Volatility

October 15, 2011

Post-Morality, New Mores

Filed under: Freedom, Neo-feudalism, Nietzsche — Tags: — Russ @ 9:00 am

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A post in honor of Nietzsche’s birthday.
 
In Genealogy of Morals Essay II Nietzsche describes the alleged progress of primalism to achieve modern morality. He claims that humanity underwent thousands of years, often under conditions of extreme physical and spiritual cruelty, developing what he calls the morality of mores (Kaufmann’s rendering of die Sittlichkeit der Sitte; Hollingdale calls it the morality of custom), with what we now call “morality” being the culmination. This includes a capacity to incur debt, something not natural but by now branded into us.
 
David Graeber, in his seminal book Debt: The First 5000 Years, rightly places this in the category of one’s reading back bourgeois morality into prehistory, and then picturing this morality of mores period as having some implicitly “intentional” progress toward this same morality. Typical bourgeois self-servingness. I’ll add that here Nietzsche would be exhibiting the same historically fraudulent propensity he castigated in other commentators, historians and sociologists and such. I agree with Graeber that Nietzsche probably realized the mendacity of his procedure here, and that he was really presenting a more honest (i.e. brutal) depiction of bourgeois society’s own foundation story. This would fit with N’s predilection for using the enemy’s tropes against him. Thus for example he loved to use militaristic metaphors to discuss spiritual and intellectual matters in ways subversive of the statism and nationalism of the time.
 
Meanwhile we know, from the work of Graeber and other real anthropologists, that the “festival of cruelty” Nietzsche describes is actually a recent, ahistorical development. The true morality of mores had a radically different nature. It was mostly cooperative, peaceful, materially modest, focused on seeking health and happiness. This is the human path we so disastrously forsook, starting a few thousand years ago and plunging into the ultimate depths of subhumanity during the fossil fuel binge. Our human task is now to find our way back to the primal human path.
 
But now that we recognize the fraudulence of this “moral” age and all its institutions, what shall be the nature of the new morality of mores we must now enter? Will Nietzsche’s savage depictions have to come true in this transition?
 
I already offered a more optimistic commentary and aspiration in these two posts on Nietzsche’s essay. Now two years later I’m revisiting the question in greater depth, and I want to still find reasons for optimism. This will depend primarily on our democratic will and our determination to build a movement out of it. I fear that just trying to wing it won’t do. Without the built movement our likely result will be permanent enslavement or total collapse and starvation.
 
But with a movement vision based on positive democracy and relocalized organic food production, incorporating all the knowledge we’ve attained, we can steer between the twin perils of terminal debt enslavement and some kind of harsh, universally violent alternative.
 

October 11, 2011

Corporate Tribalism Part 2: Steven Pinker and Sublimated Violence

Filed under: Corporatism, Land Reform, Relocalization — Tags: , , , — Russ @ 3:22 am

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In my first preliminary post on corporate tribalism I described how jurisprudence has tried to define corporate persons as more human than human beings. Another aspect of this anti-human inversion has been the ideological attempt to strip humanity of its naturally cooperative traits and repose these only in elite structures, while smearing humanity as being infected with what’s really the psychopathy of elites. 
 
It was Hobbes, personally traumatized by the English Civil War and wishing to justify the modern State, who gave the classical description of man’s alleged inherent depravity. Without firm, severe rule from above, we were doomed to the “state of nature” where our lives would inevitably be “nasty, brutish, and short”. Today Hobbes is the hero of numerous prominent intellectuals who crusade to represent humanity as naturally wicked, aggressive, destructive, wasteful, deceitful, manipulative, depraved. They’ve enlisted the modern sciences and social sciences, especially genetics, to support the modern neo-Hobbesianism. The direct goal is always to claim that only political elitism, only the State, can organize any kind of constructive endeavor. At least implicitly it’s always a cry of the heart for economic elitism. Only capitalism and especially corporatism can organize any kind of productive endeavor. Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Napoleon Chagnon and others have been prominent in this campaign. The goal is always the same, to render the class war and kleptocracy on a biological/racist basis, but in a pro-capitalist, pro-state way.
 
