Community Exchange News

Community Exchange News is the Newsletter of the Cape Town Talent Exchange


  1. Editorial: Now is the time!
  2. Admin: Assistance required
  3. Community: New CES social networking site launched
  4. Web Site: New Groups feature launched
  5. Partners: Transition Towns Movement
  6. Members: Terms & Conditions of Use
  7. Tip: Buy what you can sell; sell what you can buy
  8. International: The current state of the network
  9. Statistics: CTTE trading figures
  10. Site: New features
  11. Tip: Invoices and Trading Slips
  12. Theory: Monetary Hegemony

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If you would like to unsubscribe from the Community Exchange News mailing list please do not write to the Admin and ask to be removed. You are in a position to determine what you receive and for how long you do or don't receive anything. Simply access your account and click on the [My Record] button at the top. In your personal profile you can tick which publications you don't want to receive.

Back issues

If you would like to read back issues of Community Exchange News, they are all on the web site at You will also find the Newsletters of other exchanges on the CES network in the same place.

The Talent Exchange — where your wealth is your talent

1. Editorial: Now is the time to grow the Talent Exchange!

With the meltdown of financial markets, banking on the brink and the global money system on the verge of collapse, there is no time like the present to strengthen and grow the Talent Exchange.

Most of us take the money monopoly for granted. Money means Rands (or dollars or whatever if you live elsewhere). But what will happen when the money system we are so familiar with stops working, when Rands become worthless? Do we just live with over 200,000,000% inflation like Zimbabweans? Or do we find another way of 'doing' money', a more rational way that will allow us to continue trading no matter what the dysfunctional mainstream system is doing?

The current financial crisis should alert us to the fact that it is very dangerous to rely on just one form of money, just as it is dangerous to rely on one form of anything. We not only need a life raft to carry us through the 'rough seas' ahead, but to carry us forward to a future where we can ultimately abandon the corrupt fiat currencies on which we have staked our existence and which are bringing humanity to the brink of disaster.

What we are witnessing now is a monetary phenomenon, not a natural disaster. Everything is still in place: the farms are still there, the factories and infrastructure are still there, the workers are still there, the demand is still there, but the economy slumps because there is a shortage of money! Isn't that absurd? It's the same as saying that the passengers can't get on the bus because there is a shortage of tickets! As with tickets, money is an invention of man (no woman would devise such a stupid system!) not some natural creation over which we have no control.

In the coming dark times what will be important is not how much money you have in your bank account or how secure your job is, but how strong your links are with your neighbours, friends and community. It is on these relationships that you will rely for your means of existence, not the failing global economy. The local or community economy is what will become important, and for that you will need a matching community-based money system. The Talent Exchange is such a system and it is gearing up to help us cope with the 'hard times' ahead. It allows us to build community networks and trade with our neighbours. It keeps the economy where we are and provides us with the means to exchange our narrow specialisations for the goods and services that others can provide.

There IS another way of doing money and we CAN bring back the money power to the commons. We DON'T need to rely on the fraudulent debt-based money monopoly that is controlled by big money in collusion with government.

See our article below on monetary hegemony.

2. Administration: Writers and editors wanted

This Newsletter should appear every month, yet there has been no issue of it since April 2007. We apologise for that but its production has proved too much for our tiny admin team who have been concentrating on developing the system and servicing the huge number of international exchanges that have now joined the CES network.

We are looking for people to help us with the task of producing this Newsletter so that it can appear as regularly as possible and keep the users of the Cape Town Talent Exchange advised about developments and events related to this exchange.

If you are a journalist, writer or an editor or have any skills related to the production of an electronic publication please contact us. Write to We would like this to be a collective effort and reflect the views of all CTTE users.

3. Community: Join the Community Exchange Network site on Ning

A new Community Exchange Network social networking site has been created on Ning. The purpose of this site is to provide a forum for CES users and administrators, and the general public, to discuss the CES and complementary currencies in general. There are many sites out there that discuss the need for alternative exchange systems, but this site is expressly for real and potential users of such systems.

Please go to and sign up. Then join the Cape Town Talent Exchange group, another group or start one of your own.

With global markets failing and the usury-based global money system showing signs of terminal illness, it is imperative that we begin discussing monetary alternatives. There is much to learn from all over the world, and we can share our experiences with those who are still searching.

