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The Global Gift Economy Is Here

Many people are afraid we will get some kind of totalitarian dictatorial system with RBE. The fear is understandable when you look at living examples of communism like North Korea, Cuba, China and the former Soviet Union. Some might even think that today’s rampant capitalism is better, but then they are forgetting all the corruption, pollution, poverty, war and crime it causes.

Everyone want to be ‘free’. And neither the tried communism nor capitalism has been able to give that to humanity.

What is happening today is an awakening on many levels. We have the Occupy Movement, Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project, and many many spiritual organizations where people meditate together for a better, peaceful world, in addition to millions of volunteers doing work for free to help people in need and get the reward of gratitude from them.

The human mind, that has been asleep for so long, is starting to wake up. And the only economic system I can see as a natural result of this global spiritual awakening, is a resource based economy. Why? Because when we realize that we are all one, when greed gives way to generosity and when ‘profit’ is replaced by ‘people’, there shouldn’t be any need for money either.

We have to realize that the monetary system, money, property and ownership are concepts in our minds, and not real things. They don’t really exist in nature. Neither does a state. In capitalism we trust the notion of trading to take care of all human needs. In communism we trust the state to take care of human needs. In socialism it is a more or less balance between the two.

In fact, there is no pure capitalism nor communism anywhere in the world today (except maybe for North Korea) as there are always elements of both free trade and government intervention in all countries. But there is one more element that is not counted in BNP or in any of the governments around the world, and that is gifting. If it is counted it is only counted as far as it is measurable in money. And in that regards, volunteer work amounts to several national budgets every year.

Gifting is a huge part of our lives already. Whether you are a volunteer in a project, or simply makes a dinner for friends, you are gifting. If you are contributing to the development of Ubuntu (Google it), you are gifting. If you write or edit an article on Wikipedia, you are gifting. If you have a band that doesn’t earn money, but give concerts, you are gifting. If you help your aunt move the lawn, you are gifting. If you give someone your newspaper, you are gifting. If you give of your self grown apples, you are gifting. Do I need to continue…?

You see, we already live in a large degree IN a gift economy. Only that we don’t know it. And we have let our ‘gifting’ be ‘smudged’ by money.

Just think about it. If we, instead of TRADING (‘I will only give you something if you give me something back’) simply starts GIFTING (‘I will give you something regardless of what you give me back’) we will have the same world in a way, but without money. We will then trust that we will get what we need from each other, since everyone thinks the same way. Just like everyone thinks in the terms of trading today, we will think in terms of gifting tomorrow.

Today we trust that ‘when I do work for you, you give me what I need back in the terms of money’. Tomorrow we will trust that ‘when I do work for you, society and nature I will get what I need back from you, society and nature’.

And what a world that will be! Just imagine when there is no money and everything is gifted (yes, it sounds far out, but it is not as strange as it sounds). When there is no money, we will need no banks, no insurance companies, no taxes, etc. etc. And there will be no ‘financial crises’.

Think, if a stranger gives you something you feel is of value to you, like a massage, you will automatically feel a certain amount of gratitude and feel like giving something back. But to give back to this particular person is difficult since you don’t know him, won’t see him again and is no good at giving massages. Then, what’s you option?

Pay it forward!

Not necessarily with a massage, but with something else that you are good at and is needed in society.

When we start giving to each other instead of trading with each other, the gratitude we feel will be the ‘currency’ that will flow around in this society. When you give to me, I can give to you, but I can also give to the next one.

And a giving society where we don’t keep track of how much we give (other than our own conscience) is a much much much much much much much much much simpler society than a trading society where there is kept track of every cent that changes hands.

Yes, our minds have to change, or rather wake up, to this reality. It is truly a liberating feeling to be able to, for instance, leave my bike unlocked at the grocery store without any worry. And then walk into the store and pick what I need and walk out without paying, and then do MY part in this world, knowing that my part then is something needed, not something that only contributes to perpetuate the monetary market system.

And then think about how all of us in this new society can utilize clean energy and technology, and develop technology to the best for everyone, without the need for patents or competition.

A resource based economy will be a network of local communities and cities sharing whatever resources they might possess in their vicinity that might be of use to the common good and at the same time optimizing their own practices in sustainable living.

On a small scale, we will have individuals doing their work ‘for free’ for each other and the community, and on a large scale we will communicate the need for different types of resources that might have to be brought from one place on the planet to another.

Today, we are coordinating a huge world of commerce with highly complex systems of production, transport and distribution all over the planet. Technically, there is no problem to do the same within a resource based economy. A resource based system would also be a 100 times simpler than the tiresome constant egotistical trade and competition that goes on all the time around the planet.

With the trade system we have all the money that has to shift hands, taxes, lawyers, accountants, banks, insurance companies, and what have you in ADDITION to the counting and weighing of the actual resources.

With an RBE system we only need to ‘count and weigh’ the resources to make sure we stay within the carrying  capacity of the planet. In any case, RBE is simpler, better, more natural, more just and more efficient that today’s monetary system will ever be.

This article was meant to show that it is not so difficult to imagine a moneyless economic system, since we in a large degree already have it.

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48 Responses so far.

  1. John English says:

    I am encouraged that this conversation is taking place. The change that is necessary to make the world a more humane, fair and egalitarian place is extremely complex. It seems to me that the true complexity is being avoided here in favor of philosophy and opinion. Jeff Beller, Susan Caumont and John Finnerty have made a valuable contribution in their paper,”HERM draft six” above. I woud like to encourage them to develop it further, and to invite others to contribute by means of a WIKI. I would suggest that a model of the processes that are being developed could clarify the complexity and illustrate the system that is being developed. I think it has huge potential

  2. Bill Jennings says:

    Please feel free to send me email. I am currently the owner or a recording studio. I would like to make the first video on how to actually map out such a plan and lay the first corner stone. I am calling it “The Resource Based Economy – Blue Prints”.

    • Renard says:

      Where will you post this video? I am looking forward to see it.

      I dont know what the blueprints would be like, but I suspect that to be practical it would have to take into account the present situation in which money is essential, and be able to start small and gradually grow (gradually reduce the need for money internally, and grow in terms of people and area), from a small community to a town with its schools, community center/library/lending center/local studio, daycare, public works etc, and grow into a network of towns.

