Paul Grignon, “Money As Debt 3 (Evolution Beyond Money)”
In the final episode of the series, Grignon looks at how the world can rid itself of the current debt-based monetary system and move to new systems of exchange that don’t involve debt creation to circulate money and which provide alternate ways of valuing real goods and services. In order to explain why alternate systems of money supply and circulation are needed, rather than simply move back to a gold standard as some reformers advocate, Grignon spends at least the first half hour of the film explaining the flaws of debt-based financial systems and the unequal power structures they bring with them. This part of the documentary overlaps with previous episodes and can be a little repetitive. The last 20 minutes of the documentary are the most interesting part as they deal with the pros and cons of returning to the gold standard and adopting fiat money, and espouse the use of self-issued credit to replace debt money.
Bob Bossin’s distinctive Canadian-accented voice-over narration adds a homely and easy-going touch to a topic that can be hard to understand, mainly because it operates according to its own logic and defies an ethics based on compassion, sharing and looking after one’s community and others beyond. Simple cartoon-like animation that does not rely too much on graphs and figures but uses diagrams already encountered in previous episodes help to illustrate Bossin’s narration. Viewers may still need to watch the documentary at least twice or a few times to fully understand the explanations given.
Perhaps the major problem with this film is that it gives no real-world examples of the problems that arise from debt-based banking systems. In the sections in both this film and a previous episode, there is mention of businesses taking on more debt to cover previous debt and what consequences might arise from accumulating debt upon debt but the films offer no real examples or generic versions of real examples put together. Once again also the film applies no political or immediate historical context to its topic: one reason that debt financing has brought the world to crisis now and not, say, 50 years ago is that Western governments have been following economic policies based on monetarism and economist Friedrich Hayek’s neoliberal ideology for the past 30 years. The film says nothing about the effects of these ideologies and their assumptions about markets and human nature.
The film concludes by asserting that future monetary systems, if they are to succeed in encouraging sustainable economic practices that conserve environmental and human resources and rid us of a sociopathic set of values that privilege self-interest, greed, competition and wastage leading to anomie, exploitation of others, pollution and exhaustion of the planet’s ecosystems, must be more like barter exchange systems, serve communities, give economic power back to individuals and communities, and decentralise control of and power over money and money substitutes. This itself is a positive note to conclude on, in that it identifies the solution and the trail we must take: now, the task is to set out on that trail.