If none of us ever purchased another new manufactured good from The Corporation, we would be just fine. Everything anyone needs has already been purchased--multiple times over. Our garages, attics, sheds and out-buildings are full. We are tripping over our own stuff. If we just stopped buying stuff and re-inhabited the thriftiness for which Vermonters are famous, we wouldn't go without a thing. We would lack nothing--because so much has been manufactured and sold to consumers in the past few decades, that it's all already out there somewhere.
We could trade and barter with each other. If I don't have what I need, it's probably in your garage. We could free-cycle. We could buy each other's used stuff with local currency--and we could, by doing so, lessen the noose of The Corporation around our necks. This, though, begins by changing our ideas--and our relationship--with money. Because it is our relationship with money that is eroding community. We have been so lured into the "convenience" of money that we've forgotten how to be neighbors. We've forgotten how to share, trade, barter and give to one another. In the Ascent of Humanity (Panenthea Press, 2007), Charles Eisenstein demonstrates that our money system has developed to such a point that people no longer feel a need for others. No relationship. No community. Just money--which is rapidly becoming devalued.
Anonymity and competition are intrinsic to money. The anonymity of money is a function of its abstraction. The history of money is the story of a gradual abstraction of value from physical objects. As society specialized and trade flourished, more abstract forms of money developed that had no dependence on inherent value, but merely on collective belief in that value. Money, thus, has reached a crisis point in which it is becoming nothing more than pieces of paper. And, at that, pieces of paper that cause immense amounts of stress and dysfunction for those who still believe (because if really is nothing more than a belief) in the importance of money.
Money is also abstract with regard to people. Anybody's money is the same. It is no accident that our monetized society is increasingly generic and anonymous. When we pay professionals to grow our food, make our clothes, build our homes, clean our houses, treat our illnesses and educate our children, what's left? What's left on which to build a community? Communities are inter-dependent.
Enter barter, trade, freecycling, and using local currencies to buy second-hand products. Suddenly, my "money" is potatoes, or maple syrup. It's firewood. It's child-care....and the list goes on. I am no longer anonymous nor generic. I have value and the fruits of my labor have value. Your "money" is wheat berries, pressing cider or cheese-making. It's herbal medicines. It's wild-crafted greens. You are no longer anonymous nor generic. You have value and the fruits of your labor have value. And, we begin to build community. We rekindle our need for each other. We re-value each other. And, we remember how much we enjoy interacting with one other!
And, as an important spin-off, The Corporation takes back seat. It's power is curbed. We, The People create sustainable, vibrant lives instead of being cogs in the ever-grinding cycle of industrialism. Freedom. Value. Meaning. A Good Life!