The latest, much-hyped installment is Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. Here the claim is that the level of violence has declined with the rise of the modern state and capitalism. Once again the nasty, brutish primal humanity has to be tamed and put to work by the state, capital, elites. On its face this is absurd. Throughout history elites have always been vastly more violent than peoples, who have generally served as the cannon fodder (military and economic) for the predations, extractions, and wars of these elites. No matter what level of violence one discovers at any place or time, this violence will have been predominantly caused or greatly aggravated by, as anthropologist Brian Ferguson puts it, “the pursuit of practical self-interest by those who actually make the decision.”
 
But if this weren’t self-evident, no problem. Real scholars like Ferguson and David Graeber have assembled the evidence of anthropology which proves that all the tales of the natural greed and violence of humanity are a fraud. On the contrary, the evidence supports the view of people as naturally prone to cooperation. Perhaps not “noble savages”, but inherently likely to prefer cooperation, nonviolent solutions, and limits on material acquisitiveness. In particular, the evidence is that the state and monetary debt have their origins only in violence and have always comprised embodied, sublimated violence. Tribal violence as a rule involved scarcity competition, but this scarcity has seldom been natural. On the contrary, almost all scarcity competition has been over artificial scarcity. Tribes didn’t find themselves at odds over game or grazable land where there wasn’t enough to go around in an absolute sense. Rather, elites sought to monopolize the resource at the expense of both foreign tribes and their own people. These rival elite claims, not to necessity but to hoarded superfluity, have been the usual engine of violence and war. Today in capitalism we have the most complete and fully rationalized ideology and practice of artificial scarcity. This is the scarcity Pinker has dedicated his life to exalting.
 
Meanwhile the “evidence” of Pinker and company, just like that alleged for primal barter, is cherry-picked and largely fabricated. Pinker’s project is to remove all violence from its socioeconomic context. He then divides history into the period of the modern State and all other times. Violence prior to* the state is then dogmatically declared to be “natural”, “anarchic” violence. But there’s no evidence for this natural violence, and plenty for the violence organized by proto-state elites.
 
[*Pinker’s chronology is also eccentric.  His most cited example seems to be this account of public cat-burning:
 

In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davies, “[T]he spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized.” Today, such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world.

 
But as many have immediately pointed out, this isn’t an example of pre-state anarchic depravity. On the contrary, 16th century France was a starting point for the modern state, which was just starting to explore its own nature with charming activities like this one.]
 
Pinker’s not here to let the evidence induce truth, but to propagate dogma:
 

The first is that Hobbes got it right. Life in a state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short, not because of a primal thirst for blood but because of the inescapable logic of anarchy. Any beings with a modicum of self-interest may be tempted to invade their neighbors to steal their resources. The resulting fear of attack will tempt the neighbors to strike first in preemptive self-defense, which will in turn tempt the first group to strike against them preemptively, and so on. This danger can be defused by a policy of deterrence—don’t strike first, retaliate if struck—but, to guarantee its credibility, parties must avenge all insults and settle all scores, leading to cycles of bloody vendetta. These tragedies can be averted by a state with a monopoly on violence, because it can inflict disinterested penalties that eliminate the incentives for aggression, thereby defusing anxieties about preemptive attack and obviating the need to maintain a hair-trigger propensity for retaliation.

 
Like Hobbes himself, this is nothing more than myth. Hobbes never thought his “state of nature” had actually existed. On the contrary, he considered this the state of “civilized”, tamed man where not kept brutally in line. Hobbes’ view was similar to the phenomena Graeber documents on the real incidence of barter. Barter as a spot trade is not primeval, but occurs only following the collapse of a money economy. People indoctrinated in the use of money and market exchange will try to replicate their training with whatever’s at hand, however impractical the result. That’s what Hobbes thought would happen where already domesticated man ever had the reins relaxed. He then, as a device, read this special circumstance back into primal humanity. That’s how he derived the “state of nature”. So barter and the Hobbesian state of nature go together, conceptually and in practice. Somalia is a good example of this collapse of state/capitalism. But it has nothing at all to do with natural tribal life.
 
