Money on the Left

Money Politics before the New Deal with Jakob Feinig

August 30, 2019
Money on the Left
Money Politics before the New Deal with Jakob Feinig
Chapters
Money on the Left
Money Politics before the New Deal with Jakob Feinig
Aug 30, 2019
Money on the Left
Jakob Feinig joins us to discuss the history of political organizing and activism around money in the United States.
Show Notes Transcript

Jakob Feinig, assistant professor of human development at Binghamton University, joins us to discuss the history of political organizing and activism around money in the United States, from the pre-Revolutionary period to the New Deal era. Characterized alternately by periods of widespread “silencing” and mass mobilization, the history of money politics that Feinig documents in his research has much to tell us about the present and future of the modern money movement. For more about the history of money politics, see Jakob’s research on money politics in Sociological Theory and The Journal of Historical Sociology.

Speaker 1:
0:13
[inaudible] [inaudible]
Speaker 2:
0:14
and one of the most popular episodes of money on the left. We spoke with Harvard legal historian Christine Design about the historical ratio of monies, political and legal constitution in 17th century England and beyond. In our most recent episode, however, we chatted with our friend the respire now about the rise of a modern money movement, which aims to challenge these forces of repression in order to put public money to work for public purposes inspired by both modern monetary hearing and designs, complimentary constitutional theory of money. Today's movement is made up of scholars, activists, journalists, nonprofits and policy makers, all focused on recovering and mobilizing monies, unreliable powers in service of social and ecological justice. And in many ways it makes sense to trace the origins of what we're calling the modern money movement to the global financial crisis of the last decade. There is of course a much longer history at play here for more about the history of money politics. That is political organizing and activism around the question of monies, democratic potentials. We are glad to be joined this episode by Yaka Fining Assistant Professor of sociology and Fremantle University. We speak with finding about his research on the history of money politics in the United States from the colonial pre-revolutionary period to occupy Wall Street. Here's our conversation.
Speaker 1:
1:45
[inaudible]
Speaker 3:
1:46
Yaakov. [inaudible] welcome to money on the left. Thanks so much for having me. So we're wondering if you could start with, um, talking a little bit about your personal background and scholarly background and how you came to the question of money politics.
Speaker 4:
2:02
So I grew up, uh, in Austria and, uh, I was doing a degree that was very deeply connected to political economy and when I started learning about, you know, money creation and I had all those Aha moments that I'm sure many listeners also had at some point when I started learning, uh, as part of my studies about, uh, money creation and political economy, how it is connected to unemployment to central banking, et Cetera, to commercial banking. At that time, uh, the euro became [inaudible] famous changeover to the euro. And, and I sort of started understanding what that meant for countries like Austria, but also also other countries and especially in, in the European periphery. And I couldn't believe that everyone around me was, uh, completely uncritically celebrating it. I started looking for a ways of understanding the relation between, uh, institutions that create money and, and the WHO use it. And, and, and, and, and that was struck. I couldn't find a good way of thinking about that as an actual historically existing and changing relation. So, so really, even though the ECB never really shows up in my writings, what is driven by that idea of, of trying to get, trying to find a way of speaking about that relation
Speaker 5:
3:22
later on, you went, came to America to then explore those interests. Um, where did you do your phd?
Speaker 4:
3:28
I did my phd, uh, in, uh, in [inaudible] university in the department that's focused very much on historical sociology that has, uh, an important tradition of critical political economy. It's a department of Emmanuel Wallerstein and Giovanni Arrighi. So it's, it's very deeply rooted in, uh, in historically thinking about economic life and political economy.
Speaker 5:
3:51
Most of our efforts in the present neo charter list and constitutional money movement is dedicated to critiquing and posing theoretical alternatives to the orthodoxy. Be it classical, neoclassical liberal or neoliberal. Um, but in your work you're doing something rather unique, um, which is that you're actually unearthing a repressed genealogy of popular left Democratic monetary movements, um, that can provide a really rich and complicated, uh, but nevertheless positive resource, um, for the contemporary left. And maybe to, to ease us into this discussion and to start us off, you can tell us a little bit about how your framing this intervention, how, yeah, I'm thinking like how you're in sociology, right? And you, you're in the field of historical sociology. That's correct. So where, where does money sit in your field and how are you responding to those who have either directly or indirectly taken on the question of money, monetary politics, etc.
Speaker 4:
5:10
Sure. So there are, there are two major, major ways of, uh, thinking about money historically or that it might resonate with, with the listening with you listeners or what your listeners already know. One of, one of them is sort of the classical sociological approach that people relate to money. Uh, primarily because money dissolves all bonds. It solves social relations. All that is solid, melts into air. It's very grounded in Malik's and symbol in Dad's canonized tradition. So there's these very broad claims about money being an individualizing force and, and breaking apart communities and tradition, traditions, etc. That's one, one, one larger, uh, you know, broader claim about money. The other one is more recent and that's, uh, the, the most famous, uh, writer is Viviana Salazar who writes about more money, more in terms of micro relations to meanings of money, challenging similar marks and saying that, well, money is actually more complicated.
Speaker 4:
6:12
It doesn't mean that everyone is individualized. It's just a different way of relating to people. But she focuses on very much on the micro level, not on a macro level on what what people do in households with money, how gender relations, et Cetera. So, so I'm, I'm, uh, I'm distancing myself from both of those traditions because I ask how people in bed, but I mean, money users, how do they re relate to the actual institutions that issue money? How do, how do they relate not to money as just to their bank accounts? Or how do they organize their money in households, but how do they re relate as political beings to the institutions that issue money, how that, how does that change over time and how does it shape possibilities for political actions? So it's, it's really a deep historical thinking about, you know, who are we in relation to those institutions?
