“The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource…..”
An excerpt copied from the Venus Project site:
“A Resource-Based Economy is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of any system of debt or servitude like money, credits or barter. All resources become the common heritage of all people, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival. Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.”
What follows is a written summary of the principles and ideals of RBE. At the end is a video made by The Venus Project which does the same.
A Summary of Resource Based Economics (RBE)
“Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief.
Obeying from within.
Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community,
active in fulfilling some unfulfilled,
perhaps unrealized purpose.”
Our current economic model treats resources as things to be owned, extracted, refined and sold at a profit. RBE, conversely, treats them as Commons, the responsibility, management and stewardship of which is thus seen as a collective endeavour. These resources are finite and precious, as is the environment from which they come and should thus be treated with care and respect. In fact, the word economy itself originally meant exactly that:
Economy: careful management of available resources.eg. “fuel economy”
synonyms: thrift, providence, prudence, thriftiness, canniness, carefulness, care, good management, good husbandry, careful budgeting, economizing, saving, restraint, frugality, abstemiousness;
“From stone tools to fire to smelting metal to domestication of animals to agriculture to the steam engine to the computer, the unfolding of human history cannot be separated from the development of technology.”
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have used their ability to collaborate and communicate, along with their ingenuity and creativity, to create technologies which have elevated us to the dominant position we currently occupy. From stone tools to fire to smelting metal to domestication of animals to agriculture to the steam engine to the computer, the unfolding of human history cannot be separated from the development of technology. RBE embraces human ingenuity and the technology it produces to create a world where everyone experiences abundance.
“…in conditions of abundance, crime all but disappears, incentives dramatically change and behaviour transforms…”
It is our belief that in conditions of abundance, crime all but disappears, incentives dramatically change and behaviour transforms completely. If the main driving force among human beings were to become large numbers of people coming together to collaborate on projects that they agree benefit them all, rather than directives handed down by a tiny number of often corrupt and self-interested “leaders”, this would be an unprecedented transformation of society, a new Renaissance.
Some Core Principles of RBE
From our current perspective RBE can be an extremely difficult vision to grasp. We are so entrenched in our modes of thinking and our attitudes to money, politics, governance, etc. that to conceive of a world where these things are so different is not at all easy.
If you are new to these ideas, just read what follows with an open mind as best you can and try to envision the world that RBE seeks to manifest, starting with the basic principles which are the foundation of RBE. You will find more expansive and detailed articles on all of these ideas in the Further Information section of the website.
This is just a brief summary.
“Any socio-economic system that does not have sustainability at its core is obviously doomed to eventual failure.”
1- Sustainability: This is the overarching principle and in a way all the others are ways of enabling this. Any socio-economic system that does not have sustainability at its core is obviously doomed to eventual failure. Our current free-market, monetarist model of an economy is the exact opposite of sustainable. Resources are owned by individuals or corporations and are used first and foremost to generate profits for their owners. Where profit is the overriding concern, resources, people and the environment are all secondary concerns because their “best” use is clearly the one that generates the largest profit.
Durability, re-usability, efficiency and reliability are the foundational pillars on which long-term sustainability is built.
2- Access not ownership: if you take a little walk around your house and look in lofts, garages and storage cupboards, you will find a whole bunch of stuff that you hardly ever use. Carpet washers, chainsaws, golf clubs, compressors, steam cleaners, power tools, that guitar you never play, that bicycle you still haven’t got around to repairing and so on.
In the UK there are 32 million cars registered and at any given moment between 80-99% of them are simply parked, not being used, taking up space, causing congestion. Things like this represent a MASSIVE waste of resources.
“…far wider availability of useful and necessary items for all while at the same time using far fewer resources.”
Imagine instead that your house and driveway are free from all this clutter and that you had free, unfettered access to all of these things and more whenever you wanted them.
This concept of access, very much like lending libraries, would mean far wider availability of useful and necessary items for all while at the same time using far fewer resources. We could potentially lose at least 20 million cars from UK roads.
Can you imagine…..?
3- Open source everything: in today’s world, because the paradigm centres around competing with each other to make profits, new ideas and inventions are kept as closely guarded secrets and have patents or “Top Secret” labels placed on them so that only very few people get to work on them.
In addition, funding and resources are more often than not directed at projects that have military or political value rather than at those which might actually benefit society as a whole. This has an enormously stifling effect on the rate of technological progress.
“…new ideas were immediately circulated and made available so that anyone who was interested could study, refine, adapt…”
Suppose instead that new ideas were immediately circulated and made available so that anyone who was interested could study, refine, adapt them. With so many more willing and eager minds on a problem one can only imagine how quickly innovation would accelerate. What’s more, a spirit of friendly competition within a framework of broader collaboration is created, rather than the cut-throat, winner takes all, loser go suck it kind of competition that prevails today.
4- Localisation: Our current practices of production and distribution call for vast quantities of goods and raw materials to be transported about from place to place, incurring a huge cost in both resource waste and environmental damage. For example, as much as 40% of electrical energy is lost as heat as it is transported via cables from big, centralised power stations. RBE therefore seeks to reduce this type of waste by producing and recycling locally everything that can be – energy production, water treatment, waste management, food production, recycling, goods manufacture, gathering of raw materials etc. can all be localised to some degree.
