De-Occupy Money?

In case we tend to forget, money is not the bottom line. Nature is. And we humans, as spirits incorporated (for now) into 3-D bodies, are part of Nature. And Nature, when untrammeled, tends to revert to her wild character as endlessly, selflessly, shamelessly abundant and regenerative. 

Money, which can be engineered to produce “scarcity” (for power and control), has no “intrinsic worth.” You can’t eat it, or get warm with it, or even make jewelry with it.  Money is created by humans as an abstract connector that universalizes exchanges, and its (relative) “value” is the result of (mostly unconscious) human tradition and agreement.

Now that most of the world’s money is either disappearing into digitized bits and/or collecting and stagnating in the secret vaults of the lonely 1%, more and more the rest of us suckers are left “without money.” But as the Chinese say, “every crisis is an opportunity.”

Okay, so what happens when we not only “make the best of it,” but consciously decide to “take money out of the equation”? Here’s two different stories on this topic: one from David Bollier, a consultant on the commons, his piece abstract and theoretical, giving the deep context and lots of references in his review of a demonitization website; the other deeply human, in fact, hippie: Steve McAllister, who announces that he has just decided to experiment with living a full year without money. 

Demonetize.it! – A World Beyond Money?

November 7, 2011

by David Bollier, www.bollier.org

 A recurring theme in studying the commons is how to prevent the market economy from dictating what and how things get produced, how people will relate to each other, and how a given community will be organized. That’s a big and complicated topic, but a good place to start exploring it is Demonetize.it!, an Austria-based website dedicated to exploring the possibilities of life beyond money, or at least, the money economy as we know it today.

This theme has far more currency, if you’ll excuse the pun, in Germany and Austria than in most other parts of the world, yet it is the surging subtext for dozens of commons-based movements from food sovereignty to free software to free culture:  How can commoners protect the value that they create from the coercive appropriations of markets?

Demonetize.it! explains its general philosophy this way:

The dynamic principle of the money economy is capital: money begetting more money. It turns human beings into sellers of labour time and consumers of commodities; it pits them against each other; it splits the world into value and non-value, enchaining, exploiting and deforming what it valorizes and destroying what it defines as worthless; it sorts people according to competitiveness and subordinates “the female” to “the male.” The economic and socio-ecological crisis of our times is its result.

Demonetization, by fostering conscious self-organization of producers, is the way out of it. Demonetization is the first prerequisite for a free society. Money is the means of generalized exchange of “equivalents” in terms of abstract economic value. To transcend money is to transcend commodity exchange, replacing exchange by contributions.

Not all of us aspire aspire to a money-less existence, and some of the projects featured on the website are on the visionary fringe. Still, Demonetize.it! does an admirable job of broadening the discussion about inalienability — what should be “not for sale” and how do we assure that?  Demonetize.it points visitors to a rich array of resources for exploring the topic further. For example, the site hosts a bibliography of books and articles, and projects that are exploring variious types of gift economies. There are links to the Freecycle movement, the BeWelcome website that is an alternative to CouchSurfing (which recently accepted venture capital money), the BookCrossing project that encourages the sharing of books worldwide, and a world map of moneyless initiatives.

The site also points us to downloads of Christian Siefkes’ book From Exchange to Contributions: Generalizing Peer Production in the Physical World (pdf document) and mentions a new book, Life Without Money, billed as “an introductory field guide to contemporary non-market socialism.” (Oddly enough, it costs $29.95.)

Demonetize.it also features a blog that has periodic postings, such as a recent a call for papers (in English or German) for the March/April 2012 issue of the Austrian journal Streifzüge.  The journal invites writers to address the following kinds of questions:

“Is a global revolution necessary or is it possible to construct demonetized zones? Or is it only possible to make progress by applying both strategies? Is it necessary to promote social struggles against the rule of money and its beneficiaries or can demonetized ways of living only be supported by attractive best practices without involving struggles? Or is there again a third way, i.e., is it necessary to link struggles and practical alternatives? What is the logic of money? Where does it start to structure our way of thinking and to form our way of acting? Are we human beings so deeply structured by money that we first have to change ourselves before demonetization could be possible? Or can we only change psychologically if demonetization makes progress?”

As the conventional money economy becomes highly concentrated and markets become a political force in their own right, we need more discussion about how money structures our lives, often in negative ways.  However, I personally like to differentiate “money” from “capitalism,” and I think the real action in the future will be in complex hybrids that combine markets with communities that assert authority over them – commons-based markets, so to speak. That said, it’s important that we probe more deeply into the principles of demonetization and the strategies for rendering certain human activities inalienable.  Demonetize.it! shines a bright spotlight on this much-neglected topic.

