Stefan Eich I discovered as the best reviewer yet of Aaron Sahr’s Kritik der Finanziellen Vernunft. Like Sahr, Eich wants to de-mystify, de-neutralise and re-politicise money. Operating in a somewhat larger frame than sociologist Sahr, political theorist Eich’s arguments are informed by his “vivid and compelling picture of the whole history of political and economic thought.” Sounds promising. On the basis of what I have been able to read for free I am marking this “tour de force” a must-read (for as soon it is a bit less pricey).
With Martijn Konings, Stefan Eich also co-edits a book series at SUP on “Currencies: New Thinking for Financial Times.”
Money in the history of political thought, from ancient Greece to the Great Inflation of the 1970s
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, critical attention has shifted from the economy to the most fundamental feature of all market economies—money. Yet despite the centrality of political struggles over money, it remains difficult to articulate its democratic possibilities and limits. The Currency of Politics takes readers from ancient Greece to today to provide an intellectual history of money, drawing on the insights of key political philosophers to show how money is not just a medium of exchange but also a central institution of political rule.
Money appears to be beyond the reach of democratic politics, but this appearance—like so much about money—is deceptive. Even when the politics of money is impossible to ignore, its proper democratic role can be difficult to discern. Stefan Eich examines six crucial episodes of monetary crisis, recovering the neglected political theories of money in the thought of such figures as Aristotle, John Locke, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes. He shows how these layers of crisis have come to define the way we look at money, and argues that informed public debate about money requires a better appreciation of the diverse political struggles over its meaning.
Recovering foundational ideas at the intersection of monetary rule and democratic politics, The Currency of Politics explains why only through greater awareness of the historical limits of monetary politics can we begin to articulate more democratic conceptions of money.
debates, events, interviews, reviews, videos – updated 5-2022
“The Currency of Politics breaks the frame we use to understand money. More than an instrument or an institution, currency becomes a nerve center of political theory. Deeply in dialogue with the past, Stefan Eich compels us forward to conceptualize money as a medium for democratic agency—or its loss. A tour de force.” – Christine Desan (Harvard Law School), author of Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism
“With deftness, elegance, and intellectual verve, Eich paints a vivid and compelling picture of the whole history of political and economic thought as revealed through an interrogation of money. It is clear that this insightful book announces a new and important voice in the field.” – David Singh Grewal (University of California, Berkeley), author of Network Power
“This fascinating and original book speaks directly to pressing contemporary concerns while shining new light on key figures like Locke, Marx, and Keynes through sensitive and thoughtful reconstructions of their texts and contexts. The Currency of Politics is a major contribution to the history of political thought, conceptual history, and political economy.” – Alex Gourevitch (Brown University), author of From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth
zeit.de gg/pdf 12-5-2022 Warum ist Geld Politisch? – Fragen nach Währungen und Werten sind gerade in Demokratien immer Machtfragen. Deshalb ist Geld keineswegs nur Stoff für Ökonomen, sagt der Ideenhistoriker Stefan Eich, sondern es ist ein Medium der Gerechtigkeit. Interview: Oliver Weber
DIE ZEIT: Sie sind Ideenhistoriker und politischer Theoretiker, denken aber über Geld nach. Warum überlassen Sie dieses Thema nicht einfach den Ökonomen?
Stefan Eich: Die ökonomische Sichtweise auf Geld ist eine naheliegende, durchaus wichtige – aber sie ist nicht die einzige. Geld ist immer auch eine politische Institution, und mich interessiert gerade die Wechselwirkung zwischen diesen beiden Dimensionen. Wenn etwa die Europäische Zentralbank gegenwärtig darüber nachdenkt, ob und wie schnell sie in diesem Jahr den Leitzins erhöhen will, entscheidet das nicht nur über Kurse auf Aktien- und Anleihenmärkten, sondern eben auch über die Verteilung von Einkommen und Vermögen – die Zentralbanker haben letztlich die Macht, Macht zu verteilen.
