Thursday, 2 August 2012


The money economy is based on the principle of scarcity. A gift economy can only work where there is an experience of abundance. In other words I will not want to give away something I need for my own survival or well-being.
. 'Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world's wealthiest peoples. The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely without parallel. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behaviour of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity.' (Marshall Sahlins
The experience of abundance is not dependent on having a measurable amount of goods or happiness. It is rather to do with a culture of living 'within our means', which includes ensuring that our children will not be saddled with the results of out profligacy. Under capitalism our wants are turned into needs in order to justify the experience of scarcity, and the fear that accompanies it, to produce an obedient workforce.
My experience of abundance is always relative to my wants. When giving does not cost me anything, my natural desire is to share, for many reasons - friendship, increase in status, because I care, doesn't matter why. But all that disappears when I feel I don't have enough. And the lack can be of time, support, understanding, as well as food, money etc.
There can be 'a trust in the abundance of nature's resources rather than despair at the inadequacy of human means....... a confidence which is the reasonable human attribute of a generally successful economy.' (op cit)
All this is well known within the family economy. Parental love is sufficient to ensure that children are cared for, as long as the family group can live within its means. But the group can easily become dysfunctional if any member's experience of deprivation is not addressed. As a human family we have to learn to live within our means, while paying attention to all those who experience deprivation within the present system.
This can start on a personal level, making sure that we have enough - rest, love, physical activity, whatever it is we feel we need. When we have enough we are able to give, rather than hoard. This can be supported on the macro level with negative interest, debt cancellation, etc. And it can be experienced on the micro level in our personal lives, by the experience of abundance.

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