      From my perspective, an information system would be required to coordinate the learning, list the tasks/jobs that are needed, and coordinate the scheduling of participation. I also think that a number of mandatory hours per week of work in the tasks/jobs listed would be required, and that data of volunteering would help know where to focus R&D to find easier ways/automated ways or preventing/minimizing the need for tasks/jobs in which there is little volunteering.


  3. Bill Jennings says:

    Ok, you people are just awesome! I am starting to dedicate my life to this world saving event. What was said above is just inspiring in a way that cannot be verbalized. I will look forward to living with you in the RBE community and all extraordinary people. This evolution is coming.. believe it! Not because a few of us want or think it’s a good idea, but because the human racing is desparately longing for it. Whether the masses know it or not.

    I just discussed this with my wife.. and I said to her.. once the laggards are staring through the window of a RBE developed community and looking in, believe me, they will be beating down the gates to be a part of it. And you can take that to the bank….ur.. your very appreciative neighbor. 🙂

    Peace to you all and let’s get started.

    Bill jennings.
    – Your Canadian RBE Enthusiast.

  4. Tim says:

    I still believe there are two items missing for the RBE to work.

    First, humans need an incentive system. It used to be money. Without something to be a little competitive a lot of people just sit around. So what do people like besides money? Respect. You could organize a digital system to give other people points. Call it respect, appreciation, kudos, bonus points… It sounds maybe crazy but a people do like a system where it works like the games. You get more points, which give you a certain level. That level can translate into things like priority transportation or some exclusive food. But it doesn’t give the hoarding of cash and resources like capitalism does or destroys initiative as socialism seems to do.

    Secondly, you need a government system. The most feasible I see is the on-line organisation of government. Using software to discuss things in a civilized way (filter out the trolls, …), get rational arguments and get all people to vote on issues. Resources are common good, so government is also common good. (www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_the_internet_will_one_day_transform_government.html)

    These ideas are emerging at multiple locations. We just have to bring them all together. Because nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

    • Harald Sandø says:

      I don’t disagree with those things. We already have several different ‘incentive systems’ going on. Facebook ‘Likes’, for example. And yes, ‘kudoses’ on some other places. ‘Followers’ on Twitter, etc. And we can of course device more systems if wanted.

      But the greatest incentive systems there are are those that can’t be registered on a computer and measured. It is the incentive systems of Gratitude, Joy in the Task Itself, Collaboration, Excitement, Love and Fulfillment. With these as main incentives no others are needed, really.

      I think the world always will device some kinds of competitions and registered incentive systems, so there’s no worry about that. But in RBE it will be up to you if you need/want to follow them or not, just like it is in a large degree up to you today already, except with the monetary system, which can be hard to dodge for most people, at the moment. But more and more things are becoming free (Wikipedia, Couchsurfing), and there will come a day where you can choose to pay money, or get it for free.

      Governance, yes… You have to remember that when money is not ruling the world anymore, wholly different management systems will arise from that. Yes, we will still manage ourselves and our resources, there’s no doubt about that. But we won’t need a small group of corrupt people making decisions way over the heads of others. It will be people agreeing upon what they want to do and how in any given area at any given time. There will be different systems in different parts of the world depending on the needs of the area. And the different systems and groups will be coordinated through the web.

      • Tim says:

        > It is the incentive systems of Gratitude, Joy in the Task Itself, Collaboration

        This is true for a lot of people, indeed. Open Source, DevianArt and others are based on this principle. Also, the most productive days in companies are the “do whatever you want and show it at the party”-days.

        Other issues, like alcohol abusers, will need something to keep them from being destructive probably.

        But people are creative enough to find a solution, give the chance.

        > But we won’t need a small group of corrupt people making decisions way over the heads of others.

        That will be the major issue if you want to see a RBE become reality. These people want control. I guess now they try to censor internet so idea’s like this don’t reach the general population, so by the time the markets crash they can lure the panicking population in a new system of their choosing.

    • Renard says:

      “First, humans need an incentive system. It used to be money. Without something to be a little competitive a lot of people just sit around.”

      I understand why you might think this but althought it may appear to be the case in our present social environment, I dont think its true. Its like if I force you to run a marathon afer two hours if I say “ok now you can do *what ever you like*” you might fall on your knees, lie down an take a breather, then someone passing by might say “you see, without being forced to he would do nothing but rest on his back” (which is utterly false but only appears to be because of the context). If you are working 40 hours a week and driving in trafic, you might be exausted and want to rest in what little time you have left, but people still do things in their spare time. A friend of a friend made beautiful paintings, and gave me some. People have done movies, mod for games and open source software, do volunteer work, you write comments yet no one is paying you, etc. All that is in a context where you are forced to spend a lot of time energy on activities that might not be all that helpful outside a money based system, AND in a context where you are very limited in ACCESS to the knowledge and tools to do what you might really like, and in a context where there is no logistical system to coordinate volunteer work (we dont know what people want and what are the needs, theres no coordination nor do we have any sense of what the priorities might be. If two streets away from me someone needs first aid, I have no clue even if I had First Aid training, even if the nearest ambulance has lost a wheel and cant make it, so I might choose to do a painting even if I would rather help a neibor in need of assistance. A lot of task that could benefit from citizen participation, are conscribed in a compartementalized job that is closed and opaque).

      So there are factors that limit our ability to do things without monetary incentives, but most people would participate, create, build, help, contribute, teach, all this without any artifical incentive because the like it or because they feel useful.

      Where a significant problem remains however, is that for all the things people would do because they are interested (or feel useful doing it), there is no garantee that the random uncoordinated volunteering participation though out a community, would fill all the needs all the time. This is probaly more acute with activities that are not yet automated ad that either “most” people dont like that require a considerable amount of training people dont have (even if they might wan to help). Also, even if 7 out of 10 people volunteer to work on a chain factory (or any procress with a sequential chain), the factory stops (or the production/service stops) if any direct process part of the chain is not active.

      So a kudos could be neet, but would not be required for a lot of the activites people do, but some system is required for some of the activities required for society to function. Which ever system is prototyped (it could be a number of mandatory hours per month of work in selected jobs or training in key specialties), the system will require a particiapation coordination system, so we know what training is required for various functions of society, and what are the levels of particiapation for each function, so what society needs to function is higlighted/visible, and the fuctions that require more volunteers/automation/prevention/alternate-solutions also are known.

