ECC2013/Money Stream

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Money, Markets, Value and the Commons - detailed stream description (DRAFT)

Working page for the money, markets and value stream of the Economics and the Commons Conference.

Please read, view, and feel free to edit, comment, add to the list of stream recommended readings and viewings (at the end of this page), or contact the stream coordinator (Ludwig Schuster) as appropriate.

A stream forum for real time discussions is available on the conference communications site.


Money, markets, and value are some of the core-categories of today's capitalist societies. They come with specific meanings, forms and interpretations which are reflected in and at the same time give shape to socio-economic and cultural contexts.

This stream shall deal with the question what happens if these specific forms are (deliberately) changed. Do we need money in an economy of the Commons? If yes, how would that money need to be designed and who should control it? If no, how could a demonitised society look like? And perhaps most importantly, how can the phase of transition be envisioned? In this stream light shall be shed on the different standpoints and the reasonings behind them in order to reach a more clear-cut view and to find some common route in this extremely wide and controversial, yet highly important field.


The diverse strategies and attitudes towards money, markets and value in a Commons economy should be considered, mutually understood and brought together respectfully, to unify our forces for a co-creation of the Commons. Therefore we see a great chance in increasing the understanding of, and building bridges between...

...the two main lines in challenging the monetary logic of the old economy:

a) questioning the inherent market logic of money (mediated exchange, commodification, prices)

b) questioning the capitalist principles inherent in money (extraction, accumulation, exclusion);

...the three major schools of thought regarding the relation between money and Commons, and their specific lines of argumentation:

1.) demonetize: organize the commons economy without money (see for instance - how are the functions of money and finance replaced? Can non-monetary approaches and the existing monetary economy stand side-by-side or play complementary roles on the path towards an Economy of the Commons? How could both be integrated in everyday life?

2.) commons-creating / commons-supportive / commons-protecting money: design money specifically to support, sustain and protect the commons, allowing for new forms of allocation within the commons - how is the problem of the 'market logic' dealt with in this case? Is it necessary to get rid of the capitalist principles or could they just be "turned around" so that they become commons-supportive?

3.) money and markets as a commons: understand money itself as a commons and design it accordingly - How can money be democratically created and controlled? Is that a necessary or sufficient condition for a commons oriented economy, and what changes and risks would that bring about?

The different schools of thought point to differing visions about a future society. However, they might turn out not to be mutually exclusive, but support each other depending on the circumstances. Each approach may be valuable in a differently distant future, or in a different phase of transition.


The objective of this stream is

  • to mutually enlighten us if, why, and how the role of money needs to be abolished [annulled?], redefined or redesigned in our times, opening questions which changes would be most important from a commons perspective
  • to reflect upon the main schools of thought within the commons debate and gather a mutual understanding for both monetary and non-monetary approaches
  • to explore the core question of values and value in a (money/credit/finance) commons
  • reflect about the chances and risks of using money as a tool, and about the positive as well as negative features of such an approach as compared to the non-monetary / demonetizing approach
  • and to consider how thinking about money in the commons / as a commons changes our perspectives and opens up new policy & project possibilities.

Questions to be dicussed ...

  • does the existing monetary order leave room for the development of a commons economy?
  • how would a commons economy challenge and change the internal logic of the existing capitalist monetary system (extraction, accumulation, exclusion, fetishisation)? Thesis: monetary order is a mirror of the property order.
  • can money be commonified?
  • Can the 'logic of the Commons' be synchronised with the 'logic of money' such that they are mutually supportive? What problems are to be considered where the respective logics are in conflict? How would different types of money affect the success of the Commons? How could the Commons to reshape existing and future concepts of money?
  • how would a "decoupling of giving and taking" (indirect reprocity / no reprocity; do-it-together-economy, e.g. open source software development) change money's functions and face?
  • how could the idea of "recoupling ownership and use" (collectively owned and shared assets, usage rights, instead of ownership and rents, ownership debate) be adapted to the monetary world? Who would (or should) "own" money, credit and markets?
  • How could alternatives look like?
  • Does a Commons Economy need credit, finance and banks? If yes, in what form, and in whose hands?
  • Are there any blueprints in the alternative money field? (Bitcoin, FreiCoin, local currencies...?)
  • And what about the role of new technologies in the creation / management of non-state-controled money? (bridge to open source / software / knowledge commons debate)
  • How do we get from here to there?
  • Assuming that, on the long run, an embedded commons system is imaginable which drives out money and markets, in what way can monetary reform proposals be relevant for the phase of the Transition and beyond?
  • The terminology of the “old economy” could turn out to be a cultural limitation on our way to a Commons Economy. What needs to be done to overcome these semantic barriers? How would categories like capital, profit, or economic growth (need to) be reconsidered or redefined?
  • How could the risk of "commonswashing" and cooptation by protagonists of the old economy be avoided?

... and questions not to be discussed here

  • no either-or-questions
  • we are not going to discuss to the bone which solution is the one-and-only or best of all, but rather try to get a mutual understanding of the different approches and their possible role in a holistic scenario or strategy.

Methodology and Outcomes

In the first breakout session (Fr 24 9:45-12 am) we discuss and try to synthesize the different perspectives to a holistic scenario of the Commons' economic framework and possible ways to get there.

In the second session (Fr 24 2:30 - 5 pm) you are invited to help co-creating a “collaborative mental map” which ideally includes the variety of monetary (and non-monetary) approaches and tools, and their role within the scenario.


Thursday 23

5:30 pm - 6:15 pm
Keynote Speech: Commoneering Money, Markets and Value.
Prof. Jem Bendell, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria, UK and Griffith Business School, Queensland, Australia

Friday 24

9:45 am - 12:00 am
Stream Breakout Session part I
analysis, discusion and mutual understanding of different perspectives
2:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Stream Breakout Session part II
synthesis and co-creation of a map on the role of money, markets and value in the Commons

Recommended Reading (in alphabetical order)

Jem Bendell, Tom H. Greco (2013): Currencies of transition: Transforming money to unleash sustainability, in: The Necessary Transition: The Journey towards the Sustainable Enterprise Economy, edited by Malcolm McIntosh.

Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen (2011): Money or Life. What makes us really rich. Women and Life on Earth.

Pat Conaty (2012): Co-operative Money as a Commons: Convivial Technology for Economic Democracy.

Charles Eisenstein (2011): Sacred Economics. Money, Gift & Community in an age of Transition.

Tom H. Greco: Reclaiming the Credit Commons. Towards a Butterfly Society., PDF download

Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Bernard Lietaer (2011): Creating Wealth. New Society Publishers.

Margrit Kennedy, Bernard Lietaer, John Rogers (2012): People Money. The Promise of Regional Currencies. Triarchy Press.

Robert Kurz (1997): Anti-economics and Anti-politics.

Bernard Lietaer, Stephen Belgin (2011): New Money for a New World. Qiterra Press.

Anitra Nelson, Frans Timmerman (ed., 2011): Life without money. Building fair and sustainable economies. Pluto Press.

Mike Sandler: The Money Commons. A bold proposal to ensure some income for everyone. In: On the Commons. Commons Magazine (online)