Money and Relationship I: Individual
The «I», our self, belongs to the modern era
The I, our self, is a basic fact for us. But for the vast majority of its history, humanity knew no such I. It belongs to the modern era, the age of the money-mediated society. That is what creates this I and what necessitates it.
Because it counts within such a society – and only there: Money necessarily refers to everyone individually, since every single one acts as an owner of money. Money there exists solely as something for which someone has ownership. And everyone must own it to survive. The relation of every individual to money – that he has and has access to – constitutes a center of his life. At the same time it is exactly this individual relation to money that connects every individual to all other people, as an owner of money to the other owners of money: Because it is only from them he can get money and only from them can he get something for his money.
Every money owner has an virtual relationship with all other money owners
This totality, this «all others» is, therefore, while very real, also vague, empty and utterly abstract. This total arises not from individuals actually knowing all these other people concretely, rather it comes through the abstract, namely, in the relationship every money owner has with virtually all other money owners. This oppositional setting of each individual and the abstract whole is the necessary and inevitable result of money – of the money of a money-mediated society. And so it requires this sort of conception of each one himself as an abstract individual in relation to an abstract totality.
Who am I?
For this reason, however, no one is simply and originally this individual. Rather, he sees himself only as like this individual – that for himself he is not. For this reason, the embodiment of this singulation, the I, at the same time always remains strange for each one: It attaches only abstractly to what everyone simply is. Notably, as a consequence this I thus first has to be discovered. It is not at hand, rather the objective of an ongoing I-discovery.
The question, Who am I, does not lead as we believe to the core of one’s self, rather it testifies to the separation of Who and I that cannot be closed because it arises from that split: the I as a perpetual, uncatchable project. And as a deeply burdensome project. A project that does not only affect people psychologically - Freud designates the I as function - but it exposes them constantly and strenuously to what is causing it: They have to assert themselves on the market, themselves and as self, namely in competition with that abstract whole. They paradoxically elevate what they have to do to themselves for that to an ideal: their identity.