Reproduced from: http://gift-economy.com/homo-donans/
Homo Donans, Part Four: Epistemology and gender
Definition, classification, the market
The definition, or equational statement, has a number of peculiarities with regard to the rest of language. The definition is a gift transaction that takes place between definer and learner-listener. However it is a kind of verbal gift giving that is structured differently from the gifts of the flow of speech and to some extent from naming. The definition repeats at the linguistic level, the substitution relation that takes place between verbal and non-verbal gifts in naming. It ‘imitates’ this change of levels, re enacting it by means of substitutions on the linguistic level itself. The definition isolates and decontextualizes a word-gift, and gives it by making it take the place of a definiens, which itself is made up of a phrase, a complex word-gift. Some non verbal1 gift-exemplar is identified by the verbal gift-complex of the definiens. That is, the definiens is given by the definer and received by the listener who then proceeds to remember or imagine an item, which is one of that kind. The definiendum is then taken by the listener as the name (word-gift substitute) of any of the items that are related to each other as similar because they are related to that exemplar as their equivalent. The definiendum is therefore the substitute of the exemplar, the equivalent of the equivalent, after which the exemplar itself is no longer necessary and the word can continue to take its place in the equivalent position, as the verbal substitute gift with regard to which the members of that kind can be understood as similar. The word is obviously not the physical equivalent of the things of a kind. It is their equivalent as a gift, something with which to establish human relations of inclusion. It is also their equivalent as an exemplar, something that is used to form a concept with regard to a kind of thing. Thus the two characteristics we have been discussing, that of the gift and that of one-to-many exemplarity come together in naming and the definition.
In fact the word’s exemplarity can be demonstrated any time it is taken by itself as a sound out of the flow of speech, in order to define it or to use it as a name, (and perhaps even when it is used holophrastically).2 Any member of a kind can be taken as an ex-ample, but it is not an exemplar unless it is used as the term of comparison, held in the equivalent position. In naming, the namer identifies the exemplar, perhaps by pointing at it, and gives the name directly or s/he uses an equational statement such as “That is a crow.” In a definition the definer uses the definiens to locate the exemplar. That is, s/he gives the definiens to the listener so that the listener can identify an exemplar for h/erself. The definition is constructed according to an assertion of equivalence such as “A cat is (=)3 a four legged animal with a tail that says ‘meow’.” It functions according to a mechanism in which the substitution of a word-gift (definiendum) for a phrase-gift (definiens) relates a non verbal gift-exemplar to a word, giving the word to the listener as a new linguistic gift which s/he can then give to others. The mechanism of substitution in the definition may appear very simple but it influences us perhaps more than we know because of the harmonics it establishes with exchange.
All the parts of our world have an immanent gift potential in that they can be given and received, or used to created human relations of mutuality even if they are only given to perception or to the imagination, and it is as potential gifts that they ‘give themselves’ to language, to the words that represent, i.e., re-give them, and give to each other in syntax, creating the linear flow of speech. A definition can be seen as aligned either with the gift giving world and the linguistic gift it is transmitting or with the aspect of substitution between its elements. It is aligned with the gift when we use it in consonance with the gifts of perception, the gifts of the flow of speech, the formation of inclusive human relations: teaching and learning, the transmission of emotions, images, imagination, information, knowledge and understanding. It is aligned with the gift in mothering, in caregiving and services of all kinds, in complex communicative gifts like writing a book, or good decision making that satisfies human needs, but also in all communicative activities such as caring conversation, singing, and the arts generally as well as the gifts of nature. As we noted above the gift aspects of the definition are also aligned with the transmission of sounds through the air from one person to another (and with writing and reading).
On the other hand, there is also a possible alignment with the process of exchange, because the substitution aspect of definition has been transposed onto the material level. The substitution aspect can also be found in assessment mechanisms like the scales as we will see below, in patriarchy where the male takes the place of the female, and in the processes of categorization, which is used so extensively in our society.
In the definition, the definiendum takes the place of the definiens, which itself is functioning as a verbal substitute gift for a non-verbal gift. The mechanism of substitution and equivalence is repeated on a much expanded scale4 in the exchange of commodities for money. Money (the general equivalent/exemplar/incarnated word) takes the place of each commodity in turn, substituting for it in the hands of the seller (as a means of communication used to not communicate), according to specific quantities of value pre established by ‘market forces’.
