Marx’s Theology of Money

As people will have already guessed, some of the theoretical basis of Philip Goodchild’s Theology of Money comes from Marx, in particular his The Power of Money fragment from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. From Roland Boer‘s tireless work we are already aware of the depth of Marx’s engagement with theology – Engels, a keen biblical critic, and historian of early Christianity even more so. I just stumbled across the following passage from Comments on James Mill, Éléments D’économie Politique. Here Marx is discussing James Mill, the father of John Stewart Mill. Here is a short extract.

Mill very well expresses the essence of the matter in the form of a concept by characterising money as the medium of exchange. The essence of money is not, in the first place, that property is alienated in it, but that the mediating activity or movement, the human, social act by which man’s products mutually complement one another, is estranged from man and becomes the attribute of money, a material thing outside man. Since man alienates this mediating activity itself, he is active here only as a man who has lost himself and is dehumanised; the relation itself between things, man’s operation with them, becomes the operation of an entity outside man and above man. Owing to this alien mediator – instead of man himself being the mediator for man – man regards his will, his activity and his relation to other men as a power independent of him and them. His slavery, therefore, reaches its peak. It is clear that this mediator now becomes a real God, for the mediator is the real power over what it mediates to me. Its cult becomes an end in itself. Objects separated from this mediator have lost their value. Hence the objects only have value insofar as they represent the mediator, whereas originally it seemed that the mediator had value only insofar as it represented them. This reversal of the original relationship is inevitable. This mediator is therefore the lost, estranged essence of private property, private property which has become alienated, external to itself, just as it is the alienated species-activity of man, the externalised mediation between man’s production and man’s production. All the qualities which arise in the course of this activity are, therefore, transferred to this mediator. Hence man becomes the poorer as man, i.e., separated from this mediator, the richer this mediator becomes.

Christ represents originally: 1) men before God; 2) God for men; 3) men to man.

Similarly, money represents originally, in accordance with the idea of money: 1) private property for private property; 2) society for private property; 3) private property for society.

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One Response to “Marx’s Theology of Money”

  1. Thomas J Bridges Says:

    A fascinating text–thanks. This makes me think of the panopticon.


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