Speaker 4:
7:11
Right. And, and, and the goal is really to add to, to unearth this, to, to emphasize that in relation to money, we're much more recent than we think. The, the way we relate to money is much more recent than we think and therefore much more easily changeable. And we think. Great. So where would the work of, uh, Jeffrey Ingham fit into those two camps are, and then also in relation to your own work, the gesturing and the sociologist? We wrote the book the nature of money. So definitely Ingram. He is, it's complicated, but I would say that he is more on the very large institutional, he offers something that's distinct from both similar marks and Zelizer. He offers a very large institutional approach to money at focusing on very large patterns of money issue. He does not look at how, uh, money users knowledge is shaped, how social movements understand monetary institutions and how the very constitution of money is changes over time by involving people in different ways in it.
Speaker 5:
8:28
And maybe to, um, to talk about, uh, or deepen your understanding of the, the relationship between canonical sociology and contemporary sociology. Um, what I know of Ingham is that he seems to rely on, on vapor, uh, and, and his thinking about power, um, and I know you have a, you have a critique of, of the VA Barry and approach
Speaker 6:
8:56
to money. And do you see that, uh, how do you see that potentially influencing, um, Ingham
Speaker 4:
9:04
so I think it was more called complicated. We can, we can focus maybe more because he, he also draws on on cereal and a, and did this, this, this notion of collective intentionality. He all, and at the same time, he draws very much on the very notion of legitimacy. So maybe you can just focus on one, on the legitimacy part without really claiming to do justice to the complexity of your thought about, about serial. Um, so, so, so the, the idea of legitimacy that people relate to public institutions through legitimacy means that they're somehow external. They relate to what they think is legitimate. They don't relate as thinking beings who can understand the relation and what's at stake, right? They have a superficial, they relate to institutions, to public institutions, to institutions of governance. They relate to them on a superficial level, but I thinking while there's legitimate or they're not right, but that, but that's, that's, that's uh, that's, that's, uh, from a, from a participant participatory democratic perspective, that's a, uh, fairly problematic assumption that people simply cannot understand, uh, the institutions that govern them. And then the waiver is very clear that he, he's, he's very skeptical of, of deep democracy. He's very skeptical of social democracy. Uh, and, and he has, he has very, he, he openly states that he's in favor of neutral.
Speaker 6:
10:31
So circling back to your own work, Yucca, boom, you contrast processes of what you call monetary silencing to moral economies that are rooted in shared knowledge about monies, institutional shaping. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of these terms? And where they come from and what their stakes are for you.
Speaker 4:
10:48
Absolutely. So when I talk about moral economies, I talk about events, processes in which money users relate to the two institutions, uh, that issue money about monetary knowledge that informs action, Direct Action. It can also be electoral action or campaigning. And they mobilize an idea of monetary justice that's not limited to questions of distribution or redistribution to demands for money, for, for offer payments, et cetera. But it involves claim about what money is about monies, public purpose, about how monetary institutions should be arranged to conform to their specific ideas about justice, right? So this idea of moral economy, it comes from, uh, from the British historian Epi Thompson who developed it to counter those summary dismissals of non-elite economic thinking that were and still are common. And that still are very present in the historiography about, uh, about popular involvement with monetary institutions from Shay's rebellion to the populists, to, to the populace in the 1930s.
Speaker 4:
11:52
So it's, it's about taking seriously, not elite economic thought. That's what really connoisseur what moral economies are and how those nominate forms of economic thought in form action. So that's, that's one of the poles of my, if my thinking is, I'm trying to understand who mobilizes these moral economies, how they're developed. And then on the other hand, also how they're silenced at the, the, the term of monetary silencing is I derive it from a completely different tradition from the Brazilian thinker [inaudible] who says that silence about important political issues is a relation. It's a relation between those who have a voice, those who don't, those who have been silenced. And for him, such situations of silence are dehumanizing because they embody a denial of people's right to participate in making their own history. So I tried to look at processes of monetary silencing, which from that perspective are really also processes of dehumanization because, because they disconnect people from the institutions that condition their individual and collective lives.
Speaker 4:
13:00
So it's about excluding people from knowledge, from institutions and, and it's about turning them into mere money users and two to two mere consumers or people who whose vision and knowledge just go beyond, uh, using a credit card, knowing how to deposit a check or, or, or, or, or, or knowing where to get, get money from a, from a period lender. Right? So it's, it's about, it's about denying and silencing anything that's, that comes close to structural vision. Maybe promoting our kind of impoverished sense of financial literacy. It sounds like you're talking about. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think even the concept of financial literacy can be a form of silencing if it, if it promotes this very dividual list way of thinking that's limited to individuals without any structural vision, right? So it's, it's about don't worry about the larger institutions, they're all taken care of.
Speaker 4:
13:55
Just focus on doing, focus on doing those one, two, three steps and that learn how to, how to survive as an individual. Right? So it's, it can also be a way of de politicizing, uh, money and, uh, negating moral economies by saying that they're not really necessary, right. Or it's also, there are many forms of silencing, many of which also inform our kind of truncated moral economies and, and so, so you can have more listic thinking of, of, of money. You can have, uh, individualistic thinking about money, all kinds of ways of, of relating to monetary institutions that do not enable, uh, people to understand them as institutions. And the very big one, uh, that's kind of like a moral economy of fools is, is of course antisemitism, which, which is a way of creating scapegoats. And at the same time distracting attention from the actual institutions that are, that are relevant and that are relevant for, for money users.
Speaker 6:
15:04
So, yeah, in gender, the kind of silencing or suppression and gender is kind of a conspiratorial mindset where it's, yeah, the antisemitism, but also maybe a strong thinking about sound money and the need for, um, you know, maybe not in any kind of like, um, deeply theoretical sense. But our money should be physical and hard. And limited and scares.
Speaker 4:
15:27
Totally. Those are also very truncated, uh, truncated, uh, moral economies, which is they did mobilize a certain sense of justice and injustice like commodity manufacturers or even, uh, or even the bitcoin movement. And this is the tech Ophelia and this idea that there is a technological fix to all our problems, right? So those are, there is a sense of outrage or of, of, of injustice and justice, but it's, but it, it doesn't, it that it doesn't allow people to connect to the institutions that already exist and that structure all lives and that can be restructured, right? So there are all kinds of, uh, uh, they're truncated and [inaudible] they don't allow a true engagement.