4. Site: New Groups feature launched

In June long-awaited new Groups feature was launched on the CES web site. This is supplemented by the Ning social networking site mentioned above. While the latter is more for virtual groups, the Groups feature on is for setting up and managing real-life groups in your community.

Groups can be local or global in scope. Only users of your own exchange (i.e. the Cape Town Talent Exchange) can join local groups and such groups can only be seen by users of the CTTE. Any users anywhere can see and join global groups. Obviously the nature of such groups would be very different: global groups would be more virtual, while local groups more on-the-ground.

There are five access levels for groups:

Anyone can join and invite others to join. Everyone can see the group's information, discussion forum and photos but only members will receive posted items and be able to contribute to the discussion forum.
Anyone can apply to join and invite others to join but applications have to be approved by the group owner. Everyone can see the group's information, notice board and discussion forum but only members will receive posted items and be able to contribute to the notice board and discussion forum.
Only those invited to join by the group owner may join. Everyone can see the group's information, notice board and discussion forum but only members will receive posted items and be able to contribute to the notice board and discussion forum.
Only those invited to join by the group owner may join. Only members can see the group's information, notice board and discussion forum and only members will receive posted items and be able to contribute to the notice board and discussion forum. The group will not be visible to others or found through a search.
Only the group owner can add names to the group. Those added will not be aware that their names are in your personal group. The group will not be visible to others or found through a search.

Use the Groups feature to set up real-life groups in your community. As a group can be registered as a trading entity the group owner acquires administrative powers to manage and monitor the group's trading. This is great if you want to charge a membership fee in Talents so that the group can derive an income. You also get full emailing facilities to keep members informed of events and issues.

Hidden groups are useful for keeping information about your friends and favourite traders. You can set up your own 'address book' of Talent Exchange members and monitor your trade with them.

The Groups function is very powerful but requires some initiative to get the most out of it. Essentially it is intended to enhance the community aspect of the CES - to provide users with the tools to set up, manage and monitor community groups and integrate them with the Talent Exchange trading community.

Here are some of the local groups that have already been set up:

Sustainable Cape Town
Category: Community
Access: Open
Description: What ought the shape of Cape Town to be? This is a group for the exchange of ideas about sustainable cities, from the perspective of the physical built environment but holistically taking in all relevant factors, economic systems, production systems, transportation systems, agricultural systems, etc. - and strategies to change them to what they ought to be - with specific application to Cape Town.

Women's Network Support Group
: Assistance & Support
Access: Open
Description: For woman battling to cope with divorce, raising children on their own, struggling with or recovering from an abusive or difficult relationship or marriage.

Talent Exchange Hiking Club
: Sport & Recreation
Access: Open
Description: Participate in regular hikes in the Cape Peninsula. There are easy hikes for beginners and more challenging ones for the seasoned hiker. If you are afraid to walk alone, want to get regular exercise, meet new people or learn new hiking routes, come along on our next advertised hike.

MamaMojo: Because Spirit Matters
: Mind & Body
Access: Open
Description: This group is dedicated to healers and teachers who want to share, expand and enjoy the work they do. Come play!

5. Partners: Transition Towns movement

Are you addicted to oil? The whole world is addicted to oil, so don't feel too bad, you are not alone. The question is, what can we do about this addiction? A movement, which started at the permaculture college in Kinsale, Ireland, called the Transition Towns movement, is rapidly spreading around the globe.

'What is a Transition Town (or village/city/forest/island)?

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil, Climate Change, Financial Crises?

The movement uses a 12-step program (the usual when coping with addictions) in order to start the process in communities. There is a wealth of reading material: the 12 steps, the 7 buts, a Primer, a handbook, a forum and a brand new local web site: This is an Initiating Hub for towns and suburbs in South Africa that want to begin taking responsibility for their own sustainability in the light of climate change, economic instability, possible electricity and water shortages, inadequate municipal services, and rising fuel and food costs.

The web site is a place where people can network, find links to other transition towns, post ideas, discuss, announce events, showcase their projects, get ideas on starting a project and link up with people in their neighbourhood.

The Cape Town group is hosting a series of talks and movies every Tuesday evening during November at 7:30pm at the Josephine Mill, in Newlands. There will be the Hout Bay Green Faire on 29th November and a 'Show and Tell' in Kommetjie on 6th December. If you feel you would like to get involved, have something to offer or just want to know what is going on, please sign up at and join the South Africa and the Cape Town groups and any other groups you'd like to be involved with.

Interesting links:

Buy Local! Eat Local! Grow Local! Local Energy! Local Money!

6. Members: Terms & Conditions of Use

Like the British constitution, the CTTE Terms & Conditions of Use were for a long time unwritten but implied. For many months now the written Terms & Conditions have been available from the site and we would just like to draw your attention to them.

They don't introduce anything new but all users of the CTTE should know what they are as we regularly see users flouting them, especially with regard to pricing goods and services in part Rands/part Talents. The rules are quite clear in this regard:


An account-holder may not use the facilities of the CES for advertising purely Rand-based offerings. Trades may be advertised and effected for part Talents and part Rands provided that the Rand component shall not exceed the Talent component, unless the Rands are for necessary disbursements made by the Seller.

Recently a certain user requested to de-register from the CTTE. When it was pointed out to him that he had a debit balance, and that according to the rules he should either clear that debit by selling something for Talents or give a Rand equivalent to the Administration, he refused and responded with the challenge: "Sue me!".

While this brings to the Talent Exchange all the nasty sentiments of the conventional economy, the Administration obviously decided not to pursue this line of action and appealed instead to the user's conscience by pointing out that his refusal to give back to the community the value equivalent of what he had received is tantamount to theft from the community.

The cardinal rule of the CES is that you 'pay' for what you receive by delivering like value to other members of the trading community. In other words, when you receive something your obligation is not a 'promise to pay' but a 'promise to sell'. That is all that is asked of you!

7. Tip: Buy what you can sell; sell what you can buy

If you have a good product or service on the Talent Exchange it is very easy to earn a lot of Talents very quickly. Many users complain that they earn Talents too readily and then find that they can't spend them.

What you need to remember in the Talent Exchange is that you should balance your sales with your purchases. If you sell too much relative to your purchasing ability you will end up feeling frustrated and believing that the Talent Exchange doesn't work for you. You will feel bitter that others take what you offer so readily but offer nothing in return that you want.

It takes time to discover how the Talent Exchange works and how you can make it work for you. If you have a good product don't just put it out there. Determine first how you will spend your Talents and then adjust your sales to what you think you can spend. For example, if you are selling new clothing, don't just advertise 'new clothing' but offer only a limited number of items. If you find that you are able to spend your Talents easily then increase the size of your offering. Continuously expand your offerings until they match what you can spend. That way you can keep your balance around the magical zero point: you are receiving as much as you are giving.

It is not as easy to spend your Talents as it is to spend your Rands (in terms of effort). The main reason for this is that there are no shops on the Talent Exchange. You have to keep watching and waiting for the good offerings, and occasionally there are some really spectacular ones. Constantly keep in mind: buy only as much as you can sell; sell only as much as you can buy. That way you will get the Talent Exchange to work for you and you will join the legion of Talent 'big traders'.

8. CES International: the current state of the CES network

Since our last issue many new exchanges have joined the CES network. Instead of listing the new exchanges as we did before, here is the full list of local and international exchanges on the CES network:

