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    7 Excellent Political Movements That Turned Money Into Media

    From the Romans to the Suffragettes, protestors have repurposed their money into political statements for centuries. The tactic is simple and provocative--used by activists who know that messages on money, which roams boundlessly while in circulation, essentially go viral.

    1. The Insane Roman Tyrant: Emperor Caligula

    forumancientcoins.com

    Many coins bearing the face of this unpopular Roman emperor were crossed out by his subjects. During Caligula's reign, his extravagance and self-indulgence led to a financial crisis. He claimed he was the Roman god, Jupiter, and whimsically killed innocent people out of boredom. In AD 41, after years of brewing ill will throughout his empire, he was assassinated.

    2. America's Plutocracy Dilemma

    stampstampede.org

    The stamped message on the dollar above reads, "Not to be used for bribing politicians" because increasingly, U.S. politicians seem to only represent the wealthy. After high-profile Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United opened the floodgates for unlimited money to influence American elections, the proverbial relationship between money and power grew more inseparable in the U.S.

    The political group, Stamp Stampede, is relaying messages like "Money is not free speech" and "The system isn't broken, it's fixed" on dollar bills in hopes of amending these court decisions.

    3. Iranian Activists Out For Victory

    payvand.com

    Iran's Green Movement began with the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 where vote-rigging was reported to have occurred. Protestors felt disenfranchised but with their media censored, they turned to their banknotes.

    The "V" stamp stands for “victory” telling the Iranian government that the Green Movement is unshakable and will not be stopped. The Central Bank of Iran tried to take the defaced bills out of circulation but there were too many and they ultimately gave up.

    4. Protestants Used Coins As Publicity Tools

    coinweek.com

    In the early 16th century, Christians grew concerned with Catholic priests gambling, drinking, and vending indulgences--paying a priest to ensure a place in heaven. They began a new movement called the Protestant Reformation. It was largely spurred by the German theologist Martin Luther, who opposed indulgences and famously combatted the many practices of the Catholic Church. Protestant princes would imprint their coins with designs related to their faith such as Martin Luther's face in order to increase awareness of Protestantism.

    5. Pro-Democracy Burma Vs. Military Junta

    vam.ac.uk

    In 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi was democratically elected as leader of Burma. The military junta didn't want to abdicate their power and put her under house arrest--angering pro-democracy activists. In order to curtail Aung San Suu Kyi's massive influence on the Burmese, they made it illegal to produce images of her.

    A currency designer working on a banknote featuring General Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi, decided to subtly portray her face on the bill by softening the general's facial features. This hidden portrait of her was a secret message defying the military--a rebellious move that went unnoticed by the authorities for months.

    6. Artists Occupy The U.S. Dollar

    occupygeorge.com

    Artists Ivan Cash and Andy Dao designed Occupy George stamps to use on money after being inspired by the Occupy movement. Occupy began in 2011 with the Occupy Wall Street rally in New York City and has now become an international outcry against economic inequality within many nations. Their widely known chant, "We are the 99%!" involves one of the group's main concerns: the wealthiest 1% of society growing even richer at the expense of the 99%.

    7. English Suffragettes Were Crafty

    britishmuseum.org

    The iconic suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and her group, Women’s Social and Political Union, used many approaches to cajole members of parliament into giving women the vote. They even carved pennies with "Votes For Women." They used pennies to propagate their demands for political equality since small change was less likely to be taken out of circulation. The penny above is from 1903 and is now featured in the British Museum as one of the selections for "A History of the World in 100 Objects."

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