The Future of Freeconomy
Goethe once said that "none are more enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." How true. Most of us today believe that we are free, that we have freedom. We believe that slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century. But, in reality, was it? Or was it just re-branded, sold to us under a carefully crafted guise?
Yes, we don't have people standing over us with a whip anymore, threatening us with actual physical violence, and we're all indebted to those who fought for its abolition. But have the threats not just become a bit more subtle, and the whips re-marketed as performance targets, competitive markets and debt, the latter often arising from demand for unnecessary goods and services manufactured by our boardroom slavemasters and their subjugated marketing departments? And it's not even the slavemasters fault - they're born into a political system which has trained them from birth to do exactly that, and in some ways no one is more enslaved than the master.
We are now wage slaves from the moment we're born. The lives of the overwhelming majority of us are prescribed even before we leave our mother's womb. Its all so predictable. At four or five years of age we're sent to school (a.k.a. wage slave factory farms), and after twelve or thirteen years of highly pressurised education and exams there, we have the choice of either embarking on further education or entering the monetary economy, so that we can then pay for such things as our council taxes (which, lets face it, is a tax on being alive, and which - through ignorance of the law - forces people into the monetary system whether they feel it violates their basic human rights or not).
We then work for over forty years - many of us in mono-skilled, monotonous, creativity-less jobs we certainly wouldn't dream of doing if it weren't for the fact it was giving us the e-money to pay for things that we can no longer do for ourselves. Then we become pensioners. Then we die. Our lives have been pre-planned for us, and because we're all so socially and culturally conditioned and programmed, we barely even know it. We can no longer see past human concepts, so conditioned we cannot see the true nature of things.
Of course a few souls try to break out of this invisible prison as much as they can by reducing their desires and hence their dependency on this economic system, yet even these are forced to engage with it to some degree. I say forced, yet most of us do it willingly, if unknowingly.
The aim of the Freeconomy movement is to counteract this, to offer people stepping stones to becoming less reliant on money - and therefore all the inevitable consequences that go with it - if they so wish to starting walking that path.
Up to now, there have only been three main stepping stones: this blog, the forum for people who want to learn more first, and the website itself for those who wish to actively engage in reducing their dependency on cash and build more diversity and resilience into their lives and local communities.
However, the future of Freeconomy is to take this much further. Awareness has been raised, and its growth rate increases by the day. Now it is Freeconomy's raison d'etre to allow any member that wants to take the foot that understandably remains in the industrialised money economy, and plant is safely in the Freeconomy, the place where true sustainability, equality and freedom reigns.
Firstly, we're in the process of forming and finalising The Freeconomy Charitable Trust, a fund to which anyone will be able to donate and which any organisation who meets the objectives of this Trust will be able to apply for land and funds to create their own moneyless village wherever they live. The benefits of this are twofold:
1. The Charitable Trust, the mother organisation, will be able to claim gift aid on all donations, meaning all the money goes towards freeing land from the money economy. This could particularly appeal to pacifists, as 7% of your tax currently goes to the military (in the UK), meaning we're all (against most of our wishes) funding the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.
2. It means that the land will only be able to be used by those choosing to live outside of the monetary system, therefore planting the philosophy firmly in the land forever (well, as close to forever as current legislation allows). Therefore, even if the people who live there eventually change, the philosophy remains protected.
All the proceeds of the book The Moneyless Man are going to this Trust, as will all the proceeds of future books.
Simultaneously, we're also in the process of creating the first moneyless village, whose initial infrastructure will be funded by the above Freeconomy Charitable Trust.
The exact purpose of this will be to build and refine a model of moneyless living that anyone will be able to replicate (adjusted for their own micro-climate and culture) if they so wish, or at least take as many ideas from as they like.
In the same process, it will also aim to break down the legal, physical, cultural, emotional and mental obstacles that currently lie in the way of those who want to live without using money but who understandably feel completely disempowered to do so. It aims to create a culture in which moneyless living can begin to happen within. To do otherwise would be to start building the second floor of a building without putting in the foundations.
I've already begun exploring a few avenues at the moment to clearing some of the legal obstacles to living moneyless. One of the major issues is that at the moment, there is only one legal tender (something that has to be accepted for the repayment of a debt): money. When you really understand the implications of this, it is massive.
This, I have now good grounds to believe, violates Article 9: Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion of The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which is incorporated into English Law by the The Human Rights Act 1998. Because I can demonstrate a sound philosophical scheme behind this belief, I (and anyone else who wants to) have a human right to live without using money (97% of which is debt), and this right must be respected as long as it satisfies another clause, which I believe it does.
If a court finds that domestic law is incompatible with ECHR, then it has the power to make a 'declaration of incompatibility', and to tell our Parliament and government that domestic law is out of touch with ECHR and that it needs to either change it or argue that there is no incompatibility and then wait for the courts decision.
I hasten to add, this will be no easy battle. Whilst I can find no legal basis for denying those who want to live moneyless the right to do so, the political pressure to stop it will be huge, if the full repercussions of it are properly understood.
My hope is that they won't be understood until later in the process. If we win the right to live moneyless as a human right, I then plan on saying that in order for me or others to contribute to society then we must be offered a non-money based legal tender. As you can now see, the repercussions of this are huge, and if won then it would change the entire legal context in which we could then operate, allowing us much more freedom to influence the cultural context also, which is in many ways a much bigger challenge.
The second big development for me has been stewing for a while. I've been fascinated by the work of people like John Harris and Lawful Rebellion, and long ago I knew that none of us have to pay council tax - this tax on existence - if we don't accept the the UK plc's offer of contract. That's all it is, an offer. They make you think you have to accept it, but with the right knowledge you don't. It's just an offer. Of course they don't tell you this, but its true. Whilst doing some investigating for an article for the Guardian, I came across a fascinating document that proves this fact (and it is one of many now). If you want to see how to stop paying council tax, then just read here. This is another obstacle that we aim to show removed in action.
We're also working on putting together a very positive package that we feel planning authorities will accept, a package that again will be available as a free resource to anyone who wants to tailor a similar project to the unique cultural, physical, political and legal environment they find themselves in.
We must all fight for it to be legal to be free, we really must. Unless we do, then equality, true sustainability and freedom will remain as ideals we can never attain.
