A Desert Island

This article is extracts from a longer discussion on The World Freedom Demo group on Facebook.

You might also want to read the post ‘Will a Resource Based Economy Work?‘, for a more in depth look at RBE.

Picture a group of 100 people on a desert island. They only have what nature provides. There are no banks and no money.

What will be most efficient and meaningful to do?

1. To establish a ‘monetary system’ where everyone gets ‘points’ or ‘promissory obligations’ based on how much they contribute, and have one part of the population manage this system. Still, they would get in trouble when one person says, ‘I spent all day fishing! I deserve a full day’s wage!’, while the other one say’s ‘But you didn’t catch any fish! I, on the contrary spent all day building bungalows, I deserve a full day’s wage, not him!’, while the third person say’s ‘I’ve been sitting and thinking all day, coming up with much better solutions on both building bungalows AND catching fish! I deserve 3 day’s of wages!’, while the 4th person say’s ‘I have been working my ass of managing our monetary system! I deserve a weeks wages!’. No matter if there is interest or not interest on the money, one would have to establish the worth of all the different activities and ‘products’. How to one really do that? Of course, supply and demand, which really is totally manipulatable. One day one guy picks all the bananas and say’s ‘I picked all the bananas, now you have to buy them from me’. And of course, in a matter of days, they rot, the others get’s pissed, war is inevitable.


2. Skip the whole monetary system, get out of their egos and simply contribute where it is needed. And of course, not everyone will be fit to do everything, so the ones who WANT’S to fish and are good at it, they fish. Those who WANT’S to cook and are good at it, they cook. Those who WANT’S to sit and think out better solutions to stuff and share that with the other, do that. And everyone needs places to sleep, so everyone contributes to building bungalows. And yes, there might be discussions and arguments about what works best, who did what and how much. But then again, we are talking about THE EGO’s here, the ones ALL OF US have to get out of. In any case, they won’t have to toil with a monetary system on top of it. It is much much easier for them to simply be humble, helpful and creative and cooperate in building the best world they can for each other there on the island. In fact, they are already living in a paradise with free bananas and coconuts, fish and more. And interacting with this wonderful world and each other gives them tremendous joy. Non of them would ever think of hoarding bananas or fish, to sell to each other later. This would be meaningless. And of course, non of them would claim any of the others beds as ‘theirs’. They would live in a gift economy where no accounts are made on ‘who did what’. Everyone has a conscience that feels if one has been lazy for too long, others will start to grumble and say ‘get of your ass’!

The monetary system is BASED on egoism and indoctrination to a scarcity mindset. It is based on greed. It is based on an illusion. It is based on keeping the population brainwashed as to what is really relevant and necessary in the world. We live in a paradise. But the paradise has been corrupted by money and property.

People DO contribute as needed in many many many many many cases without monetary reward every single day on this planet. The family is one example, where one might cook dinner, while the other is washing clothes. There’s no money or ‘promissory obligations’ involved. Another example would be volunteers on a project, where some might plant trees, while others spread mulch. And true friends help friends every day for free. www.doctorswithoutborders.org/ is a good example of where doctors and nurses contribute as needed without any monetary incentive. A lot of software we have today has been made free of charge. Wikipedia is another example of people who do contribute as needed, where thousands of article writers all over the world share their knowledge for free. And these examples are only a tiny fraction of the millions of people volunteering every day all over the planet in countless projects and fields. If you don’t call that ‘contribute as needed’, I don’t know what is. To me this is outstanding proof that a resource based economy not only will work, but actually is working as we speak.

When it comes to tools and property, I think you misunderstand, Mike. No property doesn’t mean no tools. Why should it mean that? Let’s go back to the desert island again. Every tool they make and use there is of course shared with the ones who need them. The guy who made an axe from a rock, a stick and some straw of course lends his axe to the next person when needed. Why wouldn’t he? And of course, he also teaches others to make the same type of axe. The same goes for the fishing rod, the trunk canoe, the fibre rope, the ladder, the cutting tools and the paddle.

Now, sharing tools is a highly relevant topic in regards to RBE, and to make our world much more efficient and sustainable. If we all had shared a lot of our ‘tools’ (cars, boats, power drills, golf equipment, skis, etc.) instead of each one owning them, we could have managed with a lot less ‘tools’, and thus with a lot less production and strain on the environment. Not to speak of that we would ALL HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF TOOLS. Instead of one measly drill or an old car we would instead share top super quality items. So, ‘no property’ doesn’t mean ‘no tools’. Quite the contrary. It means much more efficient use of tools. Also, instead of trying to minimize the cost of producing super cheap tools like power drills and such that have a short life span, we could have made only the best possible tools in all areas, lasting many many times longer, since we now would only need a fraction of them. But of course, our monetary system is based on continuous consumption, so to optimize production like this would mean the loss of too many jobs. This might be a bit better with MPE, but a certain amount of continuous consumption must always be there with a monetary system.

You’re right about EGO, though. Ego is not the only reason people do or don’t contribute. Their upbringing and environment is another, just as important, reason. What one is taught to do from childhood is paramount in this regard. And yes, this has nothing to do with ego, but simply how one is ‘programmed’ to think from day one in one’s life. MPE might be a brilliant ‘first step’ to alleviate us all from the devastating banking system and introduce a more human and actually functioning economic system. And we might stick with the ‘MPE’ system for several decades. Still, in the end, a moneyless system is not only possible, but it is the most stress free, natural, uncomplicated and most desirable system we can implement on the planet. When you think about it.

14 thoughts on “A Desert Island

  1. Alternate scenario
    Instead of a deserted island, the 100 group finds itself on a deserted island with an abandoned but still potentially functional hotel resort. There’s a satellite phone and a letter in a briefcase with a deceased billionaire’s Will (that was curious about RBE but wanted a teaser test): “The people that find this island and operate it for ten years just by themselves, without using money among themselves and without hiring or paying anyone else, and get positive reviews from visitors, will inherit the island”.

    The group finds they pretty much collectively have the skill sets to operate the resort. But, though many people volunteer for various tasks, and there’s many more people volunteering to be the bar tender than required (unless separated in half days a week or something), but, no one volunteers to clean the pool and clean the toilets. No one wants to be in charge of those tasks 7 days a week for the next 10 years. Everyone wants to do something other than cleaning pool and the toilets, and all 100 castaways want to do the least amount of pool/toilet cleaning as possible. What are the practical organization/task-attribution options they have (without money) to operate the resort in a manner that’s most satisfying to them and to the visitors?

    1. (Clarification detail: Though the castaways cant use money among themselves or hire people to work on the Transition Resort Island, they can use the money that off-island visitors pay to enjoy the resort, in order to import food/items/etc from outside the island.)

    2. (addenum: lets say theres about 50 hours a month worth of crappy jobs no one wants, and about 150 hours a month worth of jobs that arent interesting (not hated has much as the crappy jobs but that people would rather not do if they had a choice).

    3. Firstly, I think it is too general to say that there is a specific amount of jobs that ‘no one wants’ on this island. This implies that the people on the island is extremely immature, cannot cooperate and/or take responsibility. Honestly, I think the situation is unlikely. In most eco villages, WOOF farms, etc. etc. people do the crappiest jobs just to get free food, accommodation, feel worthy, meet new and interesting people, etc. etc.

      What is considered ‘crappy’ and what isn’t is individual, and can also be made up from group opinion. In the outset, one person might not have anything against cleaning the pool or toilets, but if the majority labels it as ‘crappy’, then he might. Still, someone might also just say ‘I’ll do it, if no one else will. After all, we won’t inherit this island if we don’t keep the resort clean’.

      1. Hi ok, Its just an example, i havent had a flat tire in ages but still carry a spare. If everything falls into place then fine, but imo we need a contingency method even if its 98% unlikely (which imo is far too optimistic but thats details beside the point).
        Also if its well organised you can know who is on stand by from each job in case the main volunteer is sick or has an unexpected abscence.
        I would hesitate to leave my job, pack with the family and move into a community where things are left to the wishing that everything will be fine without methods and contingency plan, with a 1 day of potential mandatory work than we will just see what happens. Also if one person takes the burden of doing something they dont like many days a week because no one else does i think is less fair then having the task spread to a few people that just do a little each (to me sounds less worst)

        1. I get you. I misunderstood/got too caught up in the example. Absolutely, I am not against a contingency plan, or even a plan of sharing work. I think what I meant was that the 100 people on the island should make plans like this them selves and thus take responsibility for their own tasks in that society. A contingency plan to me is the same as working out a cooperation and taking responsibility for it. And I agree completely that the more people there is in society and the more complex it is, the more we need plans like the ones you propose. I think they are good, as it means we give each other responsibility of tasks that are actually needed and meaningful in the community/society, unlike many of the meaningless tasks today only focussed on money… 🙂

  2. I disagree with this part: “The guy who made an axe from a rock, a stick and some straw of course lends his axe to the next person when needed. Why wouldn’t he?”

