[adding page because of the unsettled ness my heart has w gift ness..as i’m reading refusal of work.. and the whole system encirclement of the market/capitalism on us and our relationships]
A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many countries, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may sustain social relations and contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy. By extension the term gift can refer to any item or act of service that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions such as birthdays and holidays.
As reinforcement and manipulation
Giving a gift to someone is not necessarily just an altruistic act. It may be given in the hope that the receiver reciprocates in a particular way. It may take the form of positive reinforcement as a reward for compliance, possibly for an underhand manipulative and abusive purpose.
A significant fraction of gifts are unwanted, or the giver pays more for the item than the recipient values it, resulting in a misallocation of economic resources known as a deadweight loss. Unwanted gifts are often regifted, donated to charity, or thrown away. A gift that actually imposes a burden on the recipient, either due to maintenance or storage or disposal costs, is known as a white elephant.
One means of reducing the mismatch between the buyer and receivers’ tastes is advance coordination, often undertaken in the form of a wedding registry or Christmas list. Wedding registries in particular are often kept at a single store, which can designate the exact items to be purchased (resulting in matching housewares), and to coordinate purchases so the same gift is not purchased by different guests. One study found that wedding guests who departed from the registry typically did so because they wished to signal a closer relationship to the couple by personalizing a gift, and also found that as a result of not abiding by the recipients’ preferences, their gifts were appreciated less often.
An estimated $3.4 billion was spent on unwanted Christmas gifts in the United States in 2017. The day after Christmas is typically the busiest day for returns in countries with large Christmas gift giving traditions. The total unredeemed value of gift cards purchased in the U.S. each year is estimated to be about a billion dollars
A gift economy, gift culture, or gift exchange is a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily exchanged for value received. Social norms and custom govern gift exchange. Gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.
The nature of gift economies forms the subject of a foundational debate in anthropology. Anthropological research into gift economies began with Bronisław Malinowski’s description of the Kula ring in the Trobriand Islands during World War I. The Kula trade appeared to be gift-like since Trobrianders would travel great distances over dangerous seas to give what were considered valuable objects without any guarantee of a return. Malinowski’s debate with the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss quickly established the complexity of “gift exchange” and introduced a series of technical terms such as reciprocity, inalienable possessions, and prestation to distinguish between the different forms of exchange.
According to anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, it is the unsettled relationship between market and non-market exchange that attracts the most attention. Gift economies are said, by some, to build communities, and that the market serves as an acid on those relationships.
i’d say gift econs do as well.. just feeling you have to name it that..
Gift exchange is distinguished from other forms of exchange by a number of principles, such as the form of property rights governing the articles exchanged; whether gifting forms a distinct “sphere of exchange” that can be characterized as an “economic system”; and the character of the social relationship that the gift exchange establishes. Gift ideology in highly commercialized societies differs from the “prestations” typical of non-market societies. Gift economies must also be differentiated from several closely related phenomena, such as common property regimes and the exchange of non-commodified labour.
Property and alienability
Gift-giving is a form of transfer of property rights over particular objects. The nature of those property rights varies from society to society, from culture to culture, and are not universal. The nature of gift-giving is thus altered by the type of property regime in place.
Property is not a thing, but a relationship amongst people about things.
ugh.. indebtedness to each other..? rather than choosing
According to Chris Hann, property is a social relationship that governs the conduct of people with respect to the use and disposition of things. Anthropologists analyze these relationships in terms of a variety of actors’ (individual or corporate) “bundle of rights” over objects.