Freeconomy is dedicated to breaking down every barrier - visible and invisible - that exists to stop people being able to live without money. The vast majority may or may not wish to ever walk this cleared path, but at least people who want to be free will at least have the choice.
Who knows if we will win the right to live out our morals and ethics in peace; but as Gandhi said, the joy is not in the victory, the joy is in the fight. And we will fight every battle as it arises.
Freedom is not a luxury, it is a birth right, and it must be fought for peacefully, so that future generations at least have a chance of building a truly sustainable, truly equal, truly free world. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
If we're sickened by all we see around us, this short term exploitation of the Earth and all who dwell upon it, let us do all that is within our power to change it. And fear only one thing - fear itself.
Great to be sharing the planet with you all.
Comment on this Post:
Bryan Townsend comments ...
I like this..XXX
thom browne comments ...
It is good to see that i made the right decision when a teenager that was not going to be a slave for things i did not want, thank you!!!!
Ger Regan comments ...
Just after signing up and read your article in the pape. I feel that you have discovered your life by a big change in it and admire you for having the courage to change would love to hear more about it mark. You have found something that people spend all of life looking for.
tread lightly comments ...
absolutey fantastic mark, for a while now i have been reading all about you and then at the other end of the spectrum i have been watching alot of "everything is ok" and others similar stuff. i didnt realise until now that alhough i thought they were polar opposites, they are in actual fact very similar and fighting the same battle. i didnt realise that your way could be a peaceful protest, yet at the same time i would be cutting off mycontribution in taxes etc that are killing innocent people in oil rich countries and controlling us without us even realising it. my enthusiasm for going moneyless has just sky rocketed keep up the good work and once again a fantastic blog !!!!!
holy bliss comments ...
grand stuff, finally, from slavery to real freedom, looking forward to the project, doing my own stuff in the meantime, good luck mark!!
Dan Tails reclaim the trees party comments ...
I didn't read the whole thing as my attention strays after a while & I am pretty sure I'm allready extremely close to your wavelength Mark. I've been living pretty much moneyless really well for the last nearly 2 years now (apart from when people give me money - I guess a few people think I deserve some ??) I always have a home and always eat well enough. I understand the slavery we all live in and am doing my best to help people free themselves. there's alot of people who dislike what Mark does as it highlights how their own lives are totally hypocritical of what they say they beleive and how their daily actions contradict what they say they beleieve is right. huge amount of love for you all.
MikefromPeru comments ...
Very inspirational stuff Mark, thanks! will look at the council tax avoidance information and see if i can give it a go. Take care and all the best!
PS. I just gave your book for my dad to read!
Kieron comments ...
Aren't postage stamps legal tender as well?
jean-michel comments ...
if you expect the political pressure to be huge, it will be ;)))
something interesting stems out of what you are saying, why can't people (let's say in St Andrews or St Werburgh or St Paul, mainy Saint in Bristol!) can all get together and tell the council that from now on they won't pay council taxes?! that should be an interesting debate or concept!
anyway drifting off there, again amazingly said and put together, you speak the truth. it is a change of paradigm! brilliant! it's beyond belief, keep it up and keep it going. thanks!
Mark Boyle comments ...
@ tread lightly
I believe Freeconomy's role is to bring together all the fantastic work being done in the world by various groups and individuals, and bringing it all together into one design, one model, which as I say in the blog can be replicated and tailored for the needs of the particular culture, climate, heritage etc.
It'll combine John Harris' work on legal issues, Simon Fairlie's work on Planning (his books DIY Planning Handbook and Low Impact Development are must reads for any serious environmentalist), the work of David Holmgren and Patrick Whitefield et al in terms of permaculture and systems design, just to name a handful.
Most of the solutions are already out there. They just need to be incorporated into a new system design, and that is what I feel is the challenge of our generation, and the challenge that Freeconomy now explicity wants to take on.
Diana Hart comments ...
I enjoyed reading about your life choice in the Saturday Telegraph and checked in to find out more. I am certainly interested in living with less, making big changes to my lifestyle. Thanks for giving me a push by example!
Katy comments ...
As someone who is sharing this vision with you and is truly excited to envisage the "cleared path" you are endeavouring to make, I would like to thank you for your truly valuable work. I, my partner and some others are planning on setting up a land/ subsistence- based community (nay, tribe!) in the next few years in Wales and are totally committed to living this way, even though there will be many trials as well as the joys. So the work that you are doing will no doubt help us on our own journey, and you have our word that we also fully intend to help as many other people do the same, however we can. Love to you and all other travellers, and those who are still asleep...x
Mark Boyle comments ...
Check out George Carlin, his stuff is fantastic, very funny and much of it links into the above blog. Here is a taste of it
but I'd highly recommend checking out all of his work.
Thanks to Phil Jones for the link.
Becca comments ...
You may like to remember that Planning Authorities are also those who 'charge' / collect Council Tax, and therefore you may, erm, wish to consider the co-dependencies here. To declare that you wish to refuse the offer to be charged council tax before you have planning permission may be creating more problems than you need!
With the imminent localisation of planning decisions, you may find local voices louder, and council self-interest more pertinent in your planning battle. ... given that they can't offer you a council tax bill until you are resident, one step at a time, eh? :-)
Personally, while is it woefully mismanaged, in order of most to least favourite taxes, I have to say Council Tax is at the top, because it goes to my area, to basic services like social care, education and open spaces.
As an aside, I get your point about wishing to have an alternative exchange system than money, but you don't mean 'legal tender', being a means that must be accepted for the settlement of a debt. Given that your whole premise is anti-debt, then 'tender' is not what you are after.
I think you're looking for a fair means of contributing to society, correct me if I'm wrong! But if you are looking for a means to 'buy' consumer goods & services then I don't think ECHR applies, as without the debt in the first place, then all such commercial transactions are entered in to willingly by each party. Viewed at from this angle, there is no basic human right to force someone to exchange their goods / services in exchange for anything (money or any other form of currency).
What I see as your fundamental principle is that of the truly FREE economy, where items and time are given and received (a-hem) freely. Forcing an alternative means of tender or currency on society is directly contrary to this.