Speaker 3:
16:13
And so your forthcoming book then concentrates through this lens on a fairly large swath in American history from 1637 to 1936. So why focus on America then in particular? And how does America's then evolving relations to money differ from other nations or other international histories of money politics?
Speaker 4:
16:35
Well, I think there are two conditions that set, uh, the British North American colonies. And also they are the u s part. And the first one is that two things overlap that in other national histories, in other North Atlantic national histories to not overlap in the, in the Middle Ages, there was the money issuing practices, governmental monetary practices were more visible because it was more reasonable that public authorities issue money to tax it back. Uh, there is this, this, uh, at that that is, it's a creation of authorities. And so it was much so I've empty or charter, this view of money was I think, much more common and it was much more easily intelligible. But at that time, of course, uh, popular action or non elite action was limited to crowd action. It was limited to tools, to uprisings, et cetera. There was no, uh, there was no legitimacy.
Speaker 4:
17:33
Not even for, for, for, for, for, for, for significant parts of the population to participate, uh, uh, in the electoral processes. Right? So in the American colonies, the North American colonies, what you have is that the verb intelligible modes of money issue. And at the same time, there was a significant part off the population property by men. Uh, in many, especially in the northeast, many of them could vote and they could participate. So you have to, you have this overlap of intelligibility and add significant electoral participation of, of, uh, of, of, of a specific group. Right? And that, that underlies the debt. I think. I think that that explains a lot of why there is this recurring dynamic of politicization of, of money in, uh, in this geography.
Speaker 5:
18:34
So you tell again, a pretty large, long story about American monetary politics and a story that I think really needs to be revised because there's so much rich potential in it. But, um, you also, in addition to pointing out the fact that there, there are limits and problems with this story, you do begin with, uh, a rather cautionary tale we might say, uh, involved with, um, uh, you know, basically monetary production, um, in the service of settler colonial violence. And I'm, I wonder if you can, um, sketch that out for our listeners to get us going.
Speaker 4:
19:24
Sure, absolutely. So November 16, 37, the Massachusetts government declared lampoon legal tender a few months before that, uh, the burst wanting to reverse colonial massacres occurred and mystic where the English together with their native allies killed 400 peak watts within a half hour. So there are, there are different interpretations of that event and of the peak word war in general, but, but to give you a little context at that time when Tom was, was used to by first from natives, so the English, uh, used bottled to, to buy first from natives and then the English exported back to Britain in payment of, of deaths they had there.
Speaker 5:
20:10
For those, for those who are less familiar with the term Wampum, uh, can you, can you describe it? Just what is it physically?
Speaker 4:
20:18
So those are, those are, uh, it's, it's a form of, uh, those are shell beats that are manufactured by, by natives and that they were used in trade, uh, and the, uh, and also in payment of, of, of some local taxes by, uh, by, by the colonists. So it's, it's, it's a, it's, it's a very labor intensive process to, to produce, uh, to produce [inaudible]. It needs to be drilled and it's, it takes, it takes a lot of time. So, so, uh, at the end, and typically when palm is, or in some histories that you might come across, it's, it's seen as this, this lice, uh, currency that connects settlers with, with natives and then kind of like a, a symbol of, of, of, of a coexistence almost. And the usual, usually beneficial exchange, uh, when in fact, uh, it was, it was a way of organizing a trade on a very large scale to the benefit of settlers and [inaudible].
Speaker 4:
21:22
This is how it happened. The English called the Pequots bit masters because it was the group, the main group that produced Volvo. They could make water scarce and expensive. And there were also potential competitors, the fair trade, because since they produced, uh, this, uh, discrepancy, they could themselves by, uh, by the fur from, from inland natives. But after the colonial massacre do you repeats Lovett, uh, by bipap had tags on east two surviving, uh, Pequot, uh, De de a David Post all kinds of fines and use at the forced him to deliver tribute basically. So that the advantage from now on that they had for free money supply them from the group that had four highly controlled or con control to some extent control the, put the production of the, of the current seat, uh, the English debated legal tender so that it meets that they could, they, they now had a more plentiful supply backed, uh, by the first that, that, that and, and also by legal tender status, they could, they could pay a school virus doesn't hit, they could, they could organize local exchanges in it. They could, they paid down taxes if that. Uh, and it was all based on, on, on the, that what, uh, w terroristic event, but also the ongoing threat of violence in case of nonpayment of, of tribute.
Speaker 4:
22:50
So the, the reason I start to, uh, the, the battle script with that episode is because much of the book manuscript, I talk about moral economies and I, I wrote, I write mostly about white bed's Boral economies and their understanding of monetary justice and their to political practices that are formed by their idea of monetary, monetary justice. And it's, it's very tempted or Betty histories of, of, of money. The U S or North America start with the colonial bid. They start with colonial paper money overlooking that. The first, uh, the first legal tender was based on, on the settler colonial violence. So, so it's, it's, it's a, it's an attempt to, to, to, to wide idealizing, uh, American monetary history by, by talking about the unspeakable of, of Cedric colonialism.
Speaker 6:
23:48
So you begin then with in a way a story of, of monetary silencing as, as it's been told in, in the kind of history books and the white man, moral economy, history of money in the United States. Could you trace out the kind of rest of your project where you, you track this silencing and politicisation over a a the rest of your time period?
Speaker 4:
24:13
Absolutely. Okay. So I'll focus on the two great waves of politicization. The first one that we started to talk about a little bit is, are the moral economies of the 18th century, which is where many propertied white men could vote. They had a moral economy that was based around the idea of white man's independence, which, which meant that that a white man was at just thought of himself as the center of a household, but also the center of gravity, of the political economy, to which everyone else was subordinate, subordinated, including, uh, the members of the household, women, children, servants, slaves. Uh, and of course, uh, the people that, that they subjected to genocide. So, so, so they thought of themselves as, as the center of that political economic universe. And they thought that that position that they claimed and defended was, uh, was constituted through money and they had the right to reorganize money in ways that stabilized their position.
