We were studying Declivis and Declivian society today in class, and Master Breton asked us what we thought it would be like to live in a moneyed society like the Declivians.
As I understand it, you have to possess some pieces of rag with numbers printed on them in order to get what you need? That makes no sense. The rags have no value, and yet without them you cannot get things that are of value. People work for “money” but have no control over how much they are given, nor do they have any control over the price that is asked by merchants for the merchandise people want to acquire with their “money.” All of us thought that was both unfair and, in the long run, unviable.
Things in the AEW (Affined Equi Worlds) and here on Equus, work much differently. Here there is an ancient saying, “First the family, then the community, then the Great House and beyond.”
As I have said before, we are an agriculture-based planet. Almost every home has a garden, every town and city has huge community gardens, so there is plenty of good, fresh food close at hand. We are not over-populated, so our delivery system works as it should. Our people favor livelihoods that are active and that require the use of hands and feet as well as just heads, so we have many fine craftspeople.
Let me give you an example. My father makes wine. We store the amount we want until the next harvest. Friends and neighbors come and get what they need. At Harvest Festival the wine goes to Falconstones, which is our nearest town, and the townsfolk take what they need. From there the wine is shipped to the Great House and put into the storehouses. The Master Vintner and those who assist him make sure the wine is available in the shops to those who need it. If there is more wine than is traditionally used, it can be shipped to other members of the AEW or the SGA (Seventh Galactic Alliance). Nobody “pays” for what they need.
Also, we do not barter. We do not say that ten bottles of wine is worth a pair of riding boots, or five sacks of alliums is worth five pounds of spinning fleece. In theory (one that seems to work very well), everything that everybody does is done first for the family, then the community, then into the stores of the Great House. Example: when harvest rolls around, everybody who can get away goes out into the fields of Sun Flowers and helps cut them and bring them to the presses. When the seeds are shucked and the oil is pressed, people just take what they need.
I doubt any family is completely self-sufficient. Nobody in my family makes riding boots, though my grandsire, Krush, makes warm, wool lined moccasins. The point is, when we have extra, herbs, or alliums, or fruit, we share. It goes into the stores of the Great House and the person who makes riding boots does the same, as does the potter, the tinker, the painter. Artists leave their art and take foodstuffs. The miller leaves fresh barley flour and takes a painting if he wants one. My grandsire leaves moccasins he made by the winter fire, and takes riding boots.
It is ingrained in us not to hoard things, not to take more than we comfortably need. When there is a shortage of something, everyone knows to cut back a little. It is simple, logical, and workable. How the Declivians manage useless bits of rag – how they attach value to something that has no value – is completely beyond me. I am glad I don’t have to do it.