The efforts to create a scheme of production and distribution of resources that is fair, sustainable and based on solidarity have already a plurality of invisible histories. They involve LET'S schemes, gift experiences, negative interest money, coops and other attempts with different levels of success measures in terms of both welfare achieved and duration of the scheme. The current wave of experiences in alternative and solidarity-based economy can be traced to the increase in the levels of economic and social exclusion in the last 30 years promoted by the crisis in the model of full-employment and the production slowdown in traditionally industrial areas. Walter Plinge holds that our current economic predicament started in 1971:
LET'S are said to be created in Vancouver, Canada, by a group around Michael Linton in 1982. Some schemes worked for many years in different areas of the world either with the explicit goal of promoting liquidity and circulating goods and services or as an attempt to promote locality and sustainable relations with the environment. Makoto Nishibe writes from the Japanese perspective:
Some LET'S schemes (or French SEL, or Argentinian Trueques or Créditos) work with Gesell-like money, negative interest. The experience in Teresópolis, Brazil is one that we are currently somehow in contact:
Negative interest has been first attempted in the small Austrian town of Wörgl in the 30s. Recent experiences include the attempts to create a local currency in Campina do Monte Alegre in 1993. Heloisa Primavera, an Argentinian sociologist very much into alternative economics, reports:
In Argentina, trueques have gone very popular in late 90s and included more than 2 million people by the time of the Argentinazo (late December 2001). Currencies were organized in networks that began to compete against each other for affiliations. Because of the lack of liquidity in the system, those currencies started to be sold by 2002 and that caused the collapse of the system. Heloisa Primavera describes it:
Gift-giving economies are organized directly around the idea of generosity. Its central element is the conviction that humans do not act to maximize their own self-interest but rather commit to community endeavours that are part of their well-being. We are currently interested in the French Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste dans les Sciences Sociales (MAUSS):
Two issues of concern we think we ought to face in the simulations within OPTIMAES. These are a) how do these economic schemes scale up and b) how best to measure the performance of our simulated economy. Concerning scaling up, the Argentinian case in 2000-2002 is an interesting example. The trueques have grown and organized themselves in network; now, how these networks should interact? Here is when self-organization could be challenged in the macro-economic level. Concerning measuring performances, we currently use measures of distribution of resources and survival of the population. Common economic indexes of performance (like GNP) have been under severe criticisms for some years now. Among the interesting alternatives and changes suggested for these indexes (Sen's Human Development Index or the Index of Social and Economic Welfare) we find the Max-Neef matrix that tries to measure all the (finite) human needs an inspiring one - applicable in the simulations. A paper on it from a 2000 Devnet Conference:
Ideally, we want OPTIMAES to be a platform to experiment with all these ideas that have been advocated. We will try to keep the wiki updated about our current discussions.