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Tuesday -- 3.18.14 -- Barter Networks and Barter Relationships -- Week 16

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Tuesday -- 3.18.14 -- Barter Networks and Barter Relationships -- Week 16

0. About Tuesday
1. Questions for Discussion
2. Suggested Readings for Tuesday

0. About Tuesday' Common(s) Course

What: Common(s) Course Meeting / Conversation
When: Tuesday, March 18 (from 5:00 to 7:00)
Where: CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave @ 34th st), Room 6107 (6th floor)
Who: Free and open to all

"Money provides an extremely efficient technique for despotism, as a means for incorporating into its rule the most remote places, which in a barter economy, always tend to separate and become autonomous"
—Georg Simmel, The Philosophy of Money

In 1907 Georg Simmel noted the all-consuming power of money and autonomous character of barter economies. This week we continue our discussion on barter, looking at specific models and their potential to repurpose existing resources, break away from the community of money, and transform mental conceptions by supporting new practices, relationships, and notions of value. Can barter networks truly become separate and autonomous from the capitalist system, and can internet-based schemes free barter from the constraints of local face-to-face interaction and delocalize solidarity?

We will be joined this week by Caroline Woolard, co-founder of OurGoods and SolidarityNYC, to explore whether barter, when experienced and understood as the voluntary, reciprocal exchange of goods and services, can make the power of resistance and healing in solidarity economies perceptible while still extending relationships of trust beyond existing networks of family and friends.

The discussion will focus on two models: OurGoods and Bioecon.

Based in New York City, OurGoods is a community of artists, designers, and cultural producers who barter skills, spaces, and objects. OurGoods is a scaleable, local initiative and part of the growing landscape of alternative models of exchange in art, design, and culture, specifically dedicated to the barter of creative skills, spaces, and objects. It is a community of cultural producers matching "needs" to offered "haves."

A moneyless economy originating but not limited to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bioecon is a community made up of prosumers — consumers who actively engage in the production of information, goods, and services — in three ways: By freely giving and receiving through shared consumption, via direct reciprocity (barter), and by peer-to-peer trade using points that facilitate multi-reciprocal exchange. Bioecon aims to foreground use-values through a unique system of oxidation that makes exchange values disappear when they are not being used.

1. Questions for Discussion

In looking into these two schemes, we will also explore barter relationships. Can the possibility of future interactions be a significant motivator for individuals to trade with one another? What role does the frequency of interactions among individuals who trade play in securing trust in the absence of money? What happens when trading relationships are asymmetrical in either values of goods or in relative bargaining power? Can goods be allocated for their use-values while existing within a larger economic order when specific goods can be used for liquidity reasons? Are "middlemen," who can efficiently facilitate exchange through face-to-face interaction be more effective than the depersonalization that emerges with internet-based schemes, and what types of social relations might they produce? Can barter relationships breed inequalities that replace the inequalities that arise with money, and in doing so themselves become a type of money?

2. Suggested Readings for Tuesday

Texts relating to Our Goods and Solidarity NYC:

"(Un)doing (Un)compensation" (2014)

"The Giving Economy: Caroline Woolard of" (2011)

"An Economy We Want to Occupy" an interview with Caroline Woolard and Jen Abrams (2012)

Texts relating to Bioecon:

What are points and how are they created?

Why do points get oxidized?

David Harvey´s lecture on 14 February 2013 at the University of Warwick on the contradictions of capital.
Helps to understand the principle of OXIDATION, and why the points are ONLY A MEANS OF CIRCULATION.

Additional Reading:
Pete North. "Voices from the trueque: barter networks and resistance to neoliberalism in Argentina"

16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004

for directions/subscriptions/info visit:

4,5 -- Bowling Green
2,3 -- Wall Street
J,Z -- Broad Street
R -- Whitehall
1 -- South Ferry

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