Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need a moneyless society?
Firstly, because the lifestyle that emerges through a monetary system is inherently detrimental to our environment, as it doesn’t factor in the concept of limited resources and responsibility.
Secondly, because of the vast amount of human injustices it creates. As I have explained earlier, the system that blackmails you into blindly following orders for 8 hours every day just so you are allowed to eat and have a home amounts to a modern form of slavery. Humans will never truly be free as long as money runs the world.
Okay, I agree that money is bad. But what’s wrong with trade?
Trade is not as bad as money, because it doesn’t have the abstract, far reaching effects that money does. But I don’t recommend it as a basis for the economy of an entire society, because I find the idea of compensation problematic. Besides, an economy entirely based on trade is unfeasible, because no one could rely on always having something to offer the other person he needs something from.
If you allow unchecked trade, the moneyless system will not work. As soon as one trade occurs, two people have given up their duty to give freely, without expecting compensation. The recipient will have an unfair “advantage” over other people who might also have wanted to receive that thing, and would have deserved it just as much as the person who participated in the trade. The odd trade here and there may not cause an immediate problem, but it is a slippery slope towards the mechanics of money, once again.
However, once the moneyless system is established, trade would hopefully become obsolete- if the provider is going to give the product to you anyway, you don’t need to persuade him with an object in return. It would only ever occur if the manufacturer denied his product to a customer for some reason, and the customer didn’t accept this, and started offering things in exchange, to convince him. This is where the provider must remain responsible and steadfast in not giving in to blackmail. In a moneyless society, the provider has the power to do so.
We can see clearly how strange this kind of bartering behavior is when we take a look at natural things that already work under the principle of free giving:
Nr 1: Food. Under the right conditions, plants will produce edible leaves, seeds, nuts, or fruits. Once these have been made, they are “free” for anyone to take who might be hungry. Once they have run out, however, you can’t bargain with the plant or beg it to just make one more apple for you. You can’t offer extra money and the plant will go “oh, alright then. Here you go.” That’s not why the plant makes food. There are certain factors that lead to a plant being able to give. If it can, it will do so without expecting compensation.
Nr 2: Love and sexual attraction among humans. A person may be attracted to you, determined by attributes such as your looks, your personality, and your words and actions that result from that personality. Everyone has a certain individual taste in sexual partners, and if you aren’t someone’s taste, you cannot force their attraction. If you tried to bargain with that person and promise payment in exchange, they would still not truly be attracted to you, it would merely be a form of prostitution.
The things we create with our own skill, our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and tastes, are sacred and belong to us by default. Nobody is allowed to ‘take’ them from us. However, if we decide we want to give something away, share our thoughts and emotions, or offer someone our love and affection, that is a gift! We must learn never to give any of these things away because we expect to be compensated. Instead, first consider our abilities and capacity, and then the needs and wishes of the people around us.
But wait… isn’t this communism?
As far as I know, communism still believed in the necessity of a controlling “state”, still used money and trade, and wanted to abolish the concept of private property. I deeply disagree with all of these points, and honestly don’t understand how they would create a better society.
Traditionally, capitalism and communism have been regarded as opposites: communism being the ultimate egalitarian philosophy that implies everyone is the same, and everyone deserves the same; and capitalism being the philosophy that believes people are basically different from each other, with different needs and skills, and therefore deserve different things. Communism becomes synonymous with equality, and capitalism becomes the antithesis of that.
I disagree with this correlation of terms, because at its core, free market capitalism is very “equal” indeed. For example, the concept of “price” determines that each person’s transactions are bound by the external, equal value of money. (a person who’s job pays poorly must pay the same amount of money to eat food, receive medical help, or consume art as a person who’s job pays well) Also, the symmetry of debt cancellation means that in oder to make any kind of transaction, both sides need to give each other something of equal value; otherwise it is considered unjust, or even criminal. As described earlier (“the customer is usually wrong”), using money does not neatly accomodate every person’s special needs and eccentricities, but instead give each person the same normalized set of rules that almost no one is comfortable with. The equality of money and capitalism actually leads to injustice. The concept of equity should be used instead – a concept that is unconsciously, naturally used by humans in day-to-day social interactions with friends and family, or in cases of using “common sense”.
