“A system which consigned me to poverty at birth and Nelson Godawful Rockefeller to riches, is demonstrably insane.”—Robert Anton Wilson
A blog devoted to collecting vintage—and often very obscure—interviews with Robert Anton Wilson posted a long portion of what is apparently only one of three parts from a publican called New Libertarian Notes , issue 39,” from September 5, 1976.
Here’s a gem plucked from deep within it where Wilson discusses the illusion of wealth, one of his favorite topics:
RAW: Of course, my position is based on the denial that money does store wealth. I think it’s a semantic hallucination, the verbal equivalent of an optical illusion, to speak at all of money containing or storing wealth. Such thinking should have gone out with phlogiston theory. The symbol is not the referent; the map is not the territory. Money symbolizes wealth, as words symbolize things, and that’s all. The delusions that money contains wealth is the mechanism by which the credit monopoly has gained a stranglehold on the entire economy. As Colonel Greene pointed out in Mutual Banking, all the money could disappear tomorrow morning and the wealth of the planet would remain the same. However, if the wealth disappeared—if squinks from the Pink Dimension dragged it off to null-space or something—the money would be worth nothing. You don’t need to plow through the dialects of the debate between the Austrians and the free credit people like Tucker and Gesell to see this; any textbook of semantics will make it clear in a few hours of study. Wealth is nature’s abundance, freely given, plus the exponential advance of technology via human intelligence, and as Korzybski and Fuller demonstrate, this can only increase an an accelerating rate. Money is just the tickets or symbols to arrange for the distribution—either equitably, in a free money system, or inequitably, as under the tyranny of the present money-cartel. As you realize, a cashless society could exist merely by keeping bookkeeping entries or computer tapes. Money is a primitive form of such computer tapes, serving a feedback function. If we are not to replace the present banking oligopoly with a programmer’s oligopoly, in which the interest will be paid to computer technicians, we must realize that this is all a matter of abstract symbolism—that it exists by social agreement and nobody owns it, anymore than Webster owns the language. Why is it, incidentally, that the Austrians don’t follow their logic to its natural conclusion and demand that we pay interest to the dictionary publishers every time we speak or write?
You have to watch people playing Monopoly, and see them begin to “identify” the paper markers with real value, to understand how the mass hypnosis of Capitalism works. Fortunately, the Head Revolution is still proceeding and more and more people are waking up to the difference between our economic game-rules and the real existential situation of humanity.
Illuminating Discord: An interview with Robert Anton Wilson (Cleveland Okie)
Below, Lance Bauscher’s enjoyable documentary portrait of Robert Anton Wilson, Maybe Logic: