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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 430)...

    Do you agree that local currencies like Ithaca (NY)'s and Edgar Cahn's Time Dollars represent an example of New Tribalism?

    ...and the response:

    I try to resist the "totalizing" tendency people often present me with. A few years ago, a reader described Jerry Brown as a Leaver and his electoral opponent as a Taker. This reader didn't see that this was a way of subverting both Brown and the Leaver concept, since Brown is most definitely NOT a Leaver (nor am I, as I keep pointing out). The same sort of totalizing tendency is seen when someone describes an action as "the Christian thing to do." This subverts the intention of whoever performs this action, turning them into Christians even if they're Moslems, Jews, atheists, or animists, and it subverts the meaning of "Christian" as well, since Christianity is far from being just about what people do.

    The totalizing tendency says, in effect, "Whatever you do goes into my pocket. If I like what you're doing, then it goes into my right-hand pocket, which means you're a Christian (or a Leaver) and if I don't like it, then it goes into my left-hand pocket, which means you're a Heathen (or a Taker). Anything you do belongs to me and my totalizing value system. You can't escape."

    It would be easy and popular for me to say, "If you're for peace, then you're a Leaver," but to do so would subvert my own message. It would be similarly easy and popular (at least with some) for me to say, "If you're opposed to women's right to abortion-on-demand, then you're a Taker," but this too would subvert my message. By doing this sort of thing I could win friends---but at the cost of losing my integrity.

    So, to come to your question at last, do I agree that local currencies like Ithaca's and Edgar Cahn's Time Dollars represent an example of New Tribalism? I'm afraid I have to say no, for the same reason that I have to say, no, being for peace doesn't mean you're a Leaver, and no, being opposed to women's right to abortion-on-demand, doesn't mean you're a Taker. If your local currency system is doing good things for you, who cares if it's an example of New Tribalism?

    I have no desire to "totalize" local currency systems and put them in my "good" pocket. Will having a local currency make it easier for you to participate in the New Tribal Revolution? I frankly have no idea, but if it does, I'll certainly want to share this information with others. What I must avoid, however, is putting myself in the position of saying, "Having a local currency is the New Tribal way to go." The New Tribal Revolution doesn't have to wait on people adopting a local currency any more than adopting a local currency had to wait on people reading my books. If it's doing good things for you, that's what counts.

    To a great extent, answering this question is premature. The "book" on the New Tribal Revolution is not yet out, though it will be in October.


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