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  1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    Money is the root of all evil!

    Discussion in 'Research' started by J.T. Woody, Mar 12, 2019.

    Can a society effectively exist without money?
    Can a society exist only on exchanging goods and labor?

    Every time period i think of, they've assigned some type of value to something, whether its a shell or a stone, and then traded it for something else.

    I'm fleshing out the society in which my WIP takes place. On another planet there are 2 parallel cities; the alien city believes that their society is better than humans because humans are greedy (money plays a role in that).

    but I cant envision a way for a city to survive without money. my fiance says have them rely on "good faith"....i did this thing for you with faith that when i am in need, you will be there for me.

    Are there other ways?
     
  2. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Good faith-based trading worked for thousands of years on for communities in India trading in Summeria. However, for "the alien city" and their consideration of humans, it's more useful to think of what money represents, that being a means to facilitate the exchange of goods and labour. Current money operates on just as much good faith as any other system. We've all decided it has some value, therefore it does.
     
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  3. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    The problem with barter is that if A has something B wants, but B has nothing A wants, things get inefficient. B has to hunt down C, who has what A wants and wants what B has, if C even exists. It gets complicated fast, so barter systems invent money pretty quick.

    "Good faith" stops working without an enforcement mechanism because the cheaters have all the advantages: they get everything and give nothing. In small groups, ostracism provides a check on cheaters. In large human societies, there's always another sucker somewhere that doesn't know that the cheater is a scumbag.

    But consider bees. They have no sense of self, everything they do is for the group.

    Now consider a high-intelligence creature with a sense of self but no self-interest.
    The welfare of the group is paramount; their own welfare only matters to the extent it matters to the group.
    Their happiness is when the group gains advantage, even if it is as a cost to them.
    They'd starve to death, happily, if it was in the best interest of the society (like when they got to old or feeble).

    This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective when the level of genetic commonality is high.
    Evolution is about genetic -- not individual -- survival. It's better for your genes if you die so that your four siblings can live. In intelligent species in our world, selfishness-induced competition drives relatively rapid evolution, especially in the face of changes to the environment. But imagine an "apex genome," a species that is so well adapted to a stable environment that there's no change to the genome that wouldn't be more detrimental that advantageous. The elimination of selfishness as a hereditary trait makes sense for that species.

    "Apex genome" BTW doesn't imply that individuals are all the same. The phenotype (the expressed portions of their genes) of each individual can vary, as they do in insect species that have specialized individuals. Phenotypical variation can be the result of the reproduction process (a strong determiner in us mammals), or it could happen after "birth" as a result of environmental factors (like feeding royal jelly to bees), or it can be both. It's sci-fi, and they are aliens: have fun with it.

    Eliminate selfishness -> eliminate the need for personal property -> eliminate the utility of money.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  4. Laughing Rabbit

    Laughing Rabbit Active Member

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    They could have some sort of a fair trade system. The trade takes place then and there or both parties wait until both have what the other wants. I want your donkey, so I trade you three sheep. I like this shirt you made, so I'll trade you this necklace. I like the vegetables you've grown so I'll trade you x, y, z vegetables for six pairs of shoes, but I need to go get the shoes first - I'll be back in awhile to exchange (veggies set aside, but has to come back with shoes before acquiring veggies). Something like that. Values of items for trade would vary from person to person, but some things would obviously be considered more valuable/desirable than others (a strong healthy horse is obviously more valuable than a weak sickly horse). It gets more complicated when hiring someone to build a house or road system and things like that.
     
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  5. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    But the man who has shoes to trade is a long hike away across terrible terrain; how will you get to him without shoes?
    There's all kinds of chicken-egg problems in barter that become less of an issue once you have money.
     
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  6. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    their's a nice young kid/person down the street who looks like they are in need of a shirt that I could provide. you get me those shoes, i give you this here shirt.

    but i see what you mean.

    what if, to make the shirt, person A needs textile. to get textile, person A would need to offer, lets say, bread. to make the bread, person A would need to go to the mill, etc. etc. etc.
    like your first response.

    Is there a way around this?
     
