The first poem to appear on the University of Sydney's great Progress in Political Economy site advocates a life beyond money and the state:
Customary land is so central to life in the Pacific Islands that its importance cannot be overstated. Yet through the eyes of free trade agreements it is seen as a barrier to investment, something that needs to be challenged...Previous attempts to privatise land in the Pacific have been meet with a strong refusal by Islanders. What we're seeing now is free trade advocates using these agreements to secure control over the usage of the land, which can in effect mean that custom decisions about land use are undermined...We're seeing this in Vanuatu where its Trade in Services commitments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) mean the government's ability to specifically support and nurture land use for Indigenous enterprise, such as local bure owners or other tourist accommodation, can only happen if it gives the same support to foreign investors ...The push for the Pacific Islands to become integrated into the global economy is a push to ask the Pacific to turn its back on the systems and cultural practices that have supported them for generations.
I recently attended a methadone clinic for money addicts (in Australia this is called Centrelink, or the dole) that made sure I would have a two-weekly top-up of matrix-juice in my bank account. However, it wasn't until I travelled out of my normal bucolic surroundings toward the big city of Sydney (which I normally avoid) that I fully comprehended the grip of this methadone metronome that fully hypnotises its users. Sorry but I will not give horrible details of what happened to me in Sydney, but I will tell you I am much happier now than before, and I could write a book about what happened called, The Way I Changed in a Day. This drama is instructive, because it shows that empowerment of ourselves and fulfillment of our heart's desire is also possible (you should see the land I found thanks to Spaces of Love (FB group) -- but it is possible precisely without money.In this post Robert takes a lateral or life's journey route through sustainability/economics issues. He and his family live very simply and have experimented with collective farming on borrowed land:
America is a land of beggars. There are the street beggars who approach every few meters rattling a tin under your nose. There are proportionally more of these than in Indian cities like Mumbai. Most, but not all, are black and many are mentally ill. There are also the mentally ill who are too psychotic for begging, yelling indecipherable rants or lurching into traffic. Then there are alcoholics who seek to start an argument over trivia they have dreamt up. Mental illness is more common in prisons than in mental hospitals but most common on the streets.
Then there are the ordinary everyday Americans reduced to beggars. These are the waiting staff, shop assistants, bus drivers who supplement their pathetic pay by reminding you to show your appreciation with a tip. Every shop has a begging bowl placed strategically near the till, and every bus has a tip receiver, and woe betides any who fail to tip a waitress. Tipping became a factor during the 30s depression when people lived entirely from tips. Now it has become institutionalised as employers pay a pittance. President Obama is currently running a campaign, opposed by the Republicans, to increase the basic wage to $10 an hour. [In Australia the minimum wage is $18.70 per hour. Even adjusted for the difference in exchange rates, this makes Australia's basic wage at least 50 per cent more than Obama's ambit claim.] The argument is put that reducing wages will create employment, where already unemployment is chronic.
The point is that 50% of Americans live below the poverty line while the chosen 1–2 per cent live lives of extravagance.
The American dream is so often quoted but the reality is a nightmare. Americans are so indoctrinated with their dream that all can be rich that they do not see the reality of their society. All government spending is seen as seen as bad unless it is the military. It shows itself in poorly maintained infrastructure such as roads and footpaths, many with long wide cracks making cycling all the more dangerous.
All Here in San Francisco pollution is chronic. The smog hangs around until about 10am every day and locals tell me that their window sills are covered with black grime every morning. There is always a haze as bad as Chinese cities. California sees the urgency and has instigated a clean energy program using solar and wind aiming to eliminate all fossil fuel generation.
Public space is shabby and neglected. Public utilities are relics of former glories. But most Americans dare not question the vast military expenditure because, after all, they are the great society, and all others are jealous of their success.
9/11 could have been a wake up call for Americans, arousing them from their dream state. Instead they refused to awake, yielding to the nightmare of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing is so much easier than facing the reality of yourself.
Americans are not happy or friendly. They are geared to a competitive existence where they loudly assert their own rights. They are impatient and speak quickly in short sharp slogans. "You have a good day, now," becomes annoyingly familiar because of its insincerity. Even when a waiter spends time for a chat one suspects he's after a bigger tip. They often have trouble understanding me, and I often have to ask them to repeat before I can translate their rote learned rushed patter. When I tell them I don't want the milk in my coffee to be hot, they invariably reply, "So you want your milk to be really hot?"
And this is the society Tony Abbott [Australia's PM] wants to turn us into!!!
In 1967, the youth seemed to be embracing wholeheartedly the idea that in the event of conflict between the goal of a higher standard of living in Cuba and the goal of aiding the world revolutionary struggle, the latter had priority. The idea, furthermore, had old roots, Fidel’s message that “Cuba cannot be Communist until the whole world is Communist” was essentially a modern version of José Martí’s words: “As long as there is one man who sleeps in the mud, there should not be another who sleeps in a bed of gold.”All this, of course, before the great economic debate in the 1970s and entrenchment of state socialism, which requires money by the very nature of the case.
… The young people were surely more selfless and community-oriented than any preceding generation. They were also fascinated by consumer goods. They had money and couldn’t spend it because nothing except necessities could be found in the stores. Also, Cuba was isolated from the world of teen-age goodies; few citizens could travel. When foreign visitors brought that world with them, even a cheap plastic notebook intrigued the kids because it symbolized outside contact. All this was truer of youth in Havana — where the visitors spent most of their time and where there were the most foreign movies and music — than in the rural areas. But still, where would it all lead? The pull of continued scarcity on new ideas had unpredictable force, and the pull of human habit must not be underestimated.
Yet it was possible and beautiful to feel how human consciousness might be changed. After two months in Cuba, where the only advertisements to be seen or heard were for the Revolution and its values … the sound of that Miami radio station with its long commercial for Jordan’s Furniture Sale seemed to be coming from a very distant and unappealing planet. People could kick the habit of compulsive consumption, you felt, especially if there was nothing to buy — but more important, if there were other things to do which made life seem creative and exciting. To make a call from a public telephone booth without paying anything, as became possible all over Cuba in 1967, shook up your idea that the exchange of money was basic to modern life, and thereby bought into question old ideas about human relations. To see public transport fares going consistently down instead of up — perhaps that’s just too much for an American city-dweller to absorb. For the Cuban citizen, money has come to mean less in a real sense; the visitor, no matter how rich or poor, comes to share this feeling.
A moneyless society was not yet around the corner but it was planned and much discussed. Life already had a quality not to be imagined in capitalist countries — except, perhaps, in the dreams of some of their youth. “Here, you feel like a roll of dollar bills,” said an eighteen year-old American high school student from a small town on his return after a month’s visit to Cuba. “What you are worth depends on how big the roll is. In Cuba, you feel like a human being.”