The past 25 years or so seem to have brought a new period of enlightenment in which humans in increasing numbers have become aware of their oneness as a species, and their place, not as dominator or controller of nature, but as an integral part of the whole web of life. Many cultures have held the view that Earth is a living being in which each living species plays a vital role. It is a view which is now becoming current in our own culture and which sees humans as the "global brain," the Earth's center of self-awareness.  This changing identity is beginning to have profound effects upon the way we live our lives and, if we allow it, can change the whole course of history. Imagine a world in which war and abuse are only dimly remembered, in which there is no starvation, in which harmony among the species prevails and the rape of the earth has ceased.
In order for such a condition to come about, we must believe that it is possible; then we will find the way to make it happen, for "faith is the substance of things hoped for."  Our actions emerge out of our visions and ideals. We humans, in our role as co-creators with the "Higher Power," have plenty of work to do. There is work to be done at the personal level, confronting our own fears and doubts and taking responsibility for resolving our dilemmas; at the community level, using inevitable conflicts as opportunities to transcend our petty selves and limited perceptions; and at the societal level, building new structures which support and nurture rather than coerce and brutalize.
Economics drives politics, and money is the central mechanism through which economic power is exerted in the modern world. The history of the United States shows how power has progressively migrated from the people, local communities, counties, and states toward the Federal government in general, and the executive branch in particular. It is only through a study of monetary history, however, that a clear picture can be gained of how this has happened.
It is my firm belief that among the primary obstacles to the improvement of the human condition are the general reliance upon the current structure of global finance and the nature of its primary element, money. The dominating nature of these institutions is akin to that of the monarchies and ecclesiastical hierarchies of past eras. Their time is quickly passing.
New, transformational structures based on different values and assumptions are being developed. These structures need to be more equitable, democratic, and "ethereal."  They must be established in ways that promote the expression of values such as service, fairness, fellowship, and cooperation, rather than greed, privilege, and self-seeking. Thus, they will not compete with existing institutions, but develop in parallel with them, providing operational alternatives which can better serve the needs of people and the Earth, as the old order continues to decline.
Many of our fundamental social contracts and conventions are based on notions which are erroneous and self-defeating. Among the most insidious of these are:
It is the last of these which is our main concern here. As I see it, the foundation of state power and centralized control in today's world is the power to create and manipulate the medium of exchange. Because money has the power to command resources, and because most of us take it for granted, those few who control the creation of money are able to appropriate for their own purposes vast amounts of resources without being seen. The entire machinery of money and finance has now been appropriated to serve the interests of centralized power.
The key element in any strategy to transform society must therefore be the liberation of money and the exchange process. If money is liberated, commerce will be liberated; if commerce is liberated, the people will be empowered to the full extent of their abilities to serve one another; the liberation of capital and land and the popular control of politics will follow as a matter of course. Once equitable exchange mechanisms have been established it will no longer be possible for the privileged few to appropriate the major portion of the land, productive resources, and political power. This volume, therefore, focuses specifically on the creation and control of money, money substitutes, and alternative exchange mechanisms.
Subsequent chapters will describe the nature of money, its uses and misuses, the processes by which individuals and communities have been disempowered, and some local responses which have been effective in restoring community control in the face of centralized power. They will outline gentle strategies by which communities can establish sustainable, ecologically sound, local economies using "home-grown" exchange media and participatory methods for the allocation of capital.
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