I have been asked to explain how a society witout money works. The true answer is I don’t really know, all I can do is guess how it might be! I don’t actually see a moneyless system as a foolproof replacement system, more as a possible direction to go in if we so choose, individually or collectively. We could have less money, or be completely moneyless. A world without money is nothing to be frightened of, but we have been brainwashed into fear of having no money, and most people are constantly worrying about this at the back of their minds.
Other cultures around the world manage without money, arguably better than we do. Amazon rainforest tribes, Tibetan and Mongolian nomads, Australian aborigines, North American Indians. Though tptw (the powers that were) don’t like this and they are constantly trying to destroy any such cultures that remain. These cultures are not controllable because they can’t be bought. When tptw invade a new place where people are self sufficient, tptw (often in the guise of a transglobal corporation) first set themselves up as owners of the land. They steal the land, which was previously unowned. Then they charge rent. So the people have to work for the new owners to get the money to pay the rent for what was their own land. As time goes on, they become unable to afford the rent for land to grow their own food, and depend on the new owners for food. The people become deskilled, controlled and unhealthy.
No money means no mortgages and no rent. The houses will still be here though so we will have somewhere to live. Hard to imagine big housing developments going up in a world of no money. They are motivated by profit, so will die. What is more likely to happen is that if, say, a family is in genuine need of a home, people will get together to help build one for them. Just one home at a time. If you are not busy working to pay off all your bills and housing costs, you have more time for your community and to help others.
I often ask myself how many people would do their current job if they weren’t paid to do so. I would probably carry on with mine, but maybe with a bit more flexibility for time off. That’s because I have got jobs I like that don’t take over my life. Many people do voluntary work already, either officially for an organisation or helping out neighbours, or looking after their family and home, or growing their own food, or sharing their homes or possessions, or giving things away instead of selling them.
One thing that is interesting is lottery winners. They often choose to continue with their job even though they have no financial need to. Many people say they would reduce their hours if they won the lottery, but would still like to keep their job.
Obviously lots of people would stop their job immediately if they no longer needed to earn the money it provided. What sort of jobs are these? The not very nice ones. The Chinese slave labour market might go out the window, and factories might close down. It is impossible to predict, but anyone who is mistreated would be in a position to walk away from their job if they were not desperate for the money.
We would have a lot less materialism and gluttony and waste in the West. Less Chinese made shoes, maybe none, for a start. But we might have better quality stuff that is made with our own skills, that we value more and treat better. We might relearn some skills and enjoy making things again. I don’t think we would get cappuccino any more, which is a tough one for me, but I think I would cope, lemon balm tea is nice too.
A lot of our total collective time worked would be freed up. No more accountants, tax people, marketeers, price structure managers. All that effort could go elsewhere.
How would the Queen fare? I actually think a lot of people would still want to take care of her for free! Look at how many volunteers the National Trust has taking care of big houses and gardens. The point is that people would choose work that is useful and fulfilling and is what they believe in and like doing, rather than working for money. To me fulfilling work is a natural and essential part of the human existence.
The main obstacle is people’s mindset, which is unlikely to change overnight. Small steps towards less money are quite easy to take, and if many people are inclined to do this, a gradual mass shift will take place. If people like the new way, and it seems to work, they might do it some more, and the whole thing would grow. I would not want to force anyone to do this, nor impose a system. But the beauty of it is that anyone can do it without waiting for some external system to be put in place. No need to lobby politicians, or sign petitions, or devise administrative systems and committees.
I find that the less I use money, the less I need it, the more I have, and the less it controls me. I still need a certain amount in order to exist in our Western society as it is today, and I keep that to as small a part of my life as I can get away with. Our real wealth is not money, but the joys of life.
(See earlier posts: The Gift Economy, The Cost of Money, The Queen’s Debt)