It’s been eight years since I read this, and it has just hit me with full force again. Who can argue with it? Not even rationally, necessarily, but at the gut level. Do you really not feel it, not live it?
“Political economy, this science of wealth, is therefore simultaneously the science of denial, of want, of thrift, of saving — and it actually reaches the point where it spares man the need of either fresh air or exercise. This science of marvellous industry is simultaneously the science of asceticism, and its true ideal is the ascetic but extortionate miser and the ascetic but productive slave. Its moral ideal is the worker who takes part of his wages to the savings-bank… Self-denial, the denial of life and of all human needs, is its cardinal doctrine. The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public-house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save — the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour — your capital. The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life — the greater is the store of your estranged being. Everything which the political economist takes from you in life and in humanity, he replaces for you in money and in wealth; and all the things which you cannot do, your money can do. It can eat and drink, go to the dance hall and the theatre; it can travel, it can appropriate art, learning, the treasures of the past, political power… All passions and all activity must therefore be submerged in avarice. The worker may only have enough for him to want to live, and may only want to live in order to have…”
(I wonder what I am doing here.)
And finally, try this later paragraph, more subtle, yet more profound. This time, emphasis is mine.
“…by possessing the property of buying everything, by posessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession… It therefore functions as the almighty being. Money is the pimp between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is the other person… Money is the alienated ability of mankind.”