      One of the potential problem with any artificial incentive system, is the risk to create situations of conflicts of interest, when the desire for the incentive itself is greater, theres a risk of conflicts of interest at the expense of what is better for society (its an aspect of money than many people fail to fully measure).

      • Renard says:

        “ad that either “most” people dont like that require a considerable amount of training people dont have ”
        ..and that either “most” people dont like OR that require considerable…

      • Tim says:

        I agree that a lot of stuff will be done by people ‘for free”. Engineering (designing and building systems) and the arts have a high intrinsic motivational value, same for caring for the elderly, nurses, doctors, teachers… It would be enough to just to ease up on the pressure and deadlines like we have today (people choosing to work only in the afternoon for example) and people can be happy. People baking specialty bread, vegetables and fruit just as a hobby and give it away is something that I can see happening.

        Tasks that are a lot less intrinsic motivational are troubleshooting, being on call if the automatic factory fails, cleaning the streets, tables, classrooms, inspecting factories, repairing stuff, organizing, do the administration…will be a lot more trouble. These jobs are a lot less ‘fun’ for most people.

        Some organizing can be done through software. I guess that if an RBE is fully running everybody just gets a laptop / tablet / smart phone / smart window. It is not that hard to create a website or an app that lets you volunteer for tasks / projects on one end and people entering tasks / projects on the other side. The software can find a match in the region and let you agree on a time/place. It’s easy to imagine your phone signalling “Urgent repair job in your neighborhood, accept (y/n)” Like this enough volunteers can be found to fill a schedule, find people… Get kudos when you show up and get the job done.

        My guess is that when the transition starts, first there will be something like bitcoin as alternative currency. That evolves probably into a a kudos system giving you access to a bit more stuff as more items become free. Finish basic education and get the right to live in your own apartment. Finish engineering / medical and get access to apartment with better views.

        When the menial jobs are mostly automated than the kudos system be phased out maybe. But it will be up to future scientists, philosophers and social engineers to figure that out in a couple of decades. There people will also to be on the lookout for abuse in the system and make adjustments accordingly preferable after democratic approval.

        One thing you can be sure of that there will be a lot of arguing about what system is the best, how to find volunteers and so on 🙂

  5. […] RBE is not an ‘establishment of a system’, but rather the emergence of a system, coming from it’s citizens and not from any ‘rulers’, as there are no rulers in RBE. That it is an emergent system is crucial to understand. It is not a top down system, but a bottom up system based on a shift in mindset of the population. — from The Global Gift Economy is Here: Comments […]

  6. Renard says:

    Imo theres a nuance thats sometimes missing from the “gift” economy narrative. To avoid deprivation and benefit from a high standard of living, we dont need just gifts and good intentions, we need technology and *organization* (of activity, production, distribution).

    If I give hammer, and get a golf ball gift, but starve because I dont get a food gift, thats no good. If my TV remote’s AAA battery are out, and someone gives me AA batteries, thats no good. If someone gives me bananas but I prefer apples, while someone with apples gives them to the monkey cause he doesnt know I prefer apples, thats not that great. If I volunteer to pack widgets that are supposed to be made in a factory, but no one volunteers to bring parts to the factory that is supposed to assemble them, thats no good either.
    If the guy that volunteered to work at the factory is ill, and no one that might have volunteered time as stand-in knows how to operate the machine, thats no good either.

    So the challenge is to organize in a way that coordinates activities, taking into account the needs and preferences of people, the needs of processes (parts, labor/tasks, responsibilities, skill learning, participation schedule, stand-by time, etc), people interest/work-preferences/learned-skills. And to do so in a way that is not typical; hierarchic, money-based, and opaque(confidential/secret receipe/propretary merthod, etc), but that is more open, participatory and transparent. An information system to track needs/prerequisites and volunteer participation-schedule/skill-training/standby-assistance will help a great deal in coordinating participation and to organize activities.

  7. mark says:

    Money is awfull. Venus project all the way!

  8. Joseph says:

    you know, this economy is kinda a ticket to break free from God’s punishment for Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. 🙂

  9. […] Harald Sandø On February 28, 2012  · 28 Comments · In Gift Economy, Resource Based […]

  10. we need this measurement to get to rbe plz read this e mailOn 4/9/12 11:18 AM, stuart beller wrote:

    Hello Jeff and Susan,

    Here’s a start.



    HERM draft six


    The energy for human thought and human efforts derives directly from renewable solar energy. Just as energy units can be standardized, human energy can be standardized and used as a renewable energy basis for considering values in a human economy. This line of reasoning leads to a Human Energy Renewable Measure, HERM as a starting point for measuring the human economy.


    Throughout history there has never been a base measurement for human renewable energy. Our economic system functions on subjective valuations (money, wages) a belief system.

    It appears that our present economic system is falling apart. It is being starved for lack of equality. A more equitable system of human energy (physical and intellectual) and natural resource distribution needs to be created. The HERM, Human Energy Renewable Measure, is a way of thinking about creating a base equation for this economic system.

    How do we know what is fair, without a measurement? How does a person know where he is if he has no map, no measure for distance, no compass or other locating devise? There is a joke about this. A man had to bail out of his plane and landed in a field. A hiker appeared nearby so the man asked him where he was. The hiker said, “you are in a wheat field.” The man said, “you must be an economist.” The hiker said, “yes, but how did you know?” The man replied, “ you just gave me perfectly accurate information and told me nothing.”

    There is a need for a measure/axiom for human renewable energy. This has never been created in the history of humanity, as far as we know! This is needed so people every where can have a base number on which to calculate their own value, asses their economic systems and on which to base the value of their currency. Then real adjustments will become clear as to how the wealth and resources of each nation can be distributed to benefit the majority of human population. An economic system that has currency pegged to a base value of human renewable energy empowers all human intelligence to design the best economic solutions and will become organically self adjusting toward the benefit of the majority.

