European LETS Tour Report #3
Topics: 1) Lord Sutch; 2) Cologne; 3) Bad Neuenar; 4) Mainz; 
5) Begijnendijk, Belgium; 6) Paris ATTAC conference; 7) Begijnendijk 
     Lord Sutch, the leader of the "Monster Raving Loony Party," was 
the Guinness record holder for the most elections contested at 39 
before I broke his record. He was up to 41 when the 5000 pound entry 
fee into the European elections prevented him from running. So when we 
landed at Heathrow, we were surprised to see front page coverage:
Daily Mirror June 17 1999     
by Steve Atkinson and Alex Williams
     Screaming Lord Sutch, eccentric leader of the Official Monster 
Raving Loony Party, was found hanged at his home yesterday. Lord Sutch 
who had contested polls since 1963 recently quit politics after his 
party could not afford to put up candidates in the Euro elections. 
     His girlfriend said he had not been unhappy in recent days and 
could think of no reason why he might have taken his life. "He did 
suffer from depression but that was a long-term complaint." 
     Alan Hope, who became the first Loony mayor at Ashburton Town 
Council in Devon, said: "I'm absolutely devastated. Lord Sutch was in 
good spirits during a phone conversation 10 days ago. He was saying he 
had no money troubles any more and was sorting out his life. But he 
was taking lots and lots of pills - Prozac, I don't know what." 
     Lord Sutch was sad at the Raving Loonies being priced out of the 
Euro poll by the #5000 deposit - given up unless a party won 5% of the 
vote. He said: "It's a bad day for the loonies. There is no way we can 
afford it. It is a sad day for democracy when something like this  
     Some of his policies were copied by more orthodox colleagues - 
votes at 18, abolition of the 11-plus and all-day pub opening. 
The Sun Front Page: 
by Mike Sullivan and Jamie Pyatt 
     Screaming Lord Sutch was found hanged yesterday. The joker who 
became a political institution with his Monster Raving Loony Party was 
thought to have killed himself in a fit of depression. 
     Sutch, 58, who backed banning January and February to make winter 
shorter, was found at his home at 3p.m. A suicide note was found next 
to his body. 
     He stood for Parliament a record 41 times without winning under 
the slogan: "Vote insanity - you know it makes sense." He quit 
politics just before the 1997 General Election to care for his ailing 
mother Nancy who had brought him up alone after his father died when 
he was a baby. He became more depressed after she died two years ago. 
     His 60s pop group, the Raving Savages,included brief appearances 
by superstars Keith Moon of The Who and Rolling Stone Charlie Watts. 
     Sutch who would "rather have 1000 laughs than 1000 votes" broke 
the mould in politics and inspired a host of wacky candidates like 
Miss Whiplash and her British Corrective Party. 
     A Downing Street spokesman said: "Screaming Lord Sutch will be 
sadly missed. Elections will never the same without him." Liberal 
Democrat Nick Harvey said: "This is a sad loss for British politics."
by Bill Coles
     Screaming Lord Sutch brought more drama and colour to elections 
than any other living politician - but never got a seat in Parliament.
     He always stood against the Prime Minister in general elections 
and was a favourite with TV viewers as he played to the gallery.
     Sutch stood in dozens of byelections across the country wearing 
his trademark top hat and leopard-skin shirt.
     Occasionally, he even managed to get more votes than officially 
recognized parties. He even changed electoral coverage as commentators 
were forced to whisper the words "Raving Loony" to identify him during 
poll results.
     Sutch was a veteran campaigner who had added a touch of froth to 
elections since the Sixties. 
     He always had an eye-catching manifesto and planned to stand as a 
candidate for London's new mayor.
     Recently Sutch campaigned for a seat in the Scottish parliament 
with a tartan version of his Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
by Antonella Lazzeri
     Top-hatted Screaming Lord Sutch was a mad as a hatter - but 
was the best-loved "politician" of his generation. 
     He first stood for Parliament in 1963 with the National Teenage 
Party - even though he was twenty-two at the time. 
     Soon after, he founded the Monster Raving Loony Party and went 
on to stand at a record 41 elections. In between, he followed his 
other career as a musician which he had launched when he was 19. 
     But politics was his first love. His mum Nancy reckoned he 
inherited his passion from his father and grandfather who were both 
regulars at Speakers Corner in London. 
     At the age of 19, he entered the pop world as Screaming Lord 
Sutch. He was an immediate success and hordes of his groupies would 
gather at his mum's house in Harrow, North London, to shout up at his 
window. Records like "Knocking on my coffin lid" and "Jack the Ripper" 
were huge successes in America. 