Now, I see potential in taking the Green policy of a 'citizen's income' to its moneyless conclusion - that all our basic needs should be met without the need for money, as we should not have to get in to debt to meet our basic human needs. ... Ooooh, the fun you could have taking an injunction out againstTesco to prevent them for charging for their crappy food? :-))
Back to making a contribution - we could monetise it, without HMRC breathing down our necks, in the way they do to LETS schemes. We could 'cost' the contribution of the village to the local and national economy, and then cost the 'withdrawals' from society of which you morally approve, like social care etc. Using some of the excellent NEF multipliers, we could easily show a net economic benefit of the village on society. ... actually, back to my planning point, this would be really handy info to support planning apps!
... oh, and address for correspondence?
Sophie B comments ...
Brilliant, Mark. Thank you.
I have been thinking for a while about the council tax thing. Those who charge taxes would probably say that we all benefit from the police service, prisons and military etc, which is why we are all taxed. Whether these things do more harm or good is another topic for debate. I've been thinking along the lines of, instead of not paying council tax at all, offering to renegotiate our contract with the local councils, so that they are obliged to only use the funds in ways that we specify, therefore giving us, the council tax payers, control of the local government. I don't know what John Harris would have to say about that.
I quite like the idea of being able to pay for the council services I do feel are a benefit, but in forms other that currency. I have, for example, benefited greatly in the recent past from the protection of the police service. It's definitely something I'd like to look into further.
mandie 100 comments ...
with you all the way,made great reading, thanks
dawn comments ...
Very good. Informative and well written.
Global Warming? No Way!
Valus comments ...
Freedom, Capitalism, and Work
A Progressive Humanist Analysis
"The history of the world is none other than
the progress of the consciousness of freedom."
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than
those who falsely believe they are free."
The Universal Call of Liberty
New York's Statue of Liberty - A Powerful Symbol of Freedom
Freedom is a value held dear by people throughout history, across all cultures. Governments of all varieties promise it to their citizens, regardless of the actual policies they support. Men have died by the millions believing that they were struggling for it. In nations around the world, great and small, flags are lifted and voices raised in tribute to it. Freedom has been described as the universal desire of the human spirit.
But if freedom is so dear to the mind of man, we must expect that those among us who wish to dominate others for their own ends will be well aware of this. Rhetoric promising freedom and our almost instinctive tendency to respond to it have been always been a powerful tool used by tyrants and despots. Stalin, Hitler, and Mao spoke of freedom. In fact, even the gates of Auschwitz promised it, proclaiming "Work Makes Freedom." It is this aspect of the issue which the following discussion will focus on.
[The Gates of Auschwitz]
"Arbeit Macht Frie - Work Will Set You Free"
The Master/Slave Dialectic
Drawing on diverse influences including the ancient Greek thinkers Heraclitus and Socrates, nineteenth-century philosopher G.W.F. Hegel popularized his concept of dialectics, which held that ideas and phenomena are inherently bound up with their opposites in such a way that the resolution of contradictions leads to continual qualitative progression. One of the dialectics which Hegel chose to place significant emphasis on was the master/slave relationship, which he saw as a significant challenge to the advancement of freedom.
Had Hegel lived another 40 years, we can presume he would have been pleased to see the end of chattel slavery in America, the largest remaining slave-holding nation in the world at that time. It is not likely, however, that Hegel would have considered this the end of the master/slave dialectic's relevance. In fact, Hegel's most famous student, Karl Marx, would go on to develop a broad philosophical and political framework based largely on the idea that the great majority of men were exploited by the rich capitalist class, which he saw as the new slave masters. For Marx, history was a long, gradual climb up from explicitly slave-based societies and their feudal offspring, through capitalism, to socialism, and ultimately to a classless society in which all forms of exploitation from the grossest (chattel slavery) to the subtlest (private property) would be abolished.
While few modern philosophers would agree with Marx's more extreme prescriptions (such as the abolition of all private property), there is a general sense in intellectual circles that much of his social criticism remains valid. In that spirit, this essay will attempt to argue that in the contemporary culture of capitalism, the master/slave dialectic remains discernible.
Earning a Living
"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."
-George Orwell [speaking ironically]
The idea that people should work for a living is very nearly universal in its acceptance. We grow up with this idea, seeing it reinforced in our homes, churches, media, and peer groups from a very early age. The belief that "decent people" are to have jobs or own businesses is almost sacrosanct - it is rarely questioned, and when it is, the questioners are usually censured or ostracized in various ways. It is clear that as a society, we are convinced of the merit in the message on the gates of Auschwitz - but it is not so clear why this should be so.
The most common answer, that "people need to earn a living," is obviously tautologous. It is simply an undisguised value judgment which does not even attempt to address the issue of why people "need" to earn a living in a world of increasing material abundance. Despite its total philosophical vacuity, the ubiquitous statement is usually delivered with a granite-like sense of finality, as if it were the sort of truth that is simply unimpeachable, to be challenged only by fools and madmen. But why should people need to earn a living?
Arguments in favor of work's value usually boil down to the question of obligation. We are to work because "the world does not owe us a living." But why doesn't it? After all, we did not choose to be born. To say that we have any obligation in a transaction we did not choose smacks of coercion and even enslavement, but those who point out the fact that no one chooses to be born are customarily dismissed as "childish," "unrealistic," etc. And yet, if I were to give you a candy bar which you never asked for and wait until after you had eaten part of it to inform you that I expected payment, how would you think of me?
Pointing to the inherent unfairness of imposing a sense of obligation on individuals for taking part in a life they never chose is not a denial of life's value, as some may suppose. The aim is not to complain about being alive, but to question the assumption that life is something we have to "earn." It is common to hear life described as a "gift," but what kind of gift comes with an obligation? If supporters of the capitalist "work ethic" were consistent, they would describe life as a "sale." We are sold the right to live in exchange for a lifetime of labor. There is clearly no "gift" element to be found in this - at least not once we leave the shelter of childhood and enter the adult world, where we expected to begin discharging our debt to the world - and insisting that those who question this "need to grow up" simply dodges the whole issue.
