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Money- Slavery or Liberation?

by Carol Brouillet
        Back in 1996, I wrote Reinventing Money, Restoring the Earth, Reweaving the Web of Life. Since the World Economic Forum’s push for a“Great Reset,” all words beginning with “Re” should be subject to scrutiny. Humanity is being bombarded by psychological warfare, a war on language, definitions, history, the present, and the possibilities for the future.

         Monetary creation continues to morph electronically, and dramatic changes loom on the horizon. Will resistance to technocratic slavery be brutally crushed in the future? Or will we be able to deepen everyone’s understanding of money and power to create healthier, life honoring, liberating money? Here is my attempt at improving and updating my assessment of money and a solution to the perpetual debt problem.
        Before history was written, a gift economy existed. The gifts of Nature were abundant; the relationship between people, the Earth, the animals and plants were sacred.

        Western civilization has systematically disrupted and destroyed sustainable, indigenous cultures. Scientists have collected genetic materials, blood, tissues, from the world's endangered people. They have failed to recognize traditional wisdom, except in areas like medicine and agriculture where native knowledge has had direct lucrative applications.

        Money or wampum held a special meaning to people living within a gift economy. Feathers, stones, shells which were worked to become objects of beauty held a karmic quality, a promise, a consolation, a message far beyond their material features -- weight, size or utility. Exchanges promoted relationships and bonds between individuals, families, communities, and distant cultures.

        Dollars function in a different way. In theory, money is supposed to activate the production of goods and services; to simplify exchanges and the settlement of debts, to provide a means of storing values or savings. Money has one other major function -- it is a tool of empire.

        The film- Ancient Futures, Learning from Ladahk chronicles in detail Helena Norberge-Hodge's observations of a nonmonetized culture, rich in Buddhist spiritual traditions, with an intricate system of family and social ties, disrupted by modern forces. In a place where ninety percent of the land was evenly distributed amongst families, where people lived ecologically off the land, where almost everyone knew how to build a house and meet all of their basic needs -- a road to India, tourism, and the monetized economy was disastrous for the culture. Apparently the weak link in the social fabric were the young men who were seduced by the toys of Western Civilization and abandoned their traditions in search of the quick buck and the "surface glamour of the modern world." Where money intrudes, greed is kindled and the gift economy languishes.

        In his book- Debt Virus: A Compelling Solution to the World's Debt Problems, Dr. Jaikaran writes: "The most pernicious of all viruses is the one that confiscates the wealth of the productive elements of society and transfers it to the hands of a nonproductive few." The monetary system, based upon debt, functions to transfer land, money and wealth from the many to the few.

        In the past, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Rome fell when a small percentage of the population controlled nearly all of the wealth. Today the rich have never been richer nor the poor poorer. Greed and fear are manifested in our dominant institutions, bloated military budgets, the growth of the prison and "security" industries, the glorification of warriors. What cannot be controlled by force, is controlled by money.

        The origins of modern banking can be traced back to the days when goldsmiths began giving out receipts for gold that they safeguarded. They soon realized that the receipts were more useful for business transactions than heavy amounts of gold. Some enterprising goldsmith figured out that large amounts of gold weren't even necessary to insure the utility of receipts; the goldsmith began loaning gold and receipts at interest, hence the birth of the fractional reserve system and "debt money."

        When money is created by the banks and loaned to governments or business at interest, it is mathematically impossible to pay back all the money with interest. Not all debts can be repaid; foreclosures occur. Wealth is continually transferred from the poor to the rich.

        Bankers, like magicians, do not like to reveal their secrets. Able to create money out of thin air; they have learned that belief of belief is the key to their success. When people begin to doubt the purchasing power of money, banks fail; a currency collapses.

        In In 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the ruling elite decided to establish the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to smooth the way for their domination of the world economy. Working hand in hand with elites in other countries throughout the world, the "Bretton Woods Institutions" have forcibly resettled more than ten million of the poorest people on the planet, many of them indigenous minorities. This means taking away their land, destroying their production systems, weakening their community structures, dispersing kin, cultural identity, traditional authority and potential mutual help. Anthropologist Thayer Scudder insists that "resettlement is about the worst thing you can do to people, next to killing them." The World Bank's projects, particularly in the Earth's forests, mineral deposits, and rivers, are the most destructive on the planet. Its support of repressive regimes has exacerbated human rights violations.

