Sunday, December 29, 2013

Money Wisdom #241

"...the ultimate illusion, the ultimate trick behind this whole play of mirrors, is that power is not, in fact, power at all, but a ghostly reflection of one's own potential for action; one's 'creative energies, ' as I've somewhat elusively called them.

However elusive, creative potential is everything. One could even argue that it is in a sense the ultimate social reality. For me, this is what is really compelling about Bhaskar's 'critical realism.' Bhaskar suggests that most philosophers have been unable to come up with an adequate theory of physical reality because they see it as composed simply of objects but not what he calls 'powers' - potentials, capacities, things that are of themselves fundamentally unrepresentable, and in most real-life, 'open-system' situations unpredictable as well. It seems to me it is quite the same with powers of social creativity. What makes creativity so confusing, to both actor and analyst, is the fact that these powers are - precisely - fundamentally social. They are social both because they are the result of an ongoing process whereby structures of relation with others come to be internalized into the very fabric of our being, and even more, because this potential cannot realize itself... ...except in coordination with others. It is only thus that powers turn into values."

David Graeber Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value - The False Coin of Our Own Dreams (2001) p.259-260

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