Blueprint for a Moneyless Society
Before continuing any further, let me outline the basic tenets of the moneyless system I have arrived at so far:
- Environmental Protection.
Our survival as human beings depends on the complex and fragile chemistry of the animal and plant life on this particular planet. As a human society, we should have no higher goal than to sustain, protect, and improve it.
By ensuring self-sufficiency in a person’s basic needs, he becomes more immune to the potential blackmail of money. Each household should be able to harvest resources such as solar energy, wind, and rainwater locally, and recycle waste using composting techniques.
- The Farm.
Every moneyless community requires a local farm to provide food. Each citizen must complete an ‘internship’ on the farm to learn about the origin of his food and the natural ecosystems that sustain his survival, and lend a helping hand to ensure constant work force. The size of the farm and the size of the population are locked in a proportion that provides abundance.
- Free Giving and Receiving.
No trade, no compensation! If someone asks for your service, you decide for yourself if you want to oblige. You must only give if you don’t expect compensation. If you need something, you must only ask the person who provides it. If he obliges, you don’t need to give anything in exchange except your sincere gratitude. If he does not, you must accept this and move on.
- Asymmetry and Unevenness.
These are a natural and desirable part of society; resulting from the varying skills, needs, and personalities of each individual. It makes sense for different people to live different lifestyles, who provide and consume different things in different quantities. Depending on the situation, there are those who assert their will, and others who submit to the will of others. This is natural, and should not be forcibly ‘equalized’.
- Leading and Following.
Authority and leadership are skills, and should not be rigid positions in a hierarchy of money. In a group or project, it makes sense for a person to be in the position of the leader, and others who assume the position of the follower. Depending on the subject matter and personal interest, different people will rise to the challenge of leading, and others will humbly submit themselves to follow. Both are honorable roles to assume; but they must be assumed willingly because of a shared goal, or not at all.
I am aware that many of these concepts may seem utopian. Hopefully, the following chapters will illustrate how this system can work, and why I believe it is the best possible solution to many of the problems we face in our society today. I urge you to keep an open mind and seriously consider the implications these rules could have. Try to envision yourself living in a moneyless society, and imagine how your particular skills, needs and desires would fit in there. I would be very interested to hear your answer!
I. The Mindset
Although moneyless distribution may seem like a new and audacious concept, it has already been experienced by many of us on a regular basis.
Moneyless sharing on a space station
Picture a small group of astronauts on a space station, each with their own individual skills and needs. Everyone on board knows how many people there are, what needs they have (living area, food, going to the bathroom, sleep, etc), and what resources they have (a certain amount of food, a toilet, clothes, etc). Each astronaut also has a unique set of skills that complements the other astronauts (navigating, engineering, astronomy, medicine, etc). When a group of astronauts goes into space, it is made sure that all of the necessary skills are present for extended survival.
It would be ludicrous for them to use money with each other as a means of getting their food. Should they trade their skills, perhaps? Everybody already knows what jobs need to be done, and who is most qualified to do them. Common sense, arisen from the knowledge of each others needs and skills, already dictates that if the computer is broken, the computer expert is going to be the one to fix it. And if someone broke their arm, obviously the guy who is most knowledgable in medicine and first aid is going to help. And nobody would take food away from another astronaut, because they know that there are limited resources, and they depend on each other for their survival.
There is essentially no difference between the limited resources of planet earth, and the scenario on a space station. The planet has limited resources and a certain number of inhabitants with a certain set of skills and needs. We must only become conscious of this concept on a much larger scale.
Moneyless sharing within a family
Certain members of a family may possess certain skills, such as the grandmother being a good cook, or the uncle being a good carpenter. Members of families often freely give and help each other: no one in the family pays the mother to cook the meals every day, despite that being a hugely important (and exhausting) task! If a cupboard needs mending, the person with the most skill in that area will do the job. Nobody will expect the 5-year-old girl to prepare a meal for the whole family. The grandmother might like to involve the 5-year-old with simple tasks, providing she is interested, and able to help. But nothing is forced, and the grandmother could definitely prepare the meal on her own. Similarly, the uncle might ask the teenage son for some help fixing the cupboard. As long as the son is interested, he will willingly do what he can to help, i.e. bring tools, hold wood in place, shine a flashlight, etc. But there is no money involved, and there doesn’t need to be. The kids aren’t being threatened with their food, shelter, or medical support. And if they decide to give some of their time and energy, they also don’t ask for money in return! It is a graceful act of giving that we are all familiar with.
