People are realistically paranoid now, employing panic strategies in their daily lives due to the unreliability of money and threatened access to it. The end of money has been encountered many times already, through severe economic depression and hyperinflation, where money becomes practically unusable and replaced by bartering, or numerous alternative forms of exchange. This is the predictable historic progression of such circumstances and since the trading of global stock shares and financialization, can hit any country at any time. But the processes neoliberals have imposed that enriches them is a useful guide as to how society in general can empower themselves in a parallel system that replaces the necessity for money. Imagine what could be achieved. So how do we go about it? And is it necessary for monetary commerce to end?
Various writers have predicted even the end of capitalism – as a far back as Karl Marx who extrapolated the dynamics of monetary use in ‘Das Kapital’ – not as an assertion of moral or political ideology, but purely a mathematic projection of how money ultimately operates. To say no one as yet has found a replacement form of exchange that can cross boundaries the way money does is incorrect. Traders always find a way where money is scarce. So, what happens if capitalism crashes, or its consumer base disintegrates? This is something many people fear, but financialization will keep the wealthy sitting pretty, so long as political will and the environment accommodate their agendas.
The question of collapse is a real threat, but it is premature, if we first consider what capitalism would be capable of if it no longer depended upon money. This is the biggest issue that needs to be scrutinised now. Contrary to some socialist assertions, capitalism itself is not the problem, elite capitalists are. Whilst it is true, the association of value to products, currencies and assets impose a system of privilege and exclusivity, it is obvious to all that marginalisation is attributable to injustice. Not always illegality. They are two different things. So, capitalism’s ‘free-market economy’ is not free. It depends everywhere upon the ideologies of those who can afford to impose them upon the population. Capitalism itself does not do that.
Neoliberals believe even if they are the last people standing, it will continue until the planet ceases to support their lives and if it takes a reduction in the population and odds in the meantime, so what? Surely it will reduce the effect to the climate and industry by scale. Hence, protectionist policies and systematic undermining of human rights by covert tactics has made State the arbiters of corporate-imposed human misery and disempowerment. Every connotation of industry and care are subjugated by the prime objective of cost and profit. So, understandably, many would like to see the end of capitalism.
Yet such people fail to present any workable solution that isn’t equally based on moral ideology that somehow has to be adopted by all, imposed and policed. Most forms of communist, socialist and even libertarian economic systems show this approach invariably fails and becomes corrupt. Successful models remain small scale to stay manageable. But they all remain dependent upon the corrupting influence and power-dynamics of money and relationships and how it pressures and incentivises. This is to do not just with the power it affords but the core notion of the value placed upon it and the peripheral influences that constantly alter that value.
As long as any economic proposal for reform involves money, it shackles all of society to these inhibiting factors and its criminal misuse for centralised or selfish gain.
The cost of everything
“That person appreciates the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” This is a derogatory term used to describe someone who has a short-sighted and unsophisticated evaluation of what is achievable through money. It can be said for most corporate manipulators and politicians. But in business practice and diplomacy it is a hypocritical assertion, as such complex business strategists are often well informed and fully aware of the externalities of their actions. But current neoliberal economic policies negate the true practical value of any transaction, prioritising the numerical value of the deal under consideration. It is the numerical figures that afford influence and control. Everything else is superfluous, even if the effect of the externalities of a transaction, down the line, have a negative impact that reverses its eventual profit.
The truth is as overt as the nakedness in the parable of the Emperor’s New Suit. Yet most people get caught up in the relationship they see between the figures and the power and what it gets away with. This is the reality to them. To the wealthy elite “if you have to ask the price of something, you cannot afford it.” Because they know it is simply a numbers game of Tombola. Liquidity affords debt, mobilising greater liquidity that affords greater debt. When the figures reach into the trillions, like the total of US debt, the wealthy only count in abstract figures with priority placed on what is achievable. What was once impressive in millions is now only impressive in billions. This is why the global economy and wealth of nations is a product of the grossest lie and consequently empowers the best liars and cheats. When legitimate debt, renders unprofitable business failures successful, people are no longer interested in the logic of profitable commerce or solvency, but who can callously manipulate the figures for most gain. Imagine that, if you had the means to tap into it. Most people who are ‘solvent’ are up to their eyeballs in debt. This is what we call wealth and as we know, the propagating of it caused the 2008 recession.
