In the movie Star Trek: First Contact, a woman in the 21st century, Lily, asks Captain Picard, who normally lives in the 24th century, how much the U.S.S. Enterprise cost to build. Picard tells her that in the future the acquisition of wealth is no longer of concern and people work toward the betterment of humans and civilization. The first time I saw this scene and heard their exchange, I wondered just how that happened. How did humans manage to make such a radical shift in thinking and behavior? And in only three hundred years. What was the incentive? (Of course, Picard neglected to mention the Ferengi to Lily.)
Imagine being able to go to a doctor and not having to pay. The doctor would not need for you to pay, either, because he/she would have no costs or expenses. Medical insurance would no longer exist. The focus would be on treatment and healing, or wellness, without time or economic constraints. And for anyone. Treatments would not be denied. People could have the treatments and medicines they needed.
Imagine creating a product not to sell for money and profit but because people needed it and it would be available to everyone. The challenge for people would be a creative one, to create something that would benefit them as well as everyone else. And to produce something for free because it was available for free.
Imagine never to need to shop in a store for anything. People could simply order what they needed online or through a technology invented for this purpose. I think it’d be cool to have replicators, like in the “Star Trek” universe.
I know that I’m beginning to sound a bit utopian, and I’m not thinking at all of a utopia. But I also know that the world I imagine without money would require a giant leap in the development of humankind, a fundamental shift in beliefs, attitudes and thinking. This cannot happen in three hundred years. It has taken millenia for money to become entangled and intertwined in every aspect of human life, and it would take at least a millenium to extricate it, if not longer.
Perhaps one of the first changes might need to involve the “individual or community” idea, i.e. to no longer approach it as two aspects of life that need balancing, but as “individual and community.” Perhaps it is not an either-or concept at all. Ah, but then I think of human nature and biology, and how self-interest is a primary motivating factor in life. Wouldn’t there always be people who cared only about themselves anyway? Those people tend to prefer to undermine community, not empower it, and the community then needs to restrain them.
In the near future world of the Perceval novels, people have taken the first baby steps toward a world without money. They are trying to determine what needs to be done and how to do it. Evan likes the idea but tends to be a pessimist about it. He’s an American who’s been brought up to believe completely in capitalism and money, despite the resentment he harbors toward both. His family was poor. He was poor in America and that colors his perceptions. He believes that money is power even though he disagrees with that belief deep inside.
The idea of a world without money has captured my imagination, and I will continue to ponder it, perhaps occasionally writing my ideas into Evan’s world to see how they fit….