02 May 1990, DENVER, CO: Imagine earth without money. Begin with the occupations that would cease to be. The IRS workers would be the first to go; who needs taxes on a planet without paychecks? Running a close second would be the lawyers; no one would have money to give them, and they wouldn’t work for free.
Who would miss the televangelists that peddle the good word? Robert Schuller would have to simplify his Crystal Cathedral “gospel of prosperity” down to “the Gospel.” And how would Jim and Tammy Faye raise cash for Christ in a world where a “donation” is the giving of oneself? They wouldn’t.
Then, there would be the product distributors from Amway, Herbalife and Kirby; the peddlers of water purification systems, encyclopedias and aluminum siding; the entrepreneurs of ways to keep our lives tidy. They would pass from this world without a eulogy.
Finally, on the slightly darker side of life, drug peddlers and prostitutes would also be left without soil from which to grow. What bounty would there be, after all, from the selling of bodies and dependencies without the fertilizer of money? Imagining earth without money is like imagining a garden without weeds.
There is something wrong with money and its cancerous effects on humanity: money forces into a secondary position all other thoughts than those of acquiring earnings, just as a life-threatening disease forces into a secondary position all other thoughts than those of survival. Only after the tumor of money has been wrenched free of its grip on humanity will this oppressive focus on survival be cast aside, like a broken cocoon.
The vocations that remain will be those that matter: the teachers, the medical workers, the farmers, the pilots, the researchers, the scientists, the religious, the writers, the artists, the architects, the builders, the clothing designers, the engineers and the chefs. Minds and hearts, without bonds, will be free to pursue the higher concerns of civilization.
What would motivate people to fill these vocations when money no longer exists as reward? Ask yourself what you would do with your life if you didn’t have to earn money in order to purchase survival.
Would you build a sailboat and sail around the world with your companion while drinking 100-year-old bottles of Chateau d’Yquem white wine from the Bordeaux district of France; eating all the grilled, freshly-caught seafood that the world’s seas have to offer; making wild, passionate love five or six times a day on the foredeck, under the flying jib sail?
Would you build a log cabin in a secluded mountain valley next to a gushing stream that glistens like light through a crystal and read the entire fifty-four volumes of the Brittanica Great Books from Homer to Freud? Or, would you commit yourself to eternal sluggishness as a couch potato by watching the entire series of videos of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Lucy Show?
Suddenly being without the need to earn money would be similar to skipping grade school: the idea sounds great until you’re at home for awhile, bored and wondering what to do next. There is a natural motivation in people to be useful. In fact, people are born uniquely useful. In most cases, this usefulness is stifled as people move towards concentrating on the practicality of earning a living. The impression that people would veer towards laziness when confronted with freedom is only because people today yearn for laziness as a drastic alternative to the imposed drudgery of their function in society. Function is a substitute for usefulness. In a world without money, people would be free to realize the full potential of their usefulness.
Why would a person purposely choose to be lazy (an act of rebellious escape) when their natural role in life has become unbound, recognized and appreciated? Instead of laziness, there would be play and festivity: the rejoicing of the body, mind and spirit in the celebration of being fully human and fully alive. What wonders of human creativity could be revived?
In a world without money, education would be different. Teachers would be teachers because they are truly gifted at teaching and their desire is to teach. They would be free to wholly concentrate on the activity of teaching, instead of teaching while also having to earn a living. Students would be in school according to their educational needs and not according to the level of their parents’ income (or lack of income).
School would serve to guide in the discovery of a student’s unique usefulness as well as to emphasize and strengthen the student’s awareness of that usefulness. In the process of strengthening awareness, the student would come to an understanding of why certain jobs (with their underlying skills) will always be more effortless, and why other occupations will always require more effort (like swimming against the flow as opposed to swimming with the flow).