  7. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Yep. It's called "money."
    I'd be surprised if any big, complex society that had private property didn't have it.
    Without it you'd spend most of your life bartering to get the things you needed to barter for the thing you wanted: imagine trying to barter with Apple for an iPad.
     
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  8. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    "Barter is the root of all evil!"

    Really, money is just a way of making commerce easier for all the reasons stated. If you don't want money, I'd go away from commerce and go to a free or lend economy where no transactional deals are made. Read "The Cassini Division".
     
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  9. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Supporter Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure the seven deadly sins are the roots of all evil, and money is just another demonized mask for greed and pride. If money isn't what a people or another race desires, then they desire something else. If they desire power through knowledge, then they will keep all the intelligence they can to themselves to lord over those of lesser intellect. If your race is a hive that wants nothing more than to maintain inclusion, then they will do everything in their power to maintain a social status and a sense of belonging within their group. Everything is a means to an end with the seven deadly sins, it's only the medium which changes.
     
  10. Laughing Rabbit

    Laughing Rabbit Active Member

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    Yup, there will always be an issue with every system you try to come up with to replace money, because money itself is not evil. The actual phrase is: "The love of money is the root of all evil." So when you try to take money out of the equation you still haven't eliminated the problem: greedy people and evil people.
     
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  11. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    The roots of all evil are how other people expect/demand you to behave. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
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  12. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    You know if you wanted to stick to the route of not having money, perhaps some sort of government- (or something like that) overseen barter system? Where the citizens went to the government like 'I need this, I have this' and if there's stock of that available, they get it.

    Of course this could also be horribly inefficient, and I'm not economist so I don't know if this would work beyond a general idea, but it could give you a good basis for a city rivalry. The aliens scorn the humans because of their love of money, the humans scorn the aliens because their commerce system is so horribly inefficient.
     
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  13. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Note that slaves have no need for money.
     
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  14. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Money is just an idea that helps us navigate around exactly what @XRD_author said a few posts back: what exactly are your goods/talents worth? How hard did you have to work to create it? How much time did you have to spend learning how to do what you can do?

    There's that famous line about some artist getting asked by a friend to draw a picture on a napkin. The artists spends 2 minutes drawing, then hands the finished piece to the friend.
    "That'll be $200." the Artist says.
    "$200? But that only took you 2 minutes"
    "Yes, but it took me fifty years to learn how to do that in two minutes."

    Money is a concept, a physical representation of fractionized (thats not a word) units of time/stress/labor/struggle. You charge what you think all of that combined stuff is worth, and if other people think you're accurate, they buy your swag.

    It also makes it a lot more convenient to go buy a cow when you're an artist, and the farmer doesn't have any need for your stupid napkin drawings. Money is an "IOU".

    Now, that said, I could see some sort of alien society where people with stuff that also need stuff done post adds on craigslist, and, say, when an alien housewife needs her roof repaired, she hires a roof-repair-alien. They meet up, and she shows him the stuff she's collected, and he says "I'll do the job for that rug you have in your garage."

    You might say "But money makes the above scenario easier", and you'd be right. But maybe the aliens don't care about easy; maybe they're an entire race with a crazy aptitude for rigid moral structure.
     
  15. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    In Micronesia there's an island called Yap where the islanders use a system of currency known as Rei Stones. They're massive carved rocks that can weigh upwards of 4 tonnes, so instead of exchanging these stones, exchanges in ownership are agreed upon by the involved parties and that ownership then enters into their oral tradition. Since the stones are never move, the ownership is simply symbolic. The stones seem to be a baseline for negotiations and the communal memory of the transaction are what keeps it honest.
     
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  16. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    @EFMingo and @Laughing Rabbit , so, even though the race boast that they are better than humans, the main bad guy is of that alien race and wants to create an even better society and ends up doing the opposite. his greed and pride basically ruins their society. In their society, there is not one ruler. but, he ends up making himself the ruler. he also separates them into categories and basically says "you give me your stuff, and i decide who is deserving of it"..... so, communism.
    I'm acknowledging that money is a mask, but i'm trying to paint this world as "perfect" before i ruin it, lol
     
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  17. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Okay to my way of thinking, this is your problem right here. I find 'perfect world' scenarios, especially ones where one evil/greedy/what have you type of person ruins it, to be kinda shallow. Much more realistic to me to have a society that maybe is mostly working out well, and then someone gets into power and thoroughly abuses the system.
     
