Re: ZEITGEIST and The Huffington Post
(This response was originally written for the thread Resource Based Economy vs. Market Economy in the Controversial topics forum. But since there is more activity here regarding ZM I’m posting here.) I want to address the elimination of money issue that seems to be at the core of the ZeitGeist Resource Based Economy model. This condemnation of money seems to fall into the domain of religious zealotry and perhaps even righteousness. I pointed out how using multiple currencies in a society has major benefits. The primary being it can counteract the fragility that is inherent in a centrally controlled system like the dominant ones in the world. Using the example of Bali which has withstood the damage that most 3rd world countries endure when opening up their borders to tourism, I posted in the original thread:
Bali does it through both a centrally controlled currency and an community controlled currency. After a bomb attack in 2002, with many stores having windows and doors blown out. There was no looting, and no call for revenge upon the bombers. The assertion is that the design of Bali’s economy is a fundamental reason for their completely opposite response to what we have seen in the rest of the world.
By designing the currencies we use to support sustainability and the other things we desire from life, we can actually acquire them without the need for destructive systems.
Competing currencies and other currency system will just end up giving you the same end result we see today. It’s the mechanics of money coupled with the constant need for cyclical consumption that are inherent in any money based system that will repeat same old pattern of corruption and greed.
No problem can be solved from the same level of Conscience that created it.
It’s interesting that JK immediately assumed that 2 currencies used together would be competing. I wonder if that assumption is built into the ZeitGeist culture itself? If you read Bernard Lietaer’s paper on Bali, you will see how he posits that 2 currencies are actually necessary for a successful society. They are the yin and yang of energy flow in a community. I’m not going to try to explain it here. But it address what JK pointed out in his quote above. “It’s the mechanics of money…” But Bernard has concluded and can demonstrate that the mechanics of the money system are what lead to the drive to consume and greed based behavior.
Now you have to be willing to expand your consciousness around money and currency. Get a little more abstract here for a moment. In order for life as we know it to exist there must be movement of some sort. A flow or current of energy, if you will. No flow, no life!
There will always be a need to control the flow of goods and services. There are web sites and groups designing new CURRENCY systems as distinct from money systems. (see New Currency Frontiers as an example) Currencies can and do direct human behavior. We see that with our money system now. Again a quote from an interview with Bernard Lietaer. By the way Lietaer is the one of the few in not only person in the world who has seen money from almost all possible view points. He’s been a central banker, an economist and a currency trader. One of his most powerful conclusions:
[I]t is interesting that societies that are using different kinds of currency have also very different collective emotions concerning money. The generally accepted theory—dating back to Adam Smith—is that money is value neutral. Money is supposed to be just a passive medium of exchange. It supposedly doesn’t affect the kind of transactions we make, or the kind of relations we establish while making those exchanges. But the evidence is now in: this hypothesis turns out to be incorrect. Money is not value neutral.
Let’s return to the example of the fureai kippu that I was mentioning earlier, the elderly care currency in Japan. A survey among the elderly asked them what they prefer: the services provided by people who are paid in yen, the national currency; or the services provided by the people paid in fureai kippu. The universal answer: those paid in fureai kippu, “because the relationships are different.” This is one example of evidence that currency is not neutral…
Conventional currencies are built to create competition, and complementary currencies are built to create cooperation and community, and it’s important to be aware that both can be available to make our exchanges.
From my now limited exposure to ZeitGeist it appears that within the movement there is a very limited understanding of currency and therefore all possible forms of money are offhandedly rejected without a comprehensive understanding of currencies and their function. This is understandable since it is only very recently the exploration into currencies and their designs have begun. And I have found the work to be highly theoretical and potentially very hard to understand without putting a lot of time in to wrap my mind around it.
Those of us in the western word in particular and most anywhere since the 20th century only have one experience of a medium of exchange, one we call money. Our current money system is a relic of the days of the monarchs. It creates haves and have nots, serfs and lords if you will. Money needs to evolve along with our society. You can’t have a real Democracy with a Feudal monetary system.
Our modern world has brought us a variety of currencies that we don’t even know as such until it is pointed out and distinguished: Loyalty rewards points, frequent flyer miles, eBay seller ratings. And before someone points it out to me, I know, these are all designed to support more commerce. But you can see how that design is to elicit a specific behavior.
How does ZeitGeist propose to bring about the implementation of this RBE? In order to effect structural changes in society those on the frontier of designing new currencies understand that properly designed currencies can elicit explicit behaviors. A Resource Based Economy will have currencies, even if it doesn’t have money. Consciously designing the currencies (and perhaps monies) used may be the only way to have that economy work the way the visionaries would like it to. That is where bringing the higher level of consciousness comes in. You can throw out the word “money” but you can’t have society without some form of currency.