# Code Exchange Name Country
1 CMCS [CMCS] Community Mutual Credit System United States
3 ALSA Adelaide Local Exchange Trading System Australia
4 ALTE Alabama Trade Exchange United States
5 ACES Ashland Community Exchange System United States
6 BAND Banglawalli Dinar Exchange South Africa
7 BVCE Bega Valley LETS Australia
8 BMCE Blue Mountains Community Exchange Australia
9 BLCE BrisLETS Community Exchange Australia
10 CCDE Canterbury Community Dollars Exchange New Zealand
11 SANE Cape Town Talent Exchange South Africa
12 CCAU Central Coast LETS Australia
13 CCES Central Community Exchange System Israel
14 CCEX Complementary Currency Resource Center Exchange System International
15 DTTE Durban Talent Exchange South Africa
16 ELCE East London Community Exchange South Africa
17 EASE Edmonton & Area Service Exchange Canada
18 ANID Equamedios Cologno IT LETS Italy
19 ESCN Escondido Exchange United States
20 GDNR Garden Route Talent Exchange South Africa
21 GLOG Global Groups Exchange International
22 GBNZ Golden Bay HANDS New Zealand
23 NPIN Goshen, IN Exchange United States
24 GVTE Goulburn Valley Talent Exchange Australia
25 GRCE Greyton Community Exchange South Africa
26 GYMP GympieCooloola & SthBurnett Qld Community Exchange Australia
27 HBCE Hawkes Bay Community Exchange New Zealand
28 HBRG Helderberg Talent Exchange South Africa
29 HUNT Hunter LETS Australia
30 IBES Invercargill Barter & Exchange Systems New Zealand
31 JHAR Jharkhand Community Exchange India
32 TJCE Johannesburg Jewish Community Exchange South Africa
33 JHBG Johannesburg Talent Exchange South Africa
34 KKTE Klein Karoo Talent Exchange South Africa
35 LWPG Local Exchange Trading System Winnipeg Canada
36 LOGL Logan LETS Australia
37 MALO Maleny Local Energy Trading System Australia
38 MCGR McGregor Talent Exchange South Africa
39 MBSF Moss Byttering Samfunnet Norway
40 MOSS Motueka Skills Swap New Zealand
41 NEBO Mt Nebo CES Australia
42 MATE Murihiku Alternative Trading & Exchange System New Zealand
43 NVRR Navsagh & Lamap Exchange Vanuatu
44 TOTL New Totnes LETS United Kingdom
45 NHCO Nighthawk Exchange in Louisville Colorado USA United States
46 NSLS Northern Suburbs LETS System Australia
47 NZCE NZ Community Exchange New Zealand
48 OPEN Organic Produce Exchange Network South Africa
49 OMVA Oude Molen Talent Exchange South Africa
50 PAWC PANSA BrainBank South Africa
51 PMAL Perfecti Spain
52 PMBG Pietermaritzburg Talent Exchange South Africa
53 PLET Plett Local Exchange Trading System South Africa
54 PLTX Pollytix Exchange of New Jersey United States
55 PECE Port Elizabeth Community Exchange South Africa
56 PRTX Pretoria Talent Exchange South Africa
57 PECX Prince Edward County Community Exchange Canada
58 PROV Providence Communty Exchange United States
59 RRLA Rainbow Region LETS Australia
60 POER Ranon Ambrym North and West Communities Vanuatu
61 RBCE Richards Bay Community Exchange South Africa
62 REBS River Exchange & Barter System New Zealand
63 SWAP Saint Louis Community Exchange United States
64 SAOM India
65 NVTM Saot West Bay Ninde Tribe Vanuatu
66 SHCE Shoalhaven Community Exchange Australia
67 ONDA Sistema de intercambio Chobita Argentina
68 RIRT So. RI Rainbow Trading Post United States
69 SISA Southern Inner Suburbs LETS Australia
70 SCET South-West Community Exchange Trading Australia
71 SCCE SpyCat Community Exchange United States
72 STCE Stanford Community Exchange South Africa
73 SBTE Stellenbosch Talent Exchange South Africa
74 SUNY Sunshine Coast Qld Community Exchange Australia
75 SYCE Sydney and Illawarra LETS Australia
76 SCAP Syndicated Creative Arts Pursuits Exchange China
77 TBCE Tableland Local Exchange Trading System Australia
78 TMLE Tamborine Mountain LETS Australia
79 TSCT Taranaki Sustainable Communities Trust New Zealand
80 TALE Taree/Great Lakes LETS Australia
81 TG$E Thames Green Dollar Exchange New Zealand
82 NEWE The New Energy Community Exchange United States
83 TATS Timaru Alternative Trading System Inc. New Zealand
84 ROTA Tu Tiempo es Oro Spain
85 TBCL Tuljun Boolaroo Cooperative Ltd Australia
86 TRTE Twee Riviere Talent Exchange South Africa
87 TVUV Vanuatu TredVatu Vanuatu
88 WAIS Wairarapa Green Dollar Exchange Inc New Zealand
89 WING Wairau Inter-Trading Green System Inc New Zealand
90 WCCE Waldo County Community Exchange United States
91 WEBS Wanaka Exchange & Barter System New Zealand
92 WWLL Warranwood LETS Live Australia
93 WCNC Watauga County Community Exchange United States
94 WELL Wellington Talent Exchange New Zealand
95 WEST West Coast Employment Swap & Trade New Zealand
96 WERC Whangaroa Economic Resources Community System New Zealand

Note: Some exchanges do not show in this list. This is a list of exchanges on the Community Exchange Network, meaning that they can trade with each other. Some exchanges are 'stand-alone' in that their users cannot trade with users in remote exchanges and the exchanges on the network cannot see them.

