A social network that can develop into an economic system


Babbling Brook is a new social networking protocol that has been designed to develop into a full new socioeconomic system. It is a tool that can make a resource economy possible.

When I first started developing Babbling Brook, I was inspired by ideas about gift economies. I found lots of people talking about the idea, and I read a lot of the literature on how gift economies work in tribal settings. At the time I couldn’t see how a gift economy could possibly work on a global scale. The problem is that traditional gift economies only work on a small scale. Tribes that have gift economies always exist in bands of less than 150 people. The reason for this is known as the Dunbar limit and it is inherent to the reason that gift economies collapse at larger scales.

Gift economies work because all the participants know each other and are able to keep track of the relationships between each other. Not just the relationships that they have with others, but all the relationships between different members of the group. The reason this is important is not in order to keep track of who is giving; it would not be a gift economy if a score was kept. Instead it is necessary so that free loaders can be kept in check. When everyone knows everyone, we know the difference between someone who is genuinely struggling and someone who is being lazy.

Once a tribal band grows beyond a hundred and fifty people it becomes impossible for individuals to know who is taking advantage. As tribes grow larger than this they tend to develop big man economies, where one particularly productive family headed by a powerful individual (nearly always a man) gains more authority than others. As the tribe grows larger this tendency towards hierarchy increases until chiefdom tribes with 10,000 or so individuals arise, where the leader is often seen as a god and there is gross inequality between the top and bottom of the social structure.

If we are to recreate a gift economy in modern times we have to work out how to make a gift economy work on a scale of billions of people. Babbling Brook makes this possible by abstracting the economic relationships between individuals into a network of relationships that all members can access. Instead of relying on our brains to tell us if someone is taking advantage we instead rely on technology.

I’ve designed Babbling Brook to work as a social network. This has the advantage of appealing to a wider range of people on a platform that they are already familiar with. It can be made to work like any existing social network, with additional features built on top to make it possible for it develop into both a political and economic system. A gift economy is just one kind of economic system that Babbling Brook could be used for. It could also be used as a traditional free market or command economy. It can even be used in multiple different ways simultaneously. The type of market that is expressed depends on how the users use it.

There are three core features that enable Babbling Brook to become a socio-economic system. Firstly the network is distributed and bottom up. Anyone can set up a website to act as a data store and anyone can set up a client website that allows users to interact with each other. The reason this is essential is that it prevents the system from being controlled and corralled by a powerful few. If users are unhappy with the direction a Babbling Brook website takes, then they can join a different one without loosing their data.

Secondly, relationships in Babbling Brook are very important. Whenever you use a Babbling Brook website, your computer is busy generating connections with other users based upon how you are using Babbling Brook. These relationships are also bottom up; they are defined by the user and the websites that they use.  Relationships can be created in many ways with multiple relationships between the same users that differ due to context. This creates a network of connections between people that can be used in the third point.

Thirdly, content on many social networks can be up voted or ‘liked”. This is essentially places a numerical value against a post. This is taken a step further in Babbling Brook, where posts can be ‘liked’ conditionally. This makes it possible for posts to represent real world objects or services and where ‘liking’ them results in them being given the thing represented by the post. There are several different kinds of conditions that can be used. If Babbling Brook is used as a gift economy then you would have a condition that checks that a user requesting something is not ripping off the system. Exactly how that condition is calculated is up to the user who is giving something. Perhaps it checks that the user who wants something has given something themselves, or perhaps it makes sure the user is known to other trusted members.

To sum up, Babbling Brook makes it possible for us to build a socioeconomic system that is based on the relationships we make when we exchange resources. It is a very open ended platform which can be used in many different ways, including the ability to make a gift economy that does not depend on using our brains to keep track of relationships.

Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite. I’ll be releasing the protocol and an open source software package to implement it after a crowd funding push in the next few months. Meanwhile I will be going into a lot more detail on the blog. Head over to babblingbrook.net for more details.


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.


What can we learn from the Internet?


Internet pioneer Danny Hills has a TED talk about the early days of the Internet. On that talk we see that the Internet, on its early days, was essentially an obscure network based on trust.

Today, the Internet is much bigger, and much more important. Despite its massive importance, governments and corporations are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to mess with it, reducing its usefulness for their own profit and power gain. They get away with this because it is technically feasible to do so, and it is in the reach of their power.

