The Reciprocity Hiding Behind the Illusion of Money

Money doesn’t exist.  It’s just an idea that we made up.  Little pieces of paper with ink on them are only just that.  Numbers inside of computers are even less.  The whole shebang is just one big illusion.

So if money isn’t actually being earned, stored, transferred, and spent, then what is actually happening?  The same thing that humans have always done.  We give things away in the trust that others will give to us in turn.

If you go to work for someone, they give you “pay”.  It might be pieces of paper, or just one slightly larger piece of paper, or a re-arrangement of magnetized particles in an electronic machine.  None of which means anything at all.  What has actually happened is you have simply done some work that benefited someone else.

You then take your “pay” and go to the grocery store, where you “give” some of it to different people for a loaf of bread.  Again, this involves the movement of paper or particles.  Which, again, means exactly nothing.  What has actually happened is you simply walked in, took a loaf of bread from some people, and then just walked out again.

No money was involved in any of this, because money doesn’t exist.  It was straight-up reciprocity.  You helped one member of your community, and a different member of your community helped you.  Not because it was earned or owed, but because everyone involved participates in the same community.  And that’s just the way community works.

Money is an attempt to quantify and symbolize value.  But here’s the trick: value cannot be quantified, nor can it be symbolized.  Value is experiential.  It is inextricably embedded within context.  It can’t be created, transferred, or destroyed.  And it most certainly can’t be counted.

We can believe in money and behave as if it is real all day long, but it amounts to nothing more than a hallucination.  The reason that so-called “economies” and “markets” never, ever work in the long run is exactly because it’s all smoke and mirrors.  The math can never add up when what you’re counting is fundamentally incorrect.  And no matter how hard we try, we never really quite trust it because at some level we know it’s just a shell game.

But the good news is we were never actually using money to begin with.  Where things are working, they work because people can trust their community.  Where things aren’t working, they aren’t working because people can’t trust their community.  It’s as simple as that.  It never had anything to do with money, because money never existed in the first place.  It was just trust and community all along.