Have you ever thought about what you would do if you didn’t need money to live? Bigger still, have you ever thought what the world would be like if no one needed money to live? I remember the first time I heard of this idea. It was presented in the Zeitgeist films. Before I watched the Zeitgeist films, I had given some thought to what it would be like to change the money system but I never thought what the world would be like without money. I was shocked that I had never considered it.
Is money so ingrained in our psyche that we can’t even conceive of a world without it? Are we that conditioned? Yes.
Take a moment to consider what the world would be like without money. What would you do if your needs were met and you had the time to do the things you wanted to do? Me? I would build more art. I would dance more, sing more. I would dive deeper into quantum physics and I would help build my community.
A moneyless way of thinking helps decondition people from a scarcity mindset and helps humanity build creative solutions to the world’s issues. Approaching our problems from a different perspective is the only way we will ever have a chance at creating effective solutions.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ::Albert Einstein
Once I started thinking how life could be without money, I knew there was something considerably different about the solutions created from that mindset vs. a status quo mindset. The solutions thought of from a moneyless mindset are farther reaching and more effective in scope.
WHO IS QUESTIONING THE MONEY ECONOMY?
The Zeitgeist films do a great job describing how a moneyless economy can solve many of the world’s major issues. When I watched these films, my life was changed forever. Watch Zeitgeist: Moving Forward if you want to get your money paradigm blown. Other sources offering interesting perspectives on a moneyless society include the Ubuntu movement and Sacred Economics.
As beneficial as it is to imagine a world without money, there will come a time when we will need to put our no-money where our mouth is and build cities that don’t run on money. To date, there are no real world examples of a society that runs as a moneyless system. The only place that I can think of that comes close is the temporary city of Black Rock City also known as Burning Man.
Many people think of Burning Man as a large festival or event. They don’t usually think of Burning Man as a city. However, there are streets and addresses. There’s a post office, an airport and even a DMV. There are coffee shops, yoga studios and beauty salons, and of course, a plethora of bars and dance clubs. All of these things, and more, are made available for free.
The Post Office at Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada.
WHAT IS DECOMMODIFICATION?
One of Burning Man’s main principles is decommodification.
Decommodification is the process of viewing utilities as an entitlement, rather than as a commodity that must be paid or traded for.
The Burning Man Organization explains that, “In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation.
We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.” Because of this principle, there is no money exchanged for the goods or services provided between participants during the entire week of the event. And requests for money are not allowed. The entire city operates on the gift economy.
WHAT IS THE GIFT ECONOMY?
The gift economy is “a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily exchanged for value received.”
When there is no money exchange and no demand of payment of any kind, this opens up a freedom to participate as much or as little as a person wants.
There is no artificial limit of “I can’t afford it” or “We only serve those who can afford this price.” Everything is open and available to everyone. That evens the playing field for all. When all things are equal, people see each other as equal.
On the contrary, in a money economy, social stratification is inherent in the system. When you have ownership, possession and wealth accumulation, people are automatically separated into categories of “haves” and “have-nots.”
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SCARCITY
In a monetary system, wealth is based on scarcity. The scarcer something is, the more value it has. The attributed value is fabricated, however. The item itself often times has no inherent value of its own. For example, money has no inherent value of its own. You can’t eat it, drink it or breath it. It’s simply a tool for the exchange of resources. The fact that it’s scarce is the reason people value it. This comes from the psychology of scarcity.
Imagine what the world could be like if gifting were to encompass more of our everyday life. What would your life be like if you didn’t need money to live? What could the world be like without money?