Saturday, December 27, 2014

Money Wisdom #320

"So I think that like many people, even in the payments industry itself, I kind of stumbled into payments and once I was there I went ‘wow’. Number one, this is not capitalism as usual. The business models of the payments industry are all based on tolls and fees. There is not a price mechanism at work here, it’s not the market. And in fact in the States, when the card networks have been taken to court for anti-trust violations, which means contorting the market in various ways, they’ve almost always settled out of court. They’re saying ‘yep, you’re right, that’s what we’ve been doing, that’s how it works’. That in itself in my own academic programme is an important thing to say. The systems that do the transit of value for us when we are doing our capitalism thing themselves operate according to principles that are not capitalist."

Bill Maurer in conversation with Lauren Tooker on Exchanges the Warwick Reaseach Journal (2014) (link)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On Demurrage and Money Burning

I've just abandoned a long and unwieldy blog post on Philip Goodchild's Theology of Money and a site that Philip pointed me to called Absolute Economics. It was supposed to be short and succinct but you know how it is with this money stuff. I wanted to see what effect (what I refer to as) 'Value Monism' has when it's at the core of an explanation of social and economic phenomena. I compared and contrasted Absolute Economics with Tim Johnson's work which is underscored by Pragmatism (which I guess you could describe as 'Value Pluralism'). From there (for all sorts of reasons I won't go into now) I got into Critical Realism and my head exploded making a nasty mess all over the screen. 

I was, perhaps, being a tad overambitious. I have quite a collection abandoned posts and essays now. All of them I intend to return to at some indistinct future point. But I probably I won't. There was however one little side path I took from my latest abandoned ramble that I must describe to you. As always, its never that simple. Its about demurrage and money burning - as you'll have gathered from the title - but it's focus is on thinking about them as Bataille's waste. And of course, I haven't read Bataille. The Accursed Share (a beautiful hardback edition [two books, three volumes]) is sitting patiently on my desk. I expect I'll be reading it mid-January. But it must be emanating it's wisdom already because I'm seeing waste everywhere. (Is it a common thing always to be surfing just ahead of your reading? Life would be so much easier if I was on the wave or slightly behind it).
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So anyway enough preamble. Demurrage and Money Burning. 

On the Absolute Economics site there is a guest post from Philip - Triangles of Debt. The post puts forward his ideas about debt and credit and concludes with a call for debt jubilees and a variation on demurrage;
"a tax on non-invested money (as opposed to a transactions tax, income tax, or property tax) would be the way to get economies moving again. Alongside this, however, the obligations of mutual debts cannot be allowed to be permanently appropriated by the few. It is necessary to build into the structure of debt as such a periodic discharge or default."
I'm just going to focus on the demurrage here. I've talked about debt jubilees before.

The theme of demurrage was already in my mind. I've recently caught up with the #OpenHere videos
which a was a conference in Dublin in November on money, payments systems and the like. 

Demurrage comes up 49mins into Nigel Dodd's video in the post-talk Q&A. That day's theme was flagged as 'CTRL ALT CURRENCY' - and demurrage is something of a buzzword in alt-currency circles. Freicoin - a child of bitcoin and Occupy - is the most well known example of an alt-currency with 'built-in' demurrage. Nigel points out that demurrage hasn't worked particularly well for traditional currency because it's so cumbersome to administer. The example he sites is the Stroud pound. Holders of Stroud notes had to buy stamps and fix them to their notes every six months, in order to maintain the note's value. Obviously digital currencies are much better placed to overcome these administrative problems. 

There's a bigger problem with demurrage though. 

You can map out a plan to 'get economies moving again' by taxing currency, or you can build that cost into the currency itself, and you can believe that its truly all for the greater good. But you still have to persuade people against finding ingenious ways to avoid demurrage. Imagine if a tax on holding currency was to be introduced how many investment shells would be created overnight? Imagine in a multi-currency world, what would people do faced with holding a digital currency that loses value? Oh, you don't need to imagine that last one. Just check out the Freicoin price. A bitcoin - which is all about being a secure store of value - gets you $322, a Freicoin gets you $0.002. 