    If we are going to create a type of currency that would stabilize value and present less opportunity for inflation, deflation and manipulation, we need a decentralized resource everyone can produce and has real free market potential, that this currency can be based on. Presently the value of our dollar, and by extension the value of currency throughout the world because the dollar is the “preferred currency”, is linked to fossil energy prices. Fossil energy is the amplifier for human energy that has made possible the forms of human civilization we know today. Without it we would still be doing everything ‘by hand’. But these fossil resources and prices are controlled by a small group of people in a subjective manner. Fairness will start to evolve as we create more renewable sources for energy, gradually replacing fossil fuel, and peg currency to the most basic renewable energy, human renewable energy, physical and intellectual.

    Pre-industrial economies

    For almost all of human existence on earth societies have been powered only by humans themselves. They and we derive all of our energy for thoughts and actions from the energy that comes to us via the sun. Our air, water, and food are all provided by sunshine on plants and sunshine distilling fresh water into the atmosphere for our rain, rivers, and lakes. This renewable energy supply is roughly 4 giga-joules for every adult human existing now and whoever existed over the millions of years of beings we’d call human.

    The solar energy input powered our food gathering, our reproduction, our social interactions and our society including the arts and our wars and still grow our population numbers. It was enough energy for a long enough time to allow the evolution of communication, verbal and written, the storage and transfer of information and the development of science and technology allowing industrialization and the use of fossil fuel energy resources.

    Energy for economic man

    In 1957, Rear Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN, estimated that, “Man’s muscle power is rated at 35 watts continuously, or one-twentieth horsepower.” Ref1

    This statement both quantifies an energy basis for humans and also makes a comparison with another quantified standard for energy measurement, the horse power. Certainly people as well as horses come in different physical capabilities. However, for the basis of civil commerce the power can be standardized, 35 watts for people, 550 foot-pounds per second for horses.

    An axiom for human renewable energy can be expressed in an equation where average human renewable energy is estimated. The equation was arrived at under controlled conditions, by having a spectrum of individuals (different age, gender, etc.) peddle bicycles for the same specified amount of time at various university locations, world wide. Similar to the way horse power was developed. The equation is: 3,000 human energy hours = 3.8 mega Joules, (Dr. David Borton, RPI).Ref 2 When we break that down, an individuals one hour of energy is standardized to 1000 Joules = 1kJ. When the Human Energy Renewable Measure is standardized to equal to 30 human energy hours (or 30 kJ) it becomes a useful equation that expresses human energy similar to other numbers we attach significance to like, inches in a foot, degrees of temperature, ounces in a pound, horse power or any other valuable measurements/equations we use so that there is a starting point agree upon for transactions, experimentation, travel, time etc.

    The elegance of an economic system based on human renewable energy (physical and intellectual), that has been assigned a fixed base value, is revealed when you realize that all human systems start with human energy. For example, before there can be loaves of bread at the super market, thousands of years ago people had to understand the advantages of agriculture, plant crops, care for them and harvest them. All this was done by hand and even today when modern effort is stripped of its amplifiers such as, liquid fuel, electricity, machinery, etc, human hands and brains are once again the beginning. Human energy (physical and intellectual) is a basic renewable energy essential for human systems (cities, countries, etc), like solar energy from the sun is basic to all life on earth.

    Energy for currency basis

    But how can we value the unique abilities and differences among individual humans in the HERM system of measurement? We can trade with the HERM value if we put a decimal value on it of 100 of whatever currency used. This kind of currency would be a no interest currency. From this base point of valuation amplifiers for the value of each persons hours of work can be applied. The REGO (Renewable Energy Generation Output) shows the quality of individual human effort helping the free market work. ( For instance each year of education beyond a certain point would be equal to some agreed upon amount, years of work experience in a specialized field, unique abilities for writing or the arts and sciences, all these things can make the hour wage higher, but not extraordinarily higher. There needs to be a ceiling as well as a base. Individuals who use more resources/wealth should pay more (something like a tax etc.) to sustain the economic system they benefit from. The debt an individual owes to the collective human intelligence ( based on thousands of years of human development and inherited knowledge) must be taken into account, because we all sink or swim together now that most of us have chosen to live cooperatively in cities, states and countries.

    A human energy based economic system will take all human participation into the GDP. It has been estimated that at least 50% of economy sustaining effort is not accounted for in GDP. Child rearing, house keeping, care for elderly at home, volunteer work of all kinds, time spent on private innovations and concepts, arts of all kinds, the list is endless. GDP should be based on how well a country takes care of its most vulnerable population and its natural resources.

    We go back to the HERM to see where balance is, by holding to a base measure for human renewable energy. No one can be denied this, whether they can work or not, for they are all still consumers and this creates economic stimulus as well. The HERM is a guarantee of education, healthcare, food and shelter to each individual from birth. This is the real definition of freedom.

    But the promise of the HERM can only be reality if human population world wide is in balance with the sustainable and renewable use of the natural resources on earth. This is a very important aspect that must be addressed scientifically and peacefully. Computers can be used to study the essential systems, human and natural, determine their needs and calculate workable balances. Emergy (a computer model) studies can be done to determine the impact on natural resources of any action and it’s economic feasibility. We already have the tools necessary to determine the best practices on earth.

    The value of human thought and effort can be based upon a standardized measure of human physical work. The standard can be multiplied by physical and intellectual values that will give different values to different people dependant on the multipliers assigned to different intellectual and physical values for those different persons.

    The HERM principals need to be further clarified so they can begin to influence the formation of an efficient, sustainable and equitable economic system. We welcome input on these ideas.

    1 Rickover, Rear Admiral Hyman G., Energy Resources and Our Future, Annual Scientific Assembly of the Minnesota State Medical Association, May 1957.

    2 Borton, David N., www.oeic.us/articles/renewable_energy/solar_energy_in_our_lives_not_in_the_news

    Originators of this concept and writers of this article are:
    Jeff Beller, Susan Caumont and John Finnerty.

    • Harald Sandø says:

      Thank you for your comment. I must still say I prefer a resource based economy where the ‘currency’ is love and gratitude and the joy you get from the task itself and the result of it. I realize that a resource based gift economy is of course futile as long as not everyone within a given society is in on it but it CAN coexist together with a money based society as this article shows. Thus, an intermediate or coexisting exchange system might be good. As a (simpler, I would say) alternative to what you are suggesting is LETS, Local Exchange Trading System, which is based on hours of work, but leave the ‘energy’ part out.

