If I gave you $1tn dollars right now would you accept it?

Not a chance. Except maybe to use it to light my rocket stove with, or to redesign our social and environmental infrastructure in a way in which money was no longer needed or relevant. Almost certainly the latter.


Why not just earn money and give it organizations to help those in poverty?

That would be almost as ridiculous as a major oil company polluting the oceans and then throwing some of the profits to an environmental agency to attempt to clean it up. My perspective is that it is best not to create problems in the first place.

We maintain class structure within national boundaries, and we maintain it between nations. Without a poor, there can be no rich. If the poor were also rich –- as many of the rich pay lip-service to achieving –- the inflationary effect would be such that the rich would no longer be rich. And if all were financially well-off and educated, who the hell would wake up on a Monday morning and spend forty hours in a tinned bean factory? Who’d supply our supermarkets with one dollar pineapples in winter? You? Me?


Do you see money as ‘the root of all evil’?

No. First of all, I don’t believe in good or evil. And even if I did, I wouldn’t see money as such. It’s just a tool that allows humanity to benefit from economies of scale. But it has some seriously destructive and inevitable consequences, outcomes that have been exacerbated by the advent of cheap energy. And we need to be aware of these: up to now we haven’t been, and that is what I aim to bring awareness to.

Until we address our almost complete disconnection from what we now consume – something only a global currency allows us to achieve – then symptoms such as environmental destruction, sweatshop labor, factory farming and resource wars will continue ad infinitum, or at least until we, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “die of civilization”.


What books have most influenced you?

I read a passage from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet every day, and every time I see an extra layer of depth to it. I think that it should be essential reading in schools, but I won’t hold my breath. Other than that, I read anything from Chomsky to Thoreau, Hesse to E.F. Schumacher. Anything that asks me to question everything I’ve been conditioned to believe from the moment I was born.


Got a loan of a couple of Benjamins?

Er, no, but I could tell you how not to even need them.



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MARK BOYLE is an economics graduate and former businessman who founded the Freeconomy, a worldwide alternative economy with over 25,000 members in 150 countries.



In November 2008 he decided to give up using money for a year -- no spending or receiving -- and enjoyed himself so much he decided to not go back.



He is the author of The Moneyless Man, an account of his life without money. His story has provoked debate the world over and Mark has been featured in media including CNN.com, the Guardian of London, and more.

4 responses to “Mark Boyle: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Judy Prince says:

    Mark, I applaud your conclusions and actions.

    And I concur about the continuing relevance of these authors, as well as any authors whose ideas challenge those one is born to:

    “I read anything from Chomsky to Thoreau, Hesse to E.F. Schumacher. Anything that asks me to question everything I’ve been conditioned to believe from the moment I was born.”

  2. Slade Ham says:

    Craziness. The CNN story JUST popped up when I was playing on StumbleUpon maybe three days ago, and now here ya are. Fascinating stuff, Mark.

  3. Jude says:

    “We maintain class structure within national boundaries, and we maintain it between nations. Without a poor, there can be no rich. If the poor were also rich –- as many of the rich pay lip-service to achieving –- the inflationary effect would be such that the rich would no longer be rich. And if all were financially well-off and educated, who the hell would wake up on a Monday morning and spend forty hours in a tinned bean factory? Who’d supply our supermarkets with one dollar pineapples in winter? You? Me?”

    This paragraph sums up everything you’re saying. Call me naive or accuse me of going through life with my rose-coloured glasses firmly in place, but I have always wondered why we live in a world where there is such inequality, so much cruelty and injustice. I get bloody angry when I see such blatant examples of wealth, while so many people starve and live utterly miserable lives at the expense of a few.

    In my local paper this morning, there was a story about Mukesh Ambani, ranked the world’s fourth-richest man in the world. He is soon to move into his home which is beleieved to be the most expensive home ever built – $2.65 billion. As if that’s not bad enough, where is this symbol of power and wealth sited? In Mumbai – home to millions of people who live in the worst slums imaginable.
    His friends have defended the home – “It’s only a family home, just a big one. It’s merely a question of convenience and retirement.”
    Eye of the camel, needle, rich man and all that…

    Fascinating subject, however I fear there is no turning back now. Power and money have been the currency of misery for a long time and I doubt that will ever change. Look forward to reading your book…

  4. D.R. Haney says:

    Anyone as desperately poor as I am is bound to be intrigued by Mark’s ideas, no matter how infeasible others say they are (including, I note, in the TNB commentary following his book extract). I wish him the best.

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