An example is the current debates around intellectual property rights. Hann and Strangelove both give the example of a purchased book (an object that he owns), over which the author retains a “copyright”. Although the book is a commodity, bought and sold, it has not been completely “alienated” from its creator who maintains a hold over it; the owner of the book is limited in what he can do with the book by the rights of the creator. Weiner has argued that the ability to give while retaining a right to the gift/commodity is a critical feature of the gifting cultures described by Malinowski and Mauss, and explains, for example, why some gifts such as Kula valuables return to their original owners after an incredible journey around the Trobriand islands. The gifts given in Kula exchange still remain, in some respects, the property of the giver.
why..? why must we claim ownership
In the example used above, “copyright” is one of those bundled rights that regulate the use and disposition of a book. Gift-giving in many societies is complicated because “private property” owned by an individual may be quite limited in scope. Productive resources, such as land, may be held by members of a corporate group (such as a lineage), but only some members of that group may have “use rights”. When many people hold rights over the same objects gifting has very different implications than the gifting of private property; only some of the rights in that object may be transferred, leaving that object still tied to its corporate owners. Anthropologist Annette Weiner refers to these types of objects as “inalienable possessions” and to the process as “keeping while giving“.
Gift vs. prestation
Malinowski’s study of the Kula ring became the subject of debate with the French anthropologist, Marcel Mauss, author of “The Gift” (“Essai sur le don”, 1925). In Parry’s view, Malinowski placed the emphasis on the exchange of goods between individuals, and their non-altruistic motives for giving the gift: they expected a return of equal or greater value. Malinowski stated that reciprocity is an implicit part of gifting; he contended there is no such thing as the “free gift” given without expectation.
Mauss, in contrast, emphasized that the gifts were not between individuals, but between representatives of larger collectivities. These gifts were, he argued, a “total prestation”. A prestation is a service provided out of a sense of obligation, like “community service”. They were not simple, alienable commodities to be bought and sold, but, like the “Crown jewels”, embodied the reputation, history and sense of identity of a “corporate kin group”, such as a line of kings. Given the stakes, Mauss asked “why anyone would give them away?” His answer was an enigmatic concept, “the spirit of the gift”. Parry believes that a good part of the confusion (and resulting debate) was due to a bad translation. Mauss appeared to be arguing that a return gift is given to keep the very relationship between givers alive; a failure to return a gift ends the relationship and the promise of any future gifts.
Both Malinowski and Mauss agreed that in non-market societies, where there was no clear institutionalized economic exchange system, gift/prestation exchange served economic, kinship, religious and political functions that could not be clearly distinguished from each other, and which mutually influenced the nature of the practice.
Reciprocity and the “spirit of the gift”
According to Chris Gregory reciprocity is a dyadic exchange relationship that we characterize, imprecisely, as gift-giving.
Gregory believes that one gives gifts to friends and potential enemies in order to establish a relationship, by placing them in debt.
debt as binder
He also claimed that in order for such a relationship to persist, there must be a time lag between the gift and counter-gift; one or the other partner must always be in debt, or there is no relationship.
we’re so messed up
Marshall Sahlins has stated that birthday gifts are an example of this. Sahlins notes that birthday presents are separated in time so that one partner feels the obligation to make a return gift; and to forget the return gift may be enough to end the relationship. Gregory has stated that without a relationship of debt, there is no reciprocity, and that this is what distinguishes a gift economy from a “true gift” given with no expectation of return (something Sahlins calls “generalized reciprocity”: see below).
Marshall Sahlins, an American cultural anthropologist, identified three main types of reciprocity in his book Stone Age Economics (1972).
1\Gift or generalized reciprocity is the exchange of goods and services without keeping track of their exact value, but often with the expectation that their value will balance out over time.
2\ Balanced or Symmetrical reciprocity occurs when someone gives to someone else, expecting a fair and tangible return at a specified amount, time, and place.
3\ Market or Negative reciprocity is the exchange of goods and services where each party intends to profit from the exchange, often at the expense of the other. Gift economies, or generalized reciprocity, occurred within closely knit kin groups, and the more distant the exchange partner, the more balanced or negative the exchange became.
The “generalized reciprocity” time-lag in recent years, also applies as an allowance for spontaneity and creativity that enables both parties to demonstrate love in surprising ways. In a market exchange, the giving party loses an item to gain income while the receiving party loses income to gain an item, a +1 -1 transaction that leads to 0 goodwill remaining on average. In a giving relationship, the giving party loses the item, but gains the joy of doing good for someone they appreciate, while the receiving party still gains not just something, but something that is tailored to their tastes, transaction value +1(receiver) +1(giver) -1(giver) +1(personalization as sign of love for the receiver) for a total of +2 goodwill added to the relationship. This expanding goodwill deepens social capital exchanged in close communities and leaves a “relationship bank” for community members to tap into when they are in need of help in the future. This belief is a core part of the culture of Burning Man as well.
