How to achieve monetary reform: consciousness vs. structure

I recently discovered Peter Koenig’s blog, and his work with workshops where people can investigate their ‘money consciousness’.

So I updated our pages on the social production of money, with some of his articles, for example one with his hypotheses on the Future of Money, which are very congruent with our own.

How then, does his work differ from the monetary reform efforts of Bernard Lietaer?

Peter wrote us the following comments and I reply below:

Peter Koenig:

“Bernard Lietaer is also my favourite monetary reformer and our work is linked insofar as we’re acting on two sides of the same coin (his statement). However I find that the concept of “priority” is too little appreciated in general and amongst monetary reformers in particular.

Nature is not arbitrary in evolution or development, some things come before others. (I’d wager that at some point scientists will discover that the egg did indeed come before the chicken!) In terms of the system of money, the social production/system is borne on the conglomerate of individual systems as they relate and act together under prevailing consciousness, not the
other way round.

It would be nice if it would work the other way round this and we could materialise reform ideas simply by thinking them up, suasion and publicity – avoiding the messy business of our relationships. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. Many new (reform) systems no more than replicate the old ones internally because there has been no movement in consciousness. On the other hand where consciousness is shifted there is an automatic raise in the
intelligence of the wider social system through the relationships of the players – whether this is intended or not. It expresses itself through the medium of altered NEEDS. I see lots of evidence of this in my work.

Systemic development in action invariably starts with an individual somewhere, not with the collective.

This distinction is not intended to discourage or discredit monetary reformers, on the contrary to help them identify how to become (more) effective in achieving their goals – namely through the medium of developing their own individual money relationships.”

Michel Bauwens responds:

Thanks for your mail Peter. I understand your point, and where you are coming from, as I used to do a lot of consciousness related work once. Not so much anymore, as I choose to do things now with my existing ‘consciousness-toolbox’, while of course still trying to work on awareness as well.

I do not think I entirely agree.

First of all, consciousness vs. structure debates are very often a chicken and egg debate.

See the internet, it is changing our practices and consciousness, but was in turn ‘devised’ by people who already had a changed consciousness. Every technology is anticipated in such a way.

For me the way it works is that there an initial consciousness change in a group of people, advanced in this particular context, and they device tools and practices congruent with their new desires. But when implemented, they become chaotic attractors, and have the potential to influence the new user base as well.

Institutions and technologies are crystallized values, and can ramp up consciousness.

This being said, one should then also distinguish between macro reform of the monetary system, highly unlikely at this stage, from the setting up of an infrastructure which allows communities to already implement microsolutions. As they prove, or not, to be more competitive, they are then taking up by larger and larger groups, hence also contributing to consciousness change.

So indeed I think that both you and Bernard work ‘two sides of the same coin’, and that there is no priority to be chosen in that respect, they will mutually reinforce each other.”

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