Money. The root of all evil. When the current financial crisis took hold of those who didn't expect it last year I wasn't surprised. I didn't believe anyone who said no-one could have predicted it (because so many people had been practically screaming predictions) and I routinely said that the banks should have been left to go to the wall. What I find amazing is the fact that people think that this financial chaos is the exception. It is the rule for at least half the world's population. Financial Crisis? My whole life has been a financial crisis but by comparison I am secure and wealthy. I have known what it is like to run out of food and electricity and have no home, but I have always had friends and family to provide when I could not. For many, when they have nothing, neither do their friends, family or neighbours.

What has this got to do with photography? Actually everything. Money seeps it's greedy little debt stained fingers into every aspect of our lives and I wish we were all free from it. I recently sat a table with several photographers, one of whom said that the job of a photographer was difficult for many reasons and to be a good photographer often requires a degree of competence - expertise even - in a vast range of subjects. I wholeheartedly agree. One reason I love being a photographer is that it gives me an opportunity and excuse to learn about the world. A photographer - especially a photojournalist - should be hungry for knowledge.

Even more recently I sat at a table with other, non photographer friends (who joke when they see my cameras that they all have them on their phones so why do I need that hulking great antique thing...) and discussed many things, as old friends often do. Weddings, kids, sex, food, future plans, old exploits, jobs, politics, economics, rude jokes and serious intimate exchanges all formed part of the conversations happening at the table. It was a truly great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

A few days before that another friend lent me a book entitled 'Confessions of an Economic Hit man' along with the recommendation that it is "Fucking Amazing". That recommendation was served up again at the table that Sunday, which prompted a discussion that lead to debate on the current financial situation and the possibility of an alternative system (They do exist).

Today I sat down to watch Zeitgeist Addendum. A documentary that I truly recommend. My hatred of money is once again fueled.

So what has this all got to do with photography again?

I want to make the world a better place, for myself, for my family, for my friends and - fuck it - for everyone else as well. Why not. The real question should be:

"How the hell do I use photography to do that?"

Step One: Identify the problem....


Oli said...

I like this post but surely it's "People, the root of all evil?". Money can be used for good but that doesn't suit a lot of people's aims so it becomes the root of all evil I agree but it can't do that on it's own, it needs man to manipulate it to that end.

Stan B. said...

Somehow, I only got Step One of your post...

Although some will (rightly) argue that photography has lost much of its potency, it's still effectively used for drawing attention to a local crisis, wherever in the world. The money "thing" however, is well beyond its reach. Even armed insurrection offers up dubious if not catastrophic results of its own making (see The Baader Meinhof Complex, or that thing called Communism). Let's face it, here we are in a brand new century with a brand new "forward looking" president, and what happened when the banks collapsed all around us... did we say, "This is obviously a very flawed, failed and antiquated system that needs to be seriously overhauled or completely revamped." Or did we simply prop up the dying dog for a few more barks at a passing car?

Is there no way out of it then? There sure is, and it's pretty much guaranteed- and not very pretty:

Tom White said...

Oli - Sure money can be used for good, but the monetary system in itself is fundamentally based upon the repression of the many for the benefit of the few. I remember an address made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon last year in reference to the Millennium Development Goals. He told a meeting of business executives on the side of the General Assembly that if the United States could promise $700 billion for Wall Street in one week, then the $72 billion (FROM ALL MEMBER STATES COMBINED) should not be such a stretch.

So, whatever good money is used for is far outweighed by the evil. And that is ignoring the inequality and oppression inherent in the system.

I do not believe people are born good or evil, but it is the environment and society created by them that defines their actions as such. Our current societal system, based as it is upon a monetary system, definitely allows for evil to be done and moreover even rewarded by that very system. Is that our own doing? Yes. Can we change that? Yes. Are we evil? We can be. Can we be good? We can be. We have that choice.

Stan, Step Two requires more than a I'm sure you know...