    • nmjunction says:

      I am a manual therapist that helps people rehab their bodies using knowledge of the body, and lots of my own PERSONAL LIFE energy in using my own body to manipulate soft tissue of the client, and teach them self care methods. I only have so much energy and time in a day to offer my services. sometimes clients will unintentionally take more energy or time, sometimes this is my own fault, but no matter. So in my case, as well as others in my field of study and practice, there is some scarsity in time and energy I have to offer my services.

      As much as I like the idea of a resource based economy, I would not want someone else determining my “value” of what kind of energy I put out, It’s not for them to judge that. They don’t know me, and they most likely will never know what I have to go through to do my job, as much as I enjoy it, it is demanding on more levels than you can measure.

      What I do is a science, an art form, athletic, mental and emotional sport. I sometimes exert more energy to help someone (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally.)There are only so many hours in a day I can perform physical and mental duties, even if I skip all of the other business duties like marketing (since this won’t be necessary in a resource based economy). This can change from day to day.

      I mean what happens if I decide “oh I think I’ll just work with 1 person today, because I’m feeling a little “under the weather” how are you going to “measure” my performance then? just a thought.

      I would perform my art and science and sport witin a resource based economy, but I would have to know that I could have access to anything I needed regardless of my output of energy.

      • Harald Sandø says:

        Those are good questions, nmjunction. I think the answer to whether you would ‘just work with 1 person a day’ lies in yourself. Still, it is a very good question to ask about society in general. And here, I think the answer lies in the general conscience. Everyone knows that there are certain needs that needs to be met with others. If I/you possess a skill or some kind of resource that others need, it would be against my own conscience not to offer my skills/resource in that regard, and I think there would also be some amount of peer pressure in this. It is expected that you contribute and do your best. Also, most people WANT to do something meaningful and contribute to society in some way. Still, no one would expect you to overwork yourself.

        Now, when we don’t have to think about money anymore, and everything is provided by each other for everyone, we could actually start to make the whole of society much more efficient. In the field of manual therapy there might be more use of machines that can help loosen muscles. Also, more people can be taught the skills of manual therapy and perform it on each other now that we have much more time on our hands. In addition, there would be much less stress when we don’t have to work that hard and think about bills all the time, and much less manual therapy would probably be needed.

        A resource based economy have to be thought about holistically with a completely new set of glasses. If one tries to imagine it from todays perspective of competition and capitalism we will fail. 🙂

  11. Vixi says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to differ in opinion about some of the things stated in this article. (Although it is very well written for someone I believe is not a native english speaker 😉 )
    First of all you say that an RBE is unable to free everyone, that only the human mind can do that. Unfortunately if not everyone on the planet has access to all they need to live well, the mind shift needed will not be able to come about. It is through the correct use of technology and the production of abundance that we can begin to liberate ourselves from the current mental paradigm.
    Secondly, the idea that we “gift” ourselves for a wage and that the wage is also a “gift” is erroneous. Tell the slaves in China or Indonesia, or Africa, especially the children, that they are “making a gift of themselves” in exchange for a miserable wage that doesn’t allow them to live in a dignified manner. A gift causes joy and pleasure, not misery and ill health.
    The idea of gifting is very romantic, but it can only go so far. One cannot go around gifting houses to the homeless, or feeding all the starving on a global level. The technology to produce that is needed. This is what an RBE would provide.
    Finally, I get so tired of people likening an RBE with communism or other isms. Just because it may have some similarities doesn’t make it a copy or a partial copy of something else. An RBE also proposes that we will care for all people on Earth. This is also a religious idea (love thy neighbour etc), yet no one likens an RBE to the Christian faith for example. No one says “Oh that’s XXX religion!” Why do we always have to label things in a political way? This is the old way of thinking.
    A true gifting system is a holistic system where everyone gets everything they need without trade or barter, slavery or a price tag. The idea of gifting as suggested in your article would be just a very small part of a huge idea that needs to be brought to fruition through a global RBE.
    RBE hugs 😀

    • Harald Sandø says:

      You are completely right, of course, in everything you say. Except I think you misunderstand the ‘mind’ concept a bit. What I mean is that it all starts with the mind. Sure, there is a feedback, a reciprocity, between the mind and the ‘outside world’. But all changes in the outside world is a reflection of ideas in the mind. That is what I mean by ‘only the mind can free us’.

      It’s like a bunch of people living together on an island, only catching fish with their hands, until one day gets the idea that she can catch fish with a long sharp stick that she broke off from a tree. Sure, the tree was always there, but she got the idea IN HER MIND. Do you understand?

      Now, with the new fishing method, their society start to develop in a different way than what it would have without her idea.

      This is what I mean that ‘only our mind can free us’.

      Now, when we, with our minds, start to change our monetary system, our education system, our production system, etc. etc. this will again influence other people’s minds, so that they ‘wake up’, so to speak.

      You could argue that the girl got her idea from nature, and that’s ok. Still, it took some charging of neurons and association of ideas to imagine how that thin tree could function as spear to catch fish.

      When it comes to the rest of the article, it’s not an attempt to give a solution to the whole world, but only to discuss the already big phenomenon of gifting and volunteering. Even though I agree that the ‘gifting’ between employers and employees is a stretch that is only applicable in some cases.

      And yes, I’m not a native English speaker. I’m from Norway. 😉

      • Brian Johnson says:

        “You are completely right, of course, in everything you say. Except I think you misunderstand the ‘mind’ concept a bit. What I mean is that it all starts with the mind. Sure, there is a feedback, a reciprocity, between the mind and the ‘outside world’. But all changes in the outside world is a reflection of ideas in the mind. That is what I mean by ‘only the mind can free us’.”

        Ideas are not conjured up out of thin air they have to have a basis in the material world. The way you have formulated the origin of ideas comes from Descarte who proposed, ‘I think therefore I am’ whereas it took the likes of Marx to illustrate the primarcy of matter, viz ‘I am therefore I think’ and to point out the danger of following Descarte inevitably led to the cul de sac of free will.

        Without the potential of abundance being visible and apparent on a global scale our mindset changes not one zilch. We have now reached the stage where this potential is readily visible and apparent but alas have not yet reached the stage where our mindset is capable of taking the necessary action to solve the problem of distributing the surplus wealth globally. In short, we can think about the inequality of distribution as much has we like but doing something positive to solve the problem requires a mindset which is not stuck in an exchange relationship like the trading of gifts.

