The End is Nigh: Let's All Move to Barter Village!

Let’s face it: things aren’t great right now. The economy is on its back. Our political system is a mess. The South is stuck in a record-breaking drought. And Tiger Woods has apparently forgotten how to play golf. Clearly, the apocalypse is upon us.


Where to turn in such dark times? How about Barter Village. Located in a tiny castle (yes, castle) in northeast Arkansas, Barter Village is an “experimental educational project” where people who’ve been particularly hurt by the down economy can go to learn survival skills such as organic farming, sewing and, yes, bowhunting. Villagers hunt, fish and learn to dress their own game.

After providing for their own needs, Barter Village residents take their excess produce, meats, and handmade goods to the nearby castle market. Items sold there generate a meager income to help cover the costs of their stay at Barter Village. Any excess is divided evenly among the villagers to help fund their own survival community.

The project is the brainchild of John House, a doctor who a few years ago started a health clinic where low income patients could barter for health care services, often trading items they made or grew themselves for things like physical exams and checkups. House is clearly concerned about the state of the world. From his founder’s message:

For anyone who is paying attention to global events, it’s obvious that we are living in a world of declining energy resources, increasing world population, rising food prices, and ever-worsening climate change. The modern industrial economy requires more and more resources, demands ever more consumption, and places an increasingly heavy burden on the environment. It cannot be sustained. The world economy, and thus, the U.S. economy, while it may have brief periods of improvement, is almost certainly going to keep declining until it eventually collapses. Our very way of life is about to change — in a really big way. If ever there was a time when individuals need to re-learn the basics for survival, that time is now.

And thus, an entire village based on a barter economy. The village can support 10 to 12 “villagers” at a time. Of course, it’s rustic: there’s limited indoor plumbing and electricity, and no TV, Internet, air conditioning or cell phone service.

Sound like you? There are 10 spots coming up in October. Go here to apply.


[HT: Eric M. Jones]


How do they calculate their income for tax purposes?
The IRS is sure to call after the publicity of appearing in a big name site like this one.


The IRS actually collects money that goes to the Federal Reserves loans to our banks. There is no law saying you have to pay to the IRS.


Sounds like a demonstration project for the coming feudalistic society where the wealthy have everything and the poor nothing. Facit: Who owns the castle?

Mike B

Bartering doesn't solve anything. Having real stores of value and a financial system only brings positives compared with a barter economy. Let's see you go from having high transaction friction to low transaction friction. You go from no concept of loans to a a system where loans are at least possible.

I believe that Homer Simpson explained this best.

Homer: Doooh, 20 dollars, but I wanted a peanut.
Homer's Brain: 20 dollars can buy lots of peanuts.
Homer: Explain how!
Homer's Brain: Money can be exchanged for goods and services.

As long as Ebay and Freelancer exist you can trade your goods and services for money...which you can trade to other people for their goods and services without having to set up some sort of complex string of barters.

I can't believe I've been forced to defend the use of Money in the 21st century.


you completely missed the basis for the article, amigo...the US$
(so-called money) and the overpopulated, overregulated system
is in the process of decline towards collapse. Survival skills will
be all that keeps individuals afloat, including barter. watch and learn.

Mike B

Germany and Japan were reduced to smoking piles of rubble after World War 2 and within a few decades to rose to become the number 2 and 3 economies on the planet. The Ron Paul fantasy of a post apocalyptic hell scape where you have to defend your home from roving bands of foreigners with your stockpile of small arms and trade for food with your hoarded gold is never going to come to pass short of an asteroid impact or an all out nuclear war. Citizens of western developed countries are not going to sit around in piles of excrement feeling sorry for themselves, we would simply reorganize, move out and do what needs to be done.

If there is a real threat to order and stability it comes from this survivalist mentality itself. As outlined in the novel The Postman, an extreme focus on preserving the well being of the individual will sabotage the efforts of society to recover and make everyone worse off. This is what makes the Tea Party and their ilk so dangerous. They want to live in a world where they can spend their days defending their little piles of gold with their large piles of guns. The problem when everybody is armed to the teeth and hold up in their compounds nothing gets done and the solution to a societal collapse will become its very cause.



Actually, the survivalist groups are one step ahead and are banding together, so they may get the last laugh. We'll see...sooner than we want to.


Now that you've revealed them to the world, the government will shut them down. Selling produce and hand-dressed meat with out government licensing and inspection. Plus, no sales taxes collected on bartering. Tsk. Tsk. Shame on you.


Two men enter, one man leaves.

John Steinsvold

An Alternative to Capitalism (where everyone will be middle class)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
--Georg C. Lichtenberg


Back to basics ... great idea. Unfortunately, the human condition will result in "every man / woman" for themselves.

Mike B

Unfortunately the evidence doesn't bear you out. History has been full of societal collapses and disasters, yet the list of fail states is small and transient. The human condition is to form organized governments of one form of another. Just like farming and the wheel, once you have the concept of money and government it just isn't going to vanish. Money doesn't need any real technology to implement, it is simply an organizational concept which meas you can't just wipe it out short of wiping out the entire population that knows about it.

Ashraf Moussa M

There is something more to survive the apocalyptic crisis, think about:


Sounds like the Communes of Eastern Europe to me, only this one is voluntary.


Go watch some TED talks or pick up a science magazine. There are humans out there learning to converse with pigs and dolphins, highlighting the path to cure ageing, figuring out how to get humans living on Mars.

I do believe in survival skills, and there's certainly a place for bartering- particularly in poorer areas with regards to medical services and education- but to spend you whole life doing it is something for yourself. Which is fine of course, but it's not going to be the future of the human race.