by Chris Mayer, Laissez Faire Books:
The standard version of how money came to be goes like this: First, there was barter. (A handful of nails for a pint of ale!) Then, along came various forms of money. An evolutionary derby eventually crowned gold and silver as the supreme money. And finally, credit (or debt) was born. This is the apex of man’s ascent from knuckle-dragging barterer to tie-wearing mortgage holder.
It’s a nice little story… except it’s completely wrong.
“Our standard account of monetary history is precisely backward,” writes David Graeber in Debt: The First 5,000 Years. “We did not begin with barter, discover money and then eventually develop credit systems. It happened precisely the other way around.”
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