I’ve got a book deal. I’d like to ask for your advice about how to deliver the message.

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Posted Nov 22 2020 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org

I’ve got a book deal with Chelsea Green, which is quite scary. They like my writing style, but the content needs a bit of translating for a wide audience. The Covid pandemic provided the stimulus to bring together a group of specialists to form ‘Mutual Credit Services’ (new website coming soon). My role is in the ‘propaganda department’ – hence the book.

I could do with some help. What I’d love you to do is read the synopsis, give me feedback and help to spread the word. My ask is – how does this land, how can I improve it and how can I put it in front of as many people as possible? Which bits of this are going to be challenged, and how? What are the ‘yeah, buts’, and what are the ‘fuck yeahs’?. The aim is to launch the book next autumn. Here’s the synopsis:

We have a money system that we use to trade – to buy and sell things. But that same money can be used to acquire extreme wealth – it can be hoarded and accumulated as well as spent. This causes three very big problems, for communities, for democracy and for humanity as a whole:

  1. It sucks wealth out of communities, away from those who generate it, and concentrates it in the hands of very few people.
  2. That concentrated wealth enters the political process and corrupts democracy (which means that it’s a problem that can’t be voted away).
  3. Unwise people with vested interests achieve positions of extreme power, at a time when humanity is facing complex existential threats.

So money has to be replaced with something that can’t be hoarded, so that it stays in communities, doesn’t concentrate, and can’t be used to corrupt democracy. Crypto doesn’t fit the bill, and neither do local currencies – but mutual credit does.

We’ll hear the views of specialists in the mutual credit and ‘new economy’ worlds and provide accessible explanations as to how we can help small businesses survive, strengthen communities and start to build the foundations of a new kind of decentralised, democratic economy. The scarcity of money caused by the Covid lockdowns will provide a stimulus to this change.

And here’s the proposed list of chapters:

Introduction

Part 1: Why – the problems that we need to solve

1: There may be trouble ahead: economic slumps and how mutual credit can provide an antidote; how the current system drains communities, concentrates wealth, prevents democracy, destroys nature and damages mental health.

2. Money: the origins and history of money and credit; where money comes from now; the banking system and its relationship with the state; the money monopoly; problems caused by the money system and by interest; the growth of the financial sector and its tenuous relationship to the real economy; money as medium of exchange and store of value; how this situation came to be.

Part 2: How – addressing the problems of the current system

3. Alternatives: centralised solutions, including moving money-creating powers from banks to the state; banking reform; returning to a gold standard; LibraCoin and other corporate initiatives. Decentralised approaches, including local currencies and crypto; why we have to do it ourselves; separating the medium of exchange and store of value functions of money.

4. Mutuality: mutual credit; history of mutual credit; LETS and timebanks; examples of existing mutual credit networks; storing value.

5. Ideology: roots of left vs right thinking; why it’s not helpful any more – if it ever was; why mutual credit is a tool that can appeal to both left and right; why decentralising power delivers freedom and equity.

Part 3: What – the practicalities of building a new economy around mutual credit

6. Clubs: mutual credit clubs, and how they can be convened by local authorities, business networks, social enterprise networks, accountants and individuals; how Covid helps recruitment; trade credit – easily understandable by small businesses.

7. Variety: different flavours of mutual credit; and whether and how they can be federated.

8. Community: local circularity of trade; building networks of trust; growing a community-based economy around mutual credit clubs; helping start new local businesses, including sole traders and co-ops; making the community-based economy attractive and easy to join.

9. Federation: federating clubs to grow the global Credit Commons; federating mutually-owned energy, food, transport, housing, IT, communications, media, manufacturing, retail and social care.

10. Transcendence: building the new, decentralised economy in the ‘cracks in capitalism’, rather than attempting to overthrow or reform; why isn’t this happening already, if it’s such a good idea? will the banks fight back, and how can we respond?

Many people nowadays would like to see a better world, and have a hunch that we’d be better off without banks and interest, or at least that there are serious problems caused by the finance sector. But most of the media they consume presents the current financial system as a given, and they don’t know of a viable alternative. Cryptocurrencies have been a disappointment in this respect. A move towards a sustainable or democratic future is impossible with the current money system. I want to present the Mutual Credit Clubs / Credit Commons idea, not in an academic way, but in an accessible way that can appeal to a large audience, interested in practice as well as theory.

Our message is a decentralising one, intended to help support small businesses and reinvigorate communities; and again, I think this is a popular message. From the people we’ve assembled to work on the project, from the offers of help we’ve received, from the responses of people we’ve presented to, we already have plenty of evidence that intelligent people interested in system change can be persuaded that a federated network of mutual credit schemes is a good idea, and is implementable at scale.

Any suggestions or ideas you may have about content, I’d love to hear them – and especially ideas for a title and subtitle, which I don’t have yet. Not sure that mutual credit in the title is sexy enough – maybe in the subtitle? Mutualism is an -ism, and -isms can be divisive – but I guess mutuality could serve just as well. According to the dictionary, mutuality is: expressions of affection or kindness; familiarity; correlation; reciprocation; interchange; interaction; interdependence. Difficult to oppose, I’d have thought. A friend suggested ‘Das Mutual’ which I thought was ingenious, but maybe sounds a bit scary. Possibly my favourite so far is ‘Spank the Banks: thriving without (their) money’ (7 words, funny, memorable, says it all).


Dave DarbyAbout the author: Dave Darby lived at Redfield community from 1996 to 2009. Working on development projects in Romania, he realised they saw Western countries as role models, so decided to try to bring about change in the UK instead. He founded Lowimpact.org in 2001, spent 3 years on the board of the Ecological Land Co-op and was a founder of NonCorporate.org. and the Open Credit Network.