Friday, November 23, 2012

News items

Three items of news follow.

Vivir Bien has been developed to map resources for solidarity economies worldwide. 'Solidarity economies' include a wide range of non-monetary and monetary non-profit activities. The site seeks to map all kinds of commons, radical and change-directed initiatives — from experimental non-monetary activities through to sharing ideas — and threats to these kinds of resources. The idea is to inform the development of links and so contribute to achieve non-capitalist modes of living and producing.

A new video advocating a world without money — in French — can be seen here.
A transcription (also in French) is available here.

Mark Boyle — author of The Moneyless Man — has just put out The Moneyless Manifesto selling in a print edition and free online. The approach taken by Mark is very much individualistic voluntary simplicity, which non-market socialists regard as a secondary — insufficient — strategy for achieving a money-free world. Non-market socialists stress collective action and change stretching deep into the productive forces and dynamics of the ways we all live, i.e. both necessary and sufficient ways to achieve sustainable and fair economies where environmental and social values are the operating principles of production and exchange in society. At the same time there is much that Boyle advocates that we agree or sympathise with. See more details about both versions of The Moneyless Manifesto here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What we must do

For many years before we started the Life Without Money book site and this blog, we had a MoneyFreeZone site, which was taken down last month. However, 'What we must do', a short summary of ideas discussed on the MoneyFreeZone site and in our book, can be found on the Demonetize It! site here.

A German translation, by Andreas Exner, of 'What we must do', also appears on the Social Innovation Network site. The German version is 'Geldfreie ├ľkonomien global und lokal: Der einzige Weg zu weltweiter Nachhaltigkeit?' and can be found here.

This is a short extract from 'What we must do':

The transition to a world without money — which is only to say that the conditions are laid for humans to establish communities based on social justice and environmental sustainability — would be created by, on the one hand, diminishing production and exchange based on a monetary, capitalist rationale and, on the other hand, progressively taking over production and exchange using non-monetary compacts. Collectively, our actions would weaken a reliance on capitalist practices and strengthen networks of compacts as alternative forms of governance, production and exchange.
How to synthesise tactics within mainstream structures and strategies pursued outside them and create a bridge, a continuum, between reforms and revolution is the greatest challenge. It will only be possible by adopting a common strategy of instituting non-monetary forms of political, social and cultural relations within a vision of a money-free society to enable people to produce and exchange transparently on the basis of use-values, i.e. directly expressing principles related to social justice, and enabling the establishment of environmentally sustainable practices. Thus we must decide on compromises regarding the best possible way forward to achieve the ultimate vision as quickly and as permanently as possible. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Another World is Possible (Possibly)

The Greens NSW GreenVoice (Autumn 2102, p. 6) broadsheet had a review of Life Without Money. We reprint 'Another World is Possible (Possibly)' with permission of the author, Hall Greenland (who retains copyright):