Pinker and his fellow scribblers simply ape their master Hobbes in this procedure. Nietzsche accused every kind of historian, sociologist, scholar of being prone to simply read the present back into the past. Graeber exposes how economists have propagated such a Big Lie. Here we have the “sociobiologist” version. (I did a few searches trying to find anyone else citing Graeber against Pinker but found none. I guess that’s a measure of how Graeber’s findings haven’t yet been widely comprehended.)
 
So we have the twin lies of nasty brutishness and natural scarcity, when in fact there’s only post-state brutishness and artificial scarcity. These are precisely what Pinker and company try to obscure. In the end a hack like Pinker is just plagiarizing Malthus.
 
His thesis also depends upon a monumental accounting fraud worthy of Wall Street. He whitewashes the radical escalation of tyranny and coercion under modern structures through the simple fraud of defining violence as only when a gun is fired, while excluding the infinitude of violence involved in people being driven at gunpoint. That’s the only way today’s academic liars can try to camouflage the overwhelming violence embodied in all state and capitalist structures.
 
But how can any measure of violence be legitimate which doesn’t account for every cent stolen at gunpoint, for example through wage slavery, whether the gun be physically immediate or just threatened for the time being? How can any measure of violence be valid without including on the daily ledger the entire sum of the violence involved in all enclosures and other propertarian thefts, including the ongoing modern land grabs? What other than violence keeps productive human beings off our rightful farmland, forces us to seek “employment”, to accept “unemployed” status, when the bountiful earth exists for us as it always did? Pinker’s job is to elide all this sublimated violence, defining it out of existence. Indeed in this sublimated neoliberal elitist form, what Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism”, Pinker exalts violence as the highest form of human existence. He’s the ideologue of sublimated violence.
 
Meanwhile studies also reveal how psychopaths concentrate at the higher levels of coercive hierarchy, since hierarchy is their natural habitat. Contrary to Pinker’s lies, those truly prone to Randian greed and aggression always have a much harder time in cooperative communities. (Meanwhile, contra Pinker’s lies about the greater violence of tribal peoples, what’s your chance of being assaulted and murdered today if you try to live with the same freedom the people of these tribes knew? If you find Pinker’s argument convincing, try to live without command money and in accord with natural usufruct, and see how much violence you bring down upon you. Whatever the primal assault rate, it was vastly less than the 100% guarantee of today.)
 
If there is in fact a “selfish gene” and an innate propensity to violence, it’s to be found concentrated at the higher levels of state and corporate hierarchies. And if this biological difference actually exists, it simply defines those who are aggressively subhuman, who must be regarded and dealt with as nothing but rabid dogs.
 
But ivory tower flunkeys like Pinker try to accomplish an Orwellian inversion. They want to slander the soul of humanity. They want to smear us with the filth of their corporate masters while bestowing the mantle of the “noble” elite upon these gutter gangsters. Pinker defines statism as the measure of nobility and the embodiment of our “better angels”. But this is just a gutter devil calling itself an angel. So he adds blasphemy to injury.
 
This is a (metaphorical?) theology of corporate tribalism, the sublimated satanism of the 1%. If there’s a biological/neurological abyss, it’s between the 99 and the 1. Pinker and the rest of the sociobiologist crew perform their fraudulent inversions and slanders of the 99 on behalf of the 1.
 
This is also meant to disparage the prospects of harmonious, prosperous relocalization. How can we have peace and prosperity without the Leviathan State? But the evidence proves the contrary. As human beings we’re naturally fitted to cooperate and mutually assist. We’re ready to build, live, and work in communities where we credit one another and in that way achieve the general good. Today we also possess something new, a clear democratic philosophy and knowledge, in addition to all the new agronomic knowledge we’ve gathered.
 
Having all this going for us, we need only to purge ourselves of the criminals and parasites. On that day we’ll find sufficient resources and good will to finally live fully as human beings. Dismantling all the structures of embodied violence and getting rid of the practitioners of elitist violence, we’ll finally and truly live in the post-violent world.
 

