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Is any form of money/currency compatible with anarchism?

+4 votes
Is it possible to have without conflicting with the opposition to hierarchy? Someone with more money could use it as a means to assert domination over you or hire others to do the same. But it's also an effective means to distribute resources. Is trade & barter considered a form of currency?

Also, how do you think resources can be distributed without any form of currency, where everything is held in common? Not saying you should know, just looking for ideas.
asked Jan 22, 2012 by anonymous
sorry, there should be a "currency" somewhere in that first sentence

1 Answer

+1 vote
your first sentence seems to be missing something?

first paragraph:
i think that the issue of money isn't about hierarchy - plenty of cultures have not had money and had hierarchy - the issue (i think) is more about the relationship to what we make and have. money is an abstraction. it requires a consistent quantification of stuff. if i have a loaf of bread, and you have a pile of yams, we can barter based on how important those things are to us. it might be a kind of bread that i really like a lot, but you're not so excited about. i'm arguing that money (as a concept) takes away from that, it leads to false generalizations, false equivalencies, and massificiation.

second paragraph:
what does it mean to "hold everything in common"? i don't know that i have ever heard of people working that way (depending on what you mean). but in small groups, i have heard of people distributing things based on both who provided it and who has greatest need. and gifting, of course, which entails a completely different relationship to stuff than we have (for more information look up the gift by mauss), and as stated already, trade/barter.

answered Jan 23, 2012 by dot (49,970 points)
edited Jan 23, 2012 by dot
oh im not saying that a moneyless society is guaranteed to be free of hierarchy. i guess my view is that as long as there is money or some form of currency, then someone with more of it could use it as coercion and/or establish some form of hierarchy with it.

i should have been more specific, but by "hold everything in common" i mean everyone having free access to whatever they need or possibly desire, as long as its not someones personal property (as explained by Proudhon). do you think this kind of society on a large scale is plausible, and what are some ideas on distributing resources without a form of currency? im being very presumptuous here, but it would come as no surprise if most people wanted the best quality things: the best tech devices, the best vehicles, the best exotic fruit, etc. normally, money would work to gauge how much someone wants something by how much they are willing to pay (or they just dont have the money), so what are some ideas on how this would work without a currency?

and the gift economy is a great idea, thank you!
Your assessment regarding the concept of money leads to false generalizations and equivalencies is interesting. I would say that a unit of account allows for more accurate comparison of heterogeneous goods. It certainly helps solve the problem of divisibility. For example, if all I have is a young goat, that is worth 3 hens in both of our subjective value scales, I would have to trade my whole goat to get any of your hens. If I only want 1 hen, I will have to forego the exchange with you because I cannot give you a third of a goat. Unless, I could find someone else who wants hens (2 or less) and has something else I want. Then I could trade you my goat for your 3 hens and 2 of the hens for other items from other actors. The 2 hens that I obtain for their use in indirect exchange become money. They are money because I obtained them not to use them directly, but rather to use as a medium of exchange for some other goods from a different individual.