No, not that virus. I’m not talking about the one that has swept across the globe in 2020, the teaspoon of complex proteins that has turned our world upside down, the one that means this year doesn’t look much better. No, I mean another virus.
This one has been around a lot longer and has been even more devastating. It’s growth has mirrored that of mankind, indeed you could argue that it has helped us to prosper, yet it is not as benign as you may think.
It may not have any feelings, any sense of purpose or any plans yet it is ruthless. It spreads its infection throughout society, seeping into the hearts of man, causing a sickness and lust that drives our behaviours, often for the worse.
It fuels envy and hatred. It divides people, societies, cultures and countries. It makes us covet what others have and causes us to barricade ourselves behind ever stronger defensive walls, lest others get at what we have.
Yet we worship it. We use it to satisfy our base desires. We promote it through political direction and social norms and at times it is hard to say who is the master, the virus or mankind.
It has mutated many times, spawning new variants, each more lethal than the previous yet all can still circulate. It started with barter, then metal and paper followed by commodity, fiat, fiduciary and commercial. It is everywhere, sometimes you can see it, even hold it in your hands and keep it in your pocket but most of it is hidden away, unseen, creeping through the economic veins of humanity. Its newest variant, crypto, could prove to be its most deadly, secretive, dark and poorly understood.
There is no vaccine, there is no cure and only the very exceptional are immune from its infection. I have kept its biggest trick to keep us all infected until last, what Einstein called the eighth wonder of the world, compound interest. ‘He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.’
Watch out, it is the world’s most deadly virus.