The technical reasons behind this vulnerability are not particularly interesting for this post. The interesting part are the responses the Internet community is deploying to this perceived threat of control. These responses seem to fall into the following three categories:

The first kind of response is to fight in the political space to keep the Internet open. This essentially means that, as members of our societies, we get together and complain to those in power and to each other until they change their minds. This has stopped the progress of bad laws such as “SOPA” and “PIPA” in the U.S. We will call this approach “begging.”

The second kind of response is to start designing an alternative to the Internet that would not be controllable. Designing theoretical alternatives, or prototyping these designs, is not really too difficult. The harder part is seeing how these alternatives would grow beyond isolated localities adopting them and into a global mesh that would, eventually, be easily accessible by anyone, like the current Internet. We will call this approach “forking.” Not really “forking,” as these networks would probably end up talking to each other, but it has to be conceived as to stand on its own, as if it were a fork.

The third kind of response is to build a network that’s better than the Internet in some sense, but on “top” of the Internet, that is, an application using the Internet, as opposed to beside it, as a “physical network” like the Internet. That’s what the “peer-to-peer networks” do. They are not “networks” in the same sense that the Internet is a “network.” In academia, you would say that these peer-to-peer systems, such as BitTorrent, FreeNet, Napster, Bitcoin or GNUNet, are “logical networks” or “overlay networks.” They are networks “overlaid” (built on top of) an existing “physical” network such as the Internet. We will call this approach the “overlay” approach (sounds simpler than “if you can’t beat them, add a layer on top of them that makes it do what you want.”)

So, in the case of transforming the system known as the Internet, what is the correct approach? The answer is, of course, all of them. When a system is as important as the Internet, then it is not a matter of “which is the right way,” but which is the right way for you. All of them are valid, and we’re going with whatever works.

I have a hunch that these paths can be translated to the paths we have available to transforming “The Economy” into a “Resource-Based Economy” or “Love Economy” or “Gift Economy” or whatever it is that we would call it. That problem is, similarly, very important and worthy of all kinds of response we can come up with.

We have many people enacting the first response, of “begging” the current governments and corporations to do things differently.

The second response, of “forking” the current systems, is similarly receiving lots of attention. Simple and small-scale designs, such as designs for specific villages or communities, have been working for decades. Some communities even cut economic ties with the rest of the human world, essentially creating a private “world” where they can claim to exercise a “world-wide” and pure resource-based economy — but you still have to at least negotiate land ownership with some existing country, last time I checked. Larger-scale designs, on the other hand, if not deployed, at least are the focus of much discussion and study.

The third path, I think, is where we would start making some interesting progress.

Consider the following: given any criteria for allocation of the existing money tokens in circulation, which one of the following two entities would be more likely to be capable of capturing more of it?

The first entity is a group of people who each live on their own apartment, and drives each day, on their own car, to the same job site where they work. When these people meet, they pay each other for things, and every transaction is taxed by the local government.

The second entity is the same group of people, but now using a gift economy of some sort between them. They not only share things, being more physically efficient, but they also avoid having their internal economy be implemented using taxed government tokens. Whatever government money they hold in total, it disappears slower from each individual’s bank account simply because they are not taxed for circulating it internally.

Yes, money is a fiction, a convention. But so is any economic game. Even if you have a global network of computer processes monitoring all world’s resources, the representation of these resources is still a model, still a game, still a fiction. An error in modelling of the world’s resources would produce sub-optimal allocation, much like the current government money systems produce sub-optimal allocation. A much better model is still a model.

What this means is, instead of abolishing the fiction of money, why not just satisfy it? Get together with some people, and agree to collectively play the game better than those who won’t build their own gift economies and who will live physically inefficiently. Then just watch the cash pile grow. The government will have no rule it can design to not reward the people who actually want to build something different. And the more “money” you have… well, let’s just say that, in the current system, having money is not exactly a bad thing. Want to build Jacque Fresco’s futuristic town? Amassing a few hundred billion dollars couldn’t hurt. It is all fiction anyway. Gather the fiction, then give it to people who still want it. These people will give you access to the land you need to build a town, as well as deliver all the resources, material and mental, that you need to build it for the first time. Since it is a sustainable town, once it is built, you have one place that doesn’t need money.

