This is actually an email that I’d sent out to some close friends in Jan 2012, about 3+ years after the GFC.
I thought I’d share these thoughts with you, with a few quotes of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I actually sent this out to a bunch of friends but felt restricted as the really interesting parts were Their writings. Anyhow, here it is….
“The Money-power belongs to a world which was created deformed… it belongs to the vital and material worlds. And so at all times, always it was under the control of the Asuric forces; and what must be done is precisely to reconquer it from the Asuric forces.”
“Money is the visible sign of a universal force, and this force in its manifestation on earth works on the vital and physical planes and is indispensable to the fullness of the outer life. In its origin and its true action it belongs to the Divine. But like other powers of the Divine it is delegated here and in the ignorance of the lower Nature can be usurped for the uses of the ego or held by Asuric influences and perverted to their purpose.”
– The Mother
We are in the midst of a great upheaval in our times. Entire firms, institutions & republics are being re-thought, re-examined & even re-created – right before our eyes. And unlike the centuries that have preceded “these changing names, these numberless lives”, these radical modifications of existing structures are being effected in a super-compressed time-span of weeks & months. From my little seat in the theater of finance, it appears to be a very concrete and tangible end of a chapter in human history, making the way for a new, inevitable beginning.
I could never have imagined these turn of events. When I first started out in finance, it took me months to just figure out where and what I was working on. It was all very new – the language, the culture, and of course, the scales of numbers. I used to be good at numbers, but I had trouble understanding a statement like “we lost $1.2 million today”, or “we now own $7 billion in assets”. What assets? I saw spreadsheets and numbers. I thought to myself – “How could six people sitting together on the 36th floor of a building in Manhattan be taking these numbers seriously?”.
It would take me another two years to find my bearings, and I didn’t have a clue that my new-found understanding of just about everything was about to be flung around like a ping-pong ball on a daily basis.
The strangest, most bizarre outcomes were becoming everyday affairs, and I struggled to make sense of them. I read a lot, but it never seemed enough. I could hold a “financially-literate” conversation, but I still had plenty of questions – and there were only a handful of people whom I could subject my dumb questions to. At some point in early 2008, a veteran firm Bear Stearns went crashing down – and it broke the confidence of just about everyone. The morning after, I decided to walk past its doors on Madison Avenue. It felt strange alright. Nine thousand employees were jobless overnight. But this was just the beginning of the Asuric orgy of high-finance.
By September, another firm called Lehman was being stir-fried on high heat. The night before its bankruptcy filing, I called a friend who worked there, though there actually wasn’t a whole lot to s[image : stack of playing cards]ay. We both knew that he’d likely lose his job the next day. A year before that phone call, we had criticized derivatives, CDOs, and many things that financial ‘engineering’ had made possible. And now, the entire market had woken up to the banking fraud and were ridding themselves of bank stocks. The world’s largest insurance firm had turned into a giant casino and was also about to go under. But its demise would cause some actual pain to a few key Asuras. Its collapse was being touted as a ‘world-changing event’, ‘an event so devastating for everyday people that….’. And we laugh at Hollywood’s annual ‘end of the world’ type movie trailers! If you’ve ever been interested in Propaganda- as a subject, this period could be used as a case-study 🙂
Within a few days, the mafia-lord Hank Paulson was at Capitol Hill, bullying the Congress into giving him an unlimited pot of money which he would then distribute as he felt like to his favorite banking buddies (officially, he was there to save the world) More, he asked for a blanket “ok”, and full secrecy in the matter. Congress hesitated, before signing him a check for $700 billion, and caving in to his other extra-constitutional demands. That check was now to be signed and paid for by ordinary citizens. The giant handouts would then be gifted to the supposedly ‘near-insolvent’ banks whose Lords would use that same cash to pay themselves the moon and back. I couldn’t believe the brazenness of the crime, but in retrospect, I should have expected it, if I knew any better. The Titans had systematically bought out the Congress, controlled the guys who wrote the accounting rules, and defanged all the regulatory bodies. It would make a very good movie. In fact, in 2010, Ferguson’s excellent documentary Inside Job did just that.
In the two years since, trillions more in artificial money flooded the banking system, but this would still not satisfy the cravings of the crack-houses of finance. On the other side of the Atlantic, as I soon found out, the republics were equally addicted to debt. Every kind of social or financial commitment unto infinity is only seen as a string of 0s, some longer than others. The strange reality of my years on the 36th floor were mirrored in the phenomenal ponzi-scheme upheld by western central banks & the casinos they supported.
What is well known is that globally more than 50 million people lost their jobs. Manipulations in the commodities markets caused a food crisis that starved millions of families around the world, and put an additional 100-200 million people into poverty. What is missed in this narrative is – how much money was made? It is the act of asking this preposterous question in the light of the enormous social damage that leads us to the real nature of modern finance. The last few years of catastrophic failures have precipitated a colossal transfer of wealth, a transfer that continues unabated to this day. The Titans have made fortunes – even on the way down – at public expense, and they’re about to do it all over again. Existing bubbles haven’t been deflated and new ones are being manufactured.
Seen in its right context, these past few years are already a ‘historical’ time-frame, one that ought to be studied, understood and hopefully – avoided in a more responsible future. But to get there requires electorates to have some financial literacy, being able to answer “How does money work?”, for example. “Is debt the new money?”. “What does printing money do for citizens? What does it do for banks?”. Status-quo is admittedly a far more convenient option. There has to be a need to find out.
That need is around the corner. Massive structural changes are underway in at least in four places – the US, UK, Europe & in Japan. And what this unfolding offers us, at the very least, is an unparalleled opportunity to learn from these events. In the dissolution of changing forms, of aging & tired republics, there is equally the creative genius of Nature at work, which sees beyond what our little eyes cannot, and manifests newer forms more fit to her forward march.
What remains to be seen is whether we will sleep through these upheavals, or observe and learn a thing or two.
I’d like to end here on two thought-provoking quotes:
“The Asura has no soul, no psychic being which has to evolve to a higher state; he has only an ego and usually a very powerful ego; he has a mind, sometimes even a highly intellectualised mind; but the basis of his thinking and feeling is vital and not mental, at the service of his desire and not of truth.”
“A liquidation of the old bankrupt materialistic economism which will enable it to set up business again under a new name with a reserve capital and a clean ledger, will be a futile attempt to cheat destiny. Commercialism has no doubt its own dharma, its ideal of utilitarian justice and law and adjustment, its civilization presided over by the sign of the Balance, and, its old measures being now annulled, it is eager enough to start afresh with a new system of calculated values. But a dharmarajya of the half penitent Vaishya is not to be the final consummation of a time like ours pregnant with new revelations of thought and spirit and new creations in life, nor is a golden or rather a copper-gilt age of the sign of the Balance to be the glorious reward of this anguish and travail of humanity. It is surely the kingdom of another and higher dharma that is in preparation.”
– Sri Aurobindo