CHANCE FOR EVERYONE: THE PARALLEL NON-MONETARY (ECO)NOMY
(Q&A with author of above forthcoming book – Kendal Eaton)
Climate Crisis’ Greatest Threat
Q What is Climate Crisis’ greatest threat?
A Reliance on money. No-one is currently addressing this. Even if calls for political emergency strategies place climate change on a war-footing to generate masses of money for the effort, under the current economic climate it will struggle to achieve the rapid development we need. Jeremy Corbyn announced in May 2019, that we need a “GREEN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.” I placed this prospect before him in 2017 amongst other economic incentives. I don’t mistrust Jeremy Corbyn and I am politically non-affiliated, but this is why he is dismissed as the greatest threat to the economy, as a neoliberal economy only works if you are neoliberal. All socialist movements have demonstrated the brick wall they encounter once they attain office. Any promises made by politicians and The Green New Deal and New Economic Model networks are necessary so long as we cannot see BEYOND MONEY as the solution. But they are in danger of failing, because money currently incentivises excess and waste and the process of turning monetary industries around is riddled with complexities. There are countless organisations that use money wisely and prioritise differently, true, but they often have to compromise their values and compete to get it. Despite their amazing dedication and willpower, if they turn out to be one of the lucky ones, they are then only able to scratch the surface of the world’s chaos caused by neoliberal economic strategy.
Q How will a non-monetary economy be different then?
A A non-monetary economy will incentivise from within each individual, not externally, simply because it is a self-contained power not dependent upon the will of others.
Q Are you anti-capitalism, then?
A I am against its current practice, which is predominantly neoliberal economics, but my answer has to be no. Andrea Grainger on Facebook asked a very astute question – “Is it is possible to completely decouple economic growth and environmental damage, so we can save the planet, while also growing the economy of the richest nations?” Her question focuses on the underlying blockade to critical engagement that could turn things around more rapidly, dealing with the core of the problem. Growth in the current industries of course is causing our climate emergency, but the richest nations have access to technology, science, advanced education and global logistics. So, to mobilise the entire global population, capitalists are in a better position than most to redress their current impact and practices. The question of de-growth of current industries is valid, but needs to be specific industries and not promoted as a generalised ideal. The issues of population expansion and producing its needs is a separate argument and can be addressed more effectively, once we redress the current means that sustains dispossession and marginalisation.
Q Is it possible to de-couple economic growth from environmental damage then?
A Absolutely! It is essential to ‘de-couple’ whilst providing the biggest perpetrators new economic incentives for the right industries; uninhibited (not limitless) profits through a growth eco-industrial revolution that money can never offer them. But who is inclined to empower and reward such industries with money? Farid A Khavari in ‘Towards a Zero-cost Economy’ suggests that profits are withheld from corporations until they have achieved targets in line with global restoration. This is a restricted monetary process, which can cause delays and again, who is inclined to do that? But a non-monetary alternative not only offers it on a grand scale, it re-incentivises CAPITALISTS away from monetary and debt dependency. It is able to reward EVERYONE, so we can all get on with addressing injustice and our needs without waiting around for the richest 1%, but to sustain ANY monetary dependency means we will always be countering their impact. Capitalism can be, and needs to be, an essential facilitator, based on how everyday people already operate, if they have the economic power to act. I seriously doubt they will ever get that through those that control money.
Q But surely you’re proposing an expansion of capitalism?
A Expanded In the right direction, which would effectively reduce the current trend by replacing industries that reward for mismanagement of resources. It is controversial but actually agrees with ‘de-growth’ of harmful industries whilst creating rapid growth in eco-development, uninhibited by money.
Q Do you mean through localised alternative economies?
A The effort needs to be global. Current trends and assertions for localised economies – legitimised since 2008 under the umbrella term of ‘protectionism’ – create conflicts and divert us from rapid united climate recovery. ALL UNILATERAL EFFORTS working under the assumption that economic growth should cease run the risk of delaying climate recovery. The best scenario this can achieve, through money or existing alternative / complementary / crypto currencies, is chaos and risks only partial survival. The danger is that we will choose ineffective alternatives and pacify ourselves we are doing our best, when we could choose an alternative of overwhelming scale and potential, that not only employs ALL these smaller initiatives and preserves autonomy, but enables everyone’s involvement through rewarded participation.
Q So a kind of socialist economy, or broadening of opportunity for prosperity?
A Dr Stephanie Kelton addressed the idea of facilitating this through fiscal policy in her speech, ‘National Deficits, Debts & Dodo Politics;’ yet in first identifying the monopoly that governs production of wealth, she also unwittingly embeds people’s dependency upon it to boost economy through use of Fiat Money or manipulation of fiscal deficit as a economy boosting asset. Although it relieves pressures restricting accessibility to wealth and growth industry, it does nothing to alter the existing process of concentrating financial power. Better to equip EVERY individual with economic prosperity that DOES NOT DEPEND UPON MONEY AND EXISTING CORPORATE HAND-OUTS AND INDUSTRY. This way and ONLY this way do the 99% become a significant ECONOMIC FORCE to alter capitalists and their current reward system.
Q Will capitalists and bankers allow us to have a parallel non-monetary economy?
A Good question but how would they stop it, exactly? They do not have the power to. Of course they could try at first by offering counterfeit systems they can control, through the kind of false rhetoric we get regarding government addressing climate emergency. But it will only last until they see the results and profits the PNME brings and realise they want this too. Maybe their job descriptions and how they operate will have to change – if the 99% decide to include banks – but for the foreseeable future, money will still exist for those who prefer it. It simply will not achieve anything like what it could, or what the non-monetary economy offers, especially when it comes to criminal pursuits – and by that I include legalised pursuits that in practice amount to criminality.
Q So is Greta Thunberg wasting her time appealing to elite capitalists?
A Thank goodness for Greta and her eloquent message to the Brilliant Minds conference in Stockholm recently. I would not criticise her, but I think there are legitimate concerns maybe she and her support network also struggle with.
We need to think seriously about how this kind of message will be received and what some of its components amount to. I am sure there’s massive pressure upon Greta now, to represent the science. She must find herself inundated with bookings, but also people and organisations that want her to get their message air-time. This can cripple a person and I sense she is resisting this, but more insidiously, a career such as hers can result in dismissive thinking, due to her celebrity status turning her into something of a mascot, or even a gimmick, by people who are actually far better informed and experienced in the broader ramifications of their respective industries. I cannot keep up, if I had a team reading 24 hours a day, with the number of updates I get from campaigners, NGOs and new economic organisations exploring new initiatives and appeals to combat the fallout of neoliberal economics. Short and motivating sound-bytes do not wash with these people. Greta would have to –
1) be far better informed about the solutions – mainly because they already exist.
2) stop saying we are dependent upon new inventions, as this is definitely NOT true. It risks leaving people who would otherwise be motivated to act feeling like we are doomed.
It is true, commercial flight, for example, needs concerted industrial scale scientific development of green energy, but who is going to invent this in sufficient time if money is the requirement and only reward and motivator? We have lived on this planet for so long without these relatively modern conveniences, but to assert we can simply stop them, or alter people’s practices, or regard them as a luxury we cannot afford that will radicalise how people use them, is naive. I am not advocating we go backwards to a system of barter or free-sharing, (which neoliberalism and austerity have inadvertently expanded), I am all for human generosity and care and billions of people do this already, but this is also market controllers’ suppression, to preoccupy through struggle, so we cannot redress their injustices. So pre-existing economies such as socialist or liberal can only offer retrospective and limited solutions, with the same economic hindrances inherent with money. Then you have to get people to agree with the ideals. Any plan that means a change in people’s morality or means of support risks failure. So why pressure them if we can lift them? This includes elite capitalists who are automatons to the shifting sands of global commerce.
3) Greta faces the danger of being made a martyr. Martyrs make big noises and often for good reasons (which are needed more than ever before) but rarely alter things profoundly long-term without them being misappropriated or corrupted for agendas other than what was intended. This is not Greta’s fault, as she is doing her best to address those that everybody sees as the only source of power and its suppression of the broader power that surrounds it. Whilst we rightly applaud her stand, millions of others are making that stand too and that is where the power lies. Not in applauded generalised rhetoric. Not in idolising what some will behind closed doors see as a pretty, curious, courageous, but ultimately naïve and interfering doll, or puppet. Appealing to those who create this problem in FULL pre-meditated knowledge of it, not ignorance as she proclaims, is not the way to alter climate change. A Kid-gloves approach doesn’t work with people who are ultimately required to be psychopathic and operate in denial. But there is an acknowledgement in that very struggle, of the potential of that power. Harry Cleaver in ‘Rupturing the Dialectic: the struggle against work, money and finacialization;’ analyses this age-old conflict between employers and work forces, in sympathy with the latter, but I think misses a trick where it can be dissolved into something of negotiable mutual advantage.
