The conventional national currency operates within the competitive economy where it
facilitates quite efficiently the various types of commercial transactions, and it creates
financial capital in the process. This is what could be described as the “Yang economic
cycle”. The Yin currency in contrast activates the Yin economic cycle in a cooperative
economy, facilitating community exchanges that help generate Social Capital. Both
economies require as underpinning a foundation of Physical and Natural Capital.
Conventional economic theory focuses only the Yang cycle and formally acknowledges
the existence of the two Yang forms of capital: physical capital and financial capital.
Unsurprisingly, these forms of capital are measured and exchanged in the national
currency, i.e. the Yang currency. Conventional theory therefore tends to ignore the role of
the two forms of Yin capital - natural capital and social capital - and considers them as
Nevertheless, all economies need to have both a Yin and a Yang cycle – otherwise vitally
important Yin functions such as raising and educating children, caring for the elderly, or
community and volunteer activities would not exist. A society completely lacking a Yin
cycle would therefore soon collapse. But whenever a monopoly of Yang currency
prevails, the Yin functions tend to be less acknowledged and honored, and systematically
starved of resources. Such functions also used to be relegated to women. So the public
invisibility of women, the disregard of the feminine functions of the Yin cycle, and the
gradual deterioration of the Yin forms of capital are hereby explicitly linked.
One result of a monopoly of Yang currency: community decay, and less solidarity and
group creative activities than is the case in societies with a dual Yin-Yang
complementary currency system. Another result: it is often said that in Bali “everybody is
an artist of some kind”, as indeed almost everybody tends to contribute to group cultural
events as musician, dancer, mask maker, decorator of musical instruments or temple
ornaments, or at the very least arranger of the elaborate daily offerings. In contrast, in the
“developed societies” where exchanges are monetized exclusively via a Yang currency,
the arts tend to become a highly specialized and comparatively rarefied function, and
their output becomes a commodity consumed by an elite.
The Integral Economy framework of Figure 3 formally recognizes both a Yin and a Yang
cycle, where each cycle mutually supports and complements the other. Within such a
framework, the Balinese exception and many of its unusual characteristics become more
easily understandable, even predictable. They may also contribute to explaining the polar
differences of the reaction to a terrorist attack in Bali and in the US.
The model of an Integral Economy and the unusual socio-economic dynamics of dual
Yin-Yang currencies have been verified in contemporary cases other than Bali.
On a contemporary anthropological basis, the recent study of traditional dual currency use in Papua New
Guinea came to identical results as in Bali. See DeMeulenaere, S., Week, D. & Stevenson, I. The
Standardisation and Mobilisation of the Tabu Traditional Shell Currency (East New Britain Provincial
Government, Papua New Guinea , 2002).
© SOL 2003
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