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On Moneylessness

πŸ“‘Table of Contents
✿ Note from the Editor This essay was written in December 2021. Click here to see it as a post.

The Vekllei Person #

What good is more writing about theories and the methodology of country-constructs? More importantly β€” how is it authentically convincing to the person who has lived their entire lives immersed in their own ways of living? Vekllei does not use money β€” the purpose of these notes are to demonstrate how such a thing works, immersing Vekllei’s participatory economy in a human lens, and articulate the motivations, biases and assumptions of the average working Vekllei person. This is what a Vekllei working life looks like from the ground up.

It is important to recognise Vekllei people do not think like you.1 They are not particularly more altruistic, hard-working, or kind to each other. They are, however, affected by their environment, which has introduced foundational shifts in their basic assumptions about the world. These differences can be illustrated in three features of life, which illustrate the worldview of the typical Vekllei person.2

Metaphysical assumptions #

  • The Vekllei person understands that there is an afterlife, and that spirits, demons, and a collection of mythological creatures play a part in human life. She does not hold contemporary conceptualisations of landscape – she does not think of nature except in abstract, transcendental ways. She fears and respects nature, which is afforded sovereignty by Crown Lands under the Landscape Sovereign. She does not believe humans are caretakers of nature. She does not believe in a god, but if she does it created and maintains both the human and natural worlds. She believes the purpose of people is the comfort of people and the good stewardship of human lands.

Existential assumptions #

  • The Vekllei person is prepped from a young age to explore their adult personhood. Schooling fosters his interests and technical skills, and prepares him for the casual pace of Vekllei working life. He is motivated to accomplish a social or professional legacy before he dies. He is not particularly anxious about his future. He considers the quality of life in Vekllei to be the best in the world, without having lived anywhere else.

Material assumptions #

  • The Vekllei person understands objects in physical and social dimensions of utility. Life is full of small art and beauty for her, accessed frequently and easily through cafes, cinemas, picnics, galleries and travel. The spatiality and physicality of her surrounds are of keen interest to her and open interest in the mechanisms of society. She is comfortable and skeptical about new things.

Despite the introduction of robotics into Vekllei’s industrial and civilian infrastructure, about 90% of people are employed in some capacity. With an illustration of the average Vekllei person fresh in our minds, let us explore why people continue to work in an age without money.

Why do Vekllei people work? #

Because they have to, and because there is only so much else to do. In a broad sense, activity is a feature of all people, and work in Vekllei fulfils the desire for activity because it is easy where wanted and rewarding where needed. If work is not easy or rewarding it is mostly dispensed with; Vekllei people are not particularly self-sacrificing.

When work is conceived of in a wage, time and effort are calculated against each other, and removing the wage collapses most reasons for working. In Vekllei no such arrangement exists – wage labour has not really existed in postwar occupation and free society. We are several generations removed from the age of compensation and into an epoch of rest, which has recalculated waking hours along idling interest and curiosity. Work exists because it is essential to the functioning of society, and because it provides a meaningful method of exploring interests and skill-building. At no point are Vekllei people expected to desire work – it is something they have to do, and its burden is minimised at great expense.

These are sentiments that make sense immersed in their context – made real by the animistic, satisfied, and curious type of Vekllei person. They are also sentiments made possible only by Vekllei’s architected strengths and concessions.

  • Personal luxuries (jewellery, appliances, domestic aid, mechanical dishwashers, specialised food appliances) are rare, but luxuries of free time and entertainment (underfloor heating, cafΓ©s, music venues and bars, alcohol, pleasant public gardens and commons) are abundant and easily accessible.
  • Most commodities require personal effort to obtain, but are usually worth the effort (houseplants are found and potted personally, good meat is hunted and prepared, and artisanal furniture is often traded).
  • Vekllei has a thriving barter economy built on favours, goodwill, and lending a hand. These social dimensions of the economy are facts of life for every person – everyone is aware of the state of things.

This is a society where housing, transport, food, small art and beauty are cheap, and convenience is expensive. It does not work equally for everyone – it was never designed to. The simplicty of moneylessness is actually very complicated, and the Vekllei economy is made up of countless markets bristling with politics, friendships, family, grudges and good-neighbourliness. Outside of bureau monopolies, which meet the basic needs of society, the Vekllei economy is anarchic.

In a previous article, these ideas were characterised as the three precepts of the Vekllei economy, articulated as follows.

