Economic Calculation in a Resource Based Economy – A Defence


INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER [1]

The ideas of Ludwig von Mises, an economist of the Austrian School, have been resurrected by critics of a RBE in an attempt to show that a moneyless economy is impossible. Despite numerous attempts to disprove the criticism, the spectre of von Mises still hangs over the social movements that support a RBE. But my defence here is not merely yet another attempt at disproving von Mises, but emerges also from the frequency of misunderstandings and misuse of his critique, and some issues regarding the proposed solutions from RBE supporters. I wish to set the record straight on what the true challenge of von Mises’s ‘calculation problem’ is, but also offer internal critique against some rebuttals against von Mises by RBE, such as the idea that computation solves the calculation problem.

It must first of all be pointed out that the general idea of a moneyless economy is not new, and that versions of it have been presented and criticised before, most often in connection to some version socialism. This is an unfortunate consequence of the constrained way in which the debate on the issue has been held since the 1920’s. The Venus Project and Zeitgeist Movement in fact, to my knowledge, represent the first attempts to have the discussion outside of that particular box. Yet the situation creates the potential for misunderstandings, and since the last thing I wish to do is add to the accusations of ‘secret socialism’ against the organisations, there is a need to clarify a few things.

The main opponents of my article, von Mises and to an extent von Hayek, where critics of the idea of a moneyless economy and involved in what was to become known as the ‘Socialist Calculations Debates’, after von Mises’s main book on the subject, ‘Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth‘ which he wrote with the USSR in mind. Getting rid of money and markets was, at the time that the Debates began, the avowed goal of many who called themselves socialists. History has of course shown us that no serious effort to do so was ever attempted, and that no iteration of ‘actually existing socialism’ ever came even close to ridding itself of the need of money[2].

Nonetheless, I wish to make it very clear that my use of such sources is in no way an implication that the Zeitgeist movement, or Venus Project for that matter, is any kind of socialist endeavour – and most certainly not something reminiscent of the USSR! It just so happens that some of the points raised by von Mises and von Hayek, and their opponents, can in general be directed at any society that wishes to rid itself of markets and money. This is precisely what has been done by critics of the RBE. Rather than ignoring the challenge due to its roots, I intend to re-deploy it in an updated way such that it is relevant to the RBE.

My intent is to show that von Mises’s challenge is surmountable and his criticism ultimately futile – that a moneyless society can indeed become a reality. What stands in our way is no ‘real and true and literal impossibility’ of the sort that von Mises and his ilk imagined (Salerno, in von Mises, 1990:49), but merely politics and ideology, and the inability of some minds to think outside the box.

THE CALCULATION PROBLEM & VON MISES’S PROPOSED SOLUTION

The way that von Mises presents the calculation problem in his classical text on the matter is as one of choices in production. It is not, as is sometimes misunderstood, a problem of distribution of that which is produced, or deciding exactly what to produce. Even scholars who are positive to the idea of a moneyless or non-market economy sometimes misunderstand this. David McNally (1993, 2010), for example, attempts to argue against von Mises by pointing out how there is no difficulty in the absence of market prices to determine how many schools or hospitals a society needs. While McNally in entirely right about this, that fact does not contradict von Mises. Even von Mises acknowledges that a moneyless economy could estimate the approximate needs of the population (1990:5), such as “whether it desires 1,000 hectolitres of wine rather than 500 of oil” (1990:16). Nor is it challenging to conclude “that 1,000 hectolitres of wine are better than 800” (ibid.).

Rather, von Mises’s critique deals with the possibility of rational decision-making regarding the allocation of resources in the production process, when faced with limited resources. This limitation of resources should not be confused with the artificial scarcity and misuse of resources under the current economic paradigm, and is thus not solved by the concept of “abundance” that is sometimes referred to by supporters of a RBE. Instead it is the practical fact that we do not have an infinite amount of resources, space or time – and likewise face other constraints such as not wanting to damage the environment or waste resources for future generations. We simply have not world enough to realise all potential goods we can possibly imagine, and therefore we are forced to make choices and prioritise. As has been covered, the issue is not insurmountable in the realm of deciding what to produce, even according to von Mises – the choice can be made based on need, and need can be determined by simply asking or observing people. Yet in the realm of production, the hurdle becomes more challenging. It can be illustrated by the following example:

Let us say that we are manufacturing a product, and that we can produce it in three different ways, all of which require differing amounts of the particular resources x, y, z. We assume in this case that the result is otherwise the same, i.e. that the outcome of production has the same qualities regardless of what resources are used or in what combination.


Method 1: Method 2: Method 3: Method 4:
5x 10x 10x 4x
10y 5y 10y 4y
3z 3z 5z 2z

As stated before, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can conclude that Method 4 is superior. Let us therefore discard it, as it cannot illustrate the issue at hand, and assume that we only have the methods 1, 2 and 3 available to us. Again, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can clearly see that Method 3 is inferior and should not be used. The problem von Mises wanted to show is in the choice between Methods 1 and 2. How does one choose which one is better, without a way to compare the value of x and y? Of determining how many x each y is worth, and vice versa, so that their total cost can be expressed as a single number? In a market economy we can easily make a decision, because we can compare the price of x and y. The price is determined by supply and demand, and thus the cheaper of the two will be the one that there is the most supply of, or least demand for. Nor does the individual person or firm need to have any other information than the price; by selecting the cheapest method they will choose the best allocation of resources, and this without doing anything other than just trying to maximise their own profits – this is known as economising on information (see Hayek, 1945: 6).

