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ZB nr 9(154)/2000, sierpień 2000

[ Part I ]

Attractors versus virtual money

Krzysztof Lewandowski


The world tends towards multitude of currencies.
                                   Alvin Toffler (GW interwiew)

All of us depend on electricity supply; if it is stopped the whole economy is paralyzed. Pres-ently the world starts to fall into similar dependency from telecommunication. Internet mail thanks to its great convenience of use and wide application wins more and more users. Soon it will be difficult for a man to explain to his or her friends why he or she has no e-mail account. Because of it expectations regarding soon widespread of Internet to the extent the electric current is widespread today seem to be convincing. The Internet without telephone cables or fiber wires since in nearest future it will be probably linked with its users via direct satellite connections.

Such direction of technology development is the expression of one of basic human dreams, namely the dream of complete and safe communication with other people. The Internet fulfills this dream but only from technical side. Humanity, wishing to communicate cheaply, effec-tively and safely faces equally difficult task as building global internet network - it is adjust-ing mentality to these changes.

To make use of this huge communication potential of the world with benefit for humanity it is necessary to defeat fears making communication processes difficult, fears that are the expres-sion of lack of acceptance of human kind for consciousness alterations that reduce its poten-tial but are required by present money market. This fear intensifies since increasing - thanks to technical inventions - human ability to widespread communication faces more and more powerfully contradictions with economic practice of everyday life, shutting people in the cas-tles of their egoism and their own, secret affairs. The cult of competition being the feature of present monetary system is actually a cult of making people close themselves before the world. It is difficult to agree it with global cooperation that thanks to Internet - being a win-dow for the world - becomes real as never before.

Along with development of Internet and individual creativity presented through it more and more strange seem to be all legal constructions that make spreading anything difficult. Through Internet one can present his creations to the world public by himself and directly, without a need to go through preliminary market selection. Internet provides also serious ef-fectiveness in interdisciplinary scientific research provided the scientists are not bound in in-formation exchange with the claws of patents and official secrets, that serve financial busi-nesses.

Sharing one’s knowledge and art is a crowning of creative processes and the cost of knowl-edge replication or artistic creation copying is almost none in the age of Internet.

Information is multiplied without losses.
While sharing knowledge goods one does not less of them than before.

These are more and more common opinions among people making use of modern technique.

The philosophy of copyright and patents law that are effective stands in contrary to this con-clusion. The axiom of this philosophy is profit, since only in this way the riches countries of the world may defend against returning wave of exported money not covered with commodi-ties and banks against returning wave of granted credits without coverage in deposits.

The way to multiply profit is commerce; for whole centuries of molding capitalistic system it was connected solely with material goods or services turnover. For several years of molding current system information used to be a free of charge element of supplied goods or provided services and it was not existing as itself as a commodity ready to be traded. After years of development of technology, however, the time has come for it to be self sufficient  and hence the information became a commodity in itself and the virtue to turn into the commodity are copyright and patent rights. With time flow it proves that they are a big obstacle in free cir-culation of thoughts. Particularly in the age of Internet, against logic and comfort of artists, scientists and inventors, for who important is possibly wide reception of their ideas and works - this right separates creators from their audience (with potential students or imitators includ-ing). The result of such separation are both fears of the authors against theft of their works and ideas together with fear against unintentional violation of personal rights of other authors.

"Full nelson" of fear around Polish artists is closing with increasing strength by the virtue of foreign, commercial agencies, specialized in limiting spheres not covered with patents, pro-tective laws and know-how payments. In the years of 1990-97 these agencies furnished in Poland 10-times more patents and inventions than the poles did themselves and they started to achieve serious incomes that in 1995-97 increased by ten times to PLN 416 million. It is one of tributaries of a river of money flowing to the attractors. Part of this money will probably be used to patent in Poland further foreign inventions.

The source of fear of not only the artists and scientists but all of the people if the sense of fra-gility and provisional character of current legal-financial construction of the world, since global economic alternatives are not yet improved and they only emerge from the space of common consciousness while at the same time the only widely applied construction of world money does not stand the trial of time yet now and more and more clear it is noticed as civili-zation threat and an obstacle on the way to balanced development and economical manage-ment of world energy resources.

As we tried to prove in the first part of the article, lack of money on the labor market for which people that are willing and able to deliver this work for may be employed is a result of outflow of wealth elaborated by people to attractors what in consequence is a result of current concept of money, law and trade customs.

Only a small portion of wealth lost to the attractors return to the places it was produced - most often in a form of aid of little effectiveness, provided by foreign funds and foundations established for this end. This a proverbial handkerchief to soak our tears after the wealth that flowed out.

