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The Culture of Abundance

Jeff Hooks

Do you have everything you need? Probably not. You probably believe that's because there's not enough to go around. But what if that were not the case? What if there is more than enough, but we have been misinformed? What if we live in a world of abundance, and the economic system creates an illusion of scarcity to protect itself?

If there is a scarcity of goods then one must economize; otherwise, one will run out of materials before one's needs are met. Of course, another solution is for one to rip someone off. Then one will have enough, but the other guy loses. These two tactics have generally been the norms of behavior because human beings have believed that they live in a world of scarcity, a world which plays a zero-sum game. This is a game in which there must be losers if there are to be winners.

Think about the earliest humans who constructed strategies to deal with an obvious scarcity of goods - early humans had only what they could find. They could try to do the best with what they found through careful usage and storage, or they could seek alternatives through exploration and invention.

Invention became technology, the construction of more and more efficient tools. Often these tools were weapons because the result of exploration was the discovery of other people who had stuff one didn't have. The solution was to go to war and steal the goods others had found.

Careful usage and storage of goods developed into economic systems, systems that regulate the exchange and distribution of goods. These systems either favored the ruling classes or were terribly wasteful. Either one small group got a big piece of the pie and everyone else was left with crumbs, or the system itself - and those who were part of it - ate up the goodies.

Strong-arm theft, although the pervasive technique of nation-states through war and colonialism, has become universally condemned.

So too has exploitation of the masses for the comfort of the few become universally condemned.

We are beginning to see the wastefulness of economic systems as well, but feel they are a necessary evil.

It's nonsensical even to consider a world without money, right?. The idea of symbolic exchange is so deeply ingrained that we forget that money is valuable only as a representation of valuable goods or services. How could we determine who gets what without the instrument of economic exchange, money?

But what if scarcity is illusory? What if the game is a non-zero-sum game? What if everyone can win? What if there really is an abundance of goods and there is no reason to either economize or exploit others. What if all we need is an efficient means to find and obtain what we need.

That efficient means is here. As soon as everyone gets on the Internet - and that's going to be sooner than you might think - we can dispense with economic systems and test whether or not there is a scarcity of goods. I suspect we live in a world of abundance.

The key is communication. Economic systems are crude, easily corrupted, communication technologies. Since communication technology has advanced so overwhelmingly in the past decade, money has become obsolete. Why allow credit bureaus and banks to determine the value of an individual or object when we can fully disclose to the world what goods and/or services we have to offer? The rub is that one must have something to offer. If one is not producing anything of value or if one is not producing a service of value ( by value I mean simply something another person wants), then one cannot participate.

Of course this is the greatest hurdle. So many people are living well and collecting money for producing nothing of real value, nothing that anyone really wants. These folks are riding on the corrupt system that enables them to profit from the economic system without producing goods or services that are needed. Of course, these individuals are powerful and want to protect themselves.

However, there need be no confrontation, no violence, no active disruption of the economy. All people need to do is participate in the alternative, and efficiency will take care of the rest. All we need to do is get connected and communicate. Publish everything we know that is useful to others and test whether we live in a world of abundance.

Let's see how everyone can join in on the test right now. If everyone would proceed with four tasks we'd be ready to see if there really were more than enough to share: 1) Get a connection to the Internet. 2) Stop keeping secrets about where the good stuff is. 3) Use Encryption to insure your privacy. 4) Give away what you don't need or want.