I have two theses about modernity and
economics. Here they are.
The first is that there is a
multiplicity of matrixes of exchange even within modernity – and that the
seeming hegemony of the money matrix, to the extent that it even defines the
economic as opposed to the non-economic, is a phenomena that has certainly
penetrated other matrixes – such as the complex gift and barter relationships
of family, friendship and alliance – without fundamentally ‘commoditizing’
them. In one sense, my whole thesis is that there is a dialectic structure that
governs the degree to which the hegemony of money, as reflected in the
character of homo economicus, can actually dispense with other matrixes, since
its survival is threatened by its monopoly of all spaces of exchange.
The other thesis is that rationality, as the economists define it, is linked to
a realism that denies perspectives as anything other than representatives of
‘parts of reality’. Myself, I am a perspectivist of the ‘hard; variety – that
is, I see no reason to put up with the idea that the parts of reality make up
one reality. Reality, here, becomes a substitute for the God’s eye perspective
– that point at which we can see the whole universe. Perspectivism denies that
perspective can be constructed. It does not deny, it should be said, that
certain processes might be shared among perspectives – say, a process for
correlating statement and fact. Or even a process for ordering preferences. It
simply denies that this formal characteristic has any substance. In other
words, rationality within a perspective refers to the norms of the perspective,
not to processes that transcend perspectives. Hard perspectivism contends that
there is information in a given perspective – something that can be defined by
simple axioms – that does not exist in other perspectives. In the clash of
perspectives – which is the dynamic by which perspectives are made – this
information can be completely lost – the way a passenger pigeon saw an oak tree
no longer exists, for instance. I would not go so far as to say that
different matrixes of exchange form completely different perspectives, but something similar might well hold – that is, that there is information in a barter exchange that can’t be transformed or translated into the money exchange. Etc.
In other words, I want to build a theory about economics based on this phrase of Blake’s:
How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?