Banking Wizardry in the Land of Oz

The original Wizard of Oz - an allegory about money?

The original Wizard of Oz – an allegory about money?

Among the blogs I visit from time to time is one produced by the British Museum. On my one visit to the actual institution, a section I overlooked was the Citi Money Gallery which apparently deals with the history of money. Sorry I missed it. Anyway, the museum blog informs me that their collection of money-related objects and artifacts includes a copy of L Frank Baum’s 1900 book ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.

Probably no one would be paying much attention to Mr Baum or his book these days if MGM hadn’t made a Technicolor film of it in 1939 – the company’s most expensive movie to that date. It wasn’t apparently a box-office hit at the time, losing the Oscar-winning race to ‘Gone with the Wind’. Television reruns in the mid-50s introduced it to a new audience, however, earning it a place in the hearts of post-war baby-boomer Americans, and 2014 marks the film’s 75th birthday.

That’s fine and dandy, you may say, but what’s the connection with the world of banking and finance? Well, according to the British Museum blogger, ‘some economists, politicians and historians believe that the story is actually a monetary allegory.’ Not that L Frank ever made such a claim himself. It seems that the theory only surfaced in 1964 when a high school English teacher, in a flight of fanciful literary analysis, claimed a connection between the exploits of Dorothy and her ragtag trio of traveling companions, and a short-lived late-19th century monetary theory known as ‘bimetallism’.

The film appeared in 1939 - A fable for the Great Depression

The film appeared in 1939 – A fable for the Great Depression

‘Dorothy’s silver shoes walking on a gold road,’ so the story goes, ‘could represent the two metals working together to provide a route towards a stable economy. . . Is the land called ‘Oz’ because this is an abbreviation of ounces, the standard measure for gold? Did farmers (the Scarecrow) need more business sense (a brain) to help them survive during a period of economic instability? Is the all-powerful Wizard really the President, who hides behind a smoke-screen of promises but in fact has very little actual power? Do the different locations of the four witches represent the geographical divides in America? Did advances in industry create automated production lines which reduced the workforce (or created workers with no heart)?’

Can’t you just see the blue-stocking students of that high school English Lit. teacher dutifully writing down all that nonsense, regurgitating it word-for-word in his end-of-semester exam and being rewarded with A+ grades?

The power behind everything

The power behind everything

Nevertheless, that blog post got me thinking. Maybe those guys in the pre-war MGM studio had some allegorical purpose of their own in mind. The United States and much of the developed world had been suffering through the 1930s the effects of a disastrous economic depression. Many perfectly reasonable people believed that the Great Depression, with its miseries of widespread unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, dispossessions, loss of savings, starvation, suicides and police brutality, had been a totally preventable event caused by the greed and selfishness of ruthless bankers and financial speculators. There was a powerful groundswell of opinion that saw a crying need for controls on the financial sector, and wanted governments to seize back the power to create their nation’s credit.

Give them the power and the result is a foregone conclusion

Give them the power and the result is a foregone conclusion

Now I’m not saying those people at Metro Goldwyn Mayer were actually taking a pot-shot at the banking industry – but to me the idea makes a lot more sense than that stuff about bimetallism and ‘Oz’ ounces. Maybe the all-powerful Wizard represents the international banking system which has the whole world under its control. We poor credulous citizens of the world are the Scarecrows, Tin Woodsmen and Cowardly Lions who pathetically believe in the magic of money and the mystical power of banks to solve all our problems. The Wizard (the bankers) use every trick, threat and weapon at their disposal to prevent anyone from challenging their power – while in fact they are really only sad old men fit for not much else but working in a circus. It is our credulity that gives them their power. Dorothy returns home to Kansas and lives (we assume) happily ever after – but sad to say it’s only another American dream.

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3 thoughts on “Banking Wizardry in the Land of Oz

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, thank you for sharing.

    However, Mr. Baum’s Oz stories were written as a series and then later adapted for the movie, thus the author’s allegorical hidden messages are indeed real and relevant.
    Even the efforts of MGM could not hide all of the layers of meanings and messages, of which changing Dorothy’s silver slippers to ruby red was one lost treasure. Yes the pun was intentional 😉

    I am grateful for the efforts of Mr. Bill Still with his important documentaries of money and national currency creation, as well as his “The Secret of Oz” money allegorical connections:

    below Bill Still is interviewed on Red Ice Radio
    http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2012/08/RIR-120823.php

    Bill Still continues to report on the money crisis as a activist to abolish the Federal Reserve System, and fractional reserve banking. Thus returning to creating currencies without the burden of banking debt.
    I have discussed the Oz in many formats, including this video I compiled:
    “UNPLUG: global wizards behind the curtains”

    Indeed, I thought the silver, gold, currency system of authoritarian rule and control symbology was amazing and that was all there was to the hidden gems in the Oz story.
    But how wrong I was!
    There is so much more information within the story, as all viewers of the video below will see.
    Did you know Mr. Frank Baum was a occult and esoteric researcher and self proclaimed Theosophist?

    “Everything I Neeeded To Know In Life, I Learned By Watching The Wizard Of Oz”
    Mark Passio’s video shares his research on Mr. Baum, and the esoteric Oz story.

    Merry Christmas, happy new year, and happy holidays!

  2. Wow! You’re way ahead of me on this one, Ron! Thanks for all those links, which I’ll try to work my way through. I liked your presentation about the ‘Global Wizards Behind the Curtains’. I see ‘Politifact’ has chosen the Ebola panic as ‘Lie of the Year’. Can’t help feeling that this and the ISIS hoohah are part of an orchestrated programme to create fear and justify a further clampdown on individual freedoms.
    Best wishes to you too for Christmas and the New year – and keep up the great work!

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