• home
  • posts
  • book deal new decentralised economy mutual credit core
  • Posted November 22nd, 2020
    59

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

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

    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. The book is about building a new economy with mutual credit at the core.

    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.


    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    59 Comments

    • 1Harriet Stewart-Jones November 22nd, 2020

      Dave – Congratulations on your Chelsea Green deal. Great topic too. I wonder whether a section on land ownership, land use, “natural capital” and ecosystem services valuation is to be included?

    • 2Malcolm Purvis November 22nd, 2020

      Hi Dave,

      Congratulations on the book deal, very glad to hear it!

      I think you have it fairly well covered here.

      The only comment I would make is; ‘how important our choices of what we buy are’, it doesn’t matter to a large extent what system we have, if people are still selling animals that have come from factory farms (concentration camps) and we buy them, we are not that much further ahead? So, for example if we buy industrial food we create an industrial landscape. Yes, of course it helps if the ‘money’ isn’t concentrated in the hands of the few but we create our world with the things we spend our money on. Food occupies a large part of this but also energy, clothing, transport and housing all affect our landscapes and the lives we live. If we can uncouple ourselves from the industrial landscape, in the largest sense, we can then start to live sustainable, healthy, compassionate, loving and fulfilling lives in vibrant communities. Of course a new economic system would help massively in this as well.

      I would hope that an explanation of this would also help to allow people to see that the choices they make in their purchases makes their world to a large extent, thereby making clear how important our financial/monetary system is. This would also hopefully allow people to engage with the subject more rather than just solely from a monetary aspect, which can be a bit dry?

      Just my thoughts, I realise that my comments are only a small part of the solution but hopefully it is helpful.

      Good luck with the book.

    • 3Dave Darby November 22nd, 2020

      Harriet and Malcolm

      Absolutely. Both those things will be covered, although not in as much detail as a book on land or food (see Chris Smaje’s recent book – also with Chelsea Green, coincidentally – although I guess he wanted to go the employee-owned route as I did – https://www.lowimpact.org/review-of-a-small-farm-future-smaje/). I’d like to recommend a ‘new economy library’ at some point. My book will be more about the money system, and attempts to change / replace it. But yes, it will relate to those topics as well.

    • 4greencentre November 22nd, 2020

      Seems we might even run a dual economy with Lets/mutuality/barter thriving under the cover of a globalised currency – aka The Bank of Bezos. Universal credit hoovered up by the Big State and local financial ecosystems providing a fantastic range of individual sensitivities.

      So, as ever, but far more so!

    • 5Dave Darby November 22nd, 2020

      Malcolm

      When it comes to purchasing choices, we’ve launched (well, relaunched) this recently – https://www.noncorporate.org/

      The content needs tweaking / updating / adding to (actually, it’s going to need that pretty much constantly), but the score form works – if you could have a go and let us know how it works for you, that would be great.

    • 6Malcolm Purvis November 22nd, 2020

      Dave, many thanks for that, an excellent resource.

      I tried registering but had a ‘491 page expired’ message. Was that me or is the page being updated?

    • 7Dave Darby November 22nd, 2020

      No, just tried and it works fine. Maybe try later?

    • 8Saffron Myhill November 22nd, 2020

      Hi Dave, hope you’re well – congratulations on the deal!! I do have a question – I can see how the mutual credit system works at the end user/personal and community scale but I can t see how it works when you need to invest to develop innovative technologies and new products. I currently spend most of my time working with early stage businesses that are doing just that – and although I am involved in providing public sector money to support their endeavours, the majority of the cash they need comes from wealthy individuals – angel investors. How can this important part of the economy be supported? Id be really interested to understand. Anyway, great work!! Saffron

    • 9Dave Darby November 22nd, 2020

      Hi Saffron – long time! Hope you’re well too. Now I’m hoping that Dil and/or Chris Cook will come by to answer that better than I can (and I’m going to interview them for the book); but as I understand it, they’ve been talking with investors who believe that it’s going to become much harder to find ways to get a return within normal capitalist channels. In that case (or even if it doesn’t), ‘tokens’ can be offered for future credits, so that fiat money now can be exchanged for future credit tokens worth more than the fiat money invested. So 50k in fiat money could get you 100k worth of value in mutual credit in 5 or 10 years time, depending on the wider economic landscape. So in this way, the resources of capitalism can be drawn over to the new system in a non-confrontational way, in the same way that the resources of feudalism were drawn over to the new-fangled capitalsm 500 years ago. Hope that makes a crumb of sense – but I’ll go into more detail in the book, and publish the relevant interviews as well.

      But while I’ve got you, any thoughts on a good title / subtitle for a book like this, to engage the largest audience possible?

    • 10Bigseoonline.com November 22nd, 2020

      Before that, I thought that articles on this topic were not interesting, but now I have changed my opinion!

    • 11Dave Darby November 22nd, 2020

      Bigseoonliine

      Glad to hear it! What was it that made it interesting, when it wasn’t before?

    • 12Nick CK November 23rd, 2020

      Hi Dave
      Very pleased to hear that the hard work, passion and research is being recognised with a book deal. I think your writing style is engaging and positive, not wet or dry but smooth, so congratulations on that. Would it be useful for us potential editors to know who the intended market is…..hippies, investors, economists, small business owners, policy makers, commuters?
      I wonder whether referencing the post covid-19 world is worth reflecting on as a game changer for economics in your title
      Post C-19 capitalism for socialists
      The post flu society (perhaps too emotive currently)

      Growing in the cracks in capitalism
      Mutually assured construction
      pandemic crisis solutions
      Come together, right now
      Vaccination against Neoliberalism
      We are all Angel investors in mutual credit
      Freedom, justice, equity!
      The evolution of mutuality
      Mutual evolution
      A World Wide Web

    • 13Anthony Hay November 23rd, 2020

      Title suggestion: ‘The Currency of Trust’. (I read it on page 294 of Who Cares Wins by Lily Cole.)

      Will you talk about how the system sits with the state? E.g. how do we pay taxes, fund schools, hospitals and other large infrastructure or science projects under the mutual system and what happens when you are no longer or never were able to contribute through age or disability.

    • 14Dave Darby November 23rd, 2020

      Nick and Anthony

      Nick – the target audience in the first attempt at the proposal was quite narrowly focused on ‘cultural creatives’ / activists / members of XR etc. – but CG thought that was too narrow, and so it was widened to include …. ‘anyone who follows current affairs, and is concerned about the direction in which society is moving – i.e. wealth becoming ever-more concentrated, communities losing cohesion, wealth and uniqueness, and destruction of nature’. So more or less anyone with a brain who can read!

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’m not sure I want to focus on Covid in the title / subtitle, as it could become dated quickly (or not – we might be in its aftermath for a long time). I’m talking with CG later today, so I’ll see what they say. ‘The Currency of Trust’ is a corker, I think.

      Anthony – even if things go well, it will be a long time before taxes are payable in mutual credit. Having said that, we’ve talked with local authorities who are very supportive, and CLES (the org working on rolling out the Preston Model in the UK) have put mutual credit in their ‘toolkit’ that they take to LAs around the country, and so it’s not out of the question that some local authorities could accept local taxes / fees etc. in mc. But it’s more about travelling in a direction rather than having a blueprint. Who knows what could happen if we achieve a large enough scale.

    • 15David Calver November 23rd, 2020

      Dave – great news on the publishing deal. I’m well jealous as I’ve been trying to get one myself and can say from personal experience how hard it seems to be. I hope you will forgive the ‘critical friend’ response I’ll now give, which I hope will make your book even stronger than I’m sure it’s going to be.

      Challenges / observations:
      • How might mutual credit affect range of consumer choice? If less choice, might this be a price worth paying anyway to achieve greater good for all humanity in the round?
      • What limits might there be on the scalability of mutual credit?
      • Might the most important (existing) economies of scale be lost if we switch (completely) from the current “money system” to a mutual credit “money system”, and how might this affect our ability to keep economic systems within planetary limits? Is there, in fact, a viable alternative, of running the two systems alongside each other (or would this compromise the ability to achieve a just and sustainable future for all?)
      • Have any future scenarios around different levels of take-up of mutual credit been modelled in established (and reliable) economic models, to see whether they affect the ability to achieve sustainable levels of economic activity and material throughput (eg steady state economy within Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut economics’ safe and just operating space?) If not, is this something that could be suggested as further research?