     He got involved in politics in the Sixties to campaign for the 
legalization of commercial radio. 
     He is in the Guinness Book of Records for standing more times 
than any other wannabe MP. 
     The Monster Raving Loony Party was pledged to "giving Britain a 
good time" and his message was "fun, fun, fun." His bizarre outfits 
and top-hats made him a hugely recognizable public figure. Sutch was 
criticized by many politicians who dismissed him as not being serious 
about politics. But his party enjoyed moderate success and attracted a 
sizable following. His greatest victory was eclipsing the Social 
Democrats at the Bootle byelection in 1990 which signalled the end of 
Dr. David Owen's party as a major political force. 
     Later Sutch was bailed out by a bank when a #194,000 debt 
threatened him with bankruptcy which would have banned him from future 
Daily Telegraph
"Death of Looniest leader in politics"
     JCT: So one of the planet's most colourful politicians is felled 
by financial problems and Prozac. Too bad. I bought his biography and 
tried to meet him on my first trip to Britain but we couldn't connect. 
Too bad. I even laid down a 10 pence bet on him with William Hill, 
bookmakers, were offered 15 million to one that he never get elected. 
I guess I can kiss that bet goodbye. 
     Marina Corboga arranged for us to stay with Paula Cremer in 
Cologne during the TOES conference and our meeting with the Cologne 
LETS. Paula was one of Cologne's first LETS members and the German 
magazine Der Spiegel did an interview with her about LETS a few years 
ago. I have a copy which I'll soon get translated and posted to my 
LETS press section at my web site. 
     Paula operates a second-hand store and has a unique apartment on 
the top floor of the building just opposite. Outside of her apartment, 
she has a roof-top terrace full of plants and we sat out there with a 
great view of the city center. She also joined us while we went to the 
Jubilee 2000 Chain of Debt around the G8 leaders. 
     She had an African friend, Ishmael, who gave me a cowrie shell, 
one of the world's oldest forms of money used by Africans as money due 
to their rarity and their religious symbolism. 
     On Sunday, we met with a group of Cologne LETS members at 
Marina Carboga's home. We discussed the usual problems that plague 
small LETSystems, such as how to avoid keeping half the members in the 
negative so the other half of the members could be in the positive. 
The LETS consignment store and the introduction of pensioners to the 
system are my usual suggestions to solve that problem. 
     Paula had obtained an accordion from a neighbor so I gave them a 
little concert. They cleared the room of chairs and a bunch of the 
women were dancing around to it. 
     Then we rented a car for a month with 4,600 free kilometers and 
set out on our journey. The thing that's wonderful about driving in 
Europe compared North America is that not only is the continent much 
smaller but the speed limits are much higher. It's a funny feeling 
cruising along at 100 mph and being passed on a regular basis. Germany 
has no speed limit and Belgium and France have 130kmph/80mph limits 
but most people drive at close to 150/90. Most of our trips will be 
shorter than 4 hours on the road. Some of our upcoming legs of the 
journey will be longer but never a whole day until we start our Nordic 
journey where some legs might take all day. 
     Of course, my report on TOES got some negative feedback: 
>Date: Wed Jun 23 18:17:33 1999
>From: (Mark Brown)
>Subject: Re: TURMEL: The "No Choice" TOES99 LETS Report
>These bewildering messages have been appearing on the J18 list for 
>some time. They apear to be quite a few degrees off topic, so perhaps 
>you could desist? Thanks and good luck... Mark (London)
     JCT: He doesn't see the relevance of my TOES report on the J18 
meeting to the J18 list and wants me to desist. I usually ignore  
idiots like this who would prefer that I not send messages to everyone 
because they aren't interested themselves. You have to wonder where  
they get off thinking they have to right to censor the reading of all 
the others. 
     We visited Paul Imbusch, a Cologne and Bonn LETS member in Bad 
Neuenar. He showed us around the town where we visited the casino and 
a couple of pubs. The casino was a beautiful building with a couple of 
bridges over a stream packed with fish but they had no poker, only the 
usual casino games and slot machines. 
     He gave us copies of two editions of Tausch-System Nachrichten, a 
magazine published by Klaus Kleffmann and Ingo Leipner. They trade a 
copy to each LETS in Germany in exchange for copies of the local 
LETSystem publications so they probably have the most extensive 
Germany LETS archives there are. Their email address is at and we realized that we'd love to meet 
these two and see their archives. 