Lack of such wealth, expressing itself in scarcity of money on local market makes that com-petition for access to a few capitals that remained there - passing the crater of the attractor - is joined by whole local population. Among people, even among the whole nations, competi-tive attitudes, aggression strengthen. Natural interpersonal bonds are broken. Gentleness of habits and coexistence culture disappear. Pathology intensifies.

In the context of the whole world single country is a local one and this is what Polish politi-cians should remember about particularly when trade deficit of Poland for a longer time is maintained at the level of US$ 1 billion per month. This is the measure for the power of at-tractiveness of attractors. It falls as much as PLN 270 per month for single employed Pole, including the gray zone. This amount constitutes about 15% of budget of the Poles and if in-stead for commodities produced abroad, it was spent on little less or even not less attractive commodities of Polish origin, we will have two principle problems solved in Poland: problem of unemployment and the problem of foreign debt. It is easy to say but how to do it?

It seems that people would manage with this task if they realize the economic mechanism of "creation of poverty" and find the way of conscious participation in passing it - by creating demand for local production. One has to realize, however, that encompassing the mechanism of the attractor with rational mind is not sufficient to stop outflow of wealth. National wealth, created within the system of convertible money, must leak and we cannot do anything about it. Poland, as the country, can only try to be "attractive", to decrease in this way continuous outflow of money leaving our country (and this is the direction Polish economic policy goes to). If we succeed, the price of this operation will be paid by areas of the world exploited by us.

Convertibility of currency opens the economy of every market to the capitalistic priority of limiting costs of production, without taking into account social or ecological costs of this pro-cess. It is estimated, for example, that costs of exploitation of nuclear plants are lowered twice due to not taking into consideration long term costs of neutralization of wastes. It is an exam-ple of not taking into consideration ecological costs of energy production. In such, dominated with the category of profit, conditions, manufacturers making use of mechanisms of the at-tractor - making use of more expensive advertising and a product better studied in research centers along with the way of distributing it - win without a problem a battle for customer on any "newly capitalism converted" market, like Poland. This is them who feel as the hosts of the economic stage and they give enlightened advice to newly accepted members to various groups since in their places, in their economies, oiled with money attracted by the attractors matters go quite well.

Setting free from the system of attractors, except the awareness of their existence, requires something more and a last years discovery is a growing in rich countries conviction that this "something" is alternative money, that give the opportunity to pass traps elaborated through centuries capitalism learned to get customers into. Whereas alternative money combined with Internet is a completely new quality in the world economy - it is a chance to tame an insatia-ble demon of global market by its own children - independent markets of virtual money.

Until lately, i.e. by the time computer arrived in masses, alternative money used to function in a few countries on the grounds of experiments more or less tolerated by the State. Usually in places where the State allowed for their circulation, they evolved with great success, bringing soon spectacular, economic effects.

The example of success alternative currency is Wära, money introduced experimentally to circulation in 1919, money that circulated extremely intensively in Germany at the time of crisis. Wära was banned in 1931 when their popularity started to grow alarmingly.

Also Austrian system of Shillings was accepted with success; it was introduced to local cir-culation by the Mayor of Wörgl city in 1932. City Shillings of the Mayor circulated with their speed double as high as national Schillings and the profitability of the city of Wörgl grew rapidly during 13 months of the experiment, providing construction of roads, sewage system, collector and skiing resort at that time. When other Austrian cities expressed their interest in implementation of similar systems, central bank forbidden the Mayor doing any further ex-periments. Also serious popularity gained in the 30’s among Americans the system of stamp money, banned in 1933 by President Roosevelt.

With much more gentleness Swiss system of alternative WIR money was treated; it was es-tablished in 1934 and it still exists. This system makes turnover amounting US$ two billion annually (Swiss Francs 2,52 billion in 1993) among its 60 thousand of customers-members. Is it from the will to keep alive this and similar experiments Switzerland has not yet joined European Union?

Today concept of alternative money started to mold at the beginning of the 80’s, like an an-swer to release of technology of electronic chips from the view of the army and huge calcula-tion centers. Thanks to personal computers it became possible to overcome the biggest prob-lems in creating parallel to official and trustworthy monetary systems - efficient and cheap way of turnover registration.

In 1983 Michael Linton, a Canadian from Comox Valley encountered a good idea to create independent market with alternative money. It was then when the world first LETS (Local Exchange & Trading System) system was established; it was a local system of commodity and services exchange, based upon money created with the orders of inhabitants; the money existed in a form of locally maintained registers. As the rule it was accepted that LETS are inconvertible into any other money and not subjected to interest rates.

