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Which way for the ecology movement? (Audiobook)

July 19, 2017 - 14:46
Will ecology become "The Dismal Science?" (1989)?

Bookchin lays into spiritual ecologists, accusing them of mistaking industrialism for capitalism and of neo-Maulthusianism!

Read the text, or listen to Mp3 audio(6MB).

Categories: Blogs

Money: the Unauthorised Biography

July 15, 2017 - 08:58

This lucid and readable book traverses monetary history and philosophy to explain why money is no longer a tool for social justice, and indicates the kinds of solutions that could set it straight.

Download zip file (140MB).

Buy the paper book here.

Categories: Blogs

Paying attention to FairCoin!

July 1, 2017 - 06:08

Two years ago I posted a bemused article on Faircoin, which was trading between some members of Faircoop at five times the price it was available on the free market. This was a social experiment being run by Enric Duran as part of his attempts to build a new financial system. It seemed to me a risky venture which depended not only on Duran's integrity, but on everyone's confidence in him. Our language abilities didn't overlap sufficiently for me to be confident that he understood the market he was manipulating.

This year however, the project is in a different league. Instead of Enric's periodically announcing the price on an obscure FairCoop noticeboard like a sovereign, there is now a lively chat group with 80 members. Their objective is twofold, 1) to propose the 'official' price of FairCoin to the FairCoop monthly assembly, and 2) to manage the free market price.

The price should increase slowly and steadily, in contrast to other cryptocurrencies which fail as money because they are volatile. They aim to build confidence attract long term investors who want their money to do social good. FairCoop is selling FairCoin at the official price and building a pile of Euros. Those Euros are not for spending but remain available to buy back FairCoins from members who accepted them but cannot spend them. They do not guarantee to redeem all FairCoin ever issued, why should they? They are just a private institution in a free market trading a commodity.

Insofar as coins are circulating they don't need to be redeemed and only then can the pile of Euros be LENT (not spent) on something else. They are building their own bank, capitalised by the FairCoin in our wallets.

It is this manipulation for a purpose, within the free market, that makes FairCoin so interesting. Cryptocurrencies by their nature allow anyone to participate, but a motivated team with some resources should be able to 'own' or at least take control of a market for their own ends. They need to keep as many coins as possible in friendly hands, and of course to grow the list of vendors who accept FAIR, who can be reassured of a cash price from FairCoop.

Two years ago the 'official' FairCoop price had been 5x of the Bittrex price, and a few people kept the faith, but it was really only a handful of activist business who accepted it. But something, whether Enric's persistence, or the whims of the free market, or a handful of self appointed market-managers, lifted the price, then in in May this year, there was a rush of money into crypto-markets, and FairCoin, with its low volume of trade benefited more than most.

Suddenly the free-market price was above the official price. FairCoop had to restrict its sales to prevent arbitrageurs eating the money pile.

This has been the situation for some weeks. The new price should be decided by the assembly. If (and when) the volatility can't be managed and the official price drops, FairCoin holders will weather the storm, especially after having enjoyed a 20 fold increase in the free-market price.

This all means that suddenly there is a lot more money behind Faircoin. The team can more confidently offer cash redemption to more vendors and has more reserves with which to smooth the free market volatility. The official list of vendors is much improved on two years ago, though still rather weak. So saying, I was able to go to a wholefood store in Athens and buy more than I could carry!

FairCoop activists are also innovating on payment technologies possible in few other cryptocurrencies. They are able, with a Spanish partner, ChipChap, to convert FAIR into Euros and withdraw them from the ATM in one smooth action! The Bank of the Commons initiative aims to provide a multi-wallet solution for holding and moving between Euros, Bitcoin, FairCoin, and balances from local exchange systems.

So why not show some support by at least getting yourself a FairCoin wallet, proudly displaying this badge, and listing your trade on the Fairmarket.

Categories: Blogs

To all my followers...

June 6, 2017 - 08:22

As readers of my blog you'll be aware of a new initiative, the Credit Commons Collective, to connect three of the larger complementary currency networks, and invite others also to connect.

I invite you to sign up to a new mailing list, on which news of that initiative will be broadcast.

https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/creditcommonscollective

Thanks for being there...

Categories: Blogs

The New Approach to Freedom audiobook

May 31, 2017 - 05:11

E C Reigel quotes pop up all through the Money as Debt series, and he is a favourite of Tom Greco as well. This short book (< 50 pages) shows how, by adopting his alternative currency, the Valun, the peoples of the world can be free of government counterfeit money and hence the other evils of government.

Riegel's analysis (from 1949) comes across clearly, but as somewhat simplistic and sometimes grandiose. His condemnation of government and fiat money lacks nuance or historical justification.