    I can think of several reasons why wouldn’t he. For example:
    – he doesn’t like that other guy because he is mean and problematic, because he is lazy or flappy and breaks things or looses them somewhere, because he didn’t lend him his knife yesterday
    – he wants to have this axe clean or sharp
    – he wants to use this axe whenever he likes to (he made it, right?)
    – etc…

    People likes stuff. Likes to have things, to own. So noone can touch it without permission, to make it dirty or break it. I can’t imagine world without possession. This is the weak spot in RBA (which I really like, but I don’t think this would work).

    1. This guy that you describe won’t be lent the axe. And if the one who’s making the axe is a stingy bastard, no of course RBE won’t work. All those people can move to another island and quarrel among themselves.

    2. You say “People likes stuff. Likes to have things, to own. So noone can touch it without permission, to make it dirty or break it. I can’t imagine world without possession.”

      No you can’t, because you are brainwashed into this selfish society of not sharing. This that you are describing is the crux that we all need to overcome.

      Still, there ARE many communities where things are shared, and they become more and more every day. If you live in a community, sharing will be the natural thing.

      As to the example of the island, it would be meaningless not to cooperate and share whatever you make there, so that EVERYONE can survive. Instead of fighting to survive.

      This goes for the whole planet now as well. We have come so far as to see that if we all collaborate and share, WE CAN ALL SURVIVE AND HAVE GOOD LIVES, instead of struggling and competing for something that is already in abundance.

      This is the difference between the egoistic ME mindset and the altruistic WE mindset. When we turn ME upside down, we get WE.

      In the ME mindset, we compete and struggle, looking suspiciously at each other. For what? For nothing! We’re only making everything harder for ourselves.

      In the WE mindset, we collaborate, so that every ME will have a much much much much much much much much better time! Easier, more relaxed. Sharing with every one gives everyone more!

      Sure, if it is something, like a nice stone you like, keep it to your self. But if it is something that can be of benefit to more that just you, like your axe, share it!! For Pete’s sake. If it brakes, fix it.

      And you know what happens then? Other people will share with you! Aaaahh….!

      If you hold on to your axe, being selfish and not sharing it, that’s what you’ll get in return from others. Nothing.

    3. If you go to a nice cinema, does it matter if you dont “own” the comfortable chair, or what matters is that its available, clean and confortable? Do you “own” a golf cart which takes up space on a trailer in your garage, so that when you go golfing you dont use one of those “shared” golf carts other people use, but use your very “own” private property golf cart? When you go to a restaurant, do you bring a suitcase with your “own” set of glasses, dishes and utensils, look at the bewildered couple sitting in the next table and proudly tell them “yes, Im using my own glasses, Im an owner, I own things. Im affraid if I use the shared restaurant’s glass someone will come up to my table and say ~hey since its Not your very own ‘libertarian private property’ glass I’ll just take it and drink the half beer that left in it~”. Or do you go to the restaurant and say “hey waiter, I want the list of all customers that have used this particular glass, because if anyone of them I dont happen to like, I want you to return that glass and bring me back another one with its list of…, Im telling you, Im not sharing something that someone I dont like has used at some point in time. ” :0

      Joking aside, In my opinion, Its ok to have stuff personal items you dont want to share, or personal items you dont want to share for personal reasons. No one will enter your residence and take your decorations, tooth brush, clothes, but if you take a step back, you will realize that for most stuff that have a function, what you really want is assured access to the fuction. In some cases, like items you use daily it might not be conveniant to share and theres no problem with that as far as I know, but for a lot of stuff it is more practical to used shared models.

      As for the axe example, imo It would be better to make a couple of axes and share those, this way you would have access to an axe even if someone else used one also. Soemone else might have an idea to make it even better too, or have an idea to use it in a way that you hadnt thought about.
      And someone else might use one of the shared axes to make a canoo that allows him to catch more fish than he can eat, and someone else might use that axe to help you rebuild your shelter after a storm.

  3. I couldn’t Agree more 🙂 there are 16.4 million motorcycles and cars in Australia. Does that mean all 20 million people of australia are now on the roads driving. NO. Instead i see thousands of parked cars on the streets every day.

  4. It’s a great analogy… the problem is that it is much harder to implement RBE to a global scale than to just 100 people.

    But if everyone is informed, and cooperate to the goal it will be possible.

  5. Thanks for the Island … What will be most efficient and meaningful to do? … [2] get reacquainted with nature in order to survive.

    Please write “GREED’S” address down, so we can avoid.

    This massive change of mind will not about like some hunger cue …

    information transfer seems to be a central issue …

    to me information that transfers is simple

    to me information that transfers simple and is stackable

    … it follows that it is un – stackable[keeps beliefs from setting in]
    As we stack and un – stack layers of complexity come about.

    What we have … what we need … what’s in transition?
    A wiki perhaps?

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