Our relationship to money has become increasingly ambivalent in recent years: based on the division of labor, our globalized life is scarcely conceivable without money, and yet doubts are growing as to its ability to sustain a stable and meaningful social order. Its credibility is built on its involvement in cultic practices, its coverage by real valuable objects, or in securities backed by the state. Its practicability has helped it over the centuries to gain worldwide, hardly unquestioned, acceptance across all cultures. In the meantime though we can hardly imagine where money comes from, where it goes, what it consists of, and what guarantees that we can still buy something with it tomorrow. Even before the abolishment of the gold standard only a tiny portion of business was transacted with coins and banknotes. Today banks create our money literally from nothing; and unfathomable sums circulate around the globe with lightning speed as mere numbers in computers.
Little attention was paid to money for a long time; it was considered to be a neutral ‘commodity’ that efficiently simplified barter transactions. The crises of recent years have laid bare the internal dynamics of credit-based money however. The propulsive, accelerating impact of interest and interest on interest demands an exponential growth projected into all eternity, contrasting starkly to our world of finite resources. What has loomed threateningly over our heads for a few years seems like an ever-recurring attack by the future on the present: in order to press ahead with the endless proliferation of money, the engineers of complex financial products and futures are turning more and more insecurities of the future into purportedly acceptable risks in the present. Today money thus seems like an invisible, self-sufficient juggernaut that is increasingly degrading people from the subject of history to its object.
But the original function of money is to serve: money makes society possible, for it connects people, things, goods, and worlds, and separates them again in turn; without money, it is highly doubtful that they would ever come together and find common ground. In this BLACKMARKET we would like to discuss the relational aspect of the medium money. We want to take a closer look at how we handle money and what our understanding of it is, so as to be able to trace other principles in relation to work, value, and resources.
Can we again put a brake on money’s inherent dynamic? Are we now dependent on the very creatures we have made? Or is it, perhaps, still OUR MONEY after all?