To get the real-time list of all CES exchanges around the world, log into your account and click on the [Stats] button at the top. On the 'Statistics & Reports' page click on the [View] Exchanges button under the 'Global' sub-heading. This lists all globally active exchanges, and if you click on the name of the exchange you will call up the information page for that exchange. On the information page of an exchange you can view a wealth of information about the exchange, including number of users and trading statistics. In most instances you can click on an icon to get a map of where the exchange is located.

9. Statistics: CTTE trading figures

There are now (8 November 2008) 19,802 registered users of the Community Exchange System (including the international exchanges). As 9,312 of these are 'virtual members' (i.e. virtual 'representatives' of the other exchanges in each exchange) there are 10,490 real members. There are 100 separate exchanges in 15 different countries. The Cape Town Talent Exchange is the largest with 3,688 registered users. The following table shows the growth of the Cape Town Talent Exchange:

Year New Users Trades Ave/Day Talents Ave (T)
2002 10        
2003 365 1112 3 132589.10 119.23
2004 576 4780 13 596726.24 117.97
2005 562 5073 14 892362.68 164.05
2006 598 6741 19 1081864.23 153.81
2007 865 7237 20 1794157.35 238.81
2008 752* 3932 13 1329779.55 325.83
Total 3728** 28875 14 5827479.15 186.62

* As at 8 November 2008
** This total does not tally with the total of 3,688 given above. This is because the total in the table includes those who have de-registered.

10. Web Site: New Features

Many new features and functions have been added to the site since our last Newsletter; too many to list here and in any case we have lost track! But here are some of the most important:

User Guide

The CES User Guide has been upgraded and now provides a wealth of up-to-date information about the system and how to use the CES web site. You can access it on the left hand side of your personal home page after you have logged in.

Before, the User Guide was compiled manually. Keeping it up to date was a monstrous job as the site kept changing and the User Guide fell further and further behind. We now have a dynamic User Guide that compiles itself when you call it up. The Guide is compiled out of the contextual help pages that display when you click on the [Help] button in your account. These help pages tend to be updated when any changes are made to the page they refer to. This keeps the Guide up to date.

The Guide is available in various formats:

Groups feature

See above.

Email from site (Send message}

It is now possible to email other users directly from their information pages. Whenever a user's name appears on a list, the name will be clickable. Click on the name and the user's profile (information page) will appear. Click on the 'Send message [Go]' button at the bottom right. That will bring up a 'Compose Message' form where you can enter the subject and message. Click the [Send] button to send the message. This feature saves a lot of time as you don't have to start up your email client program or copy and paste addresses.

Hide your offerings

If you would like to hide an offering, click on the [My Record] button at the top. Then from your Account Details page click on the My offerings [View/Edit] button. This will bring up your personal list of offerings. Simply click on 'Hide/Unhide offer' under the Actions menu. This will change the status of the offering to hidden, or if it is already hidden, back to visible.

You might want to do this with an offering that you want to display at certain times but withdraw at other times. A hidden offering will not show on the Offerings List or be found through a search.

Hide your contact details

You are required to provide your full contact details when you register and keep them there so that you are contactable by the Administration. But if you don't want them to display on the web site it is now possible to hide whichever details you don't want others to see.

Click on the [My Record] button at the top and on the right of your contact details you will see little checkboxes. Tick those lines you don't want to show and then press the [Update Record] button. The selected details will no longer show when others look at your profile. However, if you hide all your details others will not be able to contact you for what you offer. They will also be suspicious of users who want to be anonymous.

Add your own picture

For some while it has been possible to add a picture of yourself to your profile. It is great to be able to see who you are communicating and trading with.