Success of LETS system from Comox Valley, namely rapid intensification of profitability in the whole region suffering mass unemployment gave the assumption to copy this sample into other populations. Introduction of virtual money made people suddenly aware that a person creating added value is a customer ordering a service or buying a commodity since good order price will attract any number of manufacturers or service providers, ready to perform.

Bravery to place orders and to create work of a person who performs such an order is primar-ily connected with the consciousness of state of account and fears of getting down below the line. In LETS systems new coming members receive a virtual credit card in a form of a credit of social trust and they can immediately start to create added value through placing orders for products and services available within the system. In effect of an order creating someone’s work, there is a liability to perform a work at the side of the ordering person. These liabilities unite people since they can be repaid only on the local market.

LETS model has been copied since the time it was developed in hundreds of centers, mostly in wealthy countries of the world. Tested in various conditions, both urban and rural, it has one marvelous feature: it ensures locality of exchange and trade, and prevents against leaking of energy of working people from the area where they live and produce their commodities and services.

In the first LETS systems in the beginning of the 70’s not all operations were possible to be carried in the memories of computers. The Achilles heel of that time systems was marketing information - it was to be printed in paper and sent to all members to make them notified.

In the age of widespread of Internet such disadvantage of alternative monetary systems disap-pears completely since up-to-date information on available commodities and services may be found by each member in virtual space of his or her own computer or cellular phone. In close future of magnetic cards operating alternative money routes, alternative money will be in 100% virtual - free from a burden of material carrier. Even today there are no technical obsta-cles against magnetic card reader to be located in every shop.

What does it mean in practice? Primarily, the possibility to DISCONNECT FROM the at-tractor on other markets, established in this way, that are emerging in surprising speed world-wide. Two private, electronic clearing houses started in Japan to operate lately records of spe-cial currency, known as Hureai Kippu, possession of which provides access to medical serv-ices. The market of Hureai Kippu, based upon American time-money concept, coexists with benefits for the Japanese with the market of Yen, providing services of higher standard, while benefits from existence of this new currency are felt in their majority by elder persons, who receive their money transfers from their children living in other parties of the country in Hureai Kippu.

The mark of this tendency is also the policy of Japanese government towards Eco-currencies. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry (MITI) announced recently that future strat-egy of Japan development would based upon specialized, regional markets, making use of own Eco-currencies. Four piloting systems of this type were tested in previous years and the results of the tests were so promising that in 1999 another forty eco-currency systems were established. Support to undertakings of such type is provided by biggest Japanese enterprises like NTT and Oracle Japan.

From news incoming from different directions of the world it results that free information overcomes all limitations. Although impossible to be seen with a naked eye a wall of regula-tions behind which an attractor hides is more difficult to overcome than the Berlin Wall, it systematically breaks in quiet atmosphere of home studies, accompanied by computer sounds.

Global transformation of the wall into the lack of wall is very close and economists and fore-casters start to be aware of. The tool of this transformation is actually the virtual space sus-pended over our heads that is common consciousness of all the people.

In this space there is place not only for reliable information on products and services that peo-ple may provide to each other but also place for registration of all transactions that people make. In such conditions the level of identification of people taking part in such transaction is only a matter of accepted agreement.

In most system of virtual money, existing worldwide, openness of economic life of their members covers balance and total sum of turnover - individual transactions are confidential. It seems that it is just the beginning of the openness of economic life of people worldwide and that local systems of virtual money are just the introduction serving to elaborate more con-venient to a man, and at the same time to nature, systems of exchange of goods, services and knowledge.

Along with widening of locality scale and construction of thematic or region or the whole country range virtual systems  - the scale of openness of economic life of their members will have to increase. The money will stop to be anonymous and hence it will be impossible to steal it or speculate with it. What good will it do a thief from stealing someone’s account statement or a speculator from having resources for which goods and services can be bought only by a specific person.

Virtual markets, being actually electronic clearing houses, are with no doubt the future of global world. Such level of democracy ensures the citizens of global village freedom of choice of place of origin of purchased good or service or possibility to select alternative sell-ing markets for work performed by them. Through a decision of market selection one may also consciously and directly, with everyday purchases, express his or her own political sym-pathies and give support to preferred funds.

Virtual money make a revolution also in the world of marketing and advertising. The sense of huge campaigns disappears when the important criterion of commodity selection for people becomes local origin of the commodity or participation of its producer in public undertaking supported by the purchaser.