—–

A.K. again: Here’s most of the hippie piece. Thanks to modernhippiemag.com

Is There A World Beyond Money?

November 14, 2011 10:55
by Steve McAllister
With the Occupy movement in full swing, there has been a lot of criticism aimed at those who would stand up against what they feel is an unjust economic system. Although the Occupiers range drastically in age, race, and social class, comprising what they so affectionately call “the 99%,” they are often dismissed as simply being “hippies.” While many among them would deny the correlation, I definitely see more than a bit of the hippie groove in the movement, and I feel that this particular revolution offers me the incredible opportunity to become the hippie that I really want to be.

There were many factors that went into establishing the foundation of the first hippie movement’s revolution. While environmental stewardship, consciousness expansion, and non-violence were integral parts of the mix, there was also an understanding of community that inspired them to transcend the limitations that property ownership often brings.

Frequently dismissed as communism, the hippie ideology of sharing was more than a militaristic notion of forced allocation of wealth. It was a realization of the abundance of nature, a deconstruction of limiting belief systems, and learning to peaceably living with one another that allowed them the ability to exact some very worthwhile experiments beyond the mainstream monetary system.

. . . .

Given my own particular journey and how I see it blending in with the journey of those whose voices most resonate with mine in our present cultural climate, I am prepared to try my next experiment. As I recently stated in a post at InkenSoul.com, I’ve decided to live without the use of money until 12/12.

This has actually been building for quite some time. I first started to see visions of it when I was living in Los Angeles several years ago, but it hasn’t been until recently, with the measures of freedom that I have taken and had thrust upon me, that I’ve been able to realize it as an actual possibility.  The first phase that started in July and launched me into homelessness was kind of a soft start, but it’s allowed me to realize the potential, and I’m ready to commit to seeing it through.

I don’t think my journey has ever been about making money for myself. Sure, I’ve been tempted with the concept of unabashed wealth pretty much every time I’ve seen it on television, but more often than not, my greater hope is simply for a world that realizes the greater abundance.

When I wrote the Rucksack Manifesto over ten years ago, I was addressing the discrepancies I saw in the Judeo/Christian/ Capitalist/Consumerist paradigm. I’ve come to a very healthy place with the Judeo/Christian aspect of my initial quandaries, having burnt through the dross to allow a more purified faith to rise from the ashes. But based upon the current economic climate and the chill it brings to the air, I feel that it’s time to start another fire.

I realize that any fire I start will only blaze my own trail. Whether others follow me or not is completely up to them, but I don’t necessarily think that everyone should just stop using money. I do not offer my lifestyle experiment as a universal solution, but simply as an example of what is possible when we start realizing the true value of life instead of giving so much attention to its representation.

I also fully realize that many will dismiss my actions as simply idealism run amok, and for that I cannot offer any argument. As Henry Ford said, “An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.” In the hope that it will make others more aware of their own prosperity, I will continue to offer updates on my experiment here, at InkenSoul, and through my YouTube channel, and I welcome both constructive and destructive feedback.

Mostly, I’d like to know… How would your world be different if money didn’t exist?

Steve McAllister, newly appointed “Lifestyle Guru” of Modern Hippie Mag, describes himself as a Renaissance Man. An author, filmmaker, songwriter, and perpetual artistic experimenter, he has recently re-released his second bookThe Rucksack Lettersinto paperback to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the journey. 

About Ann Kreilkamp

I'm a Ph.D. philosopher, author, magazine founder and editor, and consulting astrologer who took the Permaculture Design Course in 2007. In 2009 I deepened my committment to both "above" and "below" by starting to attend UFO conferences and founding a neighborhood permaculture garden (ganggarden.wordpress.com). See www.tendrepress.com for bio, etc.
This entry was posted in local action, new economy, permaculture principles, unity consciousness, Uranus square Pluto, visions of the future, waking up, wild new ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to De-Occupy Money?

  1. I didn´t even notice this until now. Thanks for the shout out. But you put my name as ¨Dan McAllister¨ in the first paragraph instead of ¨Steve McAllister.¨ Dan is my cousisn, and he still uses money. I do not, and it´s been one of the best years of my life. We are now starting the Common Wealth Time Bank here in Sarasota as an alternative currency. The times they are a changin…

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