The ‘New Economy’ discussed here is not a proposition for radical discontinuity, and still less an artefact of wishful thinking.
Whatever the urgency of a transition to an economy that interacts healthily with the biosphere, no proposition for this transition can succeed that does not present as a beneficial ‘adjacent possible’ for some significant fraction of the billions of pragmatic economic choices that are made each day by people with perfectly reasonable desires for security, dignity, and agency.
Much ‘New Economy’ thinking is infected by ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’; these translate, crudely speaking, into moralising pressure and policy impositions. These are of course valid social mechanisms, and have their place, but when we look at the context of those daily billions of choices, we see that they are conditioned most immediately by the underlying protocols around how money works – both as a means-of-exchange and as a store-of-value.
This post relates to the wider ‘Transcender Manifesto for a World Beyond Capitalism‘ – more directly addressing the selection, requirements, design and operation of structures that could expand the world of transcender relations around value exchange – those that achieve viability through ‘earning their living’ in the economic sphere.
This post follows on from a previous post: Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick. Thinking about how alternative currencies can be designed to suit the particular circumstances they are intended to improve, I suddenly realised that it should now be possible to implement LETS in any part of the world where people generally have access to feature ‘phones – which nowadays includes many places where access to hard cash is extremely difficult.
The Flying Brick was the printed directory of the Brixton LETS Scheme (this isn’t the image we used – the original is lost in the mists of time – or a cardboard box in the attic).
LETS stood for Local Exchange and Trading Scheme. Brixton LETS was started in the second wave of alternative, local currency schemes in 1992 in Brixton, South London, and I’m proud to say I was one of the founding group, and one of the team that ran the scheme in its heyday over the following few years.
I had a discussion after the presentations with another attendee whose name I have shamefully forgotten (if you’re reading, get in touch!) about the future importance of trust metrics, and he came up with a very interesting example that makes it clear how such ratings derived from a particular service context can ripple out into a wider arena.
Consider the scenario (he said), of a boutique hotel, with relatively high prices. The hotel has, say, a 60% occupancy rate. Obviously, it would be good to improve this. But simply lowering prices will encourage budget tourists whose appearance in the lobby might detract from the supposed ‘cachet’ of the brand (yes, I know, I don’t want to stay there either, if they’re so snooty [actually, if I get rich, I might book their best suite and turn up looking like a slob, just for kicks] – but this is a business conversation, remember).
Two in-depth presentations, followed by a dizzying parade of 30 second pitches. Event details here.
First presentation up was from one of the founders of Canadian tech outfit Mobify, Peter McLachlan. I didn’t know them, but it seems they have provided tools and support for many major brands to translate their web offering to mobile formats. We were treated to a compressed history of the outfit, a classic tech startup of three Computer Science graduates having some insight and then plugging away making clever things happen one after another – by their own admission, many of them blind alleys.