This isn’t to say that equality is always bad, and equity is always good. Both equality and equity can coexist because they have their own application in different areas. There are needs that are the same across the board, and some that aren’t. The first chapter in Part Two was about self-sufficiency and basic needs. Making sure every citizen has access to basic needs no matter what, and forcing every citizen to work on the farm for the same length of time are both very equality-based, almost communist approaches. But it makes sense to apply these concepts here, because everyone does have basic needs that need to be met no matter what, otherwise they die. But once those equal needs are covered, we are free to then use equity and common sense in our moneyless interactions for anything else.
Could we keep up the current technological level, or would this mean a “return to the Stone Age”?
If you are wondering if anything will cease to exist in a moneyless society, you should first ask yourself “is there a real reason for this to exist, or is its only function related to the pursuit of money itself?” Bureaucratical desk jobs dedicated to the administration of finance will surely disappear, but any job that has a real, immediate effect on the world will remain because of the many people interested in that effect.
I don’t see why people wouldn’t continue to create great technological inventions in the absence of money. Of course, the pressure to compete against each other has definitely spurred on the speed at which, say, the memory capabilities of computers have improved in the last 20 years. But this doesn’t mean that technological advances wouldn’t happen without money – all you need is some humans interested in making it happen. Even if it is a slower process, they will certainly apply themselves more willingly and more creatively to the task, because they are not being blackmailed into doing so. In fact, I believe in some cases money-based competition can actually slow down scientific progress because technological companies benefit from secrecy. Other humans can’t benefit from the knowledge or build on it; schools aren’t able to teach children how the technology works that they hold in their hands, and the new generation won’t come up with improvements or discoveries based on that knowledge.
A moneyless society will expand its technology, but it understands that expansion isn’t the highest priority. I would rather make sure everyone has a roof over their head and food on their table before I make sure everyone has an iPhone!
Also, no one is forcing us to discard the tremendous technological progress we have made so far. There is an established infrastructure of internet connection accross the globe, so why not use it? There is an abundance of computers and phones, so why throw them away? All we need to do is change the way we distribute that existing technology, and the way we manufacture it in the future.
So everything can stay the same, then?
To be fair, there are areas in which we would see a steep decline: international transport, industrial expansion of companies, and calculably efficient “work force”. In practice, this means you won’t always be able to eat pineapples from South America, you can’t have your iPhones built in China, and you can’t expand your business to the point where there are multiple Starbucks coffeehouses in every major city of the world. You would also lose many of the luxuries currently offered by the monetary system, such as the entitlement to own any product you have enough money to buy, or not having to think about the origin and destination of your food, water, energy, and waste. These are indeed comfortable habits that many would find difficult to break. Whether you can make these sacrifices in order to enjoy the benefits of the moneyless society – this is something you must answer for yourself.
But won’t the entire civilization collapse if people aren’t forced to go to work anymore?
First of all, it is not your “sacred duty” to go to work. The world doesn’t end because you’re out of a job. In fact, making yourself more self-sufficient in your basic needs is actually the best thing you can do for other people, because you are absolving their responsibility to provide those things for you. I would assume that people actually doing things that have a noticeable, positive effect on the real world around them; such as teaching, healing, and feeding others, even if it’s done in fewer work hours, is an improvement to the quality of a society from when people work incredibly long hours in vague, bureaucratic, financial, and administrative office jobs that they only do for the money themselves.
Sure, companies will lose some of their productivity, because they no longer have the ability to count on monetary payment to force people to work unreasonable hours and unpleasant, unethical jobs. But that doesn’t mean people will stop working entirely. Remember, some people just naturally have the drive to work incredibly hard on projects that they are passionate about. Just because you stop threatening people with eternal hellfire, doesn’t mean they will suddenly start stealing and killing. Since there is a good reason not to steal or kill someone, people will generally not do it. Similarly, if there is any occupation any human being deems worthy of doing, then that motivation is enough to cause them to do it; in fact they might do so more creatively and enthusiastically, because they are not being threatened by the loss of income and existential fear.
