Putting Shylock to Shame: The Moneylender Portrayed as Hero

James Wald


There is a certain threshold beyond which the sociopathy of a Jewish intellectual like Yaron Brook achieves an almost alien quality. It is one thing to be a sociopath; quite another to extoll the total untethering of the individual from any kind of higher morality as the greatest cause to which one can devote their life. Hearing Brook talk about how the Allied bombing campaign against Germany should serve as a guidepost for American foreign policy gives readers the feeling they’re in the presence of something not made of flesh, as in a recent meme that presents Mark Zuckerberg as Star Trek’s Data intent on collecting the personal information of users of Facebook in order to learn what it means to be human.

Brook outdoes himself in a piece entitled “The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History.” The title is misleading, since its author does not dispassionately present a history, but rather presents a historiography with Jews (from Shakespeare’s Shylock to California’s Michael Milken) depicted as misunderstood and falsely persecuted heroes who are unfairly punished for their enterprise, industry, and value creation (all contrary to economic, philosophical, and theological arguments that lambast “barren metal” and extol those things which hold an intrinsic value).

“It seems,” Brook starts his article, “that every generation has its Shylock—a despised financier blamed for the economic problems of his day. A couple of decades ago it was Michael Milken and his ‘junk’ bonds” (Brook). And just as Shylock and the other Venetian Jews were forced to live in ghettos, wear red caps, and endure myriad other slanders from ungrateful goyim (Al Pacino gets spit on quite a bit in Michael Radford’s 2004 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice), our modern-day persecuted bankers must endure similar slings and arrows such as “investigations, criminal prosecutions, and heavier regulations.”

The ethnic fear and loathing — Shylock’s “ancient grudge” (Shakespeare 362) which he “feeds fat” in the famous play’s aside — is front and center in Brook’s article, as he bemoans the fact that moneylenders have served as “the primary scapegoats for practically every economic problem.” His laundry list of slights includes having “their property confiscated to compensate their ‘victims’” [the scare quotes are Brook’s] as well as “pogroms and the vilification of the House of Rothschild” and the jailing of American financiers.

Brook would presumably have us glorify the Rothschilds, as did former inside trader Ivan Boesky, the son of Jewish immigrants who claimed he aspired to be a “latter-day Rothschild” (as noted in James B Stewart’s Den of Thieves, 226) and proceeded to do his best to make good on his ambition. Before the law eventually caught up with him, Ivan Boesky would engage in a series of insider trades that made him and a small cadre of fellow conspirators rich beyond dreams of avarice. In the aftermath of the era of merger mania and hostile takeovers he helped initiate, individual lives and companies were ruined, and trust in markets was eroded, if not shattered. Boesky of course has enjoyed a rather large pop culture footprint thanks to a speech given to a graduating class at the University of California in 1985, in which he assured the young audience that “Greed is all right.” That would eventually morph into the famous credo “Greed is good,” uttered by Michael Douglas in his Oscar-winning turn as Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.

Boesky’s hubris outdid that of his onscreen incarnation. To cite just one example, on the night before he agreed to become an undercover agent for the Department of Justice, Boesky made a special appearance on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth II, a luxury ship that had been rented by “Gerald Guterman, a real estate developer and owner of the Stanhope Hotel, to celebrate the September 1986 bar mitzvah of his 13-year-old son, Jason” (264).

The nearly $1 million spent on the Bar Mitzvah (and belated Bat Mitzvahs for two of Guterman’s daughters from a previous marriage) was overshadowed by Boesky’s impromptu landing of a helicopter on the QEII’s deck. The friend from whom “the Russian” (as Boesky was known in the insider trading ring) had borrowed the helicopter was less than amused and berated him shortly thereafter on the phone: “‘Don’t ever use my helicopter again for a stunt like this … Are you fucking out of your mind? Revolutions are made of this. People get put in gas ovens’” (264).

Racially-conscious Whites are obviously divided in their economic outlooks, ranging from the libertarian-inclined to the populist-nationalist oriented. It’s clear, though, from the last two greatest scandals which have shaken American and world markets to their core that the turning of what is arguably a necessary evil into something that should be celebrated or lionized as heroism has unpleasant consequences.

Yaron Brook’s pose as a rational egoist/Randian objectivist cannot explain his desire for a full-throated, cultic extolling of moneylending. It does not explain why it should be considered an “ethically praiseworthy” exercise nor does it explain his paranoid belief that critique and/or enforcement of existing law is persecution of those treated as “villains rather than heralded as the heroes they in fact are.”

Since Brook is familiar with The Merchant of Venice, he should recall the admonition given by gentle Portia, that “to offend and judge, are distinct offices and of opposed natures” (1191). He appears to conflate prosecution of crimes with religious persecution of Jews.

This highlights the primary fault not just in Yaron Brook’s specific arguments, but in his entire Weltanschauung. Rational Egoism holds that the individual and their pursuit of their own interest are the fulcrum upon which all intelligent decisions are made, and ultimately the basis for living a virtuous life (at least in its Randian permutation, to which Brook adheres). Altruism is toxic in this view, and undermines productive activity.

The problem with this is that no institution or society or social unit, least of all Wall-Street, is free from nepotism or natural proclivities toward tribal-oriented thinking and helping friends (especially by sharing hot tips). Yaron Brook at some level knows this (since his work is peppered with references that give a window onto his neuroses that mark him as part of a collective) and for him to suggest further loosening regulation or less monitoring of those involved in the economic activity that affects all our lives is ridiculous.

It is also beyond naïve (and perhaps misanthropic) for Brook to think that any philosophy (least of all his and Ayn Rand’s) can regulate the human emotions that affect people who make financial decisions daily. The malefactors prosecuted in the 1980s were very much aware of their outsider status as Jewish upstarts operating (initially) on the fringes of the “white shoe” Boston Brahman/WASP culture that regarded hard-sell artists in mergers and acquisitions as distasteful. Junk bond traders like Michael Milken and Donald Engel “referred facetiously to the wealthy establishment as ‘the white guys’” (120).

Drexel, Burnham, and Lambert (run into the ground by Michael Milken due to insider trading) had a special strategy for identifying its ideal clients. The procurement of prostitutes was part of it. Miami financier Victor Posner had a “distasteful appetite for teenage girls,” (120) but “client-getter … Donald ‘Donnie’ Engel …wasn’t judgmental. On the contrary, he shared many of their appetites. Among Drexel’s important clients, Engel was given credit for landing Ronald Perelman, Nelson Peltz, Jerome Kohlberg, Gerald Tsai, Irwin Jacobs, and the Haft and Pritzker families” (120).

In addition to having a penchant for prostitutes, Drexel’s ideal clients were those like Herb Haft, preferably “short, unhappily married, and insecure. This was his profile of the ideal raider client. Engel and Milken knew how to manipulate egos and insecurities of this particular type, born losers who were always looking to go their rivals one better” (120).