  1. Austerity. Petty austerity lurks at the fringes of Vekllei life. Commmon items are frequently in short supply, and require a “trial of ownership” to acquire. This prevents Vekllei’s reliable transition to a consumer society, which would strain bureau production and require more factory work. It also serves a cultural purpose in localising consumption and incentivising work, as a reward mechanism.
  2. Apathy. Small businesses in senrouiva3 markets are not provided with reliable methods to expand their business or indeed employ more people than one is capable of knowing. This protects the bureau trade monopolies and bureau-size companies, which are critical aspects of Vekllei’s consumer manufacturing.
  3. Play. Like children, Vekllei people participate in work as a social ritual and act out roles in society. This play is productive and contributes to the economy, a fact that does not delegitimise its status as a social activity.

People work because they are built to work. This is not an altruistic idea. It is important to seperate contemporary Western conceptions of wage labour from the reality of Vekllei work, which is largely social and purposeful. Not all work is pleasant, a fact that requires a series of cascading solutions.

  • It is improved. Retail, hospitality and service work in Vekllei are jobs justified only by their dignity. There are only a handful of sales assistants in Vekllei, and their roles are independent and well-respected – they serve satisfaction, not the company. These usually include working with customers personally to prepare complete outfits, improving their confidence, and studying and practicing fashions. In addition, many people in such work are employed by friends or family, or otherwise work only part time.
  • It is rewarded. Work is rewarded materially in Vekllei, despite misconceptions. In some work, the benefits are small and inconsequential – good leftovers and access to scarce goods among them. Most commonly, real estate is constructed by the municipal agent and protected for certain types of work, the ownership of which can be wrested away from the employer with extended service. Health care workers are provided for in Vekllei in overt ways – Vekllei is not, by principle, egalitarian.
  • It is shared. Although large companies retain cleaning automen, most smaller enterprises and senrouive share the burden of cleaning among staff periodically, as at home and school. Schools, similarly, rely mostly on parent volunteers to provide lunches and run extracurricular activities. Since it is common in Vekllei for only one parent to work, much community organising and child-rearing is provided by stay-at-home mums and dads.
  • It is automated. Most factory labour in bureaus is automated by automanufacturies, which require only minimal supervision and are usually integrated into the place of work. Automanufacturies produce the vast majority of shelf goods in the country, including consumer, industrial and agricultural products. The production of automen4 is, mostly, automated in the same process.
  • It is conscripted. Essential labour, particularly in construction, is conscripted through Compulsory Service. The National Construction House is the largest construction outfit in Vekllei, and is responsible for much of rural construction in the country.
  • It is done without. Vekllei life is missing or unreliably demonstrates features of consumer societies overseas, including many personal electronics, autos, and appliances. Most people have only a handful of personal items and a few pairs of shoes, although their housing and accessible entertainment is of much higher quality.

It can be difficult to conceptualise working for free without first immersing yourself in a society where comfort is universal, there is little else to do, and there is no upward mobility through idleness. Powerful cultural biases, particularly as they pertain to consumption and community, are potent social pressures. Power itself is abundant in Vekllei and awarded freely to people seeking it. Jobs carry respect, since employment with dignity almost always requires agency, and agency requires independence and problem solving. And where a job is unsatisfying, unenviable, unrewarding, and unfulfilled, it is dispensed with. Not because the Vekllei state is particularly noble – instead, it cannot do anything but accept it.

Meaningful work for ordinary people #

Although a great many specialisations exist in Vekllei for its millions of people, jobs are treated of constellations of tasks. For three days a week, the skilled tradesmen works in their specialty, but like it is in school, the fourth day is often dedicated to tasks of company maintenance. Such tasks may include cleaning, food preparation, gardening, maintenance and clerical work. No one likes it, but it has to be done. Labour can’t be purchased and there are few people willing to clean or repair uncompensated – so it remains the company’s problem. Since most companies in Vekllei are cooperative, and are owned by the people who work in them, it more precisely remains their problem.

Most people in Vekllei work three or four days a week, depending on their job and place of employ. Some may work more or less. People particularly desperate to avoid regular employment will find it is easy to do so, with the exception of Compulsory Service, which requires four years from every person sometime between the ages of 18 and 35. You are supposed to register employment with the Employment Commission5, but there are many hundreds of exceptions to employment readily available to the social parasite. That is the precise Vekllei phrase, in fact – “social parasitism” – which surfaces in government reports and local gossip alike.

The straightforward requirement to be employed, called “Contribution,”6 suggests tremendous waste and inefficiency – this is accurate, and is considered a feature of the system. Work is both productive and a social benefit to society, and its actual efficiency is of little concern except in the context of bureau companies,7 which support the basic comforts of society. The senrouive economy, in all its anarchy, best resembles a modern post-industrial service economy. The product is in fact the managing, serving, networking and strategic thinking of the senrouive class of people. The scale and gross productivity of senrouive work in Vekllei is nearly three times that of the bureau-backed industrial/agricultural monopolies that come to mind when imagining typical “bureau business.”