      You say:
      “A move towards a sustainable or democratic future is impossible with the current money system”. This is a very strong and emphatic statement, with potentially huge implications for ruling out all sorts of ‘middle ground’ ideas and pathways – is it backed up by enough hard evidence?

      You say:
      “… a federated network of mutual credit schemes is a good idea, and is implementable at scale”.
      This could get a lot of support, but perhaps one of the questions it generates is this: will this (ie the expansion of mutual credit) represent marginal reform or fundamental revolution, eventually replacing the current money system? This question doesn’t actually have to be answered right now for there to be significant positive change in the short- to medium- term, based on expanding use of mutual credit, and for the book itself to be successful based on this as a measure.
      I’d also like to say a little about attribution of responsibility for the dire state of the world, and the role of the private sector (ie markets). You seem to place a large emphasis on concentration of wealth. I prefer to take the view, as expressed by Helm (2015), that we are all, in fact, the perpetrators of the problems of unsustainability:
      “… there is little escaping the fact that the villains of the piece are the consumers and shareholders, rather than the easy scapegoat – some large corporate entity [DC: or a rich global elite]. Strictly speaking, companies do not pollute, only consumers and shareholders do. Companies are just our agents – intermediaries doing our bidding.” (the text in square brackets is my addition).
      Helm appears to lean toward something akin to ‘lifting the veil of incorporation’ in order to attribute the real responsibility to shareholders rather than the corporate entities they might hide behind.
      His indication, in Helm (2020) is that the answer is not found in either dominance by the State or dominance by the private sector (ie the markets), but in redressing the balance between them:
      “What is needed is a middle ground – combining a model with the State doing what the markets cannot, and the market then sorting out the resulting allocation of resources within the framework the State provides.”
      I’m inclined to concur with his view on this, but I realise this might put me at odds with some advocates of mutual credit.
      All the best with the book.

    • 16Tom Woodroof November 23rd, 2020

      Exciting stuff Dave, will be ordering extra copies for friends and family. Is there anything inherent to mutual credit which makes it resistant to having an enormous financial sector constructed on top of it, as is discussed in Section 2 of Part 1 with respect to the current money system? Does it have any properties which could even help to reverse the ongoing financialisation of everything?

    • 17Dil Green November 23rd, 2020

      Hi Dave, great news!
      My comment on the structure is that 1 – it’s excellent, and 2 – that I’d put Chapter 6 later in Part 3 – although I would have an intor to Part 3 that makes it clear you’ll be getting to real-world examples. The examples you are referring to are a/ not really dynamic yet and b/ rather specific – I think Part 3 would work better if you laid out the ground first, and got to specific implementations and projects later.

    • 18Dave Darby November 23rd, 2020

      Tom / Dil

      Tom – I guess it’s the fact that it’s just a means of exchange rather than a store of value. It’s not designed to accumulate and concentrate.

      Dil – I think I see what you mean. The community section contains info on how clubs can be embedded and grow in communities though, so the clubs chapter can’t go after that. So the clubs chapter could go after the variety chapter, and I could lay out the ground at the beginning of that chapter (although it will have been laid out in the previous sections too). Not sure if that’s what you mean, although I’ll run it past you as it develops.

      both – how about ‘the Currency of Trust’ as a title? Or ‘Spank the Banks’ as a more comedic and possibly more memorable one? Any other ideas?

    • 19Dil Green November 23rd, 2020

      Hi Saffron,

      Dave asked me if I could add anything to his reply, so here goes..

      I do have a question – I can see how the mutual credit system works at the end user/personal and community scale but I can t see how it works when you need to invest to develop innovative technologies and new products. I currently spend most of my time working with early stage businesses that are doing just that – and although I am involved in providing public sector money to support their endeavours, the majority of the cash they need comes from wealthy individuals – angel investors. How can this important part of the economy be supported? Id be really interested to understand.

      Excellent question. A key aspect of Mutual Credit is that it is designed *not* to work well as a ‘store of value* – it doesn’t become capital – and thus its not worth hoarding – and thus it does what a means of exchange is supposed to do – it keeps being passed on, encouraging value creation at every exchange – its an economy of flow and velocity, not accumulated piles of abstract tokens.

      But your question makes it clear that we can’t forget about store of value – about savings, investment, insurance. These are important and valid mechanics which are needed. The key here is to have the currencies that work for these purposes just a little less easy to use as ‘exchange’ money that the Mutual credit currency – essentially higher transaction costs (as the proposed ‘tobin tax’ on currency trading suggested).

      This is outside the scope of Dave’s book (although I imagine it will get a mention), but the approach we’re excited by is Use Credit Obligations. You can get an outline of how the two systems fit together here: Two Planks – and a Bridge – to the New Economy. We are working on a plan to raise our own investment finance using this approach – I’d be very glad to discuss it with you – [email protected].

      One other thing to say about startups and Mutual Credit. We see that startups are often brought together into accelerators.
      We have a strong hunch that an accelerator which provided an internal ‘unit of account’ for its client projects (and alumni) could add real value by making collaboration both more rewarding (as it would be accounted for), and through the impact of such collaboration.
      Most startups have very small teams – entirely properly – but this means they rarely have all the skills they need ‘in house’. Across a cohort, though, it is likely that a wider range of skills is present; an internal economy (perhaps denominated in equity, even) could bring that to the forefront, with synergistic impact.
      Of course, this would require the active support of the VCs who fund the accelerator. We’re aware that some aspects of the context may make this approach seem challenging, but from the investors’ POV, they are mostly investing in the teams, so to get these teams more fluid, more collaborative, more productive would I think be a plus. If I had the time, I’d be thinking hard about building such an accelerator – I’m sure it could do exciting things that others cannot achieve. Again, happy to discuss.

    • 20Dave Darby November 23rd, 2020

      David

      Great questions (although not really looking for a critique of mc in this article – it’s more about the structure of the book and a search for a title). But I know that we differ in the way we see the world (you think that global GDP can grow perpetually, and that wealth concentration doesn’t necessarily prevent democracy), so you’re exactly the kind of person I need to persuade. I want to do that in the book rather than here, but v briefly….

      Challenges / observations. Can’t see why mc would reduce choice – apart from superficial choices like hundreds of types of fizzy drinks etc. At the moment, choice is restricted – difficult to get many things from any source other than corporate / made in sweatshops. Or T-shirts without turning yourself into a corporate advertisement etc. mc can help develop local uniqueness / craft produce / local, organic foods that are hard to source now.
      Your other points – my responses would be along the lines of ‘let’s see what happens’, because nothing else seems to be getting us off the extremely dangerous path we’re on.
      Economies of scale is an interesting one. Kevin Carson’s opinion is that corporate economies of scale wouldn’t exist without the state – who subsidise them, give them contracts, don’t tax them like the rest of us, build them high-speed rail, accept their money and jobs, go to war to open markets for them, and ultimately bail them out – and much more.
      But a mc economy can stabilise (C-M-C vs M-C-M’ – we’ve had this conversation before) – which is our only hope of sustainability, ultimately.
      (if you think global GDP can grow perpetually, it doesn’t really matter. If mc grows, and the economy stabilises, and society becomes more sustainable, and it all seems to work, that’s fine, isn’t it?)

      “You say: “A move towards a sustainable or democratic future is impossible with the current money system”. This is a very strong and emphatic statement, with potentially huge implications for ruling out all sorts of ‘middle ground’ ideas and pathways – is it backed up by enough hard evidence?”

      – Yes, it’s a strong and emphatic statement – it’s why I got into mutual credit and it’s why I’m writing this book. I mean, does it look as though we might start to move in a sustainable or truly democratic direction with this system? Even a little bit? I think the onus is on you to provide evidence that it might. I absolutely can’t see it. As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said: ‘We can have democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both’. Seems pretty obvious to me, but I lay out my case here – https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/the-democracy-problem/.

      “will this (ie the expansion of mutual credit) represent marginal reform or fundamental revolution”

      – neither – it’s about ‘transcendence’ – a la transition from feudalism to capitalism. Pretty sure no-one was talking about reforming or overthrowing feudalism. See https://www.lowimpact.org/transcender-manifesto-dil-green/

      “This question doesn’t actually have to be answered right now for there to be significant positive change in the short- to medium- term, based on expanding use of mutual credit, and for the book itself to be successful based on this as a measure.”

