[-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Wed Apr 8 04:44:35 EST 2009

Really great conversations, particularly in that they pull me out of
my comfort zone.  Investing or writing grants are both areas where I
am inexperienced...  I understand that they play complex roles and
that people definitely have to make do with what's available...  but I
wonder what would happen if we decided to disengage from them.  Or
emulate their models but in different contexts.

The Dominican nuns that I work for do seem to have some sort of
alternative model which strikes me as viable.  Among them are
scientists, doctors, psychologists, nurses, social workers, teachers,
painters, musicians, administrators, architects, etc.  They are united
by a common purpose and a particular discipline which requires them to
pool their resources, divvy up their responsibilities, support each
other socially, and maintain a commitment to dialogue and consensus
amongst themselves.  On one level, I would have a hard time imagining,
say, a University faculty getting along as well as they do.  But on
the other hand, University faculties do tend to get by, even if
academics tend to believe that our highly specified notions are
precisely right (because we are smart and we dedicated our lives to
them, so how could we be wrong? right?)...  and my University, in
particular, tends to benefit in many ways from the model of dialogue
they insist upon as faculty members, administrators, and board

Also, there are the folks in the German town that Joe referenced who
have done this, more or less.  Plus there are many examples of
communities from Traverse City, MI (which has a barter system in
place) to the Amish (who support each other in really interesting
ways), from worker owned co-ops and community supported farms.  So
there are a variety of examples available, I suppose.

What if a group of artists and writers just got together, took our
savings, and bought an empty building or even a whole neighborhood in
Detroit?  Or somewhere else where houses are cheap, like Anniston,
Alabama or something.  This group could pool money.  People could take
jobs on a rotating or distributed basis, buy food or garden in common,
and discuss what the group should invest in.  Should we become a
school?  Should we become community organizers?  Should we provide day
care and health benefits to our members?  How much income do we need?
How much art or philosophy should we produce?  How much should we
invest in education and training?  Should we provide microloans to
small businesses?  Should we dedicate research to the development of
patents?  How much do we want to spend on technology?  Etc.

You'd have to get away of the romanticism that tends to cling to
intentional communities.  And I think it would be very important to
avoid anything that smacked of individual charismatic leadership.  You
couldn't expect it to be a utopia.  It would be socially and
economically stressful at times and it would demand that participants
consciously subjugate their will and their labors to the group, in
certain aspects of their lives.  You'd also have to have some
mechanism for screening participants and for mediating conflicts  But
if you approached it as though you were creating a miniature state, it
would not be impossible.  You could combine entrepreneurial spirit
with the real need for mutual assistance or like unionization, but
based on a common set of values rather than a common trade.


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