For Love or Money

Peer Reviewed

Esay Excerpt

In this brief essay I will consider only some of Karl Marx’s reflections on love in relation to money and property in his 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts as an illustration of the kind of work that seems useful to me.  Marx refers to love most directly in these manuscripts in his critique of the power of money.  Money corrupts, he argues, on the one hand, by displacing being with having.  “He who can buy courage is brave,” he writes, “though he is a coward.”   Our relations and bonds to each other and the world can only truly be established based on who we are.  “If you wish to enjoy art,” Marx continues, “you must be an artistically educated person; if you wish to exercise influence over 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” (p. 379).  One problem with money, in other words, and with the way it focuses our lives on having is not only that it distracts us from our being in society and the world but also and more importantly that it causes us to neglect the development of our senses and our powers to create social bonds (p. 678-679).

About the Author

Michael Hardt's faculty profile at Duke University

Biography at the European Graduate School

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