Do you know the origin or history of every idea you possess, every assumption you make, every skill you use? No, you don’t. And for most notions you hold or solutions you deploy, it would probably be a waste of time to find out.
Sometimes, what matters most about an idea is not its history but how its relevance and use applies to the matter at hand. Where it came from, who developed or discovered it, and how many iterations it had gone through–most of that is secondary to its what it can do for us now or how it can inform us of our current situation.
An old and obscure text titled The Bankers’ Manifesto of 1892 has been floating around on a few internet sites. It was supposedly revealed to the US Congress by Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh sometime between 1907 and 1917.
Any sources beyond that claim to verify the text are not to be found. A few sites have criticized the manifesto’s relevance but have fallen short of claiming it inauthentic.
The truth is that we don’t know who wrote it, why they wrote it, or how many bankers of the period have seen it or let alone agreed with its contents or partook in its writing.
What is important is the mode of thinking that it reveals and how such thinking holds true today as it did in 1892.
Whether this piece was an authentic manifesto outlining a nefarious power move on citizens and institutions, or whether it was a prank or a fake, the reality of today’s banking system reflects the conspiratorial spirit and machinations set to print in this 1892 document.
If the Bankers Manifesto was written in or around 1892, it would have been written against the backdrop of railroad overbuilding, high wheat prices, and a European run on gold–an indirect consequence of Baring Brother’s failed investment in Argentina (a coup in Buenos Aires disrupted European investment). In the US, the Panic of 1893 was just about to set in, sparked by a collapse in wheat and other international commodity prices.
The Bankers Manifesto begins:
“We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will, therefore, show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.
Here we see an acknowledgment of an elitist class–not such an uncommon thing among organized institutions and government. We also see the “prudent” awareness of the value of PR.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen many instances in which banks seemingly align themselves with these two principles. The most visible maybe Wells Fargo, simply because they don’t seem to mind the bad publicity (the violations below taken from Yahoo):
- September 2016: Fake account scandal
- March 2017: More fake account scandals
- August 2017: Lawsuit over overcharging small business retailers
This is just a short sample of all Wells Fargo’s fraudulent activities and ethical violations.
Yet Wells Fargo’s message is filled with phrases that are “yielding to the popular will” or the expectations of the public:
Innovation. Security. Convenience.
Building better every day.
The manifesto continues:
“The Farmers Alliance and Knights of Labor organizations in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.”
Unlike the late 19th century, organized labor may not be the banking industry’s biggest opponent or threat. There’s no conspiracy against socialistic institutions.
Instead, there’s the “disruption” of the general public–as in JPMorgan’s manipulation of gold and silver prices, bank lobbying within the government (notice how banks have gotten away with many fraudulent activities by paying only minor penalties?), government regulation in favor of banks (the Orderly Liquidation Authority), and of course, the biggest swindle of all, the central bank’s ability to manipulate the money supply.
The following sounds a bit draconian:
“When, through the process of law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.”
But if you think about it, to what degree does the Federal Reserve hold the power to “engineer” and “resolve” economic recessions through monetary policy–easing and tightening the money supply?
In a free-market society, the “market” dictates prices, and prices indicate current supply and demand conditions.
If interest rates are not subject to the market influence, but rather, to central bank manipulation, then certainly no such free market exists.
Banks cannot directly cause “the common people” to lose their homes. But in a way, if the central bank manipulation of interest rates can cause the economy to expand or contract, then are citizens not at the mercy of the Fed?
Should one “elite” institution have the right to hold that much power? If you agree, then you’ve become subject to the goals that the manifesto aimed to achieve.
This next paragraph is pretty telling:
“History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.”
It’s amazing how many US citizens hold the oval office responsible for the national economy without once considering the role that the Federal Reserve plays in artificially manipulating the economic cycle.
It’s as if the Fed operated invisibly in the eyes of average Americans. Hardly any president besides President Trump has called out the Fed for what they are and the damage they can do.
Average Americans are, more so today than in decades past, “kept in a state of political antagonism,” to such an extent that they often can see the real culprit behind the economy, or even the artificiality (paper money) behind what once constituted “sound money.”
“By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete actions, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.”
For many Americans, particularly those who weren’t around before 1971, they’ve accepted the idea that gold and silver are antiquated forms of money. They’ve accepted the central bank’s role in manipulating the money supply as “the way things are supposed to be.” Many have bought into the idea that convenience, modernization, and prevention of illicit activity are compelling reasons to do away with physical cash (the War on Cash). Many gold and silver investors believe that fungibility and standardization are reasons enough to allow the banking industry to monitor their private precious metals holdings (CUSIP). And almost all Americans with bank accounts have no problem with the likelihood of their assets being confiscated and utilized in the event of a national emergency (Orderly Liquidation Authority) as long as the “confiscation clause” is buried deep within the dense volume of legislation (Dodd-Frank).
Whether the Bankers’ Manifesto of 1892 is a real document or not, it doesn’t matter–for mainstream America, the bankers have won.
Here’s the full text of the Bankers’ Manifesto of 1892: