It’s not just about the money

Money is just the means by which we allocate private property. Private property itself is the thing that allows some to accumulate so much and exclude others from the basic necessities. Its accumulation is the thing that gives the accumulators enough power to shape the system toward their own further gain, at the expense of others.

So we haven’t just given up the use of money. We’ve abandoned private property for ourselves. We still have toothbrushes and we still eat food. In fact, we believe that everyone should have, at a minimum, access to the big 6: water, food, shelter, education, health care, and a significant say in the decisions that affect their lives. The use of these things is not private property. Private property is the ability to control the use of things beyond your own need or use. Private property is the ability to own a second home, and either profit off of that property by charging rent or exclude others from using it entirely with locks and police.

It makes sense to have your own underwear or your own place to live, if you want it. In fact, we’d say that if most of us agree that everyone should have these things, then it doesn’t make sense to charge people money to have or use them.

But our society makes money a necessity to obtain these necessities. And thus we grant to the holders of wealth the ability to make us do what they want in order to obtain those necessities. And generally what they want is for us to do things that get them more private property, or the means for acquiring more private property (money). And so, we have a system where we all work on behalf of those with the most private property. Those who aren’t needed by the holders of wealth are superfluous, and starve to death or die of preventable diseases.

The only reason our world isn’t completely ravaged by this arrangement is that we’ve created some moderately successful counterweights to the dominance of private property. In the first world this includes social safety nets like unemployment insurance, welfare, social security, and guaranteed health insurance (except in the U.S.). These things exist because working class and middle class people have fought for them to counter at least some of the privations and precarity inherent in the private property-based capitalist system. Those in poorer countries haven’t been able to achieve the same security because the centers of wealth aren’t within their governments’ jurisdictions. The working class of Canada could demand higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for universal health insurance. The people of Senegal can’t demand the same, because most of the people who benefit from the system that keeps them poor live someplace else.

Other defenses against private property’s effects existed before capitalism. There’s the family, where we feel obligated to help each other have decent lives whether we receive anything in return or not. And there’s solidarity. The idea that at least some of the time we stick up for one another. And so, millions of people devote their lives to helping others instead of seeking profit. And hundreds of millions more give at least some of their time, money, or votes to things outside of their self-interest. We know not only that injustice anywhere in a threat to justice everywhere, but that even if it weren’t, we’d want to do something to stop it.

Jesse and I believe that we, as a society and as a species, can strengthen these forces of collective action and solidarity to the point where they become not just a counter to the injustice created by private property, but a focal point for building a better system without it. In order to commit ourselves as fully as possible to that ideal, we’ve given up private property, and the money that goes along with it, for ourselves.

– Adam
from San Diego, California

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2 thoughts on “It’s not just about the money

  1. “And so, we have a system where we all work on behalf of those with the most private property.”
    …Is it true?
    ps – I would consider what you guys do to be work, personally. Awesome work 🙂

  2. Pingback: ¿Por qué no usamos el dinero? | sowmanyreasons

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