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<nettime> lawyers, guns, and donuts digest [holmes, linton x2]
nettime's_social_alchemist on Mon, 21 Jan 2002 22:34:05 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> lawyers, guns, and donuts digest [holmes, linton x2]

Brian Holmes <106271.223 {AT} compuserve.com>
     <nettime> dollars & donuts
Michael Linton <lcs {AT} mars.ark.com>
     Re: <nettime> In Gold We Trust, part 1
Michael Linton <lcs {AT} mars.ark.com>
     Re: <nettime> dollars & donuts

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Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 07:19:55 -0500
From: Brian Holmes <106271.223 {AT} compuserve.com>
Subject: <nettime> dollars & donuts

Doug Henwood writes:

"I've seen no evidence yet that LETS  people have given much thought to the
economic fundamentals that the money system embodies. It's the money
illusion raised to the level of a political philosophy, it seems."

Isn't that slapping praxis a bit too quickly with theory, Doug? What's
interesting in the various LETS systems, and other forms of trading
circles, is the practical response to situations where the capitalist order
is in crisis, either because of financial breakdown (Argentina), structural
inequality (in marginalized rural areas or situations of long-term high
unemployment), or because people want to escape the state (there you also
get right-libertarian alternatives, as we saw with e-gold). And what's
interesting in the practice is the chance for alternative ideas to be
embodied in the lives of people who are not necessarily theorists.

Unfortunately for us, the libertarian right has been better at that in
recent decades than any of the left factions. I can understand some
impatience with the idea that any egalitarian politics can do without a
state, and it's also naive to avoid the question of how the existing
capitalist order influences any subsystem set up inside it; but still it's
empirically interesting to get a look inside some experimental practices
that could ultimately transform our relations to the state(s), and thereby,
perhaps, transform capitalist relations.

After all, wouldn't it be interesting to bring people practically before
the questions you ask? About the relations of authority between bossess and
workers, about the planning and financing of productive capacity? Only when
people ask those questions, not as theoretical games, but as practical life
problems, does the status quo evolve in any way.

best, Brian Holmes

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From: Michael Linton <lcs {AT} mars.ark.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> In Gold We Trust, part 1
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 19:30:40 -0800

Dear Doug,
I wrote this before getting your posting earlier today on "dollars and 
donuts" but nonetheless it seems (to me) to bear on some of the issues you 

On January 19, 2002 11:19 am, Doug Henwood wrote:

> I'm still at a loss to understand how these "community currencies"
> would be used to pay for products outside the community. 

You need to think outside that box. - the idea of "the" community.  Think 
rather of multiple communities, neighborhood, locality, region, province, 
nation and beyond, just on spatial dimension.  Others will be communities of 
interest, or common purpose, or production, not of place.  Things outside one 
community may be inside others.  

Most people people will use 5 - 10 currencies, organizations will use more.

>..............Or will
> every community have its own steel mill and chip plant? 

The economic case for all local production will indeed be improved, and 
could occasionally lead to steel mills serving local markets - this might 
first show at the level of communities of several milllion.  

More significantly, consider all the small production enterprises wiped out 
by "globalization" and the "rationalisation" of trading - farming for 
instance.  As community currencies are used for progressively more of the 
local and regional economies, many things that used to make it financially, 
and then didn't, will again.   

>........................It's a big
> leap from using scrip to exchange products at a roughly similar level
> of technical complexity and capital intensity - meals for haircuts,
> housecleaning for dogwalking. But what about things that require
> machinery, financing, specialized labor, and entities that extend
> across time and space to produce them? How would a New Yorker like me
> get a computer or an orange? 

