Part one of a two-part series.
One topic missing from historians’ analysis of the West’s transition from a physical gold and silver based money system to a fiat money system is the defining events that facilitated and enabled this transition. One can find no detailed and critical political / historical assessment of this transition, and it would be not for lack of effort. The transition is always presented as if it is prima facie the refined and evolved state of things that warrants no investigation other than superficial praise followed with dogmatic platitudes. But has this transition away from the “barbarous relic” money system actually made mankind more refined and evolved, or has it instead plunged mankind into an even more heightened and efficient state of barbarism?
One encounters additional blank pages when searching for any attempt at correlating the evolution and spread of fiat money to the prevalence and severity of war. A collective learned silence descends when attempting to identify why it is, as money evolves, that war become more ideological, destructive, widespread, and prolonged. We are all familiar with the endless adulations describing the global spread of “democracy”, but why is it so many are unwilling converts and it became imperative to spread “democracy” via war and regime change? And closer to home, as our own nation “evolves” from a Constitutional Republic into pure “democracy”, how is it we as “citizens” feel more and more disenfranchised rather than empowered despite even greater doses of “democracy” at home?
This essay attempts to identify the defining events that facilitated and enabled the West’s transition to a fiat based money system, examines cause and effect between the evolution of money and the prevalence and severity of war, and binds together money evolution with the history of warfare by demonstrating cause and effect between money’s evolution, the rise and necessity of endless war, and the inevitable transition from “citizens” to subjects.
Physical Money, the Limits of War, and the Ancient World
For centuries following the Dorian Invasion, the Greek peninsula in the context of contemporaneous civilizations was of minor influence. Limited wars between city states,