In other words, von Mises argues firstly that rational decision-making requires commensurability; a single unit of value by which different options can be compared. Choice must be reduced to a matter of calculation in order to be exact, and is otherwise just an estimation (von Mises, 1990:22). Secondly, he argues that market prices are the best such unit, since they contain in a sense all the information needed by being the result of the aggregation of many individual decisions, and hence carry objective information on resource availability.

THE FLAWS OF THE “SOLUTION”

Concerning the first point of von Mises’s assertions, political economist John O’Neill follows von Mises’s old opponent Otto Neurath in rejecting the above position, and calls it pseudo-rationalism. “Our knowledge”, O’Neill argues, “that informs our decision making is uncertain and the rules of rationality rarely determine a single answer given what is known. A rationalist who believes in reason must recognize the boundaries to the power of reason in arriving at decisions” (1998:115). To believe that there exist a single rule or procedure, such as the price mechanism, that determines the answers to all decisions, is for him the clear mark of pseudo-rationalism. Instead, x and y in our example would have to be compared directly, taking all of their properties and weighing the pros and cons against each-other on a multi-dimensional grid of criteria. This is because their different properties are incommensurable – they cannot be reduced to one another so that we can express the quantity of x, n(x) as n(y), or vice versa. Environmental impacts cannot be expressed in the same terms as product safety or ease of recycling or repair. Even the category ‘environmental impacts’ is internally incommensurable, since CO2 emissions do not have the same consequences as soil erosion or release of lead. To reduce the entirety of two different things to a single, one-dimensional value by necessity means that other aspects of the things are being ignored. In focusing on price, we must by definition ignore everything else. von Mises’s first point hence rests on his second; the belief that price, unlike other properties such as weight or volume, is a conglomeration of all relevant knowledge, and can thus carry all the information need to make rational decisions. There are three reasons that this assumption is incorrect.

Firstly, money is actually a very poor carrier of information. Market prices do not measure externalities, and companies can actually gain competitive advantages by externalising costs and passing them on to society in the form of pollution, increased job insecurity, potentially harmful products, etc. The real cost, not in money, but in the effect on individuals, society and the environment, is hidden by the market price. Resource cost is also greatly shaped by the monetary cost of extraction, and not the environmental or health costs involved. Even if one assumes that such externalisation is balanced out by penalisation, such as the Pigouvian tax[3] suggested by reformists who hope to “fix” the market, issues remain. Price can be influenced by the market power of individual actors, and competition itself can be another hurdle; there is an inherent incentive to keep information from competitors, as not to lose competitive advantages. The most relevant example is information concerning plans and strategies for the future, which are most often kept secret. Patents and trade-secrets can also hide scientific and technological knowledge from the public, which could be relevant to decision-making.

The only information that the market relays to each actor is, potentially, the relation between supply and demand at the time the plan is made; each actor is blind to how their competitors plan and react to the same information. Therefore, no actor has adequate information to construct a plan that suites future levels of demand, even though every actor can be said to act rationally given the information they possess. Individual actors whom are not in deliberation, all behaving rationally, can produce an overall sub-optimal result; this is a central understanding of game theory (see also O’Neill, 1998:99, 134-138).

Secondly, only the subjective willingness to pay of those with purchasing power has any effect on the market. Nor does the market care from where purchasing power originates; any given sum of money has the same power, regardless of whether it comes from a single billionaire or a million of the most impoverished. Thus the poor are not only unable to participate, but the frivolous fancies of the wealthy will often weigh much higher than their most basic needs (Mujezinovic, 2013).

Moreover, by marginalising and excluding actors lacking purchasing power the market does the same to the knowledge they posses. Only the market value, i.e. profitability, of knowledge matters on the market; but such knowledge is far from the only knowledge relevant to rational decision-making (Ibid.). The obvious example is the scientific knowledge concerning human caused global warming and other environmental issues, which is continuously ignored by capitalists who opt to continue ‘business as usual’.

Reformists have argued that a more fair distribution of wealth can be achieved through changes in policy, which would alleviate this problem and allow everyone to participate in market exchanges. That, however, ignores the fact that the incentive structure is not altered by redistribution. It is not for a lack of money or the inability to participate on the market that the knowledge concerning environmental limits is ignored. It is ignored because it is not profitable, and because if taken into account it would actually act as a hurdle to both profit in general, and to the dominant paradigm of constant economic growth[4]. Additionally, there are people and entities that lack, by their very nature, the ability to participate on the market; such as future generations, non-human animals and Nature herself. If we acknowledge these things to possess any form value or meaning beyond just what those able are willing to pay for them, the market is insufficient to our ends (O’Neill, 1998: 112-129)(O’Neill, 1993: 161-171).

Thirdly, a market-based system also assume that the outcome of all production is things which are to be consumed by individuals, rather than things to be enjoyed by the entire human family, such as clean air or drinkable water. To quote Iain McKay: “[i]f the market measures only preferences amongst things that can be monopolized and sold to individuals, as distinguished from values that are enjoyed collectively, then it follows that information necessary for rational decision-making in production is not provided by the market (2008:2130)”. That which may be rational for an isolated individual given a competitive, or even antagonistic, relation to other individuals, may not be rational for a group given a cooperative relationship between its members. The chief premise of the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma is after all that the prisoners in question are sequestered from each-other and make their decisions individually. Where they to collaborate and arrive at a joint decision there wouldn’t be a dilemma!