The solution is to invest time and energy in the millions of everyday people who as Greta says ALREADY live within our needs to meet the Paris Agreement and who can alter our options to pursue green energy and transportation strategies. We need MORE than the Paris Agreement – the agreement of overtly corrupt politicians in the pockets of those corporations who control this DISGRACEFUL INEQUALITY AND AMORAL GREED. The power of media cannot be underestimated but FIXATION WITH CELEBRITY POWER being our saviour can be turned into a smoke-screen. It’s great listening to Harrison Ford browbeat the establishment and Leonardo De Caprio appeal to them. But do any of us believe it’s anything more than water off a duck’s back? I trust Greta’s genuineness, but how much control can any intelligent young woman like her have over her sources of information and so many demands?
I also fear she may be co-opted unwittingly as a diversion from the real deals going on behind closed doors and at event dinner tables, into a facsimile of respectability and hypocritical claims of ethical awareness by those she is engaged to address. The British government and some consulted campaigners are already deluded regarding the UK’s success on this matter. Pronouncing ‘Climate Emergency’ whilst subsidising expansion in fossil fuel industries and increasing tariffs on green-energy initiatives.
Q So how do we stop capitalism’s exploitation?
A Capitalism doesn’t by definition exploit, it is simply a system and neoliberalism the worst exponent of it. Capitalists do. There’s a difference and capitalism is only one means that could deliver what we urgently require, but not through money. We cannot expect to radicalise human rights and commerce by a complete change that is unrecognisable. People will not trust it. But by utilising existing (even capitalist) mechanisms people are familiar with, to do what it does for capitalists, only for the 99% who form this market, they can immediately access it, blending but not mixing with monetary capitalism. It allows capitalists to save and keep all the money if they want it. It is within our grasp to mobilise INDUSTRIALLY and form a vast ECONOMIC POWER, but only if we DROP this dependency upon MONEY. It works and incentivises differently to money in an uninhibited way and thus will subsume monetary capitalism and the harmful industries that currently reward capitalists will become practically obsolete. Over time monetary capitalism will eventually become completely irrelevant and impotent. This won’t happen over night, but by appropriating capitalist mechanisms so people can purchase monetary based products, the non-monetary economy can be accessible to people overnight in the format they understand. They do not even have to agree with each other or form a membership, they simply have to come together to examine it and choose it.
Q Won’t elite-capitalists oppose any non-monetary arrangement, even using force?
A I take your point and agree they may initially only see it as loss of market engagement, but that would be short-sighted when it is actually mass expansion of it. Apart from that is how it radicalises the way they operate and the quality of development and products they can tap into. For example, can you imagine the dollars rolling in their eyes when they discover they can dispense with paying their employees’ wages? And what that enables them to employ? We have to radicalise them economically by offering them alternatives to the current means that empower them. I am not saying we should immediately regard them as allies in this fight, their morals go way beyond just lying and cheating everyday people and as long as their obsession with control continues, they will hinder progress. But their power is controlled by the on-going panic for a percentage of global market control. Their morals may change given an opportunity to profit by a better source of wealth superior to money. But lets be clear. They will never relinquish anything unless they have something to gain by it. And some will never change, but we can even accommodate that, as their efforts will no longer have as much impetus to impose a negative dependency upon anyone when they could be making greater non-monetary profits doing better things. And those that oppose them will be empowered to do so and in the majority.
Q But will Capitalists not try to control the parallel economy?
A It is economic insanity to restrict everyday people’s engagement in the monetary economy, but this is their self-imposed reality. So, it is a fallacy to believe they control and manipulate the global economy. They are automatons to its shifting dynamics. Capitalists are massively missing out, now, but they do so because they have chosen to manage it through money and the 1% power-shift. The resulting chaos caused by capitalists is unrestricted and the grossest immorality, far broader and more invasive than WWII, so why appeal to them? If we can sidestep them but not exclude them, we do not need to be dependent upon them. We need them to become dependent upon us. The 99% do not really want to be hyper-rich and only ask for a comfortable life. This is ultimately doable, whilst making monetary capitalists even richer. But far more is accomplishable with a non-monetary economy as it alters the conflicts and motives that come with money. The riches it offers are linked to beneficial advancements.
Q Can you see them doing this if they already own 90% of the world’s wealth?
A Businesses FOLLOW markets. They are dependent. When the super-rich make grand gestures towards the poor (ie Bill Gates) it never solves the problem, not because the problem is too big, but because of their agendas. Bill Gates could have instead said that he would employ twice as many people without lowering salaries, radicalising the economy and employment terms, but NONE of them will upset their apple cart. Not to mention tax write-offs. That’s why we need to empower every individual to engage with a new eco-savvy growth industry far bigger than any previous industrial revolution. So lets create a massive market capitalists cannot resist that rewards them, but all people even more. Riches and prosperity become irrelevant to what is actually achievable, when money no longer restricts, through better incentivising. Only an economy that remains separate but parallel to monetary capitalism can do this. They already do it in smaller scale. And make no mistake, capitalists actively seek and benefit from this, but again it is small change in comparison with what a global non-monetary economy would generate.
