We've had many an article about the wave of alternative currencies around the world, but this is the first I've heard of one in
Russia. Thanks to Dick Hanscom for forwarding this. -Editor
The story of Russian farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov and his 'self-made' money has become something of a sensation of late, and has long
travelled beyond the confines of Kolionovo, the village where he lives. The Moscow Prosecutor's Office is now investigating Shlyapnikov's
currency (named koliony after his village) and its creator on suspicion of infringing the state's monopoly on issuing currency.
A remote and tiny village, Kolionovo lies at the end of a small road just off a highway leading west out of the Russian capital. And
Kolionovo would have remained remote, tiny and unknown, if it wasn't for the periodic scandal about how the village's elderly
residents have chased the local administration out of town, the campaign to save the village hospital, the self-organised firefighting
service or the ban on public officials entering the village without a document testifying to their mental health and a recent fluorography
test for tuberculosis. But now the residents of Kolionovo have devised their own currency and, in doing so, have written themselves into a
wider history – a history of alternative currency and anarchism.
With the dubious honour of being Russia's leading anarchist farmer, Mikhail Shlyapnikov was a successful entrepreneur before he
moved to Kolionovo.
As Mikhail Shlyapnikov has argued in court and out (he has his own LiveJournal account): 'Koliony aren't even money, they're
just IOUs.' In this sense, this farmer-cum-anarchist from outside Moscow has not come up with anything new.
In Debt: The first 5,000 years, David Graeber writes: 'There is an unresolved debate between those who see money as a commodity and
those who see it as an IOU. Which one is it? By now, the answer should be obvious: it's both.'
Graeber uses numerous examples to illustrate how traders and artisans in the past issued their own money made from iron, wood and
leather. This kind of money circulated in a community of business partners, among consumers of the same institutions, stalls and studios.
And as we face a fresh economic crisis, small business owners have returned to these practices.
To read the complete article, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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