ZEIT: Inwiefern hat eine Geldordnung mit Macht zu tun?
Eich: Mit der Machtfrage stellen sich grundsätzliche Fragen zur Verfassung der Geldordnung: Wer hat das Recht, Geld zu schaffen? Kann eine politische Gemeinschaft diese Macht der Geldschöpfung gestalten, um sich selbst besser zu regieren? Welche Zukunftsvorstellungen, welche Ideen leiten sie dabei an? Diese Fragen nicht zu stellen heißt, den politischen Charakter einer zentralen Institution an der Schnittstelle zwischen Demokratie und Kapitalismus unsichtbar zu machen.”
adamtooze.substack.com 1-2022 Stefan Eich – Currency of Politics
…”This time the occasion was a request from Evgeny Morozov of the Syllabus. Evegeny is a fascinating and persuasive guy. And Syllabus is one of the cooler things on the interwebs. The Syllabus has an entire section devoted to crypto and digital things. Evgeny persuaded by brilliant and wise friend Stefan Eich to do an interview with him on the politics of money, Keynes and much else besides. Stefan essential new book on political theory and money, The Currency of Politics, will be out with Princeton University Press in May. …”…
@EuropeanLawOpen symposium on @stefeich The Currency of Politics with @stefeich @MehrsaBaradaran @IsabelFeichtner Marco Goldoni @C_Lapavitsas Fernando Losada @ajmenend @apsmolenska Leopold Specht Francesca Trivellato May 19th, 1730CET, 23rd, 1730CET Register asap!
jacobinmag.com/author/stefan-eich 2022 Crypto Won’t Solve Our Problems
We Need to Democratize Money – Bitcoin was not just a consequence of public disillusionment during the 2008 financial crisis — it was also a response to neoliberal monetary policies that saw money as somehow above politics. But questions about monetary policy are questions about democracy.
the-crypto-syllabus.com/stefan-eich-on-hayek-and-money/ 2021 interview
If you are looking for an excellent account of the many ways in which Friedrich Hayek shaped the thinking of some inside the broader crypto-money community, look no further than Stefan Eich’s essay (a chapter from this edited collection) called Old Utopias, New Tax Havens: The Politics of Bitcoin in Historical Perspective.
onlinelibrary.wiley.com 2017 The allure of dark times: Max Weber, politics, and the crisis of historicism – by Stefan Eich & Adam Tooze
This article argues that realist invocations of Weber rely on an unrealistic reading of Weber’s realism. In order to escape the allure of Weber’s dramatic posture of crisis, we place his seminal lecture on “Politics as a Vocation” (1919) in its historical and philosophical context of a revolutionary conjuncture of dramatic proportions, compounded by a broader crisis of historicism. Weber’s rhetoric, we argue, carries with it not only the emotion of crisis but is also the expression of a deeper intellectual impasse. The fatalistic despair of his position had already been detected by some of his closest contemporaries for whom Weber did not appear as a door-opener to a historically situated theory of political action but as a telling and intriguing impasse. Although the disastrous history of interwar Europe seems to confirm Weber’s bleakest predictions, it would be perverse to elevate contingent failure to the level of retrospective vindication.
files.iwm.at/pdf 2015 Paper Money and German Romanticism Stefan Eich
Abstract: In February 1797 Britain suspended the convertibility of its currency into gold and thereby introduced fiat paper money to finance its war against revolutionary France. This British embrace of fiat money left a lasting mark on the political and philosophical imagination of a whole generation of post-Kantian thinkers in the German lands. Whether radical Kantians, Young Romantics, or Anglophile Hanoverians, in the
1790s German philosophers began to be interested in the politics of money. By creatively updating the classical metaphorical link between coins and words for an age of paper money, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Adam Müller, and others were able to grasp the poetic nature of modern fiat money as a circulating sign sustained by the modern state and the collective imagination of its citizens.
squarespace.com/pdf 2015? Restructuring Democracy and the Idea of Europe Seyla Benhabib and Stefan Eich