Within the virtual world, the proliferation of public domain content, Creative Common Licences, and Open Source projects have also contributed to what might be considered an economics game changer variable.
changer.. not game changer
Charity, debt, and the “poison of the gift”
…Parry also underscored, using the example of charitable giving of alms in India (Dāna), that the “pure gift” of alms given with no expectation of return could be “poisonous”. That is, the gift of alms embodying the sins of the giver, when given to ritually pure priests, saddled these priests with impurities that they could not cleanse themselves of. “Pure gifts”, given without a return, can place recipients in debt, and hence in dependent status: the poison of the gift. David Graeber points out that no reciprocity is expected between unequals: if you make a gift of a dollar to a beggar, he will not give it back the next time you meet. More than likely, he will ask for more, to the detriment of his status.Many who are forced by circumstances to accept charity feel stigmatized. In the Moka exchange system of Papua New Guinea, where gift givers become political “big men”, those who are in their debt and unable to repay with “interest” are referred to as “rubbish men”.
The French writer Georges Bataille, in La part Maudite, uses Mauss’s argument in order to construct a theory of economy: the structure of gift is the presupposition for all possible economy. Bataille is particularly interested in the potlatch as described by Mauss, and claims that its agonistic character obliges the receiver of the gift to confirm their own subjection. Gift-giving thus embodies the Hegelian dipole of master and slave within the act.
Case studies: Prestations
Merit making in Buddhist Thailand
Theravada Buddhism in Thailand emphasizes the importance of giving alms (merit making) without any intention of return (a pure gift), which is best accomplished according to doctrine, through gifts to monks and temples.
if it’s merit making.. how is it not w intention of a return..?.. ie: merit as return..
The emphasis is on the selfless gifting which “earns merit” (and a future better life) for the giver rather than on the relief of the poor or the recipient on whom the gift is bestowed.
selfless..? earns merit..? one in the same..? i don’t think so
The Children of Peace in Canada
..The group soon found that the charity they tried to distribute from their Temple fund endangered the poor. Accepting charity was a sign of indebtedness, and the debtor could be jailed without trial at the time; this was the “poison of the gift”. They thus transformed their charity fund into a credit union that loaned small sums like today’s micro-credit institutions. This is an example of singularization, as money was transformed into charity in the Temple ceremony, then shifted to an alternate exchange sphere as a loan. Interest on the loan was then singularized, and transformed back into charity.
Gifting as non-commodified exchange in market societies
Copyleft vs copyright: the gift of “free” speech
Engineers, scientists and software developers have created free software projects such as the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system. They are prototypical examples for the gift economy’s prominence in the technology sector and its active role in instating the use of permissive free software and copyleft licenses, which allow free reuse of software and knowledge. Other examples include file-sharing and open access.
“Give-away shops”, “freeshops” or “free stores” are stores where all goods are free.
.. The event is described as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. The event forbids commerce (except for ice, coffee, and tickets to the event itself) and encourages gifting.
Cannabis market in the District of Columbia and U.S. states
According to the Associated Press, “Gift-giving has long been a part of marijuana culture” and has accompanied legalization in U.S. states in the 2010s.
Many anarchists, particularly anarcho-primitivists and anarcho-communists, believe that variations on a gift economy may be the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Therefore, they often desire to refashion all of society into a gift economy. Anarcho-communists advocate a gift economy as an ideal, with neither money, nor markets, nor central planning. This view traces back at least to Peter Kropotkin, who saw in the hunter-gatherer tribes he had visited the paradigm of “mutual aid”. In place of a market, anarcho-communists, such as those who inhabited some Spanish villages in the 1930s, support a currency-less gift economy where goods and services are produced by workers and distributed in community stores where everyone (including the workers who produced them) is essentially entitled to consume whatever they want or need as payment for their production of goods and services.