To add a photograph of yourself you must obviously first have a digital image on your computer or on a flash drive. The picture that you plan to use can be any size as the server will resize it to fit the display. However, it is a good idea to resize it yourself to a modest size as it could take quite a long time to upload if it is the raw image directly from your digital camera. It is also a good idea to crop the image tightly around your face, as a distant image that looks ok on your computer screen will be barely visible when it is reduced to a thumbnail on the site.

To upload your photo, log into your account and click on the [My Record] button at the top. This will bring up your personal record - 'Edit My Account Details'. Towards the bottom of the top section of the form you will see 'Upload photo'. Click on the [Browse] button and locate the image on your computer. This will place the path to the image in the box. Then simply click on the [Update Record' button and the photo will be uploaded to the server. You will now see two new buttons next to 'Upload photo': [View] and [Delete]. Click on [View] to see what your newly uploaded photo is going to look like to others. [Delete] it and repeat the process if you are not happy.

When your photo is uploaded it will appear on your profile page for others to see. It will also appear in the Groups section if you join a group and make any contributions there.

Send an invitation to join the CES

On the right hand side of your personal home page (after you have logged in) you will see "Invite a friend to join the CES". Enter the email address of someone to whom you would like to send the invite and click on the [Invite] button. If you would like to see what the invitation letter looks like, send an invitation to yourself. This is an easy way to tell your friends about the CES.

11. Tip: Invoices and Trading Slips

In most cases of trading in the Talent Exchange an invoice is not necessary but there do arise situations where you, as seller, might wish to send one. For example, you might have quoted an hourly rate for a job but could not specify precisely how many hours would be required. An invoice is then a statement of the hours you spent on the job and provides the buyer with the total amount that you wish to be credited.

There are many other situations in which an invoice would be useful, but it is most useful if you just want to keep a record of your trades.

The sending of an invoice is also a signal to the buyer that you want to be sent a Trading Slip or that you are going to credit yourself and debit the buyer. If you require an acknowledgement from the buyer, request an online Trading Slip. This is a signal from the buyer that he/she is happy with what you delivered and that you may go ahead and enter the transaction.


The Invoice function is available from the centre of your personal home page after logging in. Look under 'Seller Actions'.

By filling in the details on the form and pressing the [View] button, you will be shown an on-screen replica of the invoice that will be emailed to your buyer. On pressing the [Send] button the invoice will be emailed to the buyer and a copy of it will be emailed to you for reference purposes. You may also wish to print out a copy for your records.

When entering details, each row must be completed in full. Only numbers are valid in the 'Units' column and only numbers and the decimal point are valid in the 'Unit Price' column.

A unique Invoice Number will be generated by the system and will appear on your invoice. The date will also be inserted automatically, and will be the current date.

All calculations are done automatically, which you can check on the replica that is shown on the screen before you press the [Send] button.

Online Trading Slip

If you receive an electronic invoice from someone who has sold something to you, respond by sending an online Trading Slip. This is like sending a 'cheque' to the seller. To the recipient (the seller) the Trading Slip means that you have accepted the price stated on the invoice, that you are happy with the goods or service delivered and that the seller may now enter the transaction to debit your account.

While the online Trading Slip has no signature and is therefore not a legal document, the email sent to the seller contains your name and email address, which it gets from the CES database.


Like the invoice, this function is available from the centre of your personal home page after logging in. Look under 'Buyer Actions'.

If the seller is not in the CTTE click on the Exchange drop-down list and choose their exchange. This will load the list of users of the selected exchange, from which you can choose the seller.

Select the seller's name and account number from the Send to drop-down list. The seller will not appear on the list if he/she does not have an email address.

Fill in the Amount of the transaction, and a Description of the trade.

The seller will receive an automatically-generated email (the Online Trading Slip) which authorises him or her to enter the information into the 'Enter Transaction' feature of his or her account. This will debit your account for the amount indicated and credit the seller's.

You will receive by email the 'counterfoil' of the Online Trading Slip; an acknowledgment of sending the Slip. It will contain the same details as on the Online Trading Slip and represents your confirmation of 'paying'. Store it in an email folder in case there is a dispute with the seller.

12. Theory: Hegemoney

Since money was 'invented' thousands of years ago the ruling elites have always tried to exert their hegemony over its creation and distribution, and thereby exert their control over the exchange process. They did this either by taking control of the supplies of the predominant exchange medium or by defining what constitutes money, enforcing its use and preventing others from establishing competing exchange systems.

