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Rebuttal to CNS review

Ariel Salleh's 'A Vernacular Response to Barkin's Review of Life Without Money' has just appeared online at the Capitalism Nature Socialism journal site. Indicating that Barkin has only superficially read the book, Salleh takes him to task for neglecting some key points made and, instead, for charging us for ignoring them!

Specifically, Salleh writes:
while the book’s editors provide an eloquent essay on 'Use Value and Non-market Socialism' as a basis for overturning capitalism, the review sidelines this theoretical project with a claim that it is 'focused on small scale change'.
Furthermore, with respect to her own chapter in Life Without Money, Salleh shows that:
Far from 'integrating' the local into the global [as Barkin suggests is necessary], the argument is about severing the capitalist system at its irrational epistemic roots. To this end, constructs from 'sustainability science' and 'ecological economics' are analysed and exposed as incoherent.


As the social, political and environmental crises persist commons have become a focus of interest. In terms of a money-free world our reorganisation for collective sufficiency is all about commons.

Take a look at the recent Community Development Journal Special Issue: Commons Sense: New Thinking About an Old Idea Vol 49 Suppl. 1 (January 2014), especially an article by the editor of The Commoner Massimo de Angelis, ‘The commons: A brief journey’, and ‘Commons against and beyond capitalism’ by George Caffentzis and Silvia Frederici.

The article by Caffentzis and Frederici ends:
commons are not only the means by which we share in an egalitarian manner the resources we produce, but a commitment to the creation of collective subjects, a commitment to fostering common interests in every aspect of our life. Anti-capitalist commons are not the end point of a struggle to construct a non-capitalist world, but its means. For no struggle will succeed in changing the world if we do not organize our reproduction in a communal way and not only share the space and time of meetings and demonstrations but put our lives in common, organizing on the basis of our different needs and possibilities, and the rejection of all principles of exclusion or hierarchization.

Electric Book quick dips

I just found out that if you want to dip into Life Without Money or just read a chapter, you can do so at the Electric Book website for UK6p per page. If you register with the Electric Book you have access to a range of classic and other works free. Of course, your local or institutional library will provide such access free provided they have a copy or you can always request they order one.

On future (and current) lives without money …

Justin Morgan has a short summary of certain arguments, themes and projects in the developing solidarity economy that all recogise the importance of substituting monetary values, relationships and structures with non-monetary economic institutions. If you're a Marxist or anarchist — I am both and other things besides, such as a womens' liberationist — you might ignore some of the simplistic references to your position, especially in the introduction but do read on: The solidarity economy as a strategy for revolution.

Also, published online earlier this month for a future edition of Capitalism Nature Socialism (2014) is Andreas Exner's Degrowth and demonetization: On the limits of a non-capitalist market economy. Again, if you're an advocate you might take issue with the definitions and description Andreas has for degrowth, but the discussion is well worth a read. Andreas is a very active member of the demonetization movement, see Demonetize it!

Digitising the Revolution: Cheap Life Without Money eBook

Recently Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies has been digitised and is now available as an eBook. You now buy it for your e-reader and for a limited time — just until 31 March 2014 — it is on sale via the Kindle Store, Kobo and Nook at a special introductory discount price of just £10 (i.e. Pluto’s RRP).

This release is one of the first thirty back titles to be digitised by Pluto Press, under the banner 'The revolution will be digitised'. To see these classic and recent books, all available cheaply as an introductory offer, access the Ebook Backlist Catalogue — and Pluto Press's other catalogues — here.

Digital editions have unique ISBNs. The ones for Life Without Money are: 9781783711000 (ePub) and 9781783711017 (Kindle).

Third World examples of life without money

Terry Leahy, the author of one of the chapters in Life Without Money, and his sister Gillian Leahy recently produced a documentary film on a project in villages in Zimbabwe that Terry has been involved with for many years.