Conclusively, not only is rational economic decision-making possible without money, a rational and above all sustainable economy practically demands decision-making based on something other than market price. Only then can we take into account all the facts needed for truly rational outcomes to become possible. The truth is that von Mises’s so called ‘solution’ is no more a solution than sweeping dirt under the rug is ‘cleaning’; it simply conceals the problem. The environmental, social, ethical, etc. consequences of decisions do not cease to exist because one decides to ignore them – all that does is exacerbate the problem since the main system of decision-making is unable to take into account the vast majority of negative consequences. As long as there is a profit, the system appears to be working fine by its own standards.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS WITHIN A RBE & THE ISSUE OF COMPLEXITY

Although von Mises’s proposed solution has been shown to be futile, his arguments still present us with one final problem: that of complexity. Let us return to the example given with the four methods. When dealing with such a simply example, it is not difficult to image non-monetary ways of comparing x and y – perhaps their environmental impact or total availability could be the basis. It would, for example, be conceivable that a cannery that makes their cans out of one of two potential metals could easily explore which one would be most suitable.

But for von Mises, it is above all when it comes to so-called ‘intermediate products’ that the real problem reveals itself; i.e. goods that are themselves components of other goods. Goods such as computers, which have potentially hundreds or even many thousands of intermediates. “The human mind” von Mises claims, “cannot orient itself properly among the bewildering mass of intermediate products and potentialities […]. It would simply stand perplexed before the problems of management and location (1990:17).” The essay I, Pencil by Leonard Read, although stemming from a pro-free market ideological basis, remains a good illustration on how even such a simple product as a pencil might have a very complex production chain. How do we solve this problem of complexity, given that we now know that von Mises’s proposition merely ignores most of what is actually relevant for truly rational decision-making?

Could not a potential solution lie in simply relieving the human mind? To merely detail all the properties of all the intermediates involved and use a computer to find the optimal method? Computer aid in decision-making is certainly an integral part of helping us ‘orient ourselves’, but we mustn’t assume that computers can simply resolve the entire issue for us through straight-forward calculation. That would be to repeat von Mises’s own mistake and assume commensurability between different values. It would be to assume that all problems have a solution in the form of Method 4 in the example given; one that is clearly superior in every way. Yet we may very well encounter situations where one method is better in the sense of using less resources, but another is more sustainable; where one uses less energy but the other is safer, and so on; i.e. methods 1 and 2. This is illustrated more clearly in table 2, showing an example of how resource costs could potentially be presented in a RBE.


 

Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
Resources used Copper, tin Aluminium Iron, Platinum
Environ. impact of resource retrieval[6] 3, 2 1 2, 4
Resource scarcities[7] 20%, 15% 5% 10%, 60%*
*resource very rare!
Energy use 1000 kWh 3000 kWh 1500 kWh
Environ. impact of energy use 2 3 2
CO2 equivalent    emissions 500 m3 700 m3 600 m3
Other pollutants SO2, 1 ppb Pb, 0.002 µg/m3 NO2, 2 ppb
Est. product lifespan 4 years 7 years 5 years
Environ. impact of total production process[8] 3 2.5 2
Recyclable % 85% 95% 70%
Energy requirement for recycling (total) 3500 kWh 2000 kWh 1000 kWh
Environ. impact of recycling 1 3 2
Potential alternative uses[9] 22 16 19

Table 2: Example of a resource cost array detailing some aspects of three methods of manufacturing an equivalent product. It is not an extensive list but an example of what might potentially be taken into account in a RBE. Note that the table only details a one time cost; ‘products’ such as hospitals or machines would have to have a year-by-year account of their cost through-out their estimated lifespan. As this table is meant as an example only, the numbers are just invented and no attempt has been made to reflect real world conditions.

 Note that no straight-forward calculation can be made that finds the optimal method, and the different properties and aspect of each method are not all reducible to each-other or to any single unit. Numerical expressions and mathematical tools are indispensable aids in giving us a proper overview of the issue, and computation is necessary to help us orient ourselves among the many options (some of which are not shown here). Yet, in the end, an informed judgement must be made on which method is the most suitable in this case.


An ordinal scale is a possible solution, where we simply arrange aims from the most to the least important and prioritise aims of a higher order, so that any given aim is only worked toward once the one above it has been satisfied. For example, we could decide that environmental sustainability is always the most important goal, and that only when sustainability has been assured will other matters come into play. The current proposed solution of Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement utilises such an ordinal scale (2013). Yet even this solution has a small problem attached to it. Even when we find one method that is valid in a given context and scenario, there is no reason to assume it is a universal solution that is equally validity for every context and scenario, and can be applied across the globe[5]. To prioritise sustainability could be a good general rule, but in some cases one would have to make exceptions – what if one faced a scenario where trading away a tiny bit of suitability would immensely improve product safety, or use a resource that is far more abundant? No universal procedure can be applied here, no rule where x amount of sustainability trades for y amount of abundance in every situation, because the two are incommensurable both with respect to each-other and internally. That is, environmental impact cannot be expressed in terms of resources saved; just as different forms of environmental impact are qualitatively different and cannot necessarily be expressed in terms of one another, and different resources differ qualitatively and cannot be expressed in terms of one another.

How we go about applying our reason to achieve the best possible solution must change depending on the given setting. Unlike a capitalist society, a RBE cannot give an answer that is always applicable, such as “maximise profit”. We regard the various possibilities and use the scientific method to assist us; every scenario must be considered on its own and what we do in one case may not be what is done in another case. Value becomes dynamic, and based on current information so as to realistically and rationally find the best possible solution for whatever problem is faced. A part of this is the development of rules of thumb, standard procedures, overall aims, etc., but these are guidelines and not straitjackets. The process also includes making use of computers, which both assist us by giving us overview and sometimes ‘make the decisions on their own’ – there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time, after all. If we’ve arrived at a decision it would be a waste of time and resources to repeat the process of decision-making over and over. It is better if it be handed over to computers until such a time that the need arises to change something in a way that is beyond their abilities. Using computer aid in decision-making frees up our time so that we can focus on deliberation and debate where it is really necessary.