October 7, 2011

One Simple Demand: Abolish Debt. Abolish Wall Street.

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In the comment thread for my last post we discussed the possibility of some educational pamphleteering at the occupations. One idea was a few bullet points summing up the facts about debt, along with a recommendation to read David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years
 
So what might those points be? Here’s a few thoughts:
 
*Are you in debt?
 
*Are you forced into debt in order to live like a human being? It hasn’t always been this way.
 
*Humanity has flourished without formalized debt for most of its history.
 
*Formalized debt has always gone hand in hand with scarcity, tyranny, slavery, and war.
 
*Formalized debt is the mode of control of despotic structures like big government and big corporations.
 
*These structures, too, have only recently come into existence, and only along with tyranny, slavery, and war. Humanity has always done better without them. [Maybe those latter two are better to leave implicit for now? Maybe it’s better to isolate the formal debt issue, leading up to saying Wall Street and financialization shouldn’t exist.]
 
*Cash money is the vehicle of formalized debt.
 
*Wall Street exists only to preside over this unnecessary and destructive debt machine. It serves no legitimate or constructive purpose.
 
*History proves that we can undertake all human endeavors more fairly and efficiently without Wall Street and its debt burdens. Humanity is cooperation.
 
*We must redeem our human economy by building alternatives to cash and debt.
 
*We shall flourish again only with the abolition of Wall Street, the domination of finance, and the tyranny of money debt.
 
So there’s One Simple Demand right there. Abolish the debt system, abolish the finance sector, abolish Wall Street.
 

September 9, 2011

First Principles: Morality and Action

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We need to get back to first principles. We need to purge all aspects of the elites’ own framework from our thought and expression. Here’s the example (from Derrick Jensen*) which spurred this post, though any regular day in the blogosphere provides similar examples:
 

For years I have been asking whether abusers believe their lies, and I’m finally comfortable with an answer.

This understanding came in great measure because I finally stopped focusing on the lies and their purveyors and I began to focus on the abusers’ actions. I realized, following Lundy Bancroft, that to try to answer the question of whether the abusers believe their lies is to remain under the abusers’ spell, to “look off in the wrong direction”, to allow myself to be distracted so I “won’t notice where the real action is”. To remain focused on that question is exactly what abusers want.

Endgame Volume II, “Abusers”

 
There’s been some progress with this in the blogosphere. We don’t see as much solemn rumination on whether e.g. Tim Geithner is corrupt or merely “captured”, and the last I saw when someone like Simon Johnson would continue to write in these terms he was getting more blowback among commenters saying “Who cares?” (I haven’t followed Baseline Scenario in awhile, so if anyone is still doing so and can provide an update, by all means do.) There’s less of this at Naked Capitalism as well.
 
“Captured or corrupt” has been replaced in some venues with the question “Stupid or evil?” This is a substantive improvement (less euphemistic, more truthful), and the fact that the question is increasingly being asked (and that the answer is usually “evil”) is an advance.
 
Still, we need to get beyond asking this question at all, since it still frames things according to the elites’ own framework of morality, where (their proven) intention is the most important thing.
 
Let’s stress immediately that in the class war no one’s intention really means anything. The elites want to plunder and enslave, and they do plunder and enslave. The only thing they care about where it comes to the non-rich is our compliant action. The state of our minds and souls is irrelevant.
 
But it is useful to them for us to sit around doing differently toward them from what they do toward us. We waste time and energy parsing an alleged nexus of their actions and their intentions, allegedly trying to puzzle out the morality of things, but likely just engaging in Peter Principle-type procrastination.
 
When are we going to reject the entire question and simply judge according to actions and results? When are we going to judge capitalism purely by its results? When are we going to judge representative government purely by its results? (This purely empirical evaluation of representative government, BTW, is a core part of the American Revolutionary philosophy.)
 
Most of all, when are we going to judge elitism as such, and this kleptocracy, purely by its actions and results?
 
