“If the future is to remain open and free, we need people who can tolerate the unknown, who will not need the support of completely worked out systems or traditional blueprints from the past.” –Margaret Mead
Modern societies have developed as adaptations to a high-energy world by producing surpluses of non-renewable energies, especially in the United States. These complex, crumbling societies have developed a powerful system of centralized, top-down control system, with a widening gap in power and wealth from the mainstream, as the balance of power diverges even further between the haves and have-nots, with a hollowing out of the middle class. If we are to have any future society, it will be more cooperative and self-organizing one. What are self-organizing societies, and why should you be hoping for one as an alternative to the current emphasis on centralized control? How can we develop them? Continue reading Self-organizing societies
I am working on a policy post, but it is still cooking. So I will instead post a link to the best description of hyperinflation in Weimar Germany that I have ever read, that was written in 1970 when we went off the gold standard for good. Forty-three years later, our currency sins are finally beginning to catch up with us. What will penance for currency abuse look like? Since I have never received an answer to the question, “what would you do if your money becomes worthless,” I’ll ask it again. Dead silence on this topic implies big blind spots.
While inflation in most countries is still manageable, the rate of inflation is increasing. That means that the amount of money relative to the underlying worth of the economy is expanding, through expansion of debt and money printing. Currently the debt in wealthy countries is mostly sequestered in the financial iron triangle loop, with little escaping into general circulation except where corporate salaries and graft trickle down to wealthy managers. At some point the sequestration will end, and the trickle down will turn into a rush. The jockeying that we are seeing now between countries attempting to balance their devaluation with the devaluation in other countries will become a race, and inflation will increase. How will our inflation race play out, and how will it be different from the description of the German Nightmare linked here? Another longer descriptions of the process is linked here. Might we segue into a new currency without pain and defaults for too-big-to-fail entities? Can we escape hyperinflation, given our bankrupt political processes?
Header: Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, Salvador Dalí, 1940; Dalí describes his work on the painting “to make the abnormal look normal and the normal look abnormal.” While Dalí apparently disagreed with Voltaire’s philosophies, Voltaire had several relevant quotes on money that may apply here; “Dont think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money” and “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value — zero.”
Our obsession with money will be an issue for many as we transition from a wealth-oriented capitalist system. Many blogs focus on money—how to make more, how to keep what you’ve got, how to transition to something different and still be “ahead of the game.” Where will these voices be when the currency quits? Judging from the heavy emphasis on money in the blogosphere, many may feel dislocated when the casino chips disappear from the game. We need to look more broadly at the problem of money–those who focus on money without seeing the nature of the real system behind it are still grieving for the loss of an artifact of post industrial society. How do we deal personally with issues of debt and money in transition to economic contraction, while manipulated currencies bank on continued growth?
My thoughts converge after a flurry of recent thoughtful articles about money, including several from permaculture.org.au. These articles converge with multiple questions from friends about the future of money. What do I do with my savings if they are becoming less valuable? Should I spend money to buy a house? Will the stock market persist as a way of gaining wealth? Should I be saving at all if money is inflating away to become less valuable? Continue reading What is money?