The Mythology of Barter
This isn’t entirely my own thoughts but I think it’s very relevant as a contrary argument to mainstream opinion. The crux of the argument is that barter is a modern invention and actually has very limited use in almost any society. Barter takes over when money breaks down but it is actually a product of money and not the precursor.
This is backed up around the world in different primitive societies, very few of them barter goods in any appreciable way. I have a quote in a book somewhere of a native american tribe saying why do we need banks, our bank is of goodwill and favors between people. That was not out of the norm that was common to many of those tribes. Historically that seems to be the main currency, people do favors for their neighbors and expect nothing in return except that later they will help them out when they need. Everybody knows the story of how the pilgrims were kept alive by the goodwill of the native american tribes. They just don’t state that that was their culture. It wasn’t something special they did just for the starving pilgrims.
This is relevant to long term prepping in terms of mindset. If you cling to the barter/money mindset as it crumbles around you, you will neglect to build a community around you. That doesn’t mean having to play your entire hand and everybody know how well stocked you are. In fact that’s why my blog will always focus on skills over items. You can share skills without fear of somebody taking them all from you. You can also teach people those skills in the extra time available. I’d imagine people are less likely to want to attack and/or leave you to die if you’re providing skills they need and teaching them some of them.
The problem with bartering is it is too inefficient. You have to go through up to 10 transactions in order to get to the thing you really wanted to own in the first place. Just on that reality it is unlikely to have ever survived anywhere for any length of time. The other idea that humans are inherently selfish and capitalism is the force that binds them into working for each other’s benefit is likely false too. Without money people have generally worked together, perhaps through necessity. Money appears to amplify both positive and negative traits in society and perhaps in the future we will learn to temper the negative side. People are quick to blame money for everything but they forget the good people have done with it too. Emmanuel might be dead if it wasn’t for me being able to buy his bus ticket out of there. My personal opinion is we haven’t learned how to deal with it properly, if everybody used money to help other people we’d be living in a very different world.
When I was talking to Emmanuel he said Venezuela was lucky in the sense that where he lived had always exhibited a sense of community to some degree. So when the crisis hit people were quick to help each other out. There’s some areas of the world that would fare even worse no doubt as they struggle to give up their self centered thinking. He also said barter was the first thing people did drop back to, but he admitted there are some caveats. People will give deals to people they like or they receive favors from, or they may not deal at all with somebody they don’t like.
A lot of times that’s the main thing that this blog comes back to (Probably because I’m not just making 10 best prepping items I need to sell you that I get paid for posts, too much of that online imo). You need skills first, and then you need supplies (obv some basics are necessary and should be prioritized first, but it’s the skills that see you through a long term crisis, supplies don’t last forever), but they’re all useless if you don’t have some sort of community. Humans won the competition against neanderthals because of their reliance on community. Neanderthals had the bigger brains but it only counts for so much, and I say that on the autistic spectrum as a person who struggles to understand the cliques and groups that humans segment into.