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Towards biodiversity in currencies

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
11th December 2013


Specifically, I believe that we need to support the introduction and expansion of three different kinds of currencies alongside our national currencies: (1) an inflation-proof global complementary currency designed to stabilize the world economy;
(2) business-to-business currencies designed to counteract the effects of conventional money shortages during periods of economic crises and contraction; and (3) community currencies that address a variety of social problems and strengthen the fabric of society.

Excerpted from Bernard Lietaer:

“The fundamental problem with our current monetary system is that it is not sufficiently diverse, and as a result it dams and bottlenecks our creative energies, and keeps us trapped in a world of scarcity and suffering, when we actually have the capacity to create a very different reality by enabling our energies to move more freely where they are most needed, including toward cleaning up our environment, building adequate housing, providing good quality health care etc. To ensure such diversity, we need to actively support the circulation of different types of currencies for different types of purposes.

Specifically, I believe that we need to support the introduction and expansion of three different kinds of currencies alongside our national currencies:

(1) an inflation-proof global complementary currency designed to stabilize the world economy;

(2) business-to-business currencies designed to counteract the effects of conventional money shortages during periods of economic crises and contraction; and

(3) community currencies that address a variety of social problems and strengthen the fabric of society.

Money is an agreement within a particular community to use some standardized object as a means of exchange. The problem is that most of the fundamental rules and agreements we have around money were created centuries ago, at a time that was widely different from ours, and by a small group of stakeholders concerned with a narrow set of interests. As a consequence, these agreements are ill-equipped to serve the challenges and objectives of our current world. As long as our monetary system remains a blind spot to us, we remain unable to alter its powerful influence on the way we think and act. As soon as we gain monetary literacy, we can begin examining the nature and implications of the monetary agreements in which we unconsciously participate. We can start identifying the conditions under which they serve or do not serve the needs of our times, and begin create agreements that better serve our needs.

For the last twenty years, a growing number of businesses and communities around the world have been creating new agreements and using new tools to connect untapped resources and unmet needs through complementary currencies. In 1984, only two such complementary currency systems existed. By 1990, their numbers had grown, but there were still fewer than 200 systems operating in the world. Today, there are thousands such currencies worldwide. Hundreds of Time Banks operate in 22 countries. And in the United States alone, there are already 700 business to business complementary currency systems in which 500,000 businesses participate. This movement is greatly facilitated by new technologies–specifically, inexpensive computing and ubiquitous access to the Internet. Though many of these changes remain invisible to the mainstream media and the general public, these new sub-systems are beginning to create upward (life-affirming) spirals within the larger system, slowly causing the latter to become more decentralized and diversified, and therefore more resilient and flexible.

Every time anyone of us chooses to enter into new agreements (for instance, by using or accepting a local or regional currency, or joining a business-2-business mutual barter network), we contribute to diversify our overall monetary system, allowing more connections and exchanges to take place than would otherwise be the case under the monopolistic use of national currencies. The time has come to free and leverage our gifts and resources to address the great challenges of our times, and create a world of sustainable abundance, based on true human wealth, which is our creative energy.”

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One Response to “Towards biodiversity in currencies”

  1. Marc Gauvin Says:

    The above text although sounding comprehensive and meaningful, fails to make much sense, we need very exact language we cannot continue to fill the bandwidth with convincing and appealing statements, that only give the allure of authoritative meaningfulness.

    Here is my critique of the above text attributed to Bernard Lietaer:

    http://bibocurrency.com/index.php/downloads-2/14-english-root/150-critique-of-lietaer-s-thesis-2

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