Edited by Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman
The money-based global economy is failing. The credit crunch undermined capitalism's ability to ensure rising incomes and prosperity while market-led attempts to combat climate change are fought tooth and nail by business as environmental crises continue.
We urgently need to combat those who say 'there is no alternative' to the current system, but what would an alternative look like? The contributors to Life Without Money argue that it is time radical, non-market models were taken seriously. The book brings together diverse voices presenting strong arguments against our money-based system's ability to improve lives and prevent environmental disaster. Crucially, it provides a direct strategy for undercutting capitalism by refusing to deal in money, and offers money-free models of governance and collective sufficiency.
Life Without Money is written by high-profile activist scholars, including Harry Cleaver, Ariel Salleh and John O'Neill, making it an excellent text for political economy and environmental courses, as well as an inspiring manifesto for those who want to take action.
Video from the Book Launch
David Barkin on Capitalism Nature Socialism wrote:
"Eleven chapters explore a range of interesting and important themes, loosely divided into critiques of capitalism and consumerism, and activism and experiments. Among the topics are non-market socialism, self management, the labour credit system of the Twin Oaks commune, the money-free economy of Spanish squatters, the elimination of work and wages, and the gift economy. There are helpful introductory and concluding chapters by the editors. Although all chapters are clear and easily understood by the non-specialist reader, the discussions are also likely to be valuable refreshers for professional students of political economy. The book’s central thesis is that a satisfactory society requires the scrapping of markets, the state and money. The emphasis on the third of these propositions is particularly distinctive and debatable. [...] My main doubts regarding the book are to do with whether the case given for the need to scrap all forms of money is convincing. [...] These comments indicate the valuable discussion issues that this book sets up."
Ariel Salleh on Capitalism Nature Socialism wrote:
"this book brings together a broad range of participants, all of whom are convinced that money is a central part of the problem for reorganizing society and some of whom are actively engaged in groups attempting to function without money as it is commonly used and understood. The editors, from Australia, have explicitly set out to present a set of views of a group of 'non-market socialists', who would dispense with money and its social relations, arguing that this is the only way to confront the crises generated by the unsustainable practices of present-day capitalism. A useful and enlightening feature of the book is the inclusion of short vignettes at the end of all but one of the chapters by well-known advocates for the construction of alternatives, beginning with excerpts from Thomas More’s Utopia at the beginning. [...] While there is a surfeit of books sprouting with proposals for building alternative societies, there are a precious few that purport to be informed by strands of Marxist theory. This collection of essays offers an insight into one (decidedly not monolithic) approach to this end. It is firmly grounded in the world of the 'advanced' capitalist world and draws on thinking and examples that are deliberately nonviolent and focused on small-scale change (with the possible exception of the Yugoslav case). Reading through this collection leads one to wonder about the prerequisites for confronting the deepening crises afflicting advanced capitalist countries today: after all, we are brought into contact with a broad spectrum of case studies of attempts to implement new solutions, examples that offer a glimmer of light for the participants while not touching the larger society of which they are a part. We learn nothing about the quality of the interactions that the participants experience in their regions,as citizens in their countries, or as activists in an increasingly oppressive world. But perhaps even more striking, nowhere in the book is there a mention of the rest of the world... the teeming millions who suffer from lack of sufficient or adequate drinking water and from extreme degrees of hunger and starvation. [...] These observations notwithstanding, this is a valuable collection of essays that will spark classroom discussions of the possibilities for implementing change without massive social movements. The analyses in this book about doing without money,however, might be usefully complemented by other texts that analyze the many attempts worldwide to create alternative currency systems as part of the effort of limit the inroads of the global market in local economies."
"As a contributing author in the Nelson and Timmerman edited collection Life without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Communities (2011), I find Barkin’s review of the book in need of qualification."
Table of Contents of Life without Money
- Use Value and Exchange Value (Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman)
Part I. Critiques of Capitalism and Communism
- Money v. Socialism (Anitra Nelson - Honorary Associate Professor of RMIT University, Australia)
- Work Refusal and Self-Organisation (Harry Cleaver - Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Texas, Austin)
- Money, Markets and Ecology (John O’Neill - Hallsworth Professor of Political Economy at the University of Manchester, England)
- The Value of a Synergistic Economy (Ariel Salleh - Researcher in Political Economy at the University of Sydney, Australia, and previously Associate Professor in Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney)
- A Gift Economy (Terry Leahy - Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Newcastle, Australia)
Part II. Activism and Experiments
- Non-Market Socialism (Adam Buick - Member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and regular contributor to the Socialist Standard)
- Self-Management and Efficiency (Mihailo Markovi - Widely published Serbian philosopher and scholar, worked for many years in the University of Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy)
- Labour Credit – Twin Oaks Community (Kat Kinkade with the Twin Oaks Community - Founding member of Twin Oaks Community, established in Virginia, USA in 1967, and co-founder of the East Wind and Acorn communities, and the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, which still exist today)
- The Money-Free Autonomy of Spanish Squatters (Claudio Cattaneo - Obtained his PhD at the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and teaches ecological economics at Carlo Cattaneo University, Italy)
- Global Strategy: Contract and Converge, by Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman - Prominent socialist faction leader in the Australian Labor Party for decades and a political adviser to several members of parliament. Co-editor of Free Palestine published by the General Palestinian Delegation in Australia (1979–1990)
About Anita Nelson and Frans Timmerman
Anitra Nelson is Associate Professor in the Centre for Urban Research School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Australia. She is the author of Marx's Concept of Money: The God of Commodities (Routledge, 1999), and she co-edited Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (Pluto, 2011), Housing for Degrowth (Routledge, 2018) and is the author of Small is Necessary (Pluto, 2018).
Frans Timmerman (1961-2011) was a socialist faction leader in the Australian Labor Party and political adviser to members of parliament. He edited Free Palestine (1979-1990), published by the General Palestinian Delegation in Australia and was the co-editor of Life Without Money (Pluto, 2011).