In 2003 the cultural critic Fredric Jameson famously observed that it was easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The bad news is that the first part of that observation is now even truer: the degradation of our ecosystem has accelerated in some important respects.
The better news is that the second part is no longer as true as it was. People are again imagining the end of capitalism. The book under review is part of a growing genre of post-capitalist imaginings. Clearly the recent and continuing failures of capitalism are feeding this search for alternatives. But another and more compelling reason is that people are making the link between planetary eco-disasters and consumer capitalism. All ten contributors to this remarkable book insist on the link between the current economic system — with its money, markets and insatiable growth — and the exhausting of the planet. While other books spell this out more persuasively, the purpose of this collection is to begin to tease out the possibilities of a different economy and a sustainable relationship between society and nature.
All their prescriptions emphasise more democracy, local and regional self-sufficiency, more exchanges not dependant on money, and global equality and sharing. The contributors do this from a variety of starting points. While Ariel Salleh, for instance, draws inspiration from earlier and indigenous societies, John O’Neill (Professor of Political Economy at Manchester University) takes us back to the key economic debates of a century ago when Otto Neurath argued with Friedrich Hayek about whether non-market socialism or gung-ho market capitalism offered the best road to human happiness. Over the past 30 years Hayek’s neo-liberal ideas have been given a burl with the currently observable disastrous results; now might be Neurath’s turn. Other contributors draw inspiration from the cooperative ideas of Kropotkin, the scattered remarks of Marx on the future society and experiments like Spanish anarchist collectives, Yugoslav self-management and ‘intentional’ communities.
Even when sketching out the most utopian scenarios, there is an exciting can-do optimism in Life Without Money. But it does underplay the challenges that face those of us who see the need for a great transformation if we are able to arrive at a just and sustainable world. One of these is to convince people in countries like Australia to accept a materially simpler lifestyle. If we are going to save the planet, the over-consumption of rich societies must end to allow development of poorer ones.
This idea (known as ‘contract and converge’ and widely supported by ecologists) is a big ask and involves tackling consumerism. The buying of stuff now appears to be the way many people establish their identity and status, give meaning to their lives and express themselves. It also satisfies our addiction to novelty. The authors seem to assume that a rational realisation of ecological limits will lead people to give up incessant shopping and throw themselves into free time, cooperation, art, spirituality, family life, a sense of community and equality. That’s a huge assumption.
But if you thought that this search for a more sustaining life was something that only preoccupies Greens, Buddhists, radical Christians, anarchists and eco-socialists, you’d be wrong. The Sydney Morning Herald is now touting a ‘national wellbeing index’ to measure Australia’s progress (or lack of it). Gross Domestic Product is only one element in the index – others being equality, education, health and the state of the environment.
When a mildly liberal newspaper is looking beyond how much stuff is sold to gauge human progress, then a book like Life Without Money may be the canary in the mine, signalling it’s time to come up for some fresh air and new thinking.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 Nobel Prize for Economics

Here's a reprint of the post that Adam Buick, contributor to Life Without Money, wrote for the Socialism of Your Money Back blog (16 October 2012):
Sometimes the Nobel Prize for Economics is awarded to someone who has made a useful contribution rather than providing ideological justification for some government policy within capitalism.

For instance, in 1998 it went to Amartya Sen whose work had shown that famines are not caused by an absolute shortage of food but by a collapse in the ability of some people to buy or exchange something for food. In 2009 it went to Elinor Ostrom, whose research exposed the myth of “the tragedy of the commons” by showing that in practice where commons existed they had been managed by the community and did not break down through the self-defeating selfish behaviour of those have access to them.

This year this prize has between awarded to two people, one of whom denies that he is an economist, for the study of transactions “where price is not an issue”. Something that could be socially useful as socialism will be a society where price won’t be an issue

According today's the Times:

“Their studies helped to improve efficiency in markets where price was not an issue, matching doctors to hospitals, students to dorm rooms and organs to transplant patients.
It led ultimately to the creation of kidney exchanges, where donors could save a relative even where there was no biological match. In essence, a husband wanting to save his wife by donating a kidney but whose blood is not compatible instead donates to a stranger, whose own relative donates back to the man's wife.
Such matching arrangements are essential in most Western countries where organ-selling is illegal, and the free market cannot do the normal work of resource allocation.”


“Professor Shapley, who is 89, began the theoretical spade-work in the 1950s and 1960s, using game theory to analyse different matching methods. In the 1990s, Professor Roth, now 60, working independently, applied similar theories to more practical matters, helping to allocate student doctors to particular hospitals and later providing the theoretical underpinning to streamline organ donation. Professor Roth is regarded as an authority on a field known colloquially as ‘repugnance economics’ — in essence, the study of transactions where the application of the price mechanism is regarded as morally repugnant, such as the sale of body parts, sperm and eggs, prostitution and even dwarf-throwing.”

''Repugnance economics", is that the socialist answer to the "Economic Calculation Argument"?
Adam refers us to the Economist's View blog too, where Arindrajit Dube has a post, 'A Nobel for planning'?, which explores how, confusingly, 'exchange' has come to mean both market and non-market activities.