The “overlay” path is not without its own difficult challenges, however. When you design an overlay, be it for the Internet or for the human environment sharing problem, you have to keep two worlds in your head instead of one, and constantly remember which kind of thinking goes where. If you are not careful while designing your peer-to-peer system, you may end up recreating its supporting layer without intending to. Having money may cause us to exclusively “buy” our way into simply surviving on the fruits of the global unsustainable production machine, instead of taking whatever first step, even if small and feeble, towards freeing ourselves from depending on these unsustainable (destructive and violent, really) systems. I can “have” a million “dollars,” but that shouldn’t stop me from personally spending part of my day trying to grow some tomatoes.

Final note. Becoming a billionaire solving practical problems and then donating it to charities that also solve practical problems, or funding start-ups that want to “innovate,” is not what I’m talking about here. That’s simply trying to do good within the current economic and financial system, and validating and reinforcing it in the short term. This would be simply using the existing network as it is presented, not using it in a way that makes it emulate what a competing network would be. It is certainly possible that this alone — a “correct” application of business as usual — may bring about sufficient “real” transformation that problems disappear on their own through sheer business, technological and scientific ingenuity. That is, the beautiful communities based on trust and gifting that we envision are actually just around the corner — if only we would let the great Capitalist dance finish its performance on this planet, then we would see how wonderful things could and will be. Then again, it is also possible that trying to grow a new system as a mere “product” of the diligent application of the current system will continue to not work.

Original Post : thinking.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php?n=Main.OnResourceBasedEconomies


Occupy the Resource Based Economy – Some Definitions from the Occupy Movement


Articles by Rene K. Mueller (RBE, Sharing, Gift Economy), Sushma Ramakrishna (Gift Economy). Permaculture is taken from Wikipedia and summarized.

The following article collection are some definitions of Resource Based Economy, Gift Economy, Sharing and Permaculture provided from an Occupy Movement wiki site Occupyconcepts.orgI think they are well worth looking at as they contribute to clarify some concepts, open the mind more, and take the discussion and development of a resource based economy further. They are all editable on the site.

 

Resource-based Economy

Introduction

The Resource-based Economy (RBE) concepts propose a way to abandon money and the speculation with it; and get back to resourcesdirectly without the involvement of money as a regulatory tool. It assumes that with today’s technology it would be possible to measure and store the quantity of a certain good, and connect with the demand or requirement side and share the resources, and skip the speculative and profit aspect in the exchange.

The term itself “Resource-based Economy” was introduced by Jaques Fresco, who also initiated The Venus Project (TVP), the term was then adapted by other groups, such as The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM).

“A Resource-Based Economy is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resources; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.”
— from The Venus Project (TVP): Resource-based Economy

Another key element:

Abundance, Efficiency and Sustainability are, very simply, the enemies of profit. This scarcity logic also applies to the quality of goods. The idea of creating something that could last, say, a lifetime with little repair, is anathema to the market system, for it reduces consumption rates, which slows growth and creates systemic repercussions (loss of jobs, etc.). The scarcity attribute of the market system is nothing but detrimental for these reasons, not to mention that it doesn’t even serve the role of efficient resource preservation, which is often claimed.
— from The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM): FAQ

Note: RBE is promoted by various groups and might differ in the details – for now various sources such as TZM and TVP are considered to protray and comment on it.

Pro

Resource-based Economy (RBE) emphasizes the availability of the resource itself and proposes to abandon money as a value system, and value the resource directly (how this is done in detail is not explained). It assumes all resource-based needs can be satisfied with the technological achievement we made as humans. It certainly addresses the issue of survival conditions which we as humans developed in early times, and which are now no longer useful; hence, developing an awareness and consciousness of sufficiency or even abundance and away from scarcity.

Note: Even though the “Pro” section is rather short, the shift within the value system is significant – a “Common Goods” approach. The “Contra” section below is more detailed and is also written out as a hint to refine the RBE concept further.

Contra

Missing Essential Details

One major critique on RBE is, that it is scarce in details, and skips the very detail of how resources are shared:

“A Resource-Based Economy utilizes existing resources rather than money, and provides an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner for the entire population. It is a system in which all natural, man-made, machine-made, and synthetic resources would be available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other form of symbolic exchange.”