Speaker 4:
25:19
So, so, so that meant if too many of them went bankrupt, lost their, uh, lost their land, uh, lost their status as an independence man. And as an independent man, if they saw their, uh, their status as threatened, that it wasn't their individual fault, it was to fall off of, off of the current ways of organizing money. So, so that means that that not enough money reached them as independent white men to stabilize their position. Right. That meant that since they knew you and they had experience, even reorganizing money and money was visible as a governmental, as a governmental practice, it, they did it. They said, well, we need to reorganize it to make sure that he reaches us and we don't lose our status. Right. And that's, that's the basic assumption of the moral economy in the 18th century. But also, uh, going forward in the 19th century and Debra, there were several episodes in, uh, all over the, the colonies were where that led to two, two clashes between, uh, between different classes, between the creditors of tellers, between also, uh, also increasing tensions between Britain and, uh, two colonists.
Speaker 4:
26:40
So there's, there's this whole story, a very complex where a class class touches within the colonies overlap with, with the imperial relations. Okay. So the Land Bank is one of the most, uh, most important, uh, episodes at events that, that period after the British prohibited, uh, paper money issue. Uh, a few merchants together with, uh, in the class alliance with, with, with, uh, the property holding class, small property holders set up what's called a land bank without getting a charter at. They started circulating those notes against the express opposition of the governor who, uh, was a crowd appointee and who wanted to, to force, uh, the British priorities. So they started circulating that buddy. The buddy did not have legal tender status. It was not backed by commodities. It was backed by land and a edge. It was of course not receivable, the payment of taxes, yet it started circulating.
Speaker 4:
27:43
How did that happen? The settlers, individual townships decided that they would accept it and payment of taxes and payment of local taxes. Right. So they were so used to, to what, what's today is, is admin a d or it is this idea that Texas drive buddy that they said, well, you know, if the governor or that that at a, at the legislature don't take you to period of Texas, we'll do it. We'll do it. We'll do it ourself. Right. And that was predictable. It was seen as, as, as, as, as a, as an outrageous, the rebellious booth. Who are they, who are these towns to, to declare what's, what's okay to, to, to receive it. Payment of taxes. And then you had, you had all those dude, the government resorted to all possible beads to, to, to stop the lab packers. He dismissed, uh, judges. He dismissed militia officers. He condemned to paper money. He withdrew tavern licenses also. There was a really, it was a real uprising with, with, uh, where we're both sides fought with all the beads, uh, at their disposal. Short of short of, uh, violence.
Speaker 1:
28:50
My name is Tom Rancor and I am not a banker banker.
Speaker 7:
29:01
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
29:01
I see [inaudible] no stars are seen in props. They are failing Johnny banker. Y'All did banker
Speaker 7:
29:23
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
29:24
check checkup your shortage and bring down your lung [inaudible]
Speaker 4:
29:33
you jump in. So, so on both sides you have the um, uh, the, the town people are that who are accepting
Speaker 6:
29:42
those a land bank notes. Um, uh, they're, they're accepting those and then the crown is saying, no, you cannot accept those. And both sides seem to recognize what's at stake. And that is the question of, of sovereignty. Would you say? That's right,
Speaker 4:
30:00
yes, I would. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that that time there was already an emerging morally economy that wasn't different from, from the Morley economies that DP tops and writes about that specific to north of North America where you have an emerging sense that it's, that is somehow connected to rights that are not just traditionally bears as Englishman, but that are also connected to an emerging idea. Maybe, maybe it's, maybe it's, that starts probably a little bit later that they ever did. They have to write to, to redress, uh, ELLs and the money is part of the sphere that is open to, to, to, to, to that kind of interventions. And they didn't think about themselves as a rebellious, they thought of themselves as bodying, the just social ordinary, right? So, so the, the, so, so all the, all the, all those movements that, that, uh, multiplied towards the revolutionary period and, uh, that connects to pre-revolutionary period with the postman revolutionary period with chase revalue and et Cetera, they did not think of themselves as rebels. They thought of themselves as regulators. They thought of themselves as body, just authority as, uh, distinct and opposed to a government that has been led astray. Right. And, and, and, and to governance of money was part of that. It was part of what, of of adjust just social order that was not living, to, to obey gloss that was there was, uh, a sense of, uh, of white man's justice that was not, uh, that, that was not limited to, to, uh, obeying the government.
Speaker 5:
31:49
So can you walk us through how a counter tendency, a tendency towards silencing, um, takes over as we move through the revolutionary period through the constitutional convention and eventually into Jacksonian America?
Speaker 4:
32:09
Sure. So there were, there were always, uh, even, even at the very beginning, even in it already starting in the 1720s, there were writers and thinkers who wrote and published pamphlets, a try in an attempt to silence and ridicule, uh, moral economies and moral economists. And they said, well, did ever openly anti-democratic. And they were openly elitist saying, you know, the rabble cannot, uh, cannot participate in this. There is no, there's a specific class wealthy merchants who have decided that gold is always the commodity. We have to follow their lead, uh, and let, if not chaos will ensue. Uh, so there, there was always this idea that there is monetary state of nature is just around the corner. If, if, uh, if the government allows people to participate in multiple [inaudible] politics, there were, there was always this, uh, said a kind of a fear of the crowd and the fear of, of not elite monetary thinking.
Speaker 4:
33:11
One of the most famous pamphleteers is William Douglas of Boston physician who had, who also, uh, not surprisingly as Jeffrey's cut Slutsky has shown in his book. He also post this idea that the ideal society is centered around independent white men or around a large number of [inaudible] white man. He, he would post moral economists of buddy based on the idea that the money cannot and should not be democratic, but also the goal moral economists, which, which was creating a society of independent white men was also not something he agreed with. He wanted a few large land owners. Right? So, so you, you're, you already have those, those silencing, silencing projects from the very beginning, there was no never moral economy without, without silencing projects at the same time.
Speaker 5:
34:11
So what happens with the constitution and an after that seems to really change the tenor of your story?
