What affects our demand for money?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is one of those "big" questions.  It will be impossible to find one succinct answer that ends all discussion within the question.  Indeed, what is gained here will only open up more dialogue.  With a question like this one, it seems to me that the only guarantee is more questions.

With this in mind, I would like to offer something different in an answer.  I think that Karl Marx holds an interesting approach to this question.  Marx was a firm believer in dialectical materialism.  Marx believed that social valuing of wealth in its material form is what helps create society.  In each phase of history, Marx saw that there was a fundamental collision between those who have wealth and those who did not.  Historical consciousness unfolded with the dominant reality of whoever had wealth embodied power and status.  Lacking wealth and power meant one did not have power. Dialectical materialism is what Marx sees defining the individual and the world in which the individual lives: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.”

Marx would thus argue that the desire for power and control is what affects the human craving for money.  The establishment of these classes is what affected individual drive and desire for money.  If Marx is right in that the thread of dialectical materialism has always run through historical consciousness, then it becomes clear that the desire to have power and wealth is what has helped to weave such a tapestry.  There were certain connotations with being a member of the ruling economic class.  Equally valid is that there are certain preconditions and realities associated with being in the economic class that is controlled.  

The human demand for money is located in our desire to be in a higher economic class.  Few would actively wish to be a member of an oppressed economic class.  Wealth and power are linked to this "better" class and this is what has impacted the human demand for money because the more money one has, the greater the chance they can enter into a class of ruling individuals.  Marx's critique of cultural desire for wealth can be one potential answer as to what affects our demand for money.