     Paul was keen on inter-system trading. He called it "LETS without 
     Erich Murmann organized our stay with Signe Seiler who had her 
Phd in anthropology and philosophy. That evening we went to the LETS 
meeting in Mainz but unfortunately, the girl organizing the meeting 
didn't know what I'd be speaking about and left me off the agenda. It 
wasn't a wasted trip though. Erich introduced me to one of the 
speakers who mentioned that he was involved with putting out a 
national LETS publication. I pulled out the magazine Paul had given me 
and found that that he was Ingo Leipner who was associated with that 
very magazine. What a fluke that one of the people we were going to 
try to contact happened to be speaking in Mainz that very night. 
     At the end of the meeting, with Signe translating, I got to 
mention my LETS tour and show them some of the items I was going to 
discuss at the other meetings like the news out of the U.S. National 
Local Currency conference such as the hospital in Ithaca accepting 
Hours for medical services, the explosive growth of the Philadelphia 
LETS, the European Council funding U.K. Bradford LETS but what wowed 
them the most was Michael Linton's new smartcards for LETS. 
     We went out to a pub after the meeting with several Mainz LETS 
members and had a lively discussion about LETS developments around the 
world. Ingo said that the idea of government having a LETS account and 
the possibility of the 300 German LETS organizations forming a 
political party if necessary had opened new doors in his mind. The 
others were similarly enthused. So I may not have been able to speak 
to the main group in detail but these discussions certainly made the 
trip to Mainz worthwhile. 
     The "g" in Belgian is pronounced as an "h" and the "ij" like the 
"e" in "bed," so it sounds like Behenendek. The LETS there are a group 
of 12 families who help each other on a regular basis and keep track 
of their time traded in "feathers" worth a Belgian franc at a rate of 
30 feathers an hour. 
     Dirk (Derek) Geysen who organized the meeting and his wife 
Beatrice brought us to their meeting at Alex and Nadine Steeno who 
have a beautiful home converted from an old farm-house with attached 
barn and a huge back yard lush with plants. I made presented the usual 
information then we repaired to the back of the yard where Alex had 
lit a large bon-fire which we sat around talking for several hours. I 
did a few of my poems, "the plates" and "10%," sang Tom Lehrer's "The 
Bomb" and "The Vatican Rag" as well as the "Cameron Highlanders," a 
quite bawdy song from my militia days. 
     Luc Van der Auwera mentioned that there was a large group that 
was having a meeting on Friday night in Antwerp to discuss starting up 
a barter system. He said he couldn't go but that he'd try to inform 
them about the LETS software. 
     ATTAC, a large and fast-growing organization dedicated to 
coordinating networks against the dictatorship of the financial 
markets, were having a 70-nation planetary conference at the 
University of Paris at St. Denis on June 24, 25 and 26. When I heard 
about them, I wrote to ask if I could speak on LETS. They wrote back 
to invite me to the Economic Alternatives forum. 
     We left Begijnendijk around 9:30, wasted half an hour in some 
back roads before finding the highway to Brussels and then Paris. By a 
fluke, we got off the highway in Paris just a few minutes away from 
the university and got there with 10 minutes to spare. 
     My workshop had 7 speakers most of whom were connected with the 
micro-credit business. We all had 5 minute opening statements but the  
first speaker was a delegate, Michel Tavernier, who knew his monetary 
reform inside out and called for the abolition of interest rates! He 
cited Silvio Gesell's monetary experiment in Worgl (LETS with a 
demurrage charge to stimulate velocity) and pointed out no government 
can stop barter. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation though I could 
tell he left many in the audience puzzled. He also suggested that they 
have a panel on money reform and quite a few people indicated they 
wanted one too. So it was arranged that there would be one the next 
day at noon. 
     The other micro-credit speakers explained the good things that 
came of lending to the poor but their presentations were quite bland. 
So my presentation laden with jokes and wonderful news about LETS 
around the world amused and entertained them. 
     I spoke in French and explained that I had formed the 
Abolitionist Party because the the historical Abolitionist movement 
against slavery had lifted the metal chains but had failed to finish 
the job by lifting the chains of debt by the abolition of interest 
rates with the LETS software. I could see Tavernier sit up and take 
notice. As usual, the mention of my Guinness record for most elections 
contested and most elections lost broke up the crowd. 
     I asked if there were any in the audience who had heard about 
LETS and quite a few had. I told them of all the Councils in Britain 
who had supported LETS including the Stockport council who called it 
an anti-poverty strategy. 
     I mentioned the Argentinian provinces who had instituted the 
biggest government LETS in recent history with their use of provincial 
bonds to pay all their government employees which then acted as 
currency for the rest of the population who could use them to pay 
their taxes. 