With much of manufacturing automated by automanufacturies, it is easy to overlook less dramatic efficiencies in the industrial workplace, which now requires only half the staff it did a hundred years ago. In general, automation has affected Vekllei slowly and to its benefit, allowing the country to trade potential increases in productivity for less work. Less work was an essential reaction to the famines and indigence of the early postwar years, and has become a cherished feature of postwar Vekllei society.

Case Study 1 – Tzipora Desmoisnes #

Tzipora is a young woman living alone in Montre, a city-neighbourhood on the North Coast. She is studying at Montre National University, and since she is studying full time she is considered to have fulfilled Contribution. In addition, she works for the student newspaper Montre Student Gazette part-time as an editor, with the aim to increase readership to petition for printing press machines from Montre Heavy Machines S.q.M. She does not enjoy study much but finds publishing to be very rewarding. The creativity and independence of student periodicals makes for interesting work, and she’s proud of it; she’s proud of having her name in the publisher credits, and having the respect of her student editorial staff, and of receiving recognition from successful journalists for her efforts in correspondence.

Case Study 2 – Usef Sismiosn #

Usef is a man of middle age in Ou, a borough in the central highlands of Vekllei containing several agricultural communities. Usef was born here, and will likely die here – his village, Tiamoin, subsists off the agricultural products of its surrounds. Although he didn’t take up farming after his father, his job as a local grocer keeps him in close contact with the goings-on of local agriculture. The goings-on of pretty much everything, in fact. He’s got a keen ear for good stories, and lives above the shop he owns with his wife and child. If he’s honest, there’s not much to running a grocery – inventory is done by the stock computer in Ada, so he spends most days reading and waiting for someone he knows to stop by (and he knows everyone in Tiamoin). He’s well known and well liked, and his life is uncomplicated. Because he works the shop, he guarantees the property will be owned by his family for as long as they want it.

Case Study 3 – Floret Vosmiesneh #

Floret is a woman close to retirement in Vekllei’s Great Coast, who works as a product director at Comec, a plastics company that makes up part of General Plastics S.A., a bureau organisation. She is having problems with her superiors and is thinking about leaving her job, or perhaps going part-time. She is not well-positioned to find a managerial position at another company right now, and worries that she will not have time to find one before the grace period between work elapses, potentially demoting herself. She has worked for Comec for a long time and has nearly two years of long-service leave accrued, so she is considering taking all of it at once. Afterwards she might move in with her son, who has just had his first child, which would carry her through to retirement. Helping raise family waives Contribution, and she could use the break. When it was good, it was very good – most of her closest friends are staff at Comec, but all things come to an end. Making big adjustments later in life can be intimidating, but they were often for the best.

These three examples do not demonstrate that all work is satisfying or produces good outcomes for people in Vekllei, but rather that, in two out of three cases, work has ceased to resemble conventional waged labour. Bureau work continues to be a burden – hence its ongoing improvement, automation, conscription and abolition. The simplicity of moneylessness is actually its most complicated feature, and has produced a complicated state of affairs only partially engineered by the postwar interim government and its constitution.

This loose collection of notes indicates some of the differences in the working disposition of Vekllei people and what their work looks like. Like most summaries of the so-called “Vekllei bureau system”, this brief collection of facts tends to paint an excessively sentimental picture of working life in Vekllei – but there are few ways otherwise to describe the utopian premise of the Atlantic commonwealth, and its ongoing reevaluation of the imagined end of history.

  1. Vekllei is a nation of immigrants of many cultures and beliefs, but it is also true that their children are raised in a Vekllei society with overt Vekllei cultural foundations. This trend is documented thoroughly by the Religious Affairs Office of the Commonwealth Culture Secretariat (COLSEC), which wrote “animistic features of the indigenous commonwealth emerge consistently in new generations, even where traditionally displaced by prior religious structures, correlating with the emergence of multicultural Upen faiths.” ↩︎

  2. As collected by the 2055 Vekllei Census and reported by the Ministry of the Commonwealth’s Statistics Directorate. ↩︎

  3. Senrouive, lit. “private work.” ↩︎

  4. Automen are synthetic biological robots used extensively in industrial applications in Vekllei. ↩︎

  5. The Vekllei Employment Commission is an office of the Commonwealth Labour Secretariat, which oversees all employment across Vekllei’s commonwealth of nations. ↩︎

  6. Translated from Consosva, a portmanteau of consivismiosn sovis, or “contributory service.” ↩︎

  7. Also known as Venrouive, lit. “public work.” ↩︎