chapter  11
40 Pages

Conclusion: The origins of money and how it came into being

Can the origin of money be known? One self-evident fact about money is that its existence is indisputable. There is a unanimous consensus among both laymen and scholars alike on this fact. They all agree with complete confidence that there is such an object as money. Except for this conviction everything else about money is controversial. There are those who see any attempt to get to the heart of the origin of money destined to fail. There are also those who think that it is a subject that is accessible to human reasoning. The school of thought that finds any search for the origin of money a fruitless venture conceives money either as a discovery or an invention – something that took place in some very distant past. The long distant time scale has been made liable for our inability to unearth the actual origin of money. This is because money like many other inventions and discoveries is “lost in the mists of antiquity” (Hirst 1933: 9 and Lipsey 1982: 580). Dismissing any attempt to explain the origin of money as a futile exercise is based on a number of flawed assumptions. The underlying assumption to this inference is regarding money either as a discovery or an invention. Either as an invention or a discovery, the creation of money is considered to be a sudden act. It implies that somebody at a very precise time and place encountered or invented money. In this sense it would be impossible to pinpoint the exact

individual who underwent this experience. But money is neither an invention nor is it a discovery. It is a process and not a momentary act. As a process we can identify and explain with a reliable degree of certainty the economic, social and legal preconditions that necessitated the origin of money. Can we tell the precise period of time when such conditions came into being? Whether we can or cannot is another subject of investigation that goes beyond the scope of this book. The conditions occurred in a very distant past but nevertheless they existed. In this we are certain and as these conditions existed, no matter how long ago, by virtue of this fact there is no reason for not being able to reveal the exact time and location of these conditions. The limitations are not, however, from a shortage of competency in our reasoning. On the contrary, they are caused chiefly by technical inadequacy and shortages of the time and resources required to achieve this mammoth task. It literally means treading back step by step through the history of the human race. The existence of money does not defy a valid logical deduction. There is an irreconcilable contradiction to the other side of conventional theory, one that perceives the origin of money as a matter that is knowable. In their paradigm the origin of money is essentially a detectable and explicable fact. The opposing inconsistency lies in respect to their detection of the origin of money either in one form of money or in one function of money. They either locate it in the origin of coins or in the medium of exchange function of money. Either way they discuss not the actual origin of money but two other issues that seemingly appear to be related to the subject of the origin of money.