Money: the one religion modern society truly believes in?

I don’t want justice to be blinded by money, nor do I want other people’s opinions to be more valid than mine because of it either. Ever since the Occupy Movement began, I’ve realised how money’s effect on civilised society is perhaps taking control in a way we must take heed of before it’s too late. When you begin to realise that the notes in your pocket have a more significant impact on your life than providing change for the bus, the concept of money becomes quite scary indeed….

Part 1 – Omnipotence and Future Salvation

In today’s society, money has almost godly powers attached to it, and whilst money’s necessity makes it dominant and global, it is its deification which makes it like a religion. Money today is omnipotent, eternal, and requires faith, and it is in this way it can be seen as the religion of choice for many.

Money’s unlimited power can be seen in its property of being able to buy anything, and yet also the property of appropriating all objects. The universality of its property can be ascribed to many things but ultimately comes down to the omnipotence of its being. It is the procurer between man’s need and the object of his desire, between his life and his means of life. Shakespeare points this out clearly in Timon of Athens:

Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?…

This yellow slave

Will knit and break religions, bless the accursed;

Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves

And give them title, knee and approbation

With senators on the bench…

The extent of one’s power is only limited to the amount of money one has, and in today’s world money’s properties are the possessor’s properties. If one wants to have food but desires not to cook it, money will fetch it for you. It converts one’s wish from something in the realm of the imagination, translates it from the mediated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous actual existence. From imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, money now has the power of creation.

Money’s value is also determined by expectations of future interest: “the transcendence of capital is its appeal to the future”. This finite expectation is then combined with the violence of coercion and the infinite demand to ensure the power of capital. Money seizes ‘sovereignty’ by a combination of debt, the finite threat of future reparation, and the infinite threat of exclusion from the means of subsistence. They are created by money, and in turn, money is only ‘value in motion’. This is because the value of assets is not determined by intrinsic worth but by expected yield and rate of return. Moreover, if these anticipations about the future prove misguided, at every stage the value of assets is determined by the next wave of anticipations about the future. Therefore the ‘future’ never comes, and we are presented with a transcendent object around which floats purely the ideal. Religions transcend material and social reality, and yet at the same time are the pivot around which the material and social is reconstructed over and over again. One could easily replace the word “religion” with “money”, and my last sentence would still hold true, revealing in some way how money is the modern religion, and the transcendent principle of the social order.

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6 responses to “Money: the one religion modern society truly believes in?

  1. I can hardly agree less, but you write stylishly.

    I don’t think it’s impossible, nor even particularly difficult to escape the allure and influence of money. Just decide to live with less, buy less, own less, use less energy, take up less space, and recycle more. It’s amazing how easily one can learn to be content with “enough”, and how little money you need to achieve the payment of basic needs, without sacrificing quality in life.

    • Thanks for your comment, always glad to get responses to my blogs whether you agree or disagree.

      Anyhow, to address your point:I don’t think that because there are “unbelievers” out there it makes Christianity, Judaism, or Islam any less of a religion. Religion is a choice. I completely agree that there are people whose life is not dictated soley by the wants of money. At the heart of this however is that from where I’m standing, looking at the way society is run, seeing the business decisions corporations make, the culture of celebrity-infatuation, and how success is, much of the time, measured by the size of your house or the wage packet that people carry, then you can see that a lot of society is not centered around people unless it is profitable to do so.

  2. Insightful piece. . .really resonated with me. And I have to say I agree with Mikey. You come to this fork in the road in your life, and this is especially true when it comes to making creative choices; you choose the pursuit of happiness or you choose the pursuit of too much stuff.

    Thanks for this.

    • Hey there – when writing these type of articles I always hope to stir up some debate so thanks for commenting.

      I’m not saying we don’t have a choice, and I wouldn’t disagree that there is a decision to be made; which path we go down is up to us. However, I might be being as skeptical as Richard Dawkins in church, but how society operates at the moment makes me feel it is more prone to choosing money over anything else.

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