It may appear that the exchange of commodities for money is more similar to naming than to the definition. The definiens, which would have been used by the definer to identify or locate an exemplar of the non verbal gift for the language learner in her memory or her present experience,5 appears to be absent in exchange for money but is actually supplied by the market place. In the exchange, the need of the listener to locate an exemplar is parallel to the need of the buyer to locate a product, which is a member of that kind. That need is satisfied by the sellers who bring their commodities to a place where they may easily be found by those who wish to supply their money. The function performed by the definiens is taken over by the marketplace itself. The buyer goes to the market where s/he chooses one or some of those products, examples of kinds, as the items for which h/er money name is an equivalent. The money as exemplar overtakes the product as a potential exemplar for that category, making it simply one of a kind with that quantitative value.
Money is the exemplar of economic value and the commodity is a member of a category of things having value, of a particular kind. By relating the item to the money exemplar as its equivalent, we show that the equivalent can take the place of the members of the kind as far as value is concerned. Since both money and commodities exist on the material level they are more similar to the definition in which the definiens and definiendum also exist at the same level.6 In both cases the one, the equivalent, is actually given again in place of the other. That is, money is given again to someone else, as the seller becomes a buyer, while the definiendum is given again as a word in the flow of speech when the listener becomes a speaker and wants to use it. The market place is made possible because each seller brings h/er commodity as something, which will be substituted by the money/ exemplar/word and which is thus related to all other commodities through their relation to the same equivalent, especially those of the same value for which that money could be exchanged. In this gigantic material concept-forming process, gifts are left aside as irrelevant in favor of the relevant quality of commodities and money, which is exchange value, and the relevant interaction, which is the mutual substitution of products and money in exchange.
Exchange is like the definition because the ‘money word’ and what it takes the place of are at the same level, here the material level, while in the definition, differently from naming, the definiens and definiendum are both at the linguistic level. The aspect of substitution is particularly clear because of this and indeed, in a third step of abstraction, logical notation can be substituted for the definition, e.g., A = B.7
In definition (and to some extent in naming) there is a momentary exit from the flow of speech, a decontextualization. In exchange this exit is repeated on the material plane when the product or good is isolated (in the ‘exchange abstraction), taken out of the flow of gifts, evaluated, placed on the market, kept in the store window, until someone comes to ‘say its name’ with money, agree with the price, allowing h/er money to take the place of the commodity for the other.
The abundance of commodities for sale and the qualitative neutrality of money make it appear that the individual could buy anything, thus placing self interest in opposition to other interest, increasing greed and envy and discrediting the importance of the need of the other. Because of the scarcity artificially created by the market, satisfying others’ needs almost always seems to require the sacrifice of one’s own needs and pleasures. Thus the psychological implications of the market discourage gift giving.
The abstraction and depersonalization of production and need-satisfaction through the mediation of money and the market also transform into ‘supply and demand’ what on an individual level are gifts and needs. The concept of ‘effective demand’ is functional to this abstraction as it displaces human interaction away from the personal level and makes the market primary. That is, the satisfaction of needs is dependent on market exchange and the possession of money. ‘Marginal utility’ is the quantitative estimation of need in a situation of scarcity, with access to goods coming only through the market. Giving and receiving have been translated into ‘economese’ not only on the plane of language but also on the plane of material interactions, due to the constraints that the market imposes on them.
Definition, naming and exchange
The marketplace allows us to act as if we were naming products directly with money. When we are doing naming we usually speak in the presence of the item we want to name, similarly when doing exchange in the market we usually pay in the presence of the item we want to buy. The sellers engage in display and ostension of their products as one might do in naming. There are more levels of substitution in market exchange than in direct naming however, which make exchange more like the definition.
