Can you envision a world without money? If the world economy continues down the current path, or a SHTF disaster occurs, the currency we use today will become worthless pieces of paper. How do we move forward then? We may be isolated into local self-contained groups for an extended time due to the necessity of survival after a SHTF level disaster. The obvious answer (to Preppers) is Barter. Having seen barter systems at work, most systems have a weakness that must be overcome. Consider that at some point in time, members of your Self Organizing Collective (SOC) will have needs that they will not be able to fulfill by barter with their own physical resources.
What if one of your community members no longer has barter goods? They have a dire need but do not have spare items to trade for the needed items but, they do have skills. This is where Obligation Based Barter (OBB) kicks in. OBB is the concept of trading services for hard goods. The relative value of those services are agreed upon by both parties prior to commencement of the trade. Let’s say that a member of your SOC is short of food for his family. He no longer has excess items to trade for the needed supplies and you have an excess of the supplies he needs. If he is a talented carpenter, you could bargain with him to make a needed dining table for you in exchange for XX-days of provisions in exchange for building you a new table. You would agree to supply materials for him and he would supply the skills and craftsmanship to build it. This agreement would be the Obligation, he to supply the skilled building of your furniture and you to supply him with the agreed upon food in exchange for his labor and skill.
The basis of OBB is the holding of a person’s promise to be inviolate. Obligations may be traded from one party to another upon mutual agreement of the parties involved. In essence the Obligation replaces currency by trade of skilled labor or knowledge, at mutually agreed values, for hard trade goods. In our example, let’s say that you needed ammo from the SOC’s gunsmith and the gunsmith needs a new workbench. You would then be able to trade the carpenter’s table building to the gunsmith for an agreed value of ammo. This allows the carpenter to have his provisions from you with no additional service than already agreed upon. You will have received your ammo and the carpenter builds the workbench for the gunsmith and the carpenter gets his food-stuffs.
What if the person who is supplying services for goods repeatedly reneges on his Obligations? The result may be for the SOC to withhold any further goods until the Obligations are fulfilled. A 3-Strike system should be enforced for repeat offenders. If the person refuses to abide by the terms of their Obligations, it may be decided to expel them from the SOC or they may simply decide to leave the SOC since they will no longer be trusted to fulfill their promises and will no longer receive goods. The SOC should agree upon the specific actions for the community to take under those circumstances from the very beginning of SOC organization.
The Obligation Based Barter system has been successfully used for centuries by many societies. Now that you have thought about it … makes sense, doesn’t it? This is basically the system that was in place prior to the creation of currency. Currency was created for to allow various different groups to trade with each other with a common agreed value to the paper or coinage. This made it possible to trade across borders using portable currency, which soon replaced barter. Internally to a SOC, OBB works well. Inter-SOC may require a differently negotiated system. In the post-SHTF world, there is not likely to be much inter-SOC trading going on for a long time. When it resumes, care to negotiate agreed rates of trade will need to happen. OBB may provide a starting point.
To reduce internal strife, SOC’s and SOC Leaders will need to be aware of the need for sharing and trading goods and services internally. It is my hope that this provides a “take-off” point for your consideration. The community as a whole must work out details which will work the best for its own purposes.