Decorated initial A

s Harari points out, money has often been called root of all evil, but he argues, be that as it may, “money is also the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any cultural gap, and that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation. Thanks to money, even people who don’t know each other and don’t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively,” because it is based on “two universal principles”:

a. Universal convertibility: with money as an alchemist, you can turn land into loyalty, justice into health, and violence into knowledge.

b. Universal trust: with money as a go-between, any two people can cooperate on any project. [186]

However, these two principles, which have “enabled millions of strangers to cooperate effectively in trade and industry,” also have a very dark side, for “when everything is convertible, and when trust depends on anonymous coins and cowry shells, it corrodes local traditions, intimate relations and human values, replacing them with the cold laws of supply and demand.” Whereas communities “have always been based on belief in ‘priceless’ things, such as honour, loyalty, morality and love,” things supposedly outside and immune to economics and economic laws, money — “like water seeping through cracks in a dam” (187) — insidiously erodes traditions, relations, and values.


Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind. New York: Harper Perennial, 2018.

Last modified 1 October 2021