Living Without Cash for a Year: Hypocrisy or Heroism?

Image credit: Enterprise UK

When I wrote about 5 things I hate about America (in my defense, I also wrote 5 things I love about America!), I lamented a lack of entrepreneurialism or initiative in the UK. But generalizations are almost always dangerous. Mark Boyle, founder of the Freeconomy Community, is a case in point, although he's not your average idea of an entrepreneur. He's hitting the headlines once again, blogging over at The Guardian about his quest to live without money for a year. The ensuing debate is fascinating.
Having posted about his year of living without money, Mark was inundated with comments ranging from the supportive "what you're doing is not backward - its forward. Good luck to you." to the constructively critical "What would happen if we all did this?" to the venomous "he is a self rightoeus, self publicist, with a Ghandi fetish."

So he offered a response on his cashless lifestyle , explaining that he wasn't suggesting that we all go cashless overnight, and that this was about rethinking our relationship with money and consumption. (See my own post on rethinking our relationship to stuff for more thoughts on this.) Finding ways to live with less and wean ourselves off oil was always going to be a team game, with many players taking different routes. As for his take on oil, I'd best let the man himself speak:

"Paul McCartney once said: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarians". Well, if people could see the state of war-torn Iraq, we'd all be cyclists."

Mark's quest for the moneyless lifestyle is hardly everyone's dream, but it does show a willingness to reject big solutions in favor of a simpler lifestyle. For those who disliked my suggestion that big government may play a role in a sustainable future, Mark's rejection of the NHS for not taking a preventative health care role should at least convince you that he is serious about gaining independence from 'The Man'. And if the number of offers of marriage and/or casual sex are anything to go by, there are plenty of people out there who admire what Mark is doing.

Check out the Freeconomy Community that Mark has founded, and watch out for his book in 2010 - The Moneyless Man. (Yes, he will be donating all profits to building the Freeconomy Community.)

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