The complete self-destruction of our monetary and financial systems would be a lot like the process by which cancer is usually treated through chemotherapy. The power of the oligarchs who have ruled us, both covertly and overtly, for so many years will, like the cancer cells, be destroyed. As with chemotherapy, which attacks both malignant and healthy cells alike, a great many innocent people will also be damaged in the same process. But, as with an effective cancer treatment, what is good for the organism as a whole can be nourished back to health -- but only after what is harmful has been completely eliminated. And by eliminated I do not mean the super-wealthy themselves -- I am NOT advocating violent revolution -- but only the inordinate power they have been allowed to wield, since their power lay in their great wealth, which they themselves have foolishly squandered, in a wild orgy of greed and corruption. At bottom they are humans like the rest of us, and not necessarily evil -- maybe the better term would be "spoiled." And since these spoiled children have literally destroyed their own world of privilege, there would be no need for violent revolution in any case -- the revolution will, thank God, be entirely bloodless. Unless you insist on equating money with blood, in which case we could characterize it as a bloodbath -- of epic proportions.
How can an economy whose monetary and financial systems have been destroyed be nurtured back to health? As I see it, the only viable treatment would be some form of what is called "socialism." And it's important to remember that there is really no such thing as socialism in itself, as a rigidly defined socio-economic system. Strictly speaking, in fact, any government that is truly of the people, by the people and FOR the people, would entail some form of what could be called "socialism." And would, of course, be a democracy.
There are many possible ways in which such a democratic socialism could be instituted, but as I see it, one thing seems very clear: it can succeed only to the extent that it involves a high degree of international consultation and cooperation. I am not necessarily advocating "world government," though that too can be implemented in a great many different ways, and certainly need not be "totalitarian," as many might fear. Since the problems will be international in scope, any attempt to implement solutions based on competition between one nation and any others is bound to fall apart, with consequences that could be dire in the extreme. It is capitalism that promotes zero sum competition in any case. Socialism is predicated on cooperation for mutual benefit and it is in that spirit that socialist procedures should be implemented -- on every conceivable scale, from the neighborhood all the way up to the international community as a whole.
Is it possible for an economy of international scope to exist in the absence of a monetary system? I.e., without money? This may be the most fascinating question of all and it would be interesting to solicit suggestions from imaginative people everywhere as to how this could be done. I'm sure there are many possible options, all the way from pure, face-to-face barter, to a complex system of international exchange monitored by computers. Whatever form it takes, it will have to be what is called a "managed economy," i.e., an economy based on some sort of planned management scheme, rather than the free flow of money and credit.
Many people are suspicious of socialism because they fear any system based on large-scale management. Until recently it was generally assumed that a system based on the "free" flow of money, credit and capital would be more in line with democratic principles than an economy managed by "big government," via a complex bureaucracy. In the light of current events it has become all too clear that this is NOT the case. It was, as we now know, the lack of bureaucracy, in the form of regulation and regulators, that contributed to the problem. If government bureaucracy can be associated with bothersome "red tape," it must now be admitted that red tape is not always such a bad thing.
Returning to the issue of money, and whether or not it is necessary, I'd like to offer the proposition that money was already becoming a thing of the past long before the current crisis. Not only is our monetary system being destroyed, but it may have ultimately become obsolete in any case, as anyone who regularly carries a credit card can easily see. One possible solution to the problems we'll be facing when money (inevitably) loses all meaning, is the possibility of basing an economic system on a practice that was prevalent during World War II (and may in fact have contributed to the economic upswing associated with the aftermath of that horrible event): rationing.
Instead of credit cards, everyone could be issued plastic items that resemble credit cards, but that would actually function as ration cards. Ideally every adult in the world would get one. When you went to make a purchase, you would present your ration card, which would then be electronically connected to a computer system that would determine whether or not you are entitled to make the purchase. Everyone would be entitled to a baseline of ration "points" that would enable that person and his or her children to live in reasonable comfort, i.e., to eat adequately, be adequately clothed, purchase reasonable amounts of gas or other fuel, etc. (Under such a system housing, health care, education, etc. would already be covered, so the rationing system would not apply in such areas). Workers would be given additional points according to the nature of their work, how many hours they work, how difficult or strenuous the work is, how much education is required for their job, etc.
I'm not advocating such a system at this point, just tossing it out for consideration. And also demonstrating that we do have alternatives to money and to the highly destructive "free market" capitalist financial system everyone now seems to think is absolutely necessary.