Abolishing Money

By Eske Bockelmann:

– [Prologue] –

When I realized, as a five-year-old, that like everyone else, I too would one day have to earn my own money, I was grimly certain, firstly, that I would fail and, secondly, that I really had to learn magic. Otherwise, it was painfully clear to me, that I would never manage to achieve all those things essential for life.

I could well imagine acquiring a profession and mastering various skills that I did not yet have. What I did find threatening however, was the fact that my profession would be invariably linked to the apportioning of that strange and alien material which seemed to come from an outside source and to which obviously, my parents and their professions were subject. Moreover the fact that my own very survival would depend on this substance left me no alternative but to resort to magic. Of course, I realized my prospects of learning magic were rather poor but since my intentions were only to secure
the basics like food and shelter, if I would just limit myself to conjuring these necessities and not everything right away…

To this day, I have not learned any magic. And so I raised my hand when the question was finally asked, “… or would anyone want to abolish money?” It was during the closing session of a conference on the sociologist Alfred Sohn-Rethel. I was participating in a roundtable discussion on the podium and Jochen Hörisch was summing up: Despite sharply criticizing money and commerce, Sohn-Rethel was nonetheless an admirer of money. Thus, we should not conclude our conference by totally disparaging money but rather by recognizing its considerable achievements. After all, money facilitates society’s supply and production mechanisms, and, according to Sohn-Rethel, ultimately created rational thought itself. Our very language itself has been enriched by the sheer inexhaustible resource of metaphors pertaining to money. Indeed money deserves our admiration, a fact we should acknowledge, “… or would anyone want to abolish money?”

Well, I raised my hand: If it were up to me, I would. But wait a minute. I looked around the hall and saw no other hands in the air; mine was the only one. No one else, it seemed, cherished the wish or even the thought that one day things could work out without money. Astounded, I wondered then whether Sohn-Rethel’s insights were less about encouraging the wish to abolish money and more about explaining why no one actually wants to do so.

1. Things are not going well with money

Are things really working out with money? No, things are not going well with it. The most that can be said in this respect, is in fact that money enables one very small part of humanity to become rich and prosperous, whereas the greater part by far is, as a result of this wealth, subjected to torment, deprivation and famine. Is money to blame? Yes it is money’s fault, namely, in as far as money is the very first and most common foundation of exactly those social conditions that are in force today worldwide; money has caused this kind of division of humanity and exacerbated the plight of the ever-growing majority of the world’s population.


Read full document at Money Museum (Zürich)

Illustrative image: The Circus in Decline, by Dave Whitlan at DeviantArt

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