     I urged inter-system trading, especially accommodations, and 
asked if there were anyone who would like to trade some accommodations 
in Paris for accommodations in Canada since we still hadn't found any 
LETSers in Paris to put us up yet. 
     I mentioned how LETS and I had been shut out of the TOES 99 
agenda this year and reminded them that just like in Cologne, they'd 
be hearing speakers urging that solutions be sought despite the fact 
that the solution is already here. 
     Again, showing them how Michael Linton's smartcards worked wowed 
the audience. I urged anyone interested in local currency to pick up 
one of my business cards with my web site address to get all the 
information they might need about it. 
     I was pleased that they gave me a super round of applause and one 
ATTAC member mentioned I had had a "grand tabac," a "big tobacco," 
which I found out meant a "big hit." Of course the LETS solution 
would be a big hit compared to most of the speakers who were still 
     The last speaker, a M. Vivaret, spoke of local currencies saying 
he wanted to fill out what I had told them. 
     A delegate from Senegal and another from the Ivory Coast told us  
of the problems they were suffering at the hands of the financial 
system. A delegate from the "El Barzon" movement in Mexico  told us of 
their efforts bank-fighting efforts.  
     When I spoke next, I pointed out that both Senegal and the Ivory 
Coast now had LETSystems which could be found at my web page and that 
if they wanted  a quick fix for many of their problems, they should go 
and join them. I also pointed out to the Mexican that Mexico City had 
their LETS Tlaloc system going and installing the LETS software on 
their organization's 2 million member database would have startling 
     I pointed out that there were two distinct groups of speakers in 
the panel, those trying to cope with the present financial system 
without changing it and those wanting to change it. 
     One of the micro-credit panellists rebutted that to get the 
money they needed to lend to the poor, they had to borrow and pay some 
interest. So we shouldn't make out that interest is diabolical. I 
could see Tavernier chafing at the bit but he couldn't get the floor 
so I got to explain that because the micro-credit institutions do 
relend their depositors' funds, they think that the banks operate in 
the same way. They don't know that banks do not lend out their 
depositors funds like they do but do lend out new money so there's no 
reason they should be charging interest on new money like the micro-
credit institutions do though a simple service charge would be better.
     Another delegate criticized me saying that the problems of the 
Third World and the Rich nations were not the same and needed 
different solutions. I answered that the problem is the same in all 
nations, a lack of money caused by the interest rate. Sure it's 
effects are worse in poorer nations but the problem is identical and 
the solution is the same too. 
     One delegate, Sylvain Palfroy, backed me solidly and denounced 
the interest. He happens to be a LETS member as well as an influential 
ATTAC member. He should end up being very useful in getting their 
organization behind LETS as the alternative to the world's currency 
financial system. 
     After the panel, I went to the ATTAC organization room and asked 
if it would be possible to have a room in which I could do a 
presentation on LETS. No problem. They found and empty room and 
allocated it to me for the next day at 2p.m. They gave me four ATTAC 
posters and I wrote "Presentation System Echange Local Room 102 2p.m." 
and they hung them up in the main lobby.  
     Then we went over to the accommodations table where we found out 
that they had men's and women's dormitories  available at 120 francs 
per night. But then heavenly intervention happened once again and a 
girl, Odile Lambert, came up and invited us to stay at her home if we 
didn't. It seems that she had offered ATTAC her home to accommodate 
any members but that the organizers had failed to make use of the 
offer so she and her husband decided they would simply invite someone 
to stay for free. What a break. We'll give them LETS IOUs for 
accommodations in Canada and we still haven't had to pay for any 
accommodations yet. And Odile and her husband Christian are both 
computer software engineers with France Telecom! Were they in for some 
unusually provocative house-guests.
     They live in West Paris, about 40km/25miles from the university 
so we used the subway and took about an hour to get to their home in a 
very nice suburb of Paris, St. Germain-en-laye and have two sons in 
university. One thing I found interesting is that while most North 
American windows and doors have blinds on the inside, they have their 
blinds or shutters on the outside which are rolled down over the 
window or door with a screw type handle. Seems a more secure system. 
     The next day, we went to the university and attended a few more 
panels but they seemed to consist of the same type of speakers who 
populated the TOES conference, experts on money mismanagement and the 
various ills and miseries in their nations.   
     At noon though, Michel Tavernier got to make a presentation on 
money which I attended with a dozen other people. He described several 
kinds of money from antiquity. When he mentioned shell money, I passed 
around the the cowrie shell that Ishmael had given me. Again, he spoke 
of Gesell's Worgl money as an example of a successful interest-free 
currency which had a velocity 10 times greater than the regular 
Austrian money. He pointed out the reason for the death-gamble, that 
interest is never created by the bank when they make the loans, only 
the principal. 