    • Brian Johnson says:

      “A true gifting system is a holistic system where everyone gets everything they need without trade or barter, slavery or a price tag. The idea of gifting as suggested in your article would be just a very small part of a huge idea that needs to be brought to fruition through a global RBE.”

      So true Vixi and exactly what I tried getting across to Harald many posts ago.

      • Harald Sandø says:

        I am intrigued about how some people like to discuss trifles. This whole website is about the above statement. Do you think I oppose this?

        And also, Brian, it is interesting to see how you contradict yourself in your own comment.

        ‘…to solve the problem requires a mindset which is…’

        Here you admit that it is the ‘mindset’ that comes first, to ‘solve the problem’.

        What is also interesting, is how you then continue to say ‘..not stuck in an exchange relationship like the trading of gifts..’.

        How on earth can you even SAY ‘trading of gifts’?

        If you TRADE a gift, it is not a gift. It is a TRADE. And I am not talking about trading on this website, as you might have noticed….

        You have obviously misunderstood me here. I guess I have to rewrite this article a bit to make sure you folks here don’t misunderstand.

        • Brian Johnson says:

          Its not a trifle when you make statements like this. “Even when you do a job you get paid for, you are in a way gifting. You have ‘volunteered’ to get paid to do that job. You CAN quit. Sure, if you REALLY need that income, you won’t, but that doesn’t mean you CAN’T. In any case, if you aren’t on the low low bottom of things, but actually have some choice between jobs, you are ‘gifting’ yourself to the company you choose to work for. And, they are ‘gifting’ you a salary.”

          Indeed you are equating gifting with trade. Wage slavery is not about “volunteering” your labour power its about accepting an imposistion in order to live.

          And yes a change in mindset originates from the stimilus from changes in environmental conditions like the potential for abundance being visible and apparent. That is not a contradiction although you would see it that way given your own confusion and misunderstanding on how the social relationships of capitalism actually work.

          Of course there will be gifting in a RBE but not the way you happen to visualise it. Indeed I’m honest enough to admit I know what it wont be but I can’t for the life of me visualise how it will be! Other than like Vixi suggests it will be a very small part of the whole change in social relationships.

          • Harald Sandø says:

            I have removed the whole ‘gifting in work’ part now as it got too misunderstood. My point was just that the line between gifting/bartering/trading/paying is not that clear. And I say that to show people that it is not that long way from paying/trading/bartering to giving. And I say this for one reason only; to make it easier for people to see that GIVING IS POSSIBLE, thus a resource based economy IS possible.

            Let me give you an example.

            Say I invite a couple of friends over for dinner. The dinner is meant as a ‘gift’ from my side. They have brought wine, but that wine is also meant as a ‘gift’ from their side. Still, that ‘gift’ could also be seen as a ‘payment’ for the dinner. In that case, it is a bartering/trading going on, and not a gifting.

            You could also find examples where, say, I give someone a ride home, and the ride is on me and meant as a gift. Still, the person want to pay me, and then ‘gifts me’ some money out of his pocket. I can of course refuse to take it, but he insists, and says it is a gift.

            You could then, in an extreme formulation, say that if you are so lucky to get a job you love, a job you would actually do for free, you are then, in a sense, gifting your time to that job. And, in a sense, the employer is ‘gifting’ you a salary back. I say this to make ‘full circle’ back to gifting. My point is only that in very many cases, we are gifting already, but we don’t think about it. (I was of course not talking about those who are forced to take a job to live.)

            And I said this to explain how we can go from where we are today, to a gift economy, since, in a way, we are already gifting each other in so many ways, that we might as well simply remove money.

            I am talking about human psychology and how we need to be able to visualize this to make it happen.

            That is why I have this whole blog, to make us able to see how it can work.

            Of course, the gifting aspect I mention here is at an individual plane. On a global plane, it would be more likened to a ‘resource collaboration’. And of course, I am not talking about automation, machines and robots. With these in play, the ‘gifting’ goes without saying, as none of them would ever demand anything in return, except for the energy to drive them and maintenance.

            And yes, you are discussing trifles since we both obviously want the same thing in the world; a resource based economy. I am just trying to imagine and write about how that will actually work, in praxis. Do you think your stance of saying ‘you don’t know how it will happen’ will make anything happen? To make this happen, we have to work diligently towards visualizing it and imagining it, and that’s what I’m doing. And I don’t know what you’re doing.

            • Brian Johnson says:

              “I have removed the whole ‘gifting in work’ part now as it got too misunderstood. My point was just that the line between gifting/bartering/trading/paying is not that clear. And I say that to show people that it is not that long way from paying/trading/bartering to giving. And I say this for one reason only; to make it easier for people to see that GIVING IS POSSIBLE, thus a resource based economy IS possible.”

              Of course “giving is possible” even within an exchange economy but that does not make it gifting because ultimately most such ‘gifts’ carry a price tag and by definition are a commodity and therefore create the false impression that such acts of gifting do not perpetuate an exchange economy.

              The unambiguous analogy to the gifting you are seeking I suspect can only be found in the volunteer sector whose ethos and mindset is totally different to that held by wage slaves.

              For instance (and in my own personal experience) people only volunteer their labour power for free, both physically and mentally, when they find the work they are doing is interesting and enjoyable and its going to make a difference. In short there has to be positive outcomes which are visible and apparent from the act of gifting.

              Hence,those working for a change in the way wealth is produced and distributed are gifting their resources and labour power with the aim of eventually establishing a non-exchange economy for the common good.

              Hope this helps.

              • Harald Sandø says:

                Yes, exactly. Am I really so bad at explaining stuff….

                • Brian Johnson says:

                  Harald its the dominance of the english language and its direct connection with the market system which is at fault and not you good self. For instance such terms as: reciprocity, mutual, gifting and cooperation all have connotations and connections with an exchange economy. Therefore to make the direct link grammatically with ‘gifting’ and ‘what is possible’ (and also to stay within the context of what is and what might be) is exceedingly difficult when its your intention to move away from the exchange of commodities mindset which keeps the wages system in place.