That's not to say of course that demurrage might not indeed be for the greater good. You could, if you were disposed to do so, make a whole bunch of technical arguments about the economic effects of demurrage (wiki it or there's a post here on the bitcoin forum with a few links if you're interested). However, for reasons I'll expand on in a minute, I see money burning and demurrage as sharing an essential nature. Yes, essential. So, I'm not going to bother with the economic arguments about demurrage. And instead, I'm going to get down and dirty with the ontological and epistemological questions. 

[ Look. Between you and me, technical and economic arguments about demurrage are just flimflam anyway; there's no way to accurately predict the effect of demurrage, its just not the sort of thing you can know. Having said this, next year (2015) I will be co-opting all positive demurrage flimflam to make a polemic case - a manifesto - for the greater money burning good. When I do, you'll have to forget I ever said it was flimflam. Ok? ]

In the Utopia chapter of The Social Life of Money under the instructive subheading 'Rotting Money', Nigel Dodd explores some of the deep metaphysical and philosophical themes that underpin this apparently simply idea of demurrage (p.346-351). He concludes with; 
"...the idea of a form of money that decays contrasts with the depiction of money as sublimated filth that we explored in Chapter 4. The money that Brown refers to in relation to the money complex is unlikely to have been what Gesell calls rusting money. In terms that Nietzsche recognized in Zarathustra... ...money that rots and dies is money that lives. It is the antithesis of money that feeds off what Brown called the neurotic money complex, shaped as this is by the very refusal of death and decay. Quite possibly, rotting money is as close as to the notion of Dionysian money – in material form, at least – as we are likely to find." (p.351)
Money's Alive ! Well, in a way. The point Nigel's making is that the prospect of death is integral to any consideration of being alive. Therefore, if money is made to slowly die through demurrage, it lives more fully. Or, if you prefer, it lives more fully in our consciousness because it is expressing both aspects of its nature; the Apollonian (the sobriety of reason and logic) and the Dionysian (the drunkenness of instinct and chaos). And this is why its in contradiction to Brown's neurotic money complex. For Brown, full psychoanalytical consciousness - the realization of an unrepressed mind - excludes the possibility of money. Without a neurotic complex, money starves. 

[ My own conception of money is as an 'aspect of being'. In this way its not excluded from any imaginings of 'full psychoanalytical consciousness' or an unrepressed mind, but instead is a metaphysical underpinning to their possibility. ]
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I want to take a small leap forward from here though, and consider demurrage in terms of waste. 

[Remember - I haven't read Bataille. When I have, I'll come back to this post with a red pen and scribble exasperated comments in the margins.]

As I said, Nigel talks about demurrage under the general theme of Utopia, I think it could be equally considered under the theme of Waste (another outstanding chapter in the Social Life of Money). There is a very obvious connection between waste and anality, money and shit, so making a connection between Norman O Brown's ideas and George Bataille's doesn't seem unreasonable. Indeed, in the chapter Dionysus in 1990 from his last work Apocalypse And/Or Metamorphosis (1992) Norman O Brown calls Bataille a fellow traveler on the Dionysian path.

[Another reading confession - I haven't read Norman O Brown's later works yet so I don't know if his conception of money as neurotic complex changed, I'd guess not. I think he said that his early Marxism gave him a healthy disdain for money and money-making. Oh, and look. Imagine how excited I am as a Norman O Brown fan and money burner is to see that in Love's Body there's a chapter called Fire which deals with the idea 'That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection' - I like to believe that Norman actually successfully escaped time and wrote that just for me.]

So, there are two themes I just want to draw out of my Brown/Bataille/MoneyBurning/Demurrage mix.

The first theme has to do with Bataille's point about it being impossible to understand waste outside of a sacred logic. If both money burning and demurrage can be regarded as waste, then what is immediately apparent, is that a sacred logic lends itself far better to one, than the other; a ritual of pure forgiveness* on the one hand, deflationary algorithms, currency stamping and economic flimflam on the other. The value of 'other ways' of understanding is something I don't focus enough on when I write my posts. Although I make the point pretty strongly in my about page - which I guess forms a sort manifesto for my blog. 

