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Economic Egregores: How Belief Drives the Power of Money and What We Can Do About It

“[S]ince it has become increasingly clear that stocks, and even money itself, is entirely based on a perception of value, which is by nature subjective and mutable, the only question becomes how that perception of value is influenced? And who is doing the influencing?”

From Sable Aradia

dollar-bills-dawn-hudson

Dollar Bills by Dawn Hudson. Courtesy Publicdomainimages.net.

A thoughtform is a semi-autonomous manifestation created when someone — or several someones — will it, or believe it, into being. As of that point, it is no longer entirely subject to the will of its creator(s), but in essence, acts and reacts in its own way. It has no physical reality as we understand it, but it has a virtual reality; it might as well be real because we engage with it as if it is. Which, in a sense, makes it real.

An egregore is a thoughtform that has been created by a group, and it influences the thoughts and actions of the group that engages with it. But it is also influenced by the thoughts and actions of these same people.

This is not a unique concept to the occult: William Gibson wrote about what he called “semiotic ghosts” in popular culture. To me, it was evident he was talking about egregores. I wrote an article about this recently at Between the Shadows.

The examples of a corporation and a meme are probably excellent ones for a modern reader. A corporation exists independently of its creators. The Board of Directors, the shareholders, and the employees who work for it, can change completely — leave, die, or be replaced — and yet the corporation continues.

In our modern age, money is also an egregore, and this is why it has no physical value (after all, money is no longer backed by a gold standard.) Its perceived value governs its real value on the world market. The two are effectively one and the same.

It’s extremely difficult for one person to significantly alter the nature of an egregore. A person who wants to will such a change would have to convince a majority of the other people who engage with the egregore that its nature has already changed. For example, these major brands either started their lives as Nazi corroborators, or developed significantly as corporations while doing so, but of course we no longer make these associations with them.

There was an excellent object lesson in the transformation of an egregore in the 1990s in Brazil. Plagued by runaway inflation, Brazil embraced a daring plan; they created a new currency to restore people’s faith in money. They called it the Unit of Real Value (Unidade real de valor)(1). And it was entirely fake. No bills or coins were ever printed. It was intended to absorb the effects of hyperinflation and was set at a fixed value of parity to the U.S. dollar.

Instead, people developed more confidence in the URV than in the cruzeiro real, which was the legal-tender Brazilian currency, and it replaced Brazil’s legal currency. Officially it was “extinguished” and replaced with a legal-tender currency called the real on July 1, 1994.

A semi-virtual currency exists in Canada in the form of Canadian Tire money. This is effectively Monopoly money that is given out by Canadian Tire as a reward for shopping at their stores. It’s a fraction of the value of what you bought; a very early loyalty program.

But many places in Canada began accepting Canadian Tire money as well as real money, because why not? Canadian Tire doesn’t really care where it came from, because at one point or another it came from their store, and you can still exchange it there for real goods.

Unfortunately Canadian Tire is now trying to force their clientele to go to a card system instead, citing a risk of criminal enterprises making use of their alternate currency as an excuse. I’m sure that’s a real threat: criminal enterprises profit enormously from the existence of shadow economies that don’t depend upon the whim of the World Bank. But then again, so would we.

One might also consider the bitcoin bubble. Bitcoin is an entirely virtual currency that has a certain perceived value; and it has that value because of that perception.

That’s not a new concept either. Stock values are also entirely influenced by perceived values. One of the flaws in our current economic system that is coming to a point of reckoning is that stock values can plummet, not because a company has lost money, but because it has not gained as much as people thought it would. Twitter and Facebook both recently bore a significant loss of stock value because their growth, falsely projected on false identities and bot accounts which political pressure has forced them to limit, was not as great as those false projections had assumed it would be.

insecurity-dollar-symbol-john-hain

Insecurity Dollar Symbol by John Hain. Courtesy Publicdomainimages.net.

What this tells us is that any free market theory is fatally flawed. It is assumed in the study of free market economics that stock value changes based on information. Traders become aware of trends, new technology, expansions, etc. which will increase the income-making potential of a corporation.

But since it has become increasingly clear that stocks, and even money itself, is entirely based on a perception of value, which is by nature subjective and mutable, the only question becomes how that perception of value is influenced? And who is doing the influencing?

The question then becomes for the magician: how can we best utilize egregores? Can we make significant changes to the harmful effects of existing egregores, such as the value of currency and how it is determined?

Marx said that in order to address income inequality, workers must control the means of production. But he failed to visualize the development of technology and the value of virtual goods. How do you control the means of production when all the production is virtual?

I think the answer is that the common people must direct the egregores instead. Right now, we have been absorbed by the semiotic ghosts of futility, apathy, and the inequalities of capitalism. And Money has become a god in and of itself. To combat this, we must embrace new egregores, and helpful, older egregores, like the Enlightened Rebel and the Will of the People.

To change the perceived value of money, and who has it, we need to re-think what we’re basing that value on. Right now, the world thinks of money in terms of national currencies, so the perceived economic well-being of nations is what drives the world economy. This creates haves and have-nots by nature. It’s dependent on the idea that some nations have more economic value than others.

It’s also, in part, determined by corporations. The more big corporations a country is perceived to have, and the bigger their stock values, the more valuable their currency is perceived to be.