Generally by paying some part of the invoice in "federal" cash / credit and 
the balance in community currency.  As an approximate rule of thumb, the 
retailer / wholesaler / manufacturer should get their cost of goods (fob plus 
taxes, direct and consequent) in cash, and their value-added (mark-up, gross 
profit) in whatever community money works for both the buyer and the seller.  
That's the "how-can-you-lose?" split.  Aggressive sellers can go well beyond 
that price point where they have cc for cash substitution options for 

Hence you can expect retail gas for maybe 10% "cc", groceries at 15-20%, 
retail hard goods 20-50%, restaurants 50% and bettter, services up to 80%, 
music, theatre and sports will often be 100%.   IP will depend on the 
license, of course. 

>...........................Once you get beyond exchanging simple
> goods and services in a small geographical area, you have to have a
> state-guaraneteed token (or gold), or you can't have commerce. 

This is a blatant non-sequitur, and dead wrong besides.  Consider the 
commercial "barter" networks for instance, some now global in practice.  
There are more means in heaven and earth, Doug, than are dreamt of in your 
short list.

>..............................Or are
> you really proposing that production be undertaken strictly on a
> local scale? 

No - never did, never will.    www.gmlets.u-net.com/explore/sustain may help 

>...........Do you even think about the relations between money and
> production beyond the level of sentiment and wish?

One might ask, with equivalent relevance, presumption and attribution - have 
you stopped beating your significant other (wife, dog, drum, meat .. ) yet?  
But I prudently refrain.   Please, in the interests of productive discourse, 
do thou likewise.

A brief digression of ways of study, enquiry, learning.  A man goes to the 
city and sees ships built of iron.  When he comes back to his village, the 
elders throw a flat iron in the river and conclude him a liar.   

Much of the reaction to the ideas of open money is at this level.   We are 
used to it, but that doesn't mean we regard it as particularly open-minded.  
There are investigative approaches that seek to expose weakness, and others 
that explore strengths.  Both are necessary, but it is interesting to notice 
which take priority.    

In this instance, it's clear (at least to us "LETS" people" who know what we 
are talking about when we talk of open money) that most of the critique so 
far is utterly off target.   Without some knowledge of what we are actually 
saying, any analysis is almost inevitably misdirected and mistaken.  Sorry 
about that.  It may make sense to you, and have nothing to do with us. 

Our materials are available in several sites, in some chronological order 

1986        www.gmlets.u-net.com/letsplay (ancient - pre internet)
1995        www.gmlets.u-net.com - especially /design
1998        www.communityway.org
1999        www.cctrading.net
2001        www.openmoney.org	

For a useful discourse with us, questions that relate to these published 
ideas will likely get more attention than questions that don't. 

btw Doug, I heard you talking on CBC this morning about Enron.  Perhaps your 
general view might summarised as "Enron (and other such) are inevitable, it's 
just capitalism doing its thing (something smelly, you said) and there's 
little we can expect but more of the same"    Maybe you would accept my 
precis, maybe not.  

Anyhow, it's more or less my view of the Enron scam, and it's because I see 
no realistic solutions available inside that money-box that I (and others) 
are working to provide parallel exchange systems with better likelihood of 
better ethical behaviour, and positive social, ecological and political 



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From: Michael Linton <lcs {AT} mars.ark.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> dollars & donuts
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 17:57:13 -0800

On January 20, 2002 09:49 am, Doug Henwood wrote:

> I'm assuming the point isn't to reproduce a capitalist division of
> labor. 


>But once your local currency starts circulating beyond a small
> circle of quasi-friends, then the law of value is going to start
> operating - competition based on a price system based on cost of
> inputs. 

What do you mean start?  Who said it stops?

>........How else would you exchange potato chips for computer chips?

According to comparative value, buyer - seller?

> Have you given much thought to production? 


>...The labor market?


> ....Relations of authority between bosses and workers? 


>...How investment will be planned and financed? 


> I've seen no evidence yet that LETS
> people have given much thought to the economic fundamentals that the
> money system embodies. 

Sorry about that.  I wonder what such evidence would look like, to you. 

>It's the money illusion raised to the level of
> a political philosophy, it seems.
> Doug

The money illusion.  Perhaps if you specify just what you consider that to be 
we can discover whether "LETS people" are so elevated.  Please define,



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