To: <[email protected]>
Subject: [WinWinWorld] The Economics of the Future
John, this review from an old TRANET newsletter fits with you ideas of money.
THE FABLE OF L¹HOMO ECONOMICUS is destroyed by Dominique Temple and Mireille Chabal in La Réciprocité et La Naissance des Valeurs Humaines (Éditions L¹Harmattan, 5-7 rue de L¹école Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris FRANCE, 1995, in French). Modern Economics and the EuroAmerican culture are based on the assumed reality of homo economicus. That is, that the only motivation of humans is material self-interest. This book examines all cultures throughout history, including our own modern culture, and demonstrates that human motivations and human values have been distorted only in the last couple of hundred years, and more vehemently in the last few decades, to become based on values which are destroying the humanity and life on Earth. Reciprocity is more fundamental and more friendly to both humans and nature.
Reciprocity is the antithesis of exchange or selling. Reciprocity, or ³gifting,² has taken on many forms in different cultures. In some it is imbedded in religion. People produce and distribute goods and services in celebration of their spiritual beliefs. Their work is a gift to the gods, to the Earth, and to humanity, without thought of material return. In other cultures production is for the common good. That is, people see themselves imbedded in their families and communities. They exist only because of
their relationships to other people and their bioregion. And these relationships depend on the productive role they play -- how much they can support and give to society. In still others, material welfare is paramount; but one gains insurance of her or his material well-being by giving to others. ³To him who gives shall be given.² Each person gains prestige in society by how much s/he gives. That prestige demands reciprocity to the giver and to the family of the giver. The more one impoverishes himself in betterment of the community the more the community is beholden to the giver.
This reciprocity on which almost all cultures are based is uniquely vilified by neoliberal economic theory which refuses to recognize that production and distribution can be based on anything but greed and exchange -- giving up something only to gain something else. This distorted economic theory of exchange goes well beyond just ³the market.² Economic reasoning has invaded sociology, education, politics, ethics and the law. Homo Economicus is believed to base all values and judgments on economicexchange values, what one can gain materially. It is only in this distorted Western society that reciprocity has been subjugated to the concept of exchange.
Bronislaw Malinowski, Claude Levi-Straus, Marcel Mauss, Marshall Sahlins and other anthropologists have shown the deep roots of reciprocity; Aristotle, Homer, Hobbes, and other political philosophers trace reciprocity from the Greeks as the base of our Western society; and Hegel, Adam Smith, Durkheim and Polanyi and other economists, describe reciprocity¹s relevance to the age we are in. But it¹s the future which really concerns Temple and Chabal. Money, exchange, and globalism have replaced the human values inherent in reciprocity with motivations which are leading to social, ecological, economic and political destruction. Reciprocity exists deep in ourselves, our families, and our communities; but it is suppressed by our
belief system and its resulting social institutions. We see reciprocity in President Bush¹s ³thousand points of light², in the burgeoning NGOs around the world, in volunteerism, in our familles, in our communities, and in many grassroots social innovations. Our future can be assured only if we release this constructive force of reciprocity. Or as the authors end this book, ³Si l¹esclave veut etre libre, il ne lui faut pas seulement différer la mort, mais dominer sa propre vie par le souce de celle d¹autrui, maitriser la vie avant qu¹elle ne le condamne a mort.²