No. 3: About Money
We would like to offer 10 feminist writers USD 10,000 each to write a 9,000 word essay about money. Would such an offer be reasonable? How do we justify paying it to some and not others? What kind of writing could be considered to have earned that money? How would we judge the value of the quality of writing relative to what we could pay? More importantly, what kind of thinking and writing would you have to produce to ethically convince yourself that you deserve that money? Are you thinking about doing meaningful, honest, trenchant, incisive, politically engaged work or are you thinking, “Damn, I really want that money!“? Thus, the central problem of relations mediated by money: Money is not about anything; it is only about itself. At the moment a large enough amount of it is proffered, that for which it is to be compensation is transformed into something that is materialised by money, for money. The offer of money becomes an act of power, by which one human or corporation might judge, measure, and finally animate (though not motivate) another person. For what kind of person is it who is only motivated by money? What would they do for money? One always risks or embraces being unscrupulous in the hunt for money. Look again: There is no money! (Certainly, we can’t pay that much for an essay because we do not have even that much at our discretion.)
More money is good and much more is even better. But, can money, in itself, be considered good? How did it, if indeed it did, become good? And why would more be better? Can we take its goodness or venality for granted without immediately implicating ourselves and testifying to our personal histories with money? After all, your Ivy League business school acquaintance parrots the refrain that “Money is a way of keeping score.” Thus, there must be losers in whatever game is implied.
We call money by many names and make alarming claims about its power or we underestimate its capabilities depending on how much money we have or how we came by the money we might have or might have lost, “Money makes the world go round”, “Cash is king”, “Money talks”, “Money is power”, “Money can’t buy love”. Meanwhile, we tap the screens on our smartphones and are promptly informed that now we have less money, now we have more money, something has been transacted, and these numbers, which recently winked into existence before our eyes, signify. It’s hallucinatory, this interaction with money, and we’re conflicted: worrying about it, hating what it does to us, lusting after it, not having it, having it and simultaneously not. If you could make a choice and determine whether you have money, and how much, what would you choose, would the choice be defensible, and how would you reconcile the highly likely chance that your choice would compromise if it would compromise your beliefs? What does that choice say about your current beliefs about money? Is our belief, in fact, the currency? And why is our desire so inflationary?
The Wide Margin is thrilled to announce a call for essays and articles for the third issue: “About Money”. In this issue we’re interested in feminist Africans’ interactions, observations and thoughts about money. We’re looking for essays on stealing money, inheriting money, not inheriting money, donating money, using money to organize feminist work, donating money, selling out (for money), wasting money, money and the global warming, taxing ourselves and being taxed by governments, money and love, burning or burning through money, a feminist African cryptocurrency, alternative currency systems, even alternative facts about money. We’re looking for feminist African ideas about money.
Read our general guidelines here.