Our abstract for the Hague

As Steph announced below, our abstract was accepted at the 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems in the Hague in June. For anyone interested, here’s the abstract we submitted. It builds upon the paper we presented in Lyon back in 2011 while laying out our basis for the community experiments we’re preparing to instigate:

Previously we offered a trophic model for thinking about the relationship between different types of currencies and exchange mechanisms and how currencies assist and hinder the recognition of value and wealth. In our model, different currencies express unique perspectives on that which is valuable to an entity, such as how the rabbit values the carbohydrates found in the grass while the wolf values the proteins found in the rabbit. The protein may be more energetically powerful and rare than the carbohydrate, but the former cannot exist without the latter. In its turn, the carbohydrate cannot exist without the abundance of sunlight which the plant uses in their production. The scarce is the outcome of the abundant and cannot exist without it. Wealth, then, is that which is collected and aggregated on the basis of individual identification of what is valuable. Value itself transcends any individual definition and exists as an imminent potential. Through our model we assert that an economic system may be understood and empowered by recognizing that currencies like the dollar, apex species in our model, occur on the basis of a vibrant ecology of different forms of exchange and relation. Community development should be focused on the expression of potential rather than the measurement of dollars. We have since developed our model further, in part to address concerns of how to put our ideas into practice. Thus, we offer a variant which operates outside of spatial definitions of currency — local, national, supranational — to instead consider intermediary objects that we think of as currency: time, grain, gold, and so forth. We suggest in part that our common error to think of gold or other scarce commodities as symbolic of money itself, rather than as a type within an ecology, leads us to create alternatives set up to fail. By modeling community currencies off national currencies we are effectively putting a wolf on a leash and expecting it to compete with those running wild. Instead, we suggest that community currencies need to embody a different set of properties such as are expressed through grain, time, gift, and the commons — currencies which decay and replenish, not those which persist and require us to decay in their stead. More, we need to recognize the fundamental differences between these money objects and how they represent, and fail to represent, knowledge that we have of each other and our communities. The jaundiced money and debt of empire, predicated on distrust, has little place in our communities and homes. In addition, as we seek to address questions of community renewal, we need to recognize that our immediate answers are not of economics but of the types of societies in which we desire to live. The economic question follows from the social question. Through the Time For the World project, we are currently developing a distributed experiment in community production to test and investigate these ideas. Our paper will document outcomes and launch our model for large-scale dissemination and replication.

Now we just need to write it!