Catching up with my reading schedule. I finally began looking into Phillipp Goodchild's "Theology of Money", which I mentioned earlier in the Integral Capitalism Thread. It's an extraordinary read, summarizing vast streams of thinking and taking steps into the yet unexplored.

I've read part one: "On Politics" and it made my brain hurt. In a good way ;-)

First Goodchild distinguishes two kinds of power (with Carl Schmitt): physical power, like hitting someone on the nose, and the human power of the will as expressed though speech and action and found in markets and nation-states. He then introduces a third kind: political power, which is the authority that guides the action of will on will. The political power depends on certain distributions of resources, which are themselves influenced by traditions, customs, markets, kinship, regions, language groups, currency areas, and nation-states.

This intangible "energy" of the political cannot be encompassed within modernity's concept of humanity. He shows that modern humanism is defined by three axioms:
1: the human is independent from the divine. Spectral and Occult Powers are regarded as illusionary.
2:the human subject is constituted as such through rational self-reflection as a self-determining agent.
3: continued mastery over an external nature

IOW, The fate of modern political thought rests on demonstrations of its effectiveness, it rests on a conception of power as mastery, it rests on the non-existence of invisible powers beyond those of physics and the will. Since the dawn of the modern age, nature has been mastered by science, technology and economics.

In the last decades of the 20th century, it became obvious that there are limits to the modern worldview. Chaos and Complexity Theory, Economic and Ecological Crisis show the impotence of Modernity to master external Nature. Subjects are not rational automatons, but are driven by passions and emotions, by promises, threat, violence, persuasion, moralizing, praying, but also influenced by sufficient supply of resources like fresh air, water, fertile soil and so on. It is doubtful that the alliance between the individual will and those other human and non-human powers can ever be reduced to represantation and mastery.
Conclusion: Through reason, the mind became subject to itself and constructed its own sovereignity. As a result we get a limited domain of sovereignity
and a broader domain of ignorance and impotence.

So in order to move on from representationalism and the illusory belief in sovereign self-determined subjects, Goodchild proposes that power is mediated by physical, human, and meta-human configurations. One possibilty to escape the theology of sovereignity is to engage with immanent problems. Goodchild states that there is a social body that corresponds directly with the power of the imagination in representation, which occurs in reality as well as in the mind. This social form of power is external to both physical processes and the human will. It is here where a political theology is to be sought.
Political Power is thus unthinkable without a body that supports it, whether such a body is a weapon of violence, a sovereign authority, or money itself.

He goes on to show that today money acts as a living symbol of the sovereign individual. Money, like nothing else, is an expression of individual power. Money effectively symbolizes the value of property, the soveregnity of freedom, and the power of desire. It is the political body that stands before and represents the individual. Money is the supreme instrument of political expression.

That's a rough sketch of the first part of the book. Part 2 is called: A Treatise on Money and Part 3: Of Theology (with promising chapters like 'Metaphysics and Credit') Ohoho. Can't wait to get on with it.

to be continued

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If money is the body of individual power I'm looking forward to hearing about the body of this emerging social power. Gaia? Or what do the Na'vi call it?
Chris:

You write: "(G00dchild) goes on to show that today money acts as a living symbol of the sovereign individual. Money, like nothing else, is an expression of individual power."

I'm hoping this fellow shows some deeper sense of historical process in the following parts of the book. Today? Today? The sentence quoted has been true (at least in the English speaking world) on a macroeconomic scale since the formalization of Mercantilism in the days of Henry VIII. Old news. (This particular period saw the advent of the first formalized and contractual top-down percolation of power, wealth, etc.)
lol ^_^

so this Forum is not dead yet after all. The PoMo Dogs are still barking and showing their conditioned reflexes. ehehe

Of course the above summary is only the external representation of my personal interior interpretation of the intention of the author of the beforementioned book title, and in no way an ersatz for reading the actual book. And yes, me too I am exited to see wether Goodchild can keep his promise.

xo
Chris,

This is good: The PoMo Dogs are still barking and showing their conditioned reflexes. ehehe.

Note that we are only guarding the manor to which we were born.
Thanks, Chris, for reading this for me. Like I say, you're my assistant editor. Better that your head hurt than mine. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.
Next Chapter: The End of Modernity.

There are so many important passages in here that my text marker went ouf of ink. :-)

Some gems:

>>"The impotence of the modern, rational subject is exposed by instabilities in both ohysical and meta-human powers. Modernity comes to a final end in the collision between economy and ecology. [...] For example, the end of modernity engulfed New orleans in early September 2005 in the wake of Hurrican Katrina. The environment ceased to behave in a stable way necessary for prediction and control; damage was inflicted on the primary source of power for modernity, oil production and refining; the human bonds of modern society evaporated with the flooding of the energy and transportation infrastructure; and, most significant, a climate of fear invaded the otherwise undamaged public institutions responding to the crisis - the media, military and emergency-management authorities - leaving many of them paralyzed and useless, at best, or positively harmful, at worst, for several days. Such is the end of modernity: a generalized state of emergency in which the stability of normal, modern life proves to be the exception rather than the rule. Indeed, the stability of modernity has always been exeptional. The emergency and chaos that are its inevitable byproduct are the norm."

