Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Sign Systems of Lust and Slavery. Money as the consecration of bread and wine

Hanappi, Hardy (2021): Sign Systems of Lust and Slavery. Money as the consecration of bread and wine.

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Money is real. Few other objects are perceived with comparable attention. At the same time its content, its mystery, evaporates behind its physical form. For every commodity producing human society money has been a steady companion since it emerged . Money forms, the way in which money took on its material cloth, have changed a lot. Money forms, the blood running through almost all social interaction, have been a mirror, a reflection of the essence of a society’s working. This paper is an attempt to look behind the veil that money forms as sign systems for social value produce. Thus two concepts are the starting point for the investigation: Sign systems and social value. Sign systems are directly coupled to the perceptions of human individuals. More precisely, they are connected to a society’s communication processes, including self-communication, i.e. personal thought. The mystic force of money forms, its resemblance to sexual attraction, derives from its root in direct and blunt relevance for each human individual in a fully developed commodity producing society. It can be redemption, it can be disgust. ‘Money speaks, wealth whispers’ expresses this interface between individual and society, distinguishes how the force of the money form is transmitted . The first part of the paper will develop a sketch of a theory of this interface, of sign systems as social systems. The second part will then focus on the concept ‘social value’. The perspective will be changed: What is beneficial from the point of view of the species will be the starting point for a discussion on how it materializes in certain money forms. It turns out that money forms follow an evolutionary trajectory , leading through alternating stages of contributing to the stabilization of a mode of production and then actively destroying it in revolutionary turning points – just to give birth to a new form of representation of social value . Finally, a third part shall provide ideas on the connection between the first two parts. How is desire and pain injected in personal perceptions by the interference of social value loaded money forms; and how are vice versa these passions and grievances shaping the potential constellation of social value regulating institutionalized forms in revolutionary times? In conclusion this part will also present some immediate consequences of the theoretical results on contemporary global economic policy.

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