Understanding money

Czas Kultury 1/21

‘Czas Kultury’ assesses the concepts behind economics, including reflections on Modern Monetary Theory via Hegel and Marx, the physical world as living currency and Polish depictions of economic failure.

‘Understanding money – its creation, nature and social role – is hugely liberating,’ observes guest editor Marcin Czachor in this issue of Czas Kultury.

Damian Winczewski equates certain aspects of Modern Monetary Theory’s opposition to economic orthodoxy with Hegelian reformist ideas. He asks whether Hegelian Marxism might hint at solutions to today’s socio-political challenges. Hegel saw money as a potentially ethical means of assuaging human need. Marx showed, instead, that need is consistently subordinated to a ‘valorization imperative’ – the urge to accumulate capital for its own sake – and therefore to a ‘money fetish’.

In contesting the nature and meaning of monetary exchange, MMT could help desacralize money and transform it into a tool that helps meet necessity, Winczewski concedes. However, its proponents underestimate the nefarious hand of the market and the class and gender-based economic relationships that create inequality and oppression. ‘Institutionalized practices intended to guarantee social recognition promote the opposite. Capitalism encourages modes of behaviour that, for example, license the objectification and subjugation of women in purportedly loving relationships,’ writes Winczewski.

An economic wellspring of pleasure’

The western industrial order has subsumed sexual love to power, profit and performance with devastating effect, Agata Araszkiewicz argues. She reminds us that, in 1970, a startling essay entitled ‘Living Currency’, by French artist Pierre Klossowski, posited a model of exchange that placed the body at the centre of economic interaction. Klossowski wrote:

The living thing, the source of sensory experience will either become currency and eliminate the neutralizing role of money, or create a new form of exchange based on emotional experience wrote.

Araszkiewicz pursues the theme:

If the body is fully valued and prized by the wellspring of its pleasure, then the commercial system collapses, leaving space for a new economic model. In our culture, women function as commodities … associated with sexuality and desire. Women embody “living currency”. An affirmation of the right to sexual fulfilment for traditionally oppressed groups, including women and LGBT minorities, could transform society.

Depicting Poland’s plight

Izabela Morska considers how images of Poland as a violated, vanquished Marianne in nineteenth and early twentieth century Polish art are revisited in Polonia 2020 – a new cycle of paintings, by London-based artist Małgorzata Drohomirecka. ‘They show how tropes embedded in our collective unconscious steer us towards re-enactments of the same pattern: struggle, resistance, panic, disaster, despair and exile,’ remarks Morska. ‘Images of Poland as a shackled virgin, martyr or multiply raped country girl, veil a tradition of recurring economic failure and moral coercion.’

This article is part of the 10/2021 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.

Published 16 June 2021
Original in English
First published by Eurozine

© Eurozine

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