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Adventures in mutual credit

We radicals have been dreaming of other social structures for decades, especially ones based on place, and on solidarity, but only very occasionally have we been able to build them. Now it is happening all around, seemingly spontaneously. Germany, France, with three tiers, Barcelona, a couple of Fb groups in Greece. But what blows me away is the 3400 (and counting) UK street level groups in the same spreadsheet! Perhaps because many people are no longer at work, there is suddenly a tremendous volunteer capacity. Radicals may be tempted to regard what is happening with envy, because it can...
I've been talking about mutual credit for well over a decade now and it has become apparent that different people mean different things by it. Up to a point, that's okay because everyone I talked to understood well enough that it meant the units for payment between members of the group were 'created' and 'destroyed' as members spent below a balance of zero, furthermore that going into 'commitment' was not a privilege reserved for an issuer, but that any member could do it. Recently I found that Trustlines, a startup implementing Ripple as a smart contract on Ethereum, were using the term...
I know many practical people doing amazing work but who hold and are held in disdain by the world of finance because of their small size and inconventional approaches. Conversely folk who accumulate a thousand Euros here or there have no standard ways to invest it in small projects in a way that is fair to both saver and producer. A different kind of finance is needed - so what would it look like? I've never been involved with formal investing, so this is just me jotting down some thoughts here about how to solve this impasse. As a small project, producing, say, food, I need investment to...
My recent research into societal collapse (watch this space) lead me to John Michael Greer, who offered an uncommonly wise perspective, so I purchased this book to update myself on his post-peak oil thinking. It describes progress as a 'civil religion' and examines how deeply ideas and more importantly assumptions about progress lie in our civilisation's narrative compared, say to other civilisations which reified the past or the unchanging nature of things. Greer explores Spengler's work about civilisation lifecycles which have distinctive patterns particularly in their evolving...
I was privileged to attend the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) 2019 Congress just now where I drew attention to the role of complementary currencies and attempted to dispel any fantasies about the role of blockchain in transferring wealth. I’ve always supported Basic Income (BI) in principle. It is probably the most direct possible strategy to address the perennial problems of poverty and inequality. It works by giving enough money to live to everyone, effectively putting a floor on poverty, and taking away the fear and want that drives people to underprice their labour. It is...
At the Basic Income Earth Network 2019 Congress I had a chat with Kang Nam Hoon, designer of the Young Person's Basic Income in Geonggi, in the Suwon province of South Korea. This Basic Income is not paid in the national currency, won, but in a token issued by the regional government and 100% backed by won. Each young person is given a plastic card, and their balance is topped up every month. All the shops can accept the currency using their existing payment infrastructure (which sounds a bit smarter than our Western systems) being able to handle national currencies and other kinds of units....
Last month I expressed personal alarm at the weather and the unexpected speed of change. Since then the global weather continues to break records, and I've thought of something slightly more constructive to say. The asteroid which brushed passed the earth on Thursday was only identified as such the day before. Presumably our instruments calculated that it wasn't a risk and the alarm wasn't raised. But had the trajectory been six earth diameters to the side, how much notice would we have had to prepare ourselves for a 30 Hiroshima-bomb impact somewhere on the earth? What if the authorities...
The cryptocurrency world is reeling this week from the white paper of Libra, a coming cryptocurrency with so much corporate buy in, it threatens to change the payments industry. Most people are saying this is a Facebook Coin, but that's not how Facebook wants it to be seen. To businesses, Facebook is a somewhat tacky brand, known as a vehicle for fake news, and selling people's data for money, and for all its users being dumb fucks. So although Facebook incubated the project, and will provide the initial users, Libra is a separate entity controlled by many multinational corporations. The...
I suspected for a long time that our civilisation wasn't viable. When the banks crashed in 2008 I paid attention to a lot of apocalyptic reporting that said we came this close to economic Armageddon - whatever that meant. As I better understood how capitalism is a stupid dogma preached increasingly only by self-serving, vain sociopaths, how it requires exponential consumption of resources, and how it has failed to respond to increasingly shrill science-based warnings. I came to expect the ultimate financial collapse at any moment, or at least in my lifetime. I was alarmed in early April...
As climate change inevitably rises up the political agenda, the shame of being seen not to act on it increases. Climate concerns everyone, even the rich, even the unborn, and everyone is invited to participate. Unlike with race, gender and class struggles, no one group can claim to own it. But what about those non-human persons, corporations? A few days ago, an initiative for businesses to join the rebellion started, but after objections from within the movement, it has been dropped - for now. Natural skepticism Many people who struggle for climate and other forms of justice have...

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