Is a moneyless economy possible?
Friday November 25, 2005 21:58 by Terry - none
A report back from a WSM open meeting in Dublin.
Anarchists want a non-market socialist economy, with free access to goods and services. Is this just a nice but impossible idea? Is an efficient economy possible without money, trade or barter? Terry reports from the discussion at an anarchist meeting in Dublin on this topic.
Report back on meeting on moneyless society
This was an
discussion largely because it got those present thinking about
how we would go about trying to reach this goal and presaude others
the desireability of it.
In the discussion afterwards it was agreed that money has grown
beyond it's initial function and has become almost a means to itself
and it is integral to capitalism and has co-opted the language and
even the very thought processes of how we view things and our whole
culture. Money was also seen by many of those present as a means of
introducing scarity and be part of the mechanism that enables
hoarding of resources or at least allocation to resources to a few
individuals and therefore was inherently un-democratic in it's
It was agreed that a reversion back to barter systems was
certainly NOT the way to go and this would be a step backwards. In
the talk it was pointed out that for any item, it is impossible to
determine it's monetary value, because it is so difficult to factor
in the contributions of all the different people involved in the
production of any good or product, as you have to take account of not
just the labour, but the education, the science, the housing for the
workers, costs to the enviroment, the equipment, the makers of it,
and indeed the aggregrate effects of many other factors in society.
One attendent (me) pointed out that there are two basic elements
to be considered, physical objects and information. It is already
abundantly clear that all information can basically be made free,
since distribution costs are now almost nil and it can be reproduced
indefinitely. Not quite so though with physical goods and many of the
other attendents and the speaker agreed that it is likely that there
will always be scarity of some kind for some goods and the question
of how to deal with this was grappled. Some examples from previous
revolutions such as the Spainish revolution where these problems
arose and were usually decided upon collectively were pointed out.
Nevertheless agreeing to share and allocate resources is still better
than through the mechanism of who can afford it.
Other contributors pointed out that the increasing environmental
effects and costs need to be considered and would pose fundamental
limits to what can be done in the broad sense.
In terms of how a moneyless society might be reached, it seemed to
be agreed it would be best to encourage various types of free or
moneyless systems so as people would become familiar with the idea.
Thus the continuation of free-software and music were some examples
and also the recent setup of email lists know as FreeCycle
(www.freecycle.org ) where people offer goods for free to be given
away that they no longer wanted and that these had become very
Other examples of existing systems given were libraries and how
well they work and indeed much of our infrastructure, like pavements.
These are free and nobody charges for them. (Yet!) And this was
another issue that capitalists tend to use to oppose the idea of the
moneyless society, that people would just consume to the maximum.
Existing experience with libraries shows that people do not do this
and don't borrow the maximum of books everytime and they are more
than just singlular consuming individuals but are well, human.
Likewise on fixed fare bus routes, they don't decide to go the extra
bus stops to get their value for money. Even in, all-you-can-eat
places, people generally do not gorge themselves everytime.
So encouraging things like free city bus services, keeping our
services free, like water and generally things that are part of our
culture and used by everyone are good ways to proceed. Because money
makes us see think in terms of personal income or wealth, we tend to
ignore our culture wealth. And yet it is culture that is part of the
essence of being human. And that's what Anarchism is all about of
course, how we shape and run our society and culture.
The dead end of our current money society is the major obstacle to
advancing humanity to the next level in it's maturity and the
blossming of our human potential.
Some URLS of interest might be:
This report on an open anarchist meeting in Dublin was first
submitted as a comment on the
for that meeting