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Banks - Who needs them?

There are few places in the world more pointless than a bank. There are few compelled to toil more uselessly than bank employees. In every respect, the function of banks is to facilitate a form of exchange in which nothing is produced and much can be lost. A world without banks would be a wholly better place.

Under capitalism banks are temples to the secular god of Money. These temples have no time for obsolete rituals of prayer and worship, the fool's dances of a bygone age. In the bank capitalism does its business, in much the same way as a dog in the park does its business, and with remarkably similar effects. People in banks spend their time doing bizarre activities which seem to emanate from quasi-religious commandments. They fill in endless pieces of paper. They count pieces of paper and then recount them to be sure. The high priests sit behind unbreakable glass windows and the unclean feed them with more pieces of paper. There are machines built into walls which, upon revelation of secret numbers, pour out more pieces of paper. Upon these papers are written not one word of intelligible prose, less still poetry. These scribes of the bank are not working on writing dissertations, new equations or even their random thoughts. No, they fill in prescribed codes and figures and in return are given other papers, equally without content, which they guard with their lives.

Some enter the bank as wage slaves, there to count, shuffle and recount for a living. It is work so tedious that now they are training computers to do it so that the bank staff can be liberated to the dole queues. Some enter with grand schemes. These usually involve borrowing, a relationship which calls for much paper-filling, nail-biting and human degradation. Others enter with lost hope. They come to claim what they know is not theirs. They ask to have access to that which the bank machine will not give. They are full of excuses, promises and submission without depth to the petty gods of the counter. But they leave more often than not as dejected and poor as when they arrived. Banks are not there to listen to the cries of the needy.

Unlike the wretched churches of yesteryear, banks charge you for using them. The machine charges for pressing its buttons and the clerks now charge to answer questions about what has happened to your money. Of course, they will not answer very profound questions about where your money has been invested, the rate of profit and how it arises. But even a question about how much of your money they've got costs money these days. They even charge money to write you a letter telling you that you have no money. If they owned the pavements they would probably charge you for walking past.

Ah, the wonders of the internet! Now we can do our banking by computer. Bank employees can be sent to get jobs as walking puppets in the Dome while you key in your personal details and . . . clickety click: you're broke, buster.

Of course, it's not the sewers that are smelly and unclean, it's the crap. It's the same with banks. There's no harm in banks as buildings. Put a snooker table down the middle and turn the counters into bars and they could be quite jolly. Money is what stinks. Banks stink of money and money stinks of property—yours-mine-not yours. And because we live in a yours-mine-not yours society where few things are yours or mine, but most belong to a small minority who own and control the world, the stench of money prevails.

So, we need to abolish money before we can get rid of banks. But to get rid of money we need an end to property. And you can't abolish property relations until you abolish capitalism. Good idea. Let's abolish capitalism and live in a moneyless, propertyless world without bloody banks.