What is equitable method? What about demand? Demand as such doesn’t mean overreach or overuse, the demand or requirement is not equitable: it may be of some resource someone has no use for, or even more, doesn’t want. Demand cannot be neglected – sole focus on equitable sharing remains on the surface of the issue.

Value, Price & Costs

For example, quote from The Venus Project:

“The intents inherent within the monetary system are counterproductive and derive a strategic edge from scarcity. This means that depleted resources are actually a positive thing, as more money can be made from each respective unit. This is known as the basic law of “supply and demand,” and hence “value,” in economics. This creates a perverse reinforcement to ignore environmental problems, and perpetuates an inherent disregard for human well-being.”

Value indeed is derived from supply and demand – the assumption something with high demand and little supply has high value and therefore more money can be made from – and it further creates a reinforcement to ignore environmental problems is an oversimplification, let us look at the two aspects separately:

  • high value and therefore price to be paid (speak “money exchanged”) is the logic to weigh or qualify the use of a resource – that as such isn’t a problem (see money just as a value or a number, neglecting for a moment manipulation of supply and demand)
  • the problem neglecting environmental impact is the cost (or effect and overhead to resolve) of the pollution, hence, the requirement to make all costs known, so called “True Costs” which, if applied wholesomely, would counter-balance and make some practices impossible due to the high costs of the environmental impact.

In other words, it isn’t a problem that we assign price or a value to a resource, but the lack of a complete view of how much some influences cost: neglecting or having others (like the government and at the end the people as whole) pay the price (and this is the overall work required to perform) of cleaning up or re-naturalizing a place which has been (ab-)used – just this small example shows: the layer of money isn’t really involved here, but the value we assign to things we require; and how far we observe the impact of our actions, see also Permaculture.

The Zeitgeist Movement FAQ is more thorough:

You will notice the term “strategically best” was used … This qualification means that goods are created with respect to the state of affairs of the planetary resources, with the quality of materials used based on an equation taking into account all relevant attributes, rates of depletion, negative retro-actions and the like. In other words, we would not blindly use titanium for, say, every single computer enclosure made, just because it might be the “strongest” materials for the job. That narrow practice could lead to depletion. Rather, there would be a gradient of material quality which would be accessed through analysis of relevant attributes – such as comparable resources, rates of natural obsolescence for a given item, statical usage in the community, etc. These properties and relationships could be accessed through programming, with the most strategically viable solution computed and output in real time. It is mere issue of calculation.

Now, that calculation, that formula is the key of the entire concept, and it’s not developed and written out. The overall calculation of supply and demand and how the goods are shared, is omitted entirely.

In essence, RBE proposes a computer-based rational replacement of the otherwise tainted ingenuity of human survival instinct, which to some degree we have overcome as some aspect of it no longer serves such immanent purpose in a high resource availability – e.g. realizing there is enough for anyone. Since the detail which decision making aspect is relayed to a machine and a computer-based system (and what calculations/formulas are used), and what aspect remains in the hands of humans (e.g. analysts who suspect or speculate on higher demands based on current developments of a certain technology, something a computer-based system cannot do), one cannot determine how feasible such a proposed RBE actually is.

Underestimating Complexity

At the surface the sharing of resources looks simple, yet, in reality the resources availability is subject of fluctuations, long and complex supply chain to build products and on the other side the demand for resources and products varies as well. In the videos of the The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) it is suggested to comprehend all natural resources, and match the demand for those at a central hub or database, but the actual details as pointed out above, are not shared or communicated.

The Venus Project RBE Concept

However, for the sake of overview, it can be stated that the first step is a Full Global Survey of all earthly resources. Then, based on a quantitative analysis of the properties of each material, a strategically defined process of production is constructed from the bottom up, using such variables as negative retro-actions, renew-ability, etc. (More on this can be found in the section calledProject Earth in the ZM lecture called “Where Are We Going?”) Then consumption statistics are accessed, rates of depletion monitoring, distribution logically formulated, etc. In other words, it is a full Systems Approach to earthly resource management, production and distribution, with the goal of absolute efficiency, conservation and sustainability. Given the mathematically defined attributes, as based on all available information at the time1), along with the state of technology at the time, the parameters for social operation in the industrial complex become self evident, with decisions arrived at by way of computation, not human opinion2). This is where computer intelligence3) becomes an important tool for social governance, for only the computation ability/programming of computers can access and strategically regulate such processes efficiently, and in real time. This technological application is not novel, it is simply ‘scaled out’ from current methods already known.
— from The Zeitgeist Movement: FAQ: Technological Unification of Earth via “Systems” Approach

