or how to build new economy, starting from reality.
People who created FairCoin and Fair Coop did a great job. There is a whole financial ecosystem, built around an innovative cryptocurrency. There is a growing entity, employing enthusiastic people, beavering away to build global cooperative, based on (somewhat eclectic, but overally good-natured) human values. There are online tools, assemblies, strategic plans and more. And, at least in theory, a lot of money.
Just add people
The whole idea of FC/FC combo is to create "circular" economy -- where FairCoin is used as main currency, in fair economic realtionships. And, as an aspiring global power, Fair Coop is not only intended for relatively rich firstworlders, determined to "make a difference" and feel better. FC is devised for the Global South. For the excluded and marginalised. For the exploited. And also for those, who are still doing rather well, but do want to inherit (and inhabit) better world outside capitalism.
The problem with people is that the less rich they are, the less inclined they are to spend their time, energy and money on something (in their opinion) impractical. So far, FC/FC was riding the crest of enthusiasm (significantly increased by airdrops and other handouts) and was fuelled by people who had disposable resources to buy FairCoin (thus injecting other currencies into the system). The second wave were people who decided to start accepting FairCoin in exchange of their work, services and products. They felt secure, as the "ecosystem" guaranteed the possibility to sell FC back and get Euros, USD or whatever capitalist currency one could need.
But that is a short time solution, NOT a creation of new economy. And if the main "product" offered by FC is Euro or BitCoin (as it happened to be), the whole brave new cooperative will inevitably become another point of sale for capitalism.
Latest war between FC ecosystem and cryptocoin market shows what can be a result.
Now, a big part of the FairCooper population is busy with one problem: what to spend FairCoins on, without converting it to capitalist money.
You can only drink so much Zapatista coffee, before a heart-stroke turns you into a martyr of fair economy.
So far the FairCoop strategy to increase the reach of FairCoin was simple: let's find someone who sells something (coffee?) and make them accept FairCoins. Make them register in FairMarket or UseFairCoin and we are happy. When they get some FairCoins, they may sell them back to us (and get Euro, minus exchange commission) or they may pay their workers with it -- and workers will manage somehow. Buy some coffee, for example.
So far then, most of new FC economy is focused on retail distribution and non-essential consumption. FairCoop entities (mostly local nodes) are working as PR teams and money exchange offices -- sometimes also as retail outlets.
The Morlock Solution
What builds real economy, are steady streams of money, being earned and spent (or saved) in balanced way. As long as there is no way to use FairCoin -- on whole community scale - to pay for essential goods and services, the new economy will never emerge. That means, instead of Euros, coffee, artisan honey and organic oil, FairCoop should focus on providing:
- Food, especially staple food, at affordable cost.
- Shelter and associated infrastructure.
- Electricity and other kinds of energy
- Water treatment and delivery
- Waste and sewage treatment
- Public transport
- Health services
- Toilet paper
- ...and whatever local community (outside of local FC node) may be ready to pay (in FairCoins) for.
This is called "utilities". This is called "infrastructure". And this is what people spend money for on a regular basis. Especially poor people, as the essentials tend to be majority of their monthly budgets). It can be delivered as a service or it can be delivered as a product (devices for people to install and use in their households), but it should be affordable all the same.
If people are offered those goods and services in exchange for FairCoins, they will be much more eager to earn FairCoins whatever way they can. Gradually, Faircoin will become their staple currency and they will be supporting it without any need for propaganda actions.
Local Node, you've got a job.
To adopt new strategy, local nodes need to start working as real-economy entities providing services and products to the public. Under legal umbrella of FreedomCoop or whatever works locally. In economic sense, they should be leading FairCoin-accepting entities in their area. By offering much needed products and services and accepting ONLY FairCoins, they will create strong and stable demand for FairCoin, among their customers. Of course, it may lead to a conflict of interest, if the node is also selling Euros. This aspect should be evaluated and decided as a political issue.
Local nodes should evolve from financial operations groups towards real economy entities, offering goods and services, not money.
What can be done?
Let's look at some possible examples of products and services, folowing this line of thought.
Food cooperatives, evolving towards community supported agriculture. Building daily working relationships along the food production and delivery chain. Food available for members in limited quantities for free. Over the limit and for non-members -- for FairCoins. This area is also a good opening to build support and component chains for farmers.
Housing cooperatives, providing affordable apartments for their members. Built by members themselves, using nature-friendly and work-intensive technologies, with minimal use of externally-hired specialists. Rent and other bills being paid prevalently in FairCoin (based on actual economic situation, the goal will be to have them paid 100% in FairCoins). Investment, in FairCoin and Euro, provided by the "ecosystem", perhaps in a form of loan. Financail engineering should aim on building long-term demand for FairCoin in local community and removing Euros from circulation.
Neighborhood-wide computer networks providing not only cheap access to internet, but also local services (fairphone?) and resources. With proper configuration, they can also provide additional services (emergency signalling, security monitoring) and become strong platform for FC propaganda.
Electricty microgrids. Local generation of electricity, expanded by intelligent distribution networks, can be the most game-changing part of this strategy. Supported by proper financial engineering (various models of funding, focused on long-term acceptance of FairCoin), they will be able to penetrate certain areas very quickly.
Public transport. When public transport services get privatised, many locations loose their bus or alike connections with bigger settlements. Community-operated electric vehicles, supported by locally generated electricity and charging stations, are simple answer to it. And it goes beyond passenger traffic, as there is a great opportunity to introduce logistic services to support local economy.
Above, I show only few examples of ventures, that can build real economy, using FairCoin as staple currency and and FairCoop as the entity leading this process. There are some general principles that should be applied, if we want this strategy to succeed.
Demand, stupid! FairCoop and all entities in the "ecosystem" should be focused on increasing long-term, stable demand for FairCoin among general population. There will be no "circular" economy, without FairCoin becoming core currency in people's household budgets.
Production before consumption. Increasing production to be sold for FairCoins should be the priority. Distribution and consumption will follow. With delisting FairCoin from Bittrex, (almost) the only way to get FairCoins needed for, say, a wind turbine, will be to contribute to FairCoin economy.
Financial engineering for sustainability. For FairCoin sustainablility we should be implementing all kinds of long-term funding plans. It is better to rent equipment to the user, or lease it, than to make them buy it once-off. The former will make them connected with the ecosystem and contribute to it. The latter will make them look for a way to cheat -- and this creates a toxic, capitalist-like, relationship.
Cannibalism is bad for you and for everyone else. Main goal of FairCoop should be in opening new areas for new economy rather than incorporating already existing initiatives into FC ecosystem.
Enter CNI Coop
We, at CNI Cooperative, are fully committed to new economy values: solidarity, cooperation, community- and human-centric priorities. We also elaborate and introduce technical solutions for small communities (computer networks, solar and wind energy and much more, increasing resources permitting). Soon we are about to announce a series of wind power related workshops across Europe, intended to push ahead the agenda of local manufacturing and local wind energy installations. And we gladly accept FairCoins.
So, I not only offer a theoretical draft strategy here. I can also, on behalf of CNI, offer services and products, expertise and vision, knowledge and commitment that can start the whole process in relatively quick way. We invite all interested parties to talk to us and to establish working relationship between FairCoop and CNI. It can only be for the best.
"Six ways to die" -- depicting basic human needs and the infrastructure that is needed to cover them. This is a good tool to find goods and services essential for individuals and communities.
Picture credit: Vinay Gupta
This text was originally published here. Check the link for updates.