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.

Jobs in a Resource-Based Economy


I would like to offer my suggestions for how the concept of employment could be addressed, defined, and/or enacted in a resource-based economy (RBE).  I work in healthcare, and I see a wholly viable paradigm available for emulation in the medical community’s path of what I will refer to as “Rotation-and-Specialization” (RAS).  I will refer to the occupation itself as a service performed by an individual to serve shared needs.  Calling a job in a RBE a service makes much more sense to me, because individuals would need to serve in a role (ostensibly several) in order to maintain necessary services.

There would be two broad categories of service: armed and unarmed.  If the entire population of the world is not adopting a RBE, then an armed service is a necessary reality.  The machinery that would make a RBE thrive however, is the unarmed service.

The best way to illustrate my point is with examples:

1. John Q. Public is a senior in high school.  One of his classes each day is a one or two hour block called “service rotation.”  He spends about 4-6 weeks on each rotation, performing/assisting with a service.  His current rotation is Janitorial service.  He leaves his campus and shadows a person who has specialized in Janitorial Services to see what it is like.  He and his friends all joke about how much they hate “trash duty,” but they would invariably develop a shared experience, and a deep respect for how difficult the service is (and hopefully be less likely to litter as a result).

John finishes his Janitorial Services rotation, and moves on to his Food Services rotation.  He is shadowing citizens specialized in Food Services, and his duties include harvesting food resources from community farms or ‘urban farm skyscrapers,’ transporting and organizing resources for ease of access, handling citizen complaints about food quality, etc.  He used to always wonder how the bananas ‘got on the shelf,’ and now he recognizes why his parents & neighbors don’t take more than they need.  They’ve all had to serve in food services, and they know that it makes an unnecessary amount of work for their fellow citizens.

Six weeks later, John moves on to his Peace Officer rotation.  He rides along with specialized Peace Officers, and learns about what their daily service consists of.  He enjoys this service so much, that he decides that after high school, instead of going to college, he wants to specialize in this service, thus completing the RAS model.

2. Sally, John’s friend, rotated with him on all of the same services.  However, Sally didn’t find Peace Officer service palatable, so at the end of the year, after she’d been through all of the rotations that didn’t require a Bachelor’s degree, she was sure she wanted to go to college.  In college, just like high school, she had a course devoted to experiencing other specialties, which also gave the “specialists” in each of those specialties some much needed help.  She enjoyed her research rotation, where she helped people specialized in certain areas of science to carry out research.  She completed her Legal rotation effortlessly, but didn’t want to be a lawyer.  She really liked her medicine rotation, where she followed around a Family Practice physician who made house calls.  If she wants to specialize in medicine, she’ll have to finish her degree, and then apply to medical school.

Under this RAS model, inherent problems exist that certainly warrant addressing.  For example, what would happen if everyone wanted to specialize in the arts, and just sit around and make music all day?  My first argument to this question would be that this doesn’t happen now, and people’s interests are so diverse and talents are so varied, that it seems highly unlikely that a majority of people would settle on any one service.  However, since it would be possible, it requires addressing.

The solution would (as most do) rely on majority rule.  A simple vote would allow citizens to decide what’s fair.  The nature of an application process tends to suffice at weeding out a majority of unqualified candidates.  Because, even though no one receives monetary compensation, you’d still want the most qualified person serving as a lawyer, or physician.  One suggestion could be requiring persons specialized in the ‘soft’ services (music, literature, etc.) to spend a certain amount of time each year performing services with the lowest census.  In that case, it might make more sense to require all individuals to spend a small portion of time (2-3 weeks per year) rotating through those services with consistently low censuses.  If no one wants to be a janitor, then everyone must equally support the burden.  This allocation of human resources seems most appropriate in an economic model with the same goal of allocating natural resources.

What if someone wants to change specialties?  Have at it.  As long as there is space in the census available for an extra teacher, or an extra lawyer, diversification would be welcomed.

What if someone wants to try multiple specialties?  Certain specialties (and the demands within each subspecialty would come into play) would allow for citizens to have multiple specialties.  A Peace Officer could retain his specialization in that public service whilst also serving as a professional sports player.  The particulars of how “specialist” status would be retained would obviously vary from service to service (tests, performance reviews, etc.)

What if someone gets fired?  Time to pick a new specialty.  Maybe you shouldn’t get to access resources unless you’re serving (in some capacity).

Who would decide who gets to do research?  That’s a tricky question.  Under the RBE model, it may not be fruitful to perform any available research study that we can imagine (but this sounds like fodder for a completely separate article).  However, a problem-based research approach keeps in line perfectly with a needs-based model, such as RBE.  For example, [x] amount of people die in a year from disease [y], therefore individuals specialized in pertinent areas request that someone perform the research service to discover a cure.  This isn’t dissimilar from how things work today, and more than likely an imaginative individual would recognize the need for research before the problem gets to be a large problem in the first place.  But under a RBE, studying the varying colors of bat droppings doesn’t provide a useful service (unless perhaps there’s such a surplus of staffed specialties that the endeavor doesn’t detract from maintaining economic utilities).