Rulers learned very early on that those who control money ultimately control everything. This is because money, when it is a commodity, can be used by those in control of it to extract wealth from society without having to deliver much in return. Where the supply of the exchange medium was controlled by the rulers they could spend it into circulation or lend it to those who needed it and demand that it be returned with a 'borrowing fee' (interest); where it was not controlled by the rulers, by their defining of what was 'legal tender' they could demand a 'conversion fee' (seigniorage) which converted the exchange medium (usually gold or silver) into legal tender (usually the creation of coins with the ruler's seal stamped on it). Either way the rulers discovered that control of the money system increased their power over their subjects, drew wealth towards them and concentrated it in their hands. This enabled them to demand from the rest of society whatever they required and gave them the power to control others and determine the course of events.

The history of human society, more than being a history of class struggle, has been a history of various social forces or interest groups competing over who controls the money system. For most of history kings, emperors and caliphs were in control but for the past five hundred years rising mercantile classes have challenged the money monopoly of the traditional rulers. Revolutions ultimately led to a compromise where governments and the financial institutions of the mercantilists and industrialists controlled the money system together. This led to the central bank model that we have today where governments and the banks collude to provide and control the supply of money.

Money today is no longer substantial so there is no need for the 'money powers' to control its physical supply. However, as all money is now 'created' as debt there is a need to control the supply of debt (cash it must be remembered is just a portable form of electronic money that started out as debt). The credit-creating machine (the other side of the debt) in all countries is made up of private financial institutions, central banks and governments. These three operate in unison and comprise the present day money monopoly.

So what's the matter with a money monopoly? If we've had one for thousands of years and we seem to have managed okay, what is the problem now?

Let's not get into the history of humankind, where most of the most dreadful calamities can be explained in terms of failing money systems. Suffice it to say that monopolies in general are not a good thing. They symbolise the end of diversity and choice and funnel us into narrow ways of doing things. When they fail we are left high and dry as there are no other options. They also create total dependence which allows them to dictate the terms and conditions for those who who are reliant on them.

In economics we understand monopolies as entities that exert exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices. A monopolistic money system is one that exerts exclusive control of the exchange mechanism and manipulates it in order to benefit those who control it.

In short, when the money monopoly fails we all suffer. There is nowhere we can turn so we all become victims. When it is not failing, in the sense that the exchange mechanism appears to be working, it massively diverts wealth from the wealth producers to those who control it, usually through the mechanism of interest.

The current financial crisis reveals how fragile the monopolistic money system is and how near to the brink we are living. We all live in fear that our sources of money will dry up and the anxiety this generates makes us all victims of stress. Apart from that, the money monopoly determines what happens in the realm of the economy: where society's efforts go (into works that benefit the parasitic monied classes or the wealth producers); the driving principle (growth at all costs vs recognition of finite limits); who controls things (huge financial institutions and corporations vs individuals and small enterprise); who benefits (the already wealthy vs everyone).

It doesn't have to be like this. We don't have to live under a money monopoly and worry that our sources of money are going to dry up and our savings will be reduced to nothing by inflation. There is a choice

The CES is an attempt to break the money monopoly by providing an alternative way of 'doing' money. So long as you have limbs that move and a mind that works, you can provide for yourself by exchanging your specialisation in life for the specialisations of others. You don't need a 'supply' of money to meet your needs; all you need is a supply of energy, good will and a promise to give back to the community the equivalent of what you receive. As more of us become involved and experience the liberating effects of a public exchange system, the more we can reduce our dependency on the life-threatening money monopoly.

CES User Guide

  • Do you wish you knew how to update and delete your offerings and wants?
  • Do you wish you knew how to delete an incorrect transaction that you have entered?
  • Do you wish you knew how to...?

All the answers are available right from your account on the CES web site.

Download the CES User Guide. To do so, access your account on the CES web site at On the left hand side of your home page you will see the User Guide in various formats. Download either the PDF, OpenOffice or MS Word versions. You can also view the HTML version on the screen. If you would like to purchase a paper copy (for Talents) look under 'CES Services' in the Offerings List to see who you can get it from. Your local area co-ordinator should also be able to provide you with a copy.