How Artists Help Us Live with Financial Schizophrenia
Pierre Guillet de Monthoux
Before the crisis, we lived in global faith that value was all about economic exchange satisfactory mirrored by money. To constructively confront postcrises worlds, we must leave such “moneytheism” behind. While tracing the roots of “moneytheism” and warning of its fatal consequences, this chapter claims that art intuitively enlightens and broadens our perspectives. A performance at the Venice biennale in 2009 by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto illustrates how this can happen.
Subprime mortgage lenders force people out of their homes. Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Public and private debt skyrockets. And almost simultaneously, all the problems of population, poverty, environment, morality, and social order cluster under one headline: “Financial Crisis!” At the outset, the crisis misleads us into believing that money is the cause and that political problems are the effect, and we soon become confident that the world can be reduced to matters that money can measure. The more the financial crisis dominates our minds, the more the world becomes a financial entity that money best mirrors. The crisis justifies our financial faith and converts us all to true believers in a moneytheist ideology.
In the precrisis United States, when 40 percent of corporate profit was derived from financial operations, finance was primarily considered a somewhat boring technical exercise that created wealth and provided a dull job for