Some may confuse common property regimes with gift exchange systems. “Commons” refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. The resources held in common can include everything from natural resources and common land to software. The commons contains public property and private property, over which people have certain traditional rights. When commonly held property is transformed into private property this process alternatively is termed “enclosure” or more commonly, “privatization”. A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others is called a commoner.
i’m thinking if it’s not everything.. then it’s not really common ing
The new intellectual commons: free content
Free content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, artwork, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work. A free cultural work is one which has no significant legal restriction on people’s freedom:
- to use the content and benefit from using it,
- to study the content and apply what is learned,
- to make and distribute copies of the content,
- to change and improve the content and distribute these derivative works.
Free and open-source software
Collaborative works are works created by an open community. For example, Wikipedia – a free online encyclopedia – features millions of articles developed collaboratively, and almost none of its many authors and editors receive any direct material reward
reminds me of reputation econ et al
This is my favorite piece ever about Burning Man and I recommend it to everyone. https://t.co/3EtsqxOuMN
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/milouness/status/1041285504191393792
Burning Man has a ‘‘gift economy,’’ so once you’ve left Reno and entered Burning Man proper, money ceases to have worth. In a barter economy you exchange goods for other goods. In a gift economy you give without the expectation of any return.
if it would work that way..that would be cool.. just haven’t ever seen it yet
even in this story .. theres’ a measuring/comparing of gifts..
It ‘‘works’’ because everyone else (or at least a larger fraction than you might expect) is doing the same. t
we have to get back to our undisturbed ecosystem
potlatch was a ritual tournament. its aim was to secure legal access to intangible rights and privileges such as ranks, titles, and land tenure.. the public destruction of particular kinds of wealth, notably woven blankets and sheets of coper, formed an important part of the ritual process… as marcel mauss wrote in the gift:
in a certain number of cases, it is not even a question of giving and returning gifts, but of destroying, so as not to give the slightest hint of desiring your gift to be reciprocated.. in order to put down/and ‘flatten’ one’s rival.. promotes self and family up the social scale.. conducted by indigenous societies.. ie: blankets and houses.. copper objects .. oils.. burnt down
Michel Bauwens (@mbauwens) tweeted at 4:55 AM – 1 Jul 2019 :
Un(for)giving: Bataille, Derrida and the Postmodern Denial of the Gift https://t.co/gT5dm6ALll (http://twitter.com/mbauwens/status/1145647008331522048?s=17)
goerges bataille, along w thorstein veblen, arcel mauss, rudolf steiner, and karl polanyi, may be considered an exponent of a school of thought alt, if not antagonistic, to liberal economics .. w a school which may be called ‘the political economy of the gift’.. the economists of the gift analyze econ performance mostly thru a society’s use of its surplus.. what differentiates bataille from the others, however is his obsessive insistence that wholesome, disinterested ways of giving are in fact, an impossibility
well.. perhaps for whales in sea world
to bataille all acts of munificence throughout history have been but manifestations of a barbarous appetite to outshine others either in peace thru sumptuary expenditure, or in war thru holocaust and sacrifice.. this characterization of human conduct has become tenet of the late anti humanist discourse by way of jacques derrida, who recycled bataille’s polemic in the eighties. it is thus curious to observe how in the end, bataille’s anti liberal radicalism has brought his postmodern followers to converge w the liberal school, which itself belittles the power of selfless donation and the significance of gift exchange
bataille’s need to erase in his argumentation any notion that there might be an aboriginal source of compassion, generousness, and cooperation in us humans that could not only offset the forces of ravage, but ultimately overwhelm them. in order to drive his point home, bataille denied first of all the existence of a benevolent god, and second.. he attempted to reason that disinterested gifting, which is the econ token of love, is an ontological impossibility..