As of this writing, news media reports a trend in the USA of printing bumper stickers stating, “I pay more tax than Trump,” whose taxes for 2016 and 2017 amounted to $750 pa. For ten of the previous fifteen years he paid nothing. A big fat ZERO. Yet he gained a tax-rebate from the IRS of $72,900,000 running businesses with losses to the tune of millions. This is why wealth is not about money, or the value of it. It is simply about what level of oscillating numerical figures can leverage more oscillating numerical figures on calculating hard drives, not for individual economic powers but BETWEEN them. All economists will assert this is value, as even sitting doing nothing value is added to and subtracted from those figures, shifting power and influence. But currency value fluctuates within individual countries, so money’s intrinsic value is unreliable and with globalisation affects all individual national markets, regardless of independent economic policies. This is the constant struggle elite capitalists are enslaved to as automatons, constantly dancing to its tune not to be shot in the foot. Of course, they can afford to retire themselves, their families and friends from it at any time, but this kills their instincts, what they love and are good at. They’d have to find other motivations.
So the global economy and national protectionist strategies is basically laundering of numerical figures, a struggle to suppress and oppress to be the one always on top in the virtual tumble-dryer. Currently that tumble-dryer is regulated by the governors of the Federal Reserve – (a misnomer for a collection of international elite private bankers) – who, like any other bankers, can magic up numbers at will if it conforms to projections that benefit the bank eventually. That’s precisely what they do. You see a bank manager with your credible business plan and on his whim alone a number is conjured up out of thin air and abracadabra, from nowhere it appears in your account. It does not necessarily have to come from something of existing value. It can come from nothing.
Bill Gates recently declared – “we can do without banks, we don’t need them,” because he knows the peripheral legal and economic factors that inhibit the effectiveness of all these rotating figures, imposed by bankers, can be legally circumvented. This is why physical currency is preferable for primitive criminal use, black market deals and avoiding taxation; but elite capitalists can afford lawyers and accountants who know how to do the same things without cash, that are not regarded as criminal.
The trickle-down theory was always a manufactured failure. The reason it didn’t fail the elite is because in practice it was initially a trickle-up process. Neoliberals never intended to keep their side of the bargain and trickle down profits; they could reduce labour and increase their power through financialization and still be viewed as benefactors. Capitalists for bankers, bankers for capitalists and what is not generally made public is politicians’ individual shares in this process, through party funding, lobbying and preferential contracting using tax-payers’ money. So, the figures are all that count.
But there is a realisation amongst governments and neoliberal capitalists – brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic – that a huge hole in this mechanism has opened up. More taxpayers than ever are becoming unemployed and having to depend upon philanthropic bailouts from ‘government’ money. Elite capitalists are presenting a case for even greater bailouts of their corporations on top of this, to save their ever expanding interest-earning multi million / billion dollar profits. Hence, the injustice and obscenity of how this is affecting not just the planet and its biosphere, but everyday people’s ability to clothe and feed themselves, has come home to roost in these most affluent countries. The preferential treatment by politicians is claimed to be in the interest of industry, that supposedly trickles down, but it is invariably to make friends in high places for personal retirement plans down the road, or to have a remunerative stake, whether that is a share or simply remains a private matter. Even a child can detect the trickle-down Emperor’s New Suit is a trick of con merchants.
The invisible economy
But this process can give us hope. Since neoliberals have reduced the necessity of labour and its value to minimal, it is clear they understand and exploit the value of ‘nothing.’ They have harnessed the power of nothing, through debt management and tax avoidance. Within time-sharing networks like LETS and TIME-DOLLARS, people understand the value of nothing can be linked to time and labour. It isn’t ‘nothing’ but it replaces what would otherwise be financial value even when it does not relate to any form of financial equivalence. In times of hyperinflation and economic depression, exchange without money often bears no equivalence to the monetary value of the things exchanged.
Barter would certainly become prevalent if there was a sudden global economic crash, but if there is another form of exchange that bears no equivalence of value placed on money that will economically empower every individual living, shouldn’t we be preparing for that prospect? Since it is clearly the way money operates that is the issue, is it time for the end of money? The reason there is a question mark after the title – spoiler alert – is that a parallel non-monetary economy (PNME) already exists and transforming it into an empowering system will never require the cessation of monetary commerce. Furthermore, it does not even need to conflict with it. A parallel economy that transitions away from money could actually save it for the minority who wish to stick with it; yet mobilise the entire global population with autonomous economic security without requiring a single penny of it.
