The god of money and his entourage
By Eilon Shamir | 31/12/2009
When the world wars had ended, the goddess of wisdom was dethroned and the gods of nationhood and power were subsequently removed. “Humanity was now confused. What could humans believe in? Since people had lost their faith in spirit, they turned to materiality.” Eilon Shamir shows us in this narrative why people now believe primarily in the power of money.
No one knows precisely when the father of all the gods, Mammon, was born.
Unlike the ancient gods, he was not part of inanimate nature. He derived his strength not from the sun, nor from the earth, nor from the heavens. He drew his strength from the source of incredibly immense power that is in human nature. Initially, humanity developed money as a social instrument and as a vehicle for realizing human ambitions. However, humanity soon started worshiping the god of money, who was just beginning to flourish. More and more people began to regard money as their goal in life – as something that was more important than love, or health, or even God himself. These people gave birth to the god of money, Mammon, in their hearts and proclaimed that he was now their king.
At first, Mammon was a young, hesitant god. Although he began to demand an area that he could turn into a kingdom, his regime was limited. He still had compunctions. In those earlier years, which are so distant from us today, Mammon was ashamed to subjugate all human beings to the realization of his goals.
He had rivals who limited his powers. Between Mammon and the goddess of wisdom there was considerable tension and there were many confrontations. This was the same goddess who had deposed God; furthermore, she was one of the most powerful of all the gods and goddesses. All humans worshiped her, writing poems about her and dedicating books of philosophy to her. They believed that, if they obeyed her commandments, humanity would soon see individuals who were generous and ethical. The goddess of wisdom ordered humanity to strive for liberty, she taught them that all human beings were siblings in one big, happy family and that they were all born equal. She gave them democracy. It was she who encouraged them to conduct research and to discover, develop and improve their own private universe. For this reason, she was greatly admired. Furthermore, she knew how to thwart Mamon's seditious plots.
However, her authority slowly but surely diminished. In her heart, she knew that, beneath the mantle of arrogant human wisdom, lurked powerful passions. That is why she was so strongly against skeptical statements and challenges, which, despite her opposition, were being voiced with ever-increasing frequency. Friedrich Nietzsche and other thinkers with a similar outlook filled her heart with fear and caused her great sadness. She consistently sought to refute their arguments with such declarations as “Human beings are essentially decent creatures!” and “Once people rationally understand what is truth, they will display this basic goodness in their actions!” But Nietzsche only laughed, saying to her, “Just wait, o goddess, just wait. You will soon see whether human beings really want equality and justice and whether they are willing to make do with the slave morality you have taught them.”
Human beings received science and technology from the goddess of wisdom, but their faith in her power to guide them toward good actions and to order them to follow a moral code was steadily declining. Wisdom was getting weaker with each passing day, as was clearly apparent from the absurd deaths of tens of millions of people in a single world war. However, the writing was on the wall before the Second World War and, by the time the war was over, the revolution in the kingdom of enlightenment had run its course. The great goddess was hurled from her throne by the gods of nationhood and power, and she never reascended the throne.
After the Second World War, the gods of nationhood and great power were also dethroned. Humanity was now confused. What could humans believe in? Since people had lost their faith in spirit, they turned to materiality.
Mammon, the god of money, was beginning to flourish and now revealed himself as a resolute, independent god. In order to create strong foundations for his kingdom throughout the world, he convened a council of gods on the roof of a New York skyscraper. None of the gods of nature was permitted to enter the new Pantheon. Like Mammon, all the new gods were created by the spirit of human beings.
Initially, Status landed on the roof of the building. Arrogant, proud and dressed in the latest brandname clothes, he immediately climbed onto the throne of the god of money. Mammon, with a gleam of pride in his eyes, laughed, assigning Status to another seat, which was higher than his. What was wrong with showing a little common courtesy to others? After all, Mammon knew that no dangerous disagreement could ever emerge between status and money, and thus he forgave Status for his little quirks.
Next came Dionysia, the goddess of hedonism and sex. She was incredibly sexy and she had a special quality: Whoever lusted after her imagined her as the realization of his dreams and desires, although she always remained herself – attractive and passionate.
She was followed by Tech, who was small and introverted. He was always creating something – a locomotive engine, a car, a computer, anything as long as it had nothing to do with his inner self.
In his wake appeared the goddess of beauty – wafer-thin, anorexic, and full of silicon in the right places. Magically, she always knew how to dress in strict accordance with the latest fashion trend as decreed by the world's leading fashion designers. Thus, at this meeting, when she landed on the roof of the skyscraper, she was wearing a glittering evening gown. A few moments later, she had on a close-fitting T-shirt and low-cut capri pants, but, after another few moments, she again changed her attire.
