Quiet, unassuming social revolution is often the successful step-sibling of the more confrontational (often failing) variety. Across the southern rim of Europe, where austerity and insurrection goes hand-in-hand, parallel economies are taking over daily life, particularly in Spain and Greece. Here we focus on what is happening in one part of Greece, in the town of Volos, and also provide a reprise on what is happening with the parallel economy in Spain generally. Take Volos: in the market no customers are carrying money – they have none. But they are buying food and other essentials – not on credit, but via their own currency. With this currency they buy clothes, electrical appliances and foodstuffs. People are happy. They help each other. In a strange way, this is utopia. And all this in a country that has a failed economy and is the butt of jokes across (northern) Europe. So who’s laughing now?
Note… the above video is from the BBC, but provides a fairly good, all round report on what’s happening in Volos. The information below on Volos and in Spain is culled from a number of sources.
A. Volos, Greece
The currency used in Volos is the Tem . Around 1300 people in the town use it. And it’s not only markets and shops that recognise the Tem, but also cafes, factories and businesses. You can even get healthcare on it too. Tem is based online and once registered people can begin trading. Similar schemes can be found in Athens, Corfu, Patras as well as northern Katerini.
Of course, bartering and trading by itself does not make a social revolution. But it does form the basis on which other change can take place. Maria Choupis, co-founder of the Tem network, said of Tem and similar schemes, “They are as much social structures as economic ones. They foster intimacy and mutual support.”
It helps, of course, if such schemes involve communities that already have a long tradition of support, solidarity and mutual aid via workplace collectives and co-operatives and neighbourhood co-operatives, etc. Such communities, if you like, are naturally anarchist – they don’t need ideology – they live it!
B. Reprise: Spain and the alternative economy
There are more than 325 time banks and alternative currency systems in Spain, involving tens of thousands of citizens. The projects represent one of the largest experiments in “social money” in modern times. Barcelona has nine time banks, organised by Salut i Família . The nearby towns of Sant Cugat, Badalona and Sant Joan Despí alos have their own ‘bancs del temps’.
Meanwhile, in Malaga, locals have set up a website where citizens can earn money and buy products using a virtual currency. In the Catalonian fishing town of Vilanova i la Geltru, people are experimenting with a localized currency – Tururtas – at neighbourhood stores. In Seville, locals trade with a currency called Puma. Other currencies include the Zoquito, the Gita, the Minuto and the BilboDiru.
Note… Such ways of organising outside of the capitalist system, as illustrated above, are easier in small countries, though even in the USA there are examples of communities experimenting. Alternative currencies like Berk Shares in Western Massachusetts, Cheers in Detroit, the Bay Area Community exchange , Ithaca Hours in New York and Timebank in California , are pointing the way. There are also Fourth Corner Exchange , Village Networks , Richmond Hours , and Austin Time Exchange .
There are many more examples around the world…
Posted from the darker net via Android.