A Theory of money
In modern times, a theory of money is inevitably a theory of society. Starting around 1600, societies became markedly monetarized: in regards to their necessities of life, the way people interact with one another and how people thus develop. The thing that money is, the calculations through which it exists, the numbers with which it is measured – these are the aspects which considerably concern the people under this kind of monetarization. However, no matter how powerful their effect, taken in isolation, they do not tell anything about this money. The fact that it possesses such great a power, through numbers and calculations, is not rooted in the things itself but in the specific social context with which it is connected and from which it derives its power. Grasping money in a theoretical way, therefore, first and foremost calls for a theory of this context.
In modern times, a theory of money is inevitably a theory of society.
A theory of this “Society of Money” is lacking. It is not non-existing but it would need to be driven forward more intensively than hitherto. Particularly in the aftermath of the recent financial crises, much research is being conducted on the economic-technical topic on how money works. A Nobel Prize is awarded in economic sciences, and it was funny to see that last year’s prize went to three individual economists who provided differing answers to the question as to what moves financial markets: as a matter of fact, no finding was honored here but the narrow-minded idea that a question of this kind could be answered solely with economic considerations, hence without taking account of the social and political-economical content of these markets. Measured by the scope of this research, there is only vanishingly little thinking done on this very content.
A theory of this “Society of Money” is lacking.
Yet such theoretical effort is very much called for. Throughout the world, the damages and the unbearable conditions which have been caused and enforced by a monetarized economy, already exceed any tolerable limit. There are very many criticisms but all concepts of how to change and mend any aspect of it remain strictly within this economy which enforces these conditions and has not generated them by pure chance. On the one hand, this means that this economy in itself – and this constitutes the “Society of Money” – is not permeated sufficiently enough to reveal these constraints. On the other hand, it also means that any thinking is also subject to these constraints in a way that prevents deep reflections. Generally, theory may not achieve that much but if any results are wished for an adequately permeating theory becomes necessary.
Yet such theoretical effort is very much called for.
It has to be broad, follow a multi-faceted approach, and be cross-disciplinary not just in an academic sense. In the sphere of universities, cross-disciplinary approaches rarely reach beyond the lectures that the members of the largely unconnected disciplines hold for each other. Instead, it would be necessary to form a co-operation by means of a more direct and more intensive communication in a significantly broader field – and money is a very broad field indeed. This is the field in which Aldo Haesler has been working for a long time now, searching the diverse disciplines for fruitful insights and findings, gathering them and trying to put them into their integral context. To him, this context necessarily includes both the abstract mathematical characteristics of money, with its quasi purely objective behavior, and the quite powerful equations the monetarization finds deep within the subjects. Undoubtedly also part of the latter is the “entrepreneurial self”.
It has to be broad, follow a multi-faceted approach, and be cross-disciplinary.
A theory of money has to probe into the conditions constitutive for the modern subject. The enormous objective power of money in a monetarized society corresponds to an equally enormous power it exerts over the thinking of the so-socialized human being – reaching as far as the constitutive shaping of this thinking. This is why a social theory of money imperatively calls for a “Genealogy of Subjectivization”. Related to this is a far-reaching conclusion that has been drawn by Eske Bockelmann: its historical point of change harking back to 16th/17th-century-Europe, the socializing through money demands from the people an exactly specified, arbitrarily achieved way of thinking: a way of thinking based on functional abstraction. It finds expression in major achievements such as modern scientific thinking, as its starting point after 1600. It – and at the same time its limitation as a result of the socializing function of money – also gave rise to our notion of the “subject” in the first place: this becomes most tangible in the subject/object-concepts of modern philosophy. Directly caused by the monetarization of society and effective also in the reflexes of sensory perception, this way of thinking, therefore, exhibits both the exterior and the interior of modern society and its “subjects” as being in direct contact with another already. In order to investigate the varied information which results from the instrumentarium of this finding, it is vital to combine the efforts of the relevant thinkers – to arrive at a permeating Theory of Money.
The conclusion drawn by Eske Bockelmann: the historical point of change harking back to 16th/17th-century-Europe, the socializing through money demands from the people an exactly specified, arbitrarily achieved way of thinking: a way of thinking based on functional abstraction.