The entourage of gods was already used to her constantly changing identities; however, when the goddess of beauty arrived on the skyscraper roof, Dionysia tapped her right heel angrily and spat on the floor. “My sister!” she said, “your suffering is simply intolerable! When will you learn how to enjoy life? Why don't you eat some ambrosia and drink some nectar? You turn my stomach!”
The goddess of beauty gently nodded her head, her marble face shining in the moonlight, and tossed her perfectly combed locks of hair to one side in a derisive motion, addressing Dionysia, “My pleasure-seeking sister, I have not the least bit of respect for you. You may enjoy a moment's pleasure but you still do not know that, for the sake of beauty, one must suffer. I will have all the glory, not you, my dear!”
More and more gods and goddesses landed on the roof of the tall building, joining the celestial council.
It should be pointed out here that all these gods and goddesses were siblings – one big, open, pluralistic family. As in the ancient families of gods and goddesses, this family was characterized by open sexual relations. Thus, for example, Mammon slept with Dionysia, and their offspring were additional tiny gods – the god of fine cuisine, the one-night-stand Cupid and the god of the upper -upper crust. The new gods were welcomed by the Pantheon. The rule of money was based on the intensification of human passions and desires. As more and more gods of lustful passions were born, Mammon's regime became increasingly powerful.
And it grew painlessly, without any resistance from any quarter.
Mammon gathered the gods and goddesses about him, calling for silence. Then he addressed the crowd: “My dear brothers and sisters!
“We are a new force in the world and our power is daily growing. I look at you now and I see how fresh and strong you have become. But we have not yet achieved absolute mastery of the world. How do you think we can attain it?”
The goddess of wisdom moved into the inner circle. She was thin and old, and she looked very forlorn. In a cracked voice, she spoke to Mammon: “My audacious little brother, I will not let you take control of the world!”
Mammon made a sign with the little finger of his right hand, and the members of the celestial council tossed the goddess of wisdom off the roof; her body plummeted to a messy death on the pavement below.
Unperturbed by this event, Mammon continued, “There are certain obstacles in our path. For instance, we must clear away the vestiges of the joint regime of the goddess of wisdom and the god of the Hebrews. There is still some good in the human heart. Many people know how to sublimate their passions. There are still some traces of holiness in the world and people still strive to achieve equality for all. If we want to achieve absolute rule, we must destroy all these vestiges of the past. Can anyone here suggest how we can do that?”
The gods and goddesses assembled at this august gathering mumbled some incoherent words; they were embarrassed and, after a few moments, there was again total silence.
“This being the case,” continued Mammon, “I propose that we carry out the following plan. Just as we are the creatures of human wombs, we ourselves must create a new human spirit, and in our own image. The creation of the new human being will not be the responsibility of any single god or goddess. Instead, each of us will contribute his or her unique quality and all these qualities together will create a new human consciousness. The creation of the new Adam and Eve will not be a single, direct act. No, we must come up with an economic-cultural technique for this creation, a technique that will fulfill the mission that this new council will decide upon. The process of creation will be so sophisticated and so covert that most humans will be completely unaware of its existence. Thus, for instance, they will not sense that egalitarian democracy will slowly become an oligarchy where the leading financiers will be the rulers. Gradually, people will be less and less resistant to the changes and their passion for beauty, pleasure and status will grow daily. Competitiveness will be the keyword, and the new gods and goddesses will flourish and their power will steadily increase.
“There is a price tag, however,” he cautioned. “The single condition necessary for the imposition of the absolute rule of the council of gods and goddesses is that human beings will not worship these gods and goddesses directly. Human beings must not bring any gift-offerings to the celestial council. Open rituals of worship will expose the council to public scrutiny and will enable our enemies to attack us. The new gods and goddesses must be invisible and their power will only be felt in the so-called process of 'free choice.' Humans must never know that the temple of humanistic secularism that was the abode of the elderly goddess of wisdom has been taken over by our new council of gods and goddesses. In such a fashion, we will be able to ensure that the process of creating a new human consciousness can go forward painlessly and without any resistance.”
When Mammon finished speaking, there was complete silence.
Suddenly, the gods and goddesses assembled on the roof let out a huge, unbridled cheer of rejoicing that expressed their admiration for Mammon's profound wisdom.
And the members of the council then proceeded to carry out his plan.
NOTE:Eilon Shamir holds a Ph.D. degree in Jewish philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a lecturer in Beit Berl College's program in social Judaism.