I’m years from being able to do anything with these suggestions. But the blog’s for getting things off my chest, and so:
Karl Polanyi, ‘The Great Transformation’, p. 75. “The crucial point is this: labor, land, and money are essental elements of industry; they also must be organized in markets; in fact these markets form an absolutely vital part of the economic system. But labor, land, and money are obviously not commodities; the postulate that anything that is bought and sold must have been produced for sale is emphatically untrue in regard to them.”
Critics of economics, or of market economics, tend to see capitalism as betraying or concealing the true realities of our social existence. The methods of valuation that are essential to the operation of a market economy destroy the valuations that should be guiding our politics and our lives.
I endorse this view. But I only partly endorse it. One of my strategies in this blog is going to involve its rejection. On the one hand, yes: strip away the lies that generate our vision of the market economy. But on the other hand: trace out the full implications of that vision. My goal here is Derridean: to wholly inhabit the philosophical system we wish to deconstruct. I see economics’ treatment of money as closely parallelling metaphysics’ treatment of the sign. And if economics proposes that everything can be seen in terms of commodities (which is also to say, in terms of money), I say – fine, let’s see how far you’re willing to take that idea. In my opinion, the commodification of everything is, for economics, unthinkable without a foundation that escapes commodification. I propose that we attempt to eliminate that foundaton – and see what this does to the concept of the commodity.