Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Money Wisdom #88

"As Simmel explained, a feudal lord could demand specifically a quantity of honey and poultry from his serfs and thereby determine their labour. 'But the moment he imposes merely a money levy the peasant is free, insofar as he can decide whether to keep bees or cattle or anything else'.* With money, decisions can be deferred, revised, reactivated, cancelled; it is 'frozen desire'.** But, 'all of these consequences are dependent on what is in principle, the most important fact of all, the possibility of monetary calculation'.*** This third attribute of money, as a measure of value (money of account), enables the calculation of actual and potential costs, profits and losses, debts, prices. In short, money is the basis for the progressive rationalization of social life..."

* Simmel 1978 [1907]:285-6 ; ** Buchan 1997 ; *** Weber 1978:80-1

Geoffrey Ingham The Nature of Money 2004 p.4

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