A further clarification of what I mean can be found in an exchange between von Mises and one of his main opponents, Otto Neurath[10]. von Mises asserts that when we “choose whether we shall use a waterfall to produce electricity or extend coal-mining and better utilize the energy contained in coal […] the processes of production are so many and so long, the conditions necessary to the success of the undertaking so multitudinous, that we can never be content with vague ideas. To decide whether an undertaking is sound we must calculate carefully” (1981:89). And, he finishes, “computation demands units” (Ibid.) Neurath, however, responds (quoted in O’Neill, 1998:116):

“The question might arise, should one protect coal mines or put greater strain on men? The answer depends for example on whether one thinks that hydraulic power may be sufficiently may be sufficiently developed or that solar heat might come to be better used, etc. If one believes the latter, one may ‘spend’ more coal more freely and will hardly waste human effort where coal can be used. If however one is afraid that when one generation uses too much coal thousands will freeze to death in the future, one might use more human power and save coal. Such and many other non-technical matters determine the choice of a technically calculable plan… we can see no possibility of reducing the production plan to some kind of unit and then to compare the various plans in terms of such units.”

What this means is simply that comparability need not assume commensurability; we can and must compare different options directly, taking into account all their complex properties. Nor is there one rule that can be mechanically adapted to produce a determinable decision regarding which plan to adopt, in part because uncertainties always exist and our beliefs and expectations form a part of our reasoning. There is thus an ineliminable role for non-technical judgement even in technical decisions.

Nor does von Mises’s complexity problem pose an issue: in a RBE, the complexity of production in an industrially advanced society is laid bare. Complexity is shown to be something constant in any technologically advanced society where manufacturing is done via convoluted chains and networks of production forming a global grid, that alters and is altered by our society and environment. This is the whole point – to reveal the actual, real, tough choices that prices hides. To allow scientific knowledge, academic debate, evidence-based reasoning and ethical concerns a place in decision-making. We need not solve the ‘problem’ of complexity because complexity is not the problem; the concealment of it is the real problem!

The same is true of the difficult choices and trade-offs in production; it is a constant companion of decision-making in any society. In any situation where you do not have access to an infinite amount of resources, time and possibilities, a trade-off will be necessary when faced with several valid, yet mutually exclusive, options. As long as you can’t have everything, choices need to be made – these will always involve ‘opportunity costs’ and forgone alternatives in some form. In a moneyless society the ‘calculation problem’ becomes transformed into the continuous challenge of what the most rational and beneficent method of making trade-offs is, and what needs to be prioritised in any given situation. In other words, the lack of a price mechanism does not mean an inability to make rational choices, it means that for once we get to make actually rational choices! We get to disregard what The Market says and use our reason and judgement to try to find the best possible way to do whatever we want done – selecting the highest quality, greatest sustainability and overall biggest benefit to everyone that we can; and not the cheapest or most profitable way.

Tools such as multiple-criteria decision analysis, natural capital accounting, material balance planning and input-output modelling are all potential sources of aid, that can help us in that endeavour. Yet they are all in various ways flawed and burdened by the politics and ideology of currently existing or dead economic systems. The same can be said of the methods of post-normal science, cybernetics and systems theory; there is a potential in each one, if only it was developed further in a way that is relevant to a RBE. Unfortunately, the efforts to do so have been hampered by the nearly century-old arguments of von Mises. Recognising them as incorrect is the first step towards building actual alternatives and, as O’Neill (1998:128) puts it, “entails a need to rethink the ways we make decisions without a single measure.” The possibility of a RBE has been shown. The real work remains to be done.

 



 

1 Note that this particular piece does not go into the epistemological arguments concerning centralised or decentralised forms of economic planning. For more details on that issue, see O’Neill, 1998:129-159, where the scientific community itself is held up as an example of decentralised, non-market, multi-dimensional global coordination. See also Mujezinovic, 2013 for a briefer overview.

2 The use of ‘need’ is intentional, as for instance the bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge did attempt to simply ban the use of money without overcoming the need for it, with disastrous consequences.

3 See Baumol 1972:307–322 for more information.

4 Exposing and arguing against this paradigm is a crucial element in the school of economics known as Ecological Economics. See the work of Herman Daly, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen or Joan Martinez-Alier, among many others, for examples.

5 The ecological disasters caused by large-scale factory farming, both of the capitalist and USSR-style command economy varieties, serve as a real world example of the consequences of neglecting local conditions and attempting to apply the same approach globally.

6 Assume that a qualitative judgement based on ecological research is expressed on a 1-10 scale for easy overview.

7 One presumes that such a thing would be measured as the total world need / know total world availability. Thus a number of 10% means that the total world need is 10% of the total known world availability.

8 This would be an approximation, expressed numerically on a 1-10 scale, based on the inclusion of intermediate products. Other tables would detail all such intermediates and their respective Resource Costs. This value could thus be altered for each method by altering the choice of intermediate products; and the same value for each intermediate product could be altered by a different choice of its constituent products, and so on.

9 Resource tables for the alternative uses, alternative means of producing them, and all the urgencies of need for each would also have to be taken into account.

10 Caveats must be made regarding the context, and that the technological references are outdated in respect  to what the Zeitgeist Movement (or the Venus Project) wishes to accomplish. It is rather the principle of the matter that I wish to illustrate through these citations.

