V. Rules for Exchange
When it comes to harvesting or distributing resources in a moneyless society, it always helps to compare the situation to another closed system, such as a space station or a dinner party. Moneyless sharing of a limited resource requires the people involved to have some empathic relationship with each other, and the transaction to happen with a high degree of transparency. Public knowledge of the present amount of the resource, how many people need it, and how much of it they need, creates a social faux pas in one person being greedy. Instead, common sense and empathy will take hold. Also, the acceptance of uneven submission-assertion situations in all areas of life strengthens people’s ability to remain humble when possible, confidently assert their need of something when necessary, and respect other people’s assertion of something when they truly need it.
Rules for giving and receiving
The following section can almost be seen as the core idea of the entire book. The burning question is: if there is no money, how do the provider and the customer interact with each other?
The answer is probably simpler than you think. However, in order to convincingly imagine this scenario, you must also imagine a moneyless society *around it*: remember, all your basic needs have been covered. Money has no value. You don’t benefit from selling anything. If the monetary compulsion to hoard, barter, and blackmail fade away, what remains?
The answer is: the provider’s capacity for providing, and the consumer’s need to receive. The new questions you must ask yourself are: what is your skill as a provider, in which capacity can you give it, and how generous are you? What are your needs as a consumer, how greatly do you need them, and how appreciative are you?
Rule #1: You decide if and what you want to give. – If you make something/provide a service, the choice whether to provide it to others and in what capacity is entirely up to you. “The provider is always right”.
It is highly encouraged to comply when someone asks for your service or help, but you must not let anyone blackmail you into giving something. If you think you need to be compensated for something you give, you should not be giving it in the first place.
In certain cases it might be the most sensible to say “first come, first served”. In other cases, you might want to interview your customers first to create an individual offer.
Rule #2: If you want something someone else has made, you must only ask. If he agrees to give it to you, you don’t need to give anything in return except your humility and gratitude.
Just because there’s no money, it doesn’t mean things are “free to take” without permission. The childish right of entitlement to things you had no part in making is a product of the monetary system. You must ask the provider for permission, just like asking a friend if you can borrow an item. If he does not want to give it to you, you must accept that and move on. He may have good reasons such as there not being enough of the resource or him being too tired or sick, and you must respect his decision.
Remember, you always have the option of going to another provider of the same service. A provider will probably not get away with withholding his service for no good reason, as people will soon find out and talk about it, creating a social pressure / faux pas that may lead to the provider losing his clientele.
Rule #3: Trade is not allowed. This is the one point at which the entire system may fail. If two people agree to trade two unrelated objects or services with each other, simply out of a ‘balance of compensation’, you have arrived again at a proto-monetary exchange, where all the problems such as blackmail, dependence, and calculation of human needs come in to play once again. It is highly recommended that people exercise restraint in both their will to instigate trade, as well as their readiness to accept trade.
I predict, however, that the mere presence of a moneyless society will have a trade-repelling effect on its inhabitants. If you know you can get something “for free” by simply talking to the owner, telling him how much you appreciate his work, and that you would love to have that thing, then why trade anything for it? It is only when the provider says he cannot or will not give it to you, for whatever reason he chooses; that is the point at which bargaining begins, and where the idea of compensation takes over. It is important that the provider does not lose his cool in this situation, but remains steadfast in his decision.
Rule #4 Private property still exists. Remember: just because you don’t use money, doesn’t mean you don’t own anything. Private property still exists; it is only that ownership is transferred through the conscious act of moneyless giving and receiving, rather than barter and trade.
It is important to note that there are things you cannot own, such as animals, other people, or any part of the natural world- anything you had no part in making and was not consciously gifted to you. The only things you truly own are your body, your thoughts, your feelings, and things you make – as well as anything that was gifted to you by another person.
Obviously, food and land are two things that require special considerations:
Food Everyone has the right to receive as much food as they need, provided they worked on the farm for a year, or are still children.
Land No one truly owns a piece of land, but whoever arrives at an area first has the right to live there until he decides to leave. Just like the seats on a train!
Anything Else If you made it, you own it. You have the option of giving it away, in which case you transfer your ownership to another person.
How to choose your occupation
Now that the necessity of making money is eliminated, the implications for occupation choice and variety are manifold. Your goal is no longer to simply make profit from your product- your goal is to provide something actually useful, valuable, well-made, and long-lasting to the people who are interested. You are no longer obliged to spend 40 hours a week doing that one thing, expending all of your mental energy in the process. You could have three different occupations, and they wouldn’t have to be done in the same capacity; you might be a singing teacher most days, help out with fishing on the weekends, and make small batches of spicy cilantro salsa in between. You don’t need to maintain the illusion of constant demand and the products and services you provide no longer have to be constantly available. You provide your service simply when needed by a fellow human being, and only when your mental and physical powers are still in sufficient supply. If you are tired or uninspired, you can simply refuse to provide your service, and the “customer” will have to accept that. You are no longer in competition with other manufacturers of the same field, except perhaps in terms of respect and admiration.
Even in a moneyless society, any job that any human has an interest in getting done has the potential for getting done. The only difference to the monetary system is that here you cannot force other people to do the job for you. The power structures will shift away from one man privately deciding what he wants done and ordering it done through the blackmail mechanisms of money, towards smaller groups of people who are all legitimately interested in getting something done and where there is no pressure to obey other than respect for the leader and one’s own agreement with the goal. I predict that overall it will lead to more projects that produce something valuable and constructive for the planet and its inhabitants, and far fewer projects that lead to human suffering and destruction of the environment. Because we are not blinded by the one-dimensional concern of money, our eyes are opened to the actual real consequences of our actions.
