151. Obstruction (II)
Nassim Taleb speaks of “fuck you!” money; the idea behind this is that once a person achieves a certain amount of financial security they can say what they really think and feel. The man with “fuck you!” money is self-owned; for Taleb he is the man who will tell the truth about any issue, as opposed to the polite lies that most people get from bureaucrats and public intellectuals. The monied man can literally say, “Fuck you!” He is not a man of ideology; he just wants money—he relies on the market mechanism to sniff out lies or malfunctional ideas. The figure of Donald Trump comes to mind when we think of “fuck you!” money. At least part of Trump’s appeal is that he says things other people would be afraid to say in case they lost their job; they are owned by their reputation in a large bureaucracy, whether corporate or state.
Taleb is wrong about “fuck you!” money; perhaps it is because he is Levantine—a typical merchant, just like the Jews and the Armenians—that he conceptualises success and frankness with a large wodge of cash. In actuality, money does not buy a person a secure position from which to speak the truth: money—just like any personal possession—can be taken from you in an instant, no matter how wealthy or influential you are. It is true, in contemporary Western society, that money insulates a person and allows them a greater sphere of action and speech than the average corporate drone, but this is not enough to secure honest and truthful speech; even a man like Donald Trump has seen his fortune decline as a punishment for his speech—and the managerial state daily searches for a pretext to confiscate his wealth altogether.
The Jews have learned, to their cost, that money (even “fuck you!” money) is not real power; as Arendt observed, money and advanced social positions did not help the Jews when the Nazis arrived: real power lies with those people who can hold a gun to your head and take your money—that is the real “fuck you!” power. Wealth and reputation can always be taken. To possess these without the ability to break teeth—an ability the Jews lacked in the diaspora—merely causes people to envy and hate you. Ultimately, man only understands the stick: money is nothing—behind the stick is the story that men die for; therefore, it is always the priest who rules society. What was the difference between the Chinese soldiers on Tiananmen Square and the East German soldiers before the mob on the Berlin Wall? One group adhered to their cause and shot without hesitation on their own people; the other did not, and did nothing. One man who has absolute conviction in his cause can turn the tide of battle; no such East German soldiers existed, they had silently revoked their faith in the system years before.
This is why Taleb does not tell the truth about IQ or race; he knows that his fortune and reputation would be instantly crippled by the managerial state if he did: the phone would stop ringing, the big publishers would back out. Hence money will never truly let you say, “Fuck you!”
To be a truth-teller or extremely honest is, at base, a spiritual position: it is an orientation towards death, like a soldier—a soldier for God. It is only people who know that life and death are the same thing who cannot be manipulated or bullied out of telling the truth; only death is real, only the sayings of the wise will remain—there is nothing you can take from us. The rich man has something to lose, something that can be taken from him—as does the man who cares about his reputation; they are owned. It is only a man who is orientated towards death and God who can really say “fuck you!” to other people or the mob.