The clannishness and hostility of the newly-minted Jewish establishment (represented by the “Sun King” Michael Milken headquartered in California with prominent but smaller players like Dennis Levine and Martin Siegel operating on the East Coast) are impossible to ignore when one examines the scandal with any kind of diligence.

Reading Stewart’s book, based on “over four years of reporting, including scores of interviews, a review of voluminous documentary records, grand jury and other transcripts, [and] lawyers interview notes” it becomes equally impossible to pretend that the insane profits reaped by the Boesky-Milken cartel were based on anything more complex than friends helping friends (and usually sharing information to fellow tribe-members), the very antithesis of the result Yaron Brook claims unfettering the financial class would produce. No one should begrudge a man the profits he wins making calculated risks betting against the house. It’s quite another thing for the dealer and one player to be in on the same rigged game while fleecing everyone else at the table. At one point in the 80s Dennis Levine, after establishing a Swiss bank account under his wife’s maiden name of Diamond, confesses to his friend the investment banker Robert Wilkis that “I knew after I was bar mitzvahed that there was an inside track and information was the key” (71).

It wasn’t very much more complicated than that, and it remained a blood-simple network of favor-trading into the 90s when some of the players left over from the 80s managed to consolidate their power with a Wall Street coup in which White House policy was shaped (and regulations loosened) by  “Robert Rubin… one of the heirs apparent to [Goldman Sachs chairman] John Weinberg” (385).

Yaron Brook can rail against the abiding belief in intrinsic value, altruism, and the weighing of barren metal on one scale against other virtues on the other as proof that “fundamentally 21st-century ethics [are] no different from the ethics of the Middle Ages,” but even if he is not swayed by moral arguments, the math also puts the lie to the “value-creation” myth perpetuated by Milken’s PR surrogates and echoed in sympathetic publications like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal:

Milken’s oft-repeated premise that ‘investors obtained better returns on low-grade issues than on high grades’ was false. It was the criminals who earned astronomical returns. During the decade ending in 1990, Lipper Analytical Services reported, money invested in the average junk-bond fund grew 145%. That was, in fact, worse than returns on the same amount of money invested in stocks (207%); investment-grade corporate bonds, so often ridiculed by Milken (202%); U.S. Treasury bonds (177%); and equal to returns from low-risk money market funds. During the decade’s last year, junk-bonds returned a negative 11.2%. With benefit of hindsight, Milken’s ‘genius’ seemed his ability to make so many believe his gospel of high returns at low risk … (504)

Public relations firm Robinson, Lake wasn’t quite as superlative in their assessment of Milken as Yaron Brook, but their constant refrain (and $4 million ad campaign) that claimed Drexel-backed bonds had helped the little guy was disproved by data showing that “Of the 104 small firms involved in public issues of non-convertible Drexel junk bonds since 1977, 24% had defaulted on their debt or were bankrupt by mid-1990 — five times the default rate of comparable firms, according to Dun & Bradstreet” (504).

Not even Alan Dershowitz’s public campaign of damage control “contending that Milken is a victim of anti-Semitism” (519) and was “never motivated by money” could put the genie back in the bottle. Although the “South Sea Bubble” (138) popping was the greatest rupture to be felt on Wall-Street in history up until that time, it was dwarfed by the explosion of the housing market bubble (helped in part by Goldman Sachs defrauding investors), which could potentially be eclipsed by eruption of the student debt bubble whenever it happens to pop.

Because of the technological interconnection of markets, computers (which might actually be more ideal vessels for Yaron Brook’s philosophy than fleshy, altruism-prone gentiles) can actually exacerbate and even exponentially amplify market trends and distortions caused by human emotions like greed and panic that trigger massive sell orders.

Compounding the problem is that the chairman or chairwoman of the Federal Reserve in charge of setting monetary policy may in fact harbor his or her own grudges, agenda, and political axe to grind, as suggested by author and social critic James Howard Kunstler in his yearly forecast.* With Wall-Street and the Fed sharing a similar tribal makeup (there hasn’t been a gentile fed chairman in three decades), malefactors may not only go unpunished, but may have a literal license to print money and are as likely find themselves rewarded with positions of power as to be prosecuted for crimes.

There are many ways to address financial malfeasance and lawlessness that lead to catastrophe as surely as night follows day (which is why the oft-cited Black Swan is fallacious or at least of limited use in this context). For starters, I would suggest doing the opposite of whatever Yaron Brook advises, which in this case would be to “free moneylenders from the shackles of Dante’s Inferno” and to embrace a moral code that allows “moneylenders [to] be completely free to charge whatever rates their customers will pay and to reap the rewards righteously and proudly. … Given what these heroes have achieved while scorned and shackled, it is hard to imagine what their productive achievements would be if they were revered and freed.”

One shudders to think what kind of further havoc a deregulated, unshackled, and morally rudderless financial class might wreak if we were to not only cease the meager efforts to keep them honest by at the very least monitoring their doings, but also started worshipping those who obviously bear us a grudge as ancient and fatted as Shylock’s.

It should also go without saying that the wisdom of the ages and of the ancients (slandered relentlessly by Yaron Brook in his piece) should be held in higher regard than the barren coin meted by someone who extols the usury of a moneylender as if the moneylender was a genuine hero. In trying to make his case against those who speak against history’s Shylocks and Milkens, Yaron Brook selectively quotes or merely name-drops Adam Smith, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Plato, and Aristotle, to name only a few. I suggest that you read these men in full if you already haven’t, rather than hearing them speak in vacuo through Yaron Brook, for he hath not ears fit to hear their music, nor eyes to read their words.


*From James Howard Kunstler’s yearly forecast: “By springtime, the markets appeared to be bouncing back, so the Fed started talking about more rate hikes again. They talked it up all year without acting, an impressive act of fakery. The surprise Brexit vote gave them the heebie jeebies. They laid low. Meanwhile, the US election season was on. The Fed denies this, but they did not raise interest rates for eleven months in 2016 solely because they wanted to make the Democratic administration look good heading into the November vote, and they knew the economy was fragile. Once Hillary was nominated they were determined to usher her into the White House on a high tide of fake good economic news.” [my emphasis- J.W.]


Brook, Yaron. “The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History.” The Objective Standard, Volume 2, No. 3, Fall 2007, https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-fall/morality-of-moneylending/. Accessed 1 June, 2017.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice (Annotated). Independently Published. 2017.

Stewart, James B. Den of Thieves. Touchstone, 1992.

 

 

 

 

 

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52 Comments to "Putting Shylock to Shame: The Moneylender Portrayed as Hero"

  1. Rickie's Gravatar Rickie
    July 24, 2017 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ll never forget my freshman English class. The TA was talking about Shakespeare, in a very general non-specific way, while introducing herself to the class. Out of nowhere, this (presumably) Jewish kid raises his hand, and puts this underpaid graduate assistant on the spot by asking her about Shakespeare’s “anti-Semitism” for creating the Shylock character. Jews a level of narcissism which would by amusing if they weren’t so dangerous.