Seventy years later his exhortations to set the market free leave a bitter taste, because neoliberal economics uses the same term to describe a global marketplace run by and for the largest corporations.

For this reason the book, as a political tract has dated badly, but it still describes excellently how money systems should work. The proposed Valun system reads like a lot of modern proposals from monetary cranks in that it optimistically describes the monetary mechanics but fails to appreciate the difficulty getting people to actually use it.

For me the books best sentiment is that we are the money power, and we have no-one to blame but ourselves for the system's corruption.

Full text is here.

AttachmentSize New Approach to Freedom.zip33.42 MB
Categories: Blogs

Software needed by the Credit Commons Collective

May 20, 2017 - 02:31
The Credit Commons Collective is collaboration between, initially at least, three community currency networks.
  • CES has been providing community currency software-as-a-service since 2002
  • Community Forge has been providing free web sites for LETS and timebanks since 2009
  • CES Australia became independent from CES in 2011, to run its own local web server.

Despite their social impact, these networks find it very hard to engage software developers, to keep up to date, to embrace recent technologies, to be visible to donors. We see the froth of innovation all around us, beautiful new software galore but with zero users, while our networks which have outgrown what any single developer could support, are stagnating.

We want to transition to a new software architecture which

  • uses new languages and approaches and hence has a ready pool of volunteers.
  • allows our different local communities more ways to interact
  • is comprised of smaller, more modular components for ease of maintenance and ownership by many parties
  • has re-usable components so we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
  • allows members to be identifiable within the group, but private from the outside.
  • supports non-community currency groups with tools not tied to a particular ideology.

This probably needs to be done gradually, delivering benefits to users at each stage. So I'm going to describe the series of initiatives which we have in mind.

1. Mobile phone app.
Our platforms and other community currency platforms are way behind when it comes to mobile app development and we are surely failing to reach the young and the poor. However since the functions of community exchange are very similar in all platforms, we should all be able to use the same mobile app. It is a relatively simple matter to extend each platform to serve the same API, and much progress has been made on this. But we need app developers to finish it!
2a. Standardised noticeboard index
There are many, many advertising spaces on various web platforms from facebook.com to streetbank.com. But with different networks competing in the same spaces, users unable to see their next-door neighbours on different platforms are not being well served. We want to create a web service for indexing member ads accross platforms, with a REST interface to interrogate it. Ads should be geolocated and the host platforms should forward messages to the ad owners in order to restrict their identities only to the respective groups of which they are members. We want the ads themselves to be in a politically neutral space (like a blockchain) and to choose which sources of ads to index for our users. We think this tech would be widely useful, and if we had it right now we could migrate off CES ancient platform.
2b. App for searching indexed ads
Once the index service is available, we can populate it but we need an HMTL5/ajax search interface to query and display the results. This could be packaged as a standalone app, and we would want to use the same code in our existing platforms.
3. Standardised ledger service (becoming Credit commons service)
Each community and each platform currently does its own accounting in its own database. This works if you think a community currency is so specialised as to justify its own platform, but if you want to add a currency to an existing community it is less useful. We need therefore a REST service for community currency accounting, so that app developers do not have to build a back end - they can just plug in. Another reason for standardising the accounting function is to make transactions interoperable, as described in our Credit Commons white paper

We imagine other standardised REST services for group applications, for example savings pools accounting, forums, news & events, ridesharing, governance/decision-making. They would serve equally well both the outdated web platforms we now use and the more modern app-only approach.

The collective exists to offer software and coordination not only for complementary currency projects but for, broadly speaking, the rather dispersed relocalisation movement. We believe decentralisation is an important political goal, but not an absolute Good; coordination is critical within decentralised structures.

Will you help us? We are seeking long term volunteers to commit of course to writing and maintaining software, and also to spreading the word, building relationships, seeking funding, translating.

Categories: Blogs

Money & Society Mooc ad

April 29, 2017 - 00:47
Below is a visual add for the Money & Society MOOC. If you have completed the MOOC, use this html snippet: <a href = "http://ho.io/mooc"> <img src = "http://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/moocAdAlumni.svg" /> </a> or if you just want to promote it, use this <a href = "http://ho.io/mooc"> <img src = "http://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/moocAd.svg" /> </a> The image will expand to fill the available space!
Categories: Blogs

Thwarting an Uber Future for Complementary Currencies: Open Protocols for a Credit Commons

April 14, 2017 - 09:17

This paper, co-authored with Jem Bendell is our ticket to stand up at the RAMICS conference in Barcelona next month and invite the major complementary currency networks into cooperation around the next generation of software that we all need.

We will also be presenting developments after the conference at the hackathon.

AttachmentSize Bendell and Slater 2017.pdf531.86 KB
Categories: Blogs