The Case for the Guild Economy


The year is 2018. Millennials, constantly bashed for being “entitled” and “lazy” are somehow simultaneously starting nuclear families and working full time hours for constantly dwindling wages in large numbers. Behind the seemingly dead gazes into Smartphones and computer screens is the unspoken assumption that the future is bleak.

What differentiates our generation from that of our grandparents? For one, job security. Whereas Grandpa might have worked for the same employer for 30 years and raised a multiple child household on his income, that option is no longer available to most of us. Companies treat workers as expendable resources to be hired and fired on a whim, wages are falling lower and lower while the cost of living continues to shoot upward, the almost universally required university degrees are producing a whole generation of debtors, and let’s not even get started on the looming threat of full scale automation.

So what is a guild economy, and what can it do for the aforementioned situation? Simply put, a guild economy refers to a system of worker-run syndicates based on career and their delegated councils which are employed to settle disputes in a workers’ court. This model can be conceived of as a large union or network of unions in which individual workers are guaranteed work in their field based on the needs of their community as opposed to the “free market”. In other words, if you live in xyz town as a bricklayer and somebody needs a wall put up you’ve got the job. Obviously this is a very simple example, but the point is that your skill and membership in the guild determines your job prospects, not whether Porky can find someone cheaper to employ and cut his overhead. I would hope the reader could see the benefits of such a model given the economic situation described in the previous paragraph.

A recently published article stated that many millennials want to live in a Communist, Socialist or Fascist society. Whereas I would personally prefer a ground level worker’s syndicalist type model as opposed to any type of big state politics. I think I understand where this desire comes from. Millennials have been handed a crumbling economy and housing market by the baby boomer generation, the Fox News generation who simultaneously decry the evils of these political systems while supporting the most destructive and predatory of neoliberal economics and debt-incurring foreign policy. Of course, that’s not to say this trend is based solely in resentment, however it’s easy to see why our generation might be tempted to see just how evil these systems are given how horribly the one we’re currently under is working out.

In any case, you can’t expect longevity out of a system that places profits over people. Either the people will get sick of it and fix it, or the system will crash and we’ll be forced to start over. Let’s hope for the first outcome.

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