Quigley on Top: Merchants of Debt
As for one of the primary organizational elements of Western society, capitalism, in its constantly changing form over its 1000 year existence, Quigley has the following to say about its role:
“…capitalism, because it seeks profits as its primary goal, is never primarily seeking to achieve prosperity, high production, high consumption, political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Any of these may be achieved under capitalism, and any (or all) of them may be sacrificed and lost under capitalism, depending on this relationship to the primary goal of capitalist activity— the pursuit of profits. During the nine-hundred-year history of capitalism, it has, at various times, contributed both to the achievement and to the destruction of these other social goals.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.
Although Quigley refers to it in this and other works of his, the above quote does not mention the impact on society of Debt, Creditors and the Merchants of Debt, even though they are many thousands of years older than Capitalism and Capitalists. In principle, Capitalism can work, although poorly, without debt. The merchants of debt have almost always done well with or without modern Capitalism — although modern Capitalists have well filled their pockets to overflowing.
If one were to rewrite Quigley’s quote with debt in mind, it might go something like this:
“Debt and Creditors, the Merchants of Debt, because they seek repayment of the loan and the interest due thereon as their primary goal, never seek prosperity, high production, high consumption, direct political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Instead, they seek to assure that the value of the principle and interest remain constant or increase by encouraging depression of the economy to eliminate the potential for that prosperity, high production and high consumption to encourage inflation and reduce the value of their future returns. Interest in political power is limited to issues of so-called “sound money” politics. Over their 4000 year history, the Merchants of Debt have rarely, if ever, contributed anything to a society’s patriotic improvement or moral uplift other than to assist in their destruction now and then.”
It is important to understand that banking and capitalism, although they more often than not work together, they are not the same thing nor do they have the same institutional goals or the same impacts on society. Capitalism is as subject to the demands of the Merchants of Debt as is the rest of society. Because of the overwhelming impact of debt on society, the Old Testament of the Bible and most civilizations until the 10th Century AD in Europe encouraged periodic forgiveness of debts. It could be argued that the Lord’s Prayer New Testament plea to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” refers to the Old Testament practice as well as, if not more than, it does to other moral transgressions.
There exists and inherent conflict between Capitalists and the Merchants of Debt. The former risk their wealth on investments in enterprise, the latter abhor risk of any sort.