That 'sacred logic' also ties into Brown's wonderful claim about the development of money as being the metamorphosis of the sacred
"Simmel and Laum are confused by the illusion that modern money is secular, and hence they confuse the past by describing as 'secularization' a process which is rather only a metamorphosis of the sacred. Even Keynes perhaps shares this illusion, although he sees the real secularization of money as still lying in the future." 
(Norman O Brown Life Against Death (1959) p. 247-248)
If all the technical economic arguments for demurrage can be equally applied to money burning, then the difference surely comes in the sacred appreciation of the event of value waste. In burning money we perceive the waste far more acutely than we do in generalized demurrage. Money burning is a conscious choice rather than a sacrifice imposed on us either by the force of state, or by the 'moral' choice of a particular currency. With money burning we consciously choose to sacrifice - or waste - in a symbolic and excessive ritual of active nihilism. Inevitably, that has a profound meaning to us. And so our understanding of money - our consciousness of it - is enhanced. At the core of my issue with demurrage as expressed in the quote from Philip at the start of this post is that 'eco-money' or 'political' demurrage projects do not allow for the full Dionysian expression of consciousness. 

The second theme takes us back to the trouble I mentioned at the start of this post; value monism, dualism, non-dualism and all that. In a recent post I used the phrase 'total prestation of being' trying to make the point that there is no political vision that can achieve a new and meaningful understanding of money because the political is inherently partial. The phrase 'total prestation' comes from Marcel Mauss, he used it in relation to the gift. It's stuck with me. Total prestation of being is something that I encounter in a practical sense when I perform my money burning ritual. I have to put myself wholly in the moment with it. The more I can do this, the more meaningful the ritual. The most unsatisfactory burnings I've done have been those where I've been trying take a picture of the burning note, or otherwise removing myself from the ritual. 

Obviously, this relates back to us fully expressing our Dionysian (and Apollonian) consciousness but it points to something else too. It points to the idea that understanding Oneness requires a non-dual approach (or at least, it requires us to be aware of the duality of our perception). Brown says that Baitalle had a strong influence on his reformulation of 'the difference between Freudian dualism and the Dionysian or Heraclitean principle of the unity of opposites'. I think this is a hugely important aspect of Brown's thought. In Life Against Death he characterized this as the difference between instinctual dualism and instinctual dialectics (I've tried and failed to write about it before). 

So in the original post - the one from which this one grew - I got into Roy Bhaskar's ideas about metaReality and comparing them to Goodchild's theological conceptions and the whole notion of value monism generally. I can't recount it here now for fear my head might explode again, but I tried to trace out linkages in two different intellectual groups (this refers to a grouping in my mind - I'm not suggesting that these folks met regularly for coffee and biscuits). The first group was Philip Goodchild, Indradeep Ghosh, Joshua Ramey (the Absolute Economics guys) and Charles Eisenstein. And the second group was Roy Bhaskar, Tony Lawson and David Graeber. And I tried to see what distinctions there were between the two groups in the way they thought about money and value, and what effect that had on the picture of the world they created. 

[ I've often wondered why I don't see Tony Lawson's work cropping up in David Graeber's. When I reviewed Debt I criticized David for not tackling Hayek. Lawson's 1999 book Economics and Reality does precisely that whilst drawing explicitly on the work of Roy Bhaskar. If you're unfamiliar with Tony Lawson's work, this 20 minute video is an excellent starting point. ]

