29 July 2014
¶ John Lanchester’s “Money Talks,” appearing in this week’s New Yorker, could have been written (perhaps a trifle overwritten) by our Editor, who is forever haranguing his readers to sit up, pay heed, and learn how the world really turns. Lanchester’s argument is all the more urgent for concerning money, not culture. For fifty years, sophisticated discussion of the dismal science been abandoned to traders with a stake in it. If this high-minded dereliction was intended to starve finance of life-sustaining attention, it failed more than dismally.
The language of money is a powerful tool, and it is also a tool of power. Incomprehension is a form of consent. If we allow ourselves not to understand this language, we are signing off on the way the world works today—in particular, we are signing off on the prospect of an ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else, a world in which everything about your life is determined by the accident of who your parents are. Those of us who are interested in stopping that from happening need to learn how to measure the level of the Nile for ourselves.
When you read the piece, you’ll see how the Nile flows into it.