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Local economies and Gesellian theory (was: Re: [ox-en] Re: Re: Wolfgang Polatzek * Von der lokalen zur transformativen Íkonomie*)

Hi Magius!

Last week (8 days ago) magius wrote:
 I agree with you on several points of your criticism
about "local" economies,


but I think that an alternative economy
can be created, starting from a local level but with the goal
to extend it on a global one.

Well, this is tried since 30+ years now. And apart from a very few
examples under pretty special conditions I can not see this is working
on any interesting scale. Today to me there is only one conclusion:
This is a dead end street.

Free Software on the other hand has established a working and growing
economy in the sense that people create useful things together and the
society as a whole has an advantage from this. And in terms of quality
even a bigger advantage than from the money based economy. In a sense
the money based economy is not able to compete against this new type
of economy. Only if this is given today I'd talk of an interesting
project with the potential to overcome money based economies. And it
needs to be not by special conditions but by the very way of how
things work in this project.

And yes, this is my goal: Overcome *any* money based economy - or
better: any economy based on value. A bit more on this later.

Starting locally is a possible way,
but not necessarily the unique: in my vision, it's "simply" a
tactical problem! As you said, thinking to another economy
like an island - an autistic community more or less
self-sufficient - is an error.

At least in any model I learned of so far. May be there can be other
ideas but I think the more material your goods get the more difficult
is it at the current stage of development.

One of my favorite analogies is the overcoming of feudalism by
capitalism. The capitalist production did not start with the core
production sectors of feudalism being agriculture. Instead the
capitalist production started with textiles. Of course production of
textiles existed in feudal economies but capitalism were able to offer
a better product and thus gained momentum here. Decades after
capitalism were more or less successful the core production sector of
feudalism has been changed along industrial logic.

If you like Free Software is the example where the new form of economy
gains momentum first. In this sector the new form of economy is able
to produce better results than the old one. I think it is simplest to
generalize this new form of economy first to other sectors where
information is produced because conditions are similar there.

I'm sure it is possible to organize material production under this new
form of economy but this will take some time and probably the material
production *then* will look differently to the material production
*now* - just as with agricultural production in feudalism and today
(which BTW even applies to organic agricultural production which looks
quite different from feudal agriculture).

Given this, the question would be what local projects could offer to
increase the quality of goods produced there so they are better *and*
cheaper - remember: industrial textiles were actually cheaper than
artisan-made - than what money based economy can offer. Answers to
this question could give hints for local projects useful in the sense
of an overcoming of money based economy. If there are no answers then
global projects - as Free Software is one - are probably better suited
for this purpose.

The question is: can we think of a model based on some other
principles we know can work in our complex and advanced society?

Exactly. I think Free Software gives a good working example.

Let's try brainstorming!

Yeah, let's do this. However, you presented a model reminding me very
much of what is known as Gesellian economy and there are probably a
few other names for it. They all have in common that from my point of
view they do not understand money and it's function and dependencies
in money based societies. In Oekonux we had countless debates about
this fundamental difference - mainly on the German list but also here
in English. Try

	open money

in the local search engine for [ox-en] at

and click your way through to the thread index.

I learned that this fundamental difference between a Marx inspired
view and Gesell fans is something which is hard to overcome and
attempts often result in a bad quarrel. I won't give it an additional

* We know from studies and data that the limit of our economies
  it's not scarcity of productive capacity or technology, neiter
  (in most cases) scarcity of raw or recycled material; the main
  limit is scarcity of money to pay people to make things and to
  give services.

I agree that given the material pre-conditions abundance is possible
right now. In other words: The structure of the current form of
society prevents that this abundance is reality for the majority of

It is part of the fundamental difference mentioned above that I think
that a change is possible only if the economy is no longer money
based. Money based here means that the economy may use money here and
there - as in pre-capitalist times - but money may not be central to
the economy.

* Services are more than 1/3 of the economy of an industrialized
  country, and in future this ratio can only grow.

In other words: Productive work where surplus value is created is on
the decline. Indeed IMHO this is *the central* aspect of the
fundamental crisis of capitalism.

* People (common people at least) gain money by working, but we
  know there's actually *no need* for all this workforce, and
  with automatization and tech advancements there will be much
  more less demand.


  Therefore we shall envision a new way for
  people to obtain the basic surviving resources [a social
  redistribution system]

According to the thoughts mentioned above I'd question that the basic
surviving resources should be the first thing to expect from a new
form of economy. Products of this new form must be relevant - as
software is - but in basic surviving resources in terms of food and
shelter capitalism might be better for quite some time.

  and a way to work in a system
  (better if ecologically sound) where's no scarcity of demand
  or money

Well, when there is no scarcity money is superfluous anyway. The
central concept of ownership (do not confuse with possession) is to
prevent others from using something - or to sell or rent it to others.
I.e.: You may use it if you pay a certain price. If there is no
scarcity then what should a price be good for?

Free Software is a perfect example. Once published it is hard to make
any money from the piece of Free Software itself. Why should someone
pay a price for something s/he can get for free / gratis?

