Postmodernism and the Market
Linguistics has a useful scheme that is unfortunately lacking in ideological analysis: it can mark a given word as either 'word' or 'idea' by alternating slash marks or brackets. Thus the word market, with its various dialect pronunciations and its etymological origins in the Latin for trade and merchandise, is printed as /market/: on the other hand, the concept, as it has been theorized by philosophers and ideologues down through the ages, from Aristotle to Milton Friedman, would be printed ≪market≫. One thinks for a moment that this would solve so many of our problems in dealing with a subject of this kind, which is at one and the same time an ideology and a set of practical institutional problems, until one remembers the great flanking and pincer movements of the opening section of the Grundrisse, where Marx undoes the hopes and longings for simplification of the Proudhonists, who thought they would get rid of all the problems of money by abolishing money, without seeing that it is the very contradiction of the exchange system that is objectified and expressed in money proper and would continue to objectify and express itself in any of its simpler substitutes, like work-time coupons. These last, Marx observes dryly, would under ongoing capitalism simply turn back into money itself, and all the previous contradictions would return in force.
So also with the attempt to separate ideology and reality: the ideology of the market is unfortunately not some supplementary ideational or representational luxury or embellishment that can be removed from the economic problem and then sent over to some cultural or superstructural morgue, to be dissected by specialists over there. It is somehow generated by the thing itself, as its objectively necessary after-image: somehow both dimensions must be registered together, in their identity as well as in their difference. They are, to use