November 29, 2005

Is a moneyless economy possible? by Terry

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 effects.

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 Spanish 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.


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