Can a large-scale society exist without money?

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Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#1  Postby lpetrich » Feb 08, 2017 3:05 pm

I must say that I'm very skeptical that a large-scale, high-tech society can operate without some medium of exchange, some kind of money. But it would be great to be able to avoid the psychological, social, and economic pathologies often associated with money. I don't believe that money is the root of all good, which is something that one of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged heroes argues -- Francisco d'Anconia's "money speech".

Let's now consider the various possibilities.

The simplest is barter. A has X and wants Y. B has Y and wants X. A and B then exchange X and Y. This has the problem of needing a coincidence of wants.

Next up is a gift economy. A gives X to B, and B remembers X's favor and gives Y to A. That can work in small-scale societies, but it has difficulty working in large-scale ones.

Many societies move on from there to some medium of exchange -- money. A exchanges X for M and M for Y, and B exchanges Y for M and M for X.

The simplest sort is commodity money, something traded at its non-monetary value. There have been numerous types of commodity money, like gold, silver, copper, salt, peppercorns, tea, large stones, decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, cocoa beans, cowries and barley.

Such money is often not very portable, it must be conceded. That has led to the development of representative money, something traded at much more than its non-monetary value. Paper money is the best-known type of that sort of money, because the cost of printing it is much less than its stated value. It must be noted that coins can also be in that state. Electronic money, like numerical values in banks' databases, also often qualifies. Cryptography-based money like Bitcoin is somewhat ambiguous.

One type of it is commodity-backed money, IOU's for commodities like precious metals. Gold-standard enthusiasts want paper money to be that kind of money.

Another type is fiat money, money decreed into existence. The "fiat" is Latin for "let (it) be made", not the Italian car company. Money can be decreed into existence by central banks, typically by running the banks' paper-money printing presses, and also their coin and electronic counterparts.

Some people consider fiat money unreliable because a government can recklessly print it and cause massive inflation. Many gold-standard enthusiasts make that argument, noting that gold is much more difficult to mine than printing on paper is. But even there, a big influx of gold and silver can cause inflation, as had happened to Spain around 1600. Also, around 1200, King Henry IV of England outlawed the alchemical manufacture of gold and silver, presumably for this reason.

There are also forms of fiat money that are essentially monetary fraud, like debased coinage and counterfeit money. Given how fiat money originates, it is not surprising that some people consider even "legitimate" fiat money to also be monetary fraud.


Return to what I originally asked, I seriously suspect that a large-scale society will almost inevitably have some form of money, whether some official form, some unofficial forms, or both. One does not have to have a coincidence of wants, since money is, at least in principle, universally exchangeable. One also does not have to do the bookkeeping needed for a gift economy, and one can deal with complete strangers.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#2  Postby tuco » Feb 08, 2017 5:22 pm

I do not believe money is root of anything. As you noted, its medium of exchange. Its like saying Facebook is root of something.

To answer the question asked we need to answer another question or sets of questions. Are there commodities which even in theory cannot be obtained at will? Because if there are, there needs to be mechanism that allows for/governs distribution of such commodities.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#3  Postby Scot Dutchy » Feb 08, 2017 5:29 pm

La la Land.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#4  Postby laklak » Feb 09, 2017 4:42 am

Unless robots provide everybody with everything they want we'll need some medium of exchange. Must be portable, universally accepted, reasonably stable, so basically - money.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#5  Postby Blackadder » Feb 10, 2017 1:29 pm

Money evolved as a more efficient means of exchange than bartering.

Could you create a society without money? Yes.
Would it function efficiently? I don't think so.
That credulity should be gross in proportion to the ignorance of the mind that it enslaves, is in strict consistency with the principle of human nature. - Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#6  Postby laklak » Feb 10, 2017 3:49 pm

Three camels.

Three? You're stealing my children's food! Two camels, that's as high as I'll go.

Two camels and two goats.

Two camels, one goat, three chickens.

Two camels, one goat, three chickens, and four eggs.

Three eggs and you've got a deal.

Done.
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The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#7  Postby tuco » Feb 10, 2017 4:28 pm

Blackadder wrote:Money evolved as a more efficient means of exchange than bartering.

Could you create a society without money? Yes.
Would it function efficiently? I don't think so.


To quote a classic ;) that is just your opinion. Now, why is that, why you dont think so?

btw Function efficiently? Well, its ok with me if it will not function efficiently, whatever that means.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#8  Postby Blackadder » Feb 10, 2017 7:12 pm

tuco wrote:
Blackadder wrote:Money evolved as a more efficient means of exchange than bartering.

Could you create a society without money? Yes.
Would it function efficiently? I don't think so.


To quote a classic ;) that is just your opinion. Now, why is that, why you dont think so?

btw Function efficiently? Well, its ok with me if it will not function efficiently, whatever that means.


Money is a more efficient means of exchange than barter. If you need that explained, find someone with more patience to explain it to you. As for your typical, needless, snarky personalisation, for the record let me say the number of fucks I give whether something is "OK with you" is precisely zero.
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Re: Can a large-scale society exist without money?

#9  Postby tuco » Feb 10, 2017 7:17 pm

lol I forgot what kind of poster you are (to be super correct ..) posts you produce. Forgive me.
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