        Money has flowed from the poor countries to the rich industrialized nations. The Structural Adjustment Programs forced upon nations by the World Bank and the IMF have meant shifting food production from domestic needs to export crops, devaluing the local currency to encourage exports, cutting social spending on health and education, reducing wages, privatizing national industries, selling off their natural resources, and removing tariff protections for local industries. Hunger, unemployment, hardship and inequality were the direct and calculated results of World Bank policies.

        The The family existed before money did. The village grew out of interdependent relationships between families. As societies grew more complex, hierarchies developed and the "public family" or the state created institutions were created taking over many of the functions once met within the household, such as educating children and caring for the sick. In urban environments, many basic living skills have been lost, and people are more dependent than ever on the state or a monetized economy to meet their basic needs.

        In 1890 Silvio Gesell formulated a theory of money as revolutionary as the notion that it is the Earth that circles the sun, rather than the other way around -- despite appearances. Gesell suggested securing the money flow by making money a governmental service subject to a use fee. Instead of paying interest to those who have more money than they need, people would pay a small fee if they kept money out of circulation. The fee would serve as an income to the government and reduce the amount of taxes needed to carry out public tasks.

        Gesell's ideas were tested by the mayor of Woergl, Austria in July 1932 when economic conditions were deplorable. The mayor proposed to substitute a local currency for the national currency. They were called work certificates and on the first of every month the holder had to affix a 1 percent stamp of the face value of the certificate. The "taxes" went into the community chest, to provide a relief fund for the invalids or elderly who were unable to work. Because of the stamp tax, taxes were paid quickly; accounts were settled without the usual delays, even the bank became eager to loan out the money, as fast as it received it.

        The mayor was then able to embark upon his Public Works Program, "to alleviate want, give work and bread" which exceeded his highest hopes. The conditions of the streets of Woergl had been a standing joke of the surrounding country. In less than four months sewers and improvements were completed. Later, other streets were paved and streets outside of Woergl repaired.. Prosperity blossomed.

        A meeting of 200 Austrian mayors decided unanimously to follow the Woergl example in their impoverished communities. Then the private Austrian National Bank protested against the shattering of its money making monopoly. After a legal fight, the Austrian Supreme Court sided with the bank.

        In 1933 advocates of "Stamp Scrip," abounded. There were three or four hundred scrips in circulation in the United States, Canada and Mexico. A top economist urged Roosevelt to encourage local currencies. However F.D.R opted for "The New Deal" which flooded the nation with Federal Reserve Notes, put an end to the currency experiments, and effectively centralized power.

         Since then, banks have experimented with interest rates, including negative interest rates. The Central Bank Digital Currencies would offer them the ability to create “money with an expiration date” to push or pull money from circulation. But who actually creates the money these days? Government to serve people’s needs? Or bankers to increase their wealth and keep resources flowing to them at the expense of the “borrowers?” Stephen Zarlenga, founder of The American Monetary Institute, wrote in his epic book, The Lost Science of Money: The Mythology of Money- the Story of Power, that the understanding and history of money has been deliberately obscured in order to blind the populous into accepting and participating in deceptive exchanges that have siphoned off their wealth. In Margrit Kennedy’s work, Interest and Inflation Free Money: Creating an Exchange Medium That Works for Everybody and Protects the Earth, Kennedy points out that the cost of money is hidden, included in the price of goods and services we buy. On the average it is about fifty percent of the cost of the necessities of life. If interest rates were abolished with a more equitable monetary system, most people would be twice as rich or be able to work half as much as they currently do, to maintain the same standard of living.

         In Finland and the U.S. there have been significant "back to the village" and "back to the land" movements to regain an individual sense of competence, to rebuild community, and to reduce dependency upon the global economy. The most radical thing we can do is to exercise our power within the household, where we have the most power, to live by our values, and not by values condoned by the imperatives of a competitive destructive system.

         We can choose to spend time with our children, to grow our food or support the local organic farmer, to ride a bicycle instead of taking the car, to not purchase products from industries that exploit people and cause environmental destruction. What we do with our time, our resources, our money, our energy is a reflection of our deepest values, whether we are conscious of them or not.

         In the film, Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics, Marilyn unravels the history and mysteries of our global system. The IMF and the World Bank were created to maintain certain power relations and exercise control over the world's resources. The U.N. System of National Accounts was based upon a pamphlet by John Maynard Keynes entitled "The British System of National Accounts and How to Pay for the War." That system imposed upon every country that joins the U.N. enables the global elite to finance their militaries, to engage in conflicts with other nations, and to build internal security forces to control their own populations who might not agree with the expropriation of their country's resources.

