Infinite Ends and the Tempo of Life: Notes on the Marx/Simmel Divergence/Convergence
Simmel's arguments in the Philosophy of Money on individual freedom and exchange-value seems to contradict Marx's arguments in Capital concerning exploitation and labour-value. At the same time, his ideas on the transformation of means into ends as the basis for a new style of life also complement Marx's examination of the dynamics of objectification, alienation, and reification in capitalist money economies. This essay elaborates on this divergence and convergence in the work of Marx and Simmel with reference to how they address the pace and tempo of modern life. To the degree that both thinkers left a lasting impression in the work of Georg Lukács, some attention is also given to the implications of their ideas for post-Marxist critical theory. In short, the conceptual problem of capital conversion – the spatial-temporal process of valorization and transvaluation of life and labour through money and machines – provides the common ground between their approaches to value and reification as well as a fruitful source for future analysis.