the thesis of this article is then, that bataille’s (and derrida’s) attack on the gift is, more than by skepticism, prompted by fear. in other words, it is my suspicion that behind the obsessive and renewed effort to deny the beneficial virtues of gifting there lies the determination to kill in the reader any hope that this world is perfectible, that peace and justice may triumph in some form or other.. it is as if thinkers of bataille’s ilk had already made up their minds as to what may be humanly effected in this world – and this would hitherto amount to little more that a series of truces in one endless sequence of painful tumults.. and there fore to disabuse the rest of us of the notion that good can be done..
their theorems are devised to rationalize the prevailing distribution of wealth, which often tends to be skewed in favor of the elite: that restricted nucleus of financial, bureaucratic and military interest commanding a vastly disproportionate share of a nation’s wealth.. taxes toward state’s basic commodities (laws, security and defense)
(bataille) had two objectives.. 1\ prove that excess exhausts itself on a one way street 2\ undermine traditional conception that surplus regenerates itself virtuously along a circular process of gifting..
bataille 1970: industrial wealth, which is presently enjoyed by the world, is the outcome of the millenary toil of the enslaved masses, of the unhappy multitudes..
in the sad eyes of bataille, the accursed surplus of life that begs, in the final instant, ti be annihilated thru an unspeakable act of savagery.. a curse rather than a manna
bataille attempted a sophisticated operation: if he could manage to undermine the wholesome notion of the gift, then he would have erased the idea of donation altogether.. the spiritual fabric of a society eventually built upon this notion of gifting would present no breach, no fissures thru which bataille’s infernal cultus, sovereign fury and accursed dilapidation could be afforded unrestricted play. that is presumably why bataille focused his hostility against it
bataille: the donor remains ‘greedily desirous to acquire’.. the heroic donation is effected to reap the (slavish) kudos of the recipient community.. this transaction whereby tangible good are exchanged for immaterial prestige is a process typical of rationality, of discourse, which turns all sentiments into ‘things’..
derrida’s conclusion that ‘the gift is impossible’ has caught attention os several studies in the budding domain of heterodox economics.. the argument – which is of course bataille’s – is that for it to be a veritable ‘pure’ gift, the donation must entail no form of compensation or restitution whatsoever: no honor/pride/gratification/gratitude/amortization/lease/installments.. nothing at all must remunerate the gifting, .. the moment we recognize the gift as such – as something beckoning for some form of retribution, then it is as if the gift were denouncing its own impossibility.. hence.. the gifting is perfectly accomplished when we do ‘not recognize the gift as gift’ – derrida 1991.. but as soon as the donation is acknowledged, it demands, as it were, a reciprocation that breaks the spell and betrays the self interest nature of the act; the injunction to reciprocate plainly shows that the gift was never a gift to begin with, but a means to an egotistical end
to think that one could make ours a better world by way of an equatable reallocation of the surplus and incitements to benevolence, is for derrida the mark of arrogant mediocrity.. derrida: it announces perhaps a sort of paradoxical hubris, the hubris of the right measure..
the appollonian (law of just measure) power of the gift resides in its equialbrating vritue: if properly managed and regulated, taxes and alms effect a sensible redistributio of wealth; they should act ideally to keep the econ metabolism in balance..
the fact that we’re measuring/accounting for anything is a red flag the cancer is already there.. we need to let go of that management.. ie: undisturbed ecosystem: ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows
derrida: the gift is allegedly that which does not abide by the principle of reason: it is, it must be, it owes to itself to be w/o reason/question/foundation.. it should remain a stranger to morality/will/freedom.. at least to that freedom that si associated w the will of the subject.. it should remain a stranger to the law
gods or no gods, there ia n air of sad uncandidness to this derridean tirade: after all, haven’t scholars like himself been allowed to grow/think at liberty thanks to a life long free endowment to the arts and sciences..
