"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
Anarchist Finance, or What Price Ancapistan?
For so long, I have wondered how to create a new free area. In my last article, I posited that creating and maintaining intentional communities (ICs) would be the key to beginning the enterprise of creating a new anarchist society. However, I would be remiss if I didn't find a way to use our current financial state to fund and maintain an IC. I think I may have done that.
First of all, I want to discuss a serious issue within the IC movement. The major issue with most ICs is converting from the community currency to Federal Reserve Notes (or whatever the state's currency). This convertibility problem has probably plagued most ICs since their inception. After all, most ICs are currently socialist in focus and thus neglect to deal with this issue. So, I propose that the founding of a mutual savings and credit association would be the answer.
A mutual savings and credit association (MSCA) is the perfect solution on many levels. For one, they are mostly unregulated. They are not banks. Secondly, they can operate using whatever currency they wish. Thirdly, because of the mutual aspect of the association, there is an emphasis upon shared responsibility and shared profits. This helps everyone who participates to gain from the growth of their IC's internal economy.
As for the currency of this MSCA, I propose that a dual system of currency be adopted. I propose a labor/time/obligation-based currency for small transactions (see "The Great Explosion" for an example of this) and a completely 100% backed commodity currency for larger transactions. Basically, I see a small to medium-sized IC bartering their goods and services for smaller transactions. If a person who owns a slaughterhouse wants a shirt, then the person who makes clothes will supply him with one, placing a future claim upon a portion of that person's meats. They can negotiate between themselves as to what constitutes a fair trade. However, if someone needed a house built (which usually requires the labor of many different specialists) then it's actually more efficient to just pay them in a real commodity currency that they can then distribute through the IC for their major purchases. This dual-currency system eliminates the need for small currency, stimulates trade and encourages saving all at the same time. After all, eventually with the completion of the internal infrastructure, the high-value, commodity currency can be converted to FRNs or other fiat currency and be used for further investments outside the community.
Now, to funding an IC. There are a few ways to fund an IC, but I think the best way would be to find a way for the IC to fund itself. One way would be to make the initial acquisition of the IC and covenant with each other never to sell the common property, but to lease it. In the lease, the lessee could be given the option to sublet and allow any sublessees to sublet. So, a person could invest in an IC without ever having stepped a foot on community soil. Also, by emphasizing the investment aspects of helping to found an IC, people who wouldn't even be interested in the community's values or lifestyles would invest in the possibility of making a steady monthly income. Here's an example of my plan.
A group decides to create an IC and sets out to purchase a large plot of land. This plan is very effective if the group can acquire a plot between 300 and 1,200 acres. Now the initial outlay for the land comes out of the group's pockets. However, they can have the land surveyed and subdivided into smaller plots, which are then leased either by people wanting to join the community or outside investors who want to use the community property as an investment. The outside investors will have the option to sublet, which will give them a chance to raise the rents and make a profit. The funds from the initial leases will be used to make infrastructure improvements (which depending on the improvement, could generate more income for the IC) and to either expand the current IC or to help found a new IC.
With my leasing system in place, an enterprising IC could actually make back the cost of the acquisition and a profit to boot. Of course, marketing is everything. Also, the leasing system takes care of the "commons" problem. As the founding members are responsible for infrastructure improvements and maintenance, they are entitled to be paid for it. Hell, if a community offers a trash pickup service, green electricity and composting, they could make enough money in user fees to see a huge profit. Plus, once the land is paid off, all of the rents is pure profit.
So, as you can see, the possibilities of an Intentional Community are endless. From making money to expanding your lifestyle, the IC is the way to go. I want to see ten new anarchist ICs in the next year. We can do it. We have the tools. Do we have the cojones? We'll see. Until my next article, peace and prosperity to all.