[ Very sadly for us all, Roy Bhaskar recently passed away (here is an obituary by David Graeber). His last videocast is here where he talks about metaReality. If you watch from 47mins Roy's last words are on Love. Love he says 'is the binding force of the universe', 'Love can love Love into ever widening circles'. I first came across Roy's work in that Tony Lawson book about 15 years ago. Obviously since then his ideas have popped up in David Graeber's work, and this renewed my interest. Earlier this year I spotted on Roy's website that he ran an open seminar during term time. I intended to go, but of course, work got in the way, Re-reading his website now I see Roy wrote 'a devastating critique' of Richard Rorty in 1991 - so I guess I wasn't too far of the mark in contrasting the Pragmatism underlying Tim Johnson's work with the non-duality underlying Bhaskar's & Goodchild's. (I found this site a valuable resource on Pragmatism and Richard Rorty. The author, Matt Kundert, came to Rorty by way of Pirsig so I think it appeals to me on that basis. This is an interesting post on on the possibility or otherwise of moral action in the absence of a underlying sense of absolute value) ]
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Very briefly.

Its also possible to contrast demurrage and money burning in terms of freedom and equality too. Money burning embraces freedom. The ritual is a conscious choice on the part of the currency holder. It also embraces equality. This is because the amount to be burned must be 'on the edge of painful'. So in this way money burning is also akin to Simmel's ideal type of price variation - the 'price' of money burning varies in proportion to the individual's capacity for burning/ability to pay.

As I said earlier, demurrage is not a free choice in the way that money burning is. I would also say that it differs too as an expression of an ideal of equality.

[ I would refer here to Nigel Dodd's work on Simmel and the idea of conceptual perfection where Nigel draws from both Simmel's work on money and on society. But this post is already stupidly long. ]
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One final bit of Bataille. I really haven't done any sort of justice to the Absolute Economics site and the fuel they've given to my Bataille fire. So let me just give you a couple of quotes that draw on the idea of 'sacred logic' and offer up something else too - an idea I find very appealing - that the game of capitalism is most understood by those who play it at the extremes, i.e. the very rich and the very poor. 

One of Bataille’s most salient points was that because surpluses of wealth (what he called “the accursed share”) cannot, by definition, be productively (that is to say, reproductively) used, it is impossible to understand surpluses outside of a “sacred” logic, a cultural logic that entails that what defines us as people is not what we do in the face of scarcity but how we manage our excess, “gloriously or catastrophically,” as he put it. This becomes most evident at the “extremes” of social life, at the level of both extreme poverty and extreme wealth."
And the idea is expanded up here in From Fraud to Play: Or, At Least What Full Communism Cannot Mean
One of the dirtiest (open) secrets about our addiction to capitalism, at nearly any human and ecological cost imaginable, is that it presents itself as a tremendously powerful, attractive, and intricate game, making even the pain involved (no pain, no gain) attractive to us. It is a game played most purely, as Bataille was perhaps the first to see clearly, by the extremely poor and the extremely rich—that is, by those who give everything they have, placing everything on the line, every day, whether for a lottery ticket or for high-risk debt swaps. Bataille shows very efficiently how important it is to insist upon the identity of the desperately poor and extravagantly wealthy, precisely from this point of view, rather than imagine that what human subjectivity needs or wants is some kind of middling or average viability or “sustainable lifestyle.” Bataille saw that even in less extreme forms than lotteries and foreign currency arbitrage, any exchange, any transaction, is a game in which one is playing not only to gain wealth and/or power, but to see, at any given moment, what it is possible to get away with, how far one can negotiate, and to test the limits of possibility, as such. To play for ultimate stakes.
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Oh yeah. One very last, very final thing. And probably the most important point to make about demurrage and money burning. In practical terms at least.

Money burning is cool. Demurrage is boring.

That's all folks. Have a exuberant and wasteful Christmas!
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* 'A ritual of pure forgiveness' is how I see my money burning ritual. Check out the about page, my Horse Hospital Post, or my recent Cowley Cub talk.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Money Wisdom #319

What does it mean to take one's stand under the Dionysian, rather than the Freudian (or the Marxist) flag? It means to discard the pseudo-scientific posture of clinical detachment or political rationality, and recognize madness as the universal human condition, not the distinctive stigma of a separate class distinguished as insane. It means that madness is not an individual but a social phenomenon in which we all participate collectively: we are all in one and the same boat or body. It means also that madness is inherent in life and in order to live with it we must learn to love it. That is the point of honoring it with the name of a god. "Our greatest blessings," says Socrates in the Phaedrus, "come to us by way of madness-provided," he adds, "that the madness comes from a god"

Norman O Brown Dionysus in 1990 from Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis (1992) p.179 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review of Theology of Money by Philip Goodchild

This review is up on Amazon here. As ever, if it immanentizes your eschaton do pop over and click the thumbs up.


