The money changers : currency reform from Aristotle to e-cash.

Now suddenly there is a debate emerging again. It’s a debate on the fringes at the moment, about debt, interest and credit. It’s a debate about whether any power can be wrested back from bankers, and it echoes the furious discussions of the 1930s when monetary theorists like C. H. Douglas could fill Wembley Stadium with his supporters, or when they marched down Whitehall as the Greenshirts – firing green arrows into the door of 10 Downing Street.

We might not agree with them all, then or now. But they represent a series of traditions of dissent that it is vital to keep alive if we are going to access any new thinking at all.

New kinds of money like LETS, time dollars, loyalty points, trade pounds aren’t normally the stuff of serious economic discourse, yet they are out there in the real world – and they are making an impression. At least ten per cent of world trade, and probably more, now uses barter currencies in one form or another, and there are at least 7,000 local currencies circulating around the world.

Some of them lean a little too far, perhaps, in their belief in the perfectibility of mankind. Some of them lean too far in their belief in the perfectibility of governments. But even the most cynical of the people included in the book probably share a sense that there must be some natural system of money creation that would bring people and planet back into some kind of harmony, with themselves and with each other.