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Alternative Currencies: Contemporary Owenism?. Peter North, University of Liverpool. National Equitable Labour Exchange 1832-4.

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alternative currencies contemporary owenism

Alternative Currencies: Contemporary Owenism?

Peter North,

University of Liverpool

national equitable labour exchange 1832 4
National Equitable Labour Exchange 1832-4

“All wealth proceeds from labour and knowledge. And labour and knowledge are generally renumerated according to time employed. Hence it is proposed to make time the standard or measure of wealth”

the owenite money tree
The Owenite money tree.
  • Depression-era stamp scrip and swaps
  • Silvio Gesell and rusting money.
  • Contemporary alternative money networks.
  • Argentina, mass usage
  • LETS, long lasting
green dollars lets
Green Dollars/LETS
  • Started 1987 Vancouver Island. In the 1990s, went worldwide, mainly anglo-saxon countries.
  • Directory, Checkbook, accountant.
  • Currency is green dollars or a locally identified name.
  • Locality is important.
  • Denominated in national currency with hour referent/moral economy.
  • Ended up as seen as rather clunky, with few practical skills available.
  • Making too many phone calls and nothing happening!
united states berkshares
United States: Berkshares
time money or service credits
Time Money or Service Credits
  • Money denominated in hours: one hour, one credit.
  • Co-production social service ethos is crucial.
  • Balance does not matter – generational solidarity.
  • Connections made by a broker and by telephone.
  • Usually more successful when run by a social services agency.
  • Unlike LETS, does reach the poor/excluded/elderly.
problems with owen s timebanks
Problems with Owen’s TimeBanks
  • The poorest need help to start.
  • How to differentiate between levels of efficiency.
  • Could not live on labour notes alone – heavily discounted by middlemen.
  • Women object to shopping under the male gaze.
  • False exchanges that ripped the poor off.
  • Attacked as atheistic, communistic.
  • Poor regulation led to disputes between traders, no enforcement by courts.
when they last
When they last …..
  • “Post-materialist utopians”, not the poor.
  • Not generally in poor regions – alternative spaces
  • A well rooted, committed activist with support network.
  • Efficient and timely admin.
  • Small number of active local members, but strong bonds of affection/political/religious view and support.
  • Members educated so they understand how it works.
  • Attracted natural wheeler-deelers and young families offered and wanted what the network could provide.
  • Commitment building mechanisms – either formal or through a shared ethos.
  • Defection penalised.
  • Commitment building events – markets, parties etc.
coming soon
.... Coming soon....

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