Archive for lifewithoutmoneybook.blogspot.com

Life Without Money — in Korean

Pluto Press have just notified us that Life Without Money has just been released in a Korean translation by Booksea Publishing, based in Paju Book City.

Booksea Publishing focuses on printing books on liberal arts, history and classical subjects.

Paju Book City is just that, a book city, a bit like Hay-on-Wye (UK) but whereas Hay-on-Wye focuses mainly on selling books Paju Book City was established by the government as a cultural centre with a huge concentration of publishers. The city is located around one and a half hours north of Seoul.

MILDA, money and land

Earlier this month the Vanuatu Daily Digest published a ‘thought-provoking statement on Melanesian land’ from the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA), established in 2009, and contributed to a debate on land issues in Islands Business. It throws into sharp relief the way the distinctions between people whose value and god is money and an Indigenous perspective, identity, philosophy and treatment of land.

On behalf of the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA), we are writing to provide a different view on recent editorials promoting land registration for the Pacific. We wonder who authored this letter and in whose interest it was written? Because for Pacific peoples land isn't just about making money, land is about ensuring Pacific families continue to maintain a high level of self-reliance and to control their own destiny. This includes feeding and housing their families well, as they have been doing for thousands of years, and this is already happening effectively through customary communal systems of land tenure. Land as it exists and functions now already provides for millions of people, so that we have a very low rate of absolute poverty — there’s almost no real hunger or homelessness. In the independent nations of Melanesia (PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu), customary community control of land is enshrined in our Constitutions and we maintain a special relationship with our land that is based on many generations living on and with the land as well as traditionally managing the natural resources.

MILDA is well aware of the history of how land registration has been used over the past few hundred years to alienate land from indigenous peoples around the world, and we are not going to let history repeat itself and fall into that same trap.

MILDA is also mindful of the historical context of how land registration came to Melanesia and the Pacific at different times following first contact with the outside world through to independence and continues to date. Land registration is ostensibly promoted for the same purpose; to free up land for ‘development’ and to parcel it out in the name of individuals, companies and those with hard-cash. But for us, land is held communally for the benefit of all, and remains a central part of our cultural heritage and identity.

Land, particularly in Melanesia, is not a commodity but is an inalienable part of our peoples’ very existence. It has spiritual and historical values and other attributes that economists do not consider in their equations. In almost every part of Melanesia, the fact remains that land is our source of kastom, mana, sustenance and economic empowerment. Even if it doesn’t necessarily pay you in hard cash at the end of every week, although it may, if that is what a family or clan wants from it. Land under traditional tenure in Melanesia remains the largest employer and has sustained us self-reliantly for thousands of years. Land under indigenous control also makes our communities resilient to the upheavals often felt by global markets, and ensures that our children will also have this security …

And from their Lekepa declaration:

The Pacific region should object to any proposals to record land rights and eventually register titles. Such measures may seem innocuous but we know from experience that demarcation and registration propels land into a commercial realm where it can be leased or sold to non-indigenous people — and thereby lost to the community. The option for legitimate developments that will benefit local people to enter into joint ventures with land custodians to gain access to land is a more equitable and sustainable option for the Pacific, rather than the transfer of registered titles.

Holding on to and using our land and waters provides us with healthy diets, rich cultural and spiritual lives and lifestyles We don't want to exchange these for money now — and see our children in urban slums tomorrow. The region needs to take urgent measures to prevent its people from making the same mistakes that have deprived millions of their land and resources all over the world.

The global financial institutions and aid donors see our people in the region engaging in traditional farming, fishing and animal husbandry and think poverty — not self-sufficiency. They perceive our country's low gross domestic product as a 'problem' that must be solved. But there's much more to Melanesia than GDP. A few years ago, Vanuatu, one of the countries in the region with 80 percent of its land under traditional tenure, ranked at the top of the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index, which focuses on life expectancy, experienced wellbeing, and ecological footprint. So truth be told, the rest of the world has much to learn concerning environmental sustainability, well-being and life fulfillment from Melanesia and the Pacific!


