Incarnating the Money-Sign
Notes on an Implicit Theopolitics
Keywords:money, capital, incarnation, political theology, biopolitics, semiotics
AbstractThis paper initiates an investigation into the theological and political dynamics surrounding the nature and function of money. Contrary to views of money’s spontaneous emergence and efficacy, or ideas of its intrinsic worth, I present the understanding of money as an authoritatively instituted sign. Whether emperor, monarch or state, authorizing institutions and discourses are necessary to render money’s performance successful in a given territory. Since in our day this implicates the nation-state, predictions of the state’s demise in light of financial market preponderance appear incoherent. In broaching an analysis of the many elements of money’s function in the nexus of power, politics, and economy, I propose the Christian concept of incarnation as a useful hermeneutic. Incarnational dynamics shed light on attempts at an enforced codification of reality by money’s semiotic institution by the powers, and open up a space for potential critique.
Althusser, Louis. 1971. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. In Lenin and Philosophy, translated by Ben Brewster, 127–186. London: New Left Books: .
Baudrillard, Jean. 1975. The Mirror of Production. New York: Telos Press.
Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population : Lectures at the Collège De France, 1977–1978. Edited by Michel Senellart, translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Goux, Jean-Joseph. 1994. Coiners of Language. Translated by Jennifer Curtiss Gage. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
_____. 1990. Symbolic Economies: After Marx and Freud. Translated by Jennifer Curtiss Gage. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Hardy, Edward, ed. 1954. Christology of the Later Fathers, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Harl, Kenneth. 1996. Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Harvey, David. 1982. The Limits to Capital. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Ingham, Geoffrey. 2004. The Nature of Money. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Jameson, Fredric. 1984. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. New Left Review 146: 59–92.
Kantorowicz, Ernst. 1957. The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Knorr Cetina, Karin and Urs Bruegger. 2002. Traders’ Engagement with Markets: A Postsocial Relationship. Theory, Culture and Society 19: 161–185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/026327602761899200
Lukács, Georg. 1971. Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat. In History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Translated by Rodney Livingston, 83–222. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Marion, Jean-Luc. 1991. God Without Being: Hors-Texte. Translated by Thomas Carlson. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Mizruchi, Mark and Linda Stearns. 1994. Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. In The Handbook of Economic Sociology, edited by N. Smelser and R. Swedberg, 313–341. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mondzain, Marie-José. 2005. Image, Icon, Economy. Translated by Rico Franses. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Schmitt, Carl. 2005. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Translated by George Schwab. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Shell, Marc. 1978. The Economy of Literature. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Simmel, Georg. 1978. The Philosophy of Money. London: Routledge.
Weber, Max. 1946. Politics as a Vocation. In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, 77–129. Oxford: Oxford University Press.