In the 1948 classic film, Key Largo, when Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) confronts the gangster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) on his status as a feared and infamous villain, the following exchange takes place:
Johnny Rocco: There's only one Johnny Rocco.
James Temple: How do you account for it?
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What's that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh ...
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That's it. More. That's right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won't. You, do you know what you want?
Frank McCloud: Yes, I had hopes once, but I gave them up.
Johnny Rocco: Hopes for what?
Frank McCloud: A world in which there's no place for Johnny Rocco.
I first saw this film on television as a child and was, needless to say, more taken with the drama of the story than by any possible social/economic/political statements it made. But when I saw it years later, not long after I had become a firmly entrenched member of what we now call the "60s counterculture" it had a very emphatic impact on me. There, in those few lines, was summed up the American Way of Life.
Being born a mere six years after WWII, all I had ever known, up until the age of 15, was the Post-war consumer gluttony that was, I suppose, the predictable result of a nation that had just come through the largest, most costly, most destructive war in history. The same had happened after the First World War, leading to the "roaring 20s," a similar time of "live for today; get whatever you can while you can" hedonism that became "the one who dies with the most toys wins."
But then, something happened. Someone, somewhere asked, "How much is too much?" and there was no answer.
We all, like Johnny Rocco, wanted "more."
"More what?" the stranger asked.
"More . . . more." We replied.
We wanted more more; more of more. It didn't matter what it was, whatever it was, we wanted more.
These thoughts came to mind after I received a comment and a link to an article written by another member of this site, John Steinsvold. (See the complete article at http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm)
In his article, Mr. Steinsvold makes, convincingly, I think, the argument for a non-currency society. One in which all things are provided by need and without cost to the individual – at least without cost in coinage.
"Uh-oh! Sounds like . . . Communism!"
"Evil! Evil! Outcast, unclean!"
The fact of the matter is that non-coinage societies have been around a lot longer than Karl Marx or Frederich Engels, and, indeed, the forms of so-called communism that we have seen in the modern world have not been, at all, anywhere near true communal cooperatives. They have been Stalinist and Maoist dictatorships in the costume of Marxism.
I can point out several examples of communistic societies working perfectly well: several of the Anabaptist societies such as the Mennonites and Amish societies – although both, to one extent or another, have abandoned their philosophy, this has been done more to assimilate within the country at large rather than because of any failure on the part of the concept.
I believe it was the Apache tribes that practiced not only communal ownership of all things, but also total equality of all tribal members, yes, including women.