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumol W J 1972, ‘On Taxation and the Control of Externalities’, American Economic Review, 62(3)

McNally D 1993, Against the Market, Verso

McNally D 2010 Against the Market, talk held in Fall of 2010
audio file available through the Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice:
www.havenscenter.org

McKay I 2008, An Anarchist FAQ: Volume 1, AK Press

Mujezinovic D 2013, ‘A brief analysis of Hayek’s Epistemological Critique Against Central Planning and in Support of Markets’, unpublished
avaliable at lancaster.academia.edu/DavorMujezinovic

O’Neill J 1993, Ecology, Policy and Politics, Routledge

O’Neill J 1998, The Market: Ethics, Knowledge And Politics, Routledge

Peter Joseph 2013, Economic Calculation in a Natural Law / RBE, talk held on November 12 of 2013 in Berlin
video available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9FDIne7M9o

Read L 1958, ‘I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read’, the Freeman December Issue

von Hayek F 1945, ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society’, The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, No. 4

von Mises L 1981, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Liberty Fund

von Mises L 1990, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Mises Institute

 

 

 


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Human Nature


I think the argument I get the most against a resource based economy is the ‘human nature’ argument.

“A resource based economy won’t work because of our innate human nature”.

Implied is that our so-called human nature is greedy and competitive, thus a system based on sharing and collaboration won’t work.

Now, IS our human nature only greedy and competitive? Of course not. I think we can safely say that it is just as much generous and collaborative as it is greedy and competitive. If it were only greedy and competitive our society would have crumbled a long time ago. Human nature is not ‘this’ or ‘that’. If anything, human nature is changeable and adaptable.

Sure, we  have competitiveness in us by nature, BUT, we are also just as much collaborative. Maybe even more so on a global scale. Every day all across the planet people are collaborating to get things done and to make society work. If it was only fierce competition all the time, society would grind to a halt pretty quick. We have to work together to build houses, roads and hospitals. We have to collaborate to develop new technology, fly to the moon or run a farm. We have to play together in harmony to make a rock band rock or a symphonic orchestra sound good.

Inborn Qualities

We are without doubt born with certain qualities, like different talents and personalities. Some become good singers or piano players, while others have a hard time achieving that and become maybe good doctors or farmers instead. Some have a few talents, while some have many. Of course, what we become good at also have to do with our environment and the possibilities we are given. Still, even if you are stimulated even from a fetus to become a piano player, that might not lie for you and you might end up a mathematician instead. If this is from the genes or through your souls experiences as previous incarnations (if you believe in that stuff), I don’t know. It doesn’t matter though, as my point is to show that certain things are inborn, while other things are learned. And our totality as persons consists of a combination of these two elements.

The Ego

All of us are also born with an ego, but we also have a just as big non-ego, altruistic part within us. If we were ALL ego, the kids in a kindergarden would do nothing but fight all the time. I have worked in a kindergarden and, sure, sometimes there is fighting, while most of the time there is harmonious play. This varies of course, but I think we can say that kids are just as much, if not more, collaborative and altruistic, than competitive and egoistic.

So, how is our human nature made up? Are we all ingrained selfish egotistical competitive bastards that think of non but ourselves? No. Absolutely not. Then, are we all generous unselfish sharing and compassionate beings? No. Absolutely not. Then, what are we?

We are both

We are both egotistical and altruistic, compassionate and indifferent, collaborative and competitive. We are not one or the other. I would argue, though, that in general we are more compassionate than indifferent, more collaborative than competitive, and more altruistic than egotistical. We have in total more peace and collaboration than war at any given time on the planet (even though the media constantly try to show a different picture). Think about it, for the world to work, we have to collaborate. Even in a war, there’s a huge element of collaboration on both sides to win the war, paradoxically enough.

Now, since we are both egotistical and altruistic, how come we have a predatory monetary system like the one we have?

This is due to one more thing about the human nature:

Malleability

The human nature is not set. We are not greedy from birth, just as much as we are not altruistic. Sure, just like we are born with a tendency to different talents, we are born with a tendency to more egoism or more altruism, but in general, we are not one or the other. We are malleable. Formable. Changeable. We can go one way or the other, and which way we go is largely determined by our environment.

If you grow up in a materialistic and selfish environment, you will most likely be materialistic and selfish too since your selfish part will be boosted. If, on the other hand, you grow up in a compassionate and altruistic environment, you will most likely be compassionate and altruistic too since your altruistic part will be boosted. Of course, sometimes this can have an opposite effect. You can take a stand against your parents and become the opposite of them. But that period usually only last a short time before you fall back on your upbringing.

Values and Norms

But our malleability doesn’t only effect our egotistical and altruistic side. It’s not only black or white. There is a large specter of norms and values that shape our minds, and thus, our society. How we dress, how we drive, our music, our food, how we share or how we hoard. All of these norms and values and more are what make up our cultures. And money and property is nothing more, but one of these cultures.

The notion of money and private property 1 is a norm, a mindset so ingrained in our minds that we don’t even think about it or know it’s there. You could say that it is a norm produced out of our egotistical and selfish side. The ego is the force of separation and fear, while our altruistic side is one of unity and trust. And money is in a large degree a symbol of mistrust and segregation produced by the fear of the ego.

These forces are definitely produced from a part of our human nature. Still, since there is more peace on the planet than war, and more collaboration than competition, how come all of us succumb to the devastating use of money? And why do we let a few people on the planet own most of the planet?

