Thursday, January 9, 2014

Money Wisdom #244

For Marx, money was thus an irresistible and 'radical leveler,' invading all areas of social life. By homogenizing all qualitative distinctions into to an abstract quantity, money allowed the 'equation of the incompatible.' Half a century later, Simmel confirmed Marx's diagnosis, dubbing money a 'frightful leveler,' which perverted the uniqueness of personal and social values. 'With its colorlessness and indifference... [money] hollows out the core of things... ...their specific value and their incomparability.' Indeed, in his analysis of prostitution Simmel recognized 'in the nature of money itself something of the essence of prostitution.' Of all social relationships, prostitution, noted Simmel, was the most striking instance of mutual degradation to a mere means,' thereby connecting prostitution to the money economy - 'the economy of means in the strictest sense.' Max Weber, too, pointed to the fundamental antagonism between a rational money economy and personal ties, as he observed that 'the more of the world of the modern capitalist economy follows its own immanent lass, the less accessible it is to... ...a religious ethic of brotherliness.'

Viviana A Zelizer The Social Meaning of Money (1994) p.8

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