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Money as a dominant social relation (was: Re: [ox-en] There is no such thing like "peer money")

Samuel Rose wrote:
Money has been around for at least ten thousand years or more among humans.
Money has naturally emerged among almost every culture that ever existed.

When we talk about money, we should remember that money as a _dominant
social relation_ is a fairly new phenomenon. In most cultures, money did not
play a very important role, since most economy relations where based on
direct dependency (slaves producing for their master, serfs producing for
their feudal lord etc.) and/or on direct, money-less cooperation in small
groups (subsistence production in tribes, farmer families, or serf
families--except for the parts that went to the lord and the church).

Most production took place for direct consumption by the producers community
(subsistence) and/or their masters (direct dependency). Possibly surplusses
(not needed for other purposes) were exchanged, but production _for
exchange_ was rare and existed mainly "at the fringes of society", as Marx
puts it.

Money only became a dominant social relation when production _for exchange_,
production with the explicit purpose of getting money, became the norm
rather than an exception. That happened only about 500-300 years ago, with
the emergence of capitalism.

Sadly, I don't know of any good English-language references to these
developments--if anybody can fill them in, I would be grateful. (Maybe Raoul
Victor, who has studied so closely the transition from feudalism to capitalism?)

Also, I believe that there have been many cultures who didn't know money at
all, though they might have used different systems that might seem similar
to, but cannot be considered money since they served a different purpose,
such as the Kula system []. (Wikipedia
writes: "The Kula exchange system can be viewed as reinforcing status and
authority distinctions".) That Kula cannot be considered money has been
pointed out before by Gregers Petersen, if I remember correctly.

So, let's not be rash about the role of money. Electricity has been with us
for millions of years (think of lightning), but the use of electricity as a
major source of energy is rather new.

Best regards

|-------- Dr. Christian Siefkes --------- christian ---------
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|      Peer Production in the Physical World:
|------------------------------------------ OpenPGP Key ID: 0x346452D8 --
Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature.
        -- Rich Kulawiec

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