Book Review of "The Natural Order of Money"Jan 16, 2023·James Turk
In today's world where common sense is under attack, it is refreshing to read a book that is not only well reasoned, but provides a practical, time-honoured solution to many of the problems that plague modern society. There exists a natural order based on the interdependent components of time and energy, and societal problems mount up the further humanity moves away from it.
"The Natural Order of Money" by Roy Sebag is a welcome wake-up call explaining humanity's inextricable link to the natural world. Despite prevailing convention that we have become masters of the universe and legislators with absolute control, it is important to remember that human activity is always and everywhere ultimately tethered to and depends upon nature and the natural order. Though we may wish or even believe the contrary, the reality is that humanity is reliant upon and inextricably linked to the regularities, vagaries, and scarcity of the natural world that extends beyond the elements of the periodic table to food and energy from the farmers, miners, and energy producers of the real economy, all of whom work within the natural world and upon whom the service economy depends.
The consequence of this fundamental connection that exists between humanity and the natural world is an “ecological accountability”. It is my favourite of the seven defined terms analysed in-depth as core components of the book’s line of reasoning from which we can conclude that the real and service economies are today out of balance. A particularly insightful section addresses the parasitic feature of a service economy that has come to dominate the real economy in a vain attempt by the service economy’s participants to master nature, rather than accept and abide by the natural order. This harmful inversion is facilitated by believing money to be a concept rather than a physical object. It is a misguided notion that creates the illusions of prosperity and strips nature beyond its natural regenerative capabilities, one of the book’s many insights that no doubt will be of keen interest to everyone concerned about environmental degradation. But there is much more in this treatise on the natural order.
For example, there is the examination of voluntary human cooperation as recorded in Sumerian and Babylonian law, which explains a system of natural laws governing human interaction in a cooperative way that enables progress by achieving higher standards of living and the advancement of society. The purpose of the law was to simply record the natural money system that already existed and being used. From this law of the ancients we learn how they created an equitable monetary system with a level playing field for all participants in the economy, which stands in stark contrast to what prevails today as evidenced by the glaring disparity in wealth distribution. Nor can nature be tinkered with to obtain nominal GDP growth, which explains much of the environmental damage we are witnessing today.
"The Natural Order of Money" deserves attention from a wide audience willing to unlearn many of the fallacies and much of the misguided thinking prevalent today. By delving into first principles to analyse the differences and links between the real and service economies – which is the totality of human activity and effort – we gain meaningful insights into voluntary human cooperation and its relationship to the natural order. More importantly, it provides a wonderful explanation of how money is inextricably linked to the natural order, which is something not often taught in universities these days or well understood by political leaders, or indeed, the general population suffering from the consequences of inflation and other policies harmful to them and the environment.
"The Natural Order of Money" offers a complete debunking of the State theory of money by explaining how money is not an artefact of the State or something that is only useful because of enforcement by State power. Money is not a human-made invention outside of the natural order. Because economic activity is based in the first instance on the individual as a producer and consumer regardless of the State or other entities, money emerges from nature and is used by humanity just like other natural elements and their compounds are used – to enable individuals to improve their situation by which standards of living advance.
More to the point, money is a unit of weight that in pre-history became a unit of account useful in economic calculation as primitive humans learned that voluntary cooperation through the division of labour helped them to improve their life by better meeting their needs and wants. We learn why gold is natural money, and why only it provides an objective standard to measure progress and bind the wider economy to the real economy so that all economic activity is measured equitably and in conformity with the natural order.
"The Natural Order of Money" is a beautifully produced book that fittingly conveys its principal topics – the beauty of nature, humanity’s place within it, and the harmony offered to everyone when abiding with the natural order.