If you built it, will they come?


small tree growing in crack2

Julie Glasscock and Vladimir Alzamora
Kadagaya (www.kadagaya.org)

There is an increasingly large global community promoting, advocating and discussing a resource-based economy and many working on designing what such a future might look like. We can be sure that if such a wonderful society existed there would be no shortage of volunteers willing to try it out. However, the path from here to there, the so-called “transition” is much less clear. An RBE by definition is not a fixed-point utopia with a clear operation manual, but rather uses the scientific method to evaluate concepts and technologies to continuously upgrade and improve. Therefore, the transition period is not a clearly defined route that we implement when we have the time/money/resources, but rather should be a time of vast experimentation to test out all these ideas and see what works and what doesn´t.

So why does there seem to be much more interest in promoting the concepts than developing and living in RBE communities to test the theory in the real world? We speak from the experience of building such a community and finding it very difficult to attract people to help grow the community with us. In early 2014 we founded Kadagaya (www.kadagaya.org) after becoming disillusioned and unsatisfied with life in the system and inspired by the opportunities provided by an RBE-type society. We began a pilot project in Peru to evaluate the enabling concepts and technologies that have the potential to take us steps closer to an RBE. In the early stages of such a project, while the basic infrastructure is being constructed and daily life is not as comfortable as that in the system, it is easy to understand why joining the community is not so attractive. We have no shortage of volunteers (mainly travelers) excited to spend a few weeks or months in the jungles of Peru helping us build the community, but finding long-term/permanent residents is much more difficult.

In the transition period emerging RBE communities look a lot like self-sufficient communities or eco-villages and have some overlap with hippie communes and alternative/spiritualist groups. Even some of the groups that consider and label themselves as RBE communities incorporate spiritualistic, religious and other beliefs which are not consistent with RBE concepts. This can be problematic in differentiating ourselves and attracting people who are interested in growing as a community and working towards an RBE rather than a personal spiritual journey.

In general small “intentional communities” have a very high rate of failure. Community living can be difficult and these days it is something that is quite foreign to many of us. Although a lot of these communities are trying to be self-sufficient and escape the system, there are inevitably problems created by money, politics of management/ownership and ego. Therefore it is very important to focus on educating the community about human behavior, psychology and social interactions in order to understand ourselves and the original of these potential conflicts. We feel it is important for the community to grow together over time, which is why it is advantageous to have long-term/permanent members from the beginning, rather than joining an established community.

Of course there are numerous reasons why people prefer to join a mature community. Most of us are trapped in the system in one way or another (with mortgages, debt, family commitments etc.) and leaving that life for an alternative has financial, emotional and social risks. As we are highly social animals there a large element of discomfort in breaking social conformity and challenging the homeostasis of “normal life” (even when we recognize the negative effects of such a life). The current system (and in particular the media) very effectively uses fear to maintain the status-quo and hence most of us have a well-established fear of the unknown and tend to worry about what we have to lose. Even though there are big opportunities for improving our lives by living in alternate systems, very few want to be the guinea pigs. Despite the growing awareness and dissatisfaction with the system, perhaps life is still too good and things need to get really bad (e.g. another huge recession) before the risks of trying something new don´t seem so bad.

In the meantime, we and other like-minded communities, are working towards self-sufficiency, increasing our knowledge and consciousness, and testing enabling technologies. By interacting with the wider community of RBE supporters we hope to share our knowledge and experiences, helping others to make the transition and be ready to support those wishing to leave the system when they are ready.

We recognize that such a life of experimentation, exploration and relative isolation from the system is not for everyone. Explorers in the past ventured off into the unknown, some fearing they would fall of the edge of the Earth, motivated either by an adventurous spirit, or a life of necessity. While the process of building an alternate society seems like hard work, those who have realized that there is no other option for their life prefer this “hard work” (outside their comfort zone) to maintaining a life within the monetary system.

 “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

William G.T. Shedd

Recommended watching/reading


Starting a Gift Economy


By Maja Borg
www.futuremylove.com

It took us over five years to complete the film FUTURE MY LOVE.
In those years, awareness of economy changed dramatically.