Canadian Tire money erodes that economy just a little bit, because it takes a small fraction of the value of currency out of the hands of governments and stock traders, and puts it into the hands of consumers. Still not great; still capitalism, but a more decentralized capitalism.

Bitcoin is an early attempt to rethink the way we value currency. It has established a currency value on information. Bits of data are what form the essential unit of a bitcoin. But the flaw of this approach is that those who control information can control the value of a bitcoin, which is why it has already achieved a speculation bubble that makes it completely unattainable for regular people.

Perhaps we should come back to Marx. Perhaps we should be basing the value of currency on labour-units. One hour of labour might equal one credit, which could buy one full meal. Think of how wealthy artists would be! Of course I can’t think of a way to track that which wouldn’t risk intense violations of privacy. No change of this nature would be quick or easy, and each would have its own drawbacks and unintended consequences that we would have to consider, and deal with.

The question for us is: what do we consider to be of real value? And what would we like the economy of the future to look like? Which egregores should we give power to?


  1. I think it’s worth noting just how difficult this reference was to find. I remembered hearing something on a YouTube video about this and I went searching for a reference to write this article. I typed “South American country that created an alternate currency” into Google. This yielded an article called “How Fake Money Saved Brazil,” which originally came from the NPR website. It’s referenced by a plethora of other blogs and articles, but you can’t get access to that article anymore; just a couple of forums where people sneer at the idea, despite the fact that it demonstrably worked. I finally found the name of the currency — “Unit of Real Value” — in a snippet from a site that might be an archive of the Wayback Machine from a site called Neatorama.com. I searched this on Google and finally found the Wikipedia entry, listed only under its Portuguese name. Now why was this so hard to find? The most benign answer I can come up with is racism. I suspect it’s a lot more complex.

Sable Aradia

I’m a Pagan and speculative fiction author, a professional blogger, and a musician. I’m proudly Canadian and proudly LGBTQ. My politics are decidedly left and if you ask for my opinion, expect an honest answer. I owned a dog, whom I still miss very much, and am still owned by a cat. I used to work part time at a bookstore and I love to read, especially about faith, philosophy, science, and sci-fi and fantasy.


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10 Comments »

  1. Is gold ‘real money’, that is not vertual, as implied in your article. It’s value seems as much a thoughtform as any, it’s collective value arising mainly from the facts that I can’t eat it, a mouse won’t eat it, it won’t rot ( a fungus can’t eat it), it is relatively rare, has few real uses, and is somewhat pretty so it stands out. It is hard to move, so pretty early on records of it start to be kept in account books rather than the stuff being moved. Gold as money feels like a thought form to me. That gold based currencies are hard to inflate may not be a good thing at all.

    Experiments with local scrips have been pretty common. Here is description of one example from the 1930’s in Iowa, there are many others. https://scholarworks.uni.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1441&context=etd

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that gold is a pretty arbitrary thing to base currency exchange on, but my implication was that there was some substance you could touch that was being used. Still, you’re absolutely right. And thank you for sharing that link! Looking forward to checking it out and please feel free to share more if you have them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d guess that the Wikipedia entry is listed under the Portuguese name because it’s actually the name of the thing, which complies with naming guidelines developed through consensus. To arbitrarily translate the name into English would almost certainly be construed as racist, despite the fact that you and other English readers might have found it helpful. In short, the fear of racism is just as likely a cause as racism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps, but could a subtag or a redirect not have been created for the English Wikipedia site? This was an English-language article I found with the Spanish name as its title. But maybe you’re right; maybe this represents a greater problem in Wikipedia’s structure. I wonder if Spanish-speakers have difficulty finding articles in English if they don’t use the English name to search?

      Like

  3. Really good article, thank you!

    You missed out the LETS scheme (exchange of services scheme that still exists in the UK, I think). Perhaps it doesn’t happen over here.

    As a Brit who has recently experienced the near-constant invocation of the Will of the People to justify continuing with the collective suicide that is Brexit, I’m here to tell you that theWill of the People is not a helpful thought form and has too frequently been evoked by fascists.

    And now I’ve moved to Canada and there’s a right wing surge here too. Argh. I was aware that it could happen here too, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It might just be provincial vs. federal politics to a degree, anyway. It’s a Canadian pattern to vote in provincial governments that opposed the point of view of the federal government, so right wing provincial governments tend to naturally get elected when the federal government is very right wing, and vice versa. Then the pendulum swings. Still, these guys have taken on a particular Trumpish brand of crazy I mislike.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a really interesting read, because of my own spiritual work regarding “money energy” and my experience during the Great Depression in Germany back then. I have often asked myself why my relationship with money is the way it is (not in debt or anything, but like your post mentions – value). Some see the dollar as an end, the end all be all, and chase after it. I do not, I do not work due to my health, and at the same time, despite being “on the system”, I just have a hard time bringing myself to believe in the “solidity” (stability) of the value of the dollar (here in the U.S.). You mention about the subjective aspect, and perception, and I think this plays a huge role. If I want to manifest something, I do not focus on the money to manifest it, but rather the item itself since money is abstract. I also realize that, at any moment, it could all be gone (worthless).

    The questions you have asked have given me further thought that I would like to work on within myself to get better/clearer answers, which can then further my work.

    Liked by 1 person

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