A life without money would be unthinkable for me and most people. A world without money seems like a far fetched utopia and reading a book about someone who has given up the green stuff is seriously destabilising my financial defences.
Mark Boyle is a man of vision and, in his book, “The Moneyless Manifesto”, he suggests that anyone in any society could live without it.
His ideas are based around unconditional giving and receiving which includes the creation of a gift economy. This means that we simply do things for love and Mark Boyle has created his own web based not for profit community known as : justfortheloveofit.org.uk
I am a member of this community and feel greatly encouraged regarding the strength of human kindness that exists within our internet interactions. I believe in doing random kindnesses and perfoming little acts of charity as that reinforces my place in the circle of life. I live therefore I share – my time, my resources, my heart – living is giving.
Affluence as much as poverty has its downside. In every corner of the world there’s more wealth than ever before but its often in the wrong hands.
Mark Boyle suggests that if we remove money then we’ll have more energy and time for personal fulfilment. He bases these theories on his own experience of living frugally and without money since 2009. I applaud him for his courage and his example has a lot to teach us. It also takes much courage to live in a capitalist society and do daily battle with its demons whilst maintaining positivity and charity. However, I can’t support the fact that you could live entirely within a gift economy.
Humans are unpredictable creatures. Some of us have a penchant for most inhuman behaviours. Who’s to say that we could give without the thought of getting and, even worse, asking for something that interfered with someone else’s personal freedom?
Consider that I need the grass on my lawn mown...... in the Freeconomy culture, this service would be provided by another freeconomist. If that person entered my garden and saw that mine was larger, with an array of beautiful flowers and trees and a summer house, how would he/she feel? Good spirited or envious?
A moneyless world is the garden of Eden that we all wish to return to. Our hearts yearn for love, joy, and peace to prevail. But…there’s a serpent in our moneyless kingdom and he’ll not be easily vanquished. Hate as much as love exists in the hearts of men….it cannot be denied and it cannot be cured with a moneyless fix. Civilisation is progress and anything progressive is a double edged sword. Progress is a matter of perspective but the birth of innovative ideas is the mark of it.
Ideas are a statement of freedom but we need to apply responsibility to ensure that we are materially and spiritually enhanced by them. I wouldn’t want to return to the time of my grandparents when women were considered the weaker sex, had no financial independence or universal suffrage. There are countries where the struggle for human rights marches on and I would suggest that Mr Boyle spends some time in these inhospitable places where food and housing is shared (through no choice) and where emotional and physical abuses are rife.
Money alone is not the instigator of social tensions or the root of evil. Money is not dirty but greed in the hearts of men is. Despots and tyrants, found in our homes as much as high office, are the cause of unequal and unethical distribution. Removing money alone will not change negative behaviours. People will usually find another outlet for conflict. Remember Lucifer was an angel, just like the others, until he lusted after God's power.
Shakespeare wrote his greatest works based on the destructive and sublime facets of human nature. And he charged even the poorest citizens to stand and watch. But he didn’t do it for the money; he did it for the expression of his soul. When people get something for free they rarely value it and that’s the truth!
Mr Boyle is a single man who can wander this earth and sample it’s many delights. I wonder if he’d wander so much if he had the responsibilities of wife and children? I can appreciate freeconomy as long as my life is about me. Hitching yourself to another freeconomist would be a likely course of action but that would limit human relations and reduce diversity.
I participated in a pseudo- freeconomy style living with a former partner. I gave much of my time, talents and trust to making our own unique utopia (and with children to boot) but it floundered after I found that my partner enjoyed being “the taker”.
Trust and dependency, Mr Boyle claims, are not signs of weakness but can be seen in a positive light. Either Mr Boyle has never been at the mercy of anyone or he has limited life experience. Perhaps Mr Boyle has not lived with adult children who don’t want to make their mark on society and fly the nest. Or he has not encountered laziness or sloth.
I agree that trust is valuable but it requires incisive intellect to know when it is dangerous to be too trusting. I don’t know many people you can trust and the list includes parents, teachers, employers, politicians.
What we require in relationships is not the removal of money but clear agreements and solid boundaries, not created by money, but out of respect. We need to be clear about our inner motivations and convey them effectively. Social capital is useful when parties are like-minded. If we remove money then we'll need to remove government, border control. public examinations, sports tournaments etc.(and I'm not saying that a reduction of some of these might be helpful).
Mr Boyle cites Gandhi as his inspiration. Well, he’s mine too. I love his pacifism, vegetarianism and non-violent stance but his life was short. Mr Gandhi may have chosen to be moneyless but it’s unlikely he would have expected society to replicate his example. Gandhi's life was an experiment and he'd be the first to admit that he endured many failures. Moneylessness is a personal choice and perhaps Mr Boyle can adopt this state and be cushioned by those friends around him who are holding onto theirs.
|Gandhi -an experiment with truth|
There’s no need for a moneyless world as there are a great many people doing wonderful things in a moneyed world. Charities who rely on donations know what money can do to transform lives and rejuvenate flagging spirits. We can strive for unconditionality in our giving and receiving with money present in our society, for then it becomes heart felt and meaningful. Think of the profound message contained in the parable about the widow’s mite.
The mite, like the dollar, pound and yen has a role in our human journey. Mr Boyle provides the male perspective and the male of the species has created the defunct economic model we live by.
If women ruled Wall Street and the banking system, things might have turned out a little different. We don't need less money, we need less ego! If you become a slave to money (and it's easy to do) then that's your look-out. If we are beings of free will then we must choose wisely.
Technology has created divisions within human relations but can we truly stop it? Certainly we can filter it and reduce it’s impact on us as individuals. I don’t feel I need to convince anyone that looking at an illumninating sunset is more beautiful than YouTube! Technology has been eroding the human experience ever since washing machines came into our homes but who’d be without one?
Self reliance and self-made money leads to the greatest fulfilment. But the freedom and opportunity that money brings also requires responsibility and intelligence. Ask Bill Gates if he’s unhappier since he made a fortune using his unique talents? I don’t think you’ll find him griping about flying in a private jet or buying out Tiffany’s but he’s no spendthrift or braggart. He’s an upright world citizen who wants to do the right thing by eradiacating disease and ignorance.
|Money is tricky|
My purpose is not to attack Mr Boyle and his philosophy, believe it or not, I’m an admirer of his values. I’d love to envision a moneyless society but the challenges that money brings enables the flexing of our spiritual muscles. I know many a financially challenged person who has come through stronger and wiser. Money is a blessing and a curse but it only has the power you give it.
I value freedom, self-expression and independence above all else but adding money into the mix helps me to help others, particularly my sisterhood, achieve the same. I'm neither rich or poor and that's a happy medium for me.