      – sure – let’s try to change direction first.

      Plus I’m definitely not averse to dumping some of the blame on majority shareholders, but ultimately I don’t think it’s about individuals or particular corporations or families. If they’re wiped out, others will rise to take their place. We have a system that rewards ruthlessness, which I think is a very bad idea.

      I might be wrong, but it seems you’re going for a ‘tinkering’ approach – i.e. nothing wrong with the system; we just need to elect better people / bring in better legislation / trying to persuade corporations to do the right thing. Along those sort of lines. I guess what I’m asking is how bad would things have to get before you gave up on that approach? Plus sure, we can all have differing opinions anyway – but let’s give the mutual credit approach a go for any number of reasons – to allow trade to happen in communities with no money, to keep small businesses alive, just to shake things up a bit – and see what happens? Other things can help to decentralise wealth and power too – a whole range of initiatives, from community energy and housing coops to free software and community land trusts. Let’s weave mutual credit throughout society as much as we can, and just try to change direction without blueprints.

    • 21David Calver November 23rd, 2020

      Hi Dave. Have just been following through some links to materials you have signposted. There appears to be a broken link to the WEF “Everybody’s Business … ” report via your 40 ways corporate power trumps political power” page. I’ve found an alternative source of the report at Harvard, if it’s of any help: https://www.innovations.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/WEF_GRI_EverybodysBusiness_Report_2010.pdf

    • 22Dave Darby November 23rd, 2020

      Thanks David – fixed it.

    • 23weavingtheseisles November 23rd, 2020

      Hi Dave, such a great project, so timely, so sorely needed. Well done you!

      I’ve lots to say of course. Above all: ‘Swank the banks’, absolutely not. DO NOT GET INTO BANK BASHING! It’s tempting, and easily done by mistake, but it is counter-productive in every possible way, not least for being downright inaccurate, as follows.

      Of COURSE it is absurd that one small group of people is licensed to create our value tokens and thus monopolise our value, when currency is an essential of modern life and the value itself is created by us all. (And it is worse than absurd that this system is quite literally destroying people and planet both.)

      However, it is the bank’s SYSTEM, which has become all our system, that is at fault, not the banks themselves. Indeed, banks, like governments, corporations and every single one of us, are now caught up on the hamster wheel of infinite growth, and are slave to it just like Frankenstein was to his monster, because a dynamic system is like a living organism (and almost as difficult to change). Here’s what I mean:

      Economic growth is destroying the planet by increasing exploitation of communities and natural resources/habitat.

      In our current system, economic growth is necessary to our economies: when people reduce consumption, businesses suffer, jobs are lost and more people need welfare. (Greenies seem to overlook this and this is why we are completely ignored by the working class left, entrepeneurial centre and the asset-horading right. They think that we don’t understand capitalism, and if we don’t factor in this fact about growth, then they’re right.)

      Economic growth is not inevitable per se, but it *is* inevitable with our current monetary system. In other words, at present infinite growth is structurally compelled and therefore unavoidable: governments, businesses and banks, just like households, *must* make socially and/or environmentally damaging choices for the sake of extracting a profit. Profit *must* be extracted in any business transaction because upwards of 80% of money in circulation is debt and therefore has interest repayments attached. In aggregate this means that no vendor can afford to sell a good or service at only cost price (which would simply cover all labour and embodied labour costs and make for a steady state economics). Instead they must always add on a price premium to cover interest repayments (which averaged around 10% in 2015). Adding this premium means that aggregate prices exceed aggregate purchasing power (wages).

      This is how wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few: when we have more than we need but fear the destructive dynamic of the system as we all begin to experience its adverse effects increasingly, rather than recycle the profits reinvesting in, say, green ventures, we stash it in asset bubbles that inflate the finance sector. And this creates a problem which a business must respond to in one of the following usually-damaging ways:

      it goes bust;
      it grows bigger (consuming more resources/occupying more land/increasing productivity through mechanisation);
      it makes cuts (in staffing or in welfare and environmental standards)
      it borrows [more] money to make up the shortfall, thus increasing the total proportion of debt in the money supply, and compounding the initial problem.

      Often, a business takes ALL of the above harmful choices. The race to the bottom is compelled by a vicious circle.

      This is all because a FEW corporations (private banks) have special rights to create money from nothing as debt at interest. (see https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/quarterly-bulletin/2014/q1/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy)

      YES absolutely we contest this privilege. But we need to recognise that banks beholden to business now have to keep issuing more and more money (from nothing as debt at interest) so that we can all keep up with the economy rather than become destitute by any sudden change (plus they have to keep a very delicate balance in the money supply to manage inflation to guard against the same destitution of the masses).

      No one of these banking activities – creating money, creating money from nothing, lending money, charging interest – is necessarily damaging on its own: what is damaging to the overall dynamic is that one group of people does all these things in one procedure, because then monopoly happens all by itself as an inherent feature of the system, benefitting only a very few at the expense of the rest of us.

      I’ve just realised the following: that, like in a living organism, the limitations of a system are the very factors that determine the dynamics of the system and ensure its conception and its life as well as its downfall.

      So Dave, as you know, I’m massively in support of what you’re doing both on the ground and in writing. And I concede that what I’ve written above may not be the book that you’re writing but rather the book that *I* want to write – and the book that I was proposing you and I write together, BUT you absolutely must remove all finger-pointing language and address the crux of the problem that lowimpact folk are concerned about: the destructive character of growth-based economics.

      To do this, aye, we need to bring money creation into our own hands, to the same place where value is created. Mutualism is the best successor that I can envisage for capitalism. Thank you so much Dave for your dynamism in bringing people together and getting these things DONE!

      To this end, here are my title and blurb ideas as promised (I know that Das Mutual is fraught, but it probably remains my best contribution to the debate!):

      Mutualism: economics to save the world by

      ‘Feudalism morphed into capitalism when wealth began to be concentrated in a different way by a different group of people. To change from capitalism, where wealth concentrates in the hands of a few at the expense of the many and the planet, to mutualism, where we all benefit within natural limits, we don’t need violent revolution or strong government intervention. All we need is to redistribute the who and the how of wealth creation. We the ten billion must create and control and trade with the wealth we all already produce with our hands or our minds on a daily basis. To do this we need to escape the banking system that keeps us on a hamster wheel by extracting a surplus to accumulate excess, driving bosses to undermine our labour for a cheaper source or by mechanisation, pillaging the earth’s resources in cost-cutting economies of scale. These dysfunctions wreak havoc, causing systemic scarcity on a planet that is naturally abundant. Sucking natural wealth from communities which must then be sustained by so-called trickle-down compels infinite growth on a planet that is naturally finite. The banking model for saving the world by is mutual credit, and here’s how we do it.’

      Other title ideas:

      Seachange: how moneyless markets could turn the rising tide

      Succession (first feudalism, then capitalism, now mutualism)

      Mutualism (first feudalism, then capitalism, now how?)

      Mutualism: saving the markets from capitalism

      Mutualism for a finite planet: wresting the markets from capitalism

      Degrowth begins at home (how to do economics better than they do)

      Gentle markets for a finite planet (how mutual credit makes degrowth economics work for all)

      The magic money tree is in our hands

      Grow your own: planting magic money trees for climate change

      Ten billion bankers save the world [by planting trees]

      Taking back the markets: banking against climate change

      How to build the credit commons with people- and planet-friendly banking

      People- and planet-friendly banking: how to build the credit commons

      OURS! Money and markets for people and planet

      Banking in the 21st century: the magic money tree in our hands

      Now what are you going to do with it? Wealth, equality and climate change

      Tree of wealth: people- and planet-friendly banking

      Our hands aren’t tied: DIY economics to save the world by

    • 24Dave Darby November 23rd, 2020

      weavingtheseisles

      Great stuff (although it was ‘spank the banks’, not ‘swank’). Yes, it’s the system, not the banks (or any other sector) – it’s just that the system I’m envisaging doesn’t ultimately require banks. Plus – if we begin to get traction, I think they’ll try to make things very difficult for us.

      Yes, stabilising the economy within capitalism will mean recession, and suffering for lots of people, starting, as usual, with the working class. It’s why I advocate system change – to a system that doesn’t need to grow constantly in the first place. (and yes, some greenies talk about stabilising the economy, but within capitalism, which doesn’t make much sense).