Environment

The answer is influences and habit. When we are born we have both egoism and altruism in us, and we are shaped by our surroundings. And of course, when our surroundings are constantly focussed on money and property, so will we be. Even though all we want to be is a piano player, we grow up learning that we have to pay the rent, have to earn money, have to pay for groceries, have to pay for kindergarden, school, books, PCs, fuel, travel and of course, the piano, not to speak of piano lessons. We learn that money is necessary. We learn that trading is the norm. And since our human nature is malleable, we pick up on these norms and internalize them.

Now, if we grew up in an environment where everything was given, and everyone contributed to society with no servitude, but from free will, did what they wanted and what was necessary, shared their skills, time, personal and planetary natural resources, wouldn’t you think that this is what you would do to if you grew up in a society like that?

If you grew up in a society where the prevailing norm is to give and receive freely, with no money or private property, but with full trust in that you would get what you need, you would follow those norms, you would play your part and you would follow the values of that society. Just like you today are following the norms of money, ownership and trading and the other norms and values that goes with the society we have today.

The Prevailing Norm

Our human nature is not fixed in a place where we have to constantly sell each other stuff, trade for everything or constantly hoard. It is not fixed in a place where we have to use money to divide resources. This is only a prevailing norm in our society. We DO have the norms of altruism, giving, sharing and compassion as well. This is obvious when you look at our world wich actually is filled with much giving and sharing. Take Wikipedia, for example.

The problem is that even the most ‘spiritual’ of us, the most compassionate and the most sharing and caring, does not see the elephant in the room, the forest for the trees, the glass ceiling keeping all of us from soaring and truly prosper. They don’t see the norm that money is. Even they see money as something necessary. Something that we can’t live without, like air or water. Even the founders of Wikipedia has never advocated (at least not openly) a moneyless world.

Still, there are more and more people who see money for what it is: A norm. A culture.

Cultures

In some societies, more southern than northern in my experience, the norm is to be generous and hospitable rather than stingy and hostile. The norm is to give rather than to get. I have met many people whom, if they have the money or resources, go out of their way to give to me almost to the point of embarrassment. ‘No, no, I don’t want money for gas’. Or they buy beer or drinks to everyone without question.

Why do they do that? Of course, it is a norm with them. You are supposed to do that when you are out with friends. But it also have the social function of bonding and showing the others that you are a nice person. Of course, these examples include money.

We could just as well say that helping cook dinner, help someone move, or paint their apartment, also are examples of altruistic behavior with social functions. You do it for several reasons. To be liked. That it feels good to do something with others. That you might get help when you need it. Because they are friends. Or maybe even strangers. Or maybe you simply do it completely altruistically.

I have helped strangers, and friends, move or with others things. I bet you who read this have too. Whether it is helping an old lady with her groceries or over the street or to work as a volunteer on a project in Uganda, write code in Linux, an article for Wikipedia or improving on a design for the Open Source Ecology.

Money as a Culture

Money is a culture. It is nothing but a global norm that constitutes a culture controlling the minds and lives of the people on this planet. It is nothing that is necessary because of our human nature. Money, trading, ownership and property are nothing but norms that can be changed. They constitute nothing more than a mindset, a way of thinking. They are like the constant buzz of the refrigerator that you don’t notice before it is gone.

They are the manifestation of the egotistical half of us. Or maybe it’s not even half. How much of us is ego, and how much is ‘oneness’, anyway? In general, I would argue that the ego part is far less than half. Maybe not even 10%. Maybe only 1%…. And paradoxically, it is that 1% that is controlling the world at the moment. Still, 1%, 10%, 50%. It doesn’t really matter. In any case, we have an at least an equal chance of an altruistic society as an egoistic one.

Money perpetuates selfish and egoistical thinking, there is no doubt about that. Still, it is only a norm, not ‘human nature’. How to get out of it is another question which I will not try to answer in this article. I will only say that there are tendencies towards more altruism in the world and a larger understanding of money as a changeable norm. Of course, mainstream media doesn’t reflect that as they are controlled by the huge ego that want to preserve itself for eternity.

Conclusion

Our human nature is not fixed. We are not born greedy and egoistic any more than generous and altruistic. Human nature is malleable and adaptable and is changing according to its environment. That is our human nature.

We do have inborn qualities, like different personalities and talents, but how these are developed is largely dependent on the environment. Thus, if we change the conditions that people live under, people will also change.

Human nature is largely defined by the culture we live in, and the norms of trading and hoarding is a culture that could just as well be replaced by the culture of giving and sharing.

When more and more people really get their eyes up for the extreme possibilities that lies in improved lives for everyone without money, but with free sharing instead, it will be like Victor Hugo says:

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

 

  1. With ‘Private Property’ I mean, as defined by Wikipedia, ‘property owned by legal persons or business entities’, distinguishable from ‘Personal Property’ defined by Wikipedia as ‘physical possessions belonging to a person’, thus clarifying that we will have possessions, as in ‘Personal Property’, in RBE. I will discuss the general notion of property and ownership in a later post.

Pleiadian Gift Economy – an Equal-Value System of Economics


The equal-value system transcends the dichotomy of wealth and poverty as well as alternative money systems. It is a system for truly advanced civilizations in which everyone is valued and able to freely do what they love to do without contorting or selling themselves in order to “make money”.

The following excerpt from Millennium — Tools For the Coming Changes (ISBN: 0-9631320-3-2) by Lyssa Royal, pp. 113-115, provides the seed idea of the equal-value economic system (EVES). It is cited with permission from the authors.

Most people have not yet learned how to step into this state and let it serve them. Let us say that you could have everything you wanted whenever you wanted it. How then is wealth defined? There can be no wealth because it is only measured against a state of lack. Wealth is a measure of what you have compared to what others have — lack.