         Nations that have attempted to serve the interests of their people, rather than serve the interests of transnational corporations or the dominant financial institutions, have had their leaders “deposed” or corrupted. When Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971, a new era began with “floating currency exchange rates.” The petrodollar allowed the United States to purchase and consume a bounty of the Earth’s resources. However, exchanging currency shifted from purchasing goods to speculative trades that could undermine and destroy the economies of entire nations. Despite the financial bubbles, the debts far exceed the amount of money in existence; it would take many planets to pay off those debts. The scarcity or lack of money is the driver that gives those who contrive to create money out of thin air so much power.

         Since the 80’s, the United States and the world has witnessed a series of financial crises which have devastated economies. Financialization has also destroyed many businesses and productive enterprises. While businesses used to actually try to earn money, over the decades, businesses have been launched, in hopes of attracting larger suitors, and cashing out through acquisitions. The FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate) has parasitically sucked the lifeblood out of much of the economy. William Black, author of “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One... points out in his book and his public talks how rampant control fraud is what has lead to numerable of our financial crises. Financial fraud seems to occur with impunity. A slap on the wrist, or a token fine do not discourage the largest institutions from criminal behavior, they are too often rewarded with government bailouts. In Michael Moore’s 2009 documentary – Capitalism: A Love Story, it is evident that the presidents of the United States serve financial interests, whose power exceeds their own and who call the shots regardless of political party.

         Monetary reform activist, Ellen Brown, author of The Web of Debt, founded the Public Bank Institute in 2011, to help educate people about the success of the only public bank still operating in the US: the Bank of North Dakota, and the benefits of publicly owned banks to serve the public good. The name of the Institute also helped to raise some awareness that government could create “public money,” although the vast amount of money currently in circulation is created by private banks for private profit.

         On the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods’ agreements, a conference was held in the same historic location to facilitate the emergence of social impact investing in service to the UN ‘s Sustainable Development Goals, the demands of investors, the development and distribution of digital and blockchain technologies to mine, monitor and steer human and ecological resources.

         While the American empire is in a process of decline and the strength of the “dollar” is ebbing, new monetary instruments are being created to serve emerging international alliances. Military tensions and conflicts continue to escalate. Wars can distract the public and siphon off the public wealth into the hands of the war profiteers. The recurrent financial crises which continually expand debts and the monetary supply in the wake of emergency measures have succeeded in “kicking the can down the road” ensuring more bubbles and greater expectations for collapse or a dramatic systemic change When people run out of money, when a currency collapses, what happens? Money is reinvented, in different ways, depending on circumstances, tools, resources available. Money is an agreement; it depends on trust; or can be backed by force. It can resolve or create conflicts.

         Supranational entities, such as the World Trade Organization, came into existence to serve the needs of the world’s richest, powerful transnational corporations, to override the sovereignty of nations, to pave their way towards grabbing the world’s resources, including the exploitation of human labor. The World Economic Forum and the United Nations have publicly stated that they are serving business needs, beneath the fluffy rhetoric that they use to push “Sustainable Development Goals” which remove inalienable human rights to replace them with “conditional, revocable, rights” which can be erased.

         The looming threat of Central Bank Digital Currencies is that they will be a means of surveilling and controlling all financial transactions we attempt to make. Pilot projects have been imposed upon some of the world’s most vulnerable people along with digital identification tools. Electronic trading systems, basic income experiments, blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies, tokens permit data to be collected and used to develop greater capacities to monitor steer and control people and their environments. Identification technologies facilitate the ability of governments to target and harm “dissenters.” More insidious is the construction of Web3.0 which would connect reality with its digital twin to collect data on a massive scale, permitting the development of sophisticated algorithms to merge unique personal identities with their “education,” "skills,” “capacity to perform work,” "generate” and “distribute” their “income” and "nudge” their behavior.

         We are witnessing the weaponization of money,medicine, education, information, technology, attacks on Main Street, supply chains, food production, all aspects of Life, while agreements are being forged to monetize everything that those in power seek to control. People are being killed, robbed, harmed by their own governments and other institutions; they are also rising up and resisting. Civil war, the fall of governments, military invasions, chaos perpetuate uncertainty, fear, destabilization, the imposition of martial law.

         Prior to the Global "Pandemic" in 2019, the Federal Reserve began pumping trillions of dollars into the economy. Best Evidence’s John Titus, clearly explains the grosser intricacies of the Fed’s manipulation of the monetary supply, the bailouts in the wake of the 2008 crisis; as well as the latest one, which follows Blackrock’s suggestion to permanently increase the monetary supply, enriching the billionaires, pumping up the stock market and equities, benefitting (who else)Blackrock, as they purchase homes and other real estate worldwide.