After the definition has been given, the presence of the definiens becomes unnecessary for the use of the word that has been defined. Similarly after naming, the presence of what is named is unnecessary for the use of the word, which is its name. The presence of h/er commodity also becomes unnecessary for the seller after the exchange because the money has taken its place as a means for altering other human property relations in regard to other commodities. Money can also be given by the buyer for something that is absent. The change of the property relation takes place anyway, much as the relation of the interlocutors to a non verbal gift or to a topic of conversation, changes from mutual indifference, to mutual inclusion, even if what they are talking about is not present.
Because we can’t say anything with money except the quantitative names of commodities, we can’t make sentences8 and we maintain ourselves only as a rudimentary or contradictory communicative community. We all relate ourselves to a commons of the uncommon, the collectively addressed ‘commons’ of exchange value. The accumulation of capital and its re-investment serve to organize this rudimentary community into forces of production of not-gifts to ‘make’ more of the general equivalent by satisfying ‘effective demand’.
When it is work that is being bought and sold, the money name of the work, the salary, becomes a part of the lived experience and identity of the worker, almost in the same way as the gender term does in masculation. From this perspective, the dependant worker who does not exhibit the qualities of autonomy, ego-orientation and dominance required by the manhood agenda is placed in the dependent position of the boy child and has to ‘deserve’ h/er (gender or) money name over and over. Moreover the relation to the general equivalent puts one (one’s time) in a situation like that of a commodity brought to the market, and thus interchangeable with any other of the same value. Thus identity is undermined by being made impersonal, and people are placed in a position where it is all the more important to vie with one another to emerge and to be the masculated ‘exemplar’. On the other hand, for the successful capitalist, making a lot of money is like ‘making a name’ for h/imself, which can last after h/is death (and be handed down), in a sort of permanent male identity, fulfilling the masculated agenda’s goal of exascerbated individuality and the achievement of the ‘one’ position.
In the definition we have a linguistic structure of substitution at the verbal level, which allows us to freely give each other new words, creating a qualitative and relational similarity between us (as ‘possessing’ the same words, the same means of verbal gift production). We are receivers and givers of the same gifts. This construction of similarity is transformed into equality between products and money when the definition is transposed onto the material plane.9 The commodity on the market and in relation to all other commodities is the ‘definiens’ and the money ‘definiendum’ is seen as equal to it. Money as a name does not take the place of the commodity as a gift, (as it would if it were a word in language proper) because in exchange, the commodity is not in fact a gift. Nor is money a gift even if it will be given away again in the next exchange. Because of the equality and reciprocal giving not-to-give, no gift value is transmitted by implication from the ‘giver’ to the ‘receiver’. Rather, through the exchange, the value of the commodity and the money are stated and equated, and the over riding importance of the self-interest of both of the exchangers is implied. On the other hand, owning a lot of money causes others to attribute value to the owner because, first, it implies (though not necessarily accurately) that s/he has ‘contributed’ a lot, and second, because the money gives h/er power-over others. The first of these considerations is not usually true and the second, while it may be true, hypostatizes the idea of power, which as we said above, is actually the ability to determine, even verbally determine by commanding, the gift giving of others.
Exchange does also create a momentary equality between the exchangers who can be categorized together as possessors of the same exchange value. This equality does not attribute gift value to them; it only classifies them as regards their ability to participate in the exchange process. Ostensibly, they only obtain the value of their own commodity in return. However, if one is able to extract a gift from the other in terms of a high price, value as wiliness or power-over is also extracted, not because one has intentionally given to the other, but because the other has made h/er give. This value is similar to the power-over given by women to men because of their masculated gender categorization.
From another perspective, the gift that the commodity-definiens takes the place of, is the commodity itself as it would be if it were used a different way, given as a gift, which is something that could be done at any time, just by making that decision.10 In fact, the whole complex of relations between commodities and money, definiens and definiendum, takes the place of products (commodities) as gifts. The decontextualization of the ‘definition’ on the plane of material communication takes the material goods out of the flow of need-satisfying gift giving, and places it in a meta gift position (really a meta economic position if we look at ‘economics’ according to its Greek root which meant ‘care of the home’) which is driven by one collective communicative need, the (socially created) need for the money-word. In a process that is still going on, the mode of distribution of the market based on exchange is continually taking the place of the mode of distribution based on gift giving. It is as part of this mode of distribution of exchange that the commodity takes the place of the gift, and money takes the place of the commodity (and that Patriarchy is still taking the place of mother based societies.)11
Perhaps what we have with the market is a ‘translation’ from the material ‘language’ of gifts to the material ‘language’ of exchange. We could also say that the communicative aspect of the commodity and its physical aspect divide and part ways, in that the money takes the place of the commodity as a communicative device, and represents it, – gives it again – in this money form to the next seller and then re presents the next commodity again to the next seller etc. The circulation of the money-word takes the place of the community-making circulation of gifts that would have happened in a gift economy.12 After the commodity is bought, its physical body becomes a use value, but it still does not carry gift implications or pass-throughs, which it would have had if it had been distributed communicatively.
