Monday — I know that money is a material object like others, but still . . . — Week 12

Comments Off on Monday — I know that money is a material object like others, but still . . . — Week 12

Monday — 12.02.13 — I know that money is a material object like others,
but still . . . — Week 12

0. About Monday
1. Suggestions for Monday

0. About Monday (Common/s Course)

What: Common(s) Course Meeting / Conversation
When: Monday, December 2 (from 5:15 to 7:15)
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: Free and open to all

Money is in reality just an embodiment, a condensation, a materialization
of a network of social relations – the fact that it functions as a
universal equivalent of all commodities is conditioned by its position in
the texture of social relations.

But to the individuals themselves, this function of money – to be the
embodiment of wealth – appears as an immediate, natural property of a
thing called ‘money’, as if money is already in itself, in its immediate
material reality, the embodiment of wealth. Here, we have touched upon the
classic Marxist motive of ‘reification’: behind the things, the relation
between things, we must detect the social relations, the relations between
human subjects.

But such a reading of the Marxian formula leaves out an illusion, an
error, a distortion which is already at work in the social reality itself,
at the level of what the individuals are doing, and not only what they
think or know they are doing. When individuals use money, they know very
well that there is nothing magical about it – that money, in its
materiality, is simply an expression of social relations. The everyday
spontaneous ideology reduces money to a simple sign giving the individual
possessing it a right to a certain part of the social product. So, on an
everyday level, the individuals know very well that there are relations
between people behind the relations between things. The problem is that in
their social activity itself, in what they are doing, they are acting as
if money, in its material reality, is the immediate embodiment of wealth
as such. They are fetishists in practice, not in theory. What they ‘do not
know’, what they misrecognize, is the fact that in their social reality
itself, in their social activity – in the act of commodity exchange – they
are guided by the fetishistic illusion.

What can the notion of fetish and its different uses and understandings
teach us in our efforts to common the city and withdraw from the community
of money?

We will try to continue this reflection and the conversation which we
began last week, by examining more closely some of the readings and the
video we circulated before last week’s meeting.

We hope to see you.

1. Suggestions for Monday

David Harvey
Swindlers and Prophets: Facts, Fictions, and Fetishisms

David Graeber
Fetishism as Social Creativity – Or, Fetishes Are Gods in the Process of

Additional Reading:
Michael Taussig
The Baptism of Money and the Secret of Capital

Michael Taussig
The Devil and Commodity Fetishism

William Pietz
Death of the Deodand – Accursed objects and the money value of human life