         In 2021, the New York Stock Exchange announced the creation of a new asset class- the NAC a “natural asset corporation, ” a vehicle for a new type of corporation which would be able to monetize and financialize “nature.” Conveniently, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an “industry-led and UN-convened” alliance of private banking and financial institutions (Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) announced their effort to overhaul the role of global and regional financial institutions, including the World Bank and IMF, as part of a broader plan to “transform” the global financial system under the guise of promoting sustainability. These are the same players pushing for global ID and Central Bank Digital Currencies. Countries would be encouraged to “open their boundaries up to investors” wishing to buy of their lands and resources or force debt for nature swaps. Monetizing nature would also involve measuring, monitoring, harvesting more data, and most likely displacing even more indigenous people, funneling more land, resources, power, money and control to the top of the pyramid.

         The World Economic Forum, the UN, the US are pushing for public/private partnerships (yes, also called corporatism or fascism, the merger of corporate and state power) including a financial cartel which would include the largest, most powerful financial players, who would agree to a “shared narrative” to back a new global currency which would serve their transhumanist goals, their aspirations for a Fourth Industrial Revolution and steer humanity on the path that they would like to take us. Unlimited amounts of money are being thrown out to buy, bribe, coerce, build, fund those who can further this ambitious project. However, people are beginning to realize how they have been lied to, coerced, forced to go along with malevolent campaigns that threaten and rob them. People are not complying; they are resisting, and they are trying to create alternative solutions to the many interlinking problems that we face individually and collectively.

         Decades ago, the idea of a Global Resource Bank was floated, along with the idea of a Universal Basic Income. Truly, there is an abundance of resources, enough to meet all human needs and artificial scarcity is built into the problematic debt based system. Over time, there has been recognition of the economic value of nature which has supplied the vital necessities of life to humanity- air, water, food… However today, those who seek to monetize and control “the oceans, forests, wetlands, water, air, multitudes of lifeforms, including humans” and offer a “Universal Basic Income” to all people, wish to do so, conditionally through digital identification and data extraction, tools which pave the way for digital slavery. Those who amass and control the data would be in the position to shape and direct human evolution (or human extinction).

         Digital ID has been imposed upon refugees and those who are most vulnerable and in need of the basic necessities of life, usually with strings attached, as a prerequisite for food, shelter, or within a pilot UBI program. The benefits are touted publicly, but deeper costs of tracking and surveillance, data-harvesting are not revealed.

         The concentration of wealth and power that exists today is the world's biggest problem. Aung Sung Suu Kyi wrote:

"It is not power that corrupts, but fear -- fear of losing power and fear of the scourge of those who wield it."

        The only cure for fear is faith -- faith in oneself, faith in humanity, and faith in the meaning and purpose of life .

         Kahil Gibran wrote:

And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty... see first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life -- while you who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
        We need non-violent tools to help redistribute wealth and power, restoring the Earth in the process.

         The power of non-violent civil disobedience is enormous. Remember Gandhi, homespun cloth, and salt; and how those simple non-violent personal acts helped to defeat the British Empire. The militarized global economy cannot continue, if we simply withdraw our support for it in billions of quiet acts of rebellion. We can refuse to participate in the construction of a digital panopticon prison; we can refuse to allow corporations to harvest data by boycotting electronic devices.

         Henry George championed land reform in the late 1800s to break up the monopolization of land (Inspiring the game of Monopoly to teach people about the problems of allowing monopolies to siphon off society’s wealth.) Gandhi discovered that land reform could not be accomplished without monetary reform. Both go hand in hand.

         The notion of the sacredness of private property was imposed with the advent of military conquest, dividing the spoils of war amongst the conquerors. The village "commons" were gradually enclosed or lost over the centuries with the increasing criminalization of poverty. In California, 1% of the population owns over 2/3 of the land. A United Nations Study of 83 countries showed that less than 5% of the rural landholders control three -- fourths of the land. Susan George, in her book, How the Other Half Diessays:

The most pressing cause of abject poverty... is that a mere 2.5% of landowners with more than 100 hectares control nearly three-quarters of all land in the world-with the top .23% controlling over half.
         Successful monetary experiments or land reform models have also received little or no attention. Monetary reformist Gerald Grattan McGeer helped nationalize the National Bank of Canada, which benefited the country tremendously for decades. He wrote during the Great Depression
“If we ask ourselves why national, state, provincial, county and municipal governments are not providing work and wages by proceeding with the vast programs of public works and social services ... the answer is that governments have no money. If we ask ourselves why governments have no money, the plain answer is because governments have delegated their powers to create and issue money to a private monopoly of bankers.”
         McGreer also wrote…”the management of the monetary system can be easily changed from an institution which threatens the destruction of civilization into one of enduring service to human progress.”