In 2007, ‘economy’ was not really a hot topic and was mostly left aside for those who ‘knew what they were doing’. This surprised me because I feel so passionate about the subject. As if the economy – the way in which we arrange our physical existence together – didn’t have much to do with our daily lives! I had started to understand how much our economy affects us, not just in our day-to-day affairs, but also in how we think and feel, and even how we deal with the way we love each other.

Then things started to fall apart. The economy crashed, my relationships crackled, and the film I set out make was no longer the one I could finish. The economic crisis became a crisis for the film, but as these things go, it also became an opportunity to discuss ‘economy’ for what it fundamentally is – a human relationship, not just a banking system.

Making this film, it was soon clear that the problem is not lack of solutions. There are many brilliant thinkers proposing transitional models on how we could ease ourselves out of these destructive cycles towards an economy that stands in balance to our modern reality. The real problem, I believe, lies in us and in our fear of the unknown. The structures we have created have also shaped us, and the destructive mechanisms we see in the monetary-based system are reflected in our very own psychology. To challenge economy is to challenge ourselves, which is far harder than to complain about the banking system.

FUTURE MY LOVE
FUTURE MY LOVE

I often hear the argument that humans are inherently greedy.

This is used as a way to express that a different kind of economy would never work. Such grand assumptions of what ‘we are’ and what ‘we are not’ should perhaps be made more carefully. Instead of viewing the existence of capitalism as proof of the egotistical, competitive nature of human beings – could it be so that capitalism makes us that way?

Capitalism does not offer any grand moral statements (more than perhaps the protection of an illusive freedom which gives us the right to choose between the same salad dressings in every restaurant all over the world). It’s not a preaching philosophy but, however unspoken, it has direct consequences if you try to challenge it. Serve capitalism right and you are rewarded, serve it wrong and you will be punished. The ‘right’ thing to do in capitalism can mean making war planes or speculating with someone else’s savings – anything that makes money. The ‘wrong’ thing can be buying fair trade produce or taking care of your elderly mother – anything that costs you more or earns you less.

In order to change such a system, we have to understand the system as a part of ourselves. There is no fight for good or evil at the top – we are all part of this system. We have to recognise the way economy shapes our own psychology and make the silent ways in which capitalism shapes our morals loud and clear.

Should we give the film away for free?

The film explores the possibility of a world without money or barter, so instinctively the ‘right’ thing to do would be to give it away for free. However this is not how the film industry works, and if we want to reach an audience who are not active pirates on the web, or who are already interested in the topic (which has always been the hope with the film), we had to find some middle ground, or better still, a third option.

Even if we kept working on the film for free, we would still have rents to pay. We are as trapped in the system as the rest of the 99% of the world’s population who are not completely economically independent.

People have different opinions about pirating, and I have to say I agree with multiple sides of this argument: it is ‘just’ and ‘right’ to pirate and share important films for free, and it is ‘just’ and ‘right’ to respect copyright, because this will allow the creators to keep working and enable the film to reach out to people who would otherwise not get a chance to see it.

There are three known forms of economic transactions: exchange, gift and theft. So these basics are what we suggest to those who might want to see FUTURE MY LOVE.

  1. Exchange: If you believe in paying for a product you can simply buy a VOD stream, or a DVD, or a screening license. We give you the film we’ve been working on, and you give us money.
  2. Gift: We give the film for free to an initial number of people and then give them the option to give it, or pay it forward, to someone else. You can find out here how it works (www.futuremylove.com/forward):  YouTube Preview Image
  3. Theft: You may choose to disregard what I have just said and ‘steal’ the film in one way or another. But that would of course not be great for our plan, as we would rather see whether gifting could make a difference to people’s perception about economy. However, we decided not to protect the film through digital rights management since we trust you to make your own decisions and don’t believe in restricting its usage across different platforms.

The philosophy of the film is to think about things from different perspectives; to relate things that are not usually put together, creating new thoughts. Because we need new thoughts, in fact we need a whole new way of thinking to get out of this bad spiral of our physical existence – before it gets rid of us like any other virus.

So we ask for your help to spread these thoughts and provoke debate about real change wherever you can! Let us know if there is anything we can do to help.