In spite of the repeating patterns of substitution these replacements of gift giving by the market are not permanent nor are they as solid and unchangeable as they seem, because individually exchange can be transformed. Gifts of products, services and money can be directly given and people are doing it all the time in acts of charity, voluntarism, friendship and kindness. They just have to choose to do it. They are also receiving the gifts of perception and giving them as well, as they present themselves to others.
On the broader scale, exchange and the market are actually embedded in a gift giving universe. Moreover the gifts that have been re named ‘profit’ are the market’s reward and motivation. Clarity about the parasitic character of the market together with a validation of gift giving is necessary for social change. This understanding can bring about not only a shift in the paradigm but a behavioral shift towards gift giving as the mode of social and interpersonal distribution. Moreover patriarchy can be modified at both the individual and at the institutional levels as personal and political experiments have shown. We simply need to realize that both the market and patriarchy are the wrong road(s) for us to take as a species of homo donans, and not allow ourselves to be convinced by their endless self-similar reflections. We need to stop placing our hopes in a more equitable market and start placing them in a gift economy. The values and patterns of the exchange paradigm are the cause of the problem and they are self-confirming. They will not allow the necessary deep transformations to take place.
As we have been saying, a variety of individual substitutions riddle Patriarchal Capitalism: the masculated male takes the place of the woman and the children, the owner takes the place of the sharer/giver, the adult man takes the place of the giving boy child, the subservient woman is the negative adaptive development of the freely giving girl child and takes her place as an adult. The categorizer takes the place of the giver as a member of the privileged category and receives gifts from h/er. There is also an unacknowledged privileging of principles, processes and values coming from exchange: substitution (domination), ego-orientation, construction of atomistic relations and subjectivities, equivalence, quantification and definition. All these take the place of (substitute for} principles, processes and values coming from gift giving: other orientation, transitivity, construction of communitary human relations and subjectivities, gift circulations, gift implications or pass-ons of value, the implication of value of the other, as well as of the source, a trajectory of creativity satisfied in the use of the gift by the other(s), problem-solving and social change as gift giving etc. Gift giving promotes a variety of human relations depending on needs and their objects while exchange promotes mainly the masculated needs for possessing, for individuating, for achieving the exemplar position, for dominating in opposition to nurturing and for imposing the superiority of the category of the categorizers.
Patriarchy sometimes plays out as a mixture between the two modes, in that the gift givers are locked within the family where they are dominated by, and required to give to, a patriarchal male. Males assert the right to their ‘property’ by ‘protecting’ their wives and children from the dangers caused by other patriarchal males. Once again it is the context of scarcity, competition and plunder that causes the danger. If there were no scarcity there would be no need for competition. If there were no patriarchal males there would be no need for patriarchal males. If there were no patriarchal nations there would be no need for patriarchal nations.
In the market, the kinds of human relations created by the equivalence of values in exchange are abstract and focused to such an extent that they conceal the kinds of relations we might have in a society of generalized nurturing. Those relations would depend on the concrete qualitative differences of all the kinds of material and immaterial goods and services given and received, human needs that would develop in accordance with the varieties of their satisfactions, and personalities that would develop with the free satisfaction of each others’ needs in this way. It is not surprising that there is a longing for the gift mode throughout society, a hunger for free gifts and for the relations of trust and sensitivity to others’ needs that would be necessary for gift circulation and gift based communities.
