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In Search of the Money Commons

Emergent currencies are practical tools that allow for the democratization of resources in times of crisis. A confederation of such local community currencies, alongside the parallel relocalization of economic relations could be called a Money Commons. A money commons is a counter-movement against financialization. It is an attempt at democratizing the institutions that underpin monetary creation today — central and private banks — and transform them anew, in order to democratise the economy itself. Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a civilizational paradigm shift. The transformation of money, its democratization into a people-powered-money commons issued by people as a universal and unconditional income, is part of the key that will unleash humanity’s peaceful cohabitation with other forms of life in a sustainable way, but only if done right.

The idea of UBI challenges us into rethinking how we value human output. Here we understand value not merely in an economistic sense of what people produce but more anthropologically as how people give meaning to their own actions. Humans spend only a very small portion of their time in producing anything, at least in the sense of bringing new things - clothes, hardware, buildings – into being. More time is spent in adjusting, cleaning, repairing, maintaining, rearranging or transporting things, without even taking into consideration the labor directed at caring or educating other people. Circles aims to visibilize and value these flows, which are today made invisible by capitalism’s private/public dichotomies. Circles was designed to be a different money, with different values. Hence, the value system reflects this in its design by allowing people to have the power to issue promises unconditionally, and decide in which sort of relationships they want to be involved in and how. In this sense, Circles is different from nation-state UBI proposals, where money would be given in national currency by the state. As people in your community embed their values in the system and start self-organizing the economy at local, regional and confederated levels, economic power will be contested locally, empowering people to decide what they want to value and how.

This handbook will show how UBI can be implemented from the bottom up in practical ways. The goal of Circles is to build the social and technical infrastructure for the distribution of value, where people decide what is important in life, giving people the unconditional power to issue promises with others around them. If you’re reading this, you are already taking part in this change.

The following is a user's manual which aims at explaining ‘how to organise your own local economy’ using a basic income currency, Circles UBI, as a means of changing humanity’s relationship with itself - our current economic paradigm - and build the basis for a society that is more caring about each of its members and other forms of life. The first part explains what Circles UBI is and the meaning of trust in the system. The second part goes into detail about how to organise your local economy using democratic assemblies as a form of governance, following the principles of localism, decentralization, self-sustainability and democratic confederation. The third part explains how to build an economic credit circle in your area with the local vendors, workers and communities at large. You can jump to the part that is most interesting to you by following the links in the table of contents.