Karl Marx Credit Card Libre!

Karl Marx Credit

If there are two things that kept Karl Marx going those things were rampant capitalism and living off credit (well, borrowing).

So, the fact that Sparkasse Chemnitz in Germany’s third largest city of Chemnitz, has launched a credit card with this face (in the form of a statue) might have made him slightly less outrageously angry, bitter, scrounging and curmudgeonly.

A couple of facts first: Chemnitz was formerly known as ‘Karl Marx Stadt’ and that “the people” voted (well, customers answered an internet poll) that the statue of Marx should become the emblem on the Mastercard.

For his part, and coming at a time before credit cards, what does Karl have to say about credit itself?

He had quite a bit to say in his 1844 piece, ‘Comments on James Mill, Éléments D’économie Politique‘.

“Within the credit relationship, it is not the case that money is transcended in man, but that man himself is turned into money, or money is incorporated in him.

“Human individuality, human morality itself, has become both an object of commerce and the material in which money exists. Instead of money, or paper, it is my own personal existence, my flesh and blood, my social virtue and importance, which constitutes the material, corporeal form of the spirit of money.

Credit no longer resolves the value of money into money but into human flesh and the human heart.

“Such is the extent to which all progress and all inconsistencies within a false system are extreme retrogression and the extreme consequence of vileness.”

(My italics)

“Vileness”. Good old Karl. Sure he can be dull and dogmatic at times, but at other times, such as “Credit no longer resolves the value of money into money but into human flesh and the human heart”, he could also call out to the humanity in the system; in the ‘market that will find its own level’. That humanity is what has been missing and what has lead to the kind of problems with the Euro that have resulted in Greek desolation and the rise of the hard right.

I think you see, that if you are concentrating on the fact that Marx is on a credit card and therefore he has no more to say, you are missing the point entirely.

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