Many people quarreled about that. Here is my contribution: money is a right, or better, a system of rights. As with all rights, tolerated abuse of rights endangers the system: money for example stops to work where a state prints money in large amounts to pay for state expenses. The special thing about “money right” is that this right can be aggregated. Money is no universal right: there are multiple currencies (but “conversion of rights” is possible here) and there are things that you cannot get though you have “money right”. But money is quite universal and therefore quite useful. As with every system of rights, it only works when people trust it. Because the right to something is not the actual thing, so you need to trust that you can get the thing (things to buy, here) later if you accept just the right now.

So here is the reason why people want to be rich: being rich means to have “many rights”, that is, to be mighty (influential, important, …). The quest for money and for might are essentially the same.

And here is the definition of corruption: if somebody allows to convert “money right” into a right that ought not be convertible to money, this is called corruption. There are multiple right systems, and they must be kept strictly separated for a society to work. Because, parallel right systems make it possible that the concentration of aggregable “money right” does not mean to gain “absolute rights” over other people. In parallel rights systems it is possible for poor people to “get their right” in court (but corruption endangers this). And, in parallel rights systems it is possible for poor and criminal people still to have their basic “human rights”.

By the way, lobbyism has the same dangers as corruption for a society.

Money as a rights system is a self-defined, artificial “universal interface” between people.

To extend the above idea of “multiple rights systems”: why not introduce different kinds of non-interchangeable money? One for basic goods like food and clothing and shelter, one for luxury items and for “investment games”. This should make it possible to guarantee the basic supply of a society even in the harshest economic crisis. It would demand from everybody (or better: from every micro-society like a family) to invest a part of the time for working in the area of basic supply, to get “basic supply money”. Thus it ensures the economic health of a society, because it will always include a strong sector that deals with the basic supply for life.

This is my view on being a social being: I am citizen of the worldwide informal society, a cosmopolitan. That is I will try to minimize obligations due to being part of any formal society or (like the German state, the European Union, any church that requires membership, anything that requires formal membership). And to participate in the informal world society (the “society of the people” … the redundance is an irony against formal societies that are not for the people). Which means of course, to participate in a way that allows the world society to be functional if my behavior would be that of all its members.

Practical living in the informal world society: instead of a formal pension insurance, working for some time in an institution for old people (or a clinic) until they allow me to join when necessary.

To identify oneself mostly as “member of the informal world society” means one does not feel as (and does not want to be) a member of any formal society, that is, a society under a sovereign who rules by formal means. God, for example, does not rule by formal means, but by education (called “sanctification”).

A more rational approach to choosing my desired lifestyle would not hurt. So, what are the pros and cons of living inside the social system of this society, versus escaping it in my style by living and traveling in an expedition vehicle, working from on the road with an Internet-connected computer?

I need to think more ’bout this, but here’s my first impression. Outside “the normal way”, you lose a good deal of social reputation, and a good amount of money. I would never be really “well-off” in this world, financially. However, I also would not need that additional money, as I have a lifestyle that does not consume that much of money. And I also would not need that social reputation, as I would have a worldwide network of cool people and friends to travel to.

“I do not need social reputation”: this is a strange view, but grants a lot of freedom. Normally one accepts that social reputation in ones society is something like a basic need, and strives to meet this as an “external demand”, like obeying a command. However, looking at this from a utilitarian perspective: what does it hurt to not have it, if you have good friends? Nothing.

That said, the pros seem to outweigh the cons: a more flexible, mobile lifestyle. Which is also able to cope with harsh conditions, and to react quickly to local crisis situations by moving places. And which is more free, in the sense of independence: it has low consume and therefore also low demand of monetary income originating from other people.

One caveat, though. If I choose this off-center lifestyle, I need to take some care to be still “socially compatible” with normal people: I need to create a “neat and tidy” environment in the truck so that I can invite the normal people.

I’ve heard somebody say about Marburg, Germany: Such a beautiful city, but so many ugly people. Relating to the left-wing people there.

While I think, to the contrary, that many left-wing people look stylish and individualistic, the quote is interesting because it compares the beauty of cultural objects and human beauty in one sentence. I would like to do something similar:

Visit any average German city and walk through its streets. You will find that most faces look wrecked. Exhausted. Stressed. Strained. This includes people in fashion clothes, suites and sexy clothes. This includes street persons and the high society. And me. They all miss the beauty of the human race.

In addition, this also relates to people’s outfit. Nearly all people in highly civilized societies are either too busy with maintaining their stressy consumerist lifestyle, or too depressed to take part. In both cases, they lack resources for giving themselves an intentional, individualistic (!), stylish outfit – this is of course luxury, a part of self-actualization, but surely one that is granted by nature to everybody. As it needs only time and creativity, not much money or other resources.