Speaker 4:
34:21
Yeah, it, it does, it does. Uh, because disability on, on, on, I'm drawing on the great work by, by Terry Butan and others, uh, in a book called Tavi democracy that I highly recommend is that there was, there was this very clear elite project that put on documents about reorganizing money in a way that makes it less democratic by, uh, placing the right to buy, first of all, prohibiting the state legislatures from emitting bills of credit action, 10 article, Waterford Constitution. And then the second part by, by placing it in the hands of Congress, which was deliberately constructed as an institution that's less open to not elite pressure. Right? So, and then after that, after you have that reorganization, after a few years, uh, you have, you would, we, we start seeing a truncated moral economy. We started, we started seeing the moral economy of Jacksonian ism where paper money is now a popular because the backs issue into banks are, are very different from ledge from the colonial legislatures, even though it's both paper money, but banks issue paper money, uh, supposedly backed by, by commodities.
Speaker 4:
35:41
So did the legislature's also issued paper money, not backed by commodities, but the, the, the notes that people hold in their hands, uh, are made of to save material, uh, fake there they're identical, but whereas previously it was paper money was a symbol of popular sovereignty of probably democracy of participation. Now paper money becomes a symbol of corporate prerogative, right? So if it becomes very easy to derive, uh, to the right, uh, to the right paper money to attack it and to think that that paper man is always bad. It's always arbitrary. It's always anti-democratic. And people even start lumping together colonial practices with the corporate banks of, uh, after the Anti Anti Bellamy era. Right? And then from there, once you've completely changed dirt functioning and to meaning of paper money from there, it's just one step to saying, well, because paper one is always arbitrary. It's always anti-democratic because that's because there's something inherently bad about paper money. Therefore we need to go back to an invented tradition, which is commodity money. And that's when you have this, this, this idea that it was previously completely unthinkable. And it's, it's, it's, I think one of the most striking examples of an invented tradition that, uh, commodity money is the popular, the popular, uh, and the not elite and the insurgent way of organizing money.
Speaker 3:
37:21
And so a crucial part of the way you work through this history in your manuscript is you make an argument about periodization. And in particular, you draw a line at the new deal as a specific moment in which, um, the politicization of money becomes silenced. And I was wondering if we could work through this history with that in mind and think about the ways in which the 19th century and early 20th century, um, Democrat more democratically inclined monetary populous or the during the civil war greenbacks, um, really demonstrate, uh, flourishing in the, in the politicization of money in the ways in which perhaps moral economies are, are being created by, uh, actors throughout this, uh, American history
Speaker 4:
38:15
of course. And to maybe briefly remind readers that, uh, as an unintended consequence of civil civil war, five minutes, there was a departure from the gold standard and to the government. Do you see us government issued a paper manager was not convertible into anything else, uh, and was receivable the payment of almost all Texas. And [inaudible] did issued that. And as an unintended consequence of that, different groups picked up on that because there was, there was this, the did the ideology of, of a dependence and this idea of, of independence, why that was that, that, that, that, that connects the colonial era with the, with the post war era. But, uh, so also that, that connects it. But, but, but the two way that's connected to money changes all the time. Right? So, so the one part of your ideology, ideology changes, but uh, but the other one does not.
Speaker 4:
39:14
So, so, so, so you as a, as a, as a enabled by that, I didn't tag that politicization. You have all kinds of movements. It's quite different from the colonial era. Now you have significant alliances between poor whites and blacks around greenback parties after the end of reconstruction. Uh, there was also, uh, there were also very significant, uh, alliances, alliances between populous black and white that threatened redeemers to threaten to silence democracy, including in Virginia where there was a biracial alliance called the the re adjusters that issued state bonds that served, circulated as pay tokens to hire a teacher to hire teachers, uh, uh, build schools, et cetera. So you have a really significant, uh, uh, an about turn in terms of how, uh, how not only groups relate to money. And for the first time there are, there are significant biracial alliances. So this wave of, of moral economy and this wave of moral economy, uh, of money, it, it's typically people or historians think that it ends in the, in 1896 with the defeat of William Jennings Bryan.
Speaker 4:
40:31
But I'm arguing that it does not end until the new deal. There were important generational links between popular populism and populism of the, of the 1880s and 1890s. And, uh, and to neo populism in the 1930s. So also there were people who had that knowledge, who perpetuated it and who let farmers groups who let veterans groups. And who organized, who kept that, those moral economists live long enough for them to be activated in the context of the great depression like the first wave. It also, it also ended in violence. The first wave, one of two ways, ways of thinking about the first wave of politicisation is that, you know, when Shay's rebellion was crushed, uh, it's that, that's the idea of, of popular money politics or at least one of his, and it was state violence against veterans. It can, can you describe that? Sure.
Speaker 4:
41:30
So, so, so what you see also, we're going back now to the, to to the 1780s, uh, where many, many of the people who had fought at roof originary working back, faced very high debt, faced, uh, high taxes and, and found that their, uh, economic conditions had not really changed all that much or had eve versus compare compared to the, to the colonial era. So many of them had, had, had participated in money politics before. They had seen that that was possible. And, and now they were threatened by Delta's prison. Many of them ended up in debtor's prison. And what they did is that they, they asked for for more paper money issued, they shut down the courts and they, uh, they ended up, uh, they ended up arming themselves. Again, it's important to, it's typically said that, that, that those events are described as Shay's rebellion.
Speaker 4:
42:28
They did not see themselves as, as rebels. They saw what we today think of as the government. They thought the government as the rebels, Dave, are a legitimate authority. Right? The government had huge, uh, problems financing itselves, uh, [inaudible] the, they put together an army, uh, by, by using privately raised funds. And, uh, there was an engagement, there was a battle and I think two veterans were killed or due to two members of, of chase, of, of chase army were killed. Something comparable happens in the 1930s, when when veterans World War One veterans walk on, uh, on DC and set up camp and, uh, it's called, it's a, it's a very important event. It's called the the bonus march demanding advanced payment of, of a, both of, of a bonus that there were students for their service that the government owed them who were said the government cannot afford it, uh, unless we threatened the viability of the gold standard.