Small can work

I'm always asked how collective sufficiency in small neighbourhoods networked into bioregions can really be scaled up to succeed globally. There are many ways to address this question but I find many people are overawed by size: bigger is better. Certainly this is a characteristic of power in capitalism.

The Spring issue of Pulse, the journal of the bioregionalism promoter Planet Drum Foundation based in San Francisco contains an illuminating article by Kirkpatrick Sale that draws from his contribution to Rethinking the American Union (Lingsto, D, ed., Pelican 2012). Sale directs the Middlebury Institute for the Study of Separatism, Secession and Self-Determination and has written many books, including the 1980 classic Human Scale.

Given current technological and socio-political conditions, Sale concludes that the optimum size of a state is between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 people living on 35,000 square miles. He reveals that small nations monopolise the Sustainable Society Foundation's top ten in 2011. Seventeen of the world's richest nations occupy fewer than 10,000 square miles. Eighteen of the top 20 countries measured in terms of their GDP have fewer than 5,000,000 residents (seven of them fewer than 1,000,000).

These figures are presented as evidence of Sale's thrust: devolution, dissolution and secession is the way to go.

My questions centre on the possibilities and viability for semi-autonomous development of such regions. How far do these states self-provision or do they rely on cheap imports? How much does their success rely on domination in terms of trade and so on. Still, really interesting figures you'd have to concede.

Kurdistan freedom from money, patriarchy and unsustainability

According to this account of developments in Kurdistan, 'Socialism, gender equality and social-ecology in the mountains of Kurdistan', the Kurdistan Freedom Movement (PKK) is substituting women's empowerment and ecologically sustainable livelihoods for money, i.e. the system of production for trade, referred to as the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK).

Here's an extract:
The concept of money is internally redundant within the KCK system implemented in the mountains of Kurdistan. The economic needs of the inhabitants of the KCK system are internally supplied through a communal management of resources. Although money is utilised in economic dealings with external systems, internally the concept of money is inconceivable. No person or community within the KCK system feels the need to build a surplus of goods or resources. Surpluses are constantly redistributed, therefore, viably consumed. Reminiscent of pre-hierarchical and pre-exploitative societies, the KCK system adopts a culture of gifting, rather than a culture of exchange. The communal organisation of agriculture ensures a self-sufficient production and consumption of resources, therefore, deeming surplus, exchange value and the commodification of goods irrelevant.
Whoopee! Read the whole article here.

Impossible

You can join a 'gift economy' platform 'Impossible' co-founded by Lily Cole and Kwame Ferreira here.

They want to disrupt monetary exchange with altruistic reciprocity so money is ranked along with violence and sexual conduct as no-nos at the site. Sounds great, but I have visited Impossible a few times and found the offers and requests disappointing. I think this proves that Impossible is simply 'gift exchange' not really a 'gift economy' where production is part of a gifting or non-monetary system too. 

On the up side at least it's a useful experiment and the platform is open source and self-managing, following Wikipedia.



‘Coining’ alternatives to capitalism

Take a look at the article 'In each other we trust: Coining alternatives to capitalism', which appeared a few weeks back in ROAR Magazine, prompted by the MoneyLab Conference in Amsterdam during March.

Here is an extract to whet your appetite:
With panel discussions on “the monetization of everything”, “dismantling global finance”, “beyond Bitcoin”, “a critique of crowdfunding” and “designing alternatives”, the organizers of the conference set the tone right: in a world dominated by finance, a thoroughly indebted world in which money has effectively assumed the function of a universal signifier under which all aspects of social and natural life are rapidly becoming subsumed, we desperately need to start exploring radical alternatives to the capitalist money-form — not because alternative currencies are somehow a panacea, but because the state and the banks clearly aren’t going to do it for us. Despite major technological advances made in recent years, right-libertarian innovations like Bitcoin just won’t cut it. And so there is an urgent need to dissect, discuss and discover new ways of valuing work, time, nature, community and the fruits of our collective labor.

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.

Commons

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!