A better argument in favor of work centers around the actual benefits we are provided as members of a civilized society. In developed nations, most of us have access to clean water, safe food supplies, public roads, free primary education, etc. Perhaps it is fair to suggest that we have some obligation in reciprocating for these provisions and privileges. And yet, it remains hard to see how this translates to a requirement of "gainful employment." There are any number of alternative ways to contribute to one's society. By writing this essay, I am humbly attempting to pursue one such method of contribution, for which I expect to be paid nothing, and for which I would contend there is no tangible economic value. Most of us engage in much more significant non-economic tasks each day - child-rearing, community participation, self-improvement, etc. These activities constitute a great deal of our individual contribution to the world, and yet, they carry little weight in the public eye if we aren't willing to participate economically. In capitalism, "the economy" always comes first.
But what is the economy? It is generally discussed as if it were some force of nature, a separate entity with an identity all its own. However, this is an erroneous conception, at least within the framework of capitalism. Without socialism, "the economy" is nothing more than the sum of financial transactions between individuals. The economy - when we participate in it by buying, selling, working, or receiving unearned benefits - is you, me, and the man next door. It is all of us, and ideally, its overall function should be to serve our interests as fairly and effectively as possible. But capitalism does not go this far. It stops at the idea that the economy consists of many diverse transactions, adding no overall "economic morality" except to assert that everyone's self-interested transactions somehow serve the best interest of everyone else.
Clearly, there is a fundamental deception at work here. In our capitalist societies, the economy is described as if it were something created to serve the common interest, but this is not the case. In reality, capitalist economies are never "created" at all, except by accident. It is against the basic principles of capitalism to plan an economy. It must simply be allowed to take its natural course. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the United Stated and other major capitalist nations long ago realized the absurdity and unworkability of this and (grudgingly) instituted a number of economic regulations, we should focus on the fact that the essence of capitalist theory remains widely embraced, and that it explicitly encourages the formation of master/slave relationships.
Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century English philosopher, famously described the natural condition of man in the absence of civilization as "nasty and brutish" (among other unfortunate qualities). Hobbes held that our default state is "a war of every man against every other man." Pioneers of capitalism, such as Adam Smith and John Locke, must have thought little of Hobbes' conclusion when they formulated a system in which the common good is left to be worked out entirely by nature's "invisible hand," which they supposed would ensure that everyone else's interests would be served if we all served our own interests first.
It is hard to understand how these philosophers could have looked at the eternal struggle and competition evidenced in nature (an extension of Hobbes' "war of all against all") and conclude that man would behave any differently. Perhaps it helped that these capitalist pioneers believed that we were beings created in the divine image of God - but without this belief, modern thinkers should be skeptical of an economic theory which leaves the establishment of the common good to the same natural motivations which govern a pack of wild hyenas fighting over a scrap of food. If some hyenas are routinely out-competed by their fellows, no "invisible hand" ensures their survival. Nature is indifferent, and men not created in God's image have natural motivations. Under naturalism, whatever sparse moral basis capitalism might claim simply falls apart.
Some would insist that capitalism has never claimed to be moral (outside the radical theories of Ayn Rand and certain conservative political movements), but this assertion does not survive even a superficial analysis. The concept of the "invisible hand" is clearly an ethically-motivated one - we are to rest assured that capitalism is a "good" system because it not only provides economic freedom but also ensures the common welfare. "A rising tide lifts all boats," we are told - but in reality, this is only true as long as we make an unspoken pact to ignore the sinking ships.
Nature is creative but unforgiving. In an economic system based on leaving the common good to be established by natural principles, it should be clear that only the strong are equipped to experience the good. How then, does capitalism address the problem of the common good with a straight face? I would submit that it does so by tautologically redefining the commonality to include only those well-equipped to do well. Those who are physically, mentally, or temperamentally ill-suited to economic activity are simply ostracized, considered irrelevant, or otherwise removed from society's consideration. The common good no longer applies to them, so there is no problem. Those who can do well are are doing well, and everything is alright.
But even for those who are "making it" under capitalism, a deeper problem remains. In the animal kingdom, the role of individuals is governed by "dominance hierarchies," and in capitalism, which uses the natural order as its economic theory, the situation is no different. Consider for a moment a typical day in the life of a "free citizen" in the capitalist world...
Early in the morning, he is awakened against his will by the blaring of an alarm clock. In the space of an hour or less, he must shower, dress, and cram down some kind of breakfast. Next, he begins his lengthy daily commute, which he despises. He arrives at the workplace and is reprimanded by an authority figure for being five minutes late (or some other petty concern). He spends the next 8 hours doing exactly what he is told the way he is told to do it, all the while being expected to maintain a compliant "team player" attitude out of gratitude to the employer for giving him the job (and out of fear of losing it). When quitting time arrives, he repeats the morning commute in reverse and arrive home, where he has perhaps a few hours under his own control before he must go to bed and get ready to do it all again the next day.
Where is the freedom in this? The simple fact is that we are economically compelled to sell most of our waking lives to the highest bidder, surrendering our individual autonomy to our employers or our businesses (should we happen to be "self-employed"). What, then, is the difference between this "economic slavery" and traditional chattel slavery? I would submit that it lies in the control mechanisms used.
The Carrot and The Stick
A universal method of manipulating human behavior involves the metaphor known as "the carrot and the stick." The carrot, of course, is a perceived reward, while the stick is a perceived punishment. If the stick is big enough, as in chattel slavery, no carrot is required. Chattel slaves can be abused or killed at will, making fear of punishment sufficient to ensure compliance. But the civilized world no longer tolerates chattel slavery, so in addition to the stick, economic slavery must rely on some kind of carrot. Today, that carrot is consumerism.
Slaves exist to profit their masters. Employees exist to profit their employers. Here, there is no difference. The exploited party is used to enrich the exploiter. In order to keep people from realizing this and to ensure that they continue to show up for work willingly and cheerfully, some method of convincing them that the transaction is of benefit to them must be devised. This is where consumerism comes in. By promoting the idea that personal status and worth are determined by the ownership of property, the capitalist masters can ensure a sufficient supply of willing workers.
