Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, May 23, 2011


So is money the root of all evil? Consider this passage from St. Thomas More's Utopia:

“Though, to speak plainly my real sentiments, I must freely own that as long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all other things, I cannot think that a nation can be governed either justly or happily: not justly, because the best things will fall to the share of the worst men; nor happily, because all things will be divided among a few (and even these are not in all respects happy), the rest being left to be absolutely miserable. Therefore, when I reflect on the wise and good constitution of the Utopians, among whom all things are so well governed and with so few laws, where virtue hath its due reward, and yet there is such an equality that every man lives in plenty—when I compare with them so many other nations that are still making new laws, and yet can never bring their constitution to a right regulation; where, notwithstanding every one has his property, yet all the laws that they can invent have not the power either to obtain or preserve it, or even to enable men certainly to distinguish what is their own from what is another’s, of which the many lawsuits that every day break out, and are eternally depending, give too plain a demonstration—when, I say, I balance all these things in my thoughts, I grow more favourable to Plato, and do not wonder that he resolved not to make any laws for such as would not submit to a community of all things; for so wise a man could not but foresee that the setting all upon a level was the only way to make a nation happy; which cannot be obtained so long as there is property, for when every man draws to himself all that he can compass, by one title or another, it must needs follow that, how plentiful soever a nation may be, yet a few dividing the wealth of it among themselves, the rest must fall into indigence. So that there will be two sorts of people among them, who deserve that their fortunes should be interchanged—the former useless, but wicked and ravenous; and the latter, who by their constant industry serve the public more than themselves, sincere and modest men—from whence I am persuaded that till property is taken away, there can be no equitable or just distribution of things, nor can the world be happily governed; for as long as that is maintained, the greatest and the far best part of mankind, will be still oppressed with a load of cares and anxieties. I confess, without taking it quite away, those pressures that lie on a great part of mankind may be made lighter, but they can never be quite removed; for if laws were made to determine at how great an extent in soil, and at how much money, every man must stop—to limit the prince, that he might not grow too great; and to restrain the people, that they might not become too insolent—and that none might factiously aspire to public employments, which ought neither to be sold nor made burdensome by a great expense, since otherwise those that serve in them would be tempted to reimburse themselves by cheats and violence, and it would become necessary to find out rich men for undergoing those employments, which ought rather to be trusted to the wise. These laws, I say, might have such effect as good diet and care might have on a sick man whose recovery is desperate; they might allay and mitigate the disease, but it could never be quite healed, nor the body politic be brought again to a good habit as long as property remains; and it will fall out, as in a complication of diseases, that by applying a remedy to one sore you will provoke another, and that which removes the one ill symptom produces others, while the strengthening one part of the body weakens the rest.”

I doubt we humans will ever form a Utopia where the struggle over money will cease to exist. Yet I don't think we need to surrender to a brutal and heartless dystopia, where a handful of haves watch multitudes of have-nots in their suffering. We can appeal to all to ensure that all are able to find honest work, and that all are able to live in dignity. In 21st century America this means we must insist that Medicare, Social Security and other programs are strengthened and not privatized. We must demand that our politicians pursue trade and economic policies that benefit workers, not just banks. We must strengthen unions in the private and public sector, as the only organizations directly devoted to improving the lives of workers. Finally, we must not allow a handful of plutocrats to divide the rest of us with racism, jealousy, fear, and ignorance.


mlee33 said...

Amen, brother Ulysses. We don't have to look any further than Florida or Texas to find the dystopia you mention.

Underground Politics said...

Very good article Ulysses. And I agree with you 100% about what we need to do.

Motivated In Ohio said...

While money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is. When we will hurt, kill, oppress or ignore our fellow man, so that our bottom line is wonderful, we have become evil. I hope the people in power read your article and consider it carefully.