To sum up, people look captive and stressed because they are captive and stressed, lacking time for living their life. Brave new world!

There is a disagreement in Christianity if the world can be helped at system level, and if yes, if a Christian is allowed to do so.

First position: it’s forbidden

Some people hold the opinion that the world cannot be really helped at the system level. Because man is, in essence, really bad. And even if it would be possible to implement a just social system that stays stable in spite of man’s sin nature, this would just confirm mankind to live out this nature, that is, drive him more away from God.

Helping, in this view, is nothing more than acting out of love and compassion towards individual people. Without the motivation (or allowance) to see the causes of the problem at the system level and to help there. Because helping the individual that was wrecked by the system offers the possibility to explain the Gospel as ones motivation to an attentive individual. Whereas this is not possible when helping at system level, and if succeeding there, the system would not even create attentive individuals by wrecking them.

People with this view offer the Gospel as the solution to the sad state of the world, and understand it to be this message: man is totally depraved, but God is prepared to forgive anybody who seeks forgiveness in Christ Jesus. This message offers no hope of improvement at system level for the remaining time on earth (there will never be so much Christians that they influence the system). This message also offers no hope of improvement by immediate, miraculous help by God (this might happen, but is an exception meant to show God’s presence). This message offers hope of improvement for the time after death.

Second position: it’s demanded

Other Christians are motivated by Christian compassion and benevolence to help people in misery. Then they think about how to help best with the few resources they have, and they see some kind of help at the system as the best solution for this. Because, it might be so much more effective to prevent calamities (like AIDS infections) than to cure them. These Christians see their service at system level as a part of their service for God, and as an adequate expression of being “light of the world”, and even as a way to make people think about God and the Gospel.

Third position: help by bottom-up replacement

The above two positions are, in my current view, expressions of different concepts of God. In the first position, God’s love is no real, benevolent love, but a hard, uncompassionate attitude that just wants people to “get saved” (though pure theory until heaven) and is not interested in their suffering from unnecessary calamities. The conception of God in the second position is close to mine, but I must admit that some logic on how to help the world is better in the first position.

Because, this is true through history: any system-level help for the world has been prone to decay and won’t help in the long term. From the Christian perspective, this is because it deals with symptoms but does not change persons. The only way to change persons would be if these persons start to believe; so the only system-level help is transforming the world into a church of believers. According to Jesus’ last words on earth. We will probably not succeed fully, but partially.

So, here is my attempt of a third position:

I think that the church is the help at system level, by being the new system to replace the old. It is intended to implement God’s idea of living, which is true help on system level. People can profit from the new system by being in its proximity, but to really get helped, they need to take part by believing in Christ. The church is the visible part of God’s kingdom, the area where government has to be done in reversed pyramid scheme, the area where changing people meet and which therefore enables a social system that would not work with still “totally depraved” people.

So if you want to contribute at system level: build God’s kingdom, in all areas of life. The essential part is no never conceal the necessity to change in heart – else the new system will fail in eternity, but also in this world, as it currently does in Western societies based on Christian values but lacking Christians. To let church properly take its role as “the new social system”, church would include more of its members’ lifes than is current practice in highly civilized societies: living together, helping each other, working together, even being an autarchic cell.

The interesting, and non-convential thing about church is: it is a bottom-up change, a grassroots movement. While all other help on system level wants to achieve that through a top-down change, controlled by a central instance, but forced upon unchanged and rejective people. (So, never try to make church a centrally organized system. Church is a local and autonomous group, joined by faith to other groups in the worldwide church, not by organizational links.)

It is hard to see why people always think that the help at system level has to be to down, and by force. The effects are not only short-lived (as can be seen in history), it is also very hard to invent a working top-down system, and to manage it. I lately read an highly interesting discussion about economic systems (“Utopien des Weltinnenraums und seiner Umwelt“; German). If you read it, read also through all the comments. Though cool to read, the discussion also shows that there is a great cluelessness about how to create a just and stable economic system in a top-down approach. Compared to top-down methodology, large systems in nature use a “complex system approach”: entities only interact with their local environment in a meaningful way, and globally meaningful behavior emerges from that. The human body, for example, seems to work in many aspects that way, including the brain. That’s far different from a top-down strictly hierarchical design like a computer or an army.

Another reason for the bottom-up approach is: even if anybody had any idea how to help top-down, it could not be implemented, as there would be mighty people opposed to it. So the only way is to start at the local level. And the only help possible there is a community of changed people, as autarchic as possible to be isolated from the surrounding system’s deterioration.