  2. Peter's Gravatar Peter
    July 24, 2017 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    “(there hasn’t been a gentile fed chairman in three decades)”

    That brings us back to Paul Volcker, Federal Reserve Chairman from 1979 to 1987. He made the commencement speech at my university graduation. Since then we’ve had Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, all Jews.

    Paul Volcker is a very German name, emanating from the German “Volk” which signified German ethnicity, unity and belonging together. Volcker sounds like a descendant of a German General perhaps.

    Wikipedia:
    “Volcker was born in Cape May, New Jersey, the son of Alma Louise (née Klippel) and Paul Adolph Volcker.[7] All of his grandparents were German immigrants. Volcker grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, where his father was the township’s first municipal manager. As a child, he attended his mother’s Lutheran church, while his father went to an Episcopal church.”

    But this is also from Wikipedia. But I don’t need Wikipedia to remind me. I remember when he was appointed to this position. ‘”In 1996, he took up the chair of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (Volcker Commission) to look into the dormant accounts of Jewish victims of the Holocaust lying in Swiss banks. This included a “massive accounting of Swiss bank records.” In the midst of a contentious process (the committee was formed by three Jewish representatives and three representatives of Swiss banks), he was able to bring about an agreement among the parties for a settlement of $1.25 billion.’

    That does not sound like something a German General would want to head up.

    One of Great Britain’s major TV networks (I think channel 4) broadcast a one hour documentary on the Jews efforts to get Swiss Banks to hand over this money allegedly taken from Jews that put money in Swiss banks for safekeeping. It was called something like “The Biggest Bank Heist”. I watched the documentary on Youtube years ago and then it was removed. I haven’t found it again since that time. Norman Finkelstein wrote a major book on the subject called “The Holocaust Industry” and he was interviewed in the documentary. The documentary showed the Jews were squeezing Swiss Banks for money for “Holocaust Survivors” but that the banks had done nothing wrong. They had not taken the Jews money. While you can’t find that TV documentary anymore, a long list of books and films vindicating the Jews theft of money from Swiss banks can be found on the internet. Finkelstein is a scholar and thorough researcher.

    Hear is Israel’s most-read newspaper on Paul Volcker.
    “Obama mulls naming Jewish economist secretary of treasury”
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3619625,00.html

    So the line of Jewish Fed chairmen goes back further than three decades. I read that Volcker’s ancestors in Germany had converted to Christianity, but he is still an ethnic Jew and loyal to Jews, not Germans or Christians.

    Prior to Paul Volcker, G. William Miller served as Fed Chairman for one year and prior to him Arthur Burns served as Fed Chairman from 1970 to 1978. Miller does not appear to have been Jewish. Arthur Burns was. So, since 1970 every Fed Chairman for the last 47 years has been Jewish, except for the one year G. William Miller held the position in the 1970’s.

  3. Sam J.'s Gravatar Sam J.
    July 24, 2017 - 9:01 pm | Permalink

    The whole junk bond business was not based on economics. It was based on Jew insiders that had access to hoards of capital taking over companies that were built over decades and decades. They then looted them destroying the workers pension funds and many had their manufacturing operations moved overseas to increase profits while bankrupting the former employees. Romney, supposedly our golden boy, did this too. He did provide capital for a few businesses but most he loaded with debt then charged outlandish, consultant fees (I’m guessing his consultations were mostly along the lines of,”Better pay your debt payments or you’ll go bankrupt”). These were companies with NO debt. Old line companies in basic paper type businesses and other none sexy industrial stuff like that, that made fine, if not exorbitant, profits that were squeezed for every penny until they burst.

    The Germans have a lot of older companies that provide decent wages for their workers where the workers have some say in the business. We should add something like that to our business. We also should add some sort of corporate control. Maybe make all corporations not be able to pay their executives more than say 20 times what the average person makes. That way all the cowboy uber executives can just go start their own “private” business if they want and not rape the public ones for cash. This would allow the go get them types to do what they want and push technology but they would also take the fall if they screwed it up. Now they bleed the sap from companies that have built their companies for decades and put the proceeds in their pockets.

    • Thorgrun's Gravatar Thorgrun
      July 25, 2017 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Between Paul Volker and the Junk Bond pirates the Savings and Loan banks almost all failed along with a generation of home builders and family farmers. One of the “players”, a Charles Hurwitz must not be forgotten as he belongs right up there with the other Jews, mentioned in this very good piece by James Wald. Hurwitz took down the old and well managed Pacific Lumber of Scotia, Ca. along with the pension funds and stopped a century of sustainable harvesting of Redwoods, and in order to pay back his Junk Bonds this cretin started clear cutting and that triggered the Greens/leftists to become involved in saving the last old growth Redwood trees. It is a long and dirty story of greed, hostile takeover, bombing, FBI involvement and death of a “tree hugger”. Hurwitz is now in seclusion. Volker as I remember, drove the Prime Interest Rate to 14% in the early 80’s and when asked why it was necessary, his comment as I remember was something like, to take the heat out of the economy, wages must be depressed to stop inflation…so the working man takes the hit for the actions of these pirates. Maybe we need to look at how nations in the past dealt with pirates? The Pacific Lumber Co of Scotia, Ca and Charles Hurwitz make for enlightening reading on Wikipedia.

      • T. J.'s Gravatar T. J.
        July 26, 2017 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Went through Scotia on vacation in 1960- very, very nice- very, very human. The country was very human, except for the public schools.

        Anyhow, around 1980 the CPI [consumer price index] was getting way out of hand- real interest rates LOW- [prevailing rates less CPI annual change] CPI up 13.5% 1980, prime rate 21% by 1982. Lenders wanted adjustment for loss of purchasing power– I presume that produced the high interest rates.

        Panic set in- a solution must be found. Either stop inflating [stop printing] [stopping the presses is politically impossible] OR rely on old faithful- LYING- simply lie about the consumer price index so the public will think that inflation is a non-issue- just like they think today.

        The CPI is a weighted indicator. By 1980 47% of the weight went to housing, and home prices were going waay up, way fast. How to lie our way out of this?
        Take housing off the CPI and replace it with “Owner’s Equivalent Rent. . .”
        https://tinyurl.com/y9b9h8lk

        Same treatment for any expense that is going up too much- lie, distort, stonewall, or remove it from the CPI altogether. See how hardly anyone gripes about inflation, since the early eighties, right up to today? If the 1980 inflation formulae were reinstated- it would be riotous. . .

    • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
      July 25, 2017 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

      First: Banks have every incentive to loan money in the absence of moral hazard (various taxpayer-funded bailouts over the years) and so debt will often offer cheaper funds than equity. If you don’t gear up, your competitors will and your return on equity will suffer. You will then face shareholder unrest and if you don’t retire equity then you could face a takeover and lose control. One hundred years ago, entrepreneurs took risks on their own capital, nowadays it’s their capital plus the bank’s. This won’t change (Jews or otherwise) until radical monetary reform occurs. Nothing short of an existential crisis will precipitate change.

