Money should have a flavor

How to start a contempary reflection about money, a reflection that should both instruct and entertain because it is bound to the format of a blog post, because it will live as an entry among millions on an internet website with a narrow time window of readership that extends not much further than two weeks after its dates of publication? How to write a reflection about money in such a volatile and futile medium like a public digital diary?

Thank you for recognizing the analogy between writing and money here, whose ultramodern dematerialisations we consider in what follows. Jawohl!
There is no need to write yet another meditation about the crisis. That has been done and the public seems to understand bloody well what a bursting bubble is, and how packaging derivatives options high gain total super performance low risk high leverage financial products are the tools of the ugly kind of greed we only tolerate because it is the stuff the very system is made of. Oogh. Such meditations are obsolete the minute after they are written down. What we need is something else.

When we are “spending money” what we perform should be understood as a redistribution of power. Let’s assume designating and justifying power is the prime function of money (we can’t develop that in this small space). When we buy a product we acknowledge its producer and supply chain by means of a monetary transaction. We confess our needs, that is our lack of power, and recognize the superior power of the product. Then we use our symbolic power (our money) to balance the bill. So far so good.

Power is erratic and auratic. If we observe systems of power, be it a boyscout group, a freemasons society, a fire department, or the international monetary fund, we find that power is exerted in certain well-understood forms. The power of one boyscout over another is of another quality than the power of Strauss-Kahn had over his subordinates. From this, it appears logical to think that this quality of power needs to be reflected in money, somehow. Money should have a flavor, it should be defined as currency for one specific system of power. Society as a whole (that’s the premisse I allow myself because I’m blogging) is not one clearly defined power system but a diffuse conglomerate of systems, all working at their own pace and interacting in their own ways.

We could have food-money, communication-money, shelter-money, cultural-money, yes political-money, or various kinds of currencies for specific aspects of society, aspects that we don’t want to depend on each other because we want them to be stable. There won’t be problem exchanging these different currencies, the crux is that they should never be produced ad libitum like our current money is printed for us triggered only by short-term macro-economic observations, not long-term vision.

Thus I conclude my blog-post about money. The thought presented here might have been too dense, akin to a black hole – it won’t reflect anything if you try to shine a light on it. Or does it?

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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