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how fundamental is money to capitalism?

+6 votes
does creating a money-less world solve many or most of the problems that anarchists have with the current situation?
if so, what are the best ways to combat money as a phenomenon?
asked Jun 15, 2010 by dot (49,950 points)
this question replaces the non-question that has been deleted:
Should Anarchists be publicizing the 2012 Strike for a Moneyless World?
WORLD STRIKE 2012
If you agree that the abolition of money would be a fine solution to most of our problems, and that we could create a much better system where EVERYTHING - food and drink, clothing and housing, water, heating, education, health-care and entertainment - shall be FREE for EVERYONE - why not join the World-Wide Strike on the opening day of the Olympic Games in 2012?
The Strike will begin the moment the symbolic Olympic flame is lit - the signal for all who support the abolition of money to stop work and demand a new fair world of true freedom and justice.
WE WANT A MONEYLESS WORLD
Pass it on.

4 Answers

0 votes
for me this raises the question:  what is the relationship between "money" and "value (exchange)"?  doing away with money per se, while i would love to see that happen regardless, doesn't inherently do away with the mindset of "value exchange", which exists independently of money (a medium of exchange).  how tightly those are interwoven and interdependent is anybody's guess.  we can't know without doing away with the thing (money), to see how that impacts the way of thinking.

i find this both analogous and related to the similar question of "sustainability".  doing away with fossil fuels and other "unsustainable" technologies doesn't necessarily change the way people consume.  and it is that consumption that seems unsustainable.   if there were suddenly enough sun/wind/water energy products to provide the same upteen-gazillion peta-watts that the world currently uses, humans would likely make no changes in their consumption patterns.

likewise, doing away with money as a medium of exchange would not necessarily change the mindset of value exchange, hoarding, "profit", etc.

i haven't had coffee yet, so forgive the rambling...
answered Jun 24, 2010 by funkyanarchy (10,530 points)
i tend to agree with this assessment (that money is more of a symptom than a cause). but i'm not sure. the question of reform comes up here again: how do we change how we think about exchange, and value, without actively changing how we approach exchange and value? isn't trying to do without money one way (certainly not the only way) to do that?
the thing i don't like about the post that got deleted was not just that it wasn't a question (grrr) but that it's this activist tactic that seems very shallow. i find the alternate currency campaigns to be more interesting, even though they never seem to get very far.
0 votes
Money is absolutely fundamental to capitalism. The establishment of money is one of many roles that the state has played historically in laying the groundwork for capitalism, and one of the many continuing reasons that capitalism still could not exist without the state.

All market economies that we know about so far, either historically or anthropologically, have been based on a standardized medium of exchange to facilitate commercial transactions (i.e. money). All such standardized mediums of exchange, that we know about so far, have been imposed by the state.

Examples of non-monetary market economies based on barter have invariably been situations where a monetary system had once existed, but later collapsed or became inaccessible (such as the dissolution of the USSR, or much of the colonial pre-United States.) Non-monetary economies don't tend to operate according to the logic of barter or market exchange at all, but rather systems of what an anarchist might recognize as mutual aid. (Such arrangements have been described by different academics as "generalized reciprocity," "gift economy," "primitive communism," "noble savagery," "barbarity," etc.)

It is of little consequence whether the currency is coinage, printed paper, or standardized measurements of barley. All have functioned as money, and all have been imposed by the state, usually as a method of standardizing tax collection to pay soldiers. The market economy did not exist before money, and money did not exist before the state. If money somehow disappeared, market exchange could not be conducted in a manner conducive to the social institutions of capitalism. The idea that wage labor or investment banking could function through the trade of eggs for pieces of fabric is absurd.

This is not to say that the abolition of money = anarchy and freedom. I just don't think any system that could be described as "capitalism" could exist without that green (or measured denominations of salt, as the case may be).
answered Jul 31, 2011 by hypocrite (310 points)
To a free market, what was originally meant by capitalism all that is needed is capital- material goods and/or services which people can deal with one another through.

For croney debt based fiat currency "capitalism" i.e. Corporatism, money is truly essential because it's a method of artificial scarcity and price and distribution control.
+2 votes
Money is not fundamental to capitalism.  Capitalism could exist just fine without money.  Money (according to Marx) is a commodity just like any other commodity.  The only difference is that many commodities have a use-value that would still exist outside of capitalism.  (food can still be eaten, shoes could still be worn etc.)  Money on the other hand has as it's only use-value that it lubricates the process of exchange.  Money does not have a stable exchange value because it is used as a unit to measure the exchange value of other commodities.  
When you go through a process of exchange to get money, money is not actually the thing that you want, but rather, you see money as it's potential to quickly and easily exchange itself for other commodities.

To 'abolish money' would make capitalism slower and more cumbersome.  (The minute I see "Make Capitalism Slower and more Cumbersome! (A)!" on a banner I will lower my black flag and burn my (A) card.)

