The idea that money is the root of all evil or its variant “The love of money is the root of all evil” are a moral assumption many of us have grown up with. It is embedded deep within the mainstream view that most people have absorbed and hold as their own to some degree without conscious consideration or reasoned argument.
The study of money is conspicuously absent from school curricula and it is rarely discussed in the mainstream media. It is not surprising, therefore, that few people understand the roots of the concept nor recognise it’s merit. Then consider that altruism, the creed of self-sacrifice dominates mainstream morality after centuries of religions influence. Consequently many people either feel guilty about having wealth or self-righteous about being poor. Few will admit openly that they are motivated by money, and some go as far as to shun material comforts altogether. The idea that money is intrinsically bad is part of our culture. We all need it, we all use it, and we all want more of it. So is it the root of all evil?
What is money?
If we combine the popular online dictionary definitions of money (referenced below) and factor in our own direct experience, we can see that money is a means of exchanging value. It enables us to buy things, to acquire goods, and to exchange our labour for a stored value that may be exchanged later. It makes trade possible, easily and efficiently overcoming the limitations of barter to mutual profit for both parties.
What is the standard of good and evil?
In order to label something as either good or evil, we must have a standard by which to measure and judge. In other words, what is the standard of good? How do we know what good is? How do we identify evil?
The concepts of good and evil are moral concepts, they pertain to morality, which means what is right and what is wrong. Although morality sounds like a boring subject the truth is the exact opposite. Morality sets out to answer the question how should man act, what should he do? This is what determines the outcome of every life lived. It is the consequences of our choices and actions that make up our life.
Rand asked what is morality and why do we need it? She observed that whatever morality you choose, whether altruism, hedonism, or egalitarianism etc, they all constitute a ‘code of values’ to guide men’s choices and actions. She went deeper still and asked, what are values?
Values, Rand observed, are objects of action. “A value is that which we act to gain and/or keep”. As well as this useful definition she also noted that the concept of value presupposes a ‘to whom?’ and a ‘for what?’ She noted that only living organisms go after values. They seek out the things they need in the face of a choice – life or death. Lets remind ourselves that the most fundamental choice in the universe is existence or nonexistence, and that it only pertains to living things. Matter cannot be destroyed it merely changes its form while its chemical elements remain, but life can go out of existence.
Plants and animals have no power to choose against their instincts or genetic programming – they have automatic guidance. They pursue the values their nature has set for them in order to stay alive, in order to keep that ultimate value that is life.
Men have no automatic guidance and our thinking can be incorrect so we need a morality or code of values to guide us in what is right and wrong. Since no other values are possible without life. It is the genetically antecedent concept of value. Life makes values both possible and necessary. This is why life is the standard of value. This is why the good is that which supports life and the evil is that which undermines or threatens it.
If you want to look into this further I recommend reading ‘The Virtue of Selfishness‘ by Ayn Rand. It is a beautiful explanation of the principles by which to live. I also recommend the Youtube series by Craig Biddle “Facts, values and flourishing” for more about the crucial science of morality and successful living.
Thinking in fundamentals
So we’ve got a standard of value – Something is good if it supports life and evil if it threatens life. And we have a basic understanding of money as the means of exchange or trade. But let’s make another important distinction Let us look deeper into what gives rise to money, what makes it possible?
Money evolved through the need to exchange value for value, through trade. But money is only one side of a trade. The other side is ‘goods or services’. Goods have to be designed and produced, services have to be designed and performed by thought and subsequent action. This points towards reasoned action, which in turn points towards the rational mind. The root cause of all production is the rational thinking human mind.
So, is money the root of all evil?
- Money (as opposed to currency) is a store of value. As such it represents the ability to purchase the things that we need to live such as homes, washing machines, cars, computers, bed sheets, clothes, central heating systems etc. Is this why money is considered evil?
- Money demands that we respect the law of causality. For money to exist, things have to be produced, someone has to create something useful. Money, therefore, presupposes production. Is this why money is considered evil?
- Going deeper, money, therefore, represents the rational human mind in the process of thinking and figuring out how to produce, and then how to produce most efficiently and therefore competitively. Money arises out of rational thinking, out of men creating values to meet their needs. Is this why money is considered evil?
- In any business endeavour the presence of money represent success, its loss or absence denotes failure! Is this why money is considered evil?
- It represents voluntary exchange in trade, which means it represents peace and negotiation. It represents persuasion with reasoned argument (a great product at a low price) over compulsion and coercion. Is this why money is considered evil?