NOTE : I edited this review after it was published ! The original is underneath, and the edited version (the one now showing on Amazon) is underneath that. I'll go into the reasons for this in my next post. There isn't a huge difference but the edited version is more positive and less snarky.

An imperfect but unique and important contribution to our understanding of money

What to make of this book?

It's not what I expected. I thought it would be a survey of theological ideas about money. But it's more like the author's own take on money, inspired by and viewed through his own theological and philosophical commitments. The backnotes claim that Goodchild engages with the thought of Schmitt, Simmel, Marx, Smith and many others. I'd say this is an overstatement. They are certainly referred to, but with the possible exception of Schmitt, they are not really 'engaged with' per se.

The book can be hard going at times too. Perhaps because there are few diversions into the expositions of other's work and thought, it can feel a little relentless at times; a constant refrain of 'money is....' Also stylistically it can resemble the delivery of a liturgy. Opposing ideas are counterpoised and resolved into the middle ground sometimes all within a sentence. Sparingly used this can affect a pleasing and reassuring rhythm to the reader. But Goodchild overdoes it. And so, at its worse it can have the bludgeoning effect of a political polemic.

None of that explains though why this book goes unmentioned in the bibliographies of other recent work on money, What I was left with after reading was a sense that theology does has something to offer to our understanding and conceptualizing of money. Specifically, theology has a unique 'theory of value'. Goodchild - in his own way - deals with this quite extensively. I use the term 'value monism' to describe the position, but in Goodchild's theological terms the ultimate evaluation of all values is in the judgement of God. Conceptualizing value in this way brings an important perspective to money because often (for Simmel, Smith, Marx and many others) value arises either in exchange or from human action and mind. Goodchild presents a case that is the opposite of the Nietzschean 'price making mind of man' and the 'valuelessness' of nature. Because obviously, for any theological position, God is not dead.

So given the uniqueness of his perspective in work on money - I've seen value monism alluded to in other works but never as underscoring an entire treatise on money - and despite the book's difficulties and flaws, I'd really recommend this book to students of money. The ultimate criteria I use for my reviews is whether the book works within its own terms. This one does, just about. I reckon Goodchild started out with the intention of writing a different book; the survey on the theology of money I mentioned. But, in writing got caught up in his own arguments.

Fortunately, the pre-penultimate section of the book 'Of Theology' is so good - and obviously where Goodchild feels most at home - that the stylistic issues and other difficulties of the first 200 pages are overcome. His recommendations for a solution to the problems of the moneyed world are naive fantasy. But it's so endearing that he's brave enough to offer his solutions that one immediately forgives him. I read an online interview with Goodchild where he says "So I expect [the book] to be deeply divisive at best, or else regarded with such scandal and outrage that it must be denounced, marginalised or ignored." I'd say its been ignored, mostly. And that's not an appropriate response to a book that gives a unique and valuable insight into money.

There is a disscussion of this book and chapter summaries, along with a letter form the author at https://itself.wordpress.com/category/goodchild/theology-of-money-event/

[update: I'm overstating it by saying 'ignored'. The book was reviewed, for example Carol Johnson in The Review of Politics, Vol. 73, No. 1 (WINTER 2011), pp. 190-192, and of course it had a stateside reprint by the prestigious Duke University Press. I should have taken the positive line and said that I wish it had been even more widely appreciated.]
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And this is the new version:

What to make of this book? (My copy was the 2009 Duke University Press edition, btw)

It's not what I expected. I thought it would be a survey of theological ideas about money. But it's more like the author's own take on money, inspired by and viewed through his own theological and philosophical commitments. The backnotes claim that Goodchild engages with the thought of Schmitt, Simmel, Marx, Smith and many others. I'd say this is an overstatement. They are certainly referred to, but with the possible exception of Schmitt, they are not really 'engaged with' per se.

