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Money and Liberation

Money and Liberation: The Micropolitics of Alternative Currency Movements

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Money and Liberation
    Book Description:

    Money and Liberation examines the experiences of groups who have tried to build a more equitable world by inventing new forms of money. Presenting profiles of the trading networks that have been constructed, including Local Exchange Trading Schemes (England), and Green Dollars (New Zealand), Peter North shows how the use of currency has been redefined as part of political action.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5432-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    This is a book about groups of people who have joined together with the modest agenda of fundamentally challenging capitalism by creating and using new forms of money. They do this by creating trading networks that use a currency created and spent by ordinary people. These trading networks, developed at first by environmentalists, have emerged globally over the past twenty years and range from local exchange trading schemes or LETS (in the United Kingdom) and Talentum (in Hungary and Germany) to networks using such currencies as “time dollars” and “hours” (in the United Kingdom and the United States), “green dollars”...

  5. 1 Beyond the Veil? MONEY AND ECONOMIES
    (pp. 1-18)

    We do not usually think of money itself as an object of protest. There are critical lay views about money: that the money system is “out of control”; that we are dominated by “the man,” money power, and conformity that makes us work; that people who deal with money (especially credit) are at best dubious, at worst parasitic; and that money is corrosive of character and community, promoting selfishness and individualism (Leyshon and Thrift 1997, 32). We are perhaps opposed to those we think have more money than we do and thus power over us, or we might just be...

  6. 2 The Politics of Monetary Contestation
    (pp. 19-40)

    Alternative currency activists argue that “money only has the value we give it.” They have a point. Money does have meaning only when it is located in a wider social setting, without which it would have nointrinsicvalue. Bread feeds us, and clothes keep us warm, but, as Lapavitsas wrote, “If the social dimension of money were taken away, only metal disks, pieces of paper and book entries would remain. Money must be immediately and directly social, otherwise it would not be money” (Lapavitsas 2003, 50–51). Money, then, has social and economic functions that give it meaning. But...

  7. 3 Utopians, Anarchists, and Populists: THE POLITICS OF MONEY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    (pp. 41-61)

    Identifying movements for money reform can be tricky. Individuals, theorists, and gurus have developed arguments about money, but here we limit analysis to where we can identify collective actors who have developed resistant conceptions of money and, more important, attempted to act on them. We leave out academics who have theorized, politicians who have legislated, central bankers who have governed, or gurus who have fulminated (but without attracting some measure of collective support) unless we are discussing the impact they had on collective action for new forms of money.¹ Focusing on arguments about money has its problems, for such arguments...

  8. 4 Twentieth-Century Utopians: GESELL AND DOUGLAS
    (pp. 62-78)

    While the mainstream of socialist thinking focused on changing the economy wholesale, either by reform or by revolution, the monetary strand was kept alive by the twentieth-century Distributists (Findlay 1972). Originally inspired by the romantic writings of Morris and Ruskin as well as Kropotkinite anarchism, but also by an antisocialist rejection of collectivism as destructive of liberty and private property, Distributism looked to a return to a medievalist economy controlled by guilds and governed by use values rather than by exchange values. The pathologies of finance capitalism were a major element of Distributist thinking, and, inspired by Quaker banking practices...

  9. 5 New Money, New Work? LETS in the united kingdom
    (pp. 79-101)

    This chapter begins our discussion of the modern alternative currency movement with an analysis of local exchange trading schemes (LETS) in the United Kingdom. Recall that the United Kingdom’s local money schemes emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Britain was expelled from the European exchange rate mechanism and the economy went into a deep recession. Claims for the extent of growth of LETS in the United Kingdom in the 1990s vary. LETSLink UK claimed there were some 350 schemes of varying sizes in existence by 1996. Williams (1996b, 3) suggested they may have involved thirty thousand participants,...

    (pp. 102-125)

    In postsocialist hungary, alternative currency systems called Talentum (Talents) and Kör (Circles) emerged as part of that country’s transition to a market economy. For some, they were institutions through which capitalist markets could be facilitated. For those in the civil society organizations that fought state socialism before 1989, they were part of a wider movement in favor of new, more liberated economic forms. These are very different conceptions of the role of civil society in constructing markets. In this chapter we examine Talentum and Kör in the context of radical politics in transitional countries, organizing our discussion around debates about...

  11. 7 The Longevity of Alternative Economic Practices: GREEN DOLLARS IN AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND
    (pp. 126-148)

    New zealand has always been an early adopter. From the Treaty of Waitangi, the 1840 experiment in a partnership between new Pakeha¹ colonists and indigenous Maori to votes for women through the foundation of the welfare state, New Zealand (Aotearoa) has been in the forefront of social reform and innovation, so that in the nineteenth century New Zealand’s liberal elite believed that

    New Zealand . . . offered an example to humankind as a whole. . . . With votes for women, old age pensions and labour legislation in particular, New Zealand was showing the way to the rest of...

  12. 8 Surviving Financial Meltdown: ARGENTINA’S BARTER NETWORKS
    (pp. 149-173)

    The previous chapter shows that in new zealand committed participants were able to create and use alternative forms of money for long periods, although the numbers involved were small and the economic benefits still not great. The complementary currency movement that emerged in the late 1990s and the first three years of the twenty-first century in Argentina, theredes de trueque, seems to be different in scale, with levels of mobilization previously achieved perhaps only by the Populists: literally millions of users. The literal translation ofredes de truequeis “barter networks.” In Argentina, “barter” is not used in the...

    (pp. 174-182)

    Now is the time to conclude our discussion. recall that the argument is that the best way to examine the contemporary effervescence of alternative forms of currency is within the wider claim that Morris has won out over Bellamy in the debate about the extent to which markets rather than state planning are the best economic allocation system, but that it is inadequate to assume, a priori, that markets are always capitalist and that market-based economic activity is always capitalist activity. However, advocates of alternative economic practices ignore the extent to which such practices have been tried before, always ending...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 183-186)
    (pp. 187-200)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 201-202)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-203)