Money, money, money
Money is a means or purpose of life?
“Money, not Morality, is the main principle of social relations of a civilized nation.”Thomas Jefferson
“Money brings down all the gods of man from a height and turns them into commodities. They, therefore, deprived the human world of its own value.» Karl Marx.
Once it was considered indecent to talk about money, the topic was unworthy of public attention not only because it was perceived as “low”, but also because not everyone had it, not for everyone it was achievable. In recent decades, the topic of money has become the Central, the main topic of discussion, sounding in offices, on the street, in the family, in all human relationships, in all works of art.Economic opportunities appeared for many, money began to determine not only purchasing power, but also the ability to participate in the economic game.
The credit system allowed even those whose wages cover only the necessary daily expenses to purchase houses, cars, and luxury goods. Weekends are mostly devoted to buying new things, Shopping has become a form of recreation and entertainment. Relationships between people have become increasingly regulated by money, and money has taken a Central place in the scale of public interest.
Money began to evaluate those areas of life to which other criteria were previously applied. Talent in any field of activity is determined not by professional achievements, but by the level of payment.
A successful doctor is not the one who has helped more patients, but the one whose annual income is higher than that of his colleagues. Engineer not by how many benefits to society he brought to his work, but by how much he received for it. A writer, artist, actor, or Director is evaluated not by the significance of their creations, but by the amount of the fee received.
Money has always been a symbol of success in life, but in an economic democracy it is more than an abstract symbol of social status, since it gives many forms of freedom, makes a person the master of his own destiny. They, rather than complex criteria for evaluating the human value of past eras, determine the value of the individual.
Aristocratic societies were built on a hierarchical principle — the upper classes, the lower classes, at the top of the heroes, personalities, bright individuals, at the bottom of the faceless crowd, the mass. In a” correctly constructed society”, Bazarov said in “Fathers and children”, ” … it will be absolutely the same whether a person is stupid or clever, evil or good.»
Money is a true institution of democracy, a democracy of equality, they reject the evaluation of a person through his individual, personal qualities. In a “correct”, i.e., democratic society built on the economy, not the person, not the individual becomes the determining criterion of human value, the hierarchy is created by economic status, it makes a person a person in the eyes of others, distinguishing him from the faceless mass.
Money has always played a huge role in the life of any society, but the degree of value of money in different cultures has been different. In Shakespeare’s merchant of Venice, the usurer character uses the power of money to punish those who see him as an outcast, used by the Venetian patricians for their own purposes and despised for the “ignoble occupation” by which he earns a living. During the period of intensive development of capitalism, in the first third of the XIX century, money became the main instrument of economic growth, capital growth, and its importance began to increase for all social classes.
In Russia, capitalist forms of economy that changed the traditional criteria of human value in the eyes of society appeared later than in Europe. But the trend was already felt, and Pushkin was the first to see it. In “the Miserly knight”, the very title of the play emphasized the discrepancy between the thirst for money and chivalry. In the Queen of Spades, a brilliant guard officer, an aristocrat, kills an old woman for money by threatening her with a pistol. Not origin, nobility, aristocracy or personal qualities, only money brings respect to society. The hero’s name, German, clearly indicated where this trend came from.
Alexander Herzen, who lived for many years in Europe, where the trend has already become the Foundation of life: “Before anything was recognized except money, so that a person without money, but with other qualities, could count on at least some respect. Now, without money, not only respect, but also self-respect can not be counted on otherwise.”.
For the propertied classes, the struggle for wealth has always been a familiar part of life, but by the middle of the XIX century, the intensity of the struggle increased — the “poor classes”began to be involved in monetary relations. For centuries, the pistol, sword, dagger, and poison were the means used in the struggle for wealth within the aristocratic elite. Herman used a gun in the Queen of Spades. Raskolnikov in” Crime and Punishment ” took an axe that he found in the janitor’s room. The fight began to get more and more heated, and all the tools at hand were included in its Arsenal.
The axe is a popular tool, and it is an indicator that the masses are involved in the process of chasing money. With money, a person gets respect, without money, he is a “trembling creature”.
Dostoevsky is no wonder that to this day he remains an acutely modern writer – he, like no other, showed the increasing power of money over the public consciousness. In what Dostoevsky remained a man of his time, it is that the tragedy of his hero lies in the insurmountable contradiction between religious morality and the practice of life. Moral torment is Raskolnikov’s main punishment for the murder he committed — the crime leads to the disintegration of the individual. Today, Dostoevsky’s moralizing is perplexing; in modern economic society, morality has lost its former significance, and the moral-money dilemma itself has disappeared along with the loss of the status of morality in the public consciousness.
The huge intensity of passions in all Dostoevsky’s novels, the plots of which are built around money, showed the reaction of the then Russian educated class to the power of money over people’s lives, which was perceived as a tragedy, since the contradiction between morality and money was insoluble. The Russian liberal intelligentsia saw the possibility of solving this dilemma in the revolutionary storm, in the destruction of the entire state structure, and it saw all the country’s troubles in the immorality of the government.
In Russia, the state and the economy were inseparable. In Europe, the economy was quite independent, independent of the state structure. The state gradually lost its absolute power, as the economy rebuilt the entire social system, the economy began to determine the place of man in society.
European literature, beginning with Moliere’s “Philistine in the nobility”, spoke of a revision of the hierarchy of traditional assessments without Dostoevsky’s anguish. The process of expanding the status of money in Europe was quite dramatic, but it did not carry a tragedy, as traditional morality gradually, step by step, gave way to a life of practicality, the philosophy of survival characteristic of the lower classes, who for the first time in history were able to escape from centuries of poverty.
The European bourgeoisie turned into a new bourgeois class, on which the old masters of life, the aristocracy, and the nobility began to depend. The new masters of life created a new hierarchy of values and turned into the aristocracy of the new time, the aristocracy of money.
In Russia, before 1917, this process was different. Russia used the principles of capitalist economy, but the power in the economy belonged to the state, and the new forms of economy fit into the traditional structure-feudal. In the feudal system, wealth was not earned, but received, depending on connections with the vertical of power.
After 1917, the Bolsheviks, having destroyed the old feudal system, created a new one, which differed from the old only in form, and in which the benefits of life were also distributed according to the principle of the feudal system, in accordance with the status within the vertical of state power. The state has become the sole owner of the entire economy, and money — one of the main tools of democracy-has ceased to perform its role as an engine of social change. Russia has stopped in time. The events of 1991 returned Russia to a number of countries where money began to determine the social status of Russia, ” democratized.”But also, as in all previous Russian history, new entrepreneurs receive wealth from the hands of the state.
Since the advent of capitalism in the XVIII century, the cultural elite of Europe has condemned the process of changing the values of moral, spiritual, i.e. aristocratic, bourgeois, democratic, monetary. And the reaction of the cultural elite was understandable, it was deprived of the usual customer, the new customer did not need them, the new owners of life had other interests and other values.
Traditional culture was aristocratic, elitist by definition, since it was created by the creative aristocracy for the hereditary and ancestral aristocracy-the owners of wealth. New forms of economic relations created conditions in which high, spiritual values began to give way to economic values. Money became the goal and meaning of life for the masses, as it provided physical comfort, freedom, and social status. However, in the eyes of Europeans, the deification of money in America has exceeded acceptable limits even for them.
French aristocrat, Marquis Alexis Tocqueville: “I do not know a country where the passion for money so engrosses all the thoughts and feelings of people. Enrichment, money, is so much thought of as an end in itself that it becomes something transcendental and even simply irrational in relation to the happiness and benefits of an individual…”.