The Material God: Money

As always, The New York Times offers a wonderful thoughtful little piece to it’s readers today (I’m sure it has offered many but this one in particular stuck out).  The subject: Money and our strange pseudo-religious fascination and idol worship of it.

Mr. Simon Critchley, the author, writes the great little contemplation which brought up in my mind thoughts of Georges Bataille and Jean Bauldrillard, particularly the concept of soveriegnty in regards to money.  Really the idea of money as a form of religious faith does not shock me or surprise me all that much.  Money is an abstract, an intangible in concept (sure we can hold a coin, but the value of it is all theoretical) and as such must rely on faith of sorts to make it actually work and meaningful.

But, while I do see a connection of the religious attitude and money I wonder if Mr. Critchley might be suposing that faith need be a purely “religious” pusuant, which I would argue it does not need to be.  It is a caution to the wind that I feel a need to bring up, in that, while faith and religion are often discussed together, faith does not necessarily pre-suppose religion. I am not going to try and go into this too much here, I just want to make it clear that we can think of faith outside of a religious context and it is still equally as much a matter of faith as a religious belief just without the theist suppositions.

All and all a great little write up.  Antything about sovereignty eally interests me, partially because I think we have a tendancy to overlook or avoid thinking about it, yet it plays a huge role int he definition and formation of nations or any human societies for that matter.  For anyone who is interested in a kind of reverse economic theory which deals a lot with “money” and sovereignty I would highly recommend Georges Bataille’s The Accursed Share.  It is a really long and heavy read but it is also quite fascinating (whether you agree with him or not) in that it rethinks human economics not as being a matter of deficit and limited resources, but instead in regards to the the surplus of resources (which happen to include human lives) and how people and societies organize to utilize the surplus.  Not too give too much away, but the surplus, according to Bataille, tends to lead to ritualized violence and sacrifice to “spend” the resources.  This happens to explain the need for war when human resources become too great.  Again, really amazingly interesting thoughts on human economics.

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~ by Nathaniel on August 31, 2009.

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