Regarding the enumerated issues:

  1. Available information at the time: the now time, what about forecasts for the next weeks or months or years? e.g. cyclic developments? That is very hard to guess by a computer, but human reason and experience cannot be replaced here by computers and sole mathematical calculations.
  2. This is a very dangerous argumentation, human reason and opinion rated lower than computers – computers can help to calculate complex formulas, but the final decision has to stay with humans – one does not want a computerized overlord.
  3. Computer intelligence, it’s rather computational ability, intelligence has not been implemented in computers, and artificial intelligence (AI) has been announced just to be 10-20 years away, and this since 50 years.

That quoted paragraph from the TZM FAQ above reveals a technocratic naivity and technology belief and diminishing the human ability in this context.

What TZM currently calls “System’s Approach” is a broad conceptual framework, with little details, whereas Permaculture formulates truly a (w)holistic way to handle resources and the relation with Earth – and, there are existing communities applying those concepts in real world, and thereby verifying and refining the concepts further.

It is clear, that RBE addresses core issues and the core value system, and The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project, who first worked together but now go separate ways, have stirred up the otherwise dormant discussion about a possible resource-based economy.

Competition vs Co-operation

RBE suggests to move away from competitive behaviour to a cooperative behaviour – as pointed out in Income, in order to overcome competitive behaviour or also the influence of pure greed, another ideal has to move up the priority list or in the common value system:

  • due proven example, e.g. Open Source has shown its success (Linux, Android, Firefox web-browser to name just three), but also areas of failure (fragmentation and failure of the Open Source Desktop).
  • understanding where competition helps to sort out variants or sorting options, and where cooperation is prefered to succeed.

It has been in the past one major factor why many socio- / political concepts and thought-out systems have not worked, as a doctrine was pushed from the top down and it was expected the people would follow, and neglecting old thought patterns in their consideration. E.g. the communism never really worked, as the human factor to accumulate power and rule over others counter-acted with the idealism of the idea itself. The best way to introduce a system is by the practice of it by those who believe in it (e.g. Open Source or Permaculture movements), not to push it onto people or a society as such – the resistance will come and the concepts, noble they may be, will fail to be adapted.

Humanistic RBE

As pointed out above, TVP and TZM view on RBE is a rather mechanistic and technocratic solution, and lacks some of the humanistic, spiritual and holistic perspective, fortunately there are also other groups who work on developing RBE further with a large scope, like The Resourcebased Economy.com:

As there is a lot of talk about technology, design, architecture and the like this website (TheResourcebasedEconomy.com) tries to discuss the term ‘resource based economy’ from a human perspective based on existing and possible future values on this planet. When this website was formed, one found almost nothing about a resource based economy online in spite of the websites of The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement. This site was made to remedy that. Still, the term ‘resource based economy’ can be replaced/overlapped by many other terms.
Resource based economy (RBE), Natural Resources Economy, Resource Economy, Moneyless Economy (MLE), Love Eased Economy (LBE), Gift Economy (GE), Priceless Economic System (PES), Trust Economy (TE), Sharing Society, Resource Based Society, Moneyless Society, Love Based Society, etc. etc. It is all the same thing. It doesn’t really matter what we call it, as long as it has the basic notion of an economic system where no money is used, ownership and trade is abandoned and replaced with usership and giving and all resources (both human and planetary) are shared and managed properly. On this site we will mainly use the term Resource Based Economy. We could add ‘Gift’ in the title (Resource Based Gift Economy), to emphasize that on a local micro level, we need to simply give and share our personal resources, while we at the same time, on a global macro level, manage global resources.
— from The Resource-based Economy.com: About

A simple definition for RBE from the same web-site:

“A resource-based economy is a society without money, barter or trade,
with the awareness that Humanity is One family and where technology, science and spirituality
is used to it’s fullest to develop and manage the planet’s resources
to provide abundance for everyone in the most sustainable way.”

