Colin Turner, founder of the Free World Charter and many other progressive initiatives, is one of the leading global proponents of a resource based economy. I’ve been lucky enough to have known Colin for almost a decade and have got involved in promoting his ideas. He stands out as someone who doesn’t just talk the talk. His idealism is imbued with a drive to create practical solutions that will benefit every single one of us.
Here Colin answers a few questions from Wakey Wakey
In terms of what you do, how would you describe yourself?
I’m a writer and activist who promotes the idea of a post-money world based on an open access economic model.
Where are you now based?
I am currently living in Wexford in the South East of Ireland.
What was the catalyst for launching the Free World Charter?
In 2010, I created an online initiative called the Free World Charter which proposes 10 founding principles on which a fairer, more sustainable, post-money world could operate. The Charter was inspired by the work of many influential futurists such as R. Buckminster Fuller, Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph.
For me, a post-money world is nothing short of a completely new social contract which I hope the Charter can some day form the basis of. In my opinion, it’s not possible to operate a money-free society outside those guidelines, nor is it possible to maintain our current lifestyle and environment with the current contract. I felt it was important to remove money-free thinking from the swamp of conspiracy theories or Utopian fantasy that appear to plague it.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement?
The Charter has been a great success. It was also a great honour to speak at TEDx in Galway, Ireland in 2019.
Do you think the human race will ever adopt a resource based economic model?
Undoubtedly! We will transcend money and trade at some point in our development. The only question is when, or more importantly, what can we do to get there faster? I do see many problems in the traditional RBE approach as proposed by the Venus Project or Zeitgeist Movement. Science and tech won’t create a sharing society, only we can do that. I prefer to focus my work on finding ways to facilitate and promote sharing, which, if widely adopted can bring us right to the front gates of a money-free world. In fact, my current project in development, Sharebay, is designed for exactly this purpose – to make sharing easy and commonplace, and reduce our reliance on trade as our main means of economy.
Do you think our current global economic model is fit for purpose?
Clearly not but I think the problem is there never was any model. We just ended up here after the post-war consumerism blitz which no-one ever thought was an ecological and social disaster waiting to happen. As long as trade and cash kept flowing, there was nothing else to think about. Thankfully, we are now ‘ thinking about it’ at many governmental levels though it’s difficult to imagine how any government could ever envision a zero-growth, steady-state economy as the answer.
You’ve written two great books. Plans for any more?
Not right now though I have two other possible book ideas in mind. One relating to the whole idea of autonomy which is a subject that intrigues me. Self-rule is a nice idea but isolation isn’t. Somewhere there is a fine balance between relying on self and relying on commu- nity. Currently we over-rely on community through trade which leaves us personally exposed. I think there’s a book in there somewhere! I’ve also been tickled with the idea of a surreal autobiography of sorts.
Right now, I still have the screenplay of F-Day (my first book) on my to-do list. I really think it would make a great movie, and so do many others. It would be great to see it, and present money-free thinking in a thrilling action movie.
As a talented musician do you have any future plans on that front?
You’re very kind. I am still very much musically active and run a Youtube channel under the name Richard Turner Live if anyone would like to check that out. Music is a permanent fixture in my life, and I do also earn a small income from it.
Describe the education project you initiated and how successful has it been?
A couple of years ago myself and three others started a project called LifeGames. The idea was to promote alternative educational values in the form of classroom games that could be used in schools now. Values like empathy, cooperation and sharing were encouraged in a set of two hundred short, fun games for groups. We had a great response overall, however it didn’t lift off as a commercial project like we hoped, so we made the entire set of activities free instead. It’s now available in a free app and soon from our website lifegamesbooks.com. We also produced a colour book version which is available on Amazon.
You’re currently building a new online platform called Sharebay. Can you describe it?
Sharebay will be a platform for people to share goods and services freely with other members online. The idea, based on the open access economic model, is that when everyone shares unconditionally with others, they also ultimately receive benefit from it. The problem with doing this in society at large now is that we don’t have sharing as common day-to-day behaviour so when you share unconditionally, it’s unlikely your act will be reciprocated. Sharebay provides a kind of ‘walled community’ in which to practise sharing with others who are also committed to doing so. The site Sharebay.org launched in mid May 2020.
You did a TED talk recently. How did that go?
It was a wonderful opportunity to be invited to Galway to participate in TEDx 2019. I enjoyed giving the presentation and was pleasantly surprised with the level of support I received from people at the event. Usually talk of no-money things tends to grate with people but I had many punters wanting to congratulate me and shake my hand afterwards. That was very encouraging. It’s also nice to see the video has been viewed many thousands of times with supportive comments.
What individuals/groups inspire you?
Like many, I was very inspired with the work of Jacque Fresco, Peter Joseph, R. Buckminster Fuller and others. Talk of post-money societies has been around for many years and I think we are really close to this being possible in our lifetimes. But it’s not technology that will bring it. Though it will help, this change is coming from how we think about the world. Charles Eisenstein, Greta Thunberg and Elon Musk are challenging centuries-old conventions. People are waking up to the fact that ‘business as usual’ is ecologically and socially destruc- tive and are seeking alternatives. Sharing and peer-to-peer initiatives are beginning to blossom. It’s a really important time – a renaissance of humanity.
What impact do you think COVID-19 will have on our thinking as a species and where do you think our world will be in ten years time?
I really hope that Covid-19 will be the jolt of reality that catalyses widespread change. Governments everywhere are talking about the virus, the lockdown and the economy. Fair enough. But when are we also going to talk about the cleaner air and water? The resurgence of wild nature? The unprecedented return to basics? The regrouping of families? The peace? The silence? And the fact that stepping off the treadmill is not the disaster we are led to believe – and quite evidently an ecological and psychological necessity? Can we hold onto this moment long enough to realise that what we were doing before was wrong? I hope so. That’s why I’m hopeful that initiatives like Sharebay are coming at the right time because we are offering a radically alternative means of economy.