I recall reading a story/novel where the inhabitants had been cut off from the empire for a while.

A ship, from the empire, lands, and soldiers get out and try to take over. The residents resist by saying "MYOB" ("mind your own business").

I think it may have been the same story where there was no currency. When someone did work for another, they planted an "ob" ("obligation"). It was based on honour. The soldiers soon found that they could not get any food or co-operation from the residents.

I must have read it about 30 years ago.

1 Answer 1


This must surely be ...And then there were none by Eric Frank Russell. This was first published as a novella in Astounding in 1951, and later expanded and included in Russell's novel Τhe Great Explosion.

From this summary:

…And Then There Were None is the story of a visit by the Terran Ambassador to the planet Gand. Though humans inhabited the planet more than four centuries ago, it is the first visit of Earthlings, since. Landing on the planet in style, the ambassador immediately sends one of his entourage to the closest person, a farmer, and demand he come for an audience to describe Gand and what has happened on the planet in the intervening centuries. Nonplussed, the farmer deflects their request with indifferent wit and returns to his work, as do the others the entourage accost. Eventually making their way to a nearby town, the ambassador is aggrieved to find that nobody cares to speak with him, most, in fact, doing their best to avoid his spaceship. Moreover, each of townspeople keep using a strange word, ‘myob’, to conclude what passes for conversation.

"myob" of course stands for "Mind your own business".

The planet indeed does not use money. Business is instead transacted on a system of "obligations", abbreviated to "obs".

‘Obligation. Why use a long word when a short one is plenty good enough? An obligation is an ob. I shift it this way: Seth Warburton, next door but one, has got half a dozen of my obs saddled on him. So I get rid of mine to you and relieve him of one of his to me by sending you around for a meal.’ He scribbled briefly on a slip of paper. ‘Give him this.’

  • 3
    It's much more terse, but it reminds me a little bit of the reception King Arthur received from some anarcho-syndicalist peasants in the Monty Python telling of the legend.
    – Theodore
    Commented Jun 20 at 18:34

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