Fiat currency and idolatry are outgrowths of the same error. What is that error? Believing that a substitute for something is the real thing. Idolatry did not begin as someone suddenly believing that a stone statue is actually god. That would be ridiculous. It evolved slowly, through layers of derivative errors. Maimonides explains how this happened in the first two laws surrounding idolatry. He writes:
"In the days of Enosh, mankind committed a big error and the sages of that time and Enosh himself committed this error. This was their error: They said that since God created the stars and the spheres to direct the world from on high, and gave them honor and they, the spheres, served Him, that people should serve them, too. And that this is the will of God to serve and respect those things that serve and respect God, just as any king would want respect for his closest servants. Because this occurred to them, they started building temples and sacrificing to them in order to appease God in their false ideas. This is the essence of idolatry. It’s not that they believed that idols or stars were actually god, but their error was in thinking that God willed that they worship intermediaries.
“As time went on, false prophets arose that said that god told them to worship such and such a star or all the stars or to sacrifice and pour libations in such and such a way, and they made a form representing the star so that all the people could bow down to the form. The false prophet would describe a form that he made up and would say, “this is the form of the star that spoke to me in my prophecy.” In this way they would make forms in their temples and under their trees and on their hills and bow down to them and the people would say that this form can do good or bad to you and you should worship it and fear it. And the priests would invent a way of worshiping that they said was the right way. This spread throughout the world to worship different forms and sacrifice and bow to them. As time went by, the whole world forgot about the one true and awesome God and they no longer knew Him. They all only knew the representative forms of wood or stone and the temples of stone that they were taught about as children, to bow down to and swear by. And their sages thought that there was no god but the stars and the spheres represented by the idol forms. This is how the world deteriorated until our father Abraham, the pillar of the world, arrived.”
And so we learn from Maimonides that idolatry is really the worship of divinity substitutes.
What is fiat money? How was it born? It was born as a money substitute. When the first paper monies were used, they were nothing but receipts for real money, which was gold and silver. Nobody believed they were real money. But then as people got used to using the paper money substitute, they forgot what real money was. And they built temples to the paper money substitutes called central banks, inflated these substitutes over the real money supply to spend them and extract value from them, stealing the purchasing power of others. And they constructed convoluted theories and rituals about how and when to increase the money supply based on complicated econometric equations that made absolutely no sense.
And the people got used to using these manipulated inflated money substitutes as money and completely forgot what real money was. They began to believe that the substitutes were money itself and that the temples to the money substitutes, the central banks, and their priesthood the central bankers, knew exactly what they were doing and their ritualistic worship with econometric equations were wise and would make the money substitutes work well. But nobody realized that the fiat money they were using was actually still only a substitute for real money, and that its value and usability depended ultimately on its continued exchangeability for real money, for gold and silver. The people began to mock real money gold, calling it a “barbarous relic” and a “doorstop” and disparaged its usefulness.
And then people decided that they could even make their own money called bitcoin, whose value would hang entirely on the genius and hubris of man, but they did not realize that bitcoin was only a substitute itself for a money substitute, and ultimately depended on the substitute’s (dollar’s) exchangeability for real money, gold.
But they will figure it out once, at the end, their money substitutes no longer work, their bubbles blown up from the inflation of the money supply implode, and the bitcoin substitutes for those money substitutes fall to zero as well, and everyone will have to reject their idolatrous money substitutes and substitutes for those substitutes, and return to money itself, gold and silver directly, or the division of labor will break down.
Rafi Farber is publisher of The End Game Investor, a daily precious metals market commentary focusing on monetary analysis and trading psychology. The End Game is fast approaching, so get ready now.