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The history of money and its violent and oppressive origins from slavery to war—by the author of Global Slump.
In most accounts of the origins of money we are offered pleasant tales in which it arises to the mutual benefit of all parties as a result of barter. But in this groundbreaking study, David McNally reveals the true story of money’s origins and development as one of violence and human bondage. Money’s emergence and its transformation are shown to be intimately connected to the buying and selling of slaves and the waging of war. Blood and Money demonstrates the ways that money has “internalized” its violent origins, making clear that it has become a concentrated force of social power and domination. Where Adam Smith observed that monetary wealth represents “command over labor,” this paradigm shifting book amends his view to define money as comprising the command over persons and their bodies.
“This fascinating and informative study, rich in novel insights, treats money not as an abstraction from its social base but as deeply embedded in its essential functions and origins in brutal violence and harsh oppression.” —Noam Chomsky
“A fine-grained historical analysis of the interconnection between war, enslavement, finance, and money from classical times to present.” —Jeff Noonan, author of The Troubles of Democracy
“McNally casts an unsparing light on the origins of money—and capitalism itself—in this scathing, Marxist-informed account . . . . McNally builds a powerful, richly documented argument that unchecked capitalism prioritizes greed and violence over compassion . . . . [T]his searing academic treatise makes a convincing case.” —Publishers Weekly