Money is a technology

 Consumerism Money Information Christmas Society Technology

I have been thinking about money a lot lately. It's not only about the extra income that has come and already left, it's also about the presents and their exorbitant prices and also that moment when you think you can measure a relashionship with the money spent on presents. Presents are like wine. Usually the most expensive are the best, but that's not always so. And the thought is what really counts, even when it comes to wine.

Christmas introductions look good during this time of the year, but what I really wanted to say was that, the other day, money seemed like merely another form of technology. A particularly sophisticated one, sometimes obcene and obvious and other times subtle and imperceptible. I should start by saying, though, what I think defines "technology".

I don't believe technology is a mere device, that is at the service of mankind, who decides what to do with it. I don't believe in technology's innocence and, furthermore, I don't believe in a purely mechanical view of technology, that is, that technology has to be good for something perfectly racional and well-defined. It's the old tale: weapons don't kill, people do. What does it matter? It's a matter of grammar.

It's easier to say this today, at the beginning of the 21st century, than, say, in the Middle Ages or in the 17th century, but today technology is more like a second nature: we need it like we need to feed and reproduce ourselves, but we have with it a complex relashionship of need and freedom. Civilization (western civilization, at least) was built, in part, because of our defense against nature and its violence (clothes, houses, laws, etc.) be it interior or exterior to the human being. Today we know, as a principle, that we should wear clothes to keep warm and refrain from killing other human beings.

Technology and its rising domination in our society, seems to be the materialisation of the modern project of explaing nature, that would be under control, solved due to reason, science and technology. And yet, look around you. Today, technology has taken over our society, and our control over it is, at best, biased and difficult. And how do we intend to solve our problems with technology? Through more technology.

From here to being able to look at it in a different light and say that, in reality, technology owns us and uses us to reproduce itself is a short ride. For example: the Web grows, fed by programmers. And it's increasingly complex, untamable and clever.

And money? Well, as this post is already running long, try reading it switching the word "technology" for the word "money" and you know what I'm getting at.


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