Christ and Money

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Dec 21, 2003 11:01 am
Subject: Christ and money

Here is an article I wrote some years back to the old list "Anthropos-Views" and that was later published in an ezine called the Anarchist Tribune:

Libertarians apparently believe that money itself, i.e. the currency or legal tender provided and controlled by the state, will bring forth a perfectly free society like a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat if only taxes and fees be reduced do an absolute minimum.

When I argue that the libertarians are wrong, fatally wrong, it's because I find their level of reasoning terribly superficial - even more superficial than Karl Marx. Marx made an accurate analysis of social conditions that arose from the industrial revolution, but he made a big mistake by projecting those social conditions far into antiquity, claiming that human society has always been economically oriented and involved in a perennial "class struggle" based upon economic inequality and injustice.

Libertarians are making a similar mistake, which means we're headed for trouble. Big trouble. Because just like Marxism in practice has proven disastrous for the world, the libertarian laissez-faire system of values is holding sway today and is about to engulf the entire global society with little or no resistence. And that's trouble - especially, perhaps, for anarchists.

Why? Simply because what is widely ignored today is that the economically oriented structure of society, which has produced such phenomena as Marxism and laissez-faire Libertarianism, did not emerge before the Reformation and the Rennaissance. In antiquity, society was ruled by the pharaos, the high priests, the initiates of the Mysteries, their astrologers etc. Later on, in the Middle Ages, the monarchs and the clergy took over the lead. And then, who took over after the monarchs and the clergy? The answer is: The economists. During the last 300-400 years, the economists gradually transformed society in such a way that every political system, regardless of ideology or color, was controlled by economically oriented individuals. The invention of paper money was of tremendous importance, and this evolution was strenghened considerably in the 19th century when finance and banking emerged in such a way that the economic factor invaded (or infected) practically every imaginable human relationship. More and more, all jurisprudence and all legislation became products of economically oriented social thinkers, and such is reality today.

This is what we are up against: The banks, the stock exchange, the market manipulators. Anarchists who still gripe about the churches and the monarchs are living in the 13th century.

We have now vaguely touched the tip of an iceberg. When I take my argument one step further, it would be polite of me to warn my fellow anarchists that I'm not a regular anarchist but an anarchosophist, i.e. an anthroposophically oriented Christian anarchist. Because the way I see it, the power at work in the modern economically controlled global power structure has its genesis, or at least its roots, in the civilization of the Romans, and this makes certain passages in The New Testament extraordinarily interesting.

Let's start with the well-known episode where the adversaries of Jesus Christ ask him whether or not one should pay taxes. His answer is somewhat enigmatic. Because the coin bears the portrait of Caesar, it belongs to Caesar, according to Jesus. In other words, Christ admits Caesar the right to take any share of people's money he pleases because it's his to begin with.

I won't go further into this here except to mention that "the kingdom not of this world" which Christ represents, is the opposite of the world represented by money. It is obvious that Christ stands forth as a purely spiritual liberator, not as a political or an economic one. (Thus the political and economic liberation becomes the subsidiary and subsequent task of man after liberating himself from within.)

The other passage of great interest is the first temptation of Christ. He is in the desert, having fasted for 40 days. Let's imagine that Christ was a deity, a god - just as a thought experiment here. Let,s also imagine that he did not come into the flesh of Jesus before the baptism by John in the Jordan River. So he runs into the desert, goes without food for over a month, and discovers that a physical human being must eat in order to exist.

Now the temptation: the being which The New Testament calls "the Prince of This World" approaches the hungry Christ with the following proposition: "Because you are the Son of God, why don't you command these stones to become bread?"

I hope we don't get any funny fundies here who insist that Jesus was a circus magician. With stones we make hard currency, coins, and with money we buy food. The temptation is this simple: "Go buy some food."

Christ's response to this is even more intriguing: This is the one temptation he just cannot refute entirely. Everybody must eat to exist, and food is purchased for money. So Christ answers: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God."

Thus the real temptation involved here is to lead Christ and mankind to the illusion that physical nutrition is the only thing necessary for our existence - which is the basic assumption behind materialism and blind hedonism. But as we van see, Christ must admit the World Prince - or Satan if you like - dominance over the economy. It is crystal clear in his answer.

I will only add one more consideration here in order to show that the challenge we're up against today is not only formidable but extremely complicated. Orthodox Christians view Satan, or the World Prince, as some evil creature that one should flee from. But for an anthroposophist, this is the very being who has given man his intellect, and without whom we would have no science and no technology. It is our task to capture the intellect from Ahriman (which he is characteristically called) without falling into his illusory trap.

This was, perhaps, too much to come dragging along with for the sole purpose of explaining why I disagree with the libertarians, but it's very difficult to simplify the complicated.




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