                  To me this blog article seems to be searching for the motivation for production for use, and not exchange or profit within the present social relationships of commodity production. Which is an exception to the rule to say the least! And unconsciously you choose gifting has an example not realizing that even this word is subject to the corruption of the market system.

                  I previously mentioned that what motivates volunteers for a RBE is a combination of a common understanding and a common interest in achieving positive outcomes for the common good. Granted its a generalisation but nonetheless it can be quantified objectively, and perhaps a little investigation and research along these lines would be more helpful in your search for an example of motivation rather than focusing on a single term which can be ambiguous and subjective?

                  • Harald Sandø says:

                    Absolutely, Brian. I thank you for your insights. Sure, the terms ‘gift’ and ‘gifting’ is of course also used with ulterior motives in connection with profit oriented ventures, and it is of course not this kind of gifting I am talking about.

                    “I previously mentioned that what motivates volunteers for a RBE is a combination of a common understanding and a common interest in achieving positive outcomes for the common good.”

                    Yes, it is Brian. I realize I leave too many things understated. I have to be more explicit. Thank you for helping me realizing this.

                    Still, I am not searching for an ‘example of motivation’ in this article, but rather try to demonstrate that we do in a large degree already HAVE a gift economy going on in the society, which is to prove that a moneyless society CAN work. And the motivations you mentioned is of course a large part of why people do participate in the gifting we see today.

                    That was my point in this article.

                    • Brian Johnson says:

                      No sweat only glad to help out. Perhaps the motivation for volunteering maybe of some use in the film you are making? No credits required if it does.

                  • fcecin says:

                    THIS comment is right on the mark. (The original article too).

                    “Reciprocity” is a very dangerous concept to use casually. Reciprocity as a description of what is going on anyway, as a technical term, is OK. Reciprocity as a personal expectation is not OK and is precisely where you get nonsense like “trade” to emerge.

                    When you care for a completely disabled person, you don’t expect “reciprocity” from them. That would be falling back into the whole “money” nonsense, right there. Same thing from a fatally wounded intellect that is always afraid of falling into “poverty” (i.e. your average matrix drone). You have to care for these people too and not expect something back from them (they will keep mumbling about “money” and “fairness” and other such cultural cruft).

                    It is easy to open the Venus Project website and want to live in that world. It took me an additional five years to *begin* to realize how much of the problem I would be bringing with *myself* — with the deep, DEEP cultural programming in my mind — were I invited to live in such a world.

                    It would not be trust if it worked every time: www.dilbert.com/2013-04-21/

  12. Michael says:

    The only problem I have is your seemingly careless use of the word communism. North Korea and the Soviet Union were/are failed attempts at communism. They never reached that stage, rather they made it to totalitarian state-capitalism and lost their way. The ultimate goal of communism ends with an abolition of the state. It’s the only way to ensure equality.

    • Brian Johnson says:

      “The only problem I have is your seemingly careless use of the word communism. North Korea and the Soviet Union were/are failed attempts at communism. They never reached that stage, rather they made it to totalitarian state-capitalism and lost their way. The ultimate goal of communism ends with an abolition of the state. It’s the only way to ensure equality.”

      Whilst I entirely agree with you on Harald being careless on his use of the word communism I think you are also being a bit careless in suggesting there’s a socialist stage before communism. Marx and Engles never suggested anything of the kind indeed to them communism and socialism meant exactly the same.

      • Harald Sandø says:

        Brian and Michael. As I find both of you a bit puzzling to understand, I wished that you could both clarify exactly what you see as communism and/or socialism.

        I agree that I might be ‘careless’ about my use of the terms. Still, I would argue that most people in the western world have very similar perception of what ‘communism’ is.

        Sure, communism and a resource based economy might be one and the same, even though I am not quite sure. Still, to equal these things doesn’t ‘sell’ this idea to a public terrified of communism through years of misinformation about what it really is.

        Thus, I prefer not to use any of those terms at all (except in this article), but rather talk about giving and sharing as basic terms in themselves. We all know what giving and sharing is, regardless of what communism or socialism is.

        • Brian Johnson says:

          Harald don’t your realise that your carelessness and the preference you mention above is just feeding the misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the true nature of a communist/socialist society? Indeed the true nature of such a society is about sharing and conserving the worlds resources under the umbrella of ‘from everyone what they can contribute, to everyone what they need’. Communism/socialism is a stateless, moneyless, classless society with no leaders based on production for use not profit with free access to the means of living. Yes its a RBE with a different name but unlike TZM its linked to a political solution for self-emancipation so the state machinery is converted into an agent of emancipation and not oppression. Once the state has fulfilled this task its abolished along with all the other trappings of private property. However, I’m of the opinion that the likes of TZM will have a role to play in the road towards self-emancipation. An understanding of social evolution and the revolutionary process is one of the essential pre-requisites for any personal contribution to the struggle along with the watchword, ‘abolition of the wages system’. Unfortunately, presently TZM lack this understanding.

  13. Me says:

    Great article. You’ve written what I’ve been thinking about the last few days (and tbh the last few years actually).

  14. Shock Me says:

    Fun idea. I volunteer my work all the time because I don’t like sitting outside in the rain or snow. They give money which I give away for a place to sit when the business is closed. The rest I give away for things to eat or watch. When the weather is nice, I walk around outside until it is uncomfortable.

    Sometimes the work is even interesting.

  15. Brian Johnson says:

    “Many people are afraid we will get some kind of totalitarian dictatorial system with RBE. The fear is understandable when you look at living examples of communism like North Korea, Cuba, China and the former Soviet Union. ” Since when are these “living examples”? Do yourself a favour please by not parroting our masters voice.

    Also to assume wage slavery is a form of gifting ignores the fact that the wages system consists of an exchange relationship whereas with gifting there is no exchange involved.

    Try here for a definition of socialism/communism: www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/our-object-and-declaration-principles

    • Harald Sandø says:

      May I ask what you really mean? You think North Korea and the others looks like a good examples to follow…? And I don’t understand what you mean with ‘parroting our masters voice’. Please explain.

      Since when are these ‘living examples’? Since a long time ago and still are. I think that should be quite obvious.

      And I am not ‘assuming’ anything, but rather try to look at the world a bit differently so that we can imagine what a global gift economy can be like. What you say I am ‘assuming’ is apparent, right before your eyes. When you apply for a job, your interests, skills and education is a part of the basis for the job you apply to. Yes, some people might be forced to ‘do anything’ just to make money. But many actually choose something that interests them.