he (derrida) was merely affirming that such business is a general exercise in the art of compromise.. al the gifts of our life are second best solutions to a game that could never be perfect/good.. because it is corrupted by each donor’s secret wish to buy himself gratitude – if the gifting is declared – or a stairway to heaven – if the gifting is anonymous
that’s how whales in sea world act/react.. we have no idea what truly free human nature is like
earnestly and very unconvincingly, (derrida) argued that ‘we should come to disjoin the gift form generosity’.. granted this was paradoxical, derrida said, but it was a paradox worth pursuing ‘all the way’
we haven’t yet gotten to that all the way ness
derrida found himself implicitly and grotesquely accusing most primitive peoples of bourgeois hypocrisy.. from then on, why not question the desire to love or that of establishing bonds of friendship.. ..w ere those too to be dismissed as the mediocre impulses of middle class drudges..?
did derrida not insist that all econ deeds inscribe themselves in the ‘usurious contract’ of the econ cycle?
usury: the illegal action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest
is argument of bataille/derrida not much more than sullen proverbializing on the immutable mediocrity of our modern soul: a soul incapable of great deeds, and forever bent on the sycophantic acquisition of cumulate perks..
riches, the postmodern batailleans would rejoin, cannot be a vehicle to satisfaction if their owners are not given the sovereign privilege to blast them w splendor.. to ‘blast’ anything, the liberals would insist, is at best, a savvy pr stunt.. (ie: a perfectly legit business proposition) or at worse, something ‘irrational’..
which reply goes to confirm the thesis of the batailleans: the the benevolent gift, truly, does not exist, for neither of its two contemporary expressions – as taxes to the bureaucracy and as the charity of foundation – is driven by a disinterested love for fellow human beings..
ie: perhaps that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t assume taxes, bureaucracy, charity, foundations, .. measuring et al
charity – per donor’s wishes and taxes for admin elite and wars..
the batailleans would argue, the modern policies of gifting, be they publicly or privately inspired, make a sonorous mockery of our professed adhesion to the ‘universal’ values of brotherly union, civility, goodwill and ‘human rights’.. and to that, the liberals would respond in the end w a polite, semi uncooperative (and interested) silence..
The Minimalists (@TheMinimalists) tweeted at 5:08 PM on Fri, Nov 29, 2019:
We’ve been told gift-giving is one of our “love languages.” This is ridiculous, and yet we treat it as gospel: I love you—see, here’s this expensive shiny thing I bought you. Gift-giving is not a love language any more than Pig Latin is a Romance language.
giving is a difficult and almost contemplative art form that has to be practiced to be done well..
yeah.. i don’t know.. i think if you have to contemplate and practice it.. it’s giving by numbers/measures/accounts.. ie: gift ness
giving is an essence of existence, and a test of our character; it asks deep question about our relationship to others, to ourselves and strangely, to time itself.. to geve well, appropriately and often..
i don’t think it’s an essence.. if it has to be practiced/contemplated/appropriate.. et al
to give generously but appropriately and then, most difficult of all, and as the full apotheosis of the art, w feeling, in the moment and spontaneously, has always been recognized as one of the greatest of human qualities
giving is not done easily, giving is difficult; giving well is in fact a discipline that must be practiced and observed over years to be done property
the art often involves giving the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time and learning how to do the opposite thru time and trial, it means getting beyond the boundaries of ur own needs, it means understanding another and another’s life, it acknowledges implicitly that we ourselves must be recipients of things we cannot often id or even find ourselves
yeah.. i think giving is more about letting go when people ask for something.. otherwise it sounds more like work.. (as solving other people’s problems).. and that whole waster realm.. of how we get to where there’s not enough for ie: 8b people..
giving means paying attention and creating imaginative contact w the one to whom we are giving, it is a form of attention itself, a way of acknowledging and giving thanks for lives other than our own. the first step in giving may be to create a budget, to make a list or to browse a storefront but the essential deed is done thru the door of contemplation: of the person, the charity, the cause, finding the essence of the need, the person or the relationship..
to give is to make an imaginative journey and put oneself in the body, the mind and the anticipation of another.. a step of coming to meet, of saying i see you..
if it were only that
little wonder then that the holiday giving that is none of these, that is *automatic, **chore-based, walking round the ***mall based, exhaust us, debilitates us
like *your list **your budget/discipline/proper-ness ***your storefront browse..
10 day care ness