E. C. Riegel

Money power is War power




The state monopolistic power over territory and money are the cause of all large-scale evils.

Here are some excerpts from Riegel's Private Enterprise Money [1944] that are still relevant today.



We bring all our ills upon ourselves, including the affliction of war, through our ignorance of the laws of money which no government can alter or suspend.

The power which control of the money system gives to government to interfere in and direct and even take the life of the individual should not exist on this earth. No man or group of men is warranted in holding this terrible power over fellow men.

The present monetary system permits ambitious or designing or fanatical men who are in control of government to light the fires of war, threatening the lives and fortunes of untold millions. This terrible power lies solely in the political money system since armaments spring from money and money springs from government fiat, whereas it should spring only from the fiat of the people who would thus hold the veto power.


The war making power of the U. S. Government and of every other national government is beyond the control of their citizens solely because of the political money power. How could Germany, Italy and Japan have prepared for war except for the deficit-making or money-fabricating power? In short, how could any people be brought into aggressive war except by financial deception? Can war be planned or carried out on a cash basis unless the people are in favor of it? Certainly not. The money power is the war power; and the appetite for war in politicians is created by their frustrations in their domestic affairs—frustrations that are the result of the impossibility of operating a successful economy under the political money system. The political money system starves productive enterprise but finances lavishly the destructive activities of war.

If the government were obliged to come to the people for money instead of vice-versa, the people would keep government under control and operate their economy satisfactorily with prosperity and peace resulting. The peoples of the nations do not make war. For them peace is the natural and permanent order. Wars are planned and perpetrated by politicians and their diplomats; and the money power of government is the means by which the people are maneuvered into wars.

This does not imply that wars could not occur if the money power were exclusively in the hands of the people. It means that the veto power would be in their hands and the purpose of the war must be purely defensive, since it is inconceivable that they would finance aggressive war.

So, summing up, we find that the political money power makes constant economic war upon us; and, in the extremity of its frustrations, it takes our blood in military war. Old men suffer a life time of trials from it; young men suffer death at its hands.


But trade interferences are the minor evils of government. Its major evil is its war making power. Nothing could be more obvious than that peoples do not spontaneously rise against each other. They must be agitated by demagogues—but this is not enough. The demagogue must be in control of the government money power before he can effectuate his demagogy. All agitators first strive to get into political power—because, with that, comes the money power of government. Before the war precipitation the demagogue professes to be a man of peace, and is interested in military preparedness only “for defense.” Even the cost of this he dares not reveal to the citizen. He does not raise it by taxes; he “borrows” it—which is a method of creating money that the constituency does not understand. In the meantime the diplomats start the pot boiling—and in due time comes the incident that precipitates the war. Both before and during the war the public is not permitted to find out the cost of the war—and is even deluded into believing that it is profitable.

War is purely a politicians' game, and there is no natural basis for it. There is no people that wants to make war on any other people and, to bring a people into war, their own politicians must first deceive them and ensnare them. There is one way and one way only that this politicians' game of war can be defeated. This is to deny to government the money creating power, through which it frees itself from citizen control. We have heard war referenda advocated. It has never been tried—and would be a great embarrassment for war mongers—but it is conceivable that even this might be successfully maneuvered by a clever politician if he still controlled the money power. Take away his money power, however, and you have imposed upon him the unbeatable referendum. It would mean that every penny of expenditure—cash, pay-as-you-go—would have to be asked of and paid by the citizen. Thus every step would require his approval. There would be no camouflage, no illusion—and propaganda would have met its neutralizer. This is the war panacea; the formula for perpetual peace. Monetary disarmament is the only effective disarmament.


In the minds of all peoples fighting this war, there is a reserve resolve, once the external enemy is defeated, to deal with internal problems. Therefore, revolutions will follow the declaration of "peace." We too, must have a revolution. Let us have it with our minds rather than with our muscles. Thus we may set, for other nations, a pattern that will not only save blood but also valuable time in attaining release from existing and menacing evils. Such a universal pattern is possible, because there is a common cause of human tribulations, and a mental attitude that is alike in all peoples. The common cause of distress is the inability of people to monetize their own labor and thus work out their own economic and political freedom.


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