1990s >> 1997 >> no-1116-august-1997

Book Review: The Money Barrier

The Universal Impediment. By “Chappie”, (Third Millennium Press, 51 Newton Rd, Bath BA2 1RW.)

The universal impediment is, of course, money. The author demolishes the arguments used by conventional economists to defend money, that it is a simple tool that facilitates in the most efficient way possible the production and exchange of goods and services.

Money is certainly better than barter, the author concedes, but goes on to point out that the money system requires a large and wasteful bureaucracy to control its operation, from those involved in the production and control of the currency through those concerned with tracking down and trying to suppress financial fraud (indeed, 90 percent of all crimes) to all those whose job it is to take in or pay out or count or stand guard over money. All this wastes resources and distorts production. “Money is not”, he concludes, “the catalyst essential to growth and progress or to the creation of wealth, it follows or impedes them. It is their wasteful and inefficient impediment”.

The author looks forward to the time when the money system will have disappeared: “With lack of funding impeding progress no longer, and the complexities of the money system replaced by the simple manipulation of quantities, of production and distribution tailored to environmental and human needs, and with information, undistorted by advertising, freely available, the possibilities would be limitless”.

The author doesn’t write as a Socialist. In fact he repudiates socialism which he sees as a project, not to abolish money, but to take money from the rich to give to the poor. To be honest, since most of those who have called (and call) themselves socialists have taken this position, it is an understandable enough mistake. It also needs to be underlined that the aim of Socialists is not to simply abolish money as such but to establish the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources, which will have as one of its consequences the disappearance of money.

The great weakness of this book is how the author sees a world moneyless society coming into being. He repudiates the class struggle and the winning of political power by a socialist party and instead envisages money gradually falling out of use following the establishment of a single world currency (which, somewhat strangely, he sees as a step on the road to the eventual disappearance of money).

This process is to be initiated by the UN and its agencies. No doubt when socialism is established such administrative structures will play a key role in balancing production and needs but the UN is made up of capitalist states. For it to change, political power in those states will have to pass out of the hands of their capitalist ruling class and into the hands of the working class—the vast majority of their populations constrained to work for a wage or salary.

So it comes back to the need for a consciously socialist majority to win control of political power after all. This is an essential precondition for the establishment of a world socialist society, the only basis on which Chappie’s vision of a world without money can come into being.

Adam Buick