Unfortunately patriarchy and the exchange paradigm have conspired against gift giving throughout the history of the spread of capitalism, finally resulting in the globalization of Capitalist Patriarchy where countries and corporate entities with the manhood agenda, practice patriarchy on a social rather than an individual scale, so that the one country or corporation achieves dominance over the many, making them nurture ‘him’. Relations of trust become ‘unrealistic’ and sensitivity to others appears to be a laughable sentimentalism, while these macro patriarchal entities are parasitically consuming the gifts of all.
Categorization: a mechanism of oppression
Beyond the market, language continues to take the place of material gift giving in communication but does not supplant it. In fact material gift giving continues alongside language and alongside the distorted communicative mechanism of the market. Probably in the individual personality, gift relations also continue to some extent. The inner child survives within the adult, the sharer within the skinflint, the mother within the patriarch. Gift giving in language maintains us as givers and receivers at that level even when we are immersed in the ego oriented and self reflecting practice of exchange. In fact when we practice gift giving in daily life, our material subjectivity aligns with our linguistic subjectivity.
We learn about substitution by doing it with language where it is positive and necessary. When ‘linguistic’ substitution is incarnated in the other areas, such as patriarchy and the market, it can become the main mechanism of oppression, but it is nevertheless confirmed and validated by its still-healthy linguistic roots. Exchange for money is an incarnated definition process that has mushroomed and expanded out of all proportion, enveloping an enormous area of human relations. It is as if a distorted cellular process had grown to take over the whole body. Exchange is not only very odd, but it is extremely toxic to our gift-based humanity and the Earth. Nevertheless the definition and naming validate it and vice versa.
The transposition of mechanisms of the definition/naming onto the material level also retro-resonate in a self-similar way with the linguistic structures from which they descended. The definition and naming as used in verbal categorization are continually validated by their harmonics with the material-level practice of exchange, which has descended from them. Exchange for money categorizes products as commodities rather than gifts and categorizes them also as having specific quantitative values. This process of categorization also constitutes the transformation of gifts into commodities. Performed as a part of daily life and as an important mediation of human interaction, the monetary categorization of products as commodities, emphasizes and legitimates defining and categorizing generally. Thus categorization and membership in categories have become not only a way of life – where we find our identities as members of professional categories, and classes, races, religions, nationalities and of course genders – but the ability to categorize is used as the interpretative key for all our thinking. The qualitative creativity of the process of gift giving is simply not seen though it crosses all these categories and they are embedded in it (just as the market is embedded in gift giving.) This is particularly important now as the commodification of previously gift based areas of life makes evident the losses people sustain when gifts are transformed into commodities through restricted access and legally enforced categorization. Gifts can be received by those who use them and pass them on or by those who seize them as their own property. The categorization of gifts as private property is put on the same footing as the reception and use of gifts, because there is not yet a recognition of gift-giving as such. Like women, gifts are somewhere beyond (privileged) categorization.
Exchange is material definition – it uses the same definitional processes somewhat rearranged – and functions according to the substitution of the general material word-exemplar, money, for commodities. Since nothing is actually given consciously in the transaction, there is no gift relation as such between persons (except the gift of no gift) in an equal exchange (because the exchange cancels the would-have-been gift).
The value which each person held, and which was proven to exist as a value through the exchange process may, after the moment of exchange, be squandered, destroyed, re sold, reinvested, consumed, while the words that are successfully transmitted through definitions usually remain in the minds of the listeners implying at least an abstract similarity among the members of the community of speakers and listeners, as possessors of the same gift-making ability (competence) for producing linguistic ‘values’ in relation to the world as a gift, a value ‘commons’, full of immanent, potential and actual gifts and gift relations. The qualitative equality of the exchangers as holders of the same quantitative value is used only to transfer goods from the hand of one to the hand of the other with-out giving. The relation between exchangers to their products and money is much poorer than their relation as communicators to the immanent gift world. The value commons to which the exchangers refer is only exchange value, the commons of the uncommon, the sharing of the not-to-be shared. Since they are still speaking even though they are for the most part caught in market relations, they still refer to the world as valuable but do not recognize it in this way. The category of everything that is on the market, is shared by the community only in its knowledge of the reciprocally related prices of commodities expressed in money. The sorting process of the market using the money definition, de facto leaves the value-attributing gift out of the exchange value ‘commons’. Thus by its very process, it automatically creates a collective denial of the value of gift giving.