In the Christian view, a community of changed people is a church of people who accepted the Gospel. With un-changed people, these communities would quickly deteriorate into authoritarian structure that grow like cancer and if successful, replace the current system with another instance of the same, authoritarian system. Now the church will never include more than just a few percent of humankind, but the good news is that, as a local system, people in church are better off even if there’s only one local church in the world. This system does not need global scale to help; it scales from 2 persons to infinity.

Some ideas how to make one local church to the local system which provides help to the world at system level, and thus helps people before their earthly death:

  • The central idea is to use possessions (in the sense of resources one has but does not need for oneself) for the good of all. This is enacted by education in changed people. But it cannot be enacted in unchanged people, so that it results there in all the problems that the misuse of possession brings: being able to exploit others, being able to aggregate even more possessions to even better exploit others. Now in the sense of the idea presented here, richness would still be allowed, as it’s unjust to level out all differences that resul
    t from different productivity of persons, but effective education would guarantee voluntary levelling out. This value is even part of the German constitution: “Property is an obligation. Its use shall at the same time serve the benefit of all.” (GermanGrundgesetz art. 14 section 2; original in German).
  • Have a system based on voluntary action, and education of all members towards that, rather than any formal system of wealth distribution.
  • Have a system of giving and generosity rather than a system of taking and getting ones legal right. This is after the example of the donations to the first church in Jerusalem, which we can read about in Acts.
  • As long as people work in their jobs (the church being no economically autarchic unit, and there is no strict need for it to be this): educate people to understand that money is a means to help others, not primarily meant for private luxury.
  • Create voluntary “pools” of money to distribute to members (and others) in need, by the example found in early Acts. To prevent lazyness, this must be combined with the permanent education of people that they must work for their own needs as good as possible. The secret of this system is that this education will work because people basically accepted the authority of God, whereas it does not work outside church for lazy people, and therefore dooms liberalism.
  • Spend really much time together, also working together etc.. Employ modern IT to coordinate, if necessary.
  • Have food autarchy (in cities, by guerilla gardening).
  • Have simple medical help within church, like physiotherapy.
  • Only if organizationally necessary, have a clear understanding who is inside the church (within the autarchic solidarity group) and who is without (receiving voluntary donations and benefits, but only if left over after distribution in church is done).
  • Prepare being mobile, i.e. for quickly leaving the current country to live in another, also in autarchy right from the start. This might be necessary if the surrounding system gets really bad (civil war, immiserization etc.).
  • If possible (and not being an utopia), have a subgroup develop into a “power community”, which will be the “special forces” service unit that serves both the community and the surrounding society in special needs.

Just yesterday I found an interesting idea that could help to stabilize the ever self-destabilizing financial system, as is apparent in the current financial / economic crisis. The concept is called “Freiwirtschaft” (literally, “free economy”):

Now I’m not a liberalist (any more): people cannot deal with too much freedom as long as they are not responsible enough (“good enough”) to do so. Therefore I don’t propose to introduce Freiwirtschaft as it is, but to take the good ideas from it and combine it with others and have some limited experiments run with approx. 10,000 participants, before introducing it in a whole society. More concretely, I’d propose to combine Freigeld (“free money”) and Freihandel (“free trade”); but instead of “Freiland”, the society should be divided into autarchic communities that are owners of some land each and will provide food for themselves.

Which is of course an Utopia when it comes to introduce something like that in Western societies. It would mean a forceful change of culture, which is impossible to do. Most people in Western societies will never want to dedicate a part of their time to agriculture and other dirty work just to be “autarchic”. Not until they have to starve, but then it’s too late to implement that system …

I am on track of an interesting phenomenon that’s important when working self-employed: you have to protect yourself from economic self-exploitation.

When being employed at another company, you might see your job as slavery. The thing however is, it is highly probably that your boss has learned that he’s got to treat his workforce not too bad, or their productivity will suffer and they will eventually flee and get another boss. And if he did not yet learn that, there is the state that will ensure that your work conditions are not too bad.

If you start to work self-employed, however, you still gotta learn exactly that lesson. You will have times where you’re quite stressed, by project deadlines and financial constraints, and then you’re going to load yourself with ever higher workload just to get through. You will work Saturdays and Sundays also, in the evening and night, not meet friends, not take time for eating as you was used to, nor for buying food if you start to miss something. If you have an IT job, you might be 9-13 hours at the computer a day, and will probably not do sports to compensate this; and after some weeks doing so you will feel your body getting badly off. In the end, you’re through with your project and perceive that it was not at all worth that sort of stress.

That’s my experience currently, and I do not want to repeat. In the future, I’m gonna keep projects apart with a big gap in between, so they will never manage to overlap and create stress … and if they do, I know that I’m not going to do both. The same with project deadlines. Make sure what are the really hard deadlines before starting a project, and simply do not accept if they are too constrained … keep in mind that miscalculations of plus 150% are not unusual in IT projects.