Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Strozzi Exhibit Florence

I recently saw an exhibition in Florence at the Strozzi museum called Money and Beauty.  It showed the conflict of the Renaissance and Medieval world over issues such as money, banking, status and the collection and patronage of fine art.  During medieval times it was a sin for a Christian to collect interest (usury) on a loan.  A good Christian could not, therefore, become a banker.   On the other hand banking (and also medicine) was one of the few trades permissible for Jews in medieval society.  There was quite literally a "ghettoisation" of the banking industry as a result of medieval church teaching.

It seems to me that the "soapless" protesters of Occupy Wall Street (recently honoured by "Time" magazine) are nostalgic for a return to the rigid values of the medieval church.  They too yearn for a "ghettoisation" of banking and financial services.  They use "morality" as cudgel to pommel those whose existence and necessity they only dimly comprehend.

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