Even in the monetary system, humans aren’t that much more productive: the day still only has 24 hours, and the doctor can still only treat one person at a time, and his appointments are still organized by “first come, first served”. The only difference in the moneyless society is that the doctor has the right to stop working when he is tired – which, in my opinion, will only serve to improve the over-all enthusiasm and quality of his work.
But you would force people to work on the farm for a year!
That’s one year of mandatory work, compared to 45 years in the monetary society. Besides, most countries force their entire male population to go to military service for at least a year. Instead of learning to use weapons and kill fellow humans, working on the farm actually teaches kids valuable lessons about the origin of their food and their place in nature.
There are some people who don’t do as good a job as others, are not as talented as others, and are not as useful to society. How come they should get the same amount of food, shelter, or luxury as everyone else? Where’s the justice in that?
First of all, I’m not saying everyone should get the same amount of anything. I would not want to deny any human his fair share of whatever he needs to be happy, but it is a mistake to assume that the more even the distribution of things is between people, the fairer the situation. Different people have different needs, and I believe people are happier when they aren’t forced to do or consume the exact same thing as everyone else.
However, humans do have some basic needs that need to be met, no matter what. In my idea of a moneyless society, there is a distinction between normal items and services that are provided by people, and food, which is grown on the communal farm. Because food is necessary for survival, I came up with the rule that every citizen must work on the farm in order to earn his fair share of the food grown there.
I disagree with the idea that anyone’s skill has anything to do with their deserving of basic needs. Besides, it is not up to any one person or institution to decide who is more or less useful to society. The concept of „use“, which has conventionally meant some sort of financial gain, must be re-evaluated. I believe that everyone can indeed develop a unique skill or talent that is useful to society. We must broaden our definition of “useful skills” to include attributes such as: kindness, empathy, humour, intuition, and wisdom. I certainly do not want to live in a world where these traits don’t exist because they have been “bred out” by a system that cultivates egotism and unscrupulousness.
How does humanity‘s natural tendency to dominate, expand, compete and want more than the others fit into the moneyless society? If two people want the same thing, how do you settle it?
You can’t change man’s natural tendency to expand and dominate. But you can thrust more personal responsibility into his hands by eliminating the excuse of money. If two people in a society want the same thing but don’t have an over-arching authority figure or mathematical system to hide beneath, they might actually have to act like adults and talk it out. More often than not, I predict common sense (and social pressure) will take hold and produce much more sensible solutions to these kinds of disputes.
A very logical and natural rule is “first come, first served”- this is observed in most situations innately by most people: when boarding a train and looking for seats, you realize occupied seats are taken, and you simply continue your search for a free one. If you have a good reason for needing a particular seat, for example being elderly, handicapped or pregnant, you could ask the person occupying that seat if he would willingly give that seat to you. Most likely that person will say yes, but if not, you can’t really force him to leave either.
Another rule is “the strongest will prevail”. For example, two people competing for the same resource might settle the dispute through a direct competition- like children fighting over who gets to play with a toy. This is natural and acceptable! Don’t forget that this is a common mechanism used by adults in many situations today- for example when approaching a sexual mate, or when applying for a job, or competing in sports. This is a natural dynamic that must be accepted and embraced! Nobody is exactly the same- there simply are differences between people, and if you compare certain traits, you will always find that one side is “stronger” than the other. But don’t forget that no one is strongest in all of his suits; everyone has his unique skill, strength, or perspective that is inherently valuable.
Also don’t underestimate the prevalence of kindness, empathy, love and care. These are “skills” that have great power- and in a closely connected moneyless society of humans, they will come to the surface much more than in the competitive playing field of capitalism.
What you’re talking about is a utopian fantasy. This only works if everyone suddenly became a saint.
