It occurred to me, in talking with as many people in the crypto”currency” movement as I’ve met, that few have yet to delve into the theory and philosophy behind the broader movement for a new global decentralized monetary system. Aside from a few references to “trustless” exchange and other purely individualistic ideas, most have only dipped their toes in the shallow end of the Libertarian pool, the capitalist end.
In the next few articles I would like to take you to the deeper end and introduce you to a few philosophers worth reading, whose works are easily available through quick searches of the internet and torrent libraries.
In early 1990, I was a second-year student studying Political Science with a focus on Soviet Government, with the goal of being involved in managing relations between Canada and our neighbour to the north, Russia. I was walking through Fernwood in Victoria, BC, a quaint 100 year old suburb when I came across a community market. In among the vegetable and handicraft stalls was one of “those” ones, with pamphlets and sign-up sheets placed on it. I was expecting it to be one of the stalls of the environmental organizations protesting the destruction of pristine rainforest along the coast of British Columbia. In fact, it was a brochure for the Local Exchange Trading System, suggesting a shift to a new free economy between individuals.
In my backpack was the copy of ‘Post-Scarcity Anarchism’, a book I was reading that was quickly driving a wedge into my analysis of Capitalism via Marxism. Instead of presenting the idea that capitalism would end when some certain stage had been reached, at which time it would fall onto itself, Murray Bookchin posited that capitalism would collapse when the ecological system could no longer support an unlimited-growth economic system. And, that we should therefore stop analysing the present stage to know when the right time to strike would be, but in fact work to start the revolution from within the system, now. The focus should be on the community, and seek to correct the social irrationalities that, coupled with the competitive monetary system of capitalism, are leading us to ecological annihlation.
This matched exactly what I had in mind when I happened into the table presenting materials about the Local Exchange Trading System. To me, it showed that a monetary system that forces competition was part of the problem, and needed to be removed in advance of achieving a post-scarcity society, like Buckminster Fuller said :
“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”, which Bookchin would agree with by saying:
“In our own time we have seen domination spread over the social landscape to a point where it is beyond all human control…. Compared to this stupendous mobilization of materials, of wealth, of human intellect, of human labor for the single goal of domination, all other recent human achievements pale to almost trivial significance. Our art, science, medicine, literature, music and “charitable” acts seem like mere droppings from a table on which gory feasts on the spoils of conquest have engaged the attention of a system whose appetite for rule is utterly unrestrained.”
“The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man… But it was not until organic community relation … dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly. … The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital.”
A truly free society then is an anarchist society, one that has been liberated from the monopoly both of government and it’s freedom-taking, debt-based monetary system. In this way, ecological sustainability and the full-flowering of human potential may be achieved.
“An anarchist society, far from being a remote ideal, has become a precondition for the practice of ecological principles.”
― Murray Bookchin
“If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.”
― Murray Bookchin
- Our Synthetic Environment (1962)
- Crisis in our Cities (1965)
- Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971 and 2004) ISBN 1-904859-06-2.
- The Limits of the City (1973) ISBN 0-06-091013-5.
- The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years (1977 and 1998) ISBN 1-873176-04-X.
- Toward an Ecological Society (1980) ISBN 0-919618-98-7.
- The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (1982 and 2005) ISBN 1-904859-26-7.
- The Modern Crisis (1986) ISBN 0-86571-083-X.
- The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1987 and 1992) ISBN 978-0-87156-706-2
- Remaking Society (1990 and 1998) ISBN 0-921689-02-0
- The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism (1990 and 1996) Montreal: Black Rose BooksISBN 978-1-55164-019-8
- To Remember Spain (1994) ISBN 1-873176-87-2
- Re-Enchanting Humanity (1995) ISBN 0-304-32843-X.
- The Third Revolution. Popular Movements in the Revolutionary Era (1996–2003) London and New York: Continuum.ISBN 0-304-33594-0. (4 Volumes)
- Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm (1997) ISBN 1-873176-83-X.
- The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (1997, by Janet Biehl) Montreal: Black Rose Books. ISBN 1-55164-100-3.
- Anarchism, Marxism and the Future of the Left. Interviews and Essays, 1993-1998 (1999) Edinburgh and San Francisco: A.K. Press. ISBN 1-873176-35-X.
- Social Ecology and Communalism, with Eirik Eiglad, AK Press, 2007