It further addresses the mindset and the consciousness to live in such a RBE system:

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

And specifically speaks of a continual emergence of a system of self imposed management of human and natural resources both locally and globally where following happens:

  • money is replaced by gratitude
  • trading is replaced by sharing and
  • ownership is replaced by usership

in a way where everyone’s needs are met.

Currently responsibility and ownership are tied closely together, in other words, you care about things you own; things you don’t own you don’t usually care, even avoid to get involved because it’s considered “none of my business”. In a RBE system, where there is no or little individual ownership but owned by the collective, the responsibility and the will to take care and maintenance for things would be entirely new: you care of things you use, but don’t personally own. As described in the Gift Economy, a sense of family and intimacy among those who share things to use and not own privately has to emerge.

Replacing Money

In order to replace money and trading with gratitude and sharing one has to look closely what happens now: there is no exchange of equal good or representation of thereof but just an acknowledgement of having received: gratitude and the actual act of sharing, handing over the resource. This is only possible, when the exchange is otherwise stored or logged: the party who shares one item has to maintain an inventory, since material resources are finite to one who gives has one less in his inventory, and the one who received has one more.

Inventory Aspect of Money

Inventory Quality of Money

Why is this important? As pointed out in Abundance, energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed in one form into another, and so also matter, it cannot be destroyed as such. When one good (matter) is handed over, it usually moves from one place to another, let us assume this is food: an apple, that apple is picked from the trees, stored in the RBE supermarket and leaves the facility and is shared (handed-over) to the one who desires the apple. This person eats (consumes) it, part of the food (matter) is transformed as nutrition into energy for the human body to function, another part leaves the body as feces. The feces once transformed into compost can be used as nutrition for plants, e.g. an apple tree again. Is it important to trace the goods? Yes, because as RBE suggests a high degree of efficency and that we actually are living in abundance as result of that efficency: having the things we need, where we are. In order to provide the resources where we are, we need to know where they are, and how big a required transportation vehicle is necessary to move them.

At best, the cycle of energy/matter is so small, that one lives on a farm, where one plants, reaps and consumes the goods, and the feces are transformed into compost and put back on the fields (see Humanure as holistic concept) – a closed cycle, with little transportation and requirement for inventory: the earth or ground is not moved or displaced, and the people consume what they plant, an almost closed system in this regard.

Transportation vs Locally Sourced Resources

Centralized Database in RBE

The larger the distance between sourcing resources and consumption, the greater the need to maintain an inventory, in order to organize the way back to establish a closed cycle – this leads then also to the abandonment of (the idea or concept of) garbage as such entirely – there is no waste as such to put aside, it is matter/energy which is necessary to stay useful in the cycle and not get lost, for sake of the sustainability.

So, money operates as anonymous inventory or regulatory tool for resources, without money the mechanism of the inventory aspect of money has to put forward to a storage facility, which traces or computes where which resource is; that is the reason why a central computerized database or cybernetic construct is required in a RBE system: the inventory is centralized, no longer anonymously reflected in the use of money.

Examples

Concrete implementations and description of such a RBE system aren’t available yet.

See Also

 

Gift Economy

occupyconcepts.org/wiki/Gift_Economy

 

Introduction

Gift economy is the idea of an entire economy, built up on and based on the concept of “gifting”:

  • we trade goods through the mechanism of money, but essentially we provide goods through an exchange.
  • is money really required to exchange things – goods, or services?
  • what is when we exchange things without money, and then a trade becomes a gift, given at the moment of giving we don’t expect something back except the acknowledgement of the giving itself: gratitude – then the trade or exchange is complete.

Examples of Gifts

  • The world as it exists, it wasn’t sold to us, but given
  • Life itself, we didn’t pay for it, we were given a life
  • Love, love by itself is cannot be traded, it surpasses material values altogether, it is either unconditional given, e.g. to a new born child
  • Wikipedia.org, the information and knowledgebase is given by volunteers, gifted by millions of contributors

further, there is a saying, best things in life are free.

Family Analogy

Think about, the members within a family. They do little things for each other, without “payment”, without “reciprocation”, without expecting anything back, whatever they do is just done, because, it needs to be done. And it is done out of love, so there is no need for “payment”. If we think of human beings as one big family, and that things have to be done, and, there is no “payment” or “reciprocation” needed when it’s done out of love, there is no need for barter any more.