On the one hand, dreaming that society is suddenly going to become kinder and happier for no reason is naive. But conversely, believing that current injustices can never improve and therefore justifying passive complacency is actually very cynical and dangerous. Just imagine if no one in the past was moved to act against systemic injustices such as the enslavement of African-Americans or the subjugation of women? It’s strange how no one questions the progress humanity has made in the past, from scientific discovery to social reform, yet everyone becomes sceptical when it comes to potential progress to be made right now.
Obviously, I do not wish to create some sugary „happy land“, where everyone is perpetually positive and nothing is ever unpleasant. That is a naive and frightening fantasy. Life itself can only be experienced through contrast. If you have not experienced pain, you cannot truly feel pleasure. Life is a process of change; gain and loss, pain and pleasure, light and darkness. Darkness will unfortunately always find a way of visiting our lives, and people will always find some cause for conflict, or something to complain about. But the extreme injustice and divide caused by money is different from the natural variety of human experience – it is a constant, unnatural, imposed frame that most people aren’t even aware they are a part of, and have no alternative to escape to. I believe it is worthwhile to strive to eliminate the “pointless pain” that is created by money, and set up a society where everyone at least has a chance to live a varied, interesting, meaningful life.
So how could this theoretically be implemented?
One way this project could be realized is in the form of an actual, isolated area of land. Volunteers would live together in a small village environment in which they could experiment with moneyless, self-sufficient living.
The land would have to be sufficiently large to provide living space for at least 200 people, including the farm to provide food for those people, and other necessary institutions such as a hospital and a fire station. I would be the first to build a house, and hope that others eventually join me and build their houses around mine. I predict that the more people join, the better and more harmonious the society will be able to function, because we can share the burden of the agricultural work and then have free time to specialize into niches. Obviously, living in such a new environment would be difficult and awkward in the beginning, requiring an initial period of experimentation in order to decide on which rules for living work the best.
It could be argued that, as long as two people are moneylessly exchanging goods and services, they already constitute a form of moneyless society. This means that hundreds of people could theoretically live in a moneyless society without sharing the same land. You could have neighbours that still use money, but since you don’t buy anything for money and also offer all of your services for free, you don’t really take part in the same society as them.
When transitioning to this de-localized version of the moneyless society, there is far less commitment, hassle, conflict, and energy that needs to be expended. You could slowly make yourself more and more self-sufficient in the areas of food, water, energy, and waste management, and eventually be able to offer your services for free. The next step is simply to network with other people who are doing the same. This path is actually the one I find most realistic, and I recommend people to attempt, wherever they are.
In order to fully escape from the monetary system, you must make yourself self-sufficient in the areas of food, electricity, heat, water, waste disposal, and land. The final goal and the ultimate sign that you have turned the system upside-down is being able to offer your services “for free”. Reaching the point where you are so self-sufficient that you no longer need compensation for anything you do – so whatever you give away, you do simply out of generosity – is an incredibly powerful gesture that will send ripples of change through your entire social web. Taking part in a transaction that is not based on compensation but instead on generosity and gratitude will help other people shift towards a moneyless consciousness themselves.
Eventually, if more and more people reach this point, they can start to form communities all by themselves, making the monetary system around them obsolete. This is a list of what each person would have to do in order to form a moneyless network:
- Buy a small area of land and build a house on it. (A Cob house is apparently very cheap and easy to build)
- Restore the ecology of the land by using permaculture techniques. (visit https://www.openpermaculture.com/ and http://geofflawton.com/ for information and education)
- Grow some of your own food using the Grow BioIntensive techniques.
- Power your home with solar or wind energy; store in a battery.
- Harvest rainwater, filter it using a biosand filter. Reintroduce greywater into the environment.
- Use compost piles and composting toilets. Reintroduce the resulting humus into the environment.
- No longer ask for monetary compensation for your services.
- Exercise understanding and restraint in the resources you claim.
- Connect and form moneyless societies with other people who are doing the same.