Mali gift economy

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mike1937

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Jul 25, 2009, 10:23:07 PM7/25/09
to OpenVirgle
I first came across this magazine when Paul linked to it in
openManufacturing and found this article about an example of a gift
economy.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/economies/malis-gift-economy

"In one study in Bamako, each person gave an average of 1.5 gifts per
day. Another study found that gifts account for 18% of total
expenditures among Malian villagers, comprising the largest single
category. Presents are passed along everywhere: a small household
decoration, change to buy a school notebook. When a family’s harvest
of millet or peanuts is ready, they pass on a portion to the homes
around them. If a household is hosting guests, neighbors will
typically send over food.
...
Western academics are often tempted, as one of them noted, to
delineate “a radical break between premodern and modern cultures, with
the gift reserved for the premodern, while we must deal through the
market and the state.” We are to believe that, as capitalism
developed and exchange systems spread, markets supplanted morals and
gifting was destroyed."

I also came across, but have not yet read, a book called "The Gift
Relationship", by Richard Titmuss. Might be interesting. One of my
professors mentioned an island with a pure gift economy, but I never
got a chance to ask here which one it was. I'm sure their are many
such examples.

-Mike

Paul D. Fernhout

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Jul 25, 2009, 11:09:52 PM7/25/09
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Bringing together some stuff from the OM list in other threads:

A blog and website of the guy who lives in a cave and lives off of the gifts
from nature and other people:
http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/
http://sites.google.com/site/livingwithoutmoney/

The book you mention:
"Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy"
http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Relationship-Social-Expanded-Updated/dp/1565844033
"Richard M. Titmuss's The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social
Policy has to be the best book that I have read this summer. It is hard to
believe that this book was first published half a century ago and still
holds true of the social and economical policies of life, metaphorically
represented as blood. The first few chapters in this book that has recently
been included in this edition illustrate the importance of how the concept
of donating a non-substitute fluid of life presents various dilemmas in
association with recent outbreaks like A.I.D.S. Originally, when I first
purchased this book, I thought I would criticize how such social and
economical policies have changed significantly over the fifty years.
However, after reading this fascination and quite reflective book on our
society and generosity today, I have realized that not much has changed
since this book was first written. ..."

Ultimately, our entire economy rests on the gift of nature.
http://www.marcinequenzer.com/creation.htm#The%20Field%20of%20Plenty
"The Field of Plenty is always full of abundance. The gratitude we show as
Children of Earth allows the ideas within the Field of Plenty to manifest on
the Good Red Road so we may enjoy these fruits in a physical manner. When
the cornucopia was brought to the Pilgrims, the Iroquois People sought to
assist these Boat People in destroying their fear of scarcity. The Native
understanding is that there is always enough for everyone when abundance is
shared and when gratitude is given back to the Original Source. The trick
was to explain the concept of the Field of Plenty with few mutually
understood words or signs. The misunderstanding that sprang from this lack
of common language robbed those who came to Turtle Island of a beautiful
teaching. Our "land of the free, home of the brave" has fallen into taking
much more than is given back in gratitude by its citizens. Turtle Island has
provided for the needs of millions who came from lands that were ruled by
the greedy. In our present state of abundance, many of our inhabitants have
forgotten that Thanksgiving is a daily way of living, not a holiday that
comes once a year."

I can wonder how the first people in space habitats, if they have mostly
gift economies, would deal with the continual influx of people steeped in
the old ways?

From the guy in the cave:
"Your ideas sound nice, but naive. Let's get real. Don't you think, with all
the thieves, the lazy, the mooches & the greedy that a moneyless, free
economy just wouldn't work?"
http://sites.google.com/site/livingwithoutmoney/Home/25--your-ideas-sound-nice--but-naive--let-s-get-real--don-t-you-think--with-all-the-thieves---mooches---lazy---greedy-people-that-a-moneyless--free-economy-just-wouldn-t-work
"""
We can see it in our own society, beginning to happen on a temporary
scale at Rainbow Gatherings. There are lots and lots of moochers at Rainbow
Gatherings, called "drainbows." And "So what?" is the prevailing idea.
It's actually amazing how few thefts and what little violence there is at a
Rainbow Gathering of 20,000 people, especially compared to a town of the
same size. Towns of the same size, which have police and locks and laws and
lawyers, have much more crime. Think about that. The Rainbow Gathering
still miraculously works out, due to the droves and droves of hard-working,
generous people, who don't give a hoot that somebody else might be "taking
advantage." What is taking advantage? The philosophy is to do, expecting
nothing in return. And that philosophy becomes infectious. There is a lot
of rif-raf at gatherings, and a lot of true compassion that overshadows it.
The idea of compassion is to have patience with thieves, mooches, the
lazy, and the greedy, who are people still detoxing from being programmed by
the money system.
When you have been taught all your life that nothing is valuble unless
you get money for it, you will initially be lazy, because you aren't paid.
You haven't yet learned the true reward of doing itself, and the reward of
community with others, which makes money look ridiculous. When you have
been programmed into thinking that possessing and not sharing are virtues,
you tend to steal, and it takes you a while to deprogram from that. The
Rainbow Gathering is a hospital, and those who caretake the hospital have a
natural sense of patience with the patients, giving them all the time they
need to heal. You can only be idle so long before you get sick of being
idle and start wanting to contribute. It might take a while, but it
happens, naturally.
"""

So, maybe that will have to be the attitude of the first habitat people to
future arrivals? Same as it was for the Iroquois when faced with the
Pilgrims? Or same as the mythical Chironians when faced with people from
Earth in Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear"? Or the same as people steeped in
the physical economy when they come to the internet? :-)

