Loyalty is one of the most important values that humans trade in. As an ideal it has  nobility: a sense of purpose and unwavering devotion which play heavily into the feel-good factors for those in charge and their retainers; because of its ability to raise the way people are perceived socially from ordinary to the status of demigods it is considered beyond price. But in reality loyalty is always a currency.

Traitor is the epithet reserved for those who decide it’s time for a change of master. The penalties for treachery are severe, including the lasting label which, if it sticks, renders you unable to deal in the loyalty currency again. There are always people who will deal of course, you just have to change market.

But since loyalty is only a currency it would be stupid to treat is as an absolute binary. Everyone has their price and it is when the price of loyalty becomes too high on the collective stake and the personal stake or the rewards elsewhere too great that people will deal themselves out. Democracy is supposed to be one place where you can see this in action.

Because loyalty is an Unreal Currency – one entirely constructed by humans in their minds based on a primal instinct to group up with the best survival bet – it has a particularly high value socially. When it is mortgaged to something like a political party, a leader or a religion its leverage often outweighs individual value. It isn’t surprising that for survival reasons people will remain where their interests are not served when the buyout is so high. Everyone has multiple loyalty markets on the go. The complexity is high.

The most interesting point in Loyalty Trading is the tipping point where a person will cash-out. From brand loyalty to religion and national identity any union of identities in a loyalty bond is subject to the tipping point. It always pays to know where that is. I’m always astonished that people assume loyalty is a done deal forever and stop paying attention to these things.

By nature no deal is anything but conditional. If you want to be free of the constraints of loyalty you can’t identify with anything or anyone. You can escape downward to the One, our outward to the All, but anything between is subject to trading and you should pay attention to the price index.


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