other intellectual brigands who conspire to reduce them to a state of poverty, ill health, and ignorance.

I receive emails from honors graduates of Michigan and Penn State, who earn less than $20,000, and are burdened with debt, but continue to believe that unleashing the free market will solve all their problems. The master class preach the free market, but sneer at the idea of a free market. They understand the necessity of controlling the market, and they make the laws in order to serve their ends.

The masters control the law, and they control the language. This, alas, is how it always has been. This, regrettably, is how it always will be.

Wilson J. Moses

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