      Fantastic title suggestions. You’ve told me these before, and I passed them on to CG. Spent an hour on the phone with them this morning. They liked ‘Ours!’, ‘DIY Economics’ and ‘Spank the Banks’ – or at least the chief editor fell about laughing every time it was mentioned. I asked why and she said she couldn’t help thinking about what the cover image might be! But their favourite was ‘Magic Money’ – with a suitably descriptive subtitle. They’ve gone to talk with to the marketing team, but I was going to suggest ‘Magic Money: planting the seeds of a sustainable, democratic economy (seeds being a ‘tree’ reference. Dil said that ‘Magic Money Tree’ was said by Theresa May as a pseudonym for Modern Monetary Theory – MMT – in a disparaging way. But I’m not sure that matters – groups have often taken insults and embraced them – e.g. ‘queer’ etc.)
      Or:
      Magic money: planting the seeds of a sustainable, democratic economy in the cracks in capitalism (they liked the term ‘cracks in capitalism’ too).

    • 25Tom Woodroof November 24th, 2020

      Hi Dave, some further thoughts:

      – Might it make sense to swap Chapters 4 and 5 around? There seems to be a natural flow from Chapters 4 to 6 in addressing the history and future of mutual credit in practice, whereas Chapter 5 seems more abstract. Might it even make sense to put Chapter 5 before Chapter 3, given that many of the ‘usual’ alternatives given as examples (such as ‘moving money-creating powers from banks to the state’) are largely based on left-right ideologies? That would mean moving ‘why mutual credit is a tool that can appeal to both left and right’ to a later chapter (presumably 4), and ‘why decentralising power delivers freedom and equity’ could fit nicely into Chapter 3 alongside ‘why we have to do it ourselves.’ This would leave Chapter 5 a bit on the short side though.

      – With respect to the title of Chapter 1: it looks like the sections are rooted in the present tense and make a pretty convincing case that trouble has already arrived, so bringing the title in line with that may make for a more consistent framing (not that what’s ahead isn’t likely to be even worse, of course).

    • 26David Calver November 24th, 2020

      Dave,
      To what extent will you be describing the global sustainability and social justice context, challenges and opportunities in your book?

      As just one example of a useful reference, which you might have already seen, is a quite comprehensive study of the “commanding heights” of the economy (nationally and globally) which continue to be a vital piece of context for the challenge of transitioning (or ‘transcending’) to sustainability, and our money systems play a key part in that context.

      I think Daniel Yergin’s “The Commanding Heights” is an excellent and highly relevant book, published in 1998 but still highly valid today. I find myself dipping into it again and again, as it tracks the ebb and flow of the balances (and imbalances) in many nations and globally between ‘the market’ and ‘the state’ or (occasionally) global governance mechanisms like international agreements on environmental matters and trade rules etc. Although he seems (mostly) to fall on the side of supporting market approaches, at the end of the book he hints at the possibility of a resurgence of ‘the state’ and its role as regulator of things like environmental protection and climate change where markets fail or generate damage and harm. The following is from page 390: Yet if the market is seen to fail on either of those two grounds – results and restraint – if its benefits are regarded as exclusive rather than as inclusive, if it seen to nurture the abuse of private power the the specter of raw greed, then surely there will be a backlash – a return to greater state intervention, management, and control. The state would again step forward to expand its role as protector of the citizenry against the power of private interests, whether exercised through monopoly, wanton behaviour, fraud and deception, or exploitation and direct harm.”

      Maintenance and reform of money systems are a legitimate role for the state.

      These issues, I agree, transcend party politics. Indeed, I think the vision of achieving global sustainability and social justice is often damaged when it becomes co-opted by political movements, as these often result in polarisation of debates, and unnecessary conflicts.

    • 27Tom Woodroof November 24th, 2020

      Hi Dave, a couple of further thoughts:

      – Might it make sense to switch Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 around? There’s a nice flow from the history to the future of mutual credit in practical terms from Chapters 4 to 6, whereas Chapter 5 seems more abstract. Chapter 5 could even be moved before Chapter 3, since a lot of the ‘usual’ alternatives listed (such as moving ‘money-creating powers from banks to the state’) arise from left-right ideologies. ‘Why mutual credit is a tool that can appeal to both left and right’ would have to be put elsewhere (perhaps after ‘history of mutual credit’ in Chapter 4, where it could be shown from previous examples that it really has been implemented in a non-ideological manner), and ‘why decentralising power delivers freedom and equity’ could then be moved to Chapter 3 – it would fit nicely next to ‘why we have to do it ourselves.’ This rejig would leave Chapter 5 a bit on the short side though.

      – With respect to the title of Chapter 1: the sections are in the present tense and make a compelling argument that we’re already in trouble. Bringing the title away from the future tense and into the present would make the framing more coherent. Not that things aren’t likely to get a whole lot worse, of course.

      PS I like the title ‘Currency of Trust’ a lot.

    • 28Tom Woodroof November 24th, 2020

      Apologies for the repeat comment – the first one didn’t appear and I assumed my internet was playing up again.

    • 29weavingtheseisles November 24th, 2020

      David Calver, a few points on your questions regarding mutual credit modelling (below, third para): i) my impression is that economies of scale are usually harmful in one way or another (decreases in output quality/person-to-person contact/physical effort>health v. increases in resource and energy use/impersonalisation), and are only *necessary* because of the squeeze inherent in a debt money system (as expounded in my earlier comment); ii) consumer choice might to an extent be sustainably limited to what’s available locally, with imported goods resuming their earlier luxury status and appropriately highly priced (where we pay the proper labour and environmental cost)… this is either a steady state or a race to the top, NOT a race to the bottom!

      Your question about modelling is an important one which I thought of yesterday when I wrote the following to myself, I’d be interested to know if you and Dave and others here agree: ‘An online mutual credit marketplace has built-in limits: whilst in an atomised society it helps bring people together through forging new trading links, it will ultimately tend people towards localising, and perhaps become redundant for earlier users. In this way it is a transition tool away from capitalism and globalisation towards mutualism and localism. When folk have established sufficient trading links very near home, only the accounting software in the background will still be of value. That means that there probably wouldn’t be long term/indefinite users of the marketplace, which wouldn’t simply go on growing: rather it would reach a critical mass for a steady state, stay there until either everyone had got the benefit from it and moved on, or until an energy, economic or climatic apocalypse brought our species down (whichever is the sooner)! Alternatively, it could narrow and become known for exotic goods that can’t be made close to home but which must be sourced online from afar.’

      Challenges / observations:
      • How might mutual credit affect range of consumer choice? If less choice, might this be a price worth paying anyway to achieve greater good for all humanity in the round?
      • What limits might there be on the scalability of mutual credit?
      • Might the most important (existing) economies of scale be lost if we switch (completely) from the current “money system” to a mutual credit “money system”, and how might this affect our ability to keep economic systems within planetary limits? Is there, in fact, a viable alternative, of running the two systems alongside each other (or would this compromise the ability to achieve a just and sustainable future for all?)
      • Have any future scenarios around different levels of take-up of mutual credit been modelled in established (and reliable) economic models, to see whether they affect the ability to achieve sustainable levels of economic activity and material throughput (eg steady state economy within Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut economics’ safe and just operating space?) If not, is this something that could be suggested as further research?

    • 30marvin November 24th, 2020

      Dear Dave,
      cant wait to see the book ? and read it ofc.

      Just one “yeah but” that popped up:
      You say “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.” Yeah, but then other means will be found to be hoarded, suck out value to concentrate power and corrupt democracy. Means if the realms of Private property, patents and laws, personal data that is used as behavioural capital. Do we need to fight all of them, but the others are out of scope of the book? Does it even help, or is it like cutting off a head of the hydra?

    • 31David Thorne November 24th, 2020

      Dave, congratulations on the book deal. There seem to be a lot of eminent contributors on some of the detail so I have focused more on the Synopsis and how it reads. For what it’s worth here’s my rewrite!

      We have a money system that we use to trade – to buy and sell things. But that same money can also be hoarded, invested and accumulated as well as used to trade. Hoarding, investing and accumulating 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.
      3. People with vested interests achieve positions of extreme power, at a time when humanity is facing complex existential threats that require more co-operation between people and nations.

