The following chapter is from Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition
Sacred Economics: Chapter 8, “The Turning of the Age”
Money: Story and Magic
........ The authorities hoped that by controlling the public perception of reality, they could control reality itself — that by the manipulation of symbols they could manipulate the reality they represent. This, in essence, is what anthropologists call “magico-religious thinking.” It is not without reason that our financial elites have been called a priesthood. Donning ceremonial garb, speaking an arcane language, wielding mysterious inscriptions, they can with a mere word, or a mere stroke of a pen, cause fortunes and nations to rise and fall.
You see, magico-religious thinking normally works. Whether it is a shamanic rite, the signing of an appropriations bill, or the posting of an account balance, when a ritual is embedded in a story that people believe, they act accordingly, playing out the roles the story assigns to them, and responding to the reality the story establishes. In former times, when a shamanic rite was seen to have failed, everyone knew this was a momentous event, signaling the End of the World, a shift in what was real and what was not, the end of the old Story of the People and the beginning, perhaps, of a new. What, from this perspective, is the significance of the accelerating failure of the rites of finance?
Some would scoff at primitive cave-dwellers who imagined that their representations of animals on cave walls could magically affect the hunt. Yet today we produce our own talismans, our own systems of magic symbology, and indeed affect physical reality through them. A few numbers change here and there, and thousands of workers erect a skyscraper. Some other numbers change, and a venerable business shuts its doors. The foreign debt of a Third World country, again mere numbers in a computer, consigns its people to endless enslavement producing commodity goods that are shipped abroad. College students, ridden with anxiety, deny their dreams and hurry into the workforce to pay off their student loans, their very will subject to a piece of paper with magical symbols (“Account Statement”) sent to them once every moon, like some magical chit in a voodoo cult. (2) These slips of paper that we call money, these electronic blips, bear a potent magic indeed!How does magic work? Rituals and talismans affirm and perpetuate the consensus stories we all participate in, stories that form our reality, coordinate our labor, and organize our lives. Only in exceptional times do they stop working: the times of a breakdown in the story of the people. We are entering such times today.
The economic measures enacted to contain the crisis that began in 2008 have worked only temporarily. They don’t go deep enough. The only reform that can possibly be effective will be one that embodies, affirms, and perpetuates a new story of the people. To see what that story might be, let us dig down through the layers of failing realities and their relationship to money.http://sacred-economics.com/sacred-economics-chapter-8-the-turning-of-the-age/