Gift and exchange networks

Gift economyfreecycle

As communities, we can go ahead and make our own “money”. “Money” can either be a grand illusion designed to enslave people with debt, or simply a “currency” or a means of making exchanges of energy and resources easier. Unfortunately,  “money” as we know it has become a thing of slavery.  As long as central banks control the money supply and loan the supply of money with  exploitative interest charged on debt, there can never be as much real money as there is debt. People spend enormous portions of their life energy repaying debts…even to the point of families being forced from their homes and farmers from their land. The other profound consequence of spiralling debt is that it ties us to an inherently unsustainable infinite-growth economy, which is already severely testing the global ecosystem’s limits of resilience.

“Currency” on the other hand, meaning a straightforward and fair exchange of energy, can be made for free by communities.  Free exchange of love and trust, as well as other needs like food and a place to stay, are readily made between family and close friends. The true expression of this is as a gift: no reciprocation is asked for or expected, it is naturally assumed that others will give alike, and “pay it forward“. There is great potential in true gifting for a completely moneyless economy.

However, insofar as we still require some formalised exchange in society as it stands, there are straightforward ways that almost gift-like exchange can extend to neighbourhoods and whole communities. Apart from giving stuff away, organising convivial,  energy sharing groups, throwing parties etc, simple formalised exchange systems known as “community exchange systems” or “local energy exchange systems” and co-operative structures like Local Seed Networks, Community Supported Agriculture and local grassroots marketing and value-adding co-ops allow local energy to flow more freely. “Conventional” money can be part of this flow, and “local currency” is usually reckoned as equivalent “dollar for dollar” to conventional currency, to make integration with the conventional economy easier.

Oh no, I do need money to get by in this life

All that I want is freedom to tend some soil beneath the sky

Don’t you feel that we’re slaving to a fool’s game?

And don’t you feel that the lust for more just brings us pain?

Why shouldn’t we be free?

Why shouldn’t we just be

Forever here

The life force is my shepherd – I shall not want

Mother Earth protects us, I’m satisfied with what I’ve got

Don’t you feel that this system is so insane?

And don’t you feel that the rat race only brings us pain?

Why shouldn’t we be free?

Why shouldn’t we just be

Forever here


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