      So money has to be replaced with something that can’t be hoarded, invested and accumulated so that value stays in communities, doesn’t concentrate, and can’t be used to corrupt democracy. Something that can help us fight those complex existential threats. The answer is mutual credit.

      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.

      NB:
      I feel 1, 2 & 3 will need really clear explanation as to why and how that happens. An easy A+B+C=D for the lay reader. I’ve heard you explain it several times re interest on debt etc. so am sure you can manage it! I took out the bit about Covid as I am not sure what you mean and it may date the work as you comment elswhere.

      As far as titles go …

      Value Without Money – or the destruction it causes
      Human Currency
      How to Build a New Economy From Scratch
      Mutualism – How to Take Back Control of the Financial System
      Mutoconomics – and the end to the coporate greed destroying the planet

    • 32David Calver November 24th, 2020

      Weavingtheisles,
      I like the way you weave your response through and between the markets and (mostly local) mutualism, and the weaving of the imagining of their workings through time.

      I also like your reference to the accounting running in the background. This resonates with something I’m writing as a thread through my next book – the creation of a world balance sheet to include all the world’s natural capital (among other things). But that’s another story (which can be explored at WorldBalanceSheet.com) and via the website of my alter-ego, PlanetaryCFO.com).

      Regarding the suggestions about mutual credit facilitating, ultimately, a largely local future, with further-away trade becoming narrow and focussed on exotic goods, I think this is a very encouraging way of looking to the future. One fly in the ointment is that for this to work, most localities, all around the world, would have to be almost totally self-sufficient in essentials, so that the only things they imported from elsewhere were those ‘exotic’ goods. How realistic is this?

      On another point you make about economies of scale, I think there is value in teasing out the differences between situations where economies of scale are harmful (and why) and situations where economies of scale are not harmful (and that are, in contrast, a step towards sustainability, eg by reducing per capita resource usage, providing one can avoid falling into the Jevons Paradox, aka “rebound effect”, and by avoiding that paradox, can reduce overall material usage and/or throughput in total). Economies of scale can result in good or bad results. They are not inherently either good or bad.

    • 33Dave Darby November 24th, 2020

      Thanks Tom
      The problem with shifting chapters 4 and 5 around (I thought about that) is that part of chapter 5 is why mutual credit isn’t a right- or left-wing idea, but that’s not going to make sense if they don’t know what mutual credit is). (ah – I can see you’ve spotted that). Hmm, yeah, moving that much out of 5 would leave it pretty sparse.

      It occurs to me that you may be too young to know that ‘there may be trouble ahead’ is a famous line from a song (god, that’s depressing). but yeah, the chapter titles aren’t finalised, and this one is the only one that isn’t one word, so it might have to change. (maybe just ‘trouble’?)

    • 34Dave Darby November 24th, 2020

      David C

      One of the main things I want to say in the book is that this is something that we can do ourselves, right now – we don’t have to ask permission or wait in vain for the state to do something. Sure, if parties are elected who would do something to help us achieve the credit commons, great – but highly unlikely I’d have thought (look who’s getting elected, everywhere), as the state-bank alliance is not just a strong one, but a symbiotic one, which is why, to be honest, that I think the state/bank alliance is much more likely to see this as a threat than anything else. Nothing is happening as regards mitigation of environmental destruction, hence the different, decentralised approach.

      Eloise

      I do think that a credit commons would have natural limits, yes – based on the ability of people to provide goods and services to their clubs (usually geographically local, I guess). It seems to me that it would encourage self-employment quite a bit – there would be opportunities to join a local club, use the money you’ve just got from being laid off, start to do something you actually enjoy instead, without a boss, with a group of people who will commit to buy what you produce if you do the same. And I think the rest of your analysis is spot on. I mean, who knows what will happen, but that doesn’t sound outlandish. And, as mutual credit doesn’t lend itself to being extracted and dumped in tax havens (was looking at the estimated amounts of dosh in tax havens the other day – $36 trillion was one estimate – but there were none that weren’t phenomenal.) – It’s not going to appeal to corporate investors, and it’s going to narrow the range of (capitalist) investment opportunites – another brake on growth, possibly/hopefully.

      PS – both – I think there’s a natural scale for everything. For example, every garden could have fruit bushes / chickens / compost bins etc. But when it comes to blacksmithing/welding, breadmaking, pottery, making soap etc. it doesn’t make sense for every household to have a go at that. If you’re going to do it, do it for your community. But it really can be done in every community. Then there’s telephony and phones themselves – for example. They could be made in every country, by indigenous businesses, for their home market – there’s no need to transport these things around the world (although the raw materials would still have to be). A lot of this would require the corporate grip to be loosened a bit (but that’s got to happen anyway, if we’re going to move to a sustainable path).

    • 35Dave Darby November 25th, 2020

      marvin

      Thanks.

      I think the heart of the problem is money. If money can’t concentrate, then yes, there will be attempts to maintain power by accumulating other resources – in feudalism it was land. But the land wasn’t bought, it was granted by warlords for services rendered by mercenaries. Unless we slip back to warlordism (and OK, that’s not out of the question), land has to be bought now – and without wealth concentration, it will hopefully be distributed more evenly. But I’ll be talking to other people who are working to decentralise other parts of the economy – from energy, land and food to transport, housing and tech. In fact I’ve started talking with them already – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNNdLYx-Mxhbe_aUBk4PDrDQWEUlWlyMo

    • 36Dave Darby November 25th, 2020

      David T

      Thank you

      I didn’t want investment to be lumped in there, because it’s not a ‘problem’ in the way that wealth concentration is. We’re still going to need investment, but the trick is to reward investors with value that can be realised in the new economy rather than the old – so in future mutual credit units, or in other useful resources, rather than in fiat money. In the same way, feudal landlords had to start playing the capitalist game, accepting payments in money rather than service, paying for things in money, turfing peasants off their land to run sheep, to profit from the wool trade etc. Feudal barons who didn’t participate in the new capitalist economy found themselves left behind, bumped down the hierarchy. I think transitions are like that – violent revolutions just don’t work. When has there been a violent revolution that resulted in a better system? And voting – for whom? And how well would they do with a ‘new economy’ agenda in one country, in a very ‘old economy’ world? I think it has to be widespread, and from grassroots. That will be one of the main messages of the book.

      Yes, I need to explain how wealth accumulates, although maybe it won’t be a great mystery to most people who read the book. It’s basically various forms of profit, rent and interest that may not look pernicious at the small scale, but at the corporate scale cause massive wealth concentrations.

      The Covid reference was to stress to Chelsea Green that the time is right for this book (about moneyless trade in a time of very little money) – and it worked! I think you’re right that it shouldn’t be a central theme of the book though – as you say, it will date it, and mutual credit is still useful without economic slumps.

      Hmmm – I like ‘value without money’ and ‘human currency’.

      (although ‘value’ is one of the most difficult words to define)

    • 37henk van Arkel November 25th, 2020

      Hi Dave,

      I am not sure it is a good idea to focus on mutualisme without context. Especially if you base your book on LETS, time banks etc. If you want mutualisme to challenge, to become an alternative it is important to learn why earlier attempts were successful in certain aspects and failing in others.
      I work for the Social Trade Organisation (STRO) and we run a R&D program since 30 years, checking what worked and what not, under which conditions and for what reasons. I parallel we created Cyclos software, used by many major mutual credit programs. In our opinion the best options to really create alternatives that makes sense are:
      a. recondition existing money temporarily. Normal money can be moved into specialized accounts, often local accounts and work for the community during a specific period of time. This tool can be used by local government to increase the impact of their buy local efforts, because the purchasing power can be forced to circulate – be used – more often within the community of local accounts.
      b The second line has been developed by using our experience in mutual credit and bring it into the world of the dominant money. Like commercial barter it is a counter cyclical credit, called social trade. This type of interest free credit is also using payment network in which money – purchasing power – is captured for a fixed period before it the money can be transferred to regular bank accounts. In its essence it is supplier credit in which the debtor can delay the payment for for example 11 month. During that time however the supplying company can use – with a depreciation that is as big as the non-payment risk – this claim as liquidity in the payment network. After the 11 months, the debtor has paid the invoice locally or will have to pay in the national currency. Clearly this does not liberate society fully from the creation of money as interest bearing debts by private banks, but it can be the start of something new.
      In the book we will have ready before spring these alternatives will be explained. These are the chapters:
      h. Introduction to the next chapters
      Buying local is executed in many ways, but is seldom stimulated as seriously as in Cleveland USA or in the English town of Preston. You can read in Chapter 2 about the approach Preston used.