Speaker 4:
43:33
And they were, uh, they were skeptical of that. They said, well, you know, we're more important than the gold standard. You have, you, you using the reconstruction finance corporation to give money to, to all kinds of, of actors that we think of as shady. We, we also have to write to participate in this. And then so, so hundreds and hundreds of people, some of them have veterans, some of them with their families camped in front of Congress demanding an early payment of that by, uh, by issue. So they were, they were connected to the agreed backers, uh, after, after some time who were sent the armed forces and they get, uh, uh, I think two or three people, people were killed through two or three of the voters. Merchants were killed. So, so both waves of police [inaudible] and did violence. But in the 1930s a difference was it was not quite over, uh, in 1932 when, when Roosevelt took over, he, he didn't, I don't think he had a master plan in terms of how to deal with money politics or how to deal with the farmers and the veterans, the, to, to, to the, the major groups that, that demanded, that demanded, uh, that, that really, again, mobilize more the economies of money.
Speaker 4:
44:54
Uh, and what he did is his step by step in the first month of his presidency for several months of his presidency, he removed one by one all the issues, uh, that were connected to, to, to, uh, true liberal economies, but, and he replaced them with the written notion of rights. So he didn't want the borders marches again, went to Washington to demand an early payment. He did not set the military, but he offered them jobs. Right? So that's a very, very significant and of course, much, much preferable way of, of dealing with popular demands. And at the same time, what happened is that he, uh, consistently denied all ways of thinking about, about money as political. He used all, all kinds of forms of thinking and talking about the monetary system and the banking system. Uh, he, he used more or less stick tropes, blaming greedy bankers.
Speaker 4:
45:59
He used, uh, all kinds of, he used, uh, he talked about banks as something that's does that it's always necessarily there is the, the form that there was dollar that's not really changing. It's an unchanging part of, uh, of, of the political landscape. It's neutral background. So it's not, he did whatever he could to depoliticize money. And at the same time, he, he, he did this crucial advance, which is to really truly legitimize, uh, some people's rights, some people's socioeconomic rights. So, so we know, of course, the devils, the two socioeconomic rights versus severity limited. And they applied primarily once again to white men. Right? But what happened is that he grabbed rights and with economic builds of bill of rights with social security, all, all the, all those access to, to, to, to, to housing, finance, all of which were geared toward, towards white man.
Speaker 4:
47:02
So there was this sense that there was a right, that there was a set of rights that was due and there was a right in important ways. It was a right to stabilize access to money, uh, but at the same time by, by, by give granted those rights while denying moral economy while granting those rights, especially to a group that had previously or that still had by far the loudest voice in national politics and local politics in the state politics. So by, by granting those rights, he also discouraged from all economies because for a time he made the blessed necessary for that group. Right? So, so on the one hand, by actively, uh, by actively, uh, discouraging, uh, your populists and on the other hand, by granting rights to select group of people that you deal ended up being one of the most or maybe deemed most effective, uh, silencing mechanism, uh, mechanism for silencing board economies of money. And I think we see that in the post war period too. Where you have, you have money is constantly politicized. You know, you have to do community reinvestment, uh, uh, movement. You have movements like a feminist by the mounting access to credit cards independent from their band. You have all kinds of politicization, but he's never really deeply size, but there's never, again, the sense that money is inherently a public good, that that that was there was lust after or that that was very much marginalized at the very least. After that
Speaker 8:
48:50
you have the been the gold standard is a good thing. We will fight them probably off the most having behind us, the boots in masters of the sneakers and the world supported by the commercialism, the laboring it 200 followers everywhere. We will answer the demand for the gold standard. Five days of them fell, not down up on the bow of labor. This pound of [inaudible] man up on boom.
Speaker 6:
49:22
So I'd like to just take a moment to maybe pause and this could be an opportunity for our producer, Alex Williams to come in and, and, and insert a cartoon screeching sound effect. A lot of people listening might hear you say that the, the, the new deal being marketing the kind of end of money politics or of the kind of revolutionary money politics as, as counterintuitive. And I think that that's, you know, want to sort of pause and reflect on a couple of really interesting and innovative and, and um, you know, I think very useful moves. You make first to call it money. Politics is provocative. And I think today we sort of, you know, in, in, in public discourse and the figure them as opposites, as opposed money and politics. Um, we want money out of politics. Um, but then also, yeah, the, the kind of marketing, uh, the, the new deal as a, as a departure or a, uh, a time when a money politics kind of becomes marginalized. It loses its voice over the next, uh, decades. So I think a lot of people would be
Speaker 4:
50:28
surprised to hear that. And I wonder what you make of that specifically. So, so what w y what can we make of the fact that people today, I think a lot of folks look back at the new deal as, as kind of the mark of the beginning of something different where money is a politicized or put two more public ends or, or I don't know quite how to put it, but how do you, how do we account for that counterintuitive move and, and how, how it doesn't seem to line up with a lot of, uh, what I think a lot of people think. Absolutely. So I think that's really critical. I think there are two things. One is the way money is actually being organized institutionally. And the other one is hope people can talk about money, right? So sweet. The sense that policy makers have much played much more maneuvering space and much more loose ballooning space is grabbed at them in terms, in terms of money, right?
Speaker 4:
51:30
Dose a different way of thinking about by policymaking circles, et Cetera. That's one thing. Uh, the other one, and there's also this, this, this undeniable process where a privileged group gets very, very stable access to manager that allows them to build wealth. Uh, you know, with the housing finance that David Fried row friend, uh, writes about, you have a process where publicly organized credit and enables white suburbs to flourish, right? So, so as a better of of institutional fact, that is what's happening, right? There's a very large scale, public investment, public credit, uh, mechanisms, public money creation, etc. So as an institutional fact, I think, I think that that's clear, but at the same time, and at the same time, you have a, a process where, where, where it's organized, it's a discourse. It the way people relate to money, it's still as though divert relating to something that is a creature of the market, right?
