Simple Liberty  



Building A Relationship Economy

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Some of you might find the following article interesting:

Building A Relationship Economy

The article is not about technology, so don’t let the hosting web site mislead you.

Sometimes I have disagreed with Doc Searls, but he always writes about topics that encourage me to think. One of the general areas in which he and I tend to agree is that human exchange systems ought to be more than mere “bottom line” arrangements. This article touches upon that idea. That is, there is more to human existence than “capitalism” and “free markets.”

There are limits to the usefulness of the concept of property. Attorneys and politicians have twistified that concept into something most of us today hardly recognize. The concept of property is directly related to the concept of scarcity. Software, a form of knowledge, is not a scarce resource. Only through twistifications is that knowledge manipulated into something bizarre known as intellectual property.

The concept of free software is appealing because all participants benefit, not just the software developers, marketers, and CEOs. The concept of free software creates a truly reciprocating human social system, not a unilateral monopoly that benefits only a privileged few. Everybody who participates benefits, and nobody is required to participate. The entire concept is based upon free association and voluntary exchange and not the “bottom line.” The true “bottom line” with free software is that everybody benefits from developing and using those tools.

This always has been the history of human existence. Sharing knowledge, rather than manipulating knowledge, is what helps build a foundation of human material progress. Every period in human history that is considered a “dark” or “backwards” age is related to the manipulation and control of knowledge. This nonsense of monopoly and manipulation, especially acute the past 100 years, has done much to contribute to the overall conflict witnessed during that same period. The concept of free software allows people to share knowledge and for each person to benefit and yes, even profit from sharing that knowledge.

A significant impedance to a relationship society is the concept of money. For several years I have supported a return to a wealth-for-wealth exchange system, what many people would call barter and direct trade. For the first time in known human history, the technology exists today for humans to embrace a paradigm shift in how they relate with one another — by eliminating commonly circulating currencies. Without those token mediums of exchange, there is no compound interest, which is the primary cause of currency inflation and a major contributor toward human conflict. Without common currencies there is no currency inflation caused by politicians and their central banking systems.

As a transitional phase, the mathematical algorithms for micro currencies and anonymous digital payments have existed for many years. Adapting those algorithms to software is a trivial exercise for skilled programmers. The existing and ever-improving computer technology easily supports a global exchange system. That type of a system already exists in a small-scale proof-of-concept software known as LETS. Yes, in a global system certain people will make a living acting as brokers to facilitate many exchanges because most people will be unable to trade their goods and services at a micro level. Yet unlike the inhumane world of compound interest, those brokers would collect straightforward linear fees or commissions.

A relationship economy is possible today. In such a world monopoly would disappear, patents would disappear, copyrights would dramatically transform, and all humans would benefit. Writers and artists would learn to license their products rather than use political muscle to create never-ending monopolies. Without compound interest and inflation overwhelming the exchange system and greatly clouding human relationships, everybody experiences relief from chasing the “almighty dollar.” Overall fear and uncertainty decreases spectacularly, which reduces overall conflict. The mere transition toward that society allows all people to be fed, clothed, sheltered, and enjoy a modest amount of additional creature comforts. The motive for crime and conflict decrease even more.

Without compound interest and the printing press to destroy the exchange power of a token currency system, politicians would find that wars would be far more challenging to start. With a relationship economy, where all participants benefit everywhere in the world, there would be little incentive for people in one region of the world to go to war with people located in another region. Politicians who wanted to start a war would be laughed at and mocked.

I have long thought that the concept of free software is a stepping stone to a healthier human social system. I still believe that.


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