A link from the guy in the cave's site:
http://wiki.uniteddiversity.com/tiki-print.php?page=MoneyQuotes
"""
"Money is institutionalised mistrust." - Professor Michael Hussey
The point is that money enables exchange in a society in which trust is low
or absent, exchange between strangers. It is a form of balanced exchange,
which requires an immediate return for anything given. In contrast, in a
society with high trust, generalised exchange is possible, in which there is
ongoing give and take, and an assumption of long term, unmeasured balance,
but no immediate return on a transaction.
"""

A section of an interview with Michel Bauwens where he talks about good ways
to mix money and peer-to-peer free gift-type commons-oriented development:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wLuDeSEw6A

Hope you had an educational first year at college and didn't learn too many
bad habits after the faculty and administrators took your money. :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciplined_Minds
"The book describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional
and graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined
managerial and intellectual workers that correctly perceive and apply the
employer's doctrine and outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine,
and physics, and describes methods that students and professional workers
can use to preserve their personalities and independent thought."

--Paul Fernhout
http://www.pdfernhout.net/

mike1937

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Jul 26, 2009, 1:23:41 AM7/26/09
to OpenVirgle
> Hope you had an educational first year at college and didn't learn too many
> bad habits after the faculty and administrators took your money. :-)

Thanks, I did learn a lot from some philosophy and literature classes,
though not as much as I learned using Google in the same period of
time.
http://xkcd.com/519/

I've been lurking on this list and OM when I have the time, it's still
as interesting as ever, but I got tired of making a lot of people with
Wikipedia pages read my verbiage when I usually end up disagreeing
with it myself after a few weeks of thinking about it. I guess I've
become convinced that the correct first step is pretty well in line
with the leftist agenda (as portrayed in yes! magazine and that
Domhoff guy that was linked to: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_market.html)
and that aiming towards a gift economy is a goal to keep in mind, as
well as a philosophy with many important lessons. And the left seems
to have some ideas that are pretty good ends by themselves.

-Mike

Paul D. Fernhout

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Jul 26, 2009, 1:55:54 PM7/26/09
to openv...@googlegroups.com
mike1937 wrote:
>> Hope you had an educational first year at college and didn't learn too many
>> bad habits after the faculty and administrators took your money. :-)
>
> Thanks, I did learn a lot from some philosophy and literature classes,
> though not as much as I learned using Google in the same period of
> time.
> http://xkcd.com/519/

LOL. :-) Though I'd rather Python than Perl. :-)

> I've been lurking on this list and OM when I have the time, it's still
> as interesting as ever, but I got tired of making a lot of people with
> Wikipedia pages read my verbiage when I usually end up disagreeing
> with it myself after a few weeks of thinking about it. I guess I've
> become convinced that the correct first step is pretty well in line
> with the leftist agenda (as portrayed in yes! magazine and that
> Domhoff guy that was linked to: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_market.html)
> and that aiming towards a gift economy is a goal to keep in mind, as
> well as a philosophy with many important lessons. And the left seems
> to have some ideas that are pretty good ends by themselves.

I've become more and more enamored of the idea of a "basic income" which
would be essentially extending Social Security in the USA to everyone in the
country (and eventually globally) regardless of need or age. The same for
Medicare. It seems to me that is an easy first step for a market system to
continue to function, and after that we will likely see further transations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income
http://www.basicincome.org/bien/
http://www.usbig.net/

It's heartening to think the US Congress almost passed one under Richard
Nixon. So it is not like the idea is politically impossible. And several
other countries and communities have been experimenting with it recently.

Example:
http://www.freeliberal.com/archives/000038.html
"Instead of current practices, our government could give every adult citizen
a “basic income.” It should be enough to ensure that the unemployed can
afford basic food and shelter - but just enough, so it does not undermine
people’s incentives to work, earn, and save. Where the cost of living is
high, cities or states can provide supplements from local revenues. The
amount should be adjusted when necessary to relieve or prevent difficulties
associated with inflation or recession. ... Richard Nixon presented a
guaranteed income plan in 1969, and it passed in the House of
Representatives with two-thirds of the vote. In the Senate, however,
moderate supporters - Democrats and Republicans - were defeated by the
combined votes of extreme conservatives who opposed any aid to the poor and
extreme liberals who wanted more generous benefits. (Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, the plan’s author, described it, its popular support, and the
congressional debates and votes in a 1973 book, The Politics of a Guaranteed
Income.) ... Including everyone - unlike Nixon’s plan, which was only for
the poor - means greater economic security for everyone. Even so, basic
income is not socialism. On the contrary: It will preserve markets, private
property, and free enterprise. And increase individual freedom. And
strengthen democracy, because it will be easier for everyone to afford the
time to participate in political decision-making. Everyone will have the
means to participate fully - and more equally - in the market. "

Although I think even children should get a basic income instead of
compulsory schooling, given to their parents. Also, I think there is no
longer any need to promote a "work ethic" with so much abundance through
automotation and better design, so a basic income could be quite
significant, as Marshall Brain outlines in Manna.

We could call this a "new liberalism"? But aspects of it are also a "new
conservatism" because it relies on the market and means that all needs based
government programs, as well as the minimum wage and affirmative action,
could be dispensed with. It would also make up as reparations for slavery or
other past oppressions and inequities, especially if it spread globally.

And then people would have more time to work on OpenVirgle and Open
Manufacturing.

Still, long term, I think gift economy aspects and local 3D printing on
demand will tend to become more important than the market. But a basic
income still suggests a way to deal with any remaining resources that still
need to be rationed for some reason (declining fish harvests, limited helium
supply, etc.) until we develop abundant alternatives (synthetic meat, a
space program to collect helium from gas giants or the Moon, etc).

-Paul Fernhout
http://www.pdfernhout.net/

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