Exchange is like the musical theme of communication played backwards at the material level while that theme is still being played forwards at the linguistic level. We do not stop communicating linguistically so we do continue to create a perceptual gift-commons and relatively similar linguistically mediated – gift based – subjectivities while at the same time the logical pattern of exchange on the material level produces an effect which is the opposite of communication, an effect of separation rather than unity, individual independence and indifference rather than sharing, adversarial positions rather than cooperation. (If we were doing more or only gift giving at the material level we would be creating material common grounds and subjectivities which would correspond or align with our verbal common ground creations and subjectivities). Nevertheless, since nearly everyone is exchanging, a similarity of independent actors is created. This similarity results in another kind of categorization – first as exchangers – similar to each other in this as opposed to those who are not exchangers. Second, exchangers are categorized as such while participating in work for the market, but their activities are classified differently when they are participating in the domestic sphere. Third they are classified quantitatively as exchangers at a certain level of value, from the highest-paid-richest to the lowest-poorest – as evidenced also in the quantity and quality of their possessions, by which they are identified as belonging to social classes. Then there are classifications having to do with the qualitatively different kinds of work done for exchange, from professions to trades, to salaried labor, to menial jobs.
The emphasis on categorization according to similarity, which derives from the exchange of similar quantitative values, creates the emphasis on the deep identity logic of classificatory epistemology. Instead a more appropriate epistemology could be based on the logic of the satisfaction of needs at all levels, from perceptual, to material and linguistic gift giving-and-receiving communication.
Epistemology and gender: Knowledge as gratitude
Theories of value that eliminate or diminish the importance of gift giving usually consider nurturing as imposed by instinct (or duty), thus taking away the need for a response of gratitude towards gifts and givers. ‘Essentialism’ is a kind of ‘folk’ theory of value of this sort. Considering mothering as ‘instinctual’ seems to eliminate the need for gratitude towards mothers. Moreover, without gratitude for gifts, knowledge of them is less motivated, more instrumental and more consonant with the manhood agenda. Gratitude is a response of the receiver who can welcome gifts in their specificity while maintaining a warmth of feeling towards their source. Knowledge as we know it can be seen as a response of this kind that takes place in denial of the gift. When no value is given to gift giving and receiving, the response is neutralized, narrowed down, without the emotion, as is our ‘objective’ knowledge. From this point of view, Homo sapiens is actually a derivative of homo donans. S/he is just homo donans (and recipiens) in denial.13
Knowledge from which gift giving and receiving have been deleted, registers the gift as a not-gift. Within the exchange paradigm knowledge functions according to the logical pattern of acquisition and possession14 together with a sexual metaphor of ‘penetration of mysteries’ where the woman who is penetrated is considered as an object, that is, not able to report reliably about the gifts of her own experience and therefore mysterious. Knowledge in this guise is similar to the penetration of colonial explorers into foreign lands or of troops behind enemy lines. Such metaphors do not cast the knowers or penetrators as receivers, but present them as having achieved their penetration due to their own intelligence, wiliness or force. They ‘deserve’ their knowledge while what they penetrate is supposedly ‘unconscious’.
Moreover, in the exchange mentality, gratitude for gifts may be interpreted as an exchange. From the point of view of the gift paradigm, gratitude is not exchange but is a response to gifts that is helpful in forming the receivers’ ongoing relationship to the givers in circulating gifts. In knowledge as we know it in the exchange paradigm, the relationship to the giver is not acknowledged but is transformed into an emotionally attenuated relationship to one’s surroundings. This type of knowledge serves not to prepare the receiver to participate in the circulation of gifts, but to prepare h/er to participate in exchange. Without gratitude there is an indifference (or even hostility) towards the source, which does not prompt receivers to use the gift well or to imitate the source by giving again to others. Nor does s/he bond with the source, whether it is seen as a person or as a state or condition. Because of the ego orientation of exchange and the equivalence of the equation of value, the source of the commodity is unrecognized and attention is concentrated on the dyad of exchangers. No gift value given by a source is implied. The producer of the commodity may be exploited in a sweatshop in the South but that is of no concern to the exchangers in the North.