The media is a tool of consumerist indoctrination. Through a constant stream of television programming and other media content, advertisers are free to promote the idea that the more we consume, the more we are worth as human beings. We are continually exposed to glorified images of wealth and glamour intended to provoke imitative reactions. Every little girl wants to be like the latest millionaire pop star. Every little boy wants to be like the latest millionaire athlete. Every grown woman wants to be like the latest millionaire "career woman." Every grown man wants to be like the latest captain of industry. And to get there, we are told, all we need to do is work hard.
What we are not told, of course, is that like an illegal "pyramid scheme," capitalist economic theory requires a much greater supply of "losers" than "winners." In order to get rich, every Donald Trump relies on a host of supporting workers, whose level of financial success is inversely proportional to the number of people employed in his capacity. The typical rich capitalist employs a few wealthy executives, a few more comfortably affluent managers, a greater number of middle-class office professionals, and a great many comparatively low-paid production workers. Whether this "production work" is done on an assembly line or a cubicle is immaterial - in fact, more and more "white collar" companies are explicitly referring to their large low-paid departments as "production."
But it is not enough to say that capitalism resembles a pyramid scheme. The reality is much worse - it is also an enormous "birth lottery." Successful capitalists like to promote the idea that their success is due to some personal triumph creditable only to them as individuals, but in reality, our fitness to compete economically is largely determined by factors outside our control, such as genetics, upbringing, environmental influences on childhood development, etc. We are not to know this, however, for the obvious reason that it undermines the consumerist message - "just work hard and you can have it all, too. Bill Gates did it, and so can you!"
The simple fact that we are not all Bill Gates is never mentioned. Capitalist societies praise individualism everywhere except in the economic realm. Economically, we are all supposed to be identical - at is as if we are to believe that we all grew up in the same household, with the same parents, the same genes, the same childhood influences, etc. As absurd as this assertion may seem it first glance, it is clearly supported by the very basis of the "work and consume" message - the idea that anyone can do it. Somehow, we are supposed to believe the plainly absurd idea that any of us can be the next Bill Gates, no matter how different our own circumstances may be from his. It is a form of magical thinking - encouraging us to believe that the laws of nature can somehow be disregarded. The fact that capitalism, which is explicitly based on a natural approach, promotes this abandonment of naturalism can only be a calculated deception - but it is a deception we tend to willingly embrace.
We embrace the lie because we want to believe. We see images of wealth and glamor, and we want to think that we can attain them as well. We do not want to envision ourselves as limited, conditioned beings. Instead, we are all inherently omnipotent - able to transcend any circumstance and achieve the same results as the wealthy people we are shown. The economic masters know that we want to believe this, and they use our willful gullibility as a control mechanism. "Success is just around the corner, so keep your nose to the grindstone!" The promise of unlimited opportunity for everyone is the carrot dangled in front of us at all times, always just out of reach.
And behind the carrot, there is always the stick. The penalties for economic non-compliance are substantial - social ostracism, poverty, homelessness, denial of health care, and possibly even death. There is a common perception that these issues are not adequately addressed in capitalist society simply because the wealthy tend to be heartless and greedy. While this is often true, it overlooks another critical factor - the fact that in order to maintain profitability, the economic masters must ensure that there is a credible threat of punishment for work-refusal. If society were more humane, the "brutish" natural condition of man as described by Hobbes would be less effective in motivating people to be economically productive.
Putting it All Together
In summary, it is my contention that capitalism is an economic system with inherently Orwellian properties. It purports to advance the common good while disregarding the common man. It celebrates individuality while demanding conformity. It promises freedom and delivers chains. By willingly participating in our own pro-work consumerist indoctrination, we sell our freedom to the merchants of greed and avarice, who are betting their own self-interested enrichment on our willingness to make the transaction. In most cases, it may be impractical to "opt-out" and totally reject employment for the sake of principle. But, if nothing else, we can at least be aware of the real reasons why we work so hard, the real nature of freedom, and the contradiction between the two.
In a post-Marxist world looking for deliverance, is there a better way? As nations such as Sweden prove, there is. I call their approach "economic humanism." It is not a precise term or a well-defined system, but instead a broad vision of an economy that serves the population instead of a population which serves the economy. It is essentially a pragmatic approach - where markets work, markets are used, and where social approaches work, socialism is used. The overall motto is "opportunity for all, poverty for none." It is a system in which those well-suited to employment can pursue and benefit from it, while those not suited to economic work are not enslaved by it. It is the reconciliation of the wealth-producing power of capitalism with the humanity of socialism.
And, finally, it is the resolution of Hegel's master/slave dialectic. If history is indeed "the progress of the consciousness of freedom," the transition from traditional capitalism to economic humanism is a great step forward.
© 2005 by Universal Dialectic
Sophie B comments ...
Thanks for the essay. I've never really though of the terms 'earning a living' that way before, because I've never really considered the prospect of being self-supporting before a few weeks or months ago. I always thought the only alternative to earning a living was living off the state. I guess that shows how brain washed I was.
I guess we may have quite different spiritual beliefs though. I am generally willing to accept that capitalism is where the world is at right now and that that is God's will. Human beings have enslaved each other for centuries. I hope that we are seeing a new (or perhaps and old) movement in human consciousness, where some of us will be able to become self-sufficient (in an interdependent way) and therefore free. I don't hold any hopes of converting or freeing the masses. Their fate is for God to decide. I see capitalism as a necessary transition phase, a stepping stone, certainly a step forward from chattel slavery, as chattel slaves did not have the opportunity to buy land and start up their own communities.
I think the biggest way in which we are enslaved is our upbringings. I read an excellent book called 'Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby'. It goes far beyond the promises of the title, including descriptions of various peoples all over the world, descriptions of how they treat their babies and of the characteristics of their society (one assumes as a direct result and the cause). I'm guessing Thomas Hobbes made his comments on human nature with reference to the humans he had come across, not regarding all of humanity. Those who trust their children, meet their needs and treat them with respect would probably tell you that human nature is totally different from his description. Thankfully in this capitalist society we have a choice how we rear our children and whether we send them to school or have a TV etc. If we are taught that we will become employees, or (perhaps worse) unemployed this is probably what we will take on board. Although we are often told we can become Bill Gates, we are often unconsciously taught the opposite. I'm hoping the biggest revolution will come through today's home educated children. They seem to be more independent, people who are capable of thinking outside the box, less swayed by popular opinion, more likely to attain true (perhaps moneyless) freedom.