The analogy continues even when distributing a scarce resource: Let’s say the grandmother bakes a pie for dessert. There are 8 family members present. The pie is cut into 8 pieces. Would any person in that situation take more than one piece of pie? Consider the social faux pas. No one would take more than their share, unless one person freely admitted they didn’t want any, and donated it to someone else. When one is conscious of how many people are present, conscious of everyone’s needs, and conscious of how much of a resource is present, one automatically involves that knowledge in one’s own decisions. One has expanded one’s consciousness to include other people, and is able to adjust one’s own decisions to their benefit, especially when there is an atmosphere of trust and sharing.
It is of utmost importance that we do not spoil the budding empathy of children. When one teaches a child that they will not receive food to eat, shelter to sleep, or medical support when they need it unless they make money by ruthlessly competing with others, their natural kindness is inhibited. It cannot develop, and therefore other, more primitive, self-serving urges come to the surface. If a child grows up in a “dog-eat-dog” world, it is very likely that it will emulate the behaviour of everyone else, but this doesn’t mean that it is their only natural tendency. I predict that if one indoctrinates a child into a climate of freely giving and sharing, they will also learn to be highly empathic, kind, and willingly give and share what they can.
Elevators in a building
A good example for a logical, fair, and moneyless distribution of a resource or privilege is the presence of elevators in a public place: Everyone has a particular place they need to go. Destinations are cued based on „first come, first served“. If there is too much demand; then strangely, the building doesn‘t start charging people money to take the elevator. They just add more elevators!
To the people taking the elevator, the apparentness of the following facts:
- How many people need the resource (they are standing next to you)
- In which amount do they need it (some people might be visibly in a hurry, others not)
- What is the capacity / availability of the resource (how many elevators are there and how many people fit inside)
…adds common sense to the equation, and lets those people make mature and sensible decisions about what to do in every case. (e.g. hold the door open for someone else; decide not to squeeze in when the elevator is full; etc)
Once the concrete facts about how much of a resource there is, how many people need it, and how much of it they need are in the public consciousness ( just like within a family ), common sense and empathy will take hold; things that are otherwise repressed and glossed over by the one-dimensional and egotistical concern of money.
If companies were no longer dependent on income and profit, we as a society would no longer create manufactured scarcity, and would instead be free to design a system to be as abundant as it can be.
Sharing space on the sidewalk / Cars on the road
Another example of obvious moneyless distribution is the actual physical space we inhabit as human beings. Every person has their own amount of space he *must* take up in the three-dimensional world. This exact amount of space varies greatly from person to person (from small, thin children to tall, obese adults), but nothing changes the fact that we have to use that exact amount of space at all times. If two three-dimensional beings try to occupy the same space at the same time, the result is a painful collision.
I find it fascinating to watch pedestrians walking on a busy sidewalk. They all have their own particular routes they are trying to follow, leading to a criss-cross pattern of colliding paths- yet somehow, they calculate and adjust their lines so that they smoothly pass alongside each other. If you are walking in a straight line but observe another pedestrian’s path crossing yours, your brain quickly extrapolates his current speed and direction to find out if a collision will occur. Since you both know that a collision is undesirable, you avoid this by either slightly adjusting your own speed or direction. No one in their right mind would charge money to compensate for the annoyance of having had to change direction, or slow down slightly. In this situation, it is obvious that each person is trying to get somewhere, and we know from experience that we all benefit from slightly submitting ourselves to the other people’s needs.
Cars on the road, bearing much more risk of collision, cannot simply rely on personal decisions each time two cars meet. Instead, a sensible, moneyless system is used: traffic lights. At even intervals, one side politely stops and lets the other go through.
Interestingly, the rules of traffic are quite “communist” in the way that the same rules apply to all vehicles. At the moment, the playing field for civilian cars is quite level. Applying money to that situation might look like this:
- getting to buy ambulance lights and making everyone else yield to you, no matter what
- getting to buy access to wide, fast lanes, while the others drive on cramped, slow lanes – etc.
