If I lend you a hand I do not expect you to return a hand with interest. What I do expect is that when I need some help you would be willing to help me. That is how society functions.
The rich must not give up their riches. They are theirs to keep. However I would appeal to their good natures to see themselves as trustees of their wealth and lend their riches to others in their midst. I am talking about an ongoing cycle of voluntary extension of wealth to the unwealthy.
We know instinctively that we can not allow usury. Usury is greed and implementing greed (means) can only lead to more greed (ends). Means and ends are always and everywhere convertible terms. So usury can not be used to create something positive and ease suffering.
There has been a stipulation against usury in most cultures. In Europe, until the Middle Ages, that is to say until and including the gothic era, usury was not permitted. However what usury really is needs to be clarified. We may have an instinctive abhorrence of it and yet how is usury to be understood?
Usury in its original meaning only applies to interest paid on unproductive loans.* This is such an important point! Productive loans, such as those made to businesses through the bond markets, have always carried interest. That market is, and has always been very good at channeling savings to investors. We are not concerned with that here. What we are concerned about is these unproductive loans which need to be funded but are not funded in the usual markets.
I urge the rich to make wealth available to others for unproductive purposes in the form of interest-free loans. Unproductive projects and purposes could include
Simple social engagements such as marriages, funerals, and celebration of holidays
Creating organic farms
Creating small and local businesses
Performance, art-creation, music, and their teaching
Special projects undertaken in the spirit of swadeshi
*See for instance Hilaire Belloc's Economics for Helen.
Posted by Abhay Burjor Ghiara at 6/03/2014