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A world without money

I have no academic papers or historical research view on what I’m about to post, although I will find some, but I was reflecting on my discussions of revolutions in humanity.  In particular, the second age of humankind, when we invented money as a control mechanism.

Before this seismic change, money didn’t matter.  We shared beliefs that allowed us to live together in relative peace, but the creation of money changed the balance of humanity.  Some of us became more powerful, whilst others weaker.  In fact, the biggest change between the first age and the second age is that it is no longer muscle that wins.  It’s brains.

Money is just a myth, invented by the powers that be to control the masses.  This is a truism that is explored over and over again on Ted Talks, in the movies, in the media and in life.

Think about it.   Ancient tribes didn’t care about money.  They cared about food, shelter and basic human needs.  There is a tribe in the Bay of Bengal that no one visits, because they attack any sign of humans.   I’m sure they don’t have money.

The reason I’m writing this is that I’m wondering about the future of money.  If money is a myth, created by governments to control the masses.  Then what happens if we have no money in the future?

That is an idea put out there by Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and seems to be supported by libertarians who want money without government.  What is the point of money without government  when the whole point of money is to create an unfair distribution of wealth in society.  By creating an unfair distribution of wealth, you create those who are controlled and those who are controlling.  Those who are controlling gradually concentrate their wealth into the smallest number of hands.  This is why 8 men today have half of the world’s wealth.  Just 8 men.

Without money, what are we?  All equal?  But some must surely be more equal than others.  That is the point of government, wealth and the uneven distribution of wealth.  It is part of being human.

The futuristic vision of Star Trek is that the acquisition of wealth no longer drives humankind.  IT is the betterment of humanity through exploration and knowledge.  What is the point of that?  Without wealth, we have no leaders.  Without wealth, we have no drive.  Just ask the Norwegians or other countries where everyone has a basic income guaranteed.  If you need not work for shelter, food and fun, then why would you work?

OK, OK, I’m going off on a tangent but the core of humanity is power.  Power is gained through the accumulation of wealth but, before money was invented, power was gained through the gravitas and muscle of the alpha males of our colonies.

Could you imagine if we stripped the world of money and wealth and, tomorrow, returned to a world where wisdom and muscle ruled?  Where would Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan be?  What would happen to Africa and the suffering nations of the Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and other countries?

Stripping the world of the wealth focus and monetary controls could be an interesting future nirvana … or it could be anarchy and destruction.  What’s your view?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Gianluca D’Imperio

    I do like Star Trek and the Roddenberry vision of the future. I believe that a future with no money is possible. I mean the link between work and money it is not needed, we shouldn’t necessary work to earn more money, we could rather work to help each other and as far as the leadership, we may also have “recognized” leaders based on their true ability (e.g. knowledge, experience, in other words not ability to lie) instead of their money. Probably this will remain only an utopian idea but I strongly believe in that, even if we will take a lot of time to get there! We must understand how can we live better without the myth of the money, how much advantages there will be cooperating rather than isolating one from another. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6cf69d6708ff228eceaa34a8fc8fe84bba14b04593b147e97e41a7301beb96ea.png

  • Alex Nech

    I do agree with the above but only to an extent. Yes – money is what allows power to concentrate but that’s the dark side of money. Regardless of the system humans will always play it. The good side of money is the internet we are reading this on, penicillin, life expectancy north of 80 years, art & culture. All this was only made possible with the monetary system that empowered effective trade. None would do research or write poems if they had to simply worry about the basic human needs, all day, every day. Not to say there aren’t people who have to do this even with money but my argument is that this number would be much higher if we didn’t have money.

    • Jandir Matos

      Nice point

  • Stephen Sheehan

    History has a habit of repeating itself so it wouldn’t surprise me at some stage in the future money is irrelevant and we revert to a system of basic interaction and exchange, we are great traders after all. Governments and politics holds the key in my opinion and I can’t see any elected or self elected respresentstives trying to change the system from within and jepordize their own power base and security. There is a good chance that technology could be the change agent if indeed there is one at some point. Alternatively an event so big that it changes society by its very nature leading us down a new path.

  • Robert McManus

    Interesting post. I’m not sure about your use of the phrase ‘control mechanism’ and your second paragraph is arguable at best.

    If you’re ever in Oxford pop into the Pitt Rivers Museum. They have a display case there on the history of money and the tokens used across the world at various times. Anthropology and biology have a lot more to teach us here than economics.

    • Chris_Skinner

      Happy to have the argument Robert, and Pitt Rivers Museum now definitely on my list. Btw, click embedded links in opening para for more background

      • Matthias Benfey

        Speaking of anthropology, “Debt: the first 5000 years” by David Graeber (an anthropologist) supports your argument above, Chris. Also worth the virtual “visit”.

  • It’s a good thing you wrote that disclaimer as your opening statement. Money is a replacement to physical limitations inherent in trade and not created unscrupulously for a power grab. Stronger and weaker existed before money. Money wasn’t invented as a control mechanism but has been used as one; since barbarism is now frowned upon. And speaking of barbarism… isn’t that the world of Star Trek? Is there one episode of where some weapon isn’t fired or threatened to be used?

    • Chris_Skinner

      Click on the embedded links – money was invented as a method of government control

      • I interpreted the original intent was to enhance an insufficiency inherent to the barter system. There were times when crops failed and farmers had to borrow from other farmers. Out of this “debt” system money was created. Just like the ruling class in Sumer was created, not for power, but out of a need to solve the problems of dividing the lands and directing public works. Sumerian priests already had power and control prior to money. Have you ever seen any pockets on a prostitute? How then could they accept 3 bags of grain as payment for a good time? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e6efac88026c2947f4b407bf5ad7867f1ac0598565c5a05ceb603de50456578.gif

  • Mina Worthington

    I think “The Walking Dead” does a great job of hypothesizing on what the modern world would be like with no government and no money. Zombies are really a secondary concern.

  • Aditya Mishra

    If this vision of future sounds too good to be true, it’s because it indeed is. The origin of wealth is not in the medium of exchange ie money but in basic human behavior. Greed is a basic human function. Comparing me vs him and us vs them is again basic human function. As long as the basic human nature remains, humans will find ways to score above others. The units will change as they have over history: no of sheep, lands under control, no of soldiers, gold, $, no of nuclear warheads etc etc. As long as humans compete with each other, there will be a yardstick to compete on.