This review was first published in Issue 26 of the Funky Raw magazine.
I could make this the shortest review ever “You must read this book. Go out and buy it now.” Actually, given the subject of this book, you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want – it is available to read for free on the internet. Either way, I suppose I best tell you a bit more about it… As an introduction, on the back cover it says “That we need money to live – like it or not – is a self-evident truism. Right? Not anymore.” And to prove this, the author, Mark Boyle, lived for 2½ years completely without money. Not because he was forced to, but out of choice. He says “living without money changed my way of being. Existing outside the monetary economy enabled me to sit inside the organic flow of life and recognise the interconnected oneness; it enabled me to experience a different sense of self.”
The book is broadly in two parts, the first few chapters introduce Mark’s thoughts on money, why he thinks it is no longer working for us, how it is causing the destruction of our communities and the destruction of nature. He shows how money makes us feel like we are independent and don’t need anyone’s help, but that of course all we have done is switch our dependence from our local community to much further afield. There is also a look at alternative ways of living without money.
Then the bulk of the book covers how to live without money for various aspects of our lives, including land, food, washing, transport, education, leisure and more.
Mark is always direct and forthright with his choice of words. Not many books where you can read sentences such as “I believe that shoes are like condoms, in a way” – this is in the section where he talks about walking barefoot being the only truly sustainable form of transport – “But I believe that until we feel the earth beneath our feet again we will never learn to walk gently on Her.” While you may find many ideas in this book radical, Mark is aware of this and tries to present a range of options to suit different people.
Re-learning ancient skills is clearly important if we want to live without money. Such as how to light a fire without matches or a lighter – “the industrialised system that creates such useful little gadgets may not exist at some point in the future. Therefore learning how to create fire without them could save your life in an apocalyptic style scenario that we would all like to avoid. Likewise, if for some reason you find yourself in the middle of nowhere (like a forest) without a functioning lighter, then knowing how to utilise the natural materials at hand could be the difference between life and death. Convenience can leave us dangerously unskilled.”
While he gives as much detail as he can in this book, including recipes for natural cleaning liquids, hay fever cures, how to make compost, and more, he can’t do this for every topics as many subjects he touches on are books in themselves – I had to put the book down and search the internet to find out what a bow drill was and how to make one! (If you are wondering, it’s a simple tool which can be used to start a fire.) Throughout the book, Mark includes short sections written by experts in particular fields, including permaculture, compost, wild protein, hitch-hiking, home-schooling and more.
There is a chapter on moneyless leisure. Mark says “Reality TV is the posterboy of a culture that consumes instead of plays.” Instead of listening to music created by other people from far away, he suggests that we would be more fulfiled by creating our own music, and he gives more ideas for ways of creating our own entertainment.
I love this book. It is well written and engaging, I couldn’t put it down!