Karl Marx's


written between
April and August 1844



If man's feelings, passions, etc., are not merely anthropological characteristics in the narrower sense, but are truly ontological affirmations of his essence (nature), and if they only really affirm themselves insofar as their object exists sensuously for them, then it is clear:

(1) That their mode of affirmation is by no means one and the same, but rather that the different modes of affirmation constitute the particular character of their existence, of their life. The mode in which the object exists for them is the characteristic mode of their gratification.

(2) Where the sensuous affirmation is a direct annulment [Aufheben] of the object in its independent form (eating, drinking, fashioning of objects, etc.), this is the affirmation of the object.

(3) Insofar as man, and hence also his feelings, etc., are human, the affirmation of the object by another is also his own gratification.

(4) Only through developed industry -- i.e., through mediation of private property, does the ontological essence of human passion come into being, both in its totality and in its humanity; the science of man is, therefore, itself a product of the self-formation of man through practical activity.

(5) The meaning of private property, freed from its estrangement, is the existence of essential objects for man, both as objects of enjoyment and of activity.

Money, inasmuch as it possess the property of being able to buy everything and appropriate all objects, is the object most worth possessing. The universality of this property is the basis of money's omnipotence; hence, it is regarded as an omnipotent being... Money is the pimp between need and object, between life and man's means of life. But that which mediates _my_ life also mediates the existence of other men for me. It is for me the other person.

What, man! confound it, hands and feet
And head and backside, all are yours!
And what we take while life is sweet,
Is that to be declared not ours?
Six stallions, say, I can afford,
Is not their strength my property?
I tear along, a sporting lord,
As if their legs belonged to me.

(Goethe, _Faust_ -- Mephistopheles)
[ Part I, scene 4 ]

Shakespeare, in _Timon of Athens_:

Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold! No, gods,
I am no idle votarist; roots, you clear heavens!
Thus much of this will make black, white; foul, fair;
Wrong, right; base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant.
... Why, this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides;
Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads:
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions; bless th'accurst;
Make the hoar leprosy adored; place thieves,
And give them title, knee, and approbation,
With senators on the bench: this is it
That makes the wappen'd widow wed again;
She whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices
To th'April day again. Come, damned earth,
Thou common whore of mankind, that putt'st odds
Among the rout of nations, I will make thee
Do thy right nature.

And, later on:

O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
'Twixt natural son and sire! Thou bright defiler
Of Hymen's purest bed! Thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer,
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian's lap! Thous visible god,
That solder'st close impossibilities,
And mak'st them kiss! That speak'st with every tongue,
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels; and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have in world empire!

Shakespeare paints a brilliant picture of the nature of money. To understand him, let us begin by expounding the passage from Goethe.

That which exists for me through the medium of money, that which I can pay for, i.e., that which money can buy, that am I, the possessor of money. The stronger the power of my money, the stronger am I. The properties of money are my, the possessor's, properties and essential powers. Therefore, what I am and what I can do is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy the most beautiful woman. Which means to say that I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness, its repelling power, is destroyed by money. As an individual, I am lame, but money procurs me 24 legs. Consequently, I am not lame. I am a wicked, dishonest, unscrupulous and stupid individual, but money is respected, and so also is its owner. Money is the highest good, and consequently its owner is also good. Moreover, money spares me the trouble of being dishonest, and I am therefore presumed to be honest. I am mindless, but if money is the true mind of all things, how can its owner be mindless? What is more, he can buy clever people for himself, and is not he who has power over clever people cleverer than them? Through money, I can have anything the human heart desires. Do I not possess all human abilities? Does not money therefore transform all my incapacities into their opposite?

If money is the bond which ties me to human life and society to me, which links me to nature and to man, is money not the bond of all bonds? Can it not bind and loose all bonds? Is it therefore not the universal means of separation? It is the true agent of separation and the true cementing agent, it is the chemical power of society.

Shakespeare brings out two properties of money in particular:

(1) It is the visible divinity, the transformation of all human and natural qualities into their opposites, the universal confusion and inversion of things; it brings together impossibilities.

(2) It is the universal whore, the universal pimp of men and peoples.

The inversion and confusion of all human and natural qualities, the bringing together of impossibilities, the divine power of money lies in its nature as the estranged and alienating species-essence of man which alienates itself by selling itself. It is the alienated capacity of mankind.

What I, as a man, do -- i.e., what all my individual powers cannot do -- I can do with the help of money. Money, therefore, transforms each of these essential powers into something which it is not, into its opposite.

If I desire a meal, or want to take the mail coach because I am not strong enough to make the journey on foot, money can provide me both the meal and the mail coach -- i.e., it transfers my wishes from the realm of imagination, it translates them from their existence as thought, imagination, and desires, into their sensuous, real existence, from imagination into life, and from imagined being into real being. In this mediating role, money is the truly creative power.

Demand also exists for those who have no money, but their demand is simply a figment of the imagination. For me, or for any other third party, it has no effect, no existence. For me, it therefore remains unreal and without an object. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my desire, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between a representation which merely exists within me and one which exists outside me as a real object.

If I have money for travel, I have no need -- i.e., no real and self-realizing need -- to travel. If I have a vocation to study, but no money for it, I have _no_ vocation to study -- i.e., no real, true vocation. But, if I really do not have any vocation to study, but have the will and the money, then I have an _effective_ vocation do to so. Money, which is the external, universal means and power -- derived not from man as man, and not from human society as society -- to turn imagination into reality and reality into more imagination, similarly turns real human and natural powers into purely abstract representations, and therefore imperfections and phantoms -- truly impotent powers which exist only in the individual's fantasy -- into real essential powers and abilities. Thus characterized, money is the universal inversion of individualities, which it turns into their opposites and to whose qualities it attaches contradictory qualities.

Money, therefore, appears as an _inverting_ power in relation to the individual and to those social and other bonds which claim to be essences in themselves. It transforms loyalty into treason, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, nonsense into reason, and reason into nonsense.

Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and exchanges everything, it is the universal _confusion_ and _exchange_ of all things, an inverted world, the confusion and exchange of all natural and human qualities.

He who can buy courage is brave, even if he is a coward. Money is not exchange for a particular quality, a particular thing, or for any particular one of the essential powers of man, but for the whole objective world of man and of nature. Seen from the standpoint of the person who possesses it, money exchanges every quality for every other quality and object, even if it is contradictory; it is the power which brings together impossibilities and forces contradictions to embrace.

If we assume man to be man, and his relation to the world to be a human one, then love can be exchanged only for love, trust for trust, and so on. If you wish to enjoy art, you must be an artistically educated person; if you wish to exercise influence on other men, you must be the sort of person who has a truly stimulating and encouraging effect on others. Each one of your relations to man -- and to nature -- must be a particular expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love unrequitedly -- i.e., if your love as love does not call forth love in return, if, through the vital expression of yourself as a loving person, you fail to become a loved person -- then your love is impotent, it is a misfortune.