There are places in the world where money is not the most efficient commodity at lubricating exchange.  In a sense money "losses" its use-value.  In places where the exchange value of money tends to go down quickly or change rapidly people often will use a different commodity to store their wealth in.  This other commodity can become a 'new money' even though it has an alternate use value and was not designed for this purpose.  (Brick is a common 'new money')(I wish this were a settlers of cattan joke, but it's real shit.)
As long as commodities exist, there will be a commodity that performs the task of money.

A better known and more humorous story about money is when money gains additional use-values.  There have been times and places where money was not properly performing its function of lubricating exchange because it's exchange value was so low.  (We have all heard stories about pre-WWII Germany where it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread.)  At these times and places people find new uses for their gigantic stacks of useless money such as, wall paper, kindiling, or even fuel for a fire for heat or cooking purposes.

The main critics I can see of 'Money' are the Zeitgeist Movement wingnuts.  They argue instead for a "resource based economy" which is an entirely meaningless term.  To refer to the world as 'resources' already shows a degree of alienation and strongly hints towards a replication of the commodity-form.

To answer your second question, no.  Abolishing money does nothing to end the State, end Capitalism, end Prison, Borders, Imperialist War, Wealth/Poverty, White Supremacist Settler-Colonialism, Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy, Alienation, Work, etc., etc., or any of the constant abuses that come from these things.

For more on Money and Commodities read: Capital by Karl Marx
answered Mar 24, 2012 by Taigarun (1,750 points)
.....<3.....
Well put. Your understanding of money is obvious.
–1 vote
Money had an actual value at one time when precious metals were used.  Everything was valued according to its weight in gold.   Gold and silver were more reliable as standards than other tradeable goods.  As coins they were easy to carry, had no cost to maintain, and had no risk losing their value.  

Paper as money had the same ability, but had obvious advantages and a bank would pay the bearer of that paper the amount of gold the paper represented.  Than it magically became paper and coins became copper and zinc.

Money is now just a conditioned concept of value in our minds.  In other words.  There is no real value.  This could be seen in different ways.  One is that banks and the government ripped people off.  But actually the true value of gold is little more than a pretty rock.  Many might see that digital money works more effectively in a digital world.  

But maybe the best part about the current state of money is that it offers a bubble that could easily be popped.  Yet it could be popped in such a way that does not cause a panic but the realization that money or trade for goods is both no longer possible, no longer needed and no longer desirable.

The world because of complex systems of human cooperation that up to this point was motivated by profit.  Profit Is what defines capitalism and defines many distorted concepts and values that create instability, uncontrollable waste, and the non-respondsible approach to the profitable resources of this planet.

If people were able to see the adsurdity of money and the a different nature of the cooperation based on higher values and visions, it would awaken humanity to a whole new world and future.  A world where fixing things and being responsible is not about the cost of money but the cost of the real consequences and loss.  That to improve the standards of life and ensure the care of this planet is not stopped and prohibitted by the control of profit.
answered May 25, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,050 points)
http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/flame

lawrence did not call you authoritarian, or eurocentric, he said there were assumptions in your posts that were those things. i tend to agree. but walking you through why is hard to justify, since i don't know you or have much faith that you will care.
there is plenty on here already that discusses why capitalism is not anarchist, which you didn't explore before posting, and your quick rename from rothbardancap doesn't instill me with confidence that you won't just take up different words while maintaining your same ideas.

this is the nature of the internet, for better or worse.
Right, he just called me a flamer and a troll. Ad Homs arent arguments. They are just rude. Im not upset by him. His anger is his burden. The claim that anarchism is inconsistent with markets is nonsense. The earliest recognition of market anarchy as a subset was in 1959. It is nothing new and the term anarchy cannot be monopolized and carved into your preferred philosophy. That is why we hyphenate; so we can distinguish between our differences. The state needs to be eliminated for both of our visions. We agree that coercion and violence against peaceful people is wrong. We have a different opinion about the justifiability of money and markets.
Capitalism is violence, by its very nature (by restriction).

The issue of "money" however is far less black and white than many make out.
* The state needs to be eliminated for both of our visions. *
this is where we disagree. anarchists believe that your vision not only doesn't negate the state, but in fact requires the state (hence posts like "why does capitalism require the state").

and yes, lawrence's comments are rude. i believe that is their point, sometimes. as for your question, "flamer" refers to online behavior ( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=flamer&defid=1011924 )
All this talk about money with no mention of interest (and only one of debt) surprises me. These are the two primary characteristics of money that put it completely at odds with the natural world, and have nothing to do with storing of value or facilitating exchange.

I have so many thoughts on money that it's hard to know where to start, but I see the concept of money as it stands today as the most important representation of our disconnection with ourselves, in our relationships, and to the rest of the natural world. To live as an anarchist, I see transforming the conception of money in my own life as among the most vital things I can do.

I'll probably post an answer later on about the ways I've combatted the phenomenon of money and what the effects have been, but I at least wanted to add that the characteristics of debt and interest need to be taken into account, because tea leaves don't double in ten years by just letting them sit there.
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