      Chapter 3 describes another example of local purchases in which the impact of buying local is extended. It tells about the history of the Austrian town of Wörgl in the years 1932 and 1933. Just like Preston, that city decided to stimulate the local economy by buying local. Their approach introduced an additional step, where on their turn the suppliers of the government were stimulated to spend the money earned locally too. This approach proved to be such a success in reducing unemployment figures that many other communities decided to copy it. Unfortunately, the central bank got nervous of these new developments and decided to forbid the initiatives.

      In Chapter 4, we will see how modern technology can facilitate the approach that proved to be useful in Wörgl, for every modern region or city. The new technologies enable a bank, a cooperative or a government to offer local accounts to local companies. At a later point, local consumers could also open such an account. This introduces the opportunity to reach the next level of local buying: the Buy Local Booster.

      The Buy Local Booster is more closely discussed in Chapter 5. A definition is provided, and the conditions that create the need for it are researched. Such a condition might be that the region has to deal with an exchange rate that does not fits its reality. Next to the economic circumstances it is imported that many companies open an local account. Crucial is also that local companies accept the inconvenience of being forced to buy local because they know the additional circulation of the purchasing power will boost their income.

      Chapter 6 introduces the consortium of regions that are preparing the introduction of this Buy Local Booster. That consortium is being supported by the Social Trade Organisation that takes care that the lessons learnt are shared.

      Then in Chapter 7, we discuss the possible impact that could come when the government takes responsibility for the effect of her expenditures on the community. What results can be expected?

      In Chapter 8, is written for those that want to introduce the Buy Local Booster. What practical steps are needed to make it work?

      Chapter 9 describes a credit innovation that becomes possible as soon as the Buy Local Booster created a community with enough participants. First, various types of credit, and the options these offer to introduce additional money for organizing the local economy, are discussed these. Special attention is given to the option to provide credit to starting businesses and for innovations needed to make the transition towards a more sustainable type of production and consumption.

    • 38Dave Darby November 25th, 2020

      Hi Henk

      Let’s talk? – that’s fascinating, as is the STRO. Drop me a line – dave at lowimpact.org. Looking forward to your book.

      The focus is mutual credit, not mutualism, LETS or timebanks. Mutualism might be problematic because it’s a flavour of anarchism, which most people still associate with chaos and violence, even though it means the exact opposite. But there’s now software that allows federation – for businesses to trade between mutual credit clubs – federatable to the global level – the ‘credit commons’.

      Sardex use Cyclos I believe – it was created by STRO? Doesn’t allow federation though.

      a) The ‘specialised accounts’ approach would be championed by local authorities like Preston?

      b) this is the kind of mutual credit-ish approach that I’d like to talk about in chapter 7 – variety.

      Yes, Worgl was a very successful scrip experiment. The town boomed at a time when everywhere else was in a slump. As you say, it was closed down by the state – which is still the biggest threat to the growth of mutual credit imo.

    • 39Steve Gwynne November 25th, 2020

      Very interesting Dave, especially the contributions so far.

      Magic Money – Rebuilding the Currency of Trust

      I was reading this article this morning and thought of you.
      https://www.socialeurope.eu/greater-equality-our-guide-through-covid-19-to-sustainable-wellbeing

      My sense is that your approach is largely based on egalitarianism and how greater equality within societies tends to increase societal wellbeing via redistributive mechanisms.

      Hence, from this point of view, mutual credit systems seems to be primarily a redistributive mechanism (vis a vis the current system) that creates actual and imagined experiences of increased equality both vertically and horizontally, especially through enhanced organisational economic democracy and cooperative federations.

      Therefore, as detailed in the Spirit Level, if mutual credit systems can create greater equality at local, national and possibly global levels, then as a currency of sustainability, resilience and sufficiency, mutual credit systems will enhance societal wellbeing.

      In this respect, I feel ‘equality building’ needs to be a primary narrative throughout in order to stimulate ‘buy in’ to mutual credit systems. Thus mc becomes a political economic movement in order to create greater levels of equality and thereby greater levels of trust, wellbeing, sustainability, resilience and sufficiency through cooperative action (mutualism).

      I say this because ‘buy in’ is your most significant challenge. How do you convince people like me or Dave Calver. Perhaps by fostering throughout the book the societal benefits of greater equality (egalitarianism) which mutual credits can and do facilitate.

      In other words, I feel your book needs a covert political narrative in order to maximise buy in and one that appeals to the centre, and not the radical Left or Right.

      Perhaps this covert political narrative can be built up around the more neutral themes of community sustainability, community resilience and community sufficiency.

      Sorry if I duplicated. I ran out of my alloted time and energy to be able to thoroughly read all the comments, as interesting as they all were.

      I’m sure this will be a very interesting journey for you. Cheers ?

    • 40Steve Gwynne November 25th, 2020

      Mutual Credit – the currency of trust

      Mutual Credit – the currency of equality

    • 41Dave Darby November 25th, 2020

      Steve

      Thanks

      I’d say equality of opportunity more than egalitarianism per se – after all, in a mutual credit system, if you work twice as hard as your neighbour, you’ll get twice as much credit – but not ten thousand times as much, as happens now (and generally, the biggest rewards go to those who do no work at all). The right claim that we have equality of opportunity because of laws against various forms of discrimination, completely sidestepping the fact that some kids are born to billionaires and some are born to homeless people.

      Got to emphasise freedom as much as equality too, I think, so as not to scare the right. And really, there’s nothing for them to be scared of. No route to stalinism here.

      And I’d say non-extractive rather than redistributive – i.e. rather than taxing people (but not corps – not properly at least), and redistributing that wealth to communities, we’re talking about putting in place systems that don’t drain wealth from communities in the first place.

      But “greater levels of trust, wellbeing, sustainability, resilience and sufficiency through cooperative action (mutualism).” – spot on, yes, that’s what I want to say.

      If you and David Calver aren’t sole traders or small businesses (are you?) then I guess I’m not looking persuade you to do anything other than help spread the word (yeah, I guess that’s important too). But if small traders find in the coming years that their customers don’t have money, and they have no money to pay suppliers, it might become a no-brainer. It’s already being tried, successfully in Africa and Latin America, so we’ll see what happens there. But it’s a practical tool rather than a political theory.

      “appeals to the centre, and not the radical Left or Right.” – yeah, but the mainstream left and right, certainly. But again, it’s just a tool (as Tom Greco says).

      “more neutral themes of community sustainability, community resilience and community sufficiency.” – yep, those are what I want to stress.

      And yes, I was originally thinking that mutual credit had to be in the title, but CG didn’t like it – said it sounded too dull, and they wanted to book to be about wider economic change too. I’ll talk to them again about that.

    • 42David Calver November 25th, 2020

      Dave D,
      I retired from paid employment couple of years ago, so I’m no longer a sole trader – my contributions are now mainly my thoughts, writings (blogs and books), imaginings, challenging of the ideas of others, encouragement of others to think in different ways from the ways that brought us to this precipice of unsustainability etc. This is how I use my many privileges to further a vision for a just and sustainable future. Sometimes, I’ve been able to do this while also volunteering on boards of relevant charities. I’ve also developed my alter-ego, PlanetaryCFO.com, to help formulate ideas and promulgate them.

    • 43Steve Gwynne November 25th, 2020

      Thanks Dave for clarifying.

      I’m self employed (gardener, landscaping, labourer) with previous experience as a sole trader (importing Nepalese goods to sell on markets and selling home grown produce).

      For me, within my self sufficiency lifestyle, my low income levels (through choice) is primarily to pay my bills (allotment rent, mobile phone monthly sim, pay my NI contributions, membership subscription to various charities, newspaper subscription) and foodstuff I can’t produce (oil, salt, spices, bread/flour, cake ?, tea, coffee etc).

      So this is my personal economy (or personal economic ecosystem). My previous fresh produce clients would have possibly subscribed to a mutual credit system but I wouldn’t have the ability to cash in my credits to support my economic needs beyond what I provide for myself. So there needs to be buy in from the ethical corporate world. The Coop seems one of the best vehicles in that respect since they have a national network of city, town and village stores although they are generally expensive. The same applies regarding my bills although buy in from local authorities would help, especially if they brokered/bought a range of utility services from corporations.