      Second: To offshore or not depends on money prices. The paper money, FRB system that prevails in every country allows for currency distortions that can persist for years. If a country’s currency is overvalued, it may well be that offshoring is profitable purely on the basis of currency considerations. Again, there is no solution with the existing system as this is where the problem originates.

    • silviosilver's Gravatar silviosilver
      July 26, 2017 - 12:06 am | Permalink

      There’s certainly a reasonable debate to be had about the merits of wringing every last drop of efficiency out of an economy and prioritizing workers’ welfare, but a scattershot assault on anything financial is not the way to conduct it – yet which is too often the approach taken.

  4. Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
    July 24, 2017 - 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t more than skimmed the Yaron article, but I can see no mention of the Parable of the Talents, where Jesus appears to sanction the lending of money at interest.

    Rather that condemning some arbitrarily-defined “usury”, it would be better to rail against the special privileges granted banks. That of creating money ex nihilo and charging interest on it. And the Federal Reserve is to be abolished not because of its Jews, but because of the damage it has wrought on the currency. Transferring purchasing power systematically via inflation, a poorly-understood method of re-directing wealth from wage-earners/fixed-income dependents to financial/commercial players.

    Insider trading is best left to the contracting parties (shareholders, management) to resolve.

    • Barkingmad's Gravatar Barkingmad
      July 25, 2017 - 7:33 am | Permalink

      Rather that condemning some arbitrarily-defined “usury”, it would be better to rail against the special privileges granted banks. That of creating money ex nihilo and charging interest on it.

      Yes, that’s quite correct. The charging of interest isn’t inherently immoral, wrong, bad or whatever negative word anyone wants to apply. I wouldn’t work (for an employer) without being paid, so why would I take my hard-earned cash and give a stranger (or someone I don’t give a hoot about) a portion of it for his own use and enjoyment, asking nothing at all in return?

      About the Ten Talents, now. The servants (actually slaves in that society) were expected to take the funds their “master” had given them and then put it to work for him. Two of them made a profit for him through trading. The servants’ reward? The privilege of going out and making even more money for him! (Notice that there’s no mention of meaningful labor or producing anything of value other than…more $$$).

      While this story is of course open to interpretation, I’m not sure that it’s about acting as an unpaid investor on behalf of someone who’s lording it over you in this imperfect world. Christ was trying to demonstrate certain principles to follow in life, that’s why this is called a parable.

      A person interpreting the bible literally, however, could refer to Verse 29 and revel in its defence of greed. For certain evangelicals, “greed is good” and they’ve got scripture to back it up.

  5. Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
    July 24, 2017 - 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Nepotism isn’t the problem, rather that minorities can practice it freely without repercussion. Absent selectively-enforced discrimination regulations/laws, whites could do likewise.

  6. Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
    July 24, 2017 - 10:18 pm | Permalink

    There is reason to believe that Jesus’ wrath at the money-lenders was because they were engaging in fractional-reserve lending, ie. lending money deposited at call with them (ie. bailment, not loan), the Temple presumably offering superior protection to the mattress at home.

  7. NostalgicNationalist's Gravatar NostalgicNationalist
    July 25, 2017 - 4:55 am | Permalink

    You won’t believe it Professor, but I tried to get a word in to defend Catherine II of Russia on her decision to relegate Jews to the Pale of settlement. Turns out Alexnder palace website is run by a Jew. Talk about controlling the narrative. Scary.

  8. July 25, 2017 - 7:31 am | Permalink

    The monetary system of the United States is under POLITICAL control?

    Horrors! Say it isn’t so.

    Duh…

    • T. J.'s Gravatar T. J.
      July 25, 2017 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      The political system of the United States is under MONETARY control?

      Horrors! Say it isn’t so.

      Doh! Dough-Doh!!

  9. Bramble's Gravatar Bramble
    July 25, 2017 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Even Christians don’t realize this whole “usury prohibition” is a scam invented by the (((Tribe))) to keep all the profits in their own hands, and control everyone from peasants to kings, as they have often boasted. Christians were NEVER FORBIDDEN TO PRACTICE USURY, and the only reason Christ kicked the moneychangers out of the temple was because they were desecrating the house of God. It is the HEBREWS ALONE who were forbidden to practice usury, and only TO OTHER HEBREWS, not to the goyim. (They planted the same rule into the Islam they created, which practices usury but deceitfully calls it “commission”.) So they convinced the early Catholic Church to ban usury for Christians, because few Christians could read the Bible in Greek or Latin, and you know the rest. That’s also why Jewish infiltrators persuaded the church to BURN CHRISTIANS ALIVE if they tried to translate the Bible into their own languages, because they didn’t want them to know.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      July 26, 2017 - 2:39 am | Permalink

      Bramble: Sadly, this is a composite of secular and sacred history written in a hung-over state after a weekend on a bad acid trip (or whatever people trip on nowadays). Speaking of Chrysostom, Augustine, and Aquinas as deluded fools misled by “infiltrators”—as if they were Iowa farmboys seeing the monetary equivalent of chorus girls for the first time—has the primary effect of inclining a sober reader to take anything under your moniker cum grano salis.

      The inherent Christian distrust of using the artificial commodity money to engender more of itself was certainly reinforced by typically sharp Jewish practice. Surely even were this the only complicating factor, the fact that every aspect of the process of moneylending was viewed with theological and societal alarm for the first seventeen centuries of the Christian era would hardly be surprising. Nor have there ever been many times or places in human history where the rich and powerful have failed to collude to induce or pressure the simple and the weak to overextend themselves with the allure of a golden tomorrow that almost invariably turns out to be pyrites. That the present day is not one of those exceptional eras is something I need hardly add.

      Trenchant’s plainspoken counsel below, “if the rate is ‘usury’ and ‘undeserved,’ don’t borrow,” was formerly inculcated as an aspect of the theological virtue of prudence. Of course, when, as now, people find the altar far less appealing than the throne—when, moreover, those entrusted with service to the altar instead sell it out to the throne—the inevitable result is that the teaching of prudence falls upon rocks or by the wayside and its practice is derided by those most in need of its discipline.

      Put otherwise, the problem with Polonius’s counsel to his son Laertes is not, as the chic contemporary critical cliché would have it, that Polonius was a fool and a blowhard imparting bad advice to a kid too cool to be taken in by it. Rather, the problem is that children know when their parents practice the virtues they preach and when they don’t.

      As for the Bible, given the breathtakingly distorted and untutored readings by half a dozen or so TOO contributors of texts that are at least as open to the nonspecialist’s misconstruction as Old Kingdom glyphs or the writings of James Joyce, Robbe-Grillet, Faulkner, Guy Davenport, and certain other more recent deliberate puzzlers-by-trade, the once-marked reluctance of Catholic prelates and scholars to encourage private reading of Scripture is yet another prudential practice that I for one wish had never been “rethought.” Wishes, alas, aren’t horses.

      • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
        July 26, 2017 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

        A partial correction: Reflection suggests that as spending and borrowing are often related as much to appetite as they are to circumspect management of resources (if not more so), the inculcation of temperance is both as needful and as wanting today as prudence.

  10. John Walton's Gravatar John Walton
    July 25, 2017 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Usury, in essence, is making money from having money, by lending to people who are naïve or have suffered reversals. The lender, like the capitalist, takes some risk and has some overhead, but to the extent one can separate the lender/investor’s contribution of useful expertise from the effect of merely having money at his disposal, to that extent one may raise the issues of undeserved profit and exploitation. Savings and loan associations and mutual insurance companies are collectives where the profit returns to the members. In recent decades many of these companies were taken public by greedy investors who became members and were often in league with management, who invoked spurious reasoning to justify the transition, which works to the detriment of the majority of depositors or policy-holders. The before/after contrast illustrates my idea of profit beyond what is appropriate or necessary. It was not unusual for ‘professional depositors’ to open as many as two hundred accounts around the country to qualify for participation in stock offerings that were (nearly) sure things, but not seen as such by the small fry, some of whom, in any case, could not afford to risk savings even on a sure thing. Peter Lynch has written about this process, which is likely not as profitable for investors today as back when few people understood it.

    • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
      July 25, 2017 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

      There no such thing as “undeserved profit” anymore than a human right to borrow. A loan is a purely private commercial arrangement, freely entered into by both parties to the contract. If the rate is “usury” and “undeserved”, don’t borrow!

      • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
        July 25, 2017 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

        What is “undeserved” is the commercial banks’ ability to dilute the purchasing power of the dollar by loaning new money into existence. The first receiver of the new money gets more for his dollar than the last.

        • John Walton's Gravatar John Walton
          July 27, 2017 - 11:39 am | Permalink

          I agree with your second point but not your first. Defenders of capitalism may cite libertarian premises like yours, in which case they need to explain why people coming newly into the world have a duty to respect the claims of people who amassed land before they were born. Other defenders point to capitalism’s superior productivity, which is a way of appealing to an ethical norm, namely that we should prefer capitalism because it produces a greater level of material well-being for the average person. But most of us distinguish between more and less deserved well-being. We think a doctor deserves his wealth more than a pornographer or an idle rich person who sits back and lets a hired manager invest for him. Libertarians think free exchanges between adults should be beyond the scope of ethical assessment but I don’t see why. Their own view is itself an ethical position. Why is it wrong to interfere with any voluntary exchange? We don’t hesitate where children are parties (nor do we hesitate to regulate drugs and dangerous products), but some adults are as naïve and vulnerable as children, and these are targeted by the archetypal usurer. Nor does looking out for such people automatically ‘infantilize’ the society and lead to communism. At least, I don’t see that it must.

    • July 26, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

      @John Walton

      An excellent comment and it’s great to see someone else pointing out the differences between credit unions and mutual companies with collective ownership and private banks. In the former, the owners of the enterprise are the customers, while in the later, an outside group is the owner while the customers are a different group.

      The lender, like the capitalist, takes some risk

      This isn’t particularly true in the modern financial system and in practice it has never been true in the transactions people decried as “usury.” When a speculator lent money on a shipping excursion the speculator may well have suffered losses when the ship went down. The usurers that people complained about often had the backing of the state to “make them whole” – the borrowers who could not repay the compound interest and fees were often then enslaved. The distinction between “usury” and “investment” is something the Church, despite a heroic effort, never really got right for all sorts of reasons, a primary one being the Church didn’t particular care about the practical effects, they were more interested in their incoherent ideology and their own political power.

      E. Michael Jones, a valuable cultural critic, despite being an anti-white fanatic, has at the least tried to come to grips with this in the modern world and tries to retrofit Catholic anti-usury ideas as not being specifically about interest rates, or compounding, but instead a power balance.

      I suggest one might try to understand the concept of “barren metal” not with confused analogies of biological reproduction but instead understand “usury” as what we now refer to as “economic rent.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_rent

      The Jews were allowed to benefit from “economic rent” on money. There is no economic reason why this should be so:

      In classical economics, economic rent is any payment made (including imputed value) or benefit received for non-produced inputs such as location (land) and for assets formed by creating official privilege over natural opportunities (e.g., patents). In neoclassical economics, economic rent also includes income gained by beneficiaries of other contrived exclusivity, such as labor guilds and unofficial corruption.

      The Church, in practice, gave the Jews a monopoly on certain kinds of finance, which greatly hurt Europeans. Whether or not the Church even understood what it was doing, or if they were in fact “in league” with the Jews is open to historical interpretation, and frankly the Church doesn’t come out looking good either way.

      It seem obvious that neither the Church, not libertarian ideologues, have any idea nor any motivation to do something about the modern problems of usury/economic rent, but fortunately, it looks like White/European technology will once again save the day. We are already seeing a revolution in our understanding of economics and money.

      Here’s my prediction: both Catholic and libertarian ideologues will go out of their way to squash the revolution in economics as both ideologies are once again trumped by European ingenuity.

      But expect both to type countless words online to try to maintain some sort of relevance.

      • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
        July 26, 2017 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Nothing wrong with labor guilds, as long as new entries are allowed to compete. “Unofficial corruption” doesn’t even make sense.

        • July 27, 2017 - 3:22 am | Permalink

          @Trenchant

          “Nothing wrong with”

          Here we see libertarian ideology is itself, just like Catholicism, a religion, complete with moral platitudes. Who appointed libertarian ideologues as priests to tell the rest of us what is “right” or “wrong?”

          • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
            July 27, 2017 - 11:01 am | Permalink

            I suppose that there is a certain charm in being sneered at by someone who tags himself with a photo of (((Don Adams))) in his signature role. Log it as matter for reflection in one’s eleventh decade.

          • John Walton's Gravatar John Walton
            July 27, 2017 - 11:54 am | Permalink

            Exactemento! I say the same thing with far less pith or efficiency in my latest comment.

      • John Walton's Gravatar John Walton
        July 27, 2017 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the compliment and thanks for pointing out that the objection to usury is at bottom an objection to (excessive?) rents. The ‘barren metal’ objection seems wrong, in that money is a proxy for non-barren capital goods. But I wonder if another ‘biological’ objection might have some validity. I am ignorant of the literature but I would guess that if the money supply doesn’t change then the usurers as a group own a larger and larger portion of the wealth over time, provided they can keep their own consumption costs below the usurious profits. But I suppose the entrepreneurial borrowers as a class will charge their customers, including the usurers, enough so that the entrepreneurs come out ahead. So, who loses? I guess the non-entrepreneurial ‘defensive’ borrowers lose and drift into destitution. Interesting. What is this ‘new economics’ you refer to? You have piqued my curiosity!

        • July 27, 2017 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

          @John Walton

          We do not need to ignore our traditional moral instinct that “usury” is wrong, nor do we have to rely on medieval misunderstandings of monetary systems to explain why it’s always been considered wrong.

          For the last 20 years or so, “Islamic banking” has been a regular topic in the financial literature as Western banks seek to incorporate all that oil money into the system.