When students reach the end of high school, they would have both the ability for university level work (those who desire such) and a defined sense of direction from high school to a vocation (both virtually unknown today), based on the recognition and understanding of their natural, underlying skills. Students today are so concerned about “priorities” like job images, jobs that are in demand for the decade of the nineties and amounts of income, that they are blind to how their unique talents translate into useful vocations. In a world without money, education would be a process in which everyone gains and not a game in which some win and most lose.
Without the concept of money, work would settle into that which is necessary for the advancement of civilization. People would practice their vocations throughout the world. With the benefits of language study in school, carpenters would offer their skills in the building of housing throughout the world. Doctors and medical aides would also be in demand worldwide.
The concept of ownership would disappear with money; people would be free to live wherever their vocation would be needed at the time. Transportation would not be a concern since fares would be nonexistent. Think of the entire globe as an extended metropolitan area. As people now travel modestly among Northglenn, Boulder, Littleton, Aurora, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, they could travel freely among Denver, Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Prague, Beijing, New Delhi, Tokyo or Homer, Alaska.
Housing would exist for those workers living in each “suburb.” Restaurants of all cuisines would serve meals cooked by those who love their occupations. In a world without money, people would simply love doing the things that they do the best. As a result, there would no longer be room for greed, crime, or empire building. Purpose in life would be to fulfill creative potential daily instead of to “fill full” savings accounts for retirement.
Play and festivity would be hard to distinguish from work in a world without money. In work that one truly loves, there is a sense of already being at play and of having to force oneself to break away for quiet time or simple frolicking. One thing play would not be is an escape from work. Instead, it would be a celebration of life; and that is exactly that imagining earth (without money) is all about.
by S. A. Bort / 6 August 2013 (2 May 1990)
1). http://photobucket.com/images/cornucopia/#/images/cornucopia/?page=1&_suid=137586034581408885752393535319 2). http://www.netspedizioni.com/f/86d43ca40a 3). http://brokenlightcollective.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/cocoon/ 4). http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/yquem/1990 5). http://www.broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/musicman.htm 6). http://www.paperbackswap.com/1990-What-Color-Richard-N-Bolles/book/0898153174/ 7). http://www.123rf.com/photo_15913053_illustration-of-a-jobs-and-professions.html 8). http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/Maryland-Crabcakes—Classic—FREE-SHIPPING.asp?cat=&subcat=&cf=usp_ListSeafood_MultiCategory_Sel&cprod=&source=pepperjamppc&gclid=CMWmxJCm6rgCFctcMgodawoAzQ
I originally wrote this May 2, 1990. After twenty-three years, I thought I would tune it up a bit and publish it here on the blog, along with the two accompanying essays.
I sent these three essays to Burlington, Vermont’s Brautigan Library, named for Richard Brautigan and initiated by his daughter, Ianthe. The essays were among the first (in 1990) accepted, bound and placed on the shelves under the “Mayonnaise System Catalog Number” of: “Social/Political/Cultural: SOC 1990.007.” My accompanying certificate states: “LET NO MAN block the light of wisdom and inspiration found therein.”
See: http://dtc-wsuv.org/brautiganlibrary/?s=Stephen+Bort , http://www.cchmuseum.org/research/the-brautigan-library/ , http://www.thebrautiganlibrary.org/Blank.html , http://www.brautigan.net/responses-library.html , http://brautigan.cybernetic-meadows.net/tiki-index.php?page=The+Brautigan+Library and https://www.facebook.com/BrautiganLibrary for current information on the library.
Shortly after I was added to the shelves, I was contacted by Lawrence Ingrassia of the Wall Street Journal, who was writing an article on the opening of the library. He had seen the above foreward to this essay and was curious about the concept of “abolishing money.” He asked if I was a socialist. I answered no. He asked other questions, but in the end, his article of May 28, 1991 did not mention me. His article can be found here: http://brautigan.cybernetic-meadows.net/tiki-index.php?page=Ingrassia+1991+Fictional+Library+Becomes+a+Real+Place