The book can be hard going at times too. Perhaps because there are few diversions into the expositions of other's work and thought, it can feel a little relentless at times; the refrain of 'money is....' has a numbing effect because of repetition. Also stylistically it can resemble the delivery of a liturgy. Opposing ideas are counterpoised and resolved into the middle ground sometimes all within a sentence. Sparingly used this can affect a pleasing and reassuring rhythm to the reader. But Goodchild overdoes it.

None of that explains though, why this book goes unmentioned in the bibliographies of other recent work on money, What I was left with after reading was a sense that theology does indeed, have something to offer to our understanding and conceptualizing of money. Specifically, theology has a unique 'theory of value'. Goodchild - in his own way - deals with this quite extensively. I use the term 'value monism' to describe the position, but in Goodchild's theological terms the ultimate evaluation of all values is in the judgement of God. Conceptualizing value in this way brings an important perspective to money because often (for Simmel, Smith, Marx and many others) value arises either in exchange or from human action and mind. Goodchild presents a case that is the opposite of the Nietzschean 'price making mind of man' and the 'valuelessness' of nature. Because obviously, for any theological position, God is not dead.

So given the uniqueness of his perspective in work on money - I've seen value monism alluded to in other works but never as underscoring an entire treatise on money - and despite the book's difficulties, I'd really recommend this book to students of money. The ultimate criteria I use for my reviews is whether the book works within its own terms. This one does, just about. The feeling I had while reading was that Goodchild started out with the intention of writing a different book; the survey on the theology of money I mentioned. But, in writing got caught up in his own arguments.

Although he does make his point successfully in the end. The pre-penultimate section of the book 'Of Theology' is excellent. Clearly Goodchild feels at home here and the words flow easily through some very difficult metaphysical territory. I regard final section of Goodchild's recommendations for a solution to the problems of the moneyed world as naive fantasy. But it's endearing that he's brave enough to speculate out loud on solutions. It'd be churlish to mark him down for that.

I read an online interview with Goodchild where he says "So I expect [the book] to be deeply divisive at best, or else regarded with such scandal and outrage that it must be denounced, marginalised or ignored." I'd say its been ignored, mostly. And that's not an appropriate response to a book that gives a unique and valuable insight into money.

There is a disscussion of this book and chapter summaries, along with a letter from the author at https://itself.wordpress.com/category/goodchild/theology-of-money-event/

[update: It turns out I'm overstating it by saying 'ignored'. The book was reviewed, for example Carol Johnson in The Review of Politics, Vol. 73, No. 1 (WINTER 2011), pp. 190-192, and of course it had a stateside reprint by the prestigious Duke University Press. And I've since discovered a whole trail of thought that links Goodchild to projects pursued by the likes of Eisenstein. I should have taken the positive line and said that I wish it had been even more widely appreciated.]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Money Wisdom #318

"Any attempts to comprehend human life in terms drawn purely from within the sphere of life, whether the rational calculus of ends or the raging of the passions, whether production and exchange or the conflict of interests, whether biological conditions or the development of cultures, is doomed to failure. For homo religious will sacrifice reason and passion, wealth and politics, nature and culture for the sake of what stands in place of the divine."

Philip Goodchild Theology of Money (2009) p.234

Money Wisdom #317

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thron├Ęd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthron├Ęd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

Portia in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (Act 4, Scene 1, p.8)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Theology of Money

I've been putting up a few quotes from Philip Goodchild's The Theology of Money. A review will follow shortly. Maybe a ramble too, I'm not sure.

