The first part of this review covers previous material. The second part is the rest of Farrell’s book. This is sort of a sequel to Babylon’s Banksters. It’s mostly excellent, though he does get into his anti-Yahweh speculation at times. I don’t think that is necessary to his thesis and it somewhat detracts from the book. On the other hand, his comments on the nature of mind, soul, and the Topological Metaphor are outstanding.
His thesis starts out that Giordano Bruno discovered the Topological Metaphor, which functioned as an information-creating medium. Applied to finance, this meant an open-ended system which had no need of debt or usury, and so he was killed. I actually think he was killed because he was a heretic, but I think the medium is basically correct.
1 = 3
Imagine an undifferentiated “No-Thing.” This isn’t “nothing” in the sense of non-existence. It’s rather like an empty hyper-set. Designate it with Φ. Imagine an empty rectangle. Now, we cleave this space. So now we have two spaces, “all that inside the circle, and all outside it” (Farrell 126). All of the space outside the circle will be the interior of space 1, designated as a topological “o” superscript above the Φ.
The space inside the circle is another interior, (2) Φ⁰.
And the common surface between the two, designated with an alpha
Now let’s look at what just happened. Remember we still have our empty hyperset (Φ). We now have three derivatives: the space outside the circle, the space inside the circle, and the common surface between the two. Thus,
Φ = (1) Φ⁰, (2) Φ⁰, and ɑΦ₁₂
Therefore, 1 = 3. I’m going to take this model in a radically different direction than does Farrell. He thinks this model represents an earlier way of thinking about the cosmos that predated Yahwist traditions. I’m skeptical of that claim, as some of Farrell’s positions have come under attack.
But the model itself is quite powerful, and it explains a way of looking at some difficult sayings by St Maximus the Confessor.
But back to Farrell’s argument. Because the above model is written in quasi-mathematical terms, and because it couldn’t exist without a conscious observer (or Mind), this means we have an information-creating system. This is a system that doesn’t reduce to a closed cosmos (and thus Aristotle is false).
Farrell says the hermetic occultist Giordano Bruno was advocating something like that. Maybe. The problem is that Bruno couched all of it in what we call New Age terminology, and that’s partly why he got burned at the stake. There might have been another reason why he got burned: he advocated a way of approaching the world, and particularly finance, that attacked the Aristotelian and (ironically) usurious system of the Venetians. Bruno thought he could tap into the primordial medium.
Farrell begins his alternative history of Venice. Earlier Roman authors like Juvenal suggested that there was a strong Babylonian influx in the Roman genetic makeup. Farrell suggests this Babylonian streak later went to Venice.
His reconstruction of Venetian history is interesting and probably accurate. Relevant to our purposes is the relation of “money” to the Medium. Farrell says that concepts like “debt” and “sacrifice” were illegitimate applications of the Medium/Metaphor (124).
Some societies were able to get around the debt-money concept by issuing Jubilees and promissory notes backed, not by bullion, but by labor and production (132).
Coinage introduced something new: it gave “order and rationality to multiplicity” (136). Bullion, especially when stamped, represents the unchanging, underlying substrate. It makes the users equal, and hence derivations of the metaphor. Person = some aspect of nature (137). Since this metaphor can differentiate without limit, there is no notion of debt (at least at this time).
The Fiction of the Corporate Person
The doctrine of original sin is related to the notion of infinite debt (146).
Eph ho pantes hemarton
KJV: for that all sinned
What is the antecedent of ho? Is it ho anthropos or ho thanatos? If we take the former, then we have a grammatical problem: reflexive pronouns refer to the nearest antecedent, not the farthest:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, because of the one man all sinned.”
The more literal translation:
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, because of death all have sinned.”
Death is passed to all men, not moral culpability (148). The Western doctrine of inherited guilt is based upon the doctrine of Corporate Personhood.
Latin Vulgate: en quo omnes peccaverunt.
Notes on Person and Nature:
I am a person. I have a soul. Therefore, we cannot reduce the person to the soul’s natural functions (reason, will, etc). Yet on the Vulgate’s translation, we have the following (151ff):
1. The Person of Adam (one man) sins.
2. Sin is a personal use of the natural operation of the will, common to all humanity.
3. The moral culpability of Adam’s willing passes to all humanity.
4. Therefore, the person is now connected both with the natural operation of the will and the common nature on the basis of one. One person (Adam) is now a group of people (humanity).
There is a superficial similarity to the Venetian supercompanies (153).
Is There an English Connection?
Maybe. Venetian bankers made a number of loans to Edward III (166ff). The rest of the book surveys numerous, often brilliant, strategies by Venetian clans concerning bullion. The connection is stronger than that. After the War of the Cambrai, Venice knew its days were numbered. Geographically, it was in a backwater and had no access to the newly-discovered New World (or India). Farrell traces the intermarrying into the Guelphs, who would later become the Hanoverian monarchs.
But Venice didn’t go straight to England. It stopped first in Amsterdam.
While shorter than his other books, this is somewhat slow-going. It is heavier on the history aspect His thesis seems relatively sound, and his musings on metaphysics and theology are top-notch.
5 thoughts on “Financial Vipers of Venice”
That’s interesting about Original Guilt: that theological concept, when secularized, is the conceptual root of current monetary policy. Reminds me of the Cardinal in Ivan Karamazov’s parable: it’s ok to sin, none will hold it against you, but know I hold the keys and, if I will, I can have you thrown into the pits of Hell. For Dostoevsky, that’s a Jesuit conception; for a Jesuit, and much of Latin based theology, that’s just God. The idea of pardon, or jubilee, is insane, and instead it has to construct the juridical-sacrifice complex to explain how Christ’s death paid something off (rather than cancellation). If we use the Random metaphor: God cheated Satan’s IMF by allowing mankind to default on their debts through a cosmic Jubilee.
But I find the point about corporate persons a bit nonsensical. Even if the Augustinian interpretation of Romans 5, and Original Guilt is false, it doesn’t mean that corporate personhood doesn’t exist. Clearly Scripture finds that to be the case; but then again, Farrell thinks the LORD is really an evil demiurge.
Farrell is just flat wrong in trying to tie all of these knots together. I’ve not seen any evidence, except circumstantial nonsense, that can actually tie Venice to the growth of England’s financial-service empire. The Rothschild spider did not happen because of Venice. The Hanoverians weren’t chosen because they were intermarried with Venetians; they were just happy to allow the Whig land-magnates to run their mercantilist system of capital exploitation.
He doesn’t deny corporate persons exist. He just says its unjust (or at least how it was back then).
Fun fact: David Rockefeller wrote his master’s thesis on Anselm as it applies to debt.
And again, England isn’t central to Farrell’s thesis. That’s something you keep bringing up. He mentions the Hanovers as an afterthought.
I brought it up because it appeared in a very short summary of the book. I guess that was for my sake from my last comment. It’s just bad history and terrible reasoning, which contaminates his investigation of things that many academic historians have missed/avoided (like the connection between alchemy and modern finance; though there is a newish book out on that by Carl Wennerlind).
All that very well may be true, but that is not Farrell’s reasoning. He doesn’t make that argument.