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Is conventional money simply a discourse? Is it merely a socially constructed unit of exchange? If money is not an actual thing, are people then free to make collective agreements to use other forms of currency that might work more effectively for them? Proponents of “better money” argue that they have created currencies that value people more than profitability, ensuring that human needs are met with reasonable costs and decent wages—and supporting local economies that emphasize local sustainability. How did proponents develop these new economies? Are their claims valid?
Grappling with these questions and more, Money and Liberation examines the experiences of groups who have tried to build a more equitable world by inventing new forms of money. Presenting in-depth profiles of the trading networks that have been constructed both historically and more recently, including Local Exchange Trading Schemes (England), Green Dollars (New Zealand), Talente (Hungary), and the barter system in Argentina, Peter North shows how the use of currency has been redefined as part of political action, revealing surprising political ambiguity and a nuanced understanding of the potential and limits on alternative currencies as a resistance practice.
Peter North is lecturer in geography at the University of Liverpool.