R.K.: Okay, you talk about barter and capitalism and consumer goods and profit. Discuss that a bit?
K.F.: Okay. This idea of different levels of goodness within the way that you use goods, the way that you use services, capitalism, this trading of cash and surplus is at the far end, it's well away from goodness. Right at the beginning it's something called, well it's essentially just doing what's right. So if someone needs something you give it to them.
You don't even think whether you're going to get something back. And then you get this idea of the reciprocal economy whereby you do something for someone or you give something to someone and at some point in the future you'll get something back but there's no contract. Barter is a bit more formal, a bit more arranged. So for instance I will do something for someone and they'll do something back for me and we'll agree on that.
So you've got these different levels of goodness in the way goods and services are used and it, there's a continuum there but yeah, as soon as you get into the capital economy, as soon as you get into cash, money, then things have gone wrong. You have got distrust. People don't trust each other in the moment enough to barter, to be reciprocal, to just do things for each other.
R.K.: So in your future vision there is no money, there is no capitalism.
K.F.: There is definitely no money. Why would you need money if you trust people?
R.K.: Okay. And you talk about encouraging local stores to accept and publicize non-capitalist ways. What are you thinking there?
K.F.: Okay well this is an experiment really. I have had some success with, you'd never get a supermarket to do this, you'd never be able to walk into a shopping mall and say to your chain store, I want that particular item, I've got something in exchange for it or I can go and do something, I can fix something for you.
That's never going to work. But at a local level you start to know people, there starts to be an element of trust and also this idea of formal and informal economy, at a local level informality starts to happen. You might not be bothered about getting the exact right change, you might not be bothered about getting the exact right amount for your money and there is the opportunity to barter here and if you have got a local shop then don't say to them necessarily oh well I'll give you the money later because we've got the cash here, but if they've got a product and you want it, then you say well I've got something in return, would you like that? Or I can do something for you later, it's worth experimenting.
R.K.: I know locally we have some communities that have time banking where people offer services and Jared Diamond in his book, The World Until Yesterday, describes indigenous cultures and how different tribes on different islands for example will make different things and they'll know that they don't need to make one thing because they can trade for what they have to another tribe for something that the other tribe makes and it's not a perfect trade, they just remember and the next time they work it out in the next deal.
K.F.: Well I'd rather not be associated with Jared Diamond, Survival International has a lot of bad things to say about him and Survival International is an organization I have a lot of respect for, Jared Diamond has said for instance that all societies can benefit from being more civilized which is appalling. That the idea that you can have-
R.K.: It's not appalling, it may be wrong, but it's respectable.
K.F.: We'll have to agree to disagree but yeah, there are certain things that shouldn't be said and one of them is saying that an indigenous culture should be more civilized.
R.K.: I will agree with that entirely. It's not surprising that somebody would say it though.
K.F.: No, not surprising at all and I think there are a lot of things that Jared Diamond has said that have been worthwhile and worth listening to and yeah the idea that you have different things which you can trade, I think what it comes down to is things like skills. We have become a society of specialists.