      I’m not that enamoured by Magic Money as it deflects from the much more important infrastructures that need to be created in order to get mutual credit systems running. For me, it is not so much about the money/credit, it is much more about the systems.

      Mutual Credit – the currency of sustainability, resilience and sufficiency ???️

    • 44Steve Gwynne November 25th, 2020

      Community Mutual Credit – the currency of local sustainability, resilience and sufficiency.

    • 45Dave Darby November 25th, 2020

      Steve

      These are exactly the kinds of conversations we need to be having with people – especially people who would like to convene a club in their community – is there circularity, i.e. are there trading loops, so that people don’t get stuck at their credit or debit limit? There have to be ways for people to earn credits and to spend them. That’s what LETS couldn’t manage – but we now have the federation superpower, so if someone gets stuck in their club, they could earn or spend in another. Local circularity is still very important though. And you’re right that we need to get some of the big boys in. We spoke with Suma, for the Open Credit Network, and they were interested as long as we got lots of small businesses trading first.

      I feel a bit like that with Magic Money, but CG like it, it rolls off the tongue, and we could explain more in the subtitle. Dunno. V difficult.

    • 46Steve Gwynne November 27th, 2020

      My only feeling is that CG are trying to associate with MMT or magic money tree and in a sense clickbaiting with the title magic money. Not saying that in a cynical way but from the point of view of marketing.

      I’ll have a chat when I get a chance with some colleague friends about the open credit network. One in particular used to be very active in a anarchist sense in relation to DIY social centres and the like. The difficulty was always how to expand/capture people and businesses beyond that environment.

      I’d presume community markets might be a good place to start, thinking Stirchley Community Market here, but then how to link traders with tradespeople.

      Must be a bit frustrating that hard austerity conditions seems to evolve these mutual credit systems organically but without the hard austerity there doesn’t seem to be the same glue.

      How to turn desire and want into need without the sense of urgency!

      I wonder if this £4bn levelling up local projects fund is worth a look at. A thought is that maybe you need to start with a product like what Mondragon did
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation
      Something to get the ball rolling.

      Would it be easier in a place like Frome, ie with Adrian. A place that has that sort of ethic to begin with.

      Have you read
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_credit

      Maybe CG did and from there got their idea of Magic Money!

    • 47Dave Darby November 28th, 2020

      Steve

      Having touted the title around CG staff, the title they prefer now is ‘Edgeonomics’ – which I really didn’t like at first, but I have to admit is growing on me (economics for a world on the edge of a precipice? ‘Edgy’ economics?). It’s not set in stone though. But it needs a subtitle that explains a bit more. The title and subtitle need to make people want to pick the book up and read the back cover – which needs to make people want to read the book – which needs to make people say ‘yes, I’ll give this a go – what do I do next?’. The pruned list is:

      Building a mutually-owned economy

      How mutual credit can form the core of a new economy

      How you can be part of the new economy

      Building the economy we desperately need.

      Planting the seeds of a new economy

      Planting the seeds of a new economy in the cracks in capitalism

      Building a new economy in the cracks in capitalism

      How a mutually-owned economy is achievable

      How crises stimulate change

      Thriving in times of economic crisis

      Building a new economy without banks

      And the end of ideology

      For a decentralised, sustainable, democratic economy

      Building the new economy from grassroots

      How moneyless markets can turn the rising tide

      The magic money tree is in our hands

      Yes – lack of money definitely stimulates moneyless trading – the coming economic slump will be an opportunity for mutual credit I think. But even without the slump, most areas of the world have huge problems with poverty, and mutual credit(ish) schemes are happening in Latin America and Africa. I think India would be fertile ground. In fact, the natural conservatism and relative wealth in the UK means that if it works here, it will work anywhere (I hope).

      What’s the £4bn levelling up local projects fund?

      Yes, seen the wiki entry, and yes, Frome would probably be an ideal candidate.

    • 48weavingtheseisles November 30th, 2020

      Dave,

      I like ‘Edgeonomics’. How about ‘Edgeonomics: the credit commons is yours’ or ‘Edgeonomics: DIY money creation’?

      I need to think more about what you said about the relationship between banks and governments being symbiotic – that’s a very positive phrasing! Do say more if you’ve time…

      BTW when I first offered writing support I didn’t mean that I’d barge in with my loudly-voiced opinions as I have done above; with my old academic hat on I’d be way more hands-off, just asking you questions and letting you do the talking/thinking/writing! So that offer still stands and I’ll be polite ?

      Great discussion here (of course), thanks all.

      Eloïse

    • 49Dave Darby November 30th, 2020

      Eloise

      Let’s talk. I’d love to interview you to get the perspective of someone interested in starting a club.

      Banks / state. Top of my head, 30 seconds. States give banks monopoly power to create money, as debt, when people take out loans / mortgages, and to charge interest on it. As more people are discovering, and I know that you know, banks create money from thin air. In return, central banks (or banks, as it’s their money in the central bank) provide money to governments by purchasing bonds (aka IOUs), so that they can fulfill all their spending obligations without raising taxes, which would reduce their popularity and therefore likelihood of re-election. Meanwhile the public pay for it all via interest and inflation.

      At the moment, only this bank/debt ‘legal tender’ can be used to pay taxes – not crypto, or local currencies, or mutual credit, or any of its spin-offs, or in kind. If the state accepted mutual credit, that would be bad for the banks, so I can’t see it happening, because of their cosy relationship (as well as politicians ending up as bank directors, or the large number of Goldman Sachs alumini getting into positions of huge power with state and global institutions. DK why this particular bank – it’s not the biggest). I can see local authorities having mutual credit accounts relatively soon though, so that cash-strapped local businesses can pay local taxes).

      So, if we really get traction towards credit commons, I can’t see states liking it. But because it’s so decentralised, and if it’s really popular, it might be difficult for them to do anything about it. (some politicians, if elected, would endorse it – like Corbyn – but those politicians will be so hammered by the corporate press, it’s hard to see how they can get elected).

    • 50weavingtheseisles November 30th, 2020

      Dave,

      I’d be interested to think about what a *positive* symbiosis between state and bank would look like, e.g. how (whether?) the relationship would be altered by a (any) positive money system (including, but not limited to, mutual credit).

      How about we assume that we are doing the work that states are too handcuffed by capitalism to do themselves, and that they will at a certain point clamour to adopt our mutual credit solution?

      Yes, let’s talk about cluster-building, thank you – I’ll get back to you on that later in December as I’ve some things to iron out in my thinking first.

      The table I’m sitting at in my folks’ house has a book on it of Chelsea Green’s called (I’m sure you know it) ‘Miraculous Abundance: one quarter acre, two farmers, and enough food to feed the world’. So maybe Chelsea Green would like a book called ‘Edgeonomic Abundance: four working days, one pair of hands, and enough money to always get by’?

      Eloïse

    • 51Dave Darby November 30th, 2020

      Eloise – I don’t know if PM have any plans about how to get it implemented (and it’s MMT they’re talking about isn’t it? I know some people in PM – I’ll try to get an interview. They could have great ideas, but under the current circumstances, I don’t know how they’d get them done. Plus, they’d have to make sure that every future government was onside too, or they’d just reverse it. Would it require the election of a govt. that the corporate press don’t like? If so, I don’t know how they see it unfolding. Do you?

      Clamouring to adopt mutual credit sounds good.

      Yes, speak later in the year or early next.

      (you’re a fount of ideas! I like the word abundance in there somewhere).

      Strapline: Abundance in times of crisis or Abundance when money is scarce etc. ?

    • 52Dave Darby November 30th, 2020

      ah, bedtime reading – https://positivemoney.org/2018/09/modern-monetary-theory-and-positive-money/

    • 53weavingtheseisles November 30th, 2020

      Dave,

      Positive Money are most certainly taking steps towards implementation of a positive monetary system, but it is incremental (they, far more than we, have to beware scaring the horses of course).

      As I understand it, PM differs from MMT in some very significant ways – not least because the status, relationship and mechanisms of the Fed to the government are different. Unlike the BoE, the Fed is effectively private; and unlike the BoE, it *does* create money for government spending (via a feedback loop of issuing debt to the government, collecting interest from the government and then returning the profits to the government).