(I’ll add here that the stupid/evil question can have practical application. It can be of strategic and tactical value to understand to what extent your opponents are inertial idiots, as opposed to intentionally brutal thugs, as opposed to intelligently evil. But this is only a practical matter, not a moral one. Given the ubiquity of available knowledge, it’s not possible to be innocently ignorant of the truth. One can only be willfully ignorant, which is just as morally culpable as to be a calculating evildoer.
 
To what extent we publicly say this is, of course, another tactical question. But we must fully digest it as an element of our philosophy.)
 
Nietzsche (for whom analysis of morality was the number one priority of his thinking) differentiated between what he called the pre-moral and moral stages of humanity’s natural history:
 

Throughout the lengthiest period of human history—we call it the prehistoric age—the value or the lack of value in an action was derived from its consequences. The action in itself was thus considered just as insignificant as its origin, but, in somewhat the same way as even today in China an honour or disgrace reaches back from the child to the parents, so then it was the backward working power of success or lack of success which taught people to consider an action good or bad. Let’s call this period the pre-moralistic period of humanity: the imperative “Know thyself!” was then still unknown.

In the last ten millennia, by contrast, in a few large regions of the earth people have come, step by step, a great distance in allowing the value of an action to be determined, no longer by its consequences, but by its origin. As a whole, this was a great event, a considerable improvement in vision and standards, the unconscious influence of the ruling power of aristocratic values and of faith in “origins,” the sign of a period which one can designate moralistic in a narrower sense: with it the first attempt at self- knowledge was undertaken. Instead of the consequences, the origin: what a reversal of perspective! And this reversal was surely attained only after lengthy battles and variations! Of course, in the process a disastrous new superstition, a peculiar narrowing of interpretation, gained control. People interpreted the origin of an action in the most particular sense as an origin from an intention. People became unanimous in believing that the value of an action lay in the value of the intention behind it. The intention as the entire origin and prehistory of an action: in accordance with this bias people on earth have, almost right up to the most recent times, given moral approval, criticized, judged, and also practised philosophy.

But today shouldn’t we have reached the point where we must once again make up our minds about a reversal and fundamental shift in values, thanks to a further inward contemplation and profundity in human beings? Are we not standing on the threshold of a period which we might at first designate negatively as beyond morality, today, when, at least among us immoralists, the suspicion stirs that the decisive value of an action may lie precisely in what is unintentional in it and that all its intentionality, everything which we can see in it, know, “become conscious of,” still belongs to its surface layer and skin,—which, like every skin, indicates something but conceals even more? In short, we believe that the intention is only a sign and a symptom, something which still needs interpretation, and furthermore a sign which carries too many meanings and, thus, by itself alone means almost nothing. We think that morality, in the earlier sense, that is, a morality based on intentions, has been a prejudice, something rash and perhaps provisional, something along the lines of astrology and alchemy, but, in any case, something that must be overcome. The overpowering of morality, in a certain sense even the self-conquering of morality: let that be the name for that long secret work which remains reserved for the finest and most honest, and also the most malicious, consciences nowadays, as the living touchstones of the soul.

Beyond Good and Evil, section 32

 
Nietzsche called these stages false in differing ways. Today we can recognize the “moral” stage as having devolved into a scam. Meanwhile, if humanity is ever to reach that extra-moral stage, it will be doing so in a more tortuous way than he envisioned. We’re not evolving to what Nietzsche called extra-morality, we’re returning to the pre-moral. (Indeed, we’re reverting to the original pre-debtor position he describes in On the Genealogy of Morals. What we must do, and what the criminals must try to prevent, is our restoration of pre-formalized community relations in place of formalized debt.
 
Here as everywhere else there are two strange attractors – the reactionary path of restored (but far more vicious) feudalism, and the renewal and redemption path of true democracy. Either way, whether imposed by the alien criminals or sprouting from the soil of our souls, we shall traverse the mental and spiritual path where nothing but action matters. It’s our choice whether these are to be slave actions or cooperative democratic actions.
 
This is part of how in all things we need to get back to first principles. All existing words, philosophies, institutions are beholden to the structures of kleptocracy and feudal capitalism. We need to look anew at everything from a purely democratic perspective. This is part of how we shall be born anew as true human citizens.
 
