May 20, 2015
Money and love
Since the crash, bankers have been consistently vilified for their part in bringing down the world’s economies and for their ongoing complicity in one nefarious deed after another. Which is why a new book is worth a mention. Maria Pereira, herself a banker, believes that money and finance have become detached from the real world. She argues that money, the common good, virtue and love are all intertwined and that this needs to be reflected in the way that our economies and financial systems operate.
When money, love and virtue are raised in the same conversation, most people respond with surprise and scepticism. What do these concepts have in common? They belong to different realms. When they are raised by a former banker and elaborated into an approach that could transform the way we think about our world and the way we structure our organisations and society, then something truly radical is afoot.
The book, Money, Love and Virtue does not propose a detailed programme for reform. Instead it offers a way to bring qualitative discussion into a material area, so as to allow for construction of a world where money, love and virtue work together, not in contradiction.
The book is a series of interlinked essays dealing with key themes of money, love and virtue. They are not intended to present in-depth study of the issues, but to encourage deeper thinking about them.
• Chapter 1 looks at the economy as the process of managing our material needs, and money as the unit of exchange within the marketplace. It looks at the introduction of credit and the role that money initially played in liberating humans from dependence, thereby explaining the strong association between money and our ideas of liberty.
• Chapter 2 examines the process of ‘financialisation’. While constructive finance allows enhanced economic welfare and progress, finance has shown its dark side through high leverage, a focus on short-term trading, speculation, excessive extraction of income, and fraud, aided by deregulation and deficient supervision. The current financial model has contributed to inequality, a central challenge today, and to the destruction of our financial commons. It needs to be put right.
• Chapter 3 discusses how the economy can come to undo material improvements and dehumanise society, causing discontent. While our renewed interest in the idea of happiness aims to restore the human dimension, it is not sufficient simply to provide new aggregate measures of happiness within our economic models. For true progress, we need to fully appreciate and restore the human dimension.
• Chapter 4 examines our assumptions about human nature and their effect on our actions. The author suggests we reinstate a presumption of the underlying virtue of humanity with a perspective that embraces consideration and respect for the person and concern for the common good. In this way we will be able to restore virtue and dignity to the market.
• Chapter 5 looks at compassion, which enables virtue. Biologists observe that evolution has resulted in greater cooperation and altruism. Through collaboration, we can ensure that human needs are properly met within the economy and finance. True or enlightened self-interest must encompass the other and the universe at large.
• Chapter 6 discusses love, which allows us to see the other in ourselves and to realise our full potential. Justice is the uniting of power and love. Love leads to unity and harmony, to a life well lived. It is the deepest manifestation of humanity and of happiness.
• The Integration draws together all these threads. When working in harmony, money, love and virtue realise our social contract, a foundation of civilisation. In this way a humanistic world can blossom and contribute to the common good.
You can read the introduction and first chapter using the widget below or (probably better) by clicking on this link.