|Issue 1 - December 1971|
|The Best Things In Life Are Free|
ABOLISH MONEY! for years this visionary dream has been considered unrealistic utopian nonsense, and perhaps it was, but this is no longer so. Modern developments in science and technology are radically changing society so that yesterday's madness (space travel, babies conceived in a test tube) is today's reality.
There is a spectre haunting the world... the spectre of plenty. For the first time in history, over-production is in evidence everywhere in the West; coffee and wheat harvests are regularly destroyed and mountains of fruit and dairy products rot in the Common Market. Conventional economics is no longer able to cope with such problems; private affluence and public squalor is found everywhere at a national and international level.
The economic problem is no longer one of shortage of the necessities of life but of their maldistribution. While one half of the world is hung up with overweight problems the other half starves. Failure on such a colossal scale calls for a radical solution - so why not smash cash?
Let us consider the implications of this nationally. 40% of the work force is in banking, insurance and other financial activities, i.e. wholly concerned with swapping around money balances from one account to the other. In addition, every other type of business enterprise is to a greater or lesser extent concerned with the mere financial side of economic organisation.
All this amounts to a huge proportion of the labour force in non-productive activity.
Add to this the vast army employed as security guards, police, armed forces and all others concerned with guarding money, and the lunacy of the situation is apparent. Imagine the production possible if all these people were in gainful employment. Alternatively, and more interestingly, imagine how little work would be necessary if the same absolute amounts were produced by the whole LABOUR force.
"Money? ... It's what makes life worth living!" - Durham factory worker.
It is obvious that abolishing money implies great change in society. Painting, playing football, mountain climbing or writing poems is not essentially any different from building houses or growing food. So-called work is by many counts anything we don't like doing, while play is usually a label for things we enjoy doing. Prostitutes despise love just as the average person despises work, thus we are all prostitutes.
Without money, however, all work would be recreation, art etc (i.e. play). Of course some jobs are inevitably harsh, dirty and unpleasant but without money, these would be immediately automated. Coal, for example, is still hewn by hand but in a society without money, this industry would be automated for producers' costs would no longer be more important than the misery of employees.
The abolition of money is not a millennial dream; on several levels it is already a reality. In Cuba, housing, food, clothes and transport are free. Castro has said in an interview: "Our system is gradually working through experimentation to create a society in which money will become unnecessary".
In Berkeley, California, the Free Church distributes food every day and organises free crash-pads and clothing; and all over America and Europe this situation is repeated. In the "Politics of Ecstasy" Tim Leary proudly tells how his son burns a $1,000 bill and the Yippies delight in disrupting organisations like the New York stock exchange by scattering dollar bills around.
Keynesian economics aims at maintaining full employment by artificially keeping up consumer demand, thus encouraging the madness of "built-in obsolescence". Yet surely the aim of economic activity is not full employment but full unemployment?
In the present situation loss of work means loss of dignity and pride. Today, just as in the thirties, the streets of many North East towns are daily filled with disconsolate, dejected, frustrated unemployed people - what a reflection on society!
People are so conditioned that work (and their work is usually enslaving, joyless, unsafe, boring and unhealthy) is elevated to such an exalted position.
In his book "In praise of Idleness" Bertrand Russell states his belief in economic progress as a means to release us from the economic process and permit "idleness" - i.e. idleness of the sort devoted to the cultivation of the mind which was the classical aim of society.
Instead, he believes Western man took a wrong track of growing desire for material possessions. Thus we hear shit like Nixon's NEP speech "sacrifice now for Prosperity later". That such a statement should be made in the product-satiated America of 1971 is rather amazing.
When Proudhon coined the phrase "Property is theft" he stated one of the great truisms of history. Anyone who has tried to organise anything like a newspaper or community centre with limited cash will realise the great power associated with property and its counterpart money. And it is a fact that such power is still concentrated in the hands of a very small minority.
So-called progressive taxation is another cleverly promoted myth as any objective empirical study will show. Years of Social Democratic legislation in the West has done nothing to reduce the enormous inequalities of wealth that exist everywhere on a micro scale within countries, mirroring the international macro maldistribution.
At the present time, the world monetary system is in chaos. The recent floating of the dollar has disrupted the shaky peace of the last 25 years and a new era of protectionism, tariffs and trade restrictions threaten a return to the conditions of the thirties. Perhaps the present monetary confusion will be beneficial if it leads to thought and discussion of alternatives. Dave Dodds