     At my panel, I went over the usual math and LETS developments 
around the world. One fellow, Pierre, was very skeptical and we argued 
quite a bit. But after it was over, he went up to the computer room, 
visited my web page then came back to challenge me to show him more. 
So we went to the computer room together and one of those listening to 
us was Jean-Paul Vieron. I accessed the Selidaire site from my list of 
urls at then called up 
the list of LETS in his area. There were three and he took their 
addresses and phone numbers. Jean-Paul asked me to access the list in 
his area which brought up four LETS. Then he mentioned that he had 
been one of the first members of the first LETS on the list: number 7. 
From that point on, Pierre became convinced and turned exceedingly 
friendly. I was quite thrilled at the turnaround. I saw him several 
times over the next two days and he always came over to say hello. 
     That night, I discussed the LETS development with Christian and 
Odile. She was skeptical that the bankers would oppose LETS 
effectively once it got big enough to hurt their business but 
immediately saw that the possibility of an Internet Service Provider 
like AOL, Microsoft Network or France Telecom providing Email LETS 
credit services could not be stopped and was the way to go. From then 
on, we discussed the best way of approaching them to do it. 
     On the last day in Paris, ATTAC were having a demonstration march 
from the St. Lazare metro station in the financial district to the 
Stock Exchange after the last plenary. I had the same picket sign as I 
used in the Chain of Debt demonstration in Cologne: "Abolish Interest 
on Debt" and "Bankers starve third-world babies." I wore my white "The 
Engineer" hard-hat and carried my sign to the front of the plenary 
hall. Many many people gave me a thumbs up. Many people took pictures. 
Everyone who took a picture got a web site card. 
     Then we took the metro to the St. Lazare station. On the subway, 
I sat beside a young man, Joep, and when I explained that I was at the 
conference to promote LETS, he told me that he was a member of Antwerp 
LETS. I told him I'd be speaking to the Antwerp LETS on July 14 but 
unfortunately, he was going to be out of town that week. Too bad 
because we had a great time marching together. 
     During the demo march, I gave out over 100 cards to people who 
took pictures. At least a dozen media reporters took pictures or film 
and I gave them the flyer with the press report of my arrest at the 
World Bank conference in Toronto in 1982 with the same picket sign and 
the press report form the Citizen of my Guinness Record promoting 
LETS. I'd bet that my picket sign has been published somewhere. 
     We drove back to Begijnendijk to spend a couple of more days with 
our Belgian friends and arrived in time to share in a barbecue after 
their monthly "Salongo." A "salongo" is what we call a work-bee in 
English or a "corvee" in French. Every month, the whole group get 
together at one family's home and pitch in to do any necessary work. 
That day, the men had cleared some land in the back yard of bush and 
wood while the women had applied mortar to the bricks in the garage. 
The children all played. Some of the older ones helped pile the wood 
and prepare the food. 
     At the end of the day, they all filled out their LETS cards 
recording the work they did to be credited by Beatrice, Dirk's wife, 
to their individual accounts. Dirk explained that it not only got a 
lot of the household chores done but it was turned it into a fun 
social occasion. 
     I can't think of a more beautiful set up for a small LETS. 
They're certainly making it work for them. 
     Finally, an econometrist from the new Vivant political party 
attended. Several of the LETSers belong and were anxious to introduce 
LETS to the party.
     I must admit that I felt trepidation at the thought of having to 
explain the advantages of an interest-free LETS to someone trained in 
economics given the difficulty exhibited by people who suffer such 
conditioning. I can only think of two economists I've ever spoken to 
who broke the brain-washing to understand. Geert Witteman was the 
     He said he'd often doubted much of what he'd learned in Economics 
and had come to many of the conclusions that I had though they had now 
become much clearer in his mind. His party was started by an engineer 
who owns several companies, one on a New York stock exchange, and they 
polled 2% of the national vote in their first try. Pretty good 
considering that they face the same media bias I've always faced. He's 
going to try to make my Antwerp presentation and I think it would be 
wonderful to have a Belgian political party officially endorsing a 
LETS a-la-Argentina provincial bond system too. 
     There seems to be a general awakening to the malfunctions of the 
banking system around the world. Once groups like TOES, ATTAC, and 
political parties jump on the LETS bandwagon which already include 
endorsements by the Argentinian provinces, Australia's Parliament, the 
U.K. government and the American IRS, it should provide the impetus 
for the final correction of the unsafe engineering design of the world 
money system. 
     Lets us pray! Amen. 

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