      Maybe you haven’t grasped what a resource based economy is actually about? Or maybe you didn’t read the whole article? RBE is a ‘system’ and a mindset where we have abandoned money, barter, trading, ownership and property, but instead do what we want to do and share what we want to share based on what is needed in society and of each other.

      We don’t need a state when we organize ourselves in local groups communicating our needs and resources with larger and larger groups up to a global level. And we don’t need any country borders.

      It is a very different system than both capitalism, communism and socialism. Socialism is still using money and talk about ‘common ownership’. In a resource based economy it is irrelevant to talk about ‘ownership’ per se, since all the world’s resources is declared the legacy of all the world’s people. No one ‘owns’ anything, and yet everyone ‘owns’ everything. Instead of ‘ownership’ we can use the word ‘usership’ where we are stewards and managers of the different areas of the world and society.

      We can of course talk about personal property/ownership, the things that are personal to you and that you need. But even in that case it would be clear to you that you don’t ‘own’ even those things, since you don’t need them when you’re dead, and if you give them away they are not yours anymore. Even for personal property, we can thus also talk about usership. It’s ‘yours’ as long as you need it. But when not needed anymore, it goes back into the pool of things or is recycled.

      And we don’t need any military and no police or prisons. Instead we have social and environmental education and work, and treatment of those who might need it.

      My point with the article is to show that the principles that a resource based economy rely upon are already here and in use in society today, only that we are not aware of them.

      • Brian Johnson says:

        If Cuba,China,North Korea and the old USSR are “living examples” of communism/socialism how come the wages system, profits, the state, trade and exchange is a feature of these societies? The words communism/socialism carry exactly the same meaning and their definition “The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.” Is an alternative way of describing a RBE moneyless society.

        In reality these “living examples” are classic examples of state capitalism where the state machinery is under the control of the party bosses. In communism/socialism there are no political parties and no bosses. Indeed the states role is to control the wage slaves by regulating the market system. And one way of controlling the wage slaves is to describe state capitalism has communism/socialism. Which is exactly what you have gone and done.

        • Harald Sandø says:

          Hm…still a bit unsure what you mean. If I understand you right, the mentioned states (North Korea, etc..) are NOT communist states, but ‘state capitalism’ states? Yes? Still, they are all attempts on communism as far as I can see. Failed yes, but attempts. And why I am mentioning this, is to make a distinction between these states and an RBE society. The mentioned states are the result of trying to impose ‘something like’ RBE on the population rather than the population choosing it themselves.

          Communism is not the same as RBE, not even per definition. You say communism/socialism is this:

          “The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.”

          As I have told you, RBE does not deal with ‘ownership’ per se, but rather ‘usership’ and ‘stewardship’. As in ‘the earth does not belong to us, but we belong to the earth’. We are the stewards of the earth. We can’t own the earth or anything that is made from it.

          RBE is not an ‘establishment of a system’, but rather the emergence of a system, coming from it’s citizens and not from any ‘rulers’, as there are no rulers in RBE. That it is an EMERGENT system is crucial to understand. It is not a top down system, but a bottom up system based on a shift in mindset of the population.

          RBE is yet to be 100% defined, but in any case it is much more than the definition you have given above. To make an attempt at an RBE definition:

          ‘The continual emergence of a system of self imposed management of human and natural resources both locally and globally where money, trading and ownership is replaced by gratitude, sharing and usership in a way where everyone’s needs are met’.

          Even though this doesn’t describe RBE fully, you can see it is very different from the definition you gave above.

          • Brian Johnson says:

            It appears our disagreement is over the definition of ownership and the difference between emergence and establishment.

            “As I have told you, RBE does not deal with ‘ownership’ per se, but rather ‘usership’ and ‘stewardship’. As in ‘the earth does not belong to us, but we belong to the earth’. We are the stewards of the earth. We can’t own the earth or anything that is made from it.”

            This being the case can we agree that a RBE will by definition be a free access and production for use society?

            RBE is not an ‘establishment of a system’, but rather the emergence of a system, coming from it’s citizens and not from any ‘rulers’, as there are no rulers in RBE. That it is an EMERGENT system is crucial to understand. It is not a top down system, but a bottom up system based on a shift in mindset of the population.

            Social evolution is a process. All new societies are emergent but have to eventually become established as a distinct form of production and distribution from the old society.

            And I see no essential difference in principle between your definition of a RBE and communism/socialism. But it appears your understanding of communism/socialism has been distorted by a lack of critical thinking.

            • Harald Sandø says:

              “This being the case can we agree that a RBE will by definition be a free access and production for use society?”


              But if you can’t see the difference between the two definitions, I don’t know what to add. To me it is like night and day.

              And if my understanding of communism/socialism has been distorted by a lack of critical thinking, maybe you can clarify.

              • Yuu Kim says:


                you are right. communism/socialism is not an RBE. why not? MONEY. they use money…

                maybe brian above is right when he says that north korea/USSR are failed attempts at communism/socialism. maybe not.

                i believe marx/engels said that communism had to be worldwide. i think they came to this later after the destruction of the Commune de Paris in 1871. so, they came to see that you can’t have just a “communist country.”

                so, that’s why “communist countries” “fail.” for the same reason(s) TZM/TVP says a single RBE city or country would “fail.”

                that said, i think that something similar to what marx/engels suggested could serve as the transition from where we are today to an RBE. without going into to much detail, as i see it, that would be the governments of the world coming together and agreeing to spend the gobs of money necessary for building up an RBE infrastructure. so, in essence, they would spend money to make money (and labor) obsolete.

                i personally don’t believe that it can ONLY come from the “bottom up,” as marx/engels believed (or as TZM/TVP). i do think that the “bottom” needs to be educated, but i don’t think that we can move into the transition without the elite coming on board. and i don’t see that happening unless there’s a major, say, worldwide ecological disaster which forces them to see that if they keep on doing what they now do everyday, they will destroy themselves, along with all the rest of us.

                but, if they were to come around, then the transition can happen rather quickly, and, maybe by 2112, we’ll have a world populated by aweenas and bens, just like in your movie.


                yuu kim