          Sharia prohibits riba, or usury, defined as interest paid on all loans of money (although some Muslims dispute whether there is a consensus that interest is equivalent to riba).

          Here we see the same argument over whether riba/usury is any sort of interest on money or something else. Consider the alternatives in Islamic banking:

          Some of the modes of Islamic banking/finance include Mudarabah (Profit and loss sharing), Wadiah (safekeeping), Musharaka (joint venture), Murabahah (cost plus), and Ijar (leasing).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking_and_finance

          Notice that Islamic banking accepts various financial transactions when the interests of the borrow and lender are the same, when the risks are aligned the same way.

          If a lender stands to gain more from a default than a repaid loan, that is an obvious conflict of interest – in that situation the lender wants the borrower to default, presumably in order to claim the collateral.

          If the money supply doesn’t change then the usurers as a group own a larger and larger portion of the wealth over time

          Yes, if in the historical case, Jews as a class have a monopoly on finance, then in the aggregate Jews will wind up with Christian wealth. Actually figuring out the absolute quantity of money is difficult and practically impossible in a decentralized system. In practical terms, whatever class controls the money can always hold back supply of money to force defaults, and this appears to have happened.

          Like pornography, it’s likely that many have simply thrown up their hands and said “I know usury when I see it.” “Usury” has traditionally been considered a sin, a moral crime, an evil. Libertarians will try to simply punt on the moral issues and demand you define usury by a specific number, so they can say, “well if 10% is usury, is 5% ok?” “If 0% is the only acceptable interest rate then there will be no lending at all.” By making it a math problem they are ignoring whatever moral instinct that has existed throughout history in many cultures that declares “usury” – however defined – as morally wrong.

          “Money,” as in currency, what is used instead of simple barter, is a “social construct” and various forms of money have proved practical in various cases because it’s a decentralized way to coordinate trade. With modern communication technology, “the internet” etc., decentralized coordination can provide alternative to coordinating trade.

          Of course there is the crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, but even that relies on traditional ideas of money. There are already thought experiments about decentralized money creation, why give banks a monopoly on money creation? Why can’t money be created and destroyed as needed by individuals?

          The path forward for money and banking is not to prevent people from creating money out of thin air but to allow everyone to create money out of thin air.

          https://hackernoon.com/beyond-bitcoin-truly-decentralized-banking-d7793edc7d99

          Counter Currents once published a great article about various non-libertarian ideas of money and other aspects of the economy.

          https://www.counter-currents.com/2015/12/money-for-nothing-3/

          I’m suggesting that there is a reason why “usury” has always been considered a sin and that “usury” may be best defined as something other than simple compound interest.

          Another good work to read on the topic is “Debt: The First 5000 Years.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt:_The_First_5000_Years

          • John Walton's Gravatar John Walton
            July 29, 2017 - 11:24 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for your interesting reply. I will check out the links you provide. I agree with the spirit of your appeal to moral intuition as able to trump any mathematical definition. I also agree that in that regard it’s important whether the lender stands to benefit from default, and, more broadly, whether he shares the risk.

        • July 27, 2017 - 9:17 pm | Permalink

          @John Walton

          I’ve copied some of our exchange on my blog, here:

          “Riffing On Usury”

          https://hipsterracist.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/riffing-on-usury/

  11. silviosilver's Gravatar silviosilver
    July 25, 2017 - 11:58 pm | Permalink

    None of the (very) few facts cited in this article justify its condemnatory tone. Nowhere is there an argument mounted against moneylending per se, merely a recounting of wrongdoings by moneylenders outside the field of moneylending, strictly defined. If the purpose was to draw attention to the sizable over-representation of Jews among the ranks of those engaging in financial collusion, that is fine, but it should have been clearly stated rather than relying on innuendo.

    Yaron Brook’s pose as a rational egoist/Randian objectivist cannot explain his desire for a full-throated, cultic extolling of moneylending. It does not explain why it should be considered an “ethically praiseworthy” exercise

    Of course there is no need for “cultic extolling,” but moneylenders do indeed deserve to have their virtues extolled because the service they provide is most valuable. If businesses want to expand, they need to invest; if the lack the financial resources for investment, they have to borrow them. Enter the “moneylender”: The financial system functions to channel funds from savers (generally workers, households and, very occasionally, governments) to borrowers (households, businesses and governments), either directly (bond and stock markets) or indirectly through financial intermediaries (banks, insurance companies). The reason to extol all this is because the public is generally very ignorant and fearful of the financial system, and their fears are only too easily exacerbated by people like the author of this article – to the detriment of everybody.

    • July 26, 2017 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      if the lack the financial resources for investment, they have to borrow them

      This is obvious false and presupposes that the only way to gain resources is by borrowing. In reality, of course, one can gain resources by work. When you create wealth by work and then trade that wealth in a market for money, there is no need to borrow, of course.

      The question isn’t even asked: where did the lenders get the resources that others must borrow in the first place?

      • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
        July 26, 2017 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Nobody is obligated to borrow. And riches are either earned, inherited or stolen.

        Neoclassical economics will drive us mad before it drives us broke.

        • Sam J.'s Gravatar Sam J.
          July 27, 2017 - 10:23 am | Permalink

          “…Nobody is obligated to borrow…”

          This is literally true but not true if you want to live in the real world. All business get paid after the do the work. While they’re doing the work they need cash for materials and payroll. The borrow to meet these needs. They also do the same for expansion.

          Saying no one has to borrow is the equivalent of pf physics professor explaining cows by starting with,”consider a round cow”.

          • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
            July 27, 2017 - 5:15 pm | Permalink

            It is both true and realistic that a business doesn’t have to borrow. The owner can sell down equity to raise cash. No one forces him to own 100%. Partners and shareholders do exist in the real commercial world.

            Naturally, I also understand why someone might want to borrow rather than dilute equity.

      • silviosilver's Gravatar silviosilver
        July 26, 2017 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

        A business can obviously use its own financial resources, but if it doesn’t have sufficient such funds and it wants to expand right now (not ten years from now, when it might have saved them up) then it has no choice but to either borrow or selling equity in itself (I left this out in the simplified statement above).

        The question isn’t even asked: where did the lenders get the resources that others must borrow in the first place?

        Generally, from savings. Of course, central bank actions can from time to time affect banks’ level of deposits (and hence ability to make loans), but it doesn’t change the fact that fundamentally lending, in a well run financial system, relies on somebody, somewhere saving something.

        • July 27, 2017 - 3:52 am | Permalink

          central bank actions can from time to time affect banks’ level of deposits (and hence ability to make loans), but it doesn’t change the fact that fundamentally lending, in a well run financial system, relies on somebody, somewhere saving something.

          This is part begging the question and part moving the goalposts. “Well run” on the surface is an appeal to practicality but in reality has hidden moral claims.

          It’s not just central banks that create money, all fractional reserve banks create money, and private banks and quasi-private central banks are not the only financial institutions that create money.