I hope this isn’t too vague right now. I’ll be developing the idea further. For now the first practical lesson is, to repeat, the only thing that matters is how any action affects the class war. Alleged dissonances between intention and result, where it comes to those in power, are morally meaningless. Jensen said the criminals want us to fail to notice where the real action is. The real action is nothing but the action itself.
 
[*Please, no arguments about Jensen’s own philosophy. I accept and reject parts of it the same way I rejected parts of it at the LATOC forum. Nevertheless, parts of the book are excellent, and this passage makes my point very well.] 

August 30, 2011

Time Banking Within the Natural History of Debt

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Anthropological research has established what philosophers knew for thousands of years – money and monetary debt arose not out of any economic necessity, but as instruments of domination. Their source was in violence and they comprise the sublimation of violence, which is the nature of all government/corporate power. This is part of what I’ve meant when I call today’s forms of money command currencies. By its empirical definition, money is created and enforced by a command economy.
 
So it’s not only false that today’s financialization performs any constructive social function. It’s false that finance in any form ever performed any necessary function. (Acting to maintain and manage an unnecessary structure is obviously not to do anything necessary.) It’s never been anything but the tool of empire, the better to subjugate its own populace and force these to serve as the fuel of empire.
 
Anthropologist David Graeber has researched this and recently compiled his findings in his book Debt: the First 5000 Years. He featured his basic idea in this post at Naked Capitalism.
 
It goes: First, and for the vast majority of humanity’s natural history, organic communities based themselves upon close social networks, moral relations, and the sense of community obligation, including in transactions among individual community members.
 
Then, nascent elites, previously basing their power on direct violence and plunder, saw how they could accelerate class stratification and magnify their power by sublimating this violence by formalizing exchange and debt. To do this, they came up with money, and began measuring transactions and recording debts based upon it.
 

How did this happen? Well, remember I said that the big question in the origins of money is how a sense of obligation – an ‘I owe you one’ – turns into something that can be precisely quantified? Well, the answer seems to be: when there is a potential for violence. If you give someone a pig and they give you a few chickens back you might think they’re a cheapskate, and mock them, but you’re unlikely to come up with a mathematical formula for exactly how cheap you think they are. If someone pokes out your eye in a fight, or kills your brother, that’s when you start saying, “traditional compensation is exactly twenty-seven heifers of the finest quality and if they’re not of the finest quality, this means war!”

Money, in the sense of exact equivalents, seems to emerge from situations like that, but also, war and plunder, the disposal of loot, slavery. In early Medieval Ireland, for example, slave-girls were the highest denomination of currency. And you could specify the exact value of everything in a typical house even though very few of those items were available for sale anywhere because they were used to pay fines or damages if someone broke them.

But once you understand that taxes and money largely begin with war it becomes easier to see what really happened. After all, every Mafiosi understands this. If you want to take a relation of violent extortion, sheer power, and turn it into something moral, and most of all, make it seem like the victims are to blame, you turn it into a relation of debt. “You owe me, but I’ll cut you a break for now…” Most human beings in history have probably been told this by their creditors. And the crucial thing is: what possible reply can you make but, “wait a minute, who owes what to who here?” And of course for thousands of years, that’s what the victims have said, but the moment you do, you are using the rulers’ language, you’re admitting that debt and morality really are the same thing. That’s the situation the religious thinkers were stuck with, so they started with the language of debt, and then they tried to turn it around and make it into something else.

 
Thus we have top-down formal money, formal credit, formal debt, as opposed to the bottom-up vernacular manifestations of these, as the organized crime outgrowth of much less organized direct violence. This command economy is embodied violence.
 
Then, at the opposite end, where this system starts to break down, we start to find the popular conception of “barter” – the direct exchange of goods on a mercenary basis. But this is just the aftertaste of the money-driven market, not a primal inefficiency that money once improved upon way back when. That popular conception is simply a lie told by today’s economic elites.
 