For now I just wanted to share this with you. It's a little naughty. I've scanned ten pages. So don't tell Philip or his publishers, ok? We'll see how long we can get away with it. I've had a look through the bibliographies of many of my money books published since Philip's and haven't found it mentioned in any. I guess these days theology is not too highly regarded in the halls of academia. (I've only found one other theology of money Nimi Wariboko God and Money - A Theology of Money in a Globalizing World (2008))

I've got this 2009 version of the book but there also seems to be a 2007 version. (I paid no where near what amazon were asking so do have a look around). I only stumbled across the book earlier this year. I do occasional general searches for money books to make sure I haven't missed anything, and it came up on one of those. If you want to check it out before you buy - this site has chapter summaries, notes, discussion and a letter from the author.

What I really wanted from Philip's book was an exploration of the Theory of Value from a theological perspective and an examination of how such a perspective influences our conception of money. There are clear parallels between this theological perspective, and the idea which underscores my own exploration of from the point of view of 'value monism'.

I was worried that Philip was going to leave me hanging, as the book is more money than theology. But nearing the end he has come up with the goods. It seems an appropriately Christian - saved by Jesus at the end of days - way for the book to proceed. So fair enough. So the brief section I've scanned deals with Metaphysics, Theology, Credit, Money, Value - and favorites like Parmenides and even immantizing the Eschaton ! I really recommend it for a perspective that doesn't really get to see the light of day too much in most academic work on money.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Money Wisdom #316

"Jesus inverted the relation of mastery between people and wealth - your heart is where your treasure is, not your treasure is where your heart is - by inverting the normal relation between the eye and light: 'the eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!' (Matt 6.23) Service is enacted through time, attention and devotion. The object of one's attention is used as the material for forming the perspective through which the world is to be seen. One forms a perspective expressed in metaphysics. If one does not turn attention to God, the source of the value of values, then one's evaluation will be shaped by the world. True power consists here in a perspective of evaluation. Hence, the modern notion of autonomy is an illusion, since it is always a perspective, a source of evaluation, that one serves."

Philip Goodchild Theology of Money (2009) p.202-203

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Money Wisdom #315

"If all production becomes the production of exchange value, if all evaluation seeks to determine a price, then the social field of evaluation decays toward an equilibrium point of perfect consensus based on the primacy of money. This utopia of the perfect market is a kind of moral heat death, where value no longer needs to be created and all needs or demands become arbitrary whims. An equilibrium point is not merely a moment of balance, when supply meets demand. An equilibrium point is also a moment of maximum entropy, when information has been destroyed. There is no possibility of tracing a movement back from equilibrium to its initial conditions, for the information concerning initial conditions is progressively eliminated in the approach to equilibrium. The marketization of society effects the progressive annihilation of history, culture and value."

Philip Goodchild Theology of Money (2009) p.190

Money Wisdom #314

"The paradox of accounting is that the act of evaluation, the practice that matters most, becomes subordinated to the practice of making money, a representation of evaluation. To liberate evaluation from its representation, it is necessary to assume that true value resists accounting. Far from being represented by a price or possessed as a property, true value is that which can never be mastered. Only in a culture governed by money is it possible to imagine that there are no true values. In reality, there is no need for skepticism regarding the existence of value, for thought itself lives and moves in the element of value. Thought does not represent, project, or sense value as something external to it; thought is concentrated attention and as such is attracted and distracted by that which seems to matter. Value is not so much external to thought as it is the environment in which thought orientates itself. Indeed, when thought encounters resistance, problems and obstacles, when it is attracted by what is significant and problematic, it meets a value for which it cannot account. For example, thought is attracted by economic opportunities and misfortunes. These, the events that feed economic life, cannot generally be taken into account, for they have an unknowable value. They lack a publicly agreed price."

Philip Goodchild Theology of Money (2009) p.185

Money Wisdom #313

"Money has no present being. It merely has a past value that is recorded and a future value that is anticipated. Money only exists in memory or anticipation as a record in account books. One never sees money come and go. Even with live electronic access to markets, a change in value occurs instantaneously when a price is marked up or down. One never sees money make money; one never watches it breed. One has to send it away first, so that it may return at a profit. Money always breeds elsewhere, outside possession, beyond the limits of attention. It leaves when it is invested and returns already changed, for profit or loss."

Philip Goodchild Theology of Money (2009) p.170