Q But will capitalists go for a non-monetary economy?
A 1, only the PNME can save on wages, costs of production and expand beyond optimum employment, but it can also reward them an allowance for doing nothing – this is another carrot, but I cannot expand on that now. 2, use of physical currency is almost piecemeal nowadays, even in small and medium size businesses; (aside from its preference when you want to evade its own system). Money doesn’t make the world turn – accounting does. So, in this way we can say capitalism already is predominantly non-monetary, yet is isn’t correct to say it is the largest. The hard currency to cover the global economy doesn’t exist, but economists insist the virtual numbers are currency because they act like it and it just saves on printing, even if most of those figures are in red. One economist said of a proposed non-monetary currency using a non-recyclable waste product – “does it have ‘…promises to pay the bearer of this note…’printed on it?” Whatever the legalities, even with physical currency those promises are regularly broken or their means of support collapse.
We no longer need a currency that is ‘supplied’ to us, when we can option a similar process that has no necessity to enter red figures and is not dependent upon generating net profit through productivity, but actually is profit. The non-monetary economy of the 99% will equip EVERY INDIVIDUAL with an inalienable right to earn for any work society decides can generate income, (including self-care and family care), without being dependent. So, someone who is incapacitated, or someone temporarily lost in a jungle, can be building up earnings that society says is automatically waiting for them when they find their way to somewhere they can spend it. It costs no money. And here’s one for economists and accountants present; the non-monetary value can be greater than its monetary equivalent because it does not deduct from the market. It only adds to it, even when it is exchanged for a product that has cost money. For accountants it all has to add up, but what if the adding up skyrockets? It is irrelevant as long as it is achieving the right thing and that includes proper intelligent management of earth’s resources. And don’t forget, this system will be open and utilised by those manufacturers reducing costs in the monetary economy and to zero in the non-monetary one. It can be established without changing ANY existing financial or political regime, or even neoliberal practices, but they and their restrictions will evaporate, as inclusion and empowerment is the only way this market can operate.
Q What if protests succeed and politicians and capitalists turn around and promise money for everything?
A People are already paranoid about its financial implications for the global economy. It is better than nothing, but I suspect far too little too late and if it is our only hope, it threatens delay in rolling it out and will take enormous resources to manage and avoid misappropriation. Why get caught up in dependency upon people whose business practices have pre-determinedly planted us in this crisis?
Q How long would this take to establish?
A Two years.
Q Doesn’t that require capitalists to radically change their M.O?
A Absolutely not. Whatever the results of Brexit or other ‘protectionist’ policies, people from all countries will always seek to make deals with international markets. That’s one of the benefits of global consumerism. The non-monetary economy is the only process that will mobilise industry more locally without economic setbacks. It gradually subsumes monetary capitalism in a process of osmosis and public dictating of far larger markets and eventually the political landscape. But it doesn’t have to revolutionise to do so. Marx talked about the “revolutionising of the bourgeois, economically” so if their incentives alter, so will their agendas, for a more cross cultural and global combined and free-flowing movement in labour, technology, R & D, communications, conservation, transport, health, services, energy, education and business in general. What capitalists are currently doing – (what MONEY is currently doing) – is making it harder for themselves. They don’t want this and massive logistical challenges and costs. It is subterfuge to call companies profitable, when they operate in colossal DEBT and even the interest accumulating on some national debt is unredeemable.
Q So what prevents the non-monetary economy from falling prey to the same economic issues?
A It isn’t money. And even if it has more purchasing power than money, its value can still be zero. This has been demonstrated by the WIR Bank in Switzerland since the 1930s depression. Economists I speak to find it difficult to get their heads around this concept. To them any bargaining power, whether physical or virtual, is money or currency. But this core fundamental to economics is blinkered. And that is why the global economy is unlikely to be resolved by economists. But the non-monetary economy doesn’t require them to think in terms different to value. Even if they calculate black-market activity and, it must be said, voluntary supplementation and free-sharing networks, it has to fall within the parameters of the system and processes they’ve dedicated years of study to. The more recent trend in calculating the costs of externalities should make them more receptive to other values, but they only calculate the monetary impact. Psychologically, most people cannot fathom any trading value other than money. It has become such a complex system, even elite experts cannot always see the wood for the trees, so why should the general public take it on? The problem is simple – money. The solution is equally simple. The non-monetary economy is not money and is not linked to all the factors that control money. It does not even need to be material or have value. It never mixes with it, so it bypasses all the controls currently associated with creating money through the lending and debt system. It bypasses interest and inflation / deflation, cost, affordability (except by the individually chosen options for how it is earned), but equally frees up things like investment, employment, profit and continued supplementation of monetary debt, including National Debt, but on a mass scale, so it resolves debt. It simply co-exists as an option open to any monetary business or enterprise without having to form a membership and restricted circular economy.