Requiring individuals to rotate through all available services would create a shared experience that fostered empathy among citizens.  The added benefit is that all services would receive support staffing, and the needs of the collective are maintained.

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

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Do Angels carry cash?


What do you think the value of the sun is? In terms of energy output, converted to dollars per BTU, what is the sun worth? On any given day, how much do you pay for the sun’s warmth and light? Should some people get more sun than others? If a person is unwilling, or unable to work, should they have to sit in the dark?

If we took our whole financial system and replaced it with one that

Read More

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

 

 

Some New Videos On The Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project and From Peter Joseph On Democracy


The Venus Project, The Zeitgeist Movement and a Resource Based Economy is constantly gaining more and more momentum, resulting in a constant flow of new creations of cultural expressions like these videos.

The two guys from the London based website and YouTube channel ‘London Real’ contacted me (or rather, their ‘Public Relations Coordinator’ did) with a new video interview they had done with Jacque Fresco, asking me if I wanted to post it on the blog. I found the interview not really bringing up anything new but the old anecdotes Mr. Fresco is always using, but I found an interview with Ben McLeish of The Zeitgeist Movement UK that was slightly more interesting. I post this here for you:

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And for those of you who haven’t heard all of Mr. Frescos anecdotes, I do recommend listening through this interview. He is definitely quite funny and has a lot of good points:

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And if you want some more in depth dope, take a look at Peter Joseph’s latest venture, Culture in Decline, this time on our so-called Democracy:

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Peter Joseph turns out to be a first class entertainer!

Short Film Stories From a Resource Based Economy


As you all might know, I decided to “take a couple of years off” from the Waking Up movie to gain more experience, get a bigger network of movie production contacts and the likes.

One of the things I would do to gain more experience is of course to make more movies. I’ve had some ideas to some shorter and longer films thrown at me, but non that would be very easy to accomplish on a small budget. And, of course, I would like to make films about a resource based economy or with an RBE setting of some sorts.

So, the idea I got was to invite you guys to write new stories and short film scripts that can be accomplished on a small budget. And if you don’t feel up to it yourself, invite others! 🙂 Target script writers around the web and inform them of this.

I figure 10-30 minute scripts would be good. And the setting would be closer to our time so that the technology and surroundings can be more or less what we have today. It can be stories from the transition period, just after the transition period or in some kind of future in a setting where we don’t have to use any CGI or show any new types of non existing buildings or technology.

The important aspect of the stories would be the values of the people. It can be stories of young people, old people, researchers, scientists, artists, factory workers, car sales people, teachers, anything! The only ‘criteria’ would be to somehow show the values of a resource based world. Whether it is about generosity vs. greed, compassion vs. indifference, sharing and giving vs. trading and buying/selling, ownership vs. usership, money vs. gratitude, you name it!

It will be a much ‘freer’ approach than with the Waking Up movie which is based on one particular idea (Ben waking up from cryo) and set to a future far away with a whole new technology, and thus will end up as a much more expensive film to make. I really hope to make the Waking Up movie one day, with all the bells and whistles, CGI and special effects. But, as I have said before, there should be many films made about RBE, and with this new approach we can be the ones that starts this!

I also thought that since this would be something very different from the Waking Up movie website (which will still exist until we get around to making the Waking Up movie), there should be a separate website. I thought that ‘RBE Stories’ would be a good name for this new website, and bought the domain www.rbestories.org (www.rbestories.com was actually taken by a guy who gives away his stories there for free. He is practicing RBE without knowing it…! 😉 ).

The new website isn’t up and running yet, but I will install a new WordPress theme on the domain soon, and also open a new Google Docs collection for the stories. The new initiative will be 100% open source and public domain as in the CC0 license: creativecommons.org/about/cc0.

To take this even further, it will be open for both screenplays and stories that can be made into screenplays. And since it is all public domain, it will be open for all film makers on the planet to pick and choose whatever stories that might appeal to them to make films out of them. The films can be crowd funded through IndieGoGo/Kickstarter or the like and be published to YouTube. Films can even be shot on cell phones without a budget! It can be all levels of complexity.

All the stories will be open source and can be further developed by the online community. They can also be branched into other stories and be shortened/lengthened or built upon. The website can be a resource in terms of imagining the resource based economy and what it can be like. The stories can both be read as they are by anyone and be a resource in themselves, but also be made films out of. When films are made, the film team (director/producer/writers, etc.) will have the final say in how the story will be on the screen.

I would of course be one of the film makers that would be very interested in this and will follow whatever appears here closely. I hope more film makers and writers will find this interesting and join this project! If there’s a story that doesn’t appeal to me personally, maybe it will appeal to some other film makers. If there’s a very appealing story that appeal to more film makers, well, then maybe there can be a collaboration, or maybe there can be more film versions of the same story!

What do you think?

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.