I think also that true freedom will come from having an 'abundant core'. If we feel we have enough, that our needs our met, we do not feel threatened by the needs of others and can give freely. This is also something that can be given to children or taken away with the way we raise them. We have so little understanding as a society of the way we affect our children. Most parents (like mine) seem to think that as long as their children have nice clothes and get good grades they'll be fine.
Thanks again. I shall do some reading about Sweden.
Mountain Guru comments ...
This is idealisitc horseshit from beginning to end.
There - someone has to say it.
paul comments ...
food for thought
beepy comments ...
There are a number of people that have been looking at getting land(I have at Seaton), including in the forum at lawful rebellion(40 acres near canterbury) Is itpossible to combine interests toward this aim?
Mark Boyle comments ...
@ beepy - if you've contact with them, feel free to put them in touch, if nothing else we can at least share knowledge and any insights that may be useful to each other.
Christy Manarisip comments ...
Reading your article is very inspiring for me, an Indonesian who live in developing countries. Indonesian, many tied to the debt because the pursuit of the things that was not really needed.
Communities in developing countries, life is very dependent of foreign technology is often not suitable to be applied. As a result, developing country dependence on foreign debt is extremely large.
Thank cation, I am very pleased to read your writing.
from the city of Manado, North Sulawesi province, Indonesia
Maxim comments ...
You be truly a pioneer in this earthly realm. Blessed be the freedom and integrity you are embracing. A HEART warrior in the best sense.
My penny's worth ~ it is the UNQUESTIONED debt based fractional reserve (PRIVATE) banksters system/game which is at the root of this issue we are collectively called to address as humanity. Folk do for money what they would not otherwise do to each the other or to the planets eco system.
There is always a mad scramble to find/create the interest on the MONEY that has been BORROWED into existance. Remove the need for the creation of the interest and look to local "Bank's" (skill trading networks) which are not debt based and where credit is simply created and then redeemed in a local dynamic living economy. We are called to be very creative in these times of Establishing the Sovereign Integral Human (a solar being with Star Seed Father and Earth Mother). Awakened to their own DIVINE potential to manifest and create as partners within the flow of this Sacred Moment.
I hold/see all beings in the light, peace and wise abundance of the creative energies.
Bird song is something you can share with all of life an Ipod is so much an anti social and isolating device (IMHO).
William John Buchanan comments ...
I think this needs a lot more thought put into it, there`s a big rsk of being called a hypocrit especially as how these will be obtained without money.
budi wiryo gani comments ...
very good word, slave for money, for performance, for hope, for attention, for glory, for satisfaction other people who never satisfy, fighting for place, gladiator for success, you bad, i bad too, money,money,money. forgot about us as human, only money is our hope, our suffering, the information is important to made us understand money is not have love, is cold, is cruel, is made you love money, but money not love you. people that love, hate, sorrow, live, happy, not illusion of trust, because money is trust more than you trust people, money is what we believe, very fair, but people not fair, people are live, people are feeling not math. very good write
AmeliaCritchlow comments ...
this is truly inspiring in many ways. With re. to council tax I've been doing some research on the net and according to 'official' local council sites it is a criminal offence not to pay it and can result in imprisonment. I also read the article you linked - it's all very confusing. I would love to find out a definitive site/process as would love to stop paying (of course!)
Have just finished your book and I too wish to build an earthship on some local UK land - my next creative project I hope!!!!
Good luck with all you continue to do.
Sceptical comments ...
I read the post until the Charitable Trust. A moneyless community which sets up a Trust....
Apostolos comments ...
Freedom is more than just a seven letter word!
Costas comments ...
excellent article, nice to see that there is some action into making a moneyless village somewhere. Though i reserve some sceptisism (like a similar named poster). Also I am not sure what will happen if this place is ever build and there is a fire or a burglery (from outsiders) or someone needs to go to the hospital and they dont have national insurance. It will be nearly impossible for the trust to fund a firestation, a hospital, etc.
In addition, who will still do the boring jobs like waking up at 5am to do a round to pick up rubish? Unfortunatelly I still see money as an incentive to do a job that noone else wants to do. I would love to come and live in this village as a doctor if you give me a list of those who opt in to pick up the rubbish, plow the field, clean the sewers etc! And who will fund my registration with the general medical council, the royal college of surgeons, my subscritions and the courses to keep up to date?
on second thought, I might just opt in for the rubbish collection...
My dream comments ...
Wow. When I read the article about living without money I was thinking, noway, is to good to be true.
My fav saying is "Be the Change" and you actually did it. I have to in many ways I guess. I am vegan. I get alot of looks for that alone, to me it makes perfect sense.
I would love to live free of money. To have that freedom. To not be part of the corporate world and if moe ppl would go back to living that way so much would change for the good.
Look forward to reading the book.
declan comments ...
Nice to see you using money to set up a moneyless society, i think i'll bludgeon someone in the name of peace. Mark how will you purchase your next laptop if the manufacturer wont accept carrrots.
Laertes comments ...
I salute you for trying, but it is not merely social and programmed. Okay, programmed, but not as much mentally as in our DNA. Money is an equivalent of a measure of power, and we by instinct are driven by it.
We are herd animals after all. I have seen the herd in action. There are no limits to evil in human heart - we can destroy someone just for fun. Without changing the human nature, it is futile. You live differently than the herd, you are The Alien.
Saying that, I again salute you for doing something you believe. I am sick and tired of sleezy marketing guys I meet everytime. Some old-fashioned honesty is required. We are not "human resources". We are not just employees. We are humans.
I wish you luck. You will need it...
Vera comments ...
I forgot to specify the name of this website in my previous comment : http://barter4us.com
Martin comments ...
Where does the education to construct a lap top come from if not from school?
wage slave factories? come on. There are plenty of decent teachers inspiring a love of knowledge.
If schools were truly wage slave factories they wouldn't have such a broad curriculum. There'd be no music or art.
anna comments ...
I am proud of human being when I see that it is possible to live without money and free from eslavery that this system has created uncounciosly from birth to death. I completly agree with you.