          Wealth can be seen as natural resources plus human labor, when various social institutions are simply assumed to have a claim on natural resources, that claim – as “artificial” as any claim – can be monetized. Thus, we have financial resources without savings. This was explained in my first comment and the article on economic rent – and to the claims on natural resources can be added claims on “contrived scarcity.”

          Libertarian ideology always presupposes that there is some “natural law” that it is appealing to, when in fact all “economics” other than simplistic accounting (bean counting) is political-economic. It’s a social construct, part of the social contract.

          A huge and significant part of the “value” of the modern financial system is based on the network effect, and the value of the network effect comes from the “consumers” as much as, if not more than, the “producers.” That value is not coming from savings, that value comes from the social coordination of the network – the value comes from the commons.

          If one wants to appeal to practicality, free markets have proven a most efficient way to distribute resources. But libertarian ideology isn’t just about practicality, it makes moral demands that no one has any reason to accept.

          Throughout most of human history, “usury” has been considered evil, or at the least a social problem. Libertarian ideologues simply want to wish this away with jargon – and ironically, we know that when something immoral is at first “tolerated” it tends to start being “mandated.” Hence, the evil of “usury” was tolerated, now the entire libertarian religion makes it mandatory, often considering it the highest good.

          Hence, “greed is good.”

          • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
            July 27, 2017 - 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Try putting a number on “usury”, for starters.

            Money, contrary, to your statement, has historically been a tangible product, or a paper claim to same. The last half century of non-convertible paper money is the exception that proves the rule. (And even now, central banks hold gold as reserves, despite the rhetoric. Some, such as Russia’s, have been growing their stores).

          • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
            July 27, 2017 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Greed is part of the human condition, a vice. Good luck abolishing it.

        • Sam J.'s Gravatar Sam J.
          July 27, 2017 - 10:28 am | Permalink

          “…Generally, from savings….”

          No they make the stuff form nothing in most cases. They can get reserves by buying them on the open market.

          The US government should own all money creation and get all the benefits. Bankers should not be able to create any money from scratch. They should get it all from the Treasury or savings accounts. If we had a basic income or citizens dividend then that could be the way cash was injected into the system. Banks would then compete for those dollars instead of making it themselves.

          When a bank goes bad, close it, confiscate what’s left and jail the bankers, if warranted.

          • Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
            July 27, 2017 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

            You trust the (((government)))? Or even the government? Why would it have citizens’ interests more at heart than its own? Aside from the inflation that would ensue from any Greenbacker scheme, there would still be the issue that (((whoever))) received newly-created Treasury money first would unfairly enjoy higher purchasing power compared to the last receiver (the little guy), who gets his after prices have already risen.

          • T. J.'s Gravatar T. J.
            July 27, 2017 - 5:53 pm | Permalink

            Is is good that government creates money from nothing? It is still alchemy, still of the unreason of the last century. But Hegel said “The State is closest to the divine on Earth.” And where is yer evidence Hegel? He is a German idealist [Platonist] and the “higher” noumenal world does not rely on crude evidence. . .

            All governments [throughout history] were established for one main reason- economic exploitation. “Serving the public” is the cover story- serving special interests the reality. Who do you think was behind socialism if not (((thy usual suspects)))?

            We need- I want- competing monies, with money being whatever the buyer and seller agree it to be.

            The usury problem is not lending- it is conjuring up money from nothing.
            The banking problem, and the socialist problem stem from State enforced monopolies, which need serious destruction.

      • Barkingmad's Gravatar Barkingmad
        July 27, 2017 - 6:20 am | Permalink

        I don’t see how we can separate out the financial/ monetary system from everything else that’s going on. It’s all of a piece, debased, and cannot be just. Lots of people blame the banking system (FRB) for everything else that’s wrong. But maybe it is the result instead of the cause. There had to be some serious spiritual rot in place early in the game. There’s no “wiping the slate clean and starting fresh” doable by humans or at least I doubt it.

        • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
          July 28, 2017 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

          Just so. What’s more, many who would separate these inseparables contribute to the problem by, for example, identifying themselves with US aggressions in every part of the world (as if the military has escaped corrupting influence!) or, as some on this thread have done, calling for government “regulation” of problems the government has been party to creating. Witness the fact that there is a better chance of spotting a unicorn in a US zoo than of finding someone in DC calling for an end to or even an audit of the Fed.

          Even were someone to argue that T.J. overstates the case in writing that all governments throughout history were established for economic exploitation, he would have to grant that if there have been exceptions, a preschooler who counted them all would doubtless still have a good many fingers and toes left unused. Furthermore, even the odd exception would have been an exception in aspiration or motivation rather than result. Periclean Athens ought to serve as a perpetual reminder of that.

          • Barkingmad's Gravatar Barkingmad
            July 28, 2017 - 6:06 pm | Permalink

            @Pierre. Re finding someone calling for an end to the Fed or at least auditing it. He may not be there anymore, but Ron Paul never ceased doing this.

            In response to article by M. Jaggers here at T.O.O., a commenter (Hipster Racist) pointed out how Bernie Sanders “stabbed Ron Paul in the back and sabotaged the Audit the Fed bill in the Senate”. To which you responded enthusiastically. All of which I am sure you remember, but I’m writing this for the benefit of others who may not have read those comments. I did not know about the evil Sanders’ deed. Grazie to you & the Hipster.

            http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2017/06/14/in-post-mortem-of-election-clinton-learns-literally-nothing/

          • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
            July 29, 2017 - 11:36 am | Permalink

            Dear B.,

            Reminders tend to be an unalloyed good; so thank you. I wish the same could be said of my recollections of Ron Paul’s last years in the Congress. What I mean is this: (1) Did he know or suspect beforehand that reliance on Sanders’s support for auditing the Fed would inevitably end in betrayal? If not, why not? (2) Was he actually as indifferent to winning the presidential nomination in 2012 as he now, in retrospect, seems to have been (some thought he seemed so even at the time)? During the campaign, was he as hostile to limiting immigration as he made plain he was to discussing the subject? If so, why? Surely he was familiar enough with Hoppe to understand that immigration limitation did not conflict with his libertarianism. Or did he simply associate this view with rednecks and TOO-style knuckle-draggers (FACETIOUSNESS ALERT!) and other people he thought it infra dig to associate himself with?

            I invested what little remained of my hope for reform of “democracy” and the government cesspool in his campaign, and so these questions nag at me, especially as I’m in full sympathy with Joe Sobran’s evaluation of Paul as not simply an honest politician but the only honest politician he’d ever encountered. Paul’s election might well have counted, ought to have counted, as the most epochal public event of the last half of my life—I don’t think I’m alone in feeling thus—yet five years later his very name seems to be remembered by fewer than can recall who Bobby Thomson was and what he did on October 3, 1951.

  12. Trenchant's Gravatar Trenchant
    July 26, 2017 - 7:13 pm | Permalink

    The Merchant of Venice‘s moral lesson is not focused on the lending at a given rate of interest (all parties were in agreement ex ante on the onerous terms), but on Shylock’s hateful rejection of a reasonable commercial settlement (ie. 6,000 ducats to extinguish the debt) in lieu of the pound of flesh to be carved from Antonio.