If these privileges were availible to buy, I’m sure many of us would regularly indulge – much to the annoyance of those who cannot afford the fast lane, despite being in a legitimate hurry. Creating a two-tiered system would be an effective method of extracting immense amounts of money from drivers. Creating constant income from a place where there was no reason to pay before is called artificial scarcity, and we should be suspicious whenever we encounter it. When it comes to driving on the road, it is obvious to us that, just like walking on the sidewalk, there doesn’t need to be any money involved.
The underlying point is this: when people see themselves as just one person among many (you can see the other cars all around you), and both everyone’s needs and the availible resource are known (you can see the size of their cars and the availible space on the road), they are perfectly capable of submitting themselves to others out of generosity and common sense (giving way to another person merging, stopping at a traffic light), and accepting it as a natural part of life when they don’t get to have something they wanted (when there’s traffic, you can’t just pay money and get to go faster). I am confident we can take this commonly understood way of dealing with space on the road and apply it to all sorts of products and resources we currently distribute through money.
Asymmetry is Natural / Submission and Assertion
Through money, we are conditioned to believe that justice is attained when a debt is settled. This debt was an asymmetrical distribution of responsibility, or loss, and we assume that the need for this to be settled is equal in both sides. From an economic perspective, it is the goal to reach symmetry in all of our transactions. That’s why things cost money- we can’t possibly imagine someone giving another person something and then letting the matter go- we always feel that this person has now entered into a “debt” towards the other person, and he may not be absolved from his burden until symmetry is restored.
I find that in real life, this perfect symmetry does not exist, and forcing it into existence is unnatural and unnecessary. As we all know, humans have different needs in different areas. They also have different levels of skill in different areas, and consider themselves to a different degree able or willing to performs those skills than other people. One teacher may find it hugely exhausting to give a guitar lesson, another teacher might feel no such exhaustion after several lessons. One student may value the lesson very highly, another student may not be helped by it. On one day, a student might want a full hour of instruction, on other days he will be content with 15 minutes. These fluctuations are natural and don’t need to be punished or “compensated for”.
More importantly, there are differences in the way humans submit to others or assert their will, depending on the resource to be gained. When one piece of pie is left over at a dinner party, and two people are interested in having it, eventually one of them will choose to submit to the other. This is done without money, instead it arises from each individual’s capacity for humility and submission, and his or her particular needs. If two people reach a drinking fountain, and the one person is severely dehydrated while the other isn’t particularly thirsty, it is clear which one of them will assert their need of this resource. They don’t suddenly believe that the thirsty one is now “indebted” to the person who wasn’t particularly thirsty, and vow to always give water to the other person from now on, even when he isn’t thirsty! One simply acknowledges the honorable decision the not particularly thirsty man made to submit to the greater need of his fellow man, who is probably very grateful for it.
Another good example for this is speaking time in a conversation. Do you just blurt out whatever thought you have in the middle of someone else’s sentence? Of course not- you know to wait until they’ve finished speaking, and then you respond with something relevant. Do you time exactly how many minutes and seconds you were able to speak and then demand that there is an “equal transaction” of speaking time? No, because every conversation is different, and sometimes you have a lot to say, other times you do not. And it doesn’t really matter, since you know there will be other conversations in the future, and you don’t make one person responsible for your universal “lost conversation time”.
Asymmetry and contrast are the spice of life- only through variations and differences can we even perceive life. And so it is also with human exchange and distribution: it is never truly equal, and doesn’t need to be. We should stop trying to evaluate every transaction along the criterion of symmetry of debt, and instead see the real situation for what it is, with all of its uneven and subjective characteristics. Given these conditions, the choice to assert one’s needs must be respected, and the choice to submit to other people’s needs must be honored. Those who restrain or submit themselves do it so that others can benefit. We don’t need to constantly run around writing down checks and balances, attempting to cancel out every little unevenness through ‘compensation’. By being brought up with money, we forgo the important lessons of life on how to truly deal with loss and gain, how to be humble and generous, and how to stand up for your needs when you really have good reason to. It’s okay if some people are more greedy than others, more lazy than others, or more generous than others. If we can learn to simply let it happen, we will save ourselves a huge amount of wasted energy.