I’m three or four episodes into season two of The Wire, continuing but slowing my binge. One of the themes of show that I didn’t talk about before is money. Essentially what the police are doing is regulating the illegal economy. (With regard to the informal economy, the illegal economy is constituted in part by the exclusion of some commodities from legal salability, despite their actual salability: sexual services, violence, drugs… commodities for nonproductive consumption as well as commodities needed to produce these endline products.) With regard to the union as well as the theme in season one where the Barksdale investigation starts to get into campaign contributions, the issue is the mobility of money as well as where money comes from. The money travels. I can’t recall the exact wording but there’s a Marx quote about this: money doesn’t show its origins. Looking at the dollar in someone’s pocket doesn’t tell anyone where the money came from.

On the other hand…. D’Angelo says at one point in the discussing on Fitzgerald, “the past is always with us, where we come from, what we go through (…) You can change up, you can give yourself a whole new story but what came first is who you really are and what happened before is what really happened.” In a sense this is what McNulty is fighting to change or to create with regard to the dead woman who he wants to keep from becoming a Jane Doe cadaver used for medical school dissections. This can apply to money. (To be clear, this can be made to apply to money by some people, in the right contexts with the right actions – this is determined contextually.) The investigation draws on records of political contributions and other records maintained by the state. Money per se doesn’t demonstrate its origins but these origins can be tracked or found out, at least potentially. What’s more, the origins of money can have meaning some of the time, which in a political context can be damaging. Just as the surveillance van packed in a shipping container gets shipped around with more and more union locals slapping bumper stickers on it, money circulates and accumulates potential meanings. This is why politicians worry about people finding out that their campaigns were built with money that came from drugs. Along the same lines, where the union leader gets his money matters, to some extent to his base (I’m guessing it will, I haven’t seen what happens yet) and of course due to the consequences imposed for breaking the law. Money doesn’t show its origins but origins can matter. Money’s mobility is real but the conversion from M to C to M and back again doesn’t mean that it doesn’t retain echoes of its origins. Or rather, it doesn’t mean that people can’t uncover its origins and choose to make it meaningful. The economy narrowly understood exists in relation to systems of values, moral economies and so forth, which in some contexts are important as (or in?) power relations. (I think this is among the reasons that Marx goes on about the blood that clings to capital.) (Regardless of origins of course money is still capable of serving a role in domination/subordination, in a context of social power relations. Money as subordination. A big part of Ziggy’s persona is him trying to get out from the domination of money – as an assertion of his masculinity – in ways that throw it in the face of people trapped by this subordination..)

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