Mr. Robot: “Money hasn’t been real since we got off the gold standard.”


“Money hasn’t been real since we got off the gold standard. It’s become virtual software. The operating system of our world. And we are on the verge of taking down this virtual reality.”  So says Mr. Robot, played by Christian Slater, in Mr. Robot, a new techno-thriller TV series that premiered last week on the USA Network.

Mr. Robot is described by Gizmodo as:

Imagine a show that combines the anti-corporate craziness of Fight Club with the subversive hacker heroism of The Matrix. Add some great acting, and a fascinating conspiracy that’s unfolding in the hazy realm between our dystopian nightmares and hard reality. That’s Mr. Robot….

A brief mention mention in pop culture falls into the “one swallow doth not a summer make.” Perhaps there will be a resurgence of popular interest in the woes that were and are caused by America’s official departure from the gold standard in 1971.  High time.

These woes were presciently predicted by Keynes (writing, in 1919, about inflation, and himself, later, a powerful foe of the deformed version of the gold standard extant in his day which he properly called a “barbarous relic.”)  Keynes, in The Economic Consequences of the Peace:

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become ‘profiteers,’ who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

The impact of currency “debauchery” can show up in other ways than inflation.  Keynes issued a perceptive prophecy of the the very economic, social, and political disorders we currently are experiencing.  Of added interest, Keynes’s sentiment precisely mirrors that of Copernicus in his 1525 Essay on the Minting of Money.

Great minds think alike… and praise also is due to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) for his great-minded Centennial Monetary Commission legislation offering to charter an authoritative body to map out what real world outcomes various Fed policies have yielded in producing the kind of climate of equitable prosperity that yields “confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth.”

In a review of Mr. Robot by critic Russell Brandom in The Verge:

What sets the show apart from cringefests like CSI: Cyber is that, for the most part, the writers seem to know what they’re talking about.

So kudos to Mr. Robot writer/producer Sam Esmail for this astute grace note, “Money hasn’t been real since we got off the gold standard,” supplying even further cred to this highly praised new techno-thriller series.   He gives us at least two solid reasons to add Mr. Robot to what is being called a new “Golden Age” of television.

And more than two reasons to tune in here to watch Mr. Robot’s premier episode.

Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles in Action’s Senior Advisor, Economics.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko is a monetary policy advocate and an internationally syndicated columnist.

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