A Conversation with Antal Fekete – Introduction

Oops. Now I’ve done it. I’ve asked Professor Antal E. Fekete, a professional mathematician and long-time researcher of monetary gold dynamics, for an interview and he agreed. What was I thinking? Had he rudely declined because his time is precious and he would rather spend it doing something more productive, such as chewing on tin foil, I would be off the hook, self esteem intact. But noooo… he just had to be polite and say yes. Now what? I think English is, like, the man’s 23rd language, and I can barely, like, conversate in one. And what in God’s creation am I going to ask about? Um, Antal, what color is gold?

How did I get myself in this position? (Oh yeah, now I remember: “Max Photon” is a sad little reaction formation to my being rather dim.)

Wait, I can do this! After all, I earned a degree in geophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, where I learned about dynamics by taking a zillion math and physics classes (+/- one class). And did I not also earn a masters degree from the (in)famous Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, as it was so named before the Gold War, when gold and silver coin circulated freely and promises were honored? Sure the only times I ever heard “gold” mentioned at Wharton were when The School marketed ad nauseam its departments and programs and faculty as “the global gold standard” in whatever it was pushing. Never mind that if one brought up in class the virtues of, and the U.S. Constitutional requirements for, monetary gold and the gold standard, Special Forces would come crashing it and render the financial terrorist to Goldtanamo, only to be water-boarded into submission using the liquidity claptrap. It’s not like the Constitution was written a block away from Wharton or anything. (It was two blocks.) Now, with quality exposure like that, how can I not be versed in coin, credit and circulation?

So what are my motivations for wanting to interview Antal Fekete? Well the good professor is 83. (Don’t let that fool you; he has all the spunk, sass, and verve of an 82 year old.) In my humble opinion, which is always correct, Fekete has produced an invaluable body of work. His writings about the gold standard are the gold standard. (Is it not ironic that “gold standard” is used universally to mean “the best,” yet the real gold standard is considered the worst?) And while I feel Fekete’s writings on monetary gold dynamics are secure for future generations to tap into as they pick up the pieces after a total global financial collapse, I am concerned that the man behind the genius will be lost, and that would be a terrible shame; a man and his work are inseparable, and knowing about the man greatly amplifies the value (and beauty) of his grand opus. So rather than reading about future biographers’ guesswork, I would rather hear about Fekete from Fekete himself.

Another motivation for wanting to interview Fekete is that I have to think that our chrysophillic mathlete, being in his twilight years, has countless projects he wants to finish, articles he wants to write, concepts he wants to teach, stories he wants to tell, people he wants to flip off, and not nearly enough time to get to it all. The Great To-Do List only gets greater. I hope to coax him to share with the world that which he has not had a chance to get to yet, if not in detail, at least in outline. A popcorn trail is better than no trail at all.

Perhaps my greatest motivation for wanting to interview Fekete is that I am totally pissed off. Here is a man who has devoted his life, with little financial gain and even less professional recognition, to produce a most generous body of work about a topic that affects everyone on earth: money. By “generous” I mean that every fiber of his being and every day of his life has been offered to illuminating, to teaching, to helping. His ethics and morals as a teacher are beyond reproach. His writing, even just from an artistic standpoint, is truly splendid. His reward? People, who themselves have produced nothing, who don’t even read his work — let alone meet him half way in understanding it — besmirch him as a monetary crank, then run, too cowardly to meet him head-on in debate, for they know deep down that he will crush them. Even the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the site LewRockwell.com, both strongly devoted to promoting the return to a gold standard, put out smear pieces on Fekete that stoop to straw man and ad hominem arguments, yet refuse him any chance of rebuttal. Hit-and-run is a serious intellectual crime.

Let me give you an example of a crank caller giving Fekete the shaft. Here is an excerpt from one Philip Pilkington, in his post What Constitutes a Monetary Crank? Pilkington scribbles:

“Antal Fekete is what I would consider a hardcore money crank. In his poorly written work The Gold Standard Manifesto: “Dismal Monetary Science” Fekete writes:

Governments and academia have utterly failed in discharging their sacred duty to provide a serene environment for the search for and dissemination of truth regarding economics in general and monetary science in particular. This failure has to do, first and foremost, with the incestuous financing of research ever since the Federal Reserve System was launched in the United States in 1913… Under the gold standard government bonds were the instrument to which widows and orphans could safely entrust their savings. Under the regime of irredeemable currency they are the instrument whereby special interest fleeces the rest of society.

… Unknown to the public, at the end of the day the shill is obliged to hand over her gains to the casino owner, alias the United States Treasury. There is nothing open about what is euphemistically called ‘open market operations’. It is a conspiratorial operation. It has come about through unlawful delegation of power without imposing countervailing responsibilities. It was never authorized by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. It defies the principle of checks and balances. It is immoral. It is a formula to corrupt and ultimately to destroy the Republic.

“Such passages are pretty off-the-wall. The money system is portrayed as a vast conspiracy set up to defraud widows and orphans. Here we see that Fekete is far more hardcore than Rothbard. Whereas both agree that the government “meddles” with money and this is undesirable and leads to some sort of personal injury, Fekete goes one step further and portrays the system as an organised conspiracy set up against the vulnerable.”

Oh really, Mr. Pilkington? You consider it off-the-wall to describe our monetary system as an organized conspiracy? Or that it is set up against the vulnerable?

Well I guess Pilkington would have to label former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1987-2006, Alan Greenspan, the most extreme hardcore money crank of all time! In Greenspan’s article Gold and Economic Freedom, the Maestro writes:

“An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense – perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire – that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other.”

“… the opposition to the gold standard in any form – from a growing number of welfare state advocates – was prompted by a much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.”

“In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold… The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.”

“This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”

So much for Pilkington. And his grandparents.

Attacks on Fekete are not always so overt. I was shocked to see that even Fekete’s once substantial Wikipedia entry, which I went to reread before writing this post, has been entirely deleted (but reposted here) because his detractors lobbied that he has produced nothing “notable.” There are Wikipedia entries for Big Bird the Muppet, Hulk Hogan the pseudo-wrestler, and Kim Kardashian the … well I have no idea what she is. But the man who has presented the world with the only coherent theory of interest, among many other incredible contributions, has been “feketed out.” (Fekete means black in Hungarian.)

So gentle readers, if I, Maxwell C. Photon, founder of the Illuminati, can live up to my name and lighten up the blackness — if I can in any way help you to see what a great and loving human being Antal Fekete really is, and more importantly, how valuable his message is to you, your family, and future generations — I will consider my risk of looking the fool a small price to pay.

Stay tuned for the first installment of my conversation with Professor Antal E. Fekete. My hope is that you will find it both fun and fascinating, and that it will entice you to turn off your TV, delve into every article ever written by the man, and open your eyes.

Total enlightenment ahead! (Bulb not included.)