So really, rather than the standard story – first there’s barter, then money, then finally credit comes out of that – if anything its precisely the other way around. Credit and debt comes first, then coinage emerges thousands of years later and then, when you do find “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow” type of barter systems, it’s usually when there used to be cash markets, but for some reason – as in Russia, for example, in 1998 – the currency collapses or disappears.

 
(This also refutes the scam of plunking the idea of barter into the middle of an otherwise globalized, “capitalist” environment, and then triumphantly declaring it unworkable. Well yes, but that’s because barter is the attempted continuation of that same framework, not because that framework works.)
 
In the same way that Somalia is not “anarchy”, but the result of the collapse of capitalism, so the inefficiencies of barter as we know it are just the inefficiencies of the market and its mores, carried over to a post-money environment. The true primeval exchange was enfolded within ongoing community relations, and could function perfectly well under community debt auspices. Today co-production and time banking constitute an attempt to develop a new version of that ancient socioeconomic network.
 
We have a vicious circle of money/debt backed by violence. This dominates all human relations and disintegrates community, civil society, and democracy. The liquidation of these in turn tends to generate ever more mercenary and nihilistic attitudes which then intensify the horrors of money/debt servitude and accelerate money’s assault on all human relations. This is the circle.
 
(We see how debt inevitably compounds to the point that it destroys civilization. At this point jubilee, one way or another, is the only possible outcome. It’s similar to how capitalism naturally stagnates and must repeat the primitive accumulation, i.e. the massive plunder grab to provide the seed capital, or else break down completely.
 
We also see how taxes serve no economic purpose but are only weapons to enforce this command economy of money and debt. The MMTers, who wish to continue with all this but in a “reformed” version, are at least honest about using taxation as a mode of social control.)
 
One possible way to break free of the whole viciousness is by renouncing money and monetary debt (which ought to be common sense, as the amount and preponderance of money we have available plummets ever more steeply). One alternative is time dollars and time banking.
 
Time banking is a formal framework for organizing the true economy (everything devalued by the money/debt system, including what’s written off as the “informal economy”) along the lines of reciprocal gifting of work. It’s especially versatile for the exchange of services, but can be used for goods as well with a version of the labor measure of value. Goods can be valued according to the time that goes into manufacturing them.
 
This framework is enfolded within the concept of co-production, which is a transitional concept between capitalism and full economic democracy. Time banking as a framework and time dollars as a measure are part of this transition to such consciousness of economic community and freedom that we can dispense with formal measurement completely and restore the wholesome primal system of social credit which originally preceded money for tens of thousands of years.
 
As Graeber describes:
 

Anyway it only makes sense if you assume those premises; that all human interaction is exchange, and therefore, all ongoing relations are debts. This flies in the face of everything we actually know or experience of human life. But once you start thinking that the market is the model for all human behavior, that’s where you end up with.

If however you ditch the whole myth of barter, and start with a community where people do have prior moral relations, and then ask, how do those moral relations come to be framed as ‘debts’ – that is, as something precisely quantified, impersonal, and therefore, transferrable – well, that’s an entirely different question. In that case, yes, you do have to start with the role of violence.

…in my own way I think of myself as working very much in the Maussian tradition. Mauss was one of the first anthropologists to ask: well, all right, if not barter, then what? What do people who don’t use money actually do when things change hands? Anthropologists had documented an endless variety of such economic systems, but hadn’t really worked out common principles. What Mauss noticed was that in almost all of them, everyone pretended as if they were just giving one another gifts and then they fervently denied they expected anything back. But in actual fact everyone understood there were implicit rules and recipients would feel compelled to make some sort of return.

 
So the natural history of debt, as documented by the evidence, is that exchange was naturally enfolded within networks of social bonding and mutual obligation. State money and the formalization of debt only arose later as instruments of domination.
 
Since time banking and co-production seek to create new networks of such bonding and obligation, they’re basically an attempt to reconstitute primal modes of reciprocal community exchange. Time banking is a transitional framework between formally quantified mercenary exchange and this primal quasi-reciprocity. So there’s the context of time banking within the natural history of humanity.