Toward a non-mystical understanding of gift economy

Perhaps the main project of this blog is to put non-market anarchism on a solid theoretical footing. While I’m excited to find that many people envision the supplanting of the exchange paradigm by the gift paradigm, there seems to be no underlying theory that hopelessly left-brained me can latch onto. Also, the implementation doesn’t seem to have gone far beyond the Free Store stage. Oh, and of course software. But you can’t eat software. Three identifiable clusters of interest in the gift paradigm are in feminist anarchism (this link being to what is probably the closest thing to a theoritical understanding of gift economy that I have found), Christian anarchism (where gift economy might be attributed to “agape”) and Venus Project types.

I’m not sure how important gift theory is or should be to anagorist theory. I’ve been thinking mainly in terms of dreaming up alternatives the market as a method of allocation. It seems that in gift-giving, the giver (or in economese, the supplier?) does all the thinking…what to give, when, how much, to whom. Perhaps this authority is some kind of compensation for a “negative” “profit” on the “transaction?” But this “analysis” doesn’t escape conventional economics, does it? Oh well, I continue to brainstorm, as hopefully do others. It’s encouraging that no less than two commenters here have expressed at least some frustration with the agorism expressed by certain left libertarian tendencies.

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About n8chz

पृथ्वी की उच्च किराया जिले में उद्यमिता कौशल अभाव
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2 Responses to Toward a non-mystical understanding of gift economy

  1. Brian Marick says:

    Graeber’s /Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value/ gives some theoretical underpinnings for a gift economy.

    I wouldn’t necessarily assign all the thinking or the power to the giver. There are a fantastic number of variations on the core idea. In some cultures, the receiver chooses the gift. In others, no one chooses the gift – certain situations just call for certain gifts, with no choosing involved.

    More generally, Graeber emphasizes that the point of the gift isn’t the gift. It’s the ongoing maintenance of social ties. It is /not/ a form of market-like transaction with one half of the exchange simply deferred. In many cases, thinking about transactions doesn’t and couldn’t make sense to the actual people involved. For example, among the Iroquois, there were two moieties, each of which buried the members of the other. A statement like “this year, our moiety buried seven of your people, and you only buried three of ours, so you’re in our debt” is absurd.

    His /Debt: the First Five Thousand Years/ covers some of the same topics, but I am not finding it as compelling.

  2. n8chz says:

    Thankx for the tip. I’ve been finding the reviews of Debt quite compelling. Now the other work is definitely on my round tuit reading list.

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