believe that money has always existed and that it therefore always
We explain why money is out of date.
Many people think that money has
existed and therefore it always will. Wrong.
Human beings have lived on this planet
hundreds of thousands
of years without using money. When they were hungry, they ate. When
they were thirsty, they drank. Whatever was available to anyone was
available to everyone.
It wasn't paradise, because food was
communities were eventually forced by this scarcity into a competitive
struggle for life.
First came the invention of
the consequent need to defend the land, or property, on which crops
Although this gave communities more
stability and growth,
agriculture and animal husbandry could not by themselves supply
everything which they needed to develop as cultures. For this they
needed to associate with other communities and pool their resources.
But in the new culture of property there was never again to be such
freedom to take whatever was available.
And so began the exchange of products
as trade. And
although some quite advanced bronze age societies managed to trade very
well by using barter (e.g. the Egyptians), it was a supremely awkward
way to conduct transactions. With the advent of the Iron Age, cheap
metal was for the first time plentiful, and coinage was slowly
introduced to facilitate the trading process.
Civilisation has since grown up on the
of this trade,
whose sophistication was made possible by the invention of money. To
the modern mind therefore, civilisation relies on money. This is a
misunderstanding. In fact, it is only trade which relies on money.
Civilisation relies on distribution of
material goods certainly, but
distribution is not the same thing as trade, just as give is not the
same thing as sell. Modern industrial society has given us the means to
free ourselves forever from that scarcity which has always dogged our
forebears. Money is no longer a necessity or logical feature of
society, and only a tiny minority benefit from its presence.
In history, many things become out of
like the steam engine or quill pens. Money is about to join them.
Money is indispensable to the capitalist
system, but this system is
not indispensable to human society. Money as a universal means of
exchange represents capital. The possessing of money enables the buyer
to acquire goods and services (commodities) and the seller to dispose
of goods and services. The key resource that is bought and sold is
human labour power—the ability to transform initial wealth (resources,
raw material, etc) into more wealth.
We live in a society where almost
is bought and
sold. That which you need to live is a commodity, you must buy it from
someone who will make (or at least expect) a profit out of selling to
you. It is our passport to existence in capitalism. Not only does the
movement of products from producer to consumer come to be mediated by
money, but the value of a product comes to be judged not in human terms
but in terms of a sum of money.
The key to the rise of continuation of
capitalist system is
the ability of members of the capitalist class (owners of means of
wealth production and distribution) to buy the working abilities of
members of the working class. They combine that labour with capital
resulting in commodities that can be sold for more than it costs in
total to produce them.
A high proportion of employment in
capitalism consists of
handling money in some way. There are hundreds of occupations that
would not exist in a society that had no need for money: they range
from accountants, bank and insurance staff, salespeople, wages clerks
to name only some of the more numerous occupations. Tangible products
needed only in a money system include bank notes and coins, account
books and invoices, meters, safes and many others.
Capitalism as a market system means
normal method of
getting what you need is to pay for it. The normal way for members of
the capitalist class to get money is to invest their capital to produce
rent, interest, dividends or profit. The normal way for workers to get
money is to sell their labour power for wages, salaries, commission or
fees. If they are unable to find employment they depend on state or
other handouts. The result is poverty in the midst of potential
plenty—actual plenty only for the privileged minority.
Socialism: a moneyless society
Socialism means a world society based on
production solely for use,
not profit. It will be a classless society, in which everyone will be
able to participate democratically in decisions about the use of the
world's resources, each producing according to their ability and each
taking from the common store according to their needs.
In such a society there can be no
more precisely, no
need for money. Money is only needed when people possess, and most do
Imagine that all the things you need
owned and held in
common. There is no need to buy food from anyone—it is common property.
There are no rent or mortgages to pay because land and buildings belong
to all of us. There is no need to buy anything from any other person
because society has done away with the absurd division between the
owning minority (the capitalists) and the non-owning majority (the
In a socialist world monetary
won't be necessary.
The alternative to monetary calculation based on exchange-value is
calculation based on use values. Decisions apart from purely personal
ones of preference or interest will be made after weighing the real
advantages and disadvantages and real costs of alternatives in
The ending of the money system will
the same time the
ending of war, economic crises, unemployment, poverty and
persecution—all of which are consequences of that system.
The revolutionary change that is
not possible unless
a majority of people understand and want it. We do not imagine all
humankind's problems can be solved at a stroke.
Reforms of the present system fail
multiply and recur. It will take time to eliminate hunger,
malnutrition, disease and ignorance from the world.
But the enormous liberation of mental
from the shackles of the money system will ensure that real human
progress is made.