- Money lifts people out of poverty and enhances the quality of human lives. It is the antithesis of poverty! Is this why money is considered evil?
- To earn money or to make money is in everyone’s rational self-interest. To collect it and to save for the future is rational and necessary for future needs, investment and contingency. Is this why it is considered evil?
- Money is the lifeblood of trade. trade is a means of wealth creation. Is this why some consider it evil?
- I recall from my catholic upbringing that while the preachers condemned money as evil they still rattled the collection box during mass.
Of course, the morality of altruism advocated by the 3 main monotheistic religions is the root of the idea that money is the root of all evil. Let’s remind ourselves that altruism is the code of self-sacrifice. You can’t get more anti-life than that. Altruism is at the core of our mainstream philosophy. This is why we all need to bust out of what I refer to as ‘the Matrix’.
The love of money
As for the issue of ‘the love of money’ being the root of all evil; I find myself wondering how anyone could NOT love money, its brilliant! it is the most amazing tool. To love something is to value it and recognise how it supports and enables your rational self-interests and other values. How could one rationally not love money? The only barrier between men and money is their willingness towards rationality, effort and productiveness.
Do you feel cursed when you find some money? Or do you feel fortunate and pleased? If a distant relative left you 10 grand would you feel inflicted and put upon by evil, or blessed with an opportunity to make real a long sought-after goal. If you found a ‘lucky penny’ in the street would you consider yourself cursed?
How did you get your money?
It matters very much how you acquire your money. Let’s assume you want a happy life. By this, I mean a fully human life with meaning, purpose and a sense of non-contradictory joy. In this case how you acquire money is very important. If you earned it your self-esteem is enhanced, your productiveness recognised and you enjoy spending your reward. If you stole it or obtained it by fraud or deception your self-esteem with be diminished. You will know you are a thief and a parasite. Each purchase will be soiled by guilt and a reminder of your own inadequacy to life.
Yes, you can laugh and joke and pour champagne and ignore such inevitable feelings. You can repress certain thoughts and evade certain issues. But ultimately, that goal of a fulfilled and meaningful life proper to a man will elude you. You will not be happy. It is crucial to know that happiness is a result, a consequence, an effect. And the appropriate causes MUST be enacted to achieve it. Everyone can achieve happiness.
What money can and can’t do
Money does not corrupt. Money cannot influence your character and your thinking. With money, you can acquire what you value, and your money will reveal what you value. Your money will reveal your thinking or lack of it. It is a tool that can buy you what you want but it cannot tell you what to value, to know this you have to think!
Money will never replace YOU as the cause of your destiny. It can serve you or destroy you depending on how conscious you are, depending on your rational thinking. You demonstrate your character and your values in life by what you do and how you spend your money.
Dictionary definitions of Money
Dictionary.com – Any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper etc…
Miriam Websters – Something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment: such as coins, paper money etc…
The Free Dictionary – A medium that can be exchanged for goods and services and is used as a measure of their values on the market.
Collins Dictionary – Money is the coins or bank notes that you use to buy things.
Investopedia – Money is an officially issued legal tender that typically consists of notes and coins. Money is the circulating medium of exchange as defined by a government. Money is often synonymous with cash and includes various instruments such as checks. Each country has its own money that it and its residents exchange for goods within its borders.
Mike Maloney’s series “The hidden secrets of Money” is a fantastic Youtube resource to help us all better understand money. Check it out below.
We have seen how the concept of money is rooted in and arises from mans most fundamental pro-life virtues of reason, thinking and productivity. This And also that money facilitates trade which is pro-life for everyone. It seems to me that the call of money as ‘the root of all evil’ is a duff steer. It is not true. In fact Money is massively pro-life.
It is well worth brushing up our financial education and looking into the different forms of money and the different things that have been used as money. Then perhaps, fiat currencies and the decpetion of fractional reserve central banking. Then check out Bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies. Money is a necessary topic on ‘The Curriculum For Life’ and is something you have to know about. See “the new evolution of money” and also “The economics of peace freedom and abundance“
Thank you to all of you who have supported me this year. Especially my wonderful wife Lynne. I wish you well for 2019 and I look forward to presenting more valuable information here. I shall be changing my schedule to publish here once every 2 weeks. This is to afford me the time I need to write my book “Living outside the Matrix”.
I shall be creating a programme of physical exercise and activity from the New Year comprising of weight training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and stretching. The results and the findings will be published here.
I value your thoughts on all these issues at wwwlawfulrebel.com Please leave and questions or comments below if you would like to join in the conversation.
Live the life you love
Nigel Howitt, Treehouse farm