Anitra Nelson


Anitra Nelson's interest in money intensified during activities in the women's liberation, peace, Latin American, disability and environmental movements. These experiences left her aware of the critical importance of self-empowerment, and of monetary values and relationships and economic power as barriers to a fairer and more sustainable world. The fundamental dynamics of capitalism undercut, rather than lay the basis for, democracy.

Anitra's doctoral thesis required framing the place of money in advanced capitalism. In 1995 she completed her doctorate and Marx's Concept of Money: The God of Commodities (Routledge) was published in 1999.

In the Preface to Marx's Concept of Money, she wrote:

'I began this study both because I believe that money is one of the most mysterious social facts today and because I sympathised with a Marxian perspective... I remain convinced that a humane and environmentally sustainable world is only achievable with the widespread adoption of the socialist values of sharing and caring... Although I regard the ethical rather than the so-called materialist identification of labour and value as most significant, I join Marx in opposing monetary reforms proposed by utopian socialists in his day and my own. Like him I believe that a real revolution requires dethroning money and overturning the state.'

'...Having read many and various theories of money in order to study [Marx's] in a broader context, I am very aware of the paucity of ambitious and sound analyses in this area. The reasons for this otherwise surprising fact are fairly clear; as Marx's biographer Mehring* observed "how should a world which had enthroned money a its God aspire to understand it?"'

*Franz Mehring, Karl Marx: the Story of his Life, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1936, p. 264.

Life Without Money is a natural development of Anitra's ongoing interests in this area — see the 30 December 2012 interview on Radical Notes. She has lived in two Australian environmentally-concerned cooperatives, Commonground (Seymour, Victoria) and Round the Bend Conservation Cooperative (Bend of Isles, Victoria). Anitra initiated this book because she knew a range of activists and theorists whose non-market socialist arguments and practical experiments followed this line and believed that this idea needed to be urgently debated afresh amongst all those who seek a more peaceful, secure and sustainable future. With Frans Timmerman, she co-wrote the introductory and final chapters of the book, as well as Chapter 2, 'Money versus socialism'.

Anitra researches in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). All through 2010 and 2011 she was the contact point for the Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree Network, which encouraged people to grow their own fruit and nut plants, share their harvest surplus, engage in community gardening and forage for fruits and nuts). She practices permaculture and keeps this website and the Life Without Money blog.



Anitra is a creative writer. In the spirit of working towards a gift economy, some of her work is offered here free — under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) licence, as detailed on the second page of each publication. If you enjoy reading any of these works, or find mistakes, you might want to let us know (contact us).

Download Mind the Gap (2011), an 88-page novella that glimpses the extermination of our species — neorealism with a futuristic sting, here.

'Servant of the Revolution presents and analyses, in a concentrated, real-time situation, the cross-currents of lofty idealism v. cruel pragmatism and enduring love v. enduring duty. These forces swirl about and trap Lenchen, the faithful servant of the Marx family and the mother of Karl Marx's illegitimate son. Cunningly, Anitra Nelson puts Engels, not Marx, on stage as go-between and manipulative fixer when Lenchen wants to see and know her boy, long since fostered out and now a man. Engels, the prophet of revolution and freedom, pleads Victorian respectability to prevent her. He plays on the servant's own devotion to the cause and on her indestructible love for her master, Marx. At the end, a cheery Mrs Marx — who knows, but chooses not to know — returns home and Lenchen is where she began: the faithful servant, who will serve to the end.  Her yearning can't break through and she can't break out. An ironic slice of imagined biography, based on known facts, about how revolutionaries can exploit the proletariat, and are human, all-too-human, too.’
Michael Brindley, scriptwriter for film (Shame, 1992) and television (Grass Roots, 2000–2003), playwright (Concerning Poor B.B.) and script assessor (ScriptWorks, Melbourne)

Download Servant of the Revolution (2009), the play with production notes, 40 pages, here.

Download Servant of the Revolution, the novella (2011, based on the play, as above, and 27 pages), here.

If this topic interests you, you might take a look at the play's blog and read Anitra's article: 'Servant of the Revolution: the creative art of serving history and the imagination' published in a 2010 issue of Hecate: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Women’s Liberation 36(1 & 2), pp. 137–152.

By arrangement with Anitra, her short 12'12" film Mercury Stole My Fire (2005) can be screened free provided the costs of the DVD, postage and handling are covered. Mercury Stole My Fire (2005) received an Honourable Mention in the ‘Performance 10–30 minutes, on a theme of disability’ category of the 5th international Picture This...Film (PTF) Festival, 6–10 February 2006, Calgary (Canada), a Merit Award in the XXVII Superfest International Disability Film Festival, 2–3 June 2007, Berkeley (US) and was screened at London’s 8th International Disability Film Festival, 14–19 February 2008.

Selectors at the PTF Festival wrote: 'absolutely excellent', 'unique form of storytelling on film', 'excellent performance, great script', 'life story told through dance performance is very powerful' and 'script was flawless'. For more details, contact us.

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