Since you no longer profit from competing with others or from the sheer number of things you give away, marketing and commercials become obsolete. This would give way to the more honorable practice of being humble about your own work and praising others whenever you can. Instead of competition, there would be far more cooperation. Rather than having to expend all that energy to convince people to buy your product and stay away from another guy’s product, you will have more energy to invest in the quality of your own work.
Essential jobs and their implications
I believe it is a fallacy to assume that simply because an occupation involves a high level of responsibility, it is in itself a deterrent from people choosing to do it. Even though the architect has an important job that everyone depends on, there are definitely still a few people who really enjoy designing and building houses. Even though the job of a doctor is psychologically demanding and requires a high level of responsibility, there will always be people who legitimately want to learn how to heal and are passionate about helping others. In fact, I wouldn’t *want* anyone to be performing these important jobs begrudgingly for the paycheck. However, there are some things we can do as a society to lessen the burden of these essential occupations:
Farmer – Their work is arguably more important than many other occupations, because it ensures the survival of our species. Obviously, this harbors the danger that the farmer might not wish to continue, because he felt that he was doing a disproportionate amount of work compared to others. I believe this can be averted by making it mandatory for each citizen to work on the farm for one year of his/her life. That way, there would always be a constant stream of work force on the farm. The farmer himself would then become more of a supervisor, who doesn’t do much physical work, but who is highly regarded for his experience and wisdom.
Architect/construction worker – One could argue that since shelter is one of the basic human needs, the job of the architect is disproportionately important, and he would eventually resent his great responsibility. There will come a time, however, where enough houses will have been built to accommodate everyone, and the work load of the architect lessens greatly. From then on, it simply becomes a redistribution process between the current humans who live there- becoming closer once again to the situation with train seats. If able, citizens could help lessen the burden of the architect by lending a hand during the construction of their home.
Doctor/nurse – Doctors and nurses have a very high responsibility, and a high work volume- all the more reason that one must 1) respect their wishes when they say they are too tired to work, and 2) strive to keep oneself and one’s family healthy in order to not overburden them.
Fire fighter/paramedic – These occupations have the function of arriving at the scene of an accident with the hope of still saving human lives. Clearly, a job with high risk and high responsibility, requiring courage and self-sacrifice. All the more reason to feel obliged to always take care of yourself and others, and try to prevent fires and accidents in the first place. In order to make their job easier, one should always cooperate with their instructions.
Policeman/detective – This occupation has the function of arriving at the scene of an incident to find out exactly what happened after a conflict has occured. This job extends into psychology, detective work and forensics. Their job is to find out who is responsible for the incident, and make those findings public. Clearly, a job with high responsibility, but also requiring a keen mind and sensitive, perceptive handling of people. In order to make their job easier, one should always cooperate with them, and tell them the truth to the best of one’s knowledge.
Eliminating pointless occupations
Commonly, an argument for maintaining the monetary system is that there are some unpleasant jobs that nobody would ever want to do, but still need to be done (i.e. garbage collecting, working in the sewers). But let me ask the question: why do we insist that these jobs must exist in any society? Why don’t we, instead of filling up flaws in our system with unpleasant jobs, change the system so that it doesn’t need unpleasant jobs? To me, the occupation of the plumber or sewage worker is a symptom of the disgraceful state of our society: it is only because individual households can’t take care of their own garbage, that we need paid workers to do it for us. This is like having slaves wipe your rear end- it’s dirty work that you should be doing yourself! We have been lulled into endless luxury and illusion, letting go of our true responsibilities, believing we can simply pay for any mess to be cleaned up.
In a moneyless society, we have the opportunity to make pointless and unpleasant jobs obsolete by using intelligent, elegant solutions. For example:
Make all short-lived products biodegradable => Garbage collecting becomes obsolete.
Use composting toilets => Sewer systems and sewage workers become obsolete.
Eliminate money => Cashiers, tax collectors, bank tellers, financial advisors, and marketers become obsolete.
Wouldn’t companies cease to exist without money? Wouldn’t chains in the production line be impossible to maintain?
Small companies can still exist. The only difference is that you can’t blackmail your employees with access to their basic needs, but instead need to personally convince and inspire them to work for you. This will make it impossible to create huge, international corporations with thousands of anonymous employees; which I consider to be a good thing.
The basic rules of “I make something -> I decide how and when to make it -> I decide who to give it to” can be applied to any job, even people who are in the production chain of another person’s project. If the product or raw material you need for your company is “on the market”, then you can obtain it through the same mechanism as any other customer: by asking. If you make shoes, you need to talk to the guy who makes leather and tell him you would love to make some shoes with his leather. It is up to him, but presumably, he will agree to set aside some leather for you! The difference is that without money, you cannot force him to give the leather to you, or calculate that there will always be a certain amount for you to use.
This may seem inefficient or unproductive, but remember that efficiency and expansion would not be such a necessity in a moneyless society as it is in a competitive capitalist environment. We need to respect the fact that there is no unlimited supply of anything in this world. Sometimes things are abundant, sometimes they are scarce, sometimes they come in waves; often they are irregular and asymmetrical. We need to be in sync with the irregularities of the real world, rather than follow the mathematical, idealized calculations of business expansion.
First and foremost, these rules are meant to be sustainable and fair, never outstripping the planet’s capacity or causing great human suffering. I find these to be a higher priority than to enable the realization of a business model.