Terry has written an article, 'The Chikukwa project', analysing the transformation of these villages as an example of a hybrid of the gift economy and capitalism. The article, along with a slide show of photos and PowerPoints about the project, is available free at his site:

There have been numerous screenings of the doco in Australia and you can download it here (for $12):

A World Without Money has English translations of the first two of the three 1975–1976 French pamphlets — Un Monde Sans Argent: Le Communisme (A World Without Money: Communism) online for reading, printing or downloading. In fact these English translations have been made from a Spanish translation (Un Mundo Sin Dinero: El Comunismo). Here, the pampleteers argue that money must disappear under genuine communism:

Part Two begins:
Communism is a world without money.
Later its authors write:
Money is the bearer of a profound mystification. It conceals the original nature of the expenditure that really created the product. Behind wealth, even mercantile wealth, are nature and human effort. Money seems to produce interest, it seems to breed. The only source of value, however much it appears to derive from commerce and all the more so the more it does derive from commerce, is labor.

Review in Capitalism Nature Socialism

A book review of Life Without Money has just been published online by the Capitalism Nature Socialism journal. The reviewer, David Barkin, is an economics professor at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Xochilmilco, who investigates and supports community-based economies with strong social and environmental values. David has been the reviews editor of the Review of Radical Political Economics for a very long time. Here are some excerpts of his review of our book:
Grounded in a long history of people critiquing the role of money as an instrument for social and economic denomination, this book brings together a broad range of participants, all of whom are convinced that money is a central part of the problem for reorganizing society and some of whom are actively engaged in groups attempting to function without money as it is commonly used and understood ... A useful and enlightening feature of the book is the inclusion of short vignettes at the end of all but one of the chapters by well-known advocates for the construction of alternatives, beginning with excerpts from Thomas More’s Utopia at the beginning.

While there is a surfeit of books sprouting with proposals for building alternative societies, there are a precious few that purport to be informed by strands of Marxist theory. This collection of essays offers an insight into one (decidedly not monolithic) approach to this end. It is firmly grounded in the world of the “advanced” capitalist world and draws on thinking and examples that are deliberately nonviolent and focused on small-scale change (with the possible exception of the Yugoslav case).

... this is a valuable collection of essays that will spark classroom discussions of the possibilities for implementing change without massive social movements.


The Demonetization: Ending the Cult of the Commodity site has been created by a very active member of the demonetisation movement Kellia Ramares-Watson. Earlier this year Kellia interviewed me on our Life Without Money book. Earlier this month Kellia put a transcript of the interview up on her site. Here’s a quote from it:
I would say that nonmarket socialism is a money-free, state-free, class-free society where peopleʼs needs are still met. And theyʼre met by people sharing in decision-making and sharing and doing all of the work of production and exchange. So you just cut out there being the principle of money and monetary flows in exchanges. And you also cut out there being big bureaucracies so that we all have representatives who have representatives, and the kinds of communist experiments in the 20th century of China, Russia and Cuba, which were all highly state-organized communism. Nonmarket socialists see it being highly problematic to have the state. We see the state as being an important part of capitalism. The state as we know it today, it has actually grown along with capitalism. Itʼs sort of a way of limiting it; itʼs a way of actually supporting it; and itʼs also a way of ameliorating it. So it has very complex kinds of functions. But we think that in order for people to have their basic needs met, it would make more sense if people themselves were making a lot more decisions about what they needed and how it was produced and doing it themselves.
You can read a transcript of the interview — and leave your own comment — here: 

John Holloway

John Holloway is a prominent communist rallying against the money-form. Take a look at this article, printed a few years ago in The Guardian: 'Today's march is a challenge to the rule of money' and his motif of saying 'No' and taking control of our own lives. This quote comes from that commentary:
... we rage against the rule of money. Not against money itself, necessarily, because in the present society we need money to live. We rage rather against the rule of money, against a society in which money dominates. Money is a great bulldozer tearing up the world. It is an insidious force penetrating ever more aspects of our lives. Money holds society together, but it does so in a way that tears it apart.
Much of John Holloway's work, including u-tube links, can be found at his website: