Ecology of Money
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
- Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
An ‘ecology of money’ seeks the careful management of the conventional monetary system in a sustainable way both by mimicking natural ecosystems’ structure and by adding new currencies through tailor-made discursive and textual practices: new agreements formulated in natural language and new ways to deal with transactions’ management by means of computer language for software coding, respectively. As I stated more extensively here, money is an agreement and agreements are formulated through discourse. Therefore the study of language and discourse is central if one is to proficiently assess the nature of money and decide whether or not it is necessary to intervene for fixing the structure of the system into which money flows.
But what is the rationale for driving the development of new agreements in the form of complementary currencies?
Indeed, The specific meaning of the expression ‘ecology of money’ emerges from the analysis of the two etymological components of the word ‘ecology’. First, an ecology of money aims at introducing the notions of resilience and sustainability in the toolkit of orthodox monetary economists by endorsing the ‘eco-’ of the worldview of environmental ecology centered on sustainability as it nonetheless was the original meaning of such prefix in ‘economics’: ‘eco-’ derives from the Ancient Greek oìkos (οἰκος) which means ‘careful management of available resources’. Secondly, ecology is composed by a second component, namely ‘-logy’. The etymology of this second part of the word is logos (λόγος), which means ‘discourse’.
Today, the shift is from a monetary system with a single type of currency to multi-currency systems that graft onto – as complements to – the former.
In particular, at the eco-systemic level Lietaer stresses that “we need to support the introduction and expansion of three different kinds of currencies alongside our national currencies: (1) an inflation-proof global complementary currency designed to stabilize the world economy; (2) business-to-business currencies designed to counteract the effects of conventional money shortages during periods of economic crises and contraction; and (3) community currencies that address a variety of social problems and strengthen the fabric of society” (www.lietaer.com).
In turn, I claim that an ecosystem of currencies is to be further developed, if one is willing to find structural solutions toward a more resilient and sustainable monetary system. Indeed, an ecosystem of currencies may obtain through the development of an ecology of money:
“A vibrant diversity of [currencies] is more likely to protect us than a reliance on a single monetary monoculture that may fail” (North, 2010).
In conclusion, the main reasonable consequence for wise monetary economists is to adopt a hermeneutic perspective in order to decide which is the agreement to develop in view of taking care of the monetary system as a whole. Thereby, monetary economists ought to interpret messages relating to the state of the monetary system and – when it is the case – formulate new agreements, viz. new seminal senses describing money through discourse, language and semiotics.