I am single mother and have a 17-month baby. We live in Spain. I wonder many times which kind of education offer to my daughter in order to set her free in her life but I find many obstacles. I think new generations are the key for the change in the way we all live that´s why I give much importance to education. I have my point of view but I do need help and support from the rest of the community to bring her up. I need medical assistance and prepared people to educate her. I could do it but then who will provide the minimum needs to survive? Maybe you can give me a piece of advise in this direction. In addition to this, all the social net who surround us have no that much councioness about what it is going on with our lifes and the Earth. I think I might join a group of people with similar points of view but it is not easy, everyday eats my time, feeding her, taking care of her. I know I should have prepared the floor before but it is my reality now.
And I am sure you know how important new generations are to boost a change.
I also think that first generations will have to fight against the system strongly because when the number of freeconomy people has grown there will be more resistance. Is this fight what I want for her? I really wish her an enjoyable life, a life worthy to be lived.
Wish you can go on being a good example for the future.
Wolfhazel comments ...
You are an inspiration Mark and I truly hope to follow in your footprints in the future.
At the moment I am in all honesty too afraid, more for my children's sakes than for my own, but one day... one day...
In the meantime I will support you and keep and eye on your developments, in the hope that the day I do start to live without money, it will be a bit easier for me to do so!
Penny comments ...
Mark, I thought this might make you laugh. I requested that our local library order your book, and I see they're waiting for it to be delivered - 9 people have so far requested to read it so far. However, they've filed it in the 'Business' section of the library!
Archon comments ...
The Amish communities in the USA are a good working example.
sagey comments ...
well said, Martin. The birth-school-work-death vibe written about in the blog is alot better than its been for many, many other before us. we should be grateful x
Mark Boyle comments ...
@ sagey - maybe for many of us in the western world, but not for those whose proverbial backs we ride on. Not to mention the millions of other species we inhabit this planet with, 50,000 of whom are being classified as extinct each year because of our 'standard of living'.
I'm not sure treating the earth as the playground of the western consumer is the most gentle, compassionate way to live. Having said that, this is just my opinion.
@ Penny - I assume they're getting it in then! It'll be 2011 before you get your hands on it.
@ everyone else - thanks for your feedback so far.
Alf comments ...
There are different ways to obtain such things as laptops, rather than buying them new from the manufacturers. There are probably enough laptops available in the world right now (and/or spare parts) to keep people going for generations, if only we didn't fall for the trend of wanting the latest all the time.
I really enjoyed your latest article, Mark, and continue to look with interest at what is forming around the freeconomy community, with hopes of a more visible coming together of like-minded people being made ever more imminent.
I've spent the last week entirely without money with some friends, living in squats, under the stars and on random stranger's floors. If you set off with a motivation to help out (we've been doing free work and free hugs all week) without worrying how you will survive, this calibrates you with all that is good in the universe. The best advice I would give anyone for moneyless living is just to fill your time with as much sharing and giving as you are physically and spiritually able, and then watch the little day to day miracles occur. People like you and Suelo in the US are a real inspiration, Mark. Keep the faith, brother!
The more we confront our fear of how we will survive head-on, the more liberated we become. The less we do things with strings attached, the more we unravel the distrust and barriers which help to keep people enslaved in the money world.
So many people seem to be among the Walking Dead, with broken spirits, separate from beauty and joy, in a vast prison of their own making, of their own belief systems about limitation, scarcity, lack, cruelty, conflict, pain, sorrow, and anguish. I lived among them for a long time. Like a day with great stormclouds, though, occasionally the Sun would shine through, in little bits of beauty. As I paid more attention to them, they grew, and grew, and in time the clouds broke. It was as if the Sun burned away my fog, and I could see, clearly, the beauty that surrounded me, the beauty of moving water and rocks, of waterfalls, of vibrant Spring green, of flowers, of finely worked art, of a carefully crafted story, the intricate beauty of all creation. I went out in the rain, and joyfully jumped in puddles, and skipped rocks on water, and flew balsa gliders, and enjoyed those things that most fascinated me. I learned Chinese Ink Brush painting. I saw pine trees, and fish, and birds, and flowers, and all of nature differently, for it captures the energy, the essence, of what is painted, and lacks the line heaviness and exclusive concentration on form and matter of Western Art. I plugged myself in, to my own fascinations, to what excited, surprised, and delighted me, to my Vision, to my purpose in life, to the magic all around me. I relit the flames of my Being, and recovered the awareness of who I was, for healing is just remembering who you really are_ this is the medicine of the Hummingbird. When I see Hummingbird, all of it comes back to me, in a flash, an awareness capsule that fills me with feelings, which become, sometimes, words, as you see them here. I wonder just how much beauty, joy, truth, meaning and purpose in life, peace, happiness, satisfaction, and wholeness a person could perceive, and enjoy? Is there a limit to rapture?
Guilt and blame are to the past what fear is to the future, and none is useful. I learned that we have a part of the Creator in each one of us- it is our attention. What we put our attention on grows, and is created. I learned to pay attention to my fascinations. I learned that the Universe reflects back to me my belief systems, and that the Universe is a much more pleasant place as a Universe of energies, of vibrations, of webs of relationships, of currents and flows and cycles, of rapture, rather than a Universe of things and objects.
mary comments ...
it is really beautiful and inspiring how much you care about your daughter, if we all want to give our children the best world, we will have the power to do so, it is tough sometimes of course but the most important thing is to make the changes little by little, one step at a time, no guilt or fear. you will start to meet new people with the same interests just by lving how you want to live
Manitonquat from one of his books, Return to Creation. His literature identifies him as a Native American elder, spiritual leader, and Keeper of the Lore for the Assonet band of the Wampanoag Nation; an internationally recognized storyteller who uses the history, traditions, and stories of his ancestors and other native people to teach practical ways of enriching the experience of childhood, strengthening the family, and developing trust between individuals to keep the spirit of community alive.
He is extremely modest, and like many Native Americans I've dealt with, very patient and pleasant. Unlike our schools, where information is dolloped out in measured doses, and absorption is measured with standardized tests, traditional Native American education is strictly based on interest. If a student shows no interest, nothing is said. When a student starts showing sincere interest, information is given, but only sparingly, really only enough to tantalize- which means students get more and more interested, starts seeking out information on their own, and change their mind set to be much more receptive- as that is the only way to get more fascinating information. The only test is experience, and results, and service to others. Following is my recollection of a story he told, which is very much a community building story.
