The alternative right in general, and Kinists specifically, are hostile to what they call “usury”. I could list dozens of anecdotes, but Andy Clarke’s article “Usury, the Enemy’s Weapon of Choice” is typical. The same objections pop up in Faith and Heritage’s “Traditionalist Critique of Capitalism” by my friend David Carlton. Additionally, an author named S.C. Mooney gained notoriety for a few books aimed at monetary theory and a refutation of “usury.” I have his books but remain unconvinced.
By “usury” they mean the charging of any interest whatsoever on a loan. I acknowledge there are times when charging interest is immoral and dishonorable – when lending to a sick relative, for example. Day to day business loans, though? They don’t seem inherently immoral to me, but those are exactly the sorts of loans the anti-usury crowd objects to.
In defense, I’m not going to outline the economic benefits that come from the interest-industry; those sorts of pragmatic considerations are usually non-issues in the debate anyway. The argument is usually about morality and the inhumanity of the practice. I’d like to show, by offering an illustration, that if we believe a man has a right to his own labor (except when he’s been morally taken into slavery), then we ought not object to “usury.”
Andy Clarke was right about money:
In simplest terms money is a representation of our labour with its intended function as a means for exchanging goods & labour.~ From the National Anarchist article linked to above.
With that in mind, consider my illustration:
Imagine you own waterfront property and decide to build a boat ramp. You put a lot of time and labor into it. When you’re finished, you decide to charge people five dollars to use it. They happily comply, lining up by the dozens (there’s good fishing up the river a ways), and soon, you’ve not only made back all the money you spent, you’ve earned a profit besides. Over the next few years, you make lots and lots of money on the ramp.
This is where the anti-usury crowd steps in. “No, no, no!” they say. “You can’t exploit your community this way, it’s immoral! You’re earning money despite the fact that you’re not working for it!” In their minds, the boat ramp owner is sitting back, doing nothing, while greedily raking in the funds from his neighbors.
The anti-usury crowd might suggest this isn’t a real case of “usury”. “We mean money and bank loans, not boat ramps!”
Remember Andy’s description of money above, though: it’s a representation of labor. So imagine the boat ramp is, instead, a stack of bills – say, a million dollars. Whomever did all the labor to amass that amount has every moral right (it seems to me) to charge other people to use it, exactly as the owner of a boat ramp has the right to charge for its usage. If people don’t like the price, they can use a different ramp (or get a loan from someone else, as it were).
The anti-usury crowd might try altering the illustration:
Instead of an innocent waterfront property owner, what we have instead is a property owner who builds a boat ramp in a fishing village where everyone survives on fish. The only way they can get their boats in the water and catch the fish is by using the ramp built by that property owner. Now, it seems, we have a genuine case of an evil “capitalist” exploiting his poor neighbors for the sake of greed.
But what did we learn about supply and demand in economics 101?
Since the supply of boat ramps in the community is so small (only one, hypothetically) and the demand for it so high (all the community members need it to survive) then it drives the price of boat ramps sky high. With that sort of incentive, there’s bound to be some enterprising community member who figures out a way to either build another boat ramp, or who comes up with a viable substitute.
…the only way this doesn’t work is if the evil boat-ramp owner is in league with the government to suppress competitors or some such, but that’s a problem with the state, not usury, per se.
“Money”, in the end, is simply a vehicle of our labor and all of us (excepting slaves) have a right to our own labor, to barter with it as we see fit. This basic analysis lies at the heart of all my criticism of anti-usury arguments and I hope it helps clarify my position for my friends in the Alt. Right.