Gift vs Trade

A gift focuses on the giving, a trade focuses on the exchange to maintain a balance of giving and taking. A gift perhaps only giving part at the receiver end is the acknowledgement, or further the appreciation.

When do we give something freely to others who might not be so close? When we have sufficiently, and do not require a trade or an exchange. We act out of abundance and not scarcity as we perceive it. Selfless giving might come from the understanding, that one is taken care of always and therefore an consciousness of abundance comes.

Transition from Money to Gift Economy

It may be difficult to implement this world-wide, unless it is done gradually; and in phases eg, forming small “gift-economy based” clusters or communities all over the world, which are founded on, built-up and sustained on some mutually agreed (both on a individual as well as collective) principles formed by the community.

Due to the vast differences and diversities in the way of living, living conditions, nature, geographical and climate factors, culture and beliefs, etc, the principles may have to be somewhat different for the various communities around the world.

It may not be possible to switch over to the gift economy immediately; perhaps, a mixture of gift economy and trade economy would be more practical, feasible and implementable. Within each of these little communities, the gift economy is followed, these communities interact with the outside world via the trade economy, and this may be able to gradually change the current disconnected and greed-and-selfishness based economy, to something more gift and share-based, selfless, connected and spiritual.

Practicability of a Gift Economy

Let us start with a simple example of a farmer who has an apple tree, which produces once a year 150kg or 300lb apples. How does the farmer give away the apples, if at all?

  • In a world of scarcity all goods are “priced” regarding supply and demand, the higher the supply vs the demand, the lower the price or value and so the lower the supply vs the demand, the higher the price or value.
  • In a world of abundance all good are valued independently of supply and demand, but valued as such. Given the apples aren’t life immanent, apples can be given to anyone. Let us look at the one who receives, out of which motive we demand, or do we demand at all? How are gifts shared? How do we know, as giver, who can use something we like to give or share?

Small Clusters / Communities

A gift economy may be possible to implement in small clusters, or communities, of people living maybe in close proximity, and seeking to function as a collective which has common ideologies and principles and tries to follow them. It may not be realistically nor practically possible to start off with a gift economy on something large scale. People might need to first live it out on a small scale, which comprises of a few people having ideals and perspectives in common, forming these clusters or communities. Within the cluster/community, it would be easier to live life on a day-to-day basis, following through and implementing some mutually agreed gift-economy principles.

These clusters/communities, might find it easier to practice a trade economy with either the outside world, or with other clusters/communities.

Community to Exterior Exchange

Taking the example of the farmer, given above. Let’s assume that the farmer belongs to a cluster/community which comprises a mixed bunch of people. Some have fruit trees, others grow vegetables, others grow flowers, etc. This community tries to share what it grows within themselves – each member helps himself to whatever is there, as per his needs and necessities, without greed, without trying to grab a higher share, etc. After everything produced has been shared among the members; the surplus of the produce, is then “traded” or “bartered” with the outside world, or with other communities, in exchange for something which this community does not have, or needs. The things thus obtained by the “trade” or “barter”, are then shared in a similar manner among the community members.

Motivation & Needs

The people within the community should be given the chance to do things they like to do and for which they have a deep interest and insight into. So, those who like to farm, grow the produce which is required for the community, those who like to cook and prepare food, work in the community kitchen, those who like to build/maintain buildings/community centers, are in charge of the maintainance and repair of everyone’s houses and the community centers, those who like computers/software look after everyone’s computers and so on. So, the community could be comprised of a number of working groups; each group working and focusing on a specific theme or target, eg, farming, cooking, maintainance, computers, etc.

When the people are given a chance to really do what they like to do, to follow their hearts in what they want to do, this is literally how the “gift economy” works. Each person has his own unique gifts, which he seeks to express or bestow or give. The community thus provides a space for him, to nurture and best express his gifts. He expresses his gifts, through the work he does for the community. The outcome or produce of this work, is then “gifted” to all the people of the community.

The expression of the innate “gifts” of the members are translated through work into “gifts” which are “gifted” to the community members; this is how the “gift economy” would work in a small community. And if the gift economy does not make the community self-sustaining; it tries to trade or barter its surplus produced “gifts” for whatever it is unable to produce on its own.

Responsibility, Discipline and Inter-Connectedness (Work Nobody Likes To Do)

Is there work nobody likes to do, like cleaning toilets, who does that?