This touches what I said in the 'State of exception thread' on Gaia (which I did not save). The concept of an ongoing unstoppable growth, "waves upon waves of bliss and perfection" are a modern utopian myth. The next crash, or crisis, or state of exception is always already in the making. A simple dialectical fact.

On politics and democracy:

>>"In the last instance, it is neither the people nor the executive who govern but the process of formation of a public will. The Public will is compatible with dictatorship or almost any other kind of government. Every significant political power can hope to form the people's will and so identify with the will of the people. [...] Joseph Schumpeter has similarly pointed out that the will of the people requires a conception of a common good around which the will of the people can be unified. The problem for democracy is that such a conception of the common good appears to be lacking. The mechanisms of liberal democracy, including freedom of speech, freedom of press and so on, produce an unrestrained clash of opinions.
It is one thing to have an abstract freedom of speech and another to be effectively heard. In the clash of opinions, opinions are not heard more vividly if they speak the truth, for the truth can be verified only by the confirmation of further vivid opinions. Instead, opinions must flatter the audience they attempt to attract; they must appeal to passions and immediate interests"

This is compatible with the concept of "Post-democracy" as developed by Colin Crouch and others. Even Habermas expressed a careful pessimism about the functionality of open discourse in today's political medias in his latest book "Ach, Europa".

For Goodchild, the only common good that survives the liberal clash of opinions are economic interests: the creation and accumulation of wealth is the single underlying mechanism in todays democratic societies. IOW, real-life democracy has "degenerated into the struggle of party interests, the banality of debate, the politics of personalities, the irrationality of human behavior, the manipulation of opinion by propaganda, the secrecy of real decision-making outside public debate, and the determination of politics by economic realities."

To further understand the role of economics in politics, it is necessary to understand the power of money.
He speaks about money as a 'spectral, temporal force'. It is the almost-perfect substitute for the Universal: exchangable for any desire of the human will. 'Even if no one really wants money - it is always a means, never an end - everyone believes in money, everyone desires money, or, rather, money is the reality, the interiority of belief and desire in which we dwell. It is not we who desire money - it is money who desires in us. [...] Money produces nothing - not even desire. It gives credit. It appeals to the future. To put it another way, it prays.'
Chapter Six: The Metaphysics of Credit

A Parable: On the desire to be rich

If one were only a true metaphysician, thinking nothing but being itself, relieved of the distractions of social intercourse and material need, enjoying the subtlest of truths, the profoundest states of awareness, the richest of revelations, freed from the need to think the Good, for thinking itself would be good, freed from the need to think the True, for thinking itself would be true, freed even from the need to think reality, for thinking itself would be life, until one dismissed metaphysics, for there needed no metaphysics, dismissed thinking, for there needed no thinking, until one renounced even the knowledge that one was a philosopher before setting out to seek wealth, friends, and lovers.
Best chapter yet. Some excerpts:

"For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also" Jesus Quote (Matt.6.21)

Goodchild's Thesis: "The Object of one's attention is used as the material for forming the perspective through which the world is to be seen. One forms a perspective expressed in a metaphysics." [...] This metaphysics is called into question as soon as one raises the problem of how time, attention and devotion are being spent. This is a universal question affecting believer and unbeliever alike. It undermines themodern exclusion of theological from critical thought, for if one's perspective is indeed formed by the way one spends one's time - and I will show how this is indeed the case with money - then evaluations, decisions, organization and production emerge from a practice that itself arises from commitments. To what will one devote one's life? What authority will one call on for one's decision to bear credit?"
I will not go through all the book here in public. It suffices to say that this book is mindbending and it was a difficult but rewarding read. I witnessed altered states of consciuosness while reading some passages, which says enough.

In the last chapter, Goodchild goes from Judas Iscariot to Saint Francis of Paola to Shakespeares' Merchant of Venice to illustrate his conclusions. Here a final quotation:

"To be real is not simply to be present in time; it is to be commited to spending time. To be real is to promise and to affect what is actually present through such promise. One may even propose that to be real is not simply to be real. The Permedian Tautology ("being is") must be broken open and must remain in suspension. To be real is to be not yet real; it is to be not yet to have become what one is. Reality is invariably an object of credit. Such is the reality of the metaphysics of money; such is the reality of modern metaphysics - a metaphysics that promises far more than it delivers."

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