How To Live Without Money

Recently I was on an online forum where we were asked, what are our craziest beliefs about society?

I responded by saying eventually we will not need money.

This provoked further questioning by other users, so here is the reasoning I gave.

First we need to understand why money exists.

The explanation economists give is that money exists because it's more efficient than barter. Money allows trade to happen much more quickly and effectively.

Perhaps this is somewhat true. However, I find this to be a massive projection by economists, who assume that pre-modern mankind felt the same scarcity of time and resources that we do now.

It also doesn't line up with historical records, which show that barter was extremely rare. Most indigenous scholars would tell you that gift economy was the way things were mostly done, not barter.

So what this means to me is that the growth of civilization and money are tied together.

In order to have a global economy of billions of people, you need a tool. A tool that acts as a proxy for the trust and relationship that would have been present in small, tribal gift economies.

That tool is, of course, money.

Money allows us to have an exchange with very little trust or relationship with the person we are doing an exchange with. I do not have to know my grocery store clerk, my amazon delivery guy or just about anyone these days.

All we really need to know, is does this person have money?

There may be certain circumstances where this doesn't totally hold. For instance, getting into a business partnership might be a counter-example of what I'm saying. But by in large, the level of trust and relationship required in a money-society is far lower.

This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more people use money, the more relationships are eroded, and the more money becomes necessary.

So how do you end money? Simple. You need people to deeply trust each other again.

You need real relationships, not just transactional ones. Relationships where people feel free to give without any expectation of how they will receive because the relationship and trust is so strong. Which, by the way, happens to be one of the tenets of prosperity consciousness as outlined by new-age teachers.

More practically, I think it starts with re-localizing a lot of economic activity.

Instead of one global economy, you would have many robust and resilient local economies that are interdependent which each other.

This allows for a smaller scale of activity where it's possible to rebuild that level of relationship / trust.

You could start with local currencies that decay in value over time. If that proved successful, then you could transition off currency and into timebanking / LETS systems. And if they worked, then you could drop even that.

Essentially, you have to baby-step people back into a gift economy. Eventually you'd have no need for money.

Admittedly, this is all very theoretical. Local currencies have had their problems getting off the ground. So I'm not claiming it's a simple thing to achieve.

Also, it's possible that money continues to be a useful tool for quite a while. The goal should not be to get rid of money, but to focus on rebuilding trust, relationship and community.

Then if money disappears as a byproduct of that, great. Otherwise if it still serves, keep it. Money is just a tool and we don't need to fight for or against it.

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