A year in the United Kingdom without spending so much as a single penny!? A concept/action of such importance, taken to a considerable extreme (of such) to fully demonstrate the capacity of human ingenuity & ability even in the modern day environment. It’s challenging to over exaggerate the importance of such experimentation. By taking it to such consummate frontier (an entire year on absolutely zero money) whilst insisting on the “thrive not survive” existential ethic, as well as demonstrating fantastic productivity, this ridiculously inspiring display is an utter triumph. His endeavour is not just a huge success & thoroughly enjoyable read but total clarification of the possibilities & alternatives available to those committed & courageous enough to disassociate or disavow. Then again it’s not quite “disassociate” as Mark remains very engaged & active with the modern world (residing 18 miles from Bristol on a farm but commuting regularly on a push-bike with a trailer to the metropolis, also with plenty of online commotion & communication) albeit on his own terms & from the vantage of an entirely different method of existence. As a “post pecuniary” obsessive myself who considers the disempowerment of capital & the re-empowerment of the independent sentient entity (or community, or civilization for that matter) with my own experiences & networks in extreme off-gird, Marks account, opinions & knowledge were very’ very precious & radical reading. Without pretention or haughtiness, & with a decent degree of humour – the book reads splendidly. Along with the details of his year-plus effort (the experiment ended up being extended beyond it’s one year deadline) are many ruminations & musings on various dilemmas concerning such extractive measures, perils & squander of the modern world & further philosophical, existential & ecological observations that impressed me greatly. He has an extremely reasonable, level-headed, heuristic & factual/non-bullshit approach, enriched by a sapience & wisdom that I hear rarely outside of tribal cultures whom have an intimate living rapore with the land/natural habitats. He does not come across at all as a nutter, ascetic-atavist or eremite. Not that I would have any problem at all with any of the latter in the given context, but in terms of rendering a convincing example or pageant of inspiration & alternative for those deeply ingrained in modern monetary urban restraints, I think this is a very convincing trove of information & emancipatory thinking & practice. Again, I think Marks example could be considered an extreme, but that in itself is what is so encouraging, that he can flourish so well even at the deepest end of the spectrum (or sufficiently deep at least). I think this is more likely to imbue others to make efforts or develop disciplines/freedoms/principles that eschew money under a preferred ethical stewardship. Not owning a car, growing some of your own food & becoming a vegan may seem much more accessible or rudimentary after reading his account, & these are all extremely important things.
Another very interesting aspect of the book was how some of the mainstream press tried to degrade or misrepresent the experiment (generally as “freeloading” or sanctimonious). There was a plethora of media interest surrounding the project which Mark was forthcoming towards. It seems that he dealt with the attempts at distortion well, but the fact that such besmirching efforts were attempted is dire (though I guess predictable). It’s always interesting to see how the conventional structures react to radical measures, especially when ethics is involved & therefore outright denigration can not be administered as they would appear anti-progressive or immoral in their opposition.
This is an exceptionally special book & critical argument. Considering that most of the world now lives under a monetary system with increasing absurdity, rapacity & brutality, I think that pretty much everybody should read this. I close-off with two quote sections from the book that I thought were particularly pertinent & also denote much of the books premise –
“Money no longer works for us. We work for it. Money has taken over the world. As a society, we worship and venerate a commodity that has no intrinsic value, to the expense of all else. What’s more, our entire notion of money is built on a system which promotes inequality, environmental destruction and disrespect for humanity. “
“When you give freely, for no other reason than the fact that you can make someone’s life more enjoyable, it builds bonds, friendships, and, eventually, resilient communities. When something is done mealy to get something in return, that bond isn’t created.“
Author: Mark Boyle
Publisher: Oneworld Publications (2010)