Speaker 4:
52:41
So, so, so the Judea didn't really, or actually FTR actively discouraged people from thinking about money as a public good. Even as he or his administration did all those major restructure rigs of, of body when a debt that ends up being a Dah, Dah, Dah, that has really important effects later on when it has important effects. What, because because it kind of barks the boundaries for the, for the anti-racist movements and the anti sexist movements that dead that, that try to, to, to make the new deal order more just because it sets the boundaries for them. Because, because they can, did, did, did, did not, did they don't have the same kind of uh, of power. They can't put the same kind of pressure on public institutions. I don't, politicians et Cetera, that as the veterans or as, as the farmers in the Great Depression. So they don't have that really robust understanding of money as a public good.
Speaker 4:
53:44
So that's the first effect of the second effect is wants the welfare state is being chipped away. And once those stabilized, uh, modes of access to money are chipped away, you now have a situation where that is, that is distinct from the situation that's before the degree for, before the original new deal. Because because there were there and in some cases it's in some ways it's worse because people no longer have the possibility to claim money as a public good and they have been deprived of new deal modes of access to it. Right. So there's, there's no longer that there's a different potential for engaging monetary institutions and there is no longer to do deal access. So it's kind of two versed of both worlds. Welcome to neo-liberalism, right? Yes. I think, I think that's what it is and that's uh, that's why I don't, I'm trying to push that a little bit of that it, at least in the sense of deeply is sizing money. I'm not, I think at or, or, or if we look very specifically at money and, and for, for, for a second bracket, every everything else, there is a continuity between, or at least, uh, consistency or calm or calming the commonality between the new deal and the liberals in the sense that, that both the politicize money while at the same time engaging in all kinds of major projects of, of restructuring.
Speaker 3:
55:20
And so it, it seems like the way you described the new deal and, and as, as the relation to the planning of neoliberalism, that fundamentally, and this is something that I think we consider a lot in this podcast, one of your main interventions in is to say that the new deal itself isn't necessarily what it was rhetorically claimed to be, that, that it wasn't an intervention into the market. Um, that money and the politics of money is constitutive of all the planning that went on in the new deal. And so when, when it's looked at in that way, it seems a bit more obvious and less counter-intuitive as to how things seem to fall apart when it comes to monetary politics. Because when we view money as a creature of the market, we can see the ways in which the government is outside of it and politics is outside of it, which is obviously, um, as empty. And the title is and would say not true, but I think more importantly, it, it colors the way people interact with money, um, in a way that decreases their own agency. And I, I see that fundamentally as one of the main takeaways of your work.
Speaker 4:
56:37
Okay. Yeah. No, I think that, I think [inaudible] did really works. Yes. I think that's correct. I just wanted to say too that going back and looking at FTRs, um, rhetoric, you know, public speeches and then also internal documents, it's interesting to discover quite about quite a fan of balanced budgets for much of his tenure as president. So, oh yeah. Could have a half, half a gangster in terms of the money politics. Absolutely. As you ran as a balanced, I mean, he was, he was, he was that, that was publicly, you know, that was part of his first first campaign, at least that he was a balanced budget guy.
Speaker 5:
57:14
Yeah. Um, so how do you deal with the [inaudible] the fact that your protagonists in this important story are predominantly, um, white men, often property owning white men, um, uh, who, who sort of imagined themselves as, uh, as independent. I mean, obviously you have a, you have a complicated rhetorical problem on your hands of wanting to affirm parts of these histories but also critique and complicate them as well. Can you talk about [inaudible]?
Speaker 4:
57:58
Absolutely. Yeah. And uh, one of the ways I'm thinking about that may, maybe that's a good thing to mention is, uh, I'm using as these rhinos book, uh, the two faces of American liberty where he's trying to to do on a, on a larger scale for, you know, for all, uh, for all or for many areas of political life. What I'm trying to just for the money, which is that trying to look at at, you know, really robust democratic practices in, uh, the North American past and at the same time look at how that, those, those robust democratic practices for a very specific group were based on the exclusion of others. So try to try to take both seriously and try to see if it's possible, just possible to think if, if, if those, those freedoms of those liberties, those really robust ways of thinking about democracy, if, if, if they can be extended, if they can be generalized, he says universalized so, so, so, so that's, that's, that's the key question that that's at stake here I think. And given that it's a way of trying to inherit, uh, the institutions that we have inherited, we, while avoiding all those, all the exclusions and, and while trying to, to go beyond those exclusions and not, uh, and because of pure rejection or, or a pure rejection is, is not something that necessarily enables, uh, that, that enables agency depressant, right? So I think there needs to be a way of historically understanding the institutions that we have inherited in order to be able to, to make them differently and to practice them differently
Speaker 5:
59:51
and pulling a few threads together here. I think, um, some of the implications of this discussion, uh, are that in the imagination about and struggle for, um, a green new deal. Money can't be external to that, to that project. And to make it external to that project, um, is, um, uh, misguided and we do so only at our own peril. Uh, and then, um, equally so we can say that, um, as many have pointed out, the, the, the original, the original new deal, um, was, uh, tremendously biased toward, um, white men. Um, and so I wonder if you f how much you've thought about the new context of, of the green new deal and how important that is for you.
Speaker 4:
60:47
Yeah. So, so what, what I think is that maybe on a discursive level that th that the performance of the green you deal are at least, and especially the job guarantee, are still inheriting the, the new deal dichotomy between on the 100 technical issues that, that ordinary people don't need to worry about. And on the other hand, there, there are those really robust rights and human rights, especially the right to a job. Right? So I wonder if, because before the new deal, not in the, some not any groups could connect those two. Right. Did they articulated money as a public good and their rights as a context in that institutional context. That's what's really distinctive about moral economies, that you can connect institutions to your rights and not see the rights as something that you just claim without, without institutional grounding. Really. So, so w the way I hear it is I hear on the one hand the technical argument about the job guarantee as a macroeconomic stabilizer, et cetera.