Without gratitude there can also be less emotional attachment to the objects, an attachment which might keep us from us alienating them, and less sense of responsibility to care for them. On the other hand, our desire to become the ‘one’ or exemplar with regard to the many can make us greedy and can extend to acquisition of knowledge, the possession of many notions and capacities. Thus we seem to be able to achieve the detachment and independence that the masculated agenda requires. We only think we get what we ‘give’ or ‘deserve’ while we actually are already receiving from many others and giving to them in unsuspected ways, immersed in a flow of gifts.
The response of gratitude is altered if it is imposed as an exchange or a duty, and many resent the gratitude they are supposed to feel towards others for their gifts, thus changing the character of the relationship, infusing it with the patterns of exchange such as guilt, the onerous obligation to pay back, even revenge. (No good deed ever goes unpunished.) Theories of value, which are based on exchange and the market do not recognize15 gift giving in a programmatic way (they are not grateful for gift giving). Such theories keep patriarchy in place, in the same way that theories of value, which eliminate or are unconscious of gift giving, keep class in place. They eliminate or rename the sources of gifts so that they are hidden, unknown or unrecognizable as such.
A similar thing can be said about the attribution of the source of gifts to non human mechanical processes for which we are not expected to be grateful, such as biological processes, ie brain functions and hormonal interactions, from our knowledge of which the notion of gift giving has also been deleted, by the exchange paradigm. Since seen in these terms the source gives only biologically, for example, through genetic inheritance, we do not need to be grateful to it. The kind of penetrating knowledge that we turn upon it sometimes also disrespects what has already been given and intervenes to alter it so as to make it better. Rather than passing the gift on, we appear to be remaking it, so that we seem to ourselves to be the original creative giving “ones.”
The denial of gratitude
The low costs of oil production (see below) and control of access to the source of oil, create a situation in which the many give a great quantity of gifts to the few oil producers in the price of all petroleum based products. According to the gift logic, the gifts of the many to the oil producers should create a relationship. But the oil owners, like most other capitalists, do not see it that way. The gifts are invisible and the extra money they receive is attributed to the ‘fact’ that oil itself is ‘valuable’. It has a use value, it is objectively scarce, and it therefore has a high exchange value. The oil owner thus does not engage in a relationship of gratitude towards the many for their gifts. This denial of gratitude turns the owners away from knowledge of the gifts and the givers. Thus theories of value that eliminate the consideration of gift giving actually function to create class differences by shielding the owners from gratitude towards others and thus from knowledge and from relationship with the many who have given to them.16 In this way a defective epistemology has an important influence on practice, and changing the theory to understand knowledge and value differently, including gift giving and gratitude, could have important consequences for consciousness and political change.
A theory of value that eliminates gift giving does not give value to the gifts of women and diminishes gratitude towards women and recognition of them, at the same time over valuing the (post masculated) gifts of men and of the process of exchange. This allows men to maintain the stance of power-over, dominance and the flow of gifts in their direction and the market to maintain its hegemony. Women’s gratitude towards men, for their work in the market as providers, keeps the men over known. Women are often seen in their relationship to men as inferior or dependent receivers (of the salary as means of giving) rather than as givers to the men and children. They acknowledge and know the men while in many cases men consider the services of women as due them – as an exchange – and thus do not experience gratitude for them or much knowledge of them (they under know them). Their relationship becomes limited and it is the woman who nurtures and maintains it. (Similarly the market is over known and gift giving under known. The givers give to the market but do not realize that is what they are doing.)
Gift giving and exchange are interlocking logics and we need to understand them as such rather than framing gift giving as a moral issue, as altruism, and exchange as a sort of alternative to altruism, a morality of justice, equality, equilibrium. We are caught in the interactions, contradictions and paradoxes of the coexistence of these two paradigms, both of which are operative at many different levels in society, and the interaction of which perhaps even creates many of the different levels.