Some extraterrestrial societies (such as on several Pleiadian planets) have a system called the equal value system, which is a reflection of their beliefs about abundance and the free state of their society.

The equal-value system might sound simplistic, but it actually requires tremendous spiritual and emotional evolution to master. As an analogy, if you need food in that society, you simply walk into the supermarket, get the food and leave without paying. When someone comes to you for your service, you provide it without charge. This system reflects a balance of wealth that has no arbitrary, constantly shifting values. The foundation of thier wealth is a deep sense of value for each member of society. Everyone is eager to keep their world evolving by constantly following their creative excitement. [Bold face added — editor]

This type of planetary economy is a holistic unit. In criticizing this type of society, one might ask obvious questions such as, “Who takes out the garbage or performs the unpleasant tasks?”¹ In a society where creative freedom is encouraged and not suppressed, there are many inventors who create technology to deal with every challenge, garbage included. Free-energy devices have been created to handle all of the planet’s energy demands.

Without a government or a corporation hoarding profits and controlling new discoveries, the best interests of the society as a whole or as individuals are never overlooked. The spirit of the society is expressed through constant achievement and creative freedom rather than constant profits. This is a symptom of a healthy holistic organism. Where there is a need there is someone to fill the need. This might sound alien to you, but look at the many enthusiastic inventors in your world who want to promote alternative fuel sources but who are stopped by big business.

Any planet can eventually develop this type of society. However, it cannot happen now on Earth while you are in the present level of fear. If one day all the world leaders said, “Okay, now on we have the Pleiadian equal-value system,” there would be chaos! There would be tremendous hoarding, because you would not believe you deserve it. You would feel as if you had to grab as much as you could before someone changed their mind. Your planet is simply not emotionally ready for this type of system. There is too much invested in lack and victimhood. There is too much invested in the polarized belief of the have and have-not mentality.

There must be a deep internal transformation before you can embrace the Pleiadian equal-value system or your own version of the equal distribution of wealth. Communism was an immature attempt at an equal-value system. So is capitalism. A true equal-value system that supports society will not have any oppressive control, rigidity or constraints attached to it. Because society is tiring of the old game of lack and wealth and you are moving toward ideas that reflect self-responsibility, a precursor to an equal-value system will appear when the time is right.

Freedom begins at the individual level. However, you must remember that freedom and equality are inherent properties of your spirit. Once recognized, you must then begin exercising your freedom, otherwise you will continue the cycle of dependence and corruption in a downward spiral.

If you become more self-responsible and affiliate yourself with others who are making the same choice, you will always have what you need when you need it. Always. It is a very different way to live. These words do not convey the true depth of the meaning of freedom of the spirit, because words always fall short in such matters. Be aware that bondage is a state of mind and a state of heart.

Choose freedom, live that freedom, and watch your lives and your planet transform before your eyes.

Editor’s comment: The issue of “who takes out the garbage” need not be dependent on having technology take care of it. The cultivation of a spirit of service or “karma yoga” goes a long way to handling unpleasant tasks and is inevitably necessary — in any society. To discover more about the authors of this book, go to www.lyssaroyal.com


Will You Do The Job You Have Today Without Money?


I am doing a little poll here.

It would be very interesting to see how many of you would do the work/study you do today even if you didn’t earn any money on it . Maybe you would do exactly the same job. Maybe you would do it with some modifications. Or maybe you wouldn’t do it at all.

I would like you to write a comment below and tell us the following:

  1. Write YES or NO or MAYBE to whether you would do your job/work without money.
  2. Describe your job and explain your answer.
  3. More elaboration if you like. Like, what would you do instead if you wouldn’t do the job you have today.

The premise for the above is of course that we have a resource based economy with no money, trading, barter or ownership, but with access to everything you need to live a good life. Society needs to go around, and some jobs would still be needed. Thus, the jobs we do must preferably be liked by the ones who do them.

Many jobs will be phased out by either it’s own nature (like banking) or by automation. In any case it would be enlightening to see if you have a job you hate or you love, or something in between. And whether your job is really contributing to society or if it can be phased out in a resource based economy, and what you would do instead.

Please share this with your friends also, so they can comment too.

PLEASE ANSWER THE QUESTIONS AS THEY ARE NUMBERED. THANK YOU. 


Science, The Scientific Method and The Workings of Creation


I get really annoyed when some people seem to think that science is ‘the answer to everything’. That if we only use science we’ll be fine. It is not like that. Thinking this makes science nothing more than another religion. Firstly, we have to distinguish between ‘science’ and ‘the scientific method’. Today, when we talk about ‘science’ we mostly think about ‘natural science’. In the beginning, though, ‘science’ and ‘philosophy’ was often used interchangeably.

Science, in today’s terms, does not have the answers to everything, and what science does have the answer to isn’t always correct. This have been proven over and over again over the millennia. Even a scientific ‘proof’ have to be believed by other scientists and society at large to be true. And even then, it might be disproved later.

There are also several different directions within the different fields within the scientific community, where some scientists agree upon one thing, while others agree upon something else. Thus, science doesn’t give any homogenous picture of the world, and is not as ‘all knowing’ as some people might believe. The scientific community, where ‘science’ comes from, is just like the rest of society, with a lot of compartments and prestige. They also live in a high degree within a created ‘paradigm’, where some things are ok to say and write, while others are taboo.

