What Changes a Culture?
Free Money Is Dangerous

"I don’t believe we will ever have good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government . . . all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop. "
— F.A. Hayek

Friedrich Hayek’s observation above would seem to be the Holy Grail of cultural change, too. That is, “by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop.” After all, that is how we’ve arrived at our current woke catastrophe. 

As for reversing gears, Bitcoin and like monies are possibly starting this disruption of our current monetary system. Parallel economies would seem to be of some use in combating woke corporations. But like the weather, cultural change can be hard to create by itself, though it changes all of the time. 

What is true about the weather though is that high pressure (static) systems expand into low pressure (fluid) systems. Analogously, high pressure (static) cultures will eventually deteriorate into more low pressure (fluid) cultures. For example, it is often held that education and scholarly attainment promote innovation and economic growth. This is not necessarily true. Educational citadels can also become quite static cultures.

It’s often thought that education precedes innovation, whereas it’s more often the other way around. We cause something; then we study to understand it. Since individual initiative is more possible in a more fluid system, it would seem to me that we must find and secure a current reflection of the extremely fluid era and character of our own Western expansion if we are to preserve our nation as the founders intended.

The news for many of us is that the settlers within a new territory necessarily adopt and establish the cultural mores of those territories. In his essay, “Westerns Are Us,” Vincent McCaffrey maintains that “the themes of the American West, self-reliance, individuality, cooperation, trust, perseverance and resourcefulness, remain with us as a nation . . . What remnants of the Western (mythos) endure will be the survival of American culture.” This has been our heritage and it is, for us, good news.

The American cowboy was a small percentage of the American populace in its time, yet he defined the mores of a traditional American. At a certain point, the mores of an energetic minority determines the cultural fealty of the majority, both at work and leisure. 

The bad news is that today our youth are adopting the mores of the newly expanding territories of technology and government. From technology (notably Facebook) we have the development mantra: “Move fast and break things.” From government we get the existential, solipsistic mores of regulatory bureaucracy whose characteristics, in keeping with Max Weber, are: hierarchy, job specialization, division of labor, procedures, advancement on merit, fairness. 

Rather than pragmatic American can-do, woke youth of an expanding organizational era enforce mores very much at odds with the traditional American mores of the expanding West. The new hurrah might well be: “Go bureaucrat, young man!”

The IT newbies are mercenaries who create algorithmic disruptions of every sort. The regulatory wannabes polish their curriculum vitae at the best Ivies, follow the rules, live and talk PC, specialize in bureaucratic, postmodern codes and indecipherability, climb the hierarchies, and now enforce a “fairness” which is as self-serving as it is virtue signaling. Their lives and childhoods have been little like those of us who were raised in the 1950s watching Westerns. And unlike the Western expanse, these Kafkaesque social media, regulatory and organizational anthills are not “God’s Country.” Delete the restraints of tradition, (or allow them to be deleted for you), and we suffer the maddening woke behavior of our youth of today. 

So, what is to be done?

Money nowadays is territory. Vast sums of digital wealth have created new territory but not a gritty reality. In truth, the human race seems to have run out of reality. This raw new territory is more quantum than quotidian, as it is whatever those with the money say it is. The “realities” nowadays are far more political. Whereas imagination and courage were used to tame the Westem reality, spin is being used to tame and organize these modern political realities, which like communities of spoiled children, spend, spend, spend, reinforcing cultures of entitlement without the restraints that the physical realities foisted upon us. 

The mores within these fantasy expansions are likewise fantastical, contradictory, even inexpressible: Children are given the judgment to chemically alter their genders but still must be told when to go to bed. “Vaccines” which are actually “genetic transfer technologies,” apparently only work when the other person has been “vaccinated” also. (The older vaccines protected the vaccinated.) And what women are cannot be defined, even by a Supreme Court justice. 

Our traditions and our patriotism were created in the crucible of physical reality for our survival. Whereas oikophobia (Western self-hatred) strikes as an effort to vivify the prevailing political fantasy. Free money, (money given for value neither received nor produced), creates these fantastical cultural territories which operate by mores contradictory to the traditional, as one might expect, since their funding comes likewise from diametrically opposed sources. “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Oikophobia is really just a big word describing how to blame the Right for the Left’s failures. 

Our entire national convulsion stems from the demons free money has conjured. False realities are naturally paranoid as would be any imposter and go to great extents to defend themselves via fiat, suppressions, and coercions. We cannot predict where future opportunities will occur, as part of what creates an opportunity is the ability to recognize one. But we can limit those areas of opportunity which are fantastical—and will imperil reality—simply by withdrawing the free money. “If you build it, they will come,” offers the excellent and laudable corollary: “(But) if you don’t build it, they will stay away.” 

To be more specific: Who likes to deal with the government? Who wants to live a lifestyle, where bureaucratic hubris and regulations rule every initiative? If we don’t want our culture to be like brie and wine at the DMV Friday evenings, we must of necessity stop governmental expansion and shrink the regulatory arena. About technology, it must somehow be brought into accordance at least with the civilities of the Wild West, that is, quick, sure justice and freedom of speech; the basic tasks traditionally accorded necessary government. Bullying cyber titans must be brought to heel in civil society.

What cannot be shrunk can be dismembered. For example, a civilized nation needs a well educated population. We may very well need schools. But schools run and financed wholly by townships will certainly be more various culturally than those collectively run and financed by the federal or even state government. And those run by market forces will perhaps be more responsible than those run by towns. What do we do about mass school shootings? This problem might most effectively be decided on a school by school basis. So what is conceptually of national concern might be better addressed locally. If parents don’t want their children taught by gun carrying teachers, they can then opt for a different school, and vice versa.

This is certainly what our founders had in mind when they opted to create a federal republic of states and citizens with inalienable rights rather than a federal democracy of mass opinion. They wanted a freedom of speech as robust as possible, and a citizenry as free of governmental intrusion as possible. If we want to foster a more livable culture and enjoy the freedoms our ancestors died securing  we must necessarily have cultural expansion which acknowledges the gritty realities of free speech, individual rights, free trade, and what is actually possible. How do we manage this?

With government the answer is both hard, but at once simple. Money is territory. I would suggest we feed the government no new monies regardless of the declared necessity or even laudability of the projects said to be using those taxes. A hungrier government will find the monies and redistribute them more correctly as the necessities and reality dictate, just like a hungry person will find the calories and then trust his body to use them judiciously. When squeezed by survival, a lean government should do likewise, which is to rule its citizenry as their constitution dictates. 

About Carl Nelson

Carl Nelson is a former playwright/salesperson from Seattle. He is presently a poet/essayist/retiree who moseys about his small Ohio River town with his ginger dachshund, Tater Tot. He is published regularly in the New English Review, and is the man-of-many-hats behind Magic Bean Books: https://magicbeanbooks.co/

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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