On the Source of Authority


by Hugo Salinas Price, Plata:

For the sake of brevity, and because this is not a scholarly article, but only an examination of a theme that must be treated in as few words as possible, it is necessary to make some sweeping generalizations.

From the dawn of History and up until relatively recent times, humanity was governed by kings whose will was law; kings were supported by priesthoods who affirmed that the royal power was divinely instituted. Thus, kings were regularly regarded by their subjects as semi-gods.

One of the exclusive rights which kings have enjoyed throughout history was the creation of money. Historians attribute to Croesus, king of Lydia (a region of what is now Turkey) the minting of the first gold coins, which he used as an incentive to get his soldiers to fight. This was sometime around 500 BC.

Gold, and not silver, was the first money used by humanity, because gold was found abundantly in almost pure form in some river beds, whereas silver had to be obtained by processing silver-bearing ores, an activity that came later. Today, small amounts of gold can still be found in river beds.

In antiquity, the production of gold and silver money was considered a sacred activity to be carried out by a priesthood. For instance, Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC) obtained his first political post, as Pontifex Maximus i.e., “High Priest” in charge of the Roman mint.

The divine right of kings to rule was unquestioned up until the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. The kings of France for centuries had become kings by the ceremony of Anointment with a holy balm, applied to them in a solemn ceremony at the Cathedral of Reims.

The introduction of the invention of printing in Europe, by Gutenberg in 1452 initiated the massive reading of books, which had previously been the privilege of the priesthood and of the wealthy, who had been able to purchase small numbers of very expensive, hand-written books.

One of the consequences of this reading of books was that the authority of the Roman Catholic Church began to be questioned by some thinkers, notably by Martin Luther. Eventually, Luther declared himself quite the enemy of the Catholic Church, which led to the creation of Protestantism. The consequence for Europe was a series of bloody wars of religion.

Since it was the Catholic Church which anointed the kings of Europe and invested them with a Divine Right to rule, the schism in Christianity had the effect of weakening the respect of the populations of Europe, for their kings.

In all preceding ages, under “good” kings and “bad” kings, Their Highnesses never considered it their mission, to rule so that poverty and misery could be eliminated from human life. (An excellent Englishman, Sir Thomas More, disagreed with his monarch Henry VIII, and wrote a book, “Utopia”, in which he spoke of an invented country, Utopia, where gold was eliminated as money and was used to manufacture “chamber pots”; in “Utopia” universal joy and prosperity reigned supreme. Through this fashion of thinking, he became one of the first monetary cranks of our civilization.)

A notable example of the effect of Protestantism upon the rule of kings, was the Puritan Revolution in England: the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell, beheaded their king, Charles I, in1649; among other reasons, he was despised by the Puritans because he was too conservative regarding the “Royal Prerogative” and the Puritans wanted something new in their Sovereign: a “social conscience” and improved institutions for the advancement of a better society.

In due course of time, there came about the “Age of Reason” of the 18th Century. The leading thinkers of Europe – and of the American rebels in the royal colonies of North America – examined the institution of royalty, and came to the conclusion that Reason should be paramount in political affairs, and that kings had no Divine Right at all, from a rational point of view.

The consequence of this “Enlightenment” brought about by the Age of Reason, was the French Revolution of 1789, during which the King of France, Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette were neatly beheaded by means of the recently invented guillotine.

In spite of the French Revolution, parts of Europe continued to be nominally ruled by kings up until 1914. However, the new way of regarding them progressively diminished the importance and power of the remaining monarchs of Europe. No longer were they regarded with the unquestioned awe of the populations they governed. The thinking of the intellectuals of the French Revolution had changed things forever: kings were no longer semi-divine creatures.

It is important to understand the nature of the political transformation which had taken place, and which, perhaps, few thinkers have noted: the French Revolution changed the perception of the Origin of Authority.

In all of History and up to the French Revolution of 1789, Authority was acknowledged as “originating from Above“, that is to say, from the God-appointed Ruler, who ruled by Divine Right and whose word was Law, on down to the People below him. One of the functions of the Ruler, was to determine and to create the monetary system his people were to use. In no way was it in his power to create a state of affairs where poverty and misery were to be eliminated amongst his subjects, the People.

The thinkers of the French Revolution turned this ancient precedent upside-down, declaring that Authority could not possibly come from a single human considered as a king. They maintained – and it is a position that continues quite unquestioned today – that “Authority originates from Below”: that is to say, from the People, who institute governments in order to improve social conditions and progressively eliminate suffering and want among them, the People.

It is the acceptance of Authority as originating from Below, which validates all legislation in the world today, through the counting of votes. Authority to legislate originates in a majority of votes on the part of registered voters, favoring candidates in an election.

“Authority originates from Below” is the principle espoused by a Democracy, and today, for any nation to be accepted in good-standing by other nations of the world, it must be a Democracy. There are a few Kings left in the world, but they are little more than beloved figure-heads, with no power at all. There may also be a few Dictators, but they find themselves ostracized, and they tend to have short lives.

All governments of any consequence today, are based on the principle of “Authority originates from Below”. This is the condition of the world today, and  it is the inheritance left to us by the thinkers of the 18th Century.

One huge consequence of this inheritance has been little noted, if at all:

Kings used to rule absolutely, by Divine Right. and their rule only ceased with their death. On the other hand, elected governments come and go, as they respond to the whims of the voters. Presidents come into office, and leave after their terms expire. The presence of the men and women in a Congress is transitory: policies that are validated by one Congress, are regularly rejected by a succeeding Congress.

By their very nature, Governments around the world today are composed of elected individuals whose presence is transitory, and the political decisions of the Congresses cannot possibly lead to consistent and permanent legislation.

“Nature abhors a vacuum” is a principle of physics that also applies in politics, for the vacuum of Authority that characterizes Democracy is filled by another Power, an unelected Power whose presence is worldwide and whose interests are permanent. The eminently reasonable and well-meaning thinkers of the “Age of Reason” who did away with kings, apparently gave no thought to the existence and the permanent and pernicious interests of this Power, the Power that in fact rules our world today.

What is this mysterious Power, that silently overrides all elected Congresses of the world, and sees to it that no legislation can endanger its own interests?

This Power is vested in the International Banks of the world. Presidents come and go, and are forgotten; legislators come and go, and are forgotten; ministers come and go, and are forgotten, but the International Banks remain; their personnel changes over time, but not their interests.

All institutions tend to change to accommodate themselves to changes in the social institutions of the times. But not the International Banks.

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