Living Without Money: How and Why
andy.paine77 (at) gmail. com
I got my copy at sticky for $1
A guide and rationale to living as disengtangled from capitalism as possible, being free and not needing to earn or spend money for materials and resources.
Living without Money: That’s impossible, right? (picks up zine from shelf). Is this going to be a Marxist Leninist tract about the evils of capitalism? Is it going to include tips about forraging dandelions for food? Or is it going to be a how-to-scam-shit-without-paying-for-stuff-ever-again (aka Abbie Hoffman) kinda zine?
That was unexpected: The zine begins quoting the bible. I kind of like the fact that the zinemaker must realise this is a highly unfashionable thing to do on page one and just ploughs on.
Luke 12: You know the part where Jesus talks about the ravens not needing to be clothed or fed, and how the wild flowers don’t labour or spin. (I do, I listened in school assembly). This is the starting point of this zine
It’s a basic message; material shit is ultimately ephemeral in the bigger picture of nature (and God’s kingdom). Yes, worrying about things beyond our control can be redundant. But. I think it does pay to worry about your life, what you will eat, about your body, and what you will wear. I do set my heart on what I will eat and drink and I’m not about to surrender my possessions anytime soon. Jesus’ argument, of course, was that the Kingdom of God would provide.
Can I just state the obvious here for a second. And I know I’m not supposed to, but… Wildflowers don’t have to spin or labour because they are fucking PLANTS. They are busting their guts photosynthesising and attracting pollinators. Ravens – (or birds as a rule, depending on which bible interpretation you’re going with)- don’t sow or reap but would probably be open to it if they could appreciate the long term benefits, could build a grain store and could operate miniature agricultural equipment with their beaks.
And let’s not forget God’s world of nature can be brutally opportunistic, territorial, and predatory. But, I digress.
Essentially this zine’s argument is that you can live off the waste of contemporary western society, cop the occasional fine it may attract, pool resources, chip in where you can, and your mates will provide the rest: “This zine for instance was made entirely on a friend’s computer” types the zinemaker. *I don’t doubt it*.
It’s Complicated: That’s the relationship between this zinemaker and commerce. He hasn’t managed to completely live without currency himself, but encourages everyone to seek out alternatives as much as possible. He’s less into bartering than sharing your resources and utilising neglected resources. (Unless it comes to squatting when he discusses getting your own locks and claiming ownership). And then, reading this zine, you just get lines like the following, “…sometimes strangers will even give you money without you having to do anything” Wait, what about the enslavement stuff?
Aesthetic: The zine is boring but legible, the usual desktop publishing trade-off. Everything has clear headings in times new roman bold, and the only images are insert photos, kind of like the zinemaker posing in action shots like it’s a lifestyle catalogue. Most of the pics are dark and blurry, …so maybe not so much like a lifestyle catalogue. There is a collage reproduced in here, but a mysterious one that has been clearly lifted from an Australian squatting zine from the 1980s. I can tell this because it includes the use of a two dollar note in the graphics. The two dollar note was phased out of circulation in 1988. But hey, I guess the ‘housing for all’ message is timeless.
Sell it to me: If you’re going to try and promote a radical lifestyle choice, you’ve really got to make it sound great. Exciting. Sexy. Risky, perhaps but ‘worth-every-second’ kind of thrilling. This is the zine’s greatest flaw. The ultimate miscalculation is to try to make out that living on the fringes of society is something everyone can do in their daily lives and that it’s no biggie.
Seriously? This lifestyle is exclusively for people who are young, physically strong and healthy, and not vulnerable: This is a lifestyle for risk takers with few possessions and needs or health complications who don’t care for long term planning.
The following quotes don’t quite cut it as conversion arguments:
On busking: “It gives other people a chance to be generous”
On dumpster diving: “I have been living almost entirely off dumpstered foods for nearly five years now and have never once got food poisoning…”
On plate scraping: “People will stare when you do this, it’s a good exercise in discovering how self concious we all are”
On sleeping rough: “Other than two months living at Occupy Brisbane…I don’t really recommend it”
On hitch-hiking: “I think it’s safer than many people assume.”
On walking: “It’s a bit slower” (I added this last line more for laughs if anything).
Amazing facts: You know when you’re reading a pamphlet about something and they include some amazing fact like how it would take 630 Olympic swimming pools to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to illustrate their point? Something visual to make you go “woah” and gain a new appreciation of…how big the MCG is. Well there’s only one factoid in the zine, and we’ll never know who crunched the numbers on the global textile industry, (read: the zinemaker) but for what it’s worth, enjoy:
“If the whole world stopped making clothes tomorrow, we would still have enough clothes on the planet to last all 7 billion of us at least a decade, probably much longer.”
Probably Much Longer. Bless. No statistic exists, but goddamnit, take a stab to illustrate your point. (Just for future reference, here’s some fascinating and legit research on the problem of excess manufacturing of clothing where the supply outstrips the demand).
Ideology vs Consistency:
There’s lots of ideas flying around in the zine – christian ones, environmental ones, anti-capitalism ones, but all are undermined in their own way. Ultimately I don’t really see how this zinemaker’s lifestyle relates to Jesus’ teaching; he claims one of the advantages to busking is that on Fri or Sat night, people’s generoisty is often “chemically enhanced”. There’s something a little too cynical about this throwaway comment of profiteering from drunk people that doesn’t seem to fit with Christian principles OR seem to demonstrate freedom of the ‘power dynamics of wealth’.
The other kink that struck me in the zine was how the zinemaker made sense of land ownership and private property. He despises theft but endorses occupation. It’s also the first time in the zine that personal safety is advocated over sharing a space you actively occupy (ethical dilemma?), and tips on ‘claiming ownership’ are provided, which is an interesting deviation from the strong emphasis of the need for universal sharing. Albeit, even with squatting and changing the locks, “It’s best not to get attached”.
I like the fact this zine exists because: Even though I find a lot of it objectionable and nieve, it does invite you to think about your relationship to money, your dependence on an income stream, where you fit on the socio-economic scale, if you could take on these suggestions in your life and how necessary it is to buy a new t-shirt. It makes you think about what freedoms you have and do not have in your own life, your own relationship to authority, and also? the dangers inherent in quoting from the bible.
The smartest line in this zine: “Real freedom comes from us working out for ourselves the best way to live”.