Infects Quotes

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Because money is convertible into all other things, it infects them with the same feature, turning them into commodities-objects that, as long as they meet certain criteria, are seen as identical. All that matters is how many or how much. Money, says Seaford, 'promotes a sense of homogeneity among things in general.' All things are equal, because they can be sold for money, which can in turn be used to buy any other thing. In the commodity world, things are equal to the money that can replace them. Their primary attribute is their 'value'-an abstraction. I feel a distancing, a letdown, in the phrase, 'You can always buy another one.' Can you see how this promotes an antimaterialism, a detachment from the physical world in which each person, place, and thing is special, unique? No wonder Greek philosophers of this era [when modern money originated] began elevating the abstract over the real, culminating in Plato's invention of a world of perfect forms more real than the world of the senses. No wonder to this day we treat the physical world so cavalierly. No wonder, after two thousand years' immersion in the mentality of money, we have become so used to the replaceability of all things that we behave as if we could, if we wrecked the planet, simply buy a new one. [... ] The development of monetary abstraction fits into a vast meta-historical context. Money could not have developed without a foundation of abstraction in the form of words and numbers. Already, number and label distance us from the real world and prime our minds to think abstractly. To use a noun already implies an identity among the many things so named; to say there are five of a thing makes each a unit. We begin to think of objects as representatives of a category, and not unique beings in themselves. So, while standard, generic categories didn't begin with money, money vastly accelerated their conceptual dominance. Moreover, the homogeneity of money accompanied the rapid development of standardized commodity goods for trade. Such standardization was crude in preindustrial times, but today manufactured objects are so nearly identical as to make the lie of money into the truth.

Charles Eisenstein
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