One Story About Healthy Community
One of Manitonquat's neatest stories is of porpoises, a favorite animal of his coastal tribal nation. His grandfather told this story; he could tell it in 5 minutes, or telescope it to an hour or more, depending on the audience.
It seems there was a huge monster terrifying the people- it had many sharp teeth, and was very big, and was tearing up nets, attacking people, and generally causing trouble. Moshaup (a cultural hero) went to talk with the monster, first. Respect is the first rule of life, and the second is patience- so Moshaup tried both. However, the monster refused to listen, or to stop causing trouble. Moshaup eventually noticed his patience wearing thin, so he decided to hunt the monster. He gave chase, and was able to stick his spear in its back. It felt nothing though, and the handle broke off. The spearhead stayed, though, and it did some good, as it warned people that the monster was approaching- they could see the spearhead cutting through the water.
Moshaup then went to the porpoises. He knew that porpoises liked humans, though they thought humans were much too serious at times. He told them they were very smart (as indeed they are- their brains, especially the cerebral cortex, are larger than human brains, both in size and by comparison to body weight. Porpoises may have gone back to the sea, along with whales, and they've had a very long time to perfect their culture.) He asked them to do something about the monster. The porpoises said the monster had sharp teeth for weapons, and was very mean, and they avoided it. Moshaup responded that he knew they were very intelligent, that the porpoise's weapon was brains, and that they could figure out a solution to the monster, but that he didn't and couldn't know what it was.
The porpoises formed a council circle, (where one can see each person's eyes, where all are equal, in a circle, the source of power in Native culture) and each spoke in turn. The first said that they lacked the education and training to take on the monster- they couldn't fight, they were non-violent. The second wasn't sure exactly what they should be doing; they weren't trained warriors, and couldn't take on such a big fish- there was certainly no reason to do what they couldn't do. The third said that they were smart, and so could figure out an answer. The fourth said, "Oh, I know, listen, what we're good at is playing, and having fun. Why not do what we do best already? What do you say we play with the monster? We're experts at fun, and having a good time. He'll either have to loosen up, or leave, or go nuts." They all agreed it was a good plan. Besides, we know that a path is correct when there is fun attached to the activity, because that is how the Creator marks out the correct path for us. If you can solve a problem having fun, you know the solution is the right one.
And that's just what they did. They crowded round the monster, and started turning cartwheels, jumping and diving. The monster fish was very serious, and tried to swim away quickly, but the porpoises were too fast, and kept up with him. One would bite his tail, and when the monster turned to get him, two more porpoises would swim in and poke the monster with their dorsal fins, while another would but the monster in the stomach with its beak. The monster was driven to distraction, and eventually dived so deep the porpoises couldn't follow, and went away and never returned. The porpoises told their cousins, the dolphins, about the monster, and they all thought playing with monsters was a great idea. It is so to this day- if you see porpoises or their cousins, the dolphins, playing in the water, you may be sure no sharks are about, as the porpoises will drive them away.
(This story and others in a similar vein are presented in the book Children of the Morning Light, available from the author)
Bud comments ...
I think you're tuned right into a large collective consciousness and I'm sure that I myself am near to throwing it all away (the industrial economy lifestyle) and going back to the land so that like my grandfather, I can pee where I will and enjoy a view that encompasses acres of lush, green land with my own little patch of garden, a log cabin which I pay no rent or mortgage for and maybe a nearby lake or stream to catch some fish.
That equals freedom and would make me far wealthier than any job at any price where I can't decide how I spend the majority of my waking hours.
Beyond re-establishing a base (in land), I think the information age also has the potential to create wealth (measured in freedom) in the sense that the web server is replacing the factory as a means of wealth production. That could be as simple as a global, 24/7 e-book business.
Anyway... I'll keep reading your blog because I gotta' escape the rat race and amongst a community of like-minded individuals which you seem to be gathering, maybe we can start to re-figure it out.
Martin comments ...
Where can the rest of us get our free laptops from?
Noah Israel comments ...
Good on you ,Our family make a similar stand of living without money in 1975-76 .It was a revolutionary mind bend for everyone involved, i.e. trading potatoes and tomatoes for petrol.No drivers licenses and on and on. I've since made it my life's physical endeavor to create life support systems to free up peoples lives. Fundamental materials that
are sustainable and villages designed to nurture supportive life styles instead of "jobs" Please review www.envirock.net and www.Godstreamtechnologies.com
all the best to you
ed whymandesign.com comments ...
Really nice post.
Can we help enhance your site and work with you to save earth.org please? We have plans to enhance it so that anyone traveling anywhere can create a project in any location and crowdsource the outcome.
Can we help enhance your site with you too?
We have several proven ways to enhance your site.
Who should I talk to about this?
Stephen comments ...
We have been slaves since 1066, then before that before boudicea kicked the romans out of londinium. Crap Job, crapper mortgage, slave nation, be carful what you eat, go to local markets and stick to fruit and veg, dont eat meat. If you drink do so in moderation, and dont smoke. Freedom has to come from within, celebrity culture and tv can damage your mind, choose programs selectively and read between the lines, english history is a big cover up.
tiberiu comments ...
"Freedom is not a luxury, it is a birth right, and it must be fought for peacefully"
1)I think that here you got at best a bad choice of words, and at worst, an insult to all those who died phisically trying to escape from their enslavement.
2) The idea of "right" is bizzare. "Rights" are human conventions. They're supposed to work because humans say so. Humans are flawed and often stupid creatures, and for this reason, the idea of right is meaningless for a realistic person.
It's foolish to expect that human rights be respected, because they're based solely on convention of a civilization which is both temporary and transitory, like history has showed.
To condone and aprove of "rights" means to aprove and condone the very system that mocks them.
Other then that, you're ok. I'm just saying..
ShirleyFerrell comments ...
I had got a desire to make my business, but I did not have enough amount of money to do it. Thank God my close colleague told to utilize the loan. Thus I took the secured loan and realized my dream.
EdnaMccoy comments ...
I opine that to receive the loans from creditors you must have a good reason. But, once I have received a commercial loan, just because I was willing to buy a bike.