re: hobbes in the morning
Hi, Glenn — Two thoughts that also run in parallel. One of Hobbe’s main contributions is the insight that power resides in the other person’s head. That is, if A thinks B has power over him, then B does; and if A does not so think, even if B has a gun pointed at him, then B does not have any power over A (think Christ befor Pilate, “You have no power over me except that given by my Father,” or any Christian martyr). In other words, power is primarily spiritual, not material. Which is not to deny that material factors can play an important part, and that superior force(s) can be quite persuasive; but only if it succeeds in persuading. What is happening in Libya right now is an interesting case in point, though it’s not clear which way things are going to fall out.
And money is much the same. Money is anything that people will accept as money, and has ranged from playing cards countersigned by the Governor late one Canadian winter when the supply ship with new money to pay the troops had not been able to arrive on time, to the famous big stone disk at the bottom of the lagoon on Yap, which “changed hands” every so often, as everybody in the village knew, even though it stayed put on the sea floor. Tobacco warehouse receipts were big in 18th century Virginia, and remained quite stable for 50 years or so as the amount of tobacco (= money supply) grew more or less in tandem with the expansion of the economy, so you neither had inflation or deflation.
It can also work the other way: I remember as a kid in France when you would often find five or ten franc notes used as memo paper or with the grocery list scribbled on them. They were worth more or less the paper each was printed on, and a good scrap of paper is worth its weight in — well, eer, paper. Similarly I think it was Lenin (or mabye Marx?) who argued that gold would be used for plumbing in the public urinals when the communist utopia arrived (resists corrosion really well).