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Dr. Gillian Taylor: Don't tell me you don't use money in the 23rd Century.
Kirk: Well we don't.

From The Voyage Home Star Trek IV


Abolishing Money


I've had this thought creeping around my brain for the last little while and no matter how hard I try, it won’t leave. So, being a writer, I have found the best way to exorcise thoughts from my brain is to write about them. Plant the thought out there in the wider consciousness so that it may grow unfettered and stop busting up the inside of my head, so that it doesn’t explode. So here goes for what it’s worth.

So what would a world without money look like and how could it possibly work?

Let's start with basics. The number one issue for an individual’s survival is physical security, I would surmise. This security could perhaps be best described as secured survival. And of course that would include sufficient food and shelter so that waking from day to day our basic needs would be secured. i.e. enough to eat, a safe place to be and like that.

Now being from Canada and having to face the brutally cold winters of much of this place, shelter is a more existential concern than say living in warmer climates and consumes more of a person’s time than it would in say, Costa Rica. Like squirrels, we always have one eye on making sure we have gathered enough nuts for the winter. But regardless of where one lives, secured survival is a very important issue.

How could this be achieved without money being a consideration? It seems to me that there are many houses vacant in the US now due to foreclosure (based on money). If money where abolished then the houses could just be lived in. People could find the shelter that suited them and move in to protect themselves and their families from the elements.

Ahh you say, but who gets what house. Do I get the better house than my neighbour? Do we start fighting over who gets what, that the “strong” will get the best and the “weak” shall inherit the slum?

I guess this is the fundamental issue that confronts us when the very idea of living without money is first broached.

It all boils down to the essence of a person, the essential nature of a human being.

To my way of thinking, the whole money thing is based on promoting the very worst things about a human being. The people that seem to do the best in a monetized system are the alpha types, or perhaps better described as psychopathic personalities.

Their needs take precedence over the needs of others, often to the detriment of the “weaker” persons. However, anyone imbued with any degree of empathy (a seemingly natural human trait, according my observations) or “sensitivity” finds it very difficult to ignore the discomfort of their fellow citizen, much less possessing any desire to profit from it. So we have a created a society that rewards psychopathy at the expense of empathy.

Our leaders and "people on the top" are people who have risen there because they possess the necessary traits to make them “successful”. Having reached the plateau of this success, they look down upon the steaming masses through this prism of their greed and suspect the rest of us to be these similar greedy murderous creatures and therefore must be corralled accordingly so that there position in society are secured, safely protected from the destructive traits that they so clearly recognize within themselves.

They then shape a society in their own image, based on avarice, fear, hatred and jealously assuming that everyone is as they are. But is this the truth.

Most people I meet in my day to day life are individuals and families who seem more than content to safely raise their children (wishing for them the same or better life than the one they themselves had). Sure, everyone wants to win the lottery, but most of us just want to trundle along with our simple pleasures so that we can survive securely and perhaps flourish in fulfilling our life’s desires. Which, I have found, rarely have to do with being a exceedingly wealthy.

Most people, when asked what they would do with their lottery winnings, express the desire to do the things that they always wanted to do, whatever that may be. All I am suggesting is that we should be able to live that way regardless of possessing money.

Which brings us to the fundamental issue of what determines a successful life.

How often have we heard that to do what you sincerely love to do is reward enough, and that a great many people who have achieved this status often say I would do this thing I do for free. Being paid for it is a bonus.

So could it be as simple as redesigning our system to find out what it is each of us would like to do to further our individual development as if life is an evolution from point A to point B and what we end up doing in this lifetime is a big part of it. That we end up as a Citizen Kane or a Mathma Ghandhi may, in a large part have to do with what we like doing.

I don't believe becoming wealthy by creating wealth is a bad thing at all. In fact, I think its probably a good thing. But too often, once the initial wealth has been created, monster corporations step in to monopolize this wealth to the exclusion of all else. To be sure, the first thing a successful corporation does is try to minimize its competition.

And here’s where the argument that for most of you will probably send this little essay off the rails and the “dreamer” moniker will be applied to me, not for the first time. Maybe left to our devices we are good beings driven by good motives to achieve great and creative things, constantly being derailed by a force of greed imposed on us by those making the rules having created them in their own cold-blooded reptilian image.

Living in a state of constant existential fear is not good for the mental health. Indeed this state is so fearful to a great many wealthy people that they will go to extraordinary and often illegal means (need I mention the name Madoff) to avoid this anxiety.

My simple thesis is that without money motivating all our actions, it may be possible for us as a civilization to emerge from the swamp of this reptilian behaviour to evolve to a society where money is not the motivator. Rather the love of the action we choose to spend our life doing would become the primary directive.

After all, wasn't it a simple exposure to the realties of his Kingdom that caused Siddhartha (the Buddha), who was destined to be a prince and ruler, abandon it all in an attempt to understand the stunning contradictions between his luxurious birthright and the facts of existence he saw around him.

May I paraphrase Mr. Spock: "Abolishing money would seem highly logical Captain."