Sociology Lens has an interesting post today regarding Georg Simmel and his view of how money shapes interactions and social relations such as subordination and domination, in a rational and objective way. He states the importance of money, in how it forms the central aspect of the nexus of social life. He is known for influencing George Ritzer who replaced Simmel's money analysis with credit cards and stated how their introduction in the 50s has lead to an increasingly depersonalised and rational society, drawing on Weber's view of rationalisation. Simmel's views around the way and how money is exchanged in society provides us with useful insights into the values of society and social relations, relates clearly to the G20 discussions that have taken place today, as do Ritzer's - who helps show how important credit has become in the consumer society we live in today.
There have been protesters at the G20 summits holding up placards calling on governments to "stop letting money rule the world". Simmel's analysis of the importance of money resonates with these protesters claims. The way society views money and the way that money objectively shapes relations of power etc. is increasingnly being shown by the discussions being held in meetings such as G20, to be one of greed and inequality. Even though France and Germany have rightly backed down on their wish to cut back on fiscal stimuli, the G20 have managed to persuade these two closely tied countries to back down on their proposals to cap bonuses. Britain has therefore won on both accounts, however, it does help show how the value of money in society is one of great significance, and that there is a decreasing lack of morality around the way money is divided up. With the onset of surplus credit, we are seeing greater levels of debt. As I wrote the other day, it is interesting to take note of the depressing reactions to the decrease of personal debt, as high levels of debt are seen as the cornerstone of capitalism success.
I have stated before my view that there needs to be a cap on bonuses. There is a minimum wage so why can't there be a maximum wage? As I stated yesterday, there have been ongoing discussions for over a year now on how to make sure the scale of the economic crisis we have just witnessed does not return again. Well, I am afraid the situation has actually got worse. We are not getting tough enough with the bankers. For example, how is it right for the government to claim that signing on bonuses, such as Brian Hartzer the new head of RBS retail branch (70% state owned) received £1,000,000 worth of shares for agreeing to work there, are OK. And if that is not enough, he can continue to get more shares if he works for them for the next 2 years. This contradicts the message that the government wishes to promote with the G20 of tackling the non performance related bonuses. As 70% share holders, it is nonsense for Darling to claim that the government cannot do anything.
What the G20 shows us is that money is an ever increasing objective determiner of who has the power in society. The conflicts amongst the countries continue to also display the disarray in actually helping tackle the problems with bonuses and regulation, as things continue to look the same as they always have: corrupt.
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