  • Assigned on a rotational basis to each member, or each working group, in the community.
  • Right now the motivation to do things is about money to provide safety to provide provisions and perhaps even luxury – if one does get provisions within a gift economy and the exchange or giving is recognized and appreciated, the idea that the greater good comes stronger, and the idea of work one does not like might not even arise anymore.

Being a part of a community is not just about “feeling connected” and being supported and taken care of; one must also support the community back and take care of maintaining the “connectedness” and the community. This means feeling not merely the “connectedness” which people often like to talk about; it is having, truely, the responsibility, discipline and loyalty to work towards maintaining the community togetherness, harmony and functioning of the community as a whole. This would include tasks and work which nobody likes nor feels motivated to do, but realising and taking responsibility for the fact that it requires to get done, and everyone has to contribute their share towards it. Also, doing work the community members don’t like to do, could be their “gift” towards the community as a form of gratitude for what they receive from the community – belonging, being taken care of, feeling loved and connected, etc. here the family analogy could also be applied.

See Also

 

Sharing

occupyconcepts.org/wiki/Sharing

When there is a resource clearly in its quantity defined, and the demands are clearly known, sharing becomes a simple division: resource / demands, but in the real world this is rarely the case, instead the resource quantity is not known or volatile or influx (could be a little, a lot or unlimited).

There are two main procedures to share:

  • a) one gives each one a little, over and over until each one has enough or the resource to share is over
  • b) one gives each one sufficiently at a time, until all have sufficient or the resource to share is over

At first glance both the variants look the same, but in detail they are different:

  • Variant a) or “equal-slice” ensures all get something and with the enduring process of sharing all get sufficiently. When the resource to share is over all have the same amount.
  • Variant b) or “fulfill-first” one receives sufficiently regardless if it’s sufficient for all.

Currently we have sufficient or an abundance of eminent resources but share them with variant “fulfill-first”, additionally we do not consider all demands, and cast out others in the consideration of the demands. Result is, a few live in material abundance, whereas many live in scarcity: 1% of population having 50% of wealth in most countries, with tendency to increase unequal distribution or sharing of the wealth and access to resources.

Back to the variants, both variants have their application, e.g. variant “fulfill-first” can apply there when something requires sufficiently in order to complete a task, e.g. finish two houses completely (with roof) instead leaving 5 houses unfinished (without roof); one can pack material into the finished houses for shelter instead of exposing them to rot more quickly with rain.

This means, one has to weigh and consider the necessity to choose the variants.

Time Sharing Items

Even material resources become smaller when shared, we can respect the integrity of such resource, e.g. an item, a tool, an apparatus, whose material integrity is required to provide a functionality.

To have this work, the item is not owned by individuals who demand or use it – but by all or another party outside a community: you use something without owning it (e.g. car sharing).

See Also

 

Permaculture

occupyconcepts.org/wiki/Permaculture

Permaculture (perma = permanent + (agri-)culture) is a branch of ecological design and ecological engineering which develops sustainable human settlements and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.

The core values of permaculture are:

  1. Take care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  2. Take care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  3. Share the surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.

The 12 Permaculture Design Principles

Permaculturists generally regard the following as its 12 design principles:

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Patterns

Permaculture design focuses heavily upon natural patterns. All things, even the wind, the waves and the Earth moving around the Sun, form patterns. In pattern application, permaculture designers are encouraged to develop an awareness of the patterns that exist in nature (and how these function) and how patterns can be utilized to satisfy the specific design needs of a specific site. “The application of pattern on a design site involves the designer recognizing the shape and potential to fit these patterns or combinations of patterns comfortably onto the landscape”.

Ethics & Design Principles

Permaculture-Flower (BW).jpg

Applied in these 7 areas of life:

  • Land & Nature Stewardship
  • Built Enviroment
  • Tools & Technology
  • Culture & Education
  • Health & Spiritual Well-Being
  • Finance & Economics
  • Land Tenure & Community Governance

 

Permaculture movement brought back the importance to observe a system, an environment very carefully in order to know where, when and how to interfere, e.g. such as seeding, harvesting or planting new species in a garden. For example, it is said it takes about 10 years to get to know the land one farms on, to understand its quality and have an optimal and sustaining garden to live from.

See Also

 

 


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.