Money and Values

Aug 5, 2019 by

The lecture by Dr. Bernd Villhauer, Money and Moral, provided unconventional conversations and an overview of philosophical, cultural and religious thoughts on how humanity can shape economy. They managed to portray their ideas in a concise manner and illustrated them through visual references. Finally, they recommended further literature, like Money by Christian Felber and The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance by Brett Scott.

Dr. Bernd Villhauer opened their lecture by presenting us their intention to not memorise content, but rather empower us to think with our mind to form our opinion in economics. In line with this intent, they provided us with the framework on ethics as a study of principles, related to what we believe or what we should believe to be good or bad.

In addition, they outlined that, humanity has moral obligations compared to other living beings or things shaped by interconnection of our value system, highlighted in the Golden Rule: Do onto unto others as they would have done to you.

We reflected and agreed that money is not just a means to an end, but receives its value through our decision on how much we place “value to it”. As a result, it can fuel power and influence on a global scale. Humanity can give value to anything they want, from natural resources to a man-made item or other living beings. It can be invested to do good towards a better economy depending on the person or community values, or on the contrary, to destroy the environment be it living or non-living things, material or non-material like our human consciousness.

For example Dr. Bernd Villhauer mentioned that human-beings are special. Special, depending on the mindset listening, a narrative for some, could be interpreted that humanity is superior towards other species, this is not the intent of course. They corrected this, by stating that, “every life is adorable and is equally important.” Human-beings have a special ability to communicate worldwide, a sharing community through an intercultural connection. This doesn’t mean that life of a human is more important than the life of, for instance, a dog.

According to that narrative, humans have a special connection to what feels right and what feels wrong. Some call it a conscious choice, a creative thought or freedom. These interconnective thoughts and feelings if in line with peace, justice and truthfulness, could have the possibility of forming a peaceful economy without war, hunger and injustice.

In the current economic system locally or globally, there are various versions of monetary means that humanity has identified to be of value as a form of exchange, these include: regional money, private money, money for the common good, virtual money and time banks. These were great examples of how humanity in its special conditions can create almost any form of money exchanges.

On the contrary, there are also monetary exchanges such as human trafficking occurring in the so-called black market. Though we know such acts are inhumane, these unethical monetary exchange are happening because certain mindsets driven by power are accepting this negative contributors in our economy. Dr. Bernd Villhauer, states that humanity shapes the economy, with our moral decisions, based on our moral philosophy. Therefore again, if humanity can create this negative mindset, we also have a chance to collectively choose to shape our economy based on positive thoughts and values.

As we moved on from the ethical monetary information exchange, we were split into four groups given a topic to build a BoKUtopia economic concept according to the following four ideas: No Money, Money for the Poor, Free Market, Ecological Money. The outcome is displayed in the photos below. 

The result proved that, when students or communities become empowered to congregate, create and develop a concept, they were able to make decisions morally using non-monetary means of exchange. They formed common good values built on trust and respect within the local community.

So the moral of the lecture is, though humanity might be the biggest natural factor on earth, we are special because we have values to make changes to our economy if we “choose” to accept the right means to shape us. So choose to think and do good.

Written by: Olivia Di Meglio & Connie Samaniego

Based on the lecture “Money and Moral” held by Bernd Villhauer during AEMS 2019.