Sunday, November 27, 2011

Open response to keimform.de/Demonetize it! (Stefan Meretz)

We note that, in the announcement of our new book Life Without Money by Stefan Meretz, initially published at keimform.de and republished on the Demonetize it! website it reads:

"However, the book cannot be obtained »without money«, it has to be purchased in a bookstore. And the website indicates, that strict copyright applies. Creative Commons licenses are not used, which contradicts the aim of the book."

As my co-editor (Frans Timmerman) points out to Stefan, Mao would probably categorize it as a 'non-antagonistic contradiction', meaning that there are benefits from (and logic to) the strategy, rather than its being totally irrational or contradictory in the mainstream meaning of the word. He asks, 'Haven't you (or someone else) paid for the computer you're working with? Or, even if you haven't, hasn't it been produced and distributed within capitalism? Even your time invested in creative free work on the Internet is likely to be partially supported by sustenance from the capitalist system, which we cannot extract ourselves from entirely right now.'

Actually your argument is very popular amongst capitalists and conservatives who imply we are hypocrites when they chide us: 'And so, don't you use money to live? Your position is unsustainable. If you socialists were sincere you'd give away all your possessions and live a simple spiritual life like St Francis of Assisi. Everything you produce should be free.' Oh boy, this takes us so far away from the real points that need to be made!

Frans's point is that under capitalism there is no way of printing and distributing a book, especially beyond a small locality, without someone spending money. In the present system, we have no (or very little) control over the means of production, which exists as a chain of monetary ownership and use so that any — especially material — goods are almost inevitably sourced or somehow connected with the capitalist system.

For many years I have been pointing out that, although we live in the 'free' world, we are not free to determine how we live. We are unable to live completely without money or irrespective of monetary structures and relationships and values because of the prevailing economic system and state structures that support the rule of capital and money. I will do many things in as money-free a way as possible but, in order to remain an activist within this society, I chose to follow certain strategies beyond doing things freely.

My MoneyFreeZone site has operated for years and a post of mine on Radical Notes (16 October 2008) spreading these ideas has received over 3000 visits and we have supplied my own creative work under a creative commons licence on the www.lifewithoutmoney.info website (see under Anitra Nelson in authors) as well as linking to other free sources of material. However, most people are not exposed to or don't seek out these kinds of spaces for learning and sharing their ideas. As one of my friends who has been involved in money-free activities for years said about our book, 'Wow. Now everyone can see what we're doing, and know why we're doing it!'

I'm not arguing in a reformist way for using the system to beat it. But I do think that we must engage with people deeply embedded in the monetary world and explain our position to them. If a successful way of doing that is by giving the rights of our work to a publisher to publish a book, which people buy, so be it. People can get our book through a library, and we advocate that they do that, as well as suggesting people pass on copies to as many people as possible.

These are imperfect practices in an imperfect world.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's arrived!

Yesterday we received paperback copies of our new book, Life Without Money. With all the instability in the global financial markets and the international spread of the Occupy movement, this book will provoke deeper discussion of ways forward. The ten contributors to Life Without Money argue that we need to dispense with monetary values and relationships — yes, money per se — in order to manage our world on the basis of humane and natural values.

The book brings together diverse voices with strong arguments against our money-based system’s ability to improve lives and prevent environmental disaster. It provides a strategy for undercutting capitalism by refusing to deal in money, and offers money-free models of governance and collective sufficiency.

Here's what Joel Kovel, author of Enemy of Nature (2002; 2007) and Overcoming Zionism (Pluto Press, 2007), has already said about the book:

‘The collapse of capitalism will also be an end to money as the prime regulator of society — an eventuality both hard to imagine and necessary to understand. Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman have assembled an indispensable collection for those who are bold enough to explore this dramatic prospect. Life Without Money is an essential guidebook for the great debate now unfolding and around which our hopes for a worthwhile future unfold.’

Get, or order, your copy from your local book store (or find links for online purchases at http://www.lifewithoutmoney.info). Then come back and enter the discussion.