Review of the Book

Future Money: Breakdown or Breakthrough?
by James Robertson

Alanna Hartzok

[Reprinted from the International Union Newsletter, Summer, 2012]

The holistic approach to solving the world's problems is elegantly summarised in this book by one of the co-founders of the London-based New Economics Foundation.

James Robertson's service in the Cabinet Office when Harold Macmillan was Prime minister gave him an insider's view of power in action at the highest level. Somewhere along that corridor of power he realised that change would need to be driven by people at large. So he reinvented himself as an independent advisor on economic and environmental change. In Future Money, Robertson distils a lifetime's experience which included a period as a researcher for British banks. The book emphasises the need for new approaches to the monetary system. Drawing on anthropological and ecological insights, he stresses the need for change if our civilisation is to re-base itself on sustainable principles.

But the author goes beyond the confines of the monetary system to demonstrate that a reform paradigm also needs to integrate changes to property rights. In particular, he stresses the need to treat the rents of nature's resources as the source of public revenue, if we are to address threats such as climate change, the destruction of species, deforestation and the man-made crises that register the way we are damaging our natural habitats.

The book stresses the need for reforms that are simple and understandable. So Robertson delivers a set of proposals which, in a sane world, would be readily adopted by governments. Ours is not a sane world. That's why we need to disseminate the wisdom in Robertson's synthesis to as large an audience as possible. Then, we need to negotiate a democratic consensus on strategies that would advance the proposal in his final ... [review ends here in the original]