The reason elite global capitalists will not bring this about is because they have Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy that they believe only money cures and they have plenty of that. The PNME, however, can cure everyone of this sickness. What would this system and ‘currency’ look like and who would bring it about?
Most expert appeals for economic equality insist elite capitalists adhere to some social-justice agenda, but why should they when marginalisation has provided their riches and they can misuse social-justice and climate agendas for mere rhetoric PR purposes? Even the UN uses this subterfuge as legitimate diplomacy. Some point to a reconsideration of Marx Labour Theory of Value as a good basis for equalising out wealth. Indeed, Trump blames ‘Marxists’ (his blanket term for the left to whip up patriotic anti-communist sentiment) as the current threat to the US economy. In his book there is no such thing as socialist capitalism, yet he appeals to the common masses in their vernacular as their saviour. But Marxism has already been tried and misappropriated and for the purpose of this discussion, it would be wrong to presume adopting any method proposed by Marx constitutes a Marxist agenda, or a form of communism, or socialism. This is about progression, not regression.
For many moderate left-wingers the compromise of regression to socialist agendas is preferable to any reform of the current system and they are willing to risk countless lives for it. Any such system entails imposing a moral ideology on who should be rightful owners of the means of production and full support of resurgent trades unions. The very thing neoliberalism negated. Yet in order to achieve it the moderate left must court hard-left militants amongst their ranks, to counter-balance the hard right militants appropriated by the ‘centre-right’ to swell their ranks, since democratic power relies on a minority vote from a disillusioned electorate.
Currently, Marx’ Labour Theory of Value cannot work with money, as it necessitates on-going conflict with current powers only to re-establish centralised values and its never-ending power-dynamics, both macro and micro. Paranoid western conservative rulers within their own parties endorse fear-mongering tactics, oppression and suppression of facts, to support callous and sometimes illegal covert fiscal policies, because they believe any sharing of power means the dilution of it in a competitive economic power-grab. This is what they count on their electorate to swallow, both psychologically and practically, compromising their values, as money is the key deciding factor.
So the questions arise: can society appropriate what was successful for neoliberals, to support social and industrial reforms and conservation of our ecosystem? Can they do it without the same peripheral inhibitors and reliance on centralised agendas and control? Is there a way to invert the neoliberal process without needing money?
The value of nothing
Capitalists already exploit free labour to boost profits, so the key to subverting their objectives is to offer them a way to exploit it for more profitable economic incentives than money can ever offer them. The 99% need to incentivize elite capitalists to do what is best for them and for all, by offering them a market that supersedes monetary capitalism. It only does this by generating unimaginable profits from nothing, but crucially zero in monetary terms and inaccessible to the monetary economy. Then society control the terms of its benefits. How? For this, it is worth reassessing some aspects of Marx’ Labour Theory of Value.
When Marx predicted the end of capitalism, he also pointed much further to the prospect where people’s values and qualities became the ascendant value above currency. Most will assert a form of altruism and philanthropy is necessary and will reflect back to initiatives that were based on such – National Insurance; the welfare state, international treaties, forming of the NHS, race-discrimination law, ‘end’ of slavery etc. Such things are now worn as mere appropriated insignias for covert private enterprises, under conservative agendas that hoodwink the public to pilfer their pockets. Ideology is not a currency that alters reality any more, yet the extent of global social disquiet shows it is more prevalent amongst the general population than ever before. But even if what Marx predicted was initially related to his moral ideology, what he pointed to is a potential beyond that to a purely humanist calculation and right; something that would ultimately replace any necessity for monetary consideration.
Marx’s core question of why the labour force should provide the rich their wealth but not benefit from it is as relevant as it ever was. Part 2 of this discussion will continue to analyse the proposal of a new Labour Theory of Value, (a progression of Marx intention, but primarily capitalist) – and how it will relieve us once and for all time of the dependency upon money and value. It will allow the 99% not only to take back control of capitalism and our futures, but turn any remaining monetary economy solvent in the bargain.
Kendal Eaton. http://achanceforeveryone.com