(Editor's letter from Shameless issue 20, The Money Issue. Originally published in Shameless magazine.)
Late last year, we published our first-ever labour issue, sharing stories of working people in an effort to create solidarity, community and dialogue. The issue looked at different kinds of work, how work is affected by other social identities like gender and status, and explored the challenges of finding ways of working with dignity, fairness and respect.
If wage labour is the heart of the capitalist machine, money is its lifeblood. As working people beat tirelessly on, they create surplus value that flows through the system, bringing just enough back to keep the system going.
It’s only fitting, then, that this issue of Shameless explores the nature of that lifeblood, figuring out how money works, the forms it takes, and the ways in which it flows from the veins of a capitalist system in and out of our lives.
We have a complicated relationship with money because money is a complicated thing. A dollar is never just a dollar. It represents different things to different people and its value changes over time. And, thanks to credit, it turns out you don’t even need to have a dollar to spend a dollar (though you might need to find two dollars to eventually pay one back). The one thing that is clear is that our forced dependency on money is central to survival under capitalism. Money is synonymous with access: to education and healthcare, food and shelter and to political power. The access that money grants and denies us sustains and reinforces inequities, class immobility and the broader system of capitalism and wage labour. Our economy is a mess, and isn’t working for 99% of the population. It definitely isn’t working for me.
There are a lot of ways to begin dismantling a system and building a new one, but while we take to the streets, create new co-operative structures or produce our own, totally radical independent media (hello,Shameless!), we also need to find ways of surviving. That means taking control of our money so it can stop controlling us.
And that brings us to this issue. In it, we give you some of the tools you need to manage your dough (p. 18), do what you love (p. 12) and live on a budget (p. 33). We challenge consumerism (p. 28), fight the fitness industrial complex (p. 17) and eat well on the cheap (p. 38). And, just so you know you’re getting your money’s worth, we’ve thrown in a pull-out poster and visual guide to making it as an artist (p. 26). We hope that with the tools, ideas and stories in Shameless, you can make ends meet so that you can focus on building a happier life and a healthier system.