Speaker 4:
61:51
And on the other hand, I hear, uh, that the, the the right to a job as a human right, both of which I agree, of course at the same time to develop a progressive and inclusive moral economy of money that works for today. I think it could be important to stress money as an arrangement that connects people, that enables societies to coordinate what they do at the job guarantee as more than a right to a job. But a possibility in this large scale institution that people are already part of, which is the two large scale institutions of money, right? So, so I see a potential for developing world economies of money. I'm not in a position to save. That should be a priority when talking about the green new deal, there are so many other, uh, issues at stake and it's so urgent and it's so, uh, and it's so, uh, important, but I don't know. I don't know if it's currently, you know, there's, there's, there's some ways to go to develop a truly moral economy, moral economy of money that at the level of, you know, what the populist it.
Speaker 9:
63:01
Huh?
Speaker 3:
63:02
Throughout your study you seem to be pretty keenly focused on the question of media and mediation. Uh, be it the material substrate used as money or various forms of aesthetic practices about money, perhaps including the ways in which media is used to influence money politics. Um, would you mind ruminating about the importance of media and these questions in your work for our listeners?
Speaker 4:
63:26
Absolutely. So, so I think about it in two ways. I think about it, not just in terms of what people know, but how this apparatus money, you know, how it talks them, what it tells them, what, what does, what does a bank, an ATM telling you? Well, when I withdraw money or what is, what does a bank know today telling me or what, how am I connected to, to this, this, this set of relations, uh, that, that reaches me or does not reach me? And that's very importantly, you know, that's also a material process there. There is the way a bill of credit talks to you is very different from an ATM or credit card and especially in as part of a larger discursive discursive frame. And, and uh, as part of a larger knowledge about what money is. And those knowledges are really everywhere.
Speaker 4:
64:13
They're not just, you know, political debates. They're, they're novels. They're in, in, uh, in all kinds of forms of cultural production that, that I'm trying to, I'm trying to understand documents systematically in order to, to, to find out how people thought of themselves in relation to money in terms of almost in terms of subject probation, how, what kinds of people p two do we think we can be in relation to this institution, right. And then so, so, so that's where, where media is not just a little add on about representation or a little, you know, it's an error. It's, it's actually constitutive of, of, of what money is today is the way people talk about it. And the way the languages we have, we do not have, or we no longer have to talk about Israel.
Speaker 6:
65:03
So riffing on that, you know, I think in my, my own conversations with people about money and it's kind of, uh, what it says to them and how they understand themselves in relation to it. And I mean, certainly it's not just my discipline, but my discipline and other disciplines, the humanities kind of, I'm looking at money as a kind of just a generically social constructionists project that, um, you know, kind of buying into the Freedman Tale that, uh, you know, money is money because we believe it is money. Um, and so, I mean, you're saying that it's, it's more than that and I agree in that we need to kind of interrogate our relations with money and money's relations with us. You know, I know that your project kind of, um, is firmly situated as a, as in the, in the present, right? This history is being done in order to better understand where we are. So, so kind of given the lay of the land. And I think given the way that I don't, I don't think it's just the people I've spoken to, given the way that a lot of people imagine, you know, um, the money relation today, what's next for us? Like what's our next steps? What's, what's the future of money on the left?
Speaker 4:
66:18
Well, I wish I had a good answer to that. We'll take anything. Uh, so I think there are [inaudible] there's no, no cue. I don't have any clearer pathways to offer, but I think there are a couple of things that I want to mention. And one of them is that given that money was politicized for such long periods, the current rise of, you know, politicization is much less surprising than it, than it might appear at first sight. So there is, you know, there's really, uh, a lot of, of, of history. It's, this is not something that, that, that, that the divergence of nothing. And it's clear that in the decades since occupy MMT has punctured monetary silence. Uh, and at the same time, I think what I said about the moral economy, for instance, some moral economy of a job guarantee that so many people are really electrified by this idea of being able to understand money. It's so many and how liberating it is to have all those mystifications truncated moral economies, moral, moralistic, understanding of money, which are really all ways of erecting barriers between most money users and the institutional state if they depend on. So you have this, this really electrifying potential. It is liberating potential of people, you know, of uh, democratic potential, uh, which, which I think is absolutely great. And the other one, so, so, so that, that is kind of an unbelievable development, especially in the last few months.
Speaker 4:
67:55
And [inaudible] at the same time, I think there is also a lot of, of leeway still for developing truly. And I think Scott, you have done, uh, in your book, you've done a lot of work that goes in that direction of developing a moral economy, a way of relating to money that they can be kind a common sense that it become, can become a typical way of understanding money that's not reductionist. That that doesn't mean that everyone knows all the technical details, but basically that, that, that vaccinates People Against, uh, against a historical and a institutional lies about money. And that enables people to, to develop a moral economy, which means, uh, retreat means a sense of what adjusts society could look like if we, if we rearrange money and use money in a, in accordance with that, with that vision of social justice. So, so I see a lot of potential for, for using that electrifying potential debt, that electrifying process of understanding money through a chart of this lens and creating a really deep that's of what society is, what a society can do and what society can, who would that.
Speaker 5:
69:21
Yeah. Thank you. I think this also puts into relief, uh, one of the problematic, I think problematic tropes that, that sometimes surrounds and empty and empty culture, which is, um, this, uh, kind of framing that while I'm empty is, you know, really just merely describing it's, it's giving us a technical understanding, um, when in fact, uh, the, at the very same time the very people who are vociferously, sometimes angrily pro claiming this, uh, on social media are, are enacting and disavowing their own participation in moral economic processes.
Speaker 4:
70:07
Yeah. So I, I think, I think that's, that, that idea that there is, there is something like a technical description of, of reality. I think that's, that's misguided, you know, because if you talk about, uh, let's say the, the relation between capital and labor as a conflictive relationship and then you say, well, that is the description. That's a neutral descriptive description of reality and you know, and what you do with that, that's a different story. I don't think so. I think there's politics in that description because that, that description allows you and encourages you. It allows you to think about politics in a specific way. So I don't think there's any neutral description of monetary institutions. Yeah. Yaka thank you so much for coming on money on the Lebanon Queue.
Speaker 1:
71:12
[inaudible] [inaudible].
×

Listen to this podcast on