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Meet the People ‘Being the Change’

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Posted on Jan 4, 2014
YouTube/VPROinternational

In search of communities striving to build viable alternatives to scorched earth capitalism, a documentary team profiled people in Spain, Estonia and Indonesia who are creating underground economies that serve them, rather than waiting for political parties and corporate institutions to engender humane social change. Or in the words of Gandhi, being the change they wish to see in the world.

Produced by Dutch public broadcasting organization VPRO, the Backlight series’ 2010 episode “Time for Change,” below, features commentary from Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells and German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk.

At one point the interviewer asks Sloterdijk, “Is this a time for revolution?”

Sloterdijk responds: “There is a permanent revolution. The people are presently undergoing a revolution led by the economic class. People are generally conservative, but they are exposed to a permanent revolution which is led by a small group of leading economists, bankers, product developers and designers who want to radically and permanently alter our daily lives. As a result, the term ‘revolution’ has lost its original meaning. A revolution would take place if the people opposed a reactionary, ruling class. We see the exact opposite. We have a revolutionary ruling class that is turning against a conservative people. In that case there’s little point in talking about a ‘revolution.’ ”

The final section of the film presents unofficial localized currencies as a means to return economic power to people. Although the tactic may achieve this end, the thinking presented is mistaken in assuming that bullion forms of money have intrinsic value and are thus more valid than paper currency. The mistake is in the failure to recognize that monetary value is a function of an agreement reached by members of the community using it, and that as an arbitrary representative of value, gold is no different from dollar bills, shells or tulips, all of which can be minted and used for the exchange of goods and services.

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