Q What form does it take, then?
A It only requires an exchange mechanism. The exchange happens in real-time, through a method of accounting. There are familiar agencies that could carry this out and mechanisms have never been so advanced. But for a purpose built-system, there may need to be a little technological inventiveness, so no one needs to verify everything and it does not need to be something carried, but if economic activity did need to be verified even a smart-watch or mobile app, or chip or personalised bracelet could accommodate it. Most of the technology already exists. GPS, retina, face and fingerprint recognition and body monitoring, and block chain technology can do some of it, but I’m sure there are more sophisticated ways. Most people ask about people becoming lazy or simply scamming the process, but that’s because they are suffering and resentful. When people know they can earn for doing something they need or enjoy, people rarely stay glued to an armchair. Can you imagine how studious a person would be if they could earn a premium for the work of progressive studying instead of paying for it? Inclusive economic prosperity refocuses away from prejudice and finite monetary availability, to the actual task of what people want to accomplish without that pressure.
Q And you said it might have no value, so why would people want it?
A Because, people depend upon exchange and this frees them from dependency upon money for that exchange. It only has value when transacted. It can be an agreed value to its participants for any particular purpose – either agreed and set at varying standards by society collectively (by reviewing the value of different jobs to society, accommodating the fact non-monetary means employers can employ beyond optimum staff for less hours in unpalatable jobs) – or can be negotiated by individuals unilaterally. It can be a set stable value connected to a certain activity, or one that has a nominal value of exchange, either nationally or internationally, associating varying levels for different forms of work as work is valued at different tiers now. But it would be a waste of opportunity to associate an equivalent value as is assigned by money. It also encompasses work that was formerly not valued – voluntary or abstract labour.
Q Do people have to form this themselves?
A Collectively, it is better that they do and they are freer, more capable and motivated to do so than capitalists. Also they need to control it. But they will earn for doing so. Or there is also a single method and agency that is familiar across the globe that they could choose to facilitate this process integrally, if adopted ‘officially.’ State would have to be absolutely clear on what they gain and what they have to relinquish, to benefit by it. They only have immense things to gain. One is expansion to optimum development and operation and another is being freed from economic dependency upon elite capitalists to represent public interests.
Q So, what are we waiting for?
A The biggest danger to us is dependency upon politicians and commerce and their false insistence that we are tackling climate crisis, or that we can in time using MONEY. By current commercial and political will, decoupling with capitalism will never happen. Rob Hopkins and friends achieved this locally, both practically and by a complementary currency, on a tiny scale and there are thousands of such initiative across the globe, some national and international in scale. But there is now something far superior to any alternative / complementary / crypto currency available to all nations. My book examines the existing options for going about creating that pathway. It is far broader in scale than the combined wealth of the 1%.
The 99% have different more urgent and beneficial motives – there is a power open to them to regenerate their social environments. The earth is more than capable of recovering and would do so if we simply left it alone. But there are instances where it needs our help in extreme situations, like the recovery of the marsh flats in Iraq after the Gulf War. Permaculture makes it perfectly feasible to feed all of earths current inhabitants and more, when a different economic force incentivises proper quality and intelligent management of our environment. This de-coupled non-monetary economy practically exists on a global scale and IS SAT THERE WAITING TO BE FORMED AS AN ECONOMIC FORCE. It values humans initially in economic terms… but also in real terms of their contributing qualities towards each other and not money.
Q And they can do all this for free?
A Nothing I have said is new. Any plan that relies on altruism, on ideology, is doomed. We have to deal with the here and now WITH WHAT WE HAVE here and now. I could ask anyone two simple questions, familiar to economics, and they’d immediately get it. With some I’d only need to ask one. Anyone who asserts we are not sufficient, as we are now and as we are equipped, is misleading us. The only factors standing in our way are ourselves and time. So, what are we waiting for? As Rob Hopkins said – “IT COULD BE AMAZING!”
Kendal Eaton (copyright 25 April 2019) Concepts from ‘A Chance For Everyone: The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ – (currently seeking publisher).
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