    • pterodactyl's Gravatar pterodactyl
      July 27, 2017 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Merchant of Venice – in the end is it actually anti-Semitic? Was not the revenge on the Jew at the end excessive, so he ended up the victim too? How can it be right to cancel an agreement because no-one can measure a pound exactly? What a cheating way to cancel the agreement. No weight ever can be measured exactly so by this reasoning no-one would weigh anything ever again. Clearly the appropriate thing to do would be to agree a reasonable error margin, as is standard by implication every time anything is weighed ever in the history of mankind – except in the Merchant of Venice.
      The same applies to ‘Oliver Twist’ – not as anti-semitic as claimed – Fagin helps starving orphan boys, and the main villain is the white gentile who kills Nancy.

      • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
        July 28, 2017 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

        This is a curious analysis. The foolishness required to term Merchant anti-Semitic was unheard of until the late nineteenth century, when Jewish power started coming out of the closet in a big way, especially as the essence of what is called anti-Semitism is the refusal to accept that, alone among the peoples of the earth, Jews not be held accountable for their actions (especially their crimes) nor be bound by any moral dimension of the principle of cause and effect nor be required to accept that standards deemed binding on other human beings bind them, too.

        Quite the opposite, in fact. “Shakespeare” (more likely the Earl of Oxford) was seen and described, both in his own day and for the next two-plus centuries, as radically “humanizing” the Jews in Merchant and presenting a case, through Shylock, for more “balanced” treatment of them in law and equity despite the fact that their unconcealed hatred of Christians and Christian societies rendered them a threat to the general peace and to the societies’ rulers wheresoever the Jews dwelled.* Even in the wake of what Shylock’s judge, courtesy of Portia’s brilliance, accurately terms an attempt to murder a Venetian citizen, Shylock’s life is spared, although it might well be the case that stripping him of his wealth and compelling him to become a Christian—not because anyone believed that he would become a true Christian but because he would lose the special protections that Venetian law (and not Venetian law alone) granted the Jews within the Most Serene Republic—was seen, with a wry cynicism born of experience of the Jewish character, as a fate worse than death.

        Finally, recall that Merchant was written and produced in the same epoch as Marlowe’s Jew of Malta, whose title character, Barabas, is the locus classicus of the thieving, murderous Jew with no honor and no redeeming social value.** Contemporary PC English literature “scholars” who want to retain Jewin the canon of acceptable plays to write rubbishy theses and papers about push the notion that Marlowe deliberately wrote a satirical farce to “discredit” and defuse popular Jew hatred, but they have made little headway. The only reason that this silliness hasn’t sunk without trace is that no one who matters gives a damn about Marlowe.
        ____________________________
        *Of course, it is doubtful whether anyone in any society—at least, any prior to the one we still drolly call ours—ever demanded that his friends, neighbors, or fellow citizens like people as well as tolerate their presence! The requirement to love Big Brother is, in a sense, the most morally revolutionary aspect of Jewish suzerainty.

        **Stratfordian chronology dates Merchant to 1593–96, Jew of Malta to ca. 1589. Some Oxfordians argue, with good evidence, that Merchant actually dates from 1578–79. Oxfordian chronology thus makes Marlowe the debtor to “Shakespeare” rather than vice versa.

        • pterodactyl's Gravatar pterodactyl
          July 30, 2017 - 3:06 am | Permalink

          Pierre de Craon “he would lose the special protections that Venetian law (and not Venetian law alone) granted the Jews within the Most Serene Republic”

          Surely this would be mentioned in the plot? The target audience was the common man and I would have thought the common man would view it as the humiliation of conversion, although I am no expert.

          I spoke to an educated Jew who said The Merchant of Venice’ was anti-Semitic and he said the Jews were ‘forced to be money lenders’ as they were barred from other professions. I always thought it strange that society would ‘force’ one section to do the job that made them wealthy. And note that it is possible to do the job of money lender responsibly – no-one is forcing a particular lender to abuse their power and look for the quick gain at the expense of others. Eg in modern times banks calling in loans from viable companies so they can bankrupt them and asset strip them. Having said that (that it is possible to be a responsible money lender and behave ethically) nevertheless it is a profession that attracts the ruthless and merciless, and perhaps this is also a characteristic of the extra wealthy generally, who are not actually supporters of capitalism (and low taxes) as one would assume, but instead, according to a speaker on Red Ice Radio (I think it was James Bowery), billionaires support Democrat in the ratio 20 to 1. A typical one being that character Mark Zuckerberg. And look at Google whose main objective seems not to make money, but to in the end censor Youtube and control the new internet media to make it on-message with the anti-white left. These people are successful in the capitalist system, but oppose it.

          Also, interesting point you made about it actually being a response to an attempted murder by Shylock. Why not just say that to take the pound of flesh would be murder so the arrangement would break the law and be invalid?

          It also shows that legal people are not straightforward and can never just consider what is just or not just in straighforward manner. Where there’s a will there’s a way, ie the lawyers and judges and legal system can judge anything they want, any way they want. If someone is due to hang at 12 noon a lawyer could say it might be 1/0000 of a second before or 1/10000 second after, so we cannot hang him after all. That is the same logic as used in the play.

          • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
            July 30, 2017 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

            (1) Shakespeare’s “target audience” was not the common man. He was a court playwright first and foremost, and the elements designed for the delectation of those in the pit would by no means have included the protected status held by Jews in many places during what was then the Late Italian Renaissance. If you are looking for an Elizabethan or Jacobean dramatist whose target audience was the common man or whose work at least recognizably portrayed common men and dealt knowledgeably with their concerns, Fletcher, Beaumont, Tourneur, Kyd, Webster, Chapman,or even Marlowe are the places to start. Even a play such as Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair has a far more workaday plot and more truly three-dimensional common-man characterizations than anything Shakespeare ever wrote.

            (2) The opinion of a present-day Jew as to the “anti-Semitism” of Merchant matters not at all. It’s a textbook example of anachronism.

            (3) The specific matter of Shylock’s bond was of no initial intrinsic concern of the court’s because all the parties to the contract agreed to the bond without duress. (That is, the villainy or otherwise of law and judges that you refer to is both a red herring and a non sequitur.) Antonio and Bassanio plainly state that Shylock was acting benevolently in not requiring payment of money interest. Neither thought for a moment that all of the former’s “argosies” would be lost at sea. And of course everyone realized that the cutting of a pound of flesh was a death sentence! They weren’t fools. It was Shylock’s insistence on the payment of the literally designated terms of the bond that became his undoing in court. As Portia notes, the bond specifies neither blood nor the loss of Antonio’s life; thus, by demanding adherence to the bond’s letter, Shylock became “the engineer hoist by his own petard” (you recall that phrase, I trust).

            As for the rest, you really need to read the play, preferably with a full set of line glosses and textual commentary.

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