Modern marketing formula based upon alternative money consist in advertising agencies col-lecting funds on objectives accepted by principals. The carrier of the advertisement most often is money circulating around. The model of such formula is ROMA system elaborated in Ire-land; it was tested in 1999 in Irish town of Balluhaunis, or American SHARE systems, that facilitate start of many socially supported initiatives.

Transformation of monetary system is inevitable and for some time, thanks to new technolo-gies, finally possible. Such inevitability is a result of great waste of energy that takes place in a world ruled with the principles of capitalism. People work more and more since it costs them more and more to upkeep what they already have. Members of most wealthy societies are forced to exceptionally effective work with credits that they must repay regularly. Liabili-ties taken towards creditors are like iron balls chained to one’s leg - carried often throughout one’s life, in great psychological discomfort. On the global market of attractors the burdens and loads are greater from year to year, constituting increasing price of being wealthy.

Not only single people know about it but also whole nations possess such knowledge. Great overhang of burdens resulting from repayment of credits prisons in mind clinch the whole American nation and many wealthy societies. Relation of granted credits to deposited savings in many richest countries oscillates around the proportion of 20:1 what means that bank re-serves are finished when 5% of their customers come to withdraw their money.

The vision of crash ruining elaborated pensions and dividends is probable and it is even quite real - particularly when facing the process of widespreading  simple methods serving separa-tion from dollar circulations; members of the establishment of the riches countries are begin to be aware of it with increasing uneasiness; they are the ones who have the most to loose. As it was perfectly expressed in a "Fate" poem by Polish poet Cyprian K. Norwid, the world is luckily made in such a manner that it gives occasionally the chance "to face the bad luck". This occasion comes now as Internet gives the chance to face the bad luck of capitalistic money system.

Despite widely distributed myth that in the American model human dream came true about the perfect system that has just been fulfilled there, many economists believe that continuous keeping this system in full readiness is the greatest threat to humanity.

This system is aimed on progress and production getting cheaper, on export of its own money abroad and on selling for highest price possible this copying of what costs almost nothing - i.e. knowledge. The price of copying this system is paid by biological environment of the planet - including man as a creature - exploited more than it is necessary or needed.

Virtual money is the way to "avoid suffering" and there is no intent here to point out disad-vantages of any systems. Poles are already in great extent full rights citizens of "global vil-lage" and we will not bite our hand off. Inevitable progress of techniques will result however, that soon the Poles will start to participate in local, regional or specialist (for example: ani-mals rights protectors or a group acting against commodities from some particular region) systems of exchange of commodities and services, settled with aid of virtual money. In other words, we will soon be able to select currencies and markets we earn and spend money on.

Specialists claim that there will be several currencies present on markets at one time. Plastic magnetic card can manage them all at one time in identical way it manages single now. It will simply contain parallel access to the registry of several currencies and the customer, through specialized clearing houses will finally have the opportunity to create added value where he wishes, through supporting the currency (and hence societies) that serves best the objectives and ideas supported by him or her. In this way through everyday shopping people will have real influence on politics.

In alternative economic models covering the whole world there is a concept drawn to connect world currency with energy production limits appointed to individual countries in regard to energy from non-renewable resources. These limits would be distributed among individual countries proportionally to agreed population limits. Areas that would save energy, maintain balanced development, would be able to sell it to highly industrialized areas, that consume much energy, getting resources for balanced development with smaller turnover.

These concepts seem to be dreams regarding the only one, global market, but when there are many markets, similarly to today television programs, and choice of the market one wants to belong to will depend on a consumer who would finally become a real subject in political game - political powers system in the world could be dramatically changed and global deci-sions that seem to be dreams now will be of completely different character. It is though be-longing to this or another sale network one will be able to choose political options. The elec-tion will be held everyday - in virtual world of shopping.

No revenue Office will be able to stop virtual settlement of accounts since it is the right of Internet users to exchange information on every subject, also regarding liabilities taken to-wards each other. Virtual money is the way to realize a vision of balanced world through utilization of world telecommunication network that knows no boundaries, duties or habitual barriers and that develops so dynamically since people, particularly the young and very young ones feel and understand more and more that this space offers possibilities that have existed never before. These are unlimited possibilities of experience exchange, cooperation and col-lective, exceptionally effective thinking.

It is thanks to this way of thinking and cooperation many people from different parts of the world the new paradigm is created, also in economy, taking into account collective con-sciousness of Internet and knowledge of greater and greater masses of people on being a par-ticle of it. The challenge perfectly suiting the beginning of new century and new era.

Krzysztof Lewandowski

[ Wersja polska ]

ZB nr 9(154)/2000, sierpień 2000
Wydawnictwo "ZB" | Okładka | Spis tre¶ci ]