      So if ‘magic money tree’ is an MMT term then this would be why. (Yes, it was definitely said derisively by Theresa May, but it was taken up by the contesting UK left as we all loudly insisted that there was indeed a magic money tree – ours takes the form of QE.)

      However, I’ve read MMT scholars who erroneously hold the Fed to be state-owned, when in fact it is just as answerable to its (100% corporate banker) shareholders; and b) this money it creates only constitutes a small proportion of all money created in the US (if one doesn’t know quite how much of the money in circulation has been created from nothing as debt at interest, then one can’t appreciate the extent of the destructive growth compulsion and structurally necessary inequality).

      The outcome is that MMTers believe that a government taxes not in order to spend but in order to balance the amount of money that’s already in circulation *after* it has spent into the economy in the form of welfare and infrastructure. That is, MMT holds that the present system is spend then tax, not tax then spend.

      The US, like France (for one), shrugs its shoulder at a massive deficit (it has the ‘get out of jail free’ card of the dollar/oil tie, after all.). The UK, on the other hand, obeys EU treaties that prohibit money creation by government owned central banks (cf. the ‘Treaty for the Functioning of the EU’ as cited by Bill Mitchell in an article you shared in 2016 about ‘Why the EU cannot be democratised’). Thus the UK government, which has to tax before it spends (beware the misapprehension of British MMTers!) is in a pretty similar relationship to corporate banks as we citizens are to corporate banks – and its hands are similarly tied.

      Sorry if you already know most of this, and do correct me if the PM literature you just linked to differs, but do not conflate PM with MMT. At the very least they address two differing systems (but I think that MMT is also plain flawed!). The below might help,

      https://www.globalresearch.ca/who-owns-the-federal-reserve/10489

    • 54Daviid Calver December 2nd, 2020

      Eloise, I’ve acquired a copy of “Miraculous Abundance: One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World” myself to add to my extensive reading list, as the title sounds positive. I have a veggie patch myself that is about a quarter of an acre and it’s been sorely neglected in the last couple of years for various reasons. Getting older, and suffering occasional things that doctors generally respond to with “learn to expect this at your age”, so my reality has never been quite the same as my ambitious plans have been for turning it into a sort of smallholding over the years.

      Eloise (and Dave D) – this leads me to a new question: What does mutual credit as a system offer for those who are getting old, or who are unable to be fully productive (or even totally unproductive and needing assistance to lead a decent life) – or does that requirement fall back on state vehicles like social care and health systems, funded from taxes on productive businesses and individuals? Can mutual credit systems help generate sufficient business activity to carry this overhead tax cost in countries with ageing population profiles, if the existing mainstream systems are to be transcended ultimately?

    • 55Dave Darby December 2nd, 2020

      Thanks Eloise – I’ll look at the PM blogs and get back to you. Probably too much detail for the book to be honest.

      David – this is a common question, and I’ll cover it in more detail in future blog articles and in the book, but quickly, yes, as mutual credit grows, the state will still provide the safety net. But the state didn’t always provide the safety net, before around 1920 there were ‘friendly societies’ in every town. Everyone paid a weekly sub into the pot, and if you were ill, unemployed or unable to work in any way, someone would come round and look after you. They could give you money, but it would be more than that. They might bring a pot of soup, look after your kids, get you some shopping in etc. Plus they’d know if you weren’t really ill, because they’d be part of your immediate community. It was much less impersonal, but it was destroyed in the 1920s with the introduction of the centralised welfare state. Taxes were not voluntary, like the friendly society subs, and so the friendly society subs stopped, and so did the friendly societies. I’m talking with Graham Mitchell about his efforts to set up social care coops – https://www.lowimpact.org/national-network-social-care-co-ops-graham-mitchell-part-2/. It’s possible to imagine these coops funded from transaction fees from the local mutual credit network, and paid in credits (and more resilient than state provision – I imagine that welfare states will be the first casualties of any extreme economic and/or social and ecological crash).

    • 56weavingtheseisles December 2nd, 2020

      Hi David C,

      I see that Dave naturally has a great answer to your question on how mutual credit should work for the elderly. The less elderly will surely usually have something to offer (a befriending effort to a lonely member of the community? A quarter acre veg plot to a landless member of the community?) when one digs into offerings that are not usually remunerated but which could be offered in multilateral exchange for care and assistance (both professional and casual)?

      I was thinking about your very reasonable comment that some economies of scale are good. An example that occurred to me was that it’s better to transport 500 people in a train than have them each take a car… but wouldn’t it be better still if only a few of them needed to travel and if that were by horse or barge or sail?! I guess it partly depends on where (at what level of production) one starts one’s conception of an economy of scale. Is a spinner using a spinning wheel instead of a drop spindle creating an economy of scale? Or does s/he create an economy of scale once they become the (only) full time spinner of the village? I was thinking that an economy of scale first occurs where there’s a production line… (I’m a bit anti production lines, but you must be right that economies of scale can’t all be bad at least in principle!)

      Eloïse

    • 57David Calver December 3rd, 2020

      Eloise,
      I’ve started reading the ‘… two French farmers …’ book and it occurs to me that some of the challenges are to encourage the billions of people who currently live in unsustainable cities to move and live and work on, or near, small highly productive farms – a reversal of the trend of the industrial revolution. Useful economies of scale could still be utilised in many different parts of the supply chains, for example for situations where not all required inputs, tools and marketplaces could be produced or accessed locally. It’s an exciting vision, and I have envisaged it in the following excerpt from one of my books published earlier this year:

      “The clearing in which I now stood was about twenty metres in diameter. It was the now ubiquitous local hub of the district I inhabited and worked in. The most obvious feature was a large semi-spherical transparent dome taking up most of the space. A few people stood inside it, talking to each other or facing the inside surface of the dome and moving their limbs around in ways that were reminiscent of old-world electronic “play-computer” techno competitions.
      Rain was just beginning to fall from the bright but lightly clouded sky. For a moment, I tilted my head up and enjoyed the feeling of raindrops hitting my skin. I lingered for an instant, then stepped through the transparent wall of the dome, which gave way to my movement and reformed itself after I had passed through it …
      (later) … I walked back along the forest path towards the patch of natural forest I work at managing, deciding that the particular qualities of the air, light and forest sounds would help to ground me in my cogitations about the World Balance Sheet options that had been presented, and any new options that might come to mind as I went. I knew I wanted there to be some land, currently in use for more intensive agriculture in the neighbouring district, for my child to grow a tree-house of their own on. With my life expectancy being several centuries, they were going to have to wait a long time if they were intending to wait until they inherit my one. On the other hand, I realised only too well that depriving farmers of their farmland to make way for my child’s ambitions would reduce the chances of their own children having a farm to inherit, and might even mean a change of occupation for one farmer or another! Nothing in this world is isolated from everything else, I reflected.
      I could tell this was probably going to be one of many walks I’d be taking to consider all the options before the matter would be settled by the Global Council on all our behalf. On this occasion, I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that it seemed like no time at all had passed before I arrived at the edge of the natural forest patch, and immediately I was drawn to an animal nesting box that needed some attention, so I approached the low wooden workshop to gather up a few tools to borrow for the purpose, and grabbed a piece of fruit, poured myself a cup of juice and some grainy bread from the vestibule integrated into the doorway to keep me going while I worked, wondering how best I was going to engage and involve my child in the decision when I would meet them later on to take over from the teacher …”

    • 58Sjaak Adriaanse April 7th, 2021

      Dear Dave,

      I also have been trying for some time now to get some points about the money system across, by writing short stories and metaphors on my blog. The address is geldstukken.wordpress.com, but they are in Dutch. If you are interested, please send me you email address and I will send you translations. Some stories are about mutual credit, some try to demolish the idea that a monolithic money system is the only possibility.

      Greetings, Sjaak

    • 59Dave Darby April 7th, 2021

      Hi Sjaak
      dave at lowimpact dot org
      cheers

    Leave a comment

    We welcome questions

    Due to a spike in very clever spam, comments are moderated and take a little time to appear.

    There’s a crash coming – a slap from Mother Nature. This isn’t pessimistic; it’s realistic.

    The human impact on nature and on each other is accelerating and needs systemic change to reverse.

    We’re not advocating poverty, or a hair-shirt existence. We advocate changes that will mean better lives for almost everyone.

    Stay up to date

    Newsletter sign up is temporarily disabled

    Facebook icon Twitter icon

    All rights reserved © lowimpact 2022