“…the more these things can be done locally, the more resilient we can all become.”
The greater our reliance on giant central structures to do these things for us, the more fragile the society as a whole is to some kind of unforeseen catastrophe, whereas the more these things can be done locally, the more resilient we can all become. Clearly this will be an ongoing process, but fortunately there are all sorts of technologies available in these areas which have yet to be exploited to anywhere near their full potential because under the current system there is no profit in them.
But they are there, waiting….
5- Use Science, not ideology: RBE is a bottom-up, systems based approach to creating an infrastructure that can sustainably and comfortably support human society while at the same time recognising that human society does not exist in isolation from its environment. At the moment we essentially have a small group of people deciding what society “should” have and be like, based on political, religious, moral and above all economic codes.
“…is inflexible, stagnant, highly susceptible to corruption and serves very few…”
This is a top-down approach, almost always guided by some kind of ideology or agenda. It is inflexible, stagnant, highly susceptible to corruption and serves very few of us.
RBE starts from a position of how to provide for all of the complex needs of the whole society, sustainably, within the constraints of the resources available to us. To solve that problem, we need to employ the most effective tools we have at our disposal – science, data, good faith discussion and argumentation.
Not hopes, dreams and opinions, but the facts as best we know them.
Of course our knowledge will forever be expanding and so ideas, systems and structures need to be fluid, flexible and thus capable of evolving.
“…the most effective tools we have at our disposal – science, data, good faith discussion and argumentation.”
Letting go of the need for the static institutions that characterise our existing system and the limited, blinkered thinking they engender, means that anything which does not serve the common good can simply be let go – jettisoned as they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer relevant.
6- Voluntary labour: In a monetarist economy, automation of a job is good for companies because it increases profits by allowing the company to employ fewer people to do the same work. But it is bad for people as they are laid off, no longer receive wages and are no longer able to buy the necessities of living. Their quality of life has been severely reduced.
“…at least 80%, probably over 90% of the jobs currently done by people would either be quickly automated or would become entirely unnecessary…”
In RBE, the drive towards automation is something to be celebrated and accelerated because it frees people from boring, repetitive or dangerous labour and reduces the overall burden of labour in the society as a whole. Under RBE, at least 80%, probably over 90% of the jobs currently done by people would either be quickly automated or would become entirely unnecessary and redundant. Indeed let’s face it – many of them already are.
So, while there will certainly still be some tasks that need to be performed by people, they will become fewer over time as technology and systems improve. And remember that everyone is far less worried about having their needs met and has lots of time on their hands, so there would likely be little difficulty finding volunteers to do those few remaining things. What would you do with all that extra leisure time? Travel? Write? Sing? Compose? Sculpt? Study a language? Learn the piano? The world would become your sanctuary, your playground, your university.
7- All the world’s a school: If you are highly proficient at something, expert even, then you will know that one of the greatest joys you can experience is passing your knowledge, expertise and above all passion on to others. RBE is about effectively sharing resources for the benefit of all and the greatest resource of them all is the human being.
“…one of the greatest joys you can experience is passing your knowledge, expertise and above all passion on…”
Want to improve your chess? An expert player nearby will be happy to teach you. Are you an excellent guitarist? There are kids nearby who would love you to show them how to get better. Of course there is nothing stopping people doing this kind of thing now and many do, but the need to earn money to pay bills means that so many don’t have the time or the energy. And people who are good at stuff are mostly trying to make money from it, not pass it on for the good of all.
8- No more money: In world where material needs are taken care of with little or no human labour required, where goods and services are no longer traded but accessed as Commons, where rivalrous competition has been replaced with open and transparent collaboration, so that every single person on this Earth can, for the short time they inhabit it, live the life they choose…
“This is the grand vision of RBE.”
In such a world, what do we need money for? It becomes, like so many things that we take for granted as essential components of our society, outdated, outmoded and irrelevant.
This is the grand vision of RBE.
Imagine it. No money means no more banks, stockbrokers or accountants. No estate agents. No credit cards. No payday lenders.
And that’s just the beginning.
In fact it is hard to see any of the traditional “office” jobs remaining necessary. Rapid automation of sectors such as transportation, construction, manufacturing, farming and the like would account for many, many more “job losses”. But remember loss of job no longer means loss of income and loss of ability to feed and support one’s family.
Under RBE it means one less person having to do something that could be more efficiently done by a machine while at the same time freeing up one more person to contribute to the world in a more meaningful and dignified way.
Lastly, with the people of the world no longer fighting over resources, there would be no more need for soldiers, far fewer if any weapons being manufactured. No more creepy, shadowy intelligence services.
With everyone having unfettered access to everything they need, the incentives for crimes of acquisition (theft, fraud, burglary, muggings etc.) disappear and if drug addiction is treated as an illness rather than a crime (which it is) and personal, recreational use as nobody’s business (which it isn’t) then we can all but dispense with prisons, police, lawyers and lawmakers too.
A return to the primacy of Common Law over legislation, with the emphasis shifting away from the notion of crimes and punishments and towards one of conflicts and their effective resolution.