  18. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    i put that in quotations because it isnt "perfect." They believe they are a perfect society, that their methods work better than humans. that they dont even want humans in their city because they find them morally corrupt (the idea that they feel so strongly and negatively about humans and are hostile towards humans for this reason points out that they are just as capable of human hate as any human.... and that is talked about as well). So anyways... they BELIEVE they have the perfect society. the antagonist BELIEVES he is making society even better by taking control. I'm not saying it is a perfect society, but that the race believes it is the ideal and perfect society. the "perfect world" bubble is partly shattered when one of the aliens goes to the human city out of curiosity (curiosity for the outside is "bad". the protagonist is annoyed with this and decides to leave the city anyway to go to the human city). Once there, she sees that her city is no better off than the human city. the antagonist wants to keep his people within the bubble of ignorance that "our city is the perfect place ever. humans are morally corrupt. we are better than them!"
    he abuses their ignorance because many are afraid to leave because they are afraid of the mythos surrounding humans.

    and the humans stay away from their city because they have their own myths regarding the aliens.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
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  19. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    I just checked out a book called "Money: A History" from the library...
     
  20. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    1. Primitive society - yes.
    Modern or postmodern - not effectively.

    2. Primitive society - yes, but only if you include symbolic and/or ritualised gifts to goods or labor.

    3. Survive?

    Maybe like this?

    Money => finance crisis => credit default swaps (CDS) become money (credit) between finance institution => governments don't back and control institutions but CDS's => Governments/central banks use bonds/IOU:s to do that => almost everything is owned by governments/central banks => "capitalistic communism"

    That route has some holes in it. Two relationships (governments <=> CDS's and bonds/IOU:s <=> money) might be the easiest to find.
     
  21. Laughing Rabbit

    Laughing Rabbit Active Member

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    I was thinking about this and wondered if it would work if your alien civilization had the illusion of money, only calling it something else. For example:
    The alien government has a system where they assign "value" (call it something fancy sounding) to an object or objects (food, clothing, animals, goods, etc) that is intended for trade. Everyone accepts the governments recommendation of assigning that "value" to that object and can only trade for something equal to that value. In other words, they don't have physical money, but in essence, that's what they're doing. Your curious/questioning alien goes to the human city and among the other things you intend for them to discover, realizes that their civilization uses a monetary system as well...just without the physical money being present. It would be quite the blow to find out that something you've been told was evil was something you've been relying on your whole life.
    I'm not sure I explained it very well, I hope you get the idea of what I meant.
     
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  22. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm not sure it will work in the context of your larger plot idea, but if you're dealing with aliens anyway it would be tempting to make them non-materialistic, in which case money stops being nearly so valuable.

    If they're used to communal living, in which everyone is expected to do whatever form of labour they're suited for/interested in, the basics of life are provided for (food, shelter, etc.), AND there's no materialistic urge to make them want to accumulate and own things, then what would money be useful for?

    I don't know how sophisticated your alien tech is, but maybe robots/automation provide the basic services (food/shelter/clothing) so all your aliens need to do is seek personal fulfillment. They have loads of free time to make art/play video games/perfect their physiques/whatever. Because they have no need for money and don't have the materialistic urge, whatever they create is shared or hidden according to their desires, not according to a profit motive.
     
  23. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    https://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php I have loved science fiction shorts all of my life and your proposed society reminded me of this one. If I was going to write something such as you're proposing I think I would make money a consumable, like walnuts. Something small and easy to carry, necessary to life and hard to make. No need for government.
     
  24. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    So point and click adventure games. :p .
     
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  25. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    LOL. And you know, maybe that's how it could work: as a game.

    [story outline deleted-- too good to share.]
     
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