“Money is a game” – Alan WATTS

Why do we see money as so important? In this lecture, Alan Watts gives us a different way to look about money, and life.

I wonder often if there’s any relationship between guilt and gold – that the love of money is the root of evil. It’s a very true saying. Because you see I was saying yesterday that the difference between having a job and having a vocation is that a job is some unpleasant work you do in order to make money, with the sole purpose of making money. And there are plenty of jobs because there is still a certain amount of dirty work that nobody wants to do and that therefore they will pay someone to do it. There is essentially less and less of that, that kind of work because of mechanization. But if you do a job, if you do a job with the sole purpose of making money, you are absurd. Because if money becomes the goal, and it does when you work that way, you begin increasingly to confuse it with happiness – or with pleasure.

Yes, one can take a whole handful of crisp dollar bills and practically water your mouth over them. But this is a kind of person who is confused, like a Pavlov dog, who salivates on the wrong bell. It goes back you see to the ancient guilt that if you don’t work you have no right to eat; that if there are others in the world who don’t have enough to eat, you shouldn’t enjoy your dinner even though you have no possible means of conveying the food to them. And while it is true that we are all one human family and that every individual involves every other individual… while it is true therefore we should do something about changing the situation.


We shall never praise the utopias sufficiently for having denounced the crimes of ownership, the horror property represents, the calamities it causes. Great or small, the owner is corrupted, sullied in his essence: his corruption is projected onto the merest object he touches or appropriates. Whether his “fortune” is threatened or stripped from him, he will be compelled to a consciousness of which he is normally incapable. In order to reassume a human appearance, in order to regain his “soul,” he must be ruined and must consent to his ruin. In this, the revolution will help him. By restoring him to his primal nakedness, it annihilates him in the immediate future and saves him in the absolute, for it liberates—inwardly, it is understood—those whom it strikes first: the haves; it reclassifies them, it restores to them their former dimension and leads them back to the values they have betrayed. But even before having the means or the occasion to strike them, the revolution sustains in them a salutary fear: it troubles their sleep, nourishes their nightmares, and nightmare is the beginning of a metaphysical awakening. Hence it is as an agent of destruction that the revolution is seen to be useful; however deadly, one thing always redeems it: it alone knows what kind of terror to use in order to shake up this world of owners, the crudest of all possible worlds. Every form of possession, let us not hesitate to insist, degrades, debases, flatters the monster sleeping deep within each of us. To own even a broom, to count anything at all as our property, is to participate in the general infamy. What pride to discover that nothing belongs to you—what a revelation! You took yourself for the last of men, and now, suddenly, astonished and virtually enlightened by your destitution, you no longer suffer from it; quite the contrary, you pride yourself in it. And all you still desire is to be as indigent as a saint or a madman.

CIORAN, “Mechanism of Utopia”, History and Utopia (1960)