To put our unhappy present-day politics of money into perspective, let’s go back about 2500 years to the time of the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle.
Then let’s distinguish between the social and natural resources economies (oikonomia), and the money economy (chrematistics).
Aristotle would have been familiar with both terms.
The term oikonomia, from which we get economics, is concerned with:
Let’s expand the term household to include the ecological resources of the land and its peoples, its institutions, language, shared values and history.
Now, can you visualise an economics that could have been designed to benefit our community, and indeed our planet, as a whole?
The virtue of community currency
This is where LETS and other community currencies fit in: as a community-based method for exchange.
Unlike ordinary money, community currencies are not based on central rationing, nor are they available at an interest rate.
Chrematistics not sustainable
On the other hand, chrematistics is abstract, and relates to the manipulation of property and wealth so as to maximise the short-term monetary exchange benefits
to the individual owner.
Chrematistic forms of money are centrally rationed and regulated by the government in accordance with the needs of the ‘market’ ― and thus the economy and
big business ― not us people and our households.
Like pyramid schemes, chrematistics is unsustainable.
Chrematistic forms of money represent the measure of the so-called ‘social contract’ between us citizens and our government ― but what happens when our
government is an extension of the market? That is, when our government is in the pockets of Big Banks, as we saw in the Banking Royal Commission’s hearings
that ran through 2018?
Answer: We are swindled. Deceived. Cheated. Dudded.
Even worse, with the emergence of derivatives (which have no regulation at all), we have a financial economy some 25 times the size of the physical economy.
Think about it! This is NOT sustainable, as the inhabitants of our planet already consume at the rate of three planets.
So, when considering the politics of money, we can conclude that no community or civilisation can exist without oikonomia first: that is, the natural and social-resources
economies that sustain human life on earth.
However, chrematistics, the economy of short-term personal and exchange monetary gain, has come to dominate human society.
Its cancerous growth now is subjecting our planet to mass extinctions. And we’re not exempt!
We’re in this, too!
Unbelievably, we ordinary people, in our everyday lives, actually collude in this destruction!
We do so as we try to secure our exchange money incomes first (chrematistics), with the secondary intention of having oikonomia in our households,
and barely even touch on the longer-term oikonomiac implications of the impact of our chrematistic choices on the social and ecological fabric of our community
Going from bad to worse
What’s worse, as has been shown in the Banking Royal Commission, any remediation done still allows the chrematistics/the stock market/government ‘money’,
to remain intact. In other words, we patch up the chrematistic damage using oikonomia, whereas in ancient times oikonomia (community currency, writ large)
would come first.
What’s our alternative?
In this scenario, we could see LETS/oikonomia as providing part of our superannuation, and view superannuation as making provision now for a future wealthy
(as in healthy) retirement.
Aha, LETS! Alternative superannuation AND a healthy retirement.
Now there’s another column. Let’s know if you’re interested.
Source: My research, including books such as the Politics of Money (2003), Hutchinson and Mellor.