“Money is probably the most successful story ever told. It has no objective value: it’s not like a banana or a coconut that you can actually do something with. If you take a dollar bill and look at it, you can’t eat it, you can’t drink it, you can’t wear it — it’s absolutely worthless. We think it’s worth something because we believe a story. We have these master storytellers of our society, our shamans. They are the bankers and financiers and the chairperson of the Federal Reserve and they come to us with this amazing story, that ‘You see this green piece of paper, we tell you that it is worth one banana.’
"And if I believe it and you believe it and everybody believes it, it works. It actually works! I can take this worthless piece of paper, go to a complete stranger who I never met before, give him this piece of paper — worthless piece of paper — and he in exchange will give me a real banana that I can eat. This is really amazing, and no other animal can do it. Other animals sometimes trade, chimpanzees for example they trade, you give me a coconut and I’ll give you a banana, that can work with a chimpanzee.
"But you give me a worthless piece of paper and you expect me to give [you] a banana, that will never work with a chimpanzee! And this is why we control the world and not the chimpanzees. Because our common stories, our common fictions, enable us to cooperate on the economic or political or religious level in far more sophisticated ways than any other animal.”
—Yuval Harari on the Ezra Klein Show (Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/panoply/yuval-harari-author-of-sapiens-on-ai-religion-and-60-day-meditation-retreats/s-sHwK3)