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Charles Eisenstein: What Is Wealth?

user profile picture Adam Taggart Sep 28, 2015
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Recently, author and "de-growth activist" Charles Eisenstein stopped by the Martenson homestead while traveling on business. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Chris sat him down to record an impromptu discussion on the nature of wealth.

As should come as little surprise to Peak Prosperity readers, financial wealth ("money") is just one component — and given society's current over-fixation with it, its pursuit oftentimes limits our ability to be truly wealthy:

For a lot of people with money, they have wrapped their identity up in it. That is their narrative. They are running around with this narrative that identifies themselves with their wealth. They know on some level that this is fantasy wealth because all you have to do is read any one of a hundred books now on the subject that says money is printed out of thin air, which means it is an idea. An idea that one segment of society, a very small one, gets to just literally make out of thin air. It is like your whole identity depends on what the magician is going to do next. You know deep down you cannot control that.

For a period of time, financial wealth and real wealth,have been the same concept. But then there are all of these other periods of history, again, easy to find, where humans behave like humans. They decide to take the easy road out. To print money out of thin air. To debase the coinage if you were in Roman times. To print the physical currency on paper stock if you were in Weimar times. Or today, the electronic equivalent  — which is harder to track and feel, so it creates that little undercurrent of dread. It is not like you can see the bank notes piling up in the street, right? So where do you get your clues? They are a little bit harder to track.

That is part of the devious nature of our current monetary system. It is just one-step too complex for the vast majority of people to follow. For the people who can follow it, and I interact with these people all the time. People who are up to their eyeballs, 30 years deep trading, 24 hours a day in their hedge fund. They are the most nervous people I know. They are the ones who are buying retreat compounds with bunkers and beans and all of that stuff, right, because they can imagine a binary outcome. It either works or it does not. That gives them a lot of dread.

The other dread for all the other people just sitting around with wealth is this. Their identity is wrapped up in it and so they have that narrative. What happens if your money goes away? Well, then who are you? 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Charles Eisenstein (61m:41s)

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