Community Exchange Manifesto
Exchange is the essence of life. For aeons, humans only knew non-monetary exchange. Humanity’s problems started when powerful elites took control of their societies’ means of exchange. Initially, this was by centralising distribution. That was cumbersome so they devised a more efficient means: the creation, issuing and control of circulating tokens (money), which provided access to the society’s product. This has created the world we live in today where practically all life has been monetised. Money is not some neutral social utility that drops down from the sky like rain. It is the ruling class’s means of taking control of the social product and controlling who gets the remainder after they have taken their cut. It is hence, their means of control over the rest of humanity. We are all enslaved by this control system and spend our lives chasing after their tokens (money), which are permanently in short supply. The pursuit of money has become the sole meaning of life for the majority of humanity. The ‘economy’ is the place where human relationships are determined by money. It is not our economy; it is their economy. We’re all slaves in their prison, busily serving our masters.
Our goal is to escape from this prison and take control of our lives. This can be achieved by creating our own means of exchange, which will allow us to sidestep the elites’ money monopoly. There are many ways to exchange without using (their) money system, some of them more elegant and efficient than money. We need to promote as many different exchange methods as possible so that our activities are guided by our own interests, not by those we currently serve. What is created must be immune to hijacking and ‘illegalisation’.
Our means to escape from the ‘money prison’ is to create our own ‘keys’ to release ourselves. There is not one ‘key’ to the prison, but many. Each ‘key’ is different, but together they are the implements that will open the multitude of barriers between our prison cells and the ‘front door’ that leads to freedom. We do not need any special tools to overcome the barriers; we just need to realise that it is within our ability to create and share them. We don’t require anyone’s permission to do this and must have courage and faith in our ability to do so.
Our strategic plan should start with a full understanding of how the current system keeps us incarcerated. All the impediments we face cannot be determined from the outset, but will only be discovered through the practical steps we take towards self-liberation. We need to take a step-by-step approach, tackling each hurdle as it confronts us. Our overall strategy might have to change as we discover new threats and barriers. We will need to develop new tools along the way to overcome unexpected challenges.
- Engage in an educational campaign to make people aware that most of the converging crises faced by humanity are traceable to a compromised exchange system.
- Build into our platforms a wide range of exchange tools: timebanking, record keeping (mutual credit/credit clearing), time trading, offset accounting, barter, swapping, gifting, virtual currencies, paper currencies and any others that might become obvious or necessary.
- Connect our different platforms and ‘systems’ to create a global network of communities using non-monetary exchange methods.
- Create, don’t fight! The prevailing monetary system can’t be reformed and cannot be challenged head-on. We need to quietly and confidently apply our tactic of providing people with a full range of exchange tools to facilitate exchange in all exchange situations. As this grows, people will lessen their dependence on money and discover that there is a way to free themselves from the ‘money prison’.
- Taking control of our means of exchange is the ‘key’ to the ‘front door’ of the prison.
It seems incredible to me, at the age of 43, to discover such a suggestion. I take this into account since we’re in these days organizing ourselves as a community. We started a cooperative of autonomous workers, organized a town market with direct producers coming to sell their products, were tackling the idea of transitioning to a more committed attempt and here I find this community exchange ideas. It’s up to us to try them in practice… thanks
Hola, acabo de integrarme a una comunidad económica CES en Ecuador – Sudamérica. Ya había experimentado en 2 ocasiones un sistema de transacciones alternativas, fueron experiencias interesantes y un buen aprendizaje, pero hoy por primera vez siento que es una necesidad inexorable. En la crisis histórica que estamos viviendo, esta herramienta no podría ser más oportuna, estoy muy entusiasmado de observar cual será el impacto que va a generar nuestra comunidad. Estaremos comentando como estamos caminando. Afectuosos saludos.
Hello, I have just joined a CES economic community in Ecuador – South America. I had already experienced an alternative transaction system on 2 occasions, they were interesting experiences and good learning, but today for the first time I feel that it is an inexorable need. In the historical crisis we are experiencing, this tool could not be more timely, I am very excited to see what the impact will be on our community. We will be commenting on how we are walking. Warm greetings.
Well said! I echo your sentiments Roberto. Warm greetings from Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa. 🙂
Greetings. Wonder how users or administrators can translate or change the language on their exchange. Thanks
Administrators can give ‘translate rights’ to themselves and any other member who wishes to do translations. When a member has translate rights, he or she will see a “Translate this page” link at the bottom of each page. On clicking that, a pop-up box appears with the English text on the left and the other language on the right. Translators will only see the translate link if their chosen language is not English.
I’m a long-term LETS member examining the relevance of CES in my LETS group that preceded it. CES manifesto states under “Our Tactics” “Build into our platform a wide range of exchange tools” including “barter, swapping, gifting” Where in the platform have examples of these three been built in?
When members advertise their offerings, they can choose to offer them as items for bartering, swapping or gifting (amongst others). These forms of exchange do not require a record being made of them. How the traders ‘settle’ their exchanges is only of interest to themselves. Such ‘trade’ is “off the books”, so to speak.