Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cohen on the money

To complement my earlier arguments that the poor suffer coercive interference in virtue of their poverty, see also G.A. Cohen's 'Freedom and Money' [PDF] (pp.13-14):
A property distribution just is, as I have argued at length elsewhere, a distribution of rights of interference. If A owns P and B does not, then A may use P without interference and B will, standardly, suffer interference if he attempts to use P. But money serves, in a variety of circumstances (and, notably, when A puts P up for rent or sale), to remove that latter interference. Therefore money confers freedom, rather than merely the ability to use it, even if freedom is equated with absence of interference.

... The only way you won't be prevented from getting and using things that cost money in our society - which is to say: most things - is by offering money for them.

So to lack money is to be liable to interference, and the assimilation of money to physical, or even mental, resources is a piece of unthinking fetishism, in the good old Marxist sense that it misrepresents social relations of constraint as people lacking things. In a word: money is no object.


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