Thomas Greco is the most radical writer on money today. The very title of the book suggests that the future of civilization depends on abandoning money-as-we-know-it. What could be more radical and revolutionary than that? Yet on reading this book Tom Greco does not come across as some wild revolutionary wanting to turn the world upside down. His style is calm, thorough and systematic. He talks us through the historical record and shows how the current financial system has shaped and governs our world. The entire argument of the book is that if we are to tackle the gigantic issues of our time we have to understand how money works and adopt a new way of doing money. We do not have to re-invent it entirely for it has evolved over the centuries and we are now entering a new era where modern technologies allow us to move away from the existing centralised, globalised, monopolised and privatised money system that is a tragic relic of history to a truly modern, democratic money system that belongs to the commons.
Greco is brilliant at exposing the workings of our current money system and explaining how this can evolve into a new system. But all the time there is this feeling that he is holding back, that he is not following his own arguments to their logical conclusion. “Prognostication is a hazardous business – something that is best avoided”, he tells us. He does hint at where new monetary trends might take us but leaves most of it to our imaginations. So if you are hoping to find out what lies in store for civilization or what the future of civilization will look like you will be disappointed. It is only in the epilogue that he touches on the prospects for civilization, and then in only two pages.
This review is neither a critique nor a summary of the book; it is about what it says between the lines and what would result if we were to follow the logic of Greco’s arguments. In the same way as he wants to ‘liberate the exchange process’, this is an attempt to ‘liberate’ some of his ideas to ensure that their full potential is realised. This will be achieved by looking at some of the monetary concepts used by Greco and by following through what might ensue if his proposals were adopted.