Duran had been studying the nature of money, which he came to see as an instrument of global debt servitude on behalf of financial elites, carrying the stain of their usurious dealings wherever it went. He became convinced that big banks were the chief causes of injustice in the world. But, he thought, maybe they could be a solution too.An entrepreneur friend of Duran's first suggested the idea of borrowing money from banks and not giving it back. At first they talked about organizing a mass action, involving many borrowers, or else just making a fictional film about it. After the friend died in a car accident, Duran decided to act by himself. In the fall of 2005 he began setting up companies on paper and applying for loans. Soon, he had a mortgage from Caixa Terrassa worth €201,000 (then nearly $310,000). It was the first of 68 acts of borrowing, from car loans to credit cards, involving 39 banks. The loans, he said, totaled around €492,000—€360,000 not including interest and fees along the way. That was more than $500,000 at the time.
Robbing he banks was a spectacle, but one that created networks and built momentum for other projects. 'This is not the story of one action,' Duran said. 'It is a process of building an alternative economic system.'
The CIC's answer to the Federal Reserve is the Social Currency Monitoring Commission, whose job it is to contact members not making many transactions and to help them figure out how they can meet more of their needs within the system. If someone wants pants, say, and she can't buy any in ecos nearby, she can try to persuade a local tailor to accept them. But the tailor, in turn, will accept ecos only to the extent that he, too, can get something he needs with ecos. It's a process of assembling an economy like a puzzle. The currency is not just a medium of exchange; it's a measure of the CIC's independence from capitalism.A word one often hears around the CIC is autogestió. People use it with an affection similar to the way Americans talk about "self-sufficiency," but without the screw-everyone-else cowboy individualism. They translate it as "self-management," though what they mean is more community than self. It's like what used to be called commoning—the sharing of common resources, like a forest nobody owns, or the air. This kind of ethic is more cherished in the CIC than any particular legal loophole; the tax benefits just draw people in. The more they can self-manage how they eat, sleep, learn, and work, the closer the Integral Revolution has come.
The idea was to help people out and radicalize them at the same time. The rich use tax loopholes to secure their dominance; now anticapitalists could do the same.
With her brother, recently returned from years of food service and surfing in the British Isles, she started the town's only restaurant, Restaurant Terra, at the end of 2014. It is a CIC project through and through: Meals can be paid for in ecos, and it regularly plays host to regional assemblies. Members of the local forestry cooperative, which uses a donkey to help carry away logs, come to her for their pay. In the back, Benedicto is also starting a school for local kids, including her three-year-old son, Roc.Benedicto met Duran during the 15M movement's occupation in 2011. She was already pissed off, but he showed her something to do with it—"something real," she said. She began working with the CIC in the Welcome Commission, learning the Integral logic by teaching others, and by talking as much as she could with Duran. Soon, she was on the Coordination Commission, the group that orchestrates the assemblies and helps the other commissions collaborate better. But that work has been burning her out, and she's been trying to step down to focus on running the restaurant. "I'm starting to do what I want, finally," she told me.
While the idea for Bitcoin is to consign transactions entirely to software, bypassing the perceived risk of trusting central authorities and flawed human beings, the CIC's currency depends on a community of people who trust one another fully.
Following the cryptography lesson, he went back to an Airbnb apartment and sat down with his computer. There he worked until 4:30 in the morning—intensely focused, eating the occasional cookie, smiling every now and then at whatever email or forum thread had his attention, and typing back by hunt-and-peck. All day and all night, a second laptop in the room emitted a glow as the FairCoin wallet program ran on it, helping to keep the currency's decentralized network secure. He sleeps four or five hours, usually. No cigarettes, no coffee, rarely any beer. He's not a cook. He makes one want to care for him like a mother.
Duran's trial had been slated to begin in February 2013, but none of the defense's proposed witnesses had been approved to testify. A few days before the first proceedings, Duran went into hiding again.
The value of FairCoin peaked on April 15 last year at a nearly $1 million market cap. Halfway through its subsequent free fall, on April 21, Duran made an announcement on the FairCoin forum thread and on Reddit: He had begun buying FairCoins. "Building the success of FairCoin should be something collective," he wrote. "FairCoin should become the coin of fair trade." Between April and September, Duran used the stash of Bitcoins he'd been living on to buy around 10 million FairCoins—20 percent of the entire supply. For most of that time, the coin was close to worthless, abandoned by its community. With a small team behind them, Duran set about buying and planning, while Thomas König, a web developer in Austria, tweaked the code, fixing security problems. They began experimenting with ways to replace the competitive mechanisms FairCoin had inherited from Bitcoin with more cooperative ones designed to fit into the FairCoop structure. By the end of September, CIC members started to invest in FairCoins, and the value shot up again to 15 times what it had been while Duran was buying them in the summer.Just as the CIC is much more than its patchwork of local currencies, FairCoop is much more than FairCoin. Duran intends FairCoop to be a financial network for cooperatives, governed by its participants. They can sell their products in the FairMarket, trade with one another using FairCredit, and finance their growth with FairFunding. They can buy in at GetFairCoin.net and cash out with Fairtoearth.com. It is to be for the whole world what the CIC is in Catalonia. He has laid out the beginnings of a structure, in the shape of a tree—councils and commissions, markets and exchanges, each seeded with FairCoins. One fund's job is to build software for the ecosystem, while another's is to redistribute wealth to the Global South. Bolstered by a $13,800 grant from the cosmetics maker Lush, thanks to a friend from his global-justice days, Duran is spending every waking hour enlisting everyone he knows to help make FairCoop something useful for post-capitalists everywhere.
For all of FairCoop's manic complexity, it's also a plain and simple extension of the logic of Duran's previous endeavors: Cheat capitalism to fund the movement, take what already exists and recombine it.