Monday, July 2, 2012

A Society Of Money

1. Money is somebody's promise to pay, rather than some thing that is payment in itself, and money is transferable from one person to another.

2. When you play a social role, in compensation for playing by the rules, wearing the right clothes, using the right phrases with the right manners, the right facial expressions, you are entitled to certain treatment. The role you play is transferable, capable of being performed by innumerable others, paid for by your behavior in exchange for a promised response.

3. The more roles you play, the more promise. In personal life it is difficult without contradiction to play many roles at once. But in politics the opposite is true. Our President speaks of uniting in his person many contradictory roles of race, social class, geographic origins. Our other politicians are not far behind finding within themselves an equally rewarding magnanimity of origins.

4. In politics a collection of roles is expressed by collecting on the promise of money from diverse sources. (Contributions to election campaigns, offers of future employment, favors to friends and family.) The formal similarities between social role and money allows the one to be represented, and in some respects replaced, by the other.

5. This is what we mean when we speak about a society of money.