Over at the always-entertaining Boing Boing, Douglas Rushkoff says that the best response an enterprising do-it-yourselfer might make to the current economic chaos would be to Print Your Own Money.
We think of the economy and its rules as given circumstances, when they are actually constructions.
In brief, the money we use is just one kind of money. Invented in the Renaissance, and protected with laws banning other kinds of money, it has very particular biases that lead to almost inevitable outcomes.
Following this is an interesting overview sketch of the history of the development of the government currency monopoly, and its consequences. Then, his prescription:
If we can adopt what we Boingers might call the “Happy Mutant Approach” to this crisis… this is not an entirely hopeless situation. Yes, corporations may lose the ability to keep us employed as the banking investment they depend on to operate dries up. But this corporate activity was always extractive in nature, getting (or, historically, forcing) people to buy mass-produced, and nationally distributed food and other goods that were once produced locally.
The collapse of centrally controlled commerce and currency simply creates an opportunity for local commerce and currency to revive. For people to learn to work and live together on a human, local scale — as the original free market advocate, Adam Smith, actually suggested. Admittedly, this would be a painful transition for many — but it’s better than maintaining dependence on a fiscal system designed from the start to turn people and communities into extractable corporate assets. (Think about that the next time you’re called up to “human resources.”)
Whether or not we’ve had time to fully embrace the Craft/Maker/cyberpunk/Boing ethos, our ability to provide for ourselves and one another directly, locally, even socially instead of entirely through centralized commerce, will determine how well we can navigate the near future.
For starters, check out the LETS system and other complementary currencies for how to make your own currency, Bernard Latier’s book The Future of Money free online, and Local Harvest for Community Sponsored Agriculture opportunities near you.
Money can be just as open source as any other operating system. It used to be.