* If money is almost freely available - money intended as a
  "public service" - there is no reason for accumulating it, so
  all the financial or money renting activities shall be very
  discouraged, casting them in the obsolescence

Well, if you look at the speed of the money circulating around the
globe I wonder where the problem today is.

Actually it is part of the fundamental difference that Gesell fans see
accumulation as hoarding up a treasure. However, less could be more
wrong in capitalist society. Capitalism lives from spending
accumulated money in production to produce surplus value - more money.
And this surplus value generated in production is also the source of
the interest payed on a financial level. Because Gesell fans do not
understand this they need to assume hoarding of treasures. In this
picture the treasurer has the power to demand an interest from the
lenders because s/he hoards the treasure. This is then turned into a
moral category and we are done. Frankly to me this is the opposite of
scientific thinking.

Also check the example of Argentina where after the crash and a short
period of flourishing the self-made money soon collapsed because too
many people made their money themselves. If you have money you need to
keep it scarce and you need a central authority to accomplish this
with all the power we know of our states.

* The "market" may be not the efficientest form of
  redistribution of goods, some people think planning and central
  directing is better,  but it is good enough, simple,
  well-understod and works for people.

Well, Free Software is not a market in the sense that there is
exchange neither is there central planning. Nonetheless the whole
economy of Free Software works quite well. Probably both models need
to be rethought in light of this.

* We need the smarter people (the "creative class") keep interested in
  such new system, so to have the maximum possible *collective
  intelligence* available in the system, and so the max possible
  theoretical wealth, so there will be incentives for successful,
  smart people to use the system, to give *trust* to it.
  These incentives shall be somewhat economical, a better standard
  of life, more possibilities, and at the same time shall not be

This is something I have biggest difficulties with. What is contained
here is in some sense the classical avant-garde program: We know what
is good for people and we only need to give them some incentives and
they will follow. Well, better yet than forcing them with guns but
what a difference to the way Free Software works. Indeed one of the
best things of Free Software is that it is *not* a political project.
Instead it has been created from the direct needs of some people. No
political class had to tell them what to do. This is also very similar
to the way capitalism has been founded.

* Massive wealth accumulation is *evil*, being the root of
  resources' privatization, and of exploitation. Accumulation
  shall be discouraged and made not working, obsolete.

Nope. Generation of surplus value is always exploitation and ownership
in general is the root of resources' privatization. The amount of
wealth is not important here.

* Complex society cannot be local, but global

Definitely. And I think we should care for not trying to return to a
level of living before the one capitalism already brought us.

* Diversity is a great force against "darkness" :)


* A realistic, non marginal, system cannot oppose directly the
  establishment, can only coexist and gradually make it obsolete

True. This is the third step in the five-step model
[ /].

* A great system with great basic rules can fagocitate the bad
  one by sheer power of brain-human power (basicly that's the
  reason why Free Software was successful!)

I think the quality of products is more important. The biggest band of
the brightest people is useless as long they are not producing a
useful product.

* A system will be embraced fast if it will give something to
  interested but not-believer people now and here.

I think you can not create a society on believing. People need to see
that they have advantages. For instance (mostly young) people see and
feel daily what P2P sharing can do for them. You don't need to
convince them in any way. People are not stupid.

* Conventional money is nothing but the TRUST people have in it

Even if I don't trust money I can go into a shop and buy something for
it - probably stengthening my trust in money ;-) .

So, let's throw together some ideas :
So to make an example, a guy "signs in", he receives the basic
income for the month, this money is created from "nothing"
without backing it, and it's subject to a negative interest
(demurrage) of x% each month (let's hypotize 2%). He can only
spend the money in the shops/services that accept it,
and fastly, because this money rots and is better to get rid of it!
So the wheel turns, the community life standard grows, and people
that accept it has something to give to the employees.
The next month, looking the system is working well, as sysadmin,
he decides to sell his services and accept the currency as payment
(full or partial) and people loaded with the cash from the basic
income have no problem to pay him well for his services..

Well, why should there be employees at all? I mean if I can have my
basic income from nothing why should I work? And most people today
work for income - and not only for the fun of it.

As every basic income model you are trying to abolish the poverty
whip. However, unless people "work" because they like to, "work"
because they are pursuing their Selbstentfaltung you have to force
them - be it by direct force of by structural force called money.
Frankly to me money is one of the more civilized ways to force people.

However, we need to come to a situation where Selbstentfaltung is the
motivation for activity. This is not only a emancipatory dream but
also - as we see in Free Software - Selbstentfaltung is the basis for
the best products.

Finally FAZ is a way to create "artificial abundance"
(what's the better way to contrast capitalism that creates
"artificial scarcity"?) and is a "Win-win" model...

Artificial abundance - interesting. However, though I think artificial
scarcity works fine I'm not sure artificial abundance can work. Well,
P2P file sharing may be an example for artificial abundance.

						Mit Freien Grüßen


Contact: projekt

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