         Money is an agreement. We can agree or disagree to participate in a destructive, coercive system or we can invent a different system that supports healthy, human values. Besides national and international currencies, there are a diversity of local, regional, community or complementary currencies, and crypto-currencies. One can create currency using paper, scissors and ink within a babysitting co-op. The most important element is trust and faith in the acceptability or utility of the “currency.”

         Digital currencies have their strengths and weaknesses, including lack of privacy; they could potentially supply an enormous amount of data, which could be used to steer people along paths that they might never have chosen otherwise. Digital money has been weaponized, already, to track and trace, to influence and control people.

         The E.F. Schumacher Society has been pioneering local currencies and community land trusts for many decades. Schumacher wrote:

        Production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life... In the simple question of how we treat the land, next to people our most precious resource, our entire way of life is involved, and before our policies with regard to the land will really be changed, there will have to be a great deal of philosophical, not to say, religious change.

        Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail; so that when the wind comes we can catch it.

         Taxes need to be shifted from encouraging the exploitation and destruction of the world's natural resources, including its people to encouraging a healthy stewardship. Recognizing that all of humanity shares the planet and that an equitable land/resource tax could replace all other forms of taxation and solve the injustice of the land monopolies which have forced so many into wage slavery. We could also impose a tax on speculation, or remove all the corporate welfare; the current system is designed to rob from those with the least and enrich the already obscenely wealthy.

         We need to exert local sovereignty by creating local currency to restore the land, and to transform cities, towns, and schools into healthy, thriving, places of activity; and solve the unemployment crisis. Monetary reform is one step towards changing an oppressive, violent system towards one which serves, heals and liberates people from contrived fear and scarcity.

         There are hundreds of community, alternative or complementary currencies, including Time Dollars, Local Electronic Trading Systems (LETS, pioneered by Michael Linton), offshoots of Ithaca Hours (pioneered by Paul Glover). The most recent digitized “community currencies” have huge foundational support and are closely monitored and tracked. Alison McDowell has pointed out in her work how the poor, the young, are unwittingly being monitored, their data collected, monetized, gambled upon through new financial instruments called Social Impact Bonds.

         We need to create money democratically at a grassroots level, along with a communications network. If the local community is active and aware enough to control local government -- local government could issue its own currency. Ideally monetary reform encourages land reform, a shift in priorities, recognition of our interdependence with the natural world, nurturing healthy relationships between people locally and throughout the world.

         Back in the 90’s, I attended meetings with monetary reform activists decrying the financial system and recognizing the need for local currencies, as well as a new global currency which could rectify the problems with our debt-based system. They debated whether to encourage governments or the World Bank to champion a different model. I had a very powerful vision of growing the local currency movement into a co-operative alliance with all the local, grassroots efforts who recognized and shared deeply rooted Universal human values. I actually hoped to enlist Dee Hock, who invented the chaordic organization and the Visa card to help. I was nursing a baby and had two young sons, at the time, but I wrote, spoke, organized conferences, and supported efforts to educate people about money, global economics, local currencies. At the time, I felt that local currencies were vital to raise consciousness and help educate people about “money,” the problems with a debt based currency, the need for systemic change. I didn’t foresee the technological developments which could weaponize digital currencies.

         I also felt that in an ideal world, money would not be needed, and that the gift economy would flourish. The biggest question remains- how do we transition from a war economy towards a life honoring economy?

         I will probably never realize all my hopes, dreams, visions within my lifetime, but I will continue to try to educate people about the history of money, what it is, the flaws of the existing system, the dangers of Central Bank Digital Currencies, as well as the dangers of the growing digital panopticon. We do need to look beyond the propaganda, manipulation, lies and look behind the curtain. We need to recognize the shadows cast by the shiny, bright technologies that surround us. We need to understand history, recognize what has worked before and be open to new information which challenges our belief systems. We need to improve cooperation between land and monetary reformists, as well as the champions for truth, peace, justice, equity, healthy people, healthy relationships and a healthy planet.

Permission is granted to print this article in whole or in part. Carol Brouillet, cbrouillet@igc.org

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