What is science, really? Commonly, philosophy isn’t regarded as ‘science’, since it deals with ‘non-provable’ concepts, deriving ‘science’ from a definition that everything has to be ‘provable’ according to a certain set of criteria. Still, I would argue that you can not have science without philosophy. Often times I hear so called scientists, highly regarded ones also, speak about ‘the age of the universe’, or ‘the distance from the earth to this or that galaxy’, measured in lightyears.

This is the same as being an ant and try to say something about the size of the planet, or even the forest it is in. It climbs up in the tallest tree and tries to look as far as possible and comes up with a measurement unit to measure the size of the forest. ‘Tree’s’ is say’s. The forest consists of so and so many trees, and this is it’s size. To me, this is humans trying to measure the ‘size of the universe’.

To say that the universe even has an age is philosophy. For it to have an age, you have to have time, and space. And you have to believe that everything you see around you actually is real, that it actually exists ‘out there’. All the physicists I’ve seen speak takes this for granted. And this is really a HUGE thing to take for granted. To build all your science upon something that you actually don’t know for sure.

A galaxy is like a rock. A rock lies there, apparently still and unmoving. A galaxy also seems to by ‘lying there’, apparently still and unmoving. Still here on earth we experience that the days and years go by from the earth’s rotation around itself and around the sun. According to scientists the earth moves around itself in the speed of about 1000 miles per hour. Hm, I use the metric system, so I would say about 1,600 km/h. Miles, kilometers, hours. It’s all created by us, by ‘scientists’.

Back to the rock that ‘lies there’. We now know that inside that rock there are atoms and particles that move around in infinite speeds. Thus, it’s not as ‘still’ as it looks like. We are in the middle of that rock, experiencing our lives. From the outside, there seems to be no movement, while being on the inside, you experience all kinds of movement. So, what is time? And what is space? These are not externally verifiable units. Time and space is subjective and experienced. Thus, everything that has been said about ‘the age of the universe’ and the ‘distance between stars’ is made up. It is fantasy. It is created in the minds of the scientists, trying to understand their experiences.

How can you know anything around you is real? The answer is; You can’t. We are creating this world as we experience it.

Science is, as stated, far from something homogenous. Science is very diverse, and there are many types of sciences.

The scientific method, on the other hand, now that is probably a better yardstick to go by, than ‘science’.

So, what is the scientific method? There are several methods within science. But the most common one is described as ‘the hypothetic deductive method’.  This method starts with a question, hypothesis or theory, and from that question one deduces certain logical consequences that are testable and verifiable by others. After testing one draws conclusions and determine whether the theory is true or false. It’s a pretty simple and straight forward method, and it is the method that have been utilized to build the world we have today. It is good and sound and gives answers to many things.

Still, it is highly dependent of the creativity of the researcher. The questions asked and theories derived can only be as good and deep as the mindset and ability of the scientist. A scientist with a closed mind gets one type of results, while a scientist with an open mind gets another type of results. It has been proven many times that different scientist with different theories about the same subject gets different results when testing. They get results supporting their own theory.

And this leads us to quantum physics. Science have gotten so far now, that the most open minded (and even a good deal of the closed minded ones too) now acknowledges that we, humans, are affecting the world around us, simply by being in it, thinking, feeling, talking, acting and having an intent. And this is proven in many experiments in several fields. It is proven that when particles are observed, they are influenced by the observer.

We are all co-creating this universe through our own thoughts. Even though scientists have researched, tested, researched and tested again, trying to seek out the truth, thinking, and thinking again, they haven’t thought about the one thing that obviously plays a big part in this: Thought itself. Now, though, even science, is acknowledging this. That our thoughts and our intent is crucial to the results we get.

So, what does this all mean? If science per se is not the answer to everything, then what is?

We are.

We are the ones who are creating everything through our minds, desires, intents, thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Not science. Not religion. Not money. Not God.

We.

So, we have to ask ourselves: What do we want, then? What kind of world do we really want?

Sure, we can take the scientific method and use it for what it’s worth. We can listen to science, but not make a religion out of it. We can listen to religions but not be blinded by it. We can listen to spirituality and not be overtaken by it.

But most of all, we can listen to our selves. Build up trust in our selves. Because we all have the same ability to give answers than anyone else. Not in the same fields, maybe, but that’s not the point. We all have the same ability to create. We are all creators by default. Because simply by thinking, experiencing and acting in this world, we create. We can not not create. It is impossible. Every interpretation of something is a creation. Every step is a creation. Every movement is a creation on some level. Every thought is a creation. And what you think about yourself creates yourself. And what we think about the world creates the world.

Now is the time for co-creation and trust in ourselves. We create by choosing consciously what we want to focus on. What we focus on we get more of. And the only limit is our imagination. If it can be imagined, it can be created.

So let’s imagine the world we want and create it together. This is what it is all about. Putting our trust to ‘science’ is again putting our trust to someone or something outside of ourselves, just like we’ve done with religion for so many years.

Now, the turn has come to us. And when I say ‘us’, I mean all of us. You, me, scientists, artists, everyone. We are the ones who now will create this world and our future together. And it will happen by someone proposing suggestions to what the future can be like, to what our society can be like, and we will all take more or less part in giving feedback, coming up with new creations, tweaking and developing.

The one major new idea we have before us now is a society without money. Even the greatest scientists of the times seems to have taken money and the monetary system for granted. For something that has had to be there, like air. Something that it has been impossible to be without.

Now has the time come to imagine a world without this thing called ‘money’, and without the usual notions of ‘ownership’ and ‘property’. And we are now faced with the challenge of imagining and creating how this world will work and how we can move from where we are now to where we want to be. ‘Science’ alone will not get us there, but using it as the tool it is, I highly recommend.

All this said, I think this guy deepens my point:

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