In high school, I once saw a poster with the quote that is attributed to Gandhi: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” This inspired me to think of an interesting hypothetical. In the future, people might start using eyes as currency. People would start tearing out eyes to sell, leading to problems with the reclaiming (like in Repo! The Genetic Opera) of eyes, self-mutilation, and a large rise in the worldwide assault rate. Soon enough, people would have to work hard to protect their own eyes and there would be much world turmoil over the eyes of celebrities, most likely causing an underground market in eyes, along with a large change in which countries are the world’s superpowers become those with the highest populations rather than those with the highest level of technology or militarization. Some people might get desperate enough to sell their own eyes, and with the potential for eye implantation, this could lead to all kinds of diseases and infections spreading faster. Crime and police brutality would be on the rise, and it would not be uncommon for street fights to start in which people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic backgrounds would be pulling each others’ eyes out. These gruesome scenes would become regular until the few people that have the worlds’ stocks of eyes hoard them dearly, being the ones with control over the hospitals and the most up-to-date technology and weaponry. Studies on language, humanities, mathematics, science, and the world would be ignored, as all of mankind would become immersed in a worldwide brawl for each others’ eyes. And in the end, we would not all be blind. Instead, all but a small number of us would be dead. Those select few would be the people who managed to keep out of the brawl, and those who won it. And, while it’s sad to say it, chances are it would be the end of mankind, as those people would be spread out across the globe. There would most likely be a gender imbalance, and people would be so used to the use of eyes as currency that it would take quite a while to get back to a reasonable system of living, most likely too long to save humanity. All that would be left would be horrible memories. And lots of mutilated corpses.
Looking back, with some new knowledge of how economics works (along with a couple other things), what obvious problems do I see with my scenario? Well, first and foremost, to have value, according to economics, a currency must have constant utility, low cost of preservation, divisibility, high market value in relation to volume and weight, and recognizability, all of which do not apply for eyes on their own, at least in the current day. Second, the scale proposed is unlikely. Surely the entire world would not change currencies to eyes, even if just one country did. Last but not least, any businesses that made money off of supporting the eye trade would generally make more than businesses that made money from anything else. I’m glad that this sort of situation is unlikely, though, as if all high school fantasies were reality, the world would be a terrifying place.