The logic of substitution and the logic of gift giving are both necessary in language where they function together in a positive way to create communication and community. The substitution of a verbal gift for a material gift and the substitution of a verbal gift for another verbal gift also create the possibility of levels of substitutions of substitutions. That process of substitution of substitutions is then used again by the market to create a material level of mutual exclusion and not giving, where exchange for the general equivalent substitutes for gift giving in bridging the gap between ego oriented exchangers. At another level, tools and technology substitute for our bodies in many capacities but they are used to produce goods for the market not for gift giving (though they could be). At most, the gift aspects can still be seen within the production process itself where one kind of product is combined with another, or fed into a machine, and there is a programmed co operation among the workers. All of the new levels17 created by the intertwining of the two logics are influenced by masculation, creating a very complex web indeed.
The construction of common ground
Perception can be understood as common ground if it is not preparation for exchange. Even if we can’t know if others’ subjective sensations are the same as ours, that is, we can believe that the perceptual gifts and the ‘giver’ – the external world – are the same. Of course the world is considered more as a giver when we project the mother on it, less when we take her away. Like sisters (a word that can include all unmasculated humans), we could all have common access to the mother and her gifts, a common access, which would imply and require the ability to relate the world to others (through language) uncompetitively. We attribute (give) reality to the common ground that satisfies the basic need we all have for perceptual stimulation. When our receptivity increases regarding something or our need for it intensifies, its gift character intensifies. It calls out to our attention, our creative receptivity. We use language to elicit the creative receptivity of others regarding it, if we think it has not already been elicited. That is, we give them word-gifts satisfying the communicative needs we attribute to them (or guess or recognize that they have). In this way we construct common relations to the external and internal world as a gift and a given, something we share at the level of language and perception, a communicative commons, and the basis of a conscious co-muni-ty.
Most of us grow up in homes, in environments, which are modified by the deep daily tending of women. Any philosopher who tries to put h/erself into relation with pure immediacy has to abstract from the work of others upon that environment, as well as from the work of child rearing, socialization and the variety of experience that has brought h/er to that place of immediacy in the moment.18 Housework creates the common ground of homes, which function as a sort of perceptual capsule or bubble for young children. From the beginning this bubble is shared, at least with the mother.
As adults making a philosophical experiment, we can hold in abeyance all our experience, language, our relation to others, but this is a very limited and circumscribed ‘zen’ moment with many alternatives, which we can access at any time. The focus on the ego and the mutual exclusion of private property perhaps makes us feel that we should begin our discussion of ‘being’ from this artificially ‘uncommon’ unmediated position. However even when we are in more or less direct contact with nature we bring with us the textures of our socialization.
Access to land as common ground is denied by private property and thus there are many perceptions that are denied especially to poor people. The gardens behind the walls of the rich, or the goods behind store windows that say “look but don’t touch” are instances of perceptual experiences that are denied to the many. The privatization and destruction of the commons also denies the perceptual commons with the consequence that some things will not ever enter into the perceptual ground of most people. The river of pure water that was once the source of life for many has been privatized or polluted and drained, while the people who live alongside it now have to buy drinking water from corporations. The fish that were the mainstay of life have disappeared and children whose ancestors had fish as a daily diet may never taste (perceive) one. Traditional notions and practices of husbandry (ways of transforming the environment into material gifts), which were passed down free from generation to generation have been commodified and privatized. The wisdom of the past is no longer a common source of gifts for the livelihood or even the perceptual commons of the next generations.
Using language we construct the common ground of perception and experience as we explore topics. We share experiences ideas and information, that is, we give them to and receive them from each other. Sharing requires giving and receiving. Giving and receiving are its active principles.19 In conversation, we contribute to a shared topic which then appears as a common ground and common source Topics are not always free but can be requisitioned and controlled by specialization, academic authority or by propaganda and lies, which falsify future contributions. There is a continuity of common topic and common ground in the sense of shared property, and common construction of reality through shared perception and linguistic and material mediation. The world around us, the elements, the gifts of life, and the gifts of culture, tradition and history are common ground from which we collectively make our material, and in a mediated way our psychological, subjectivities. At the same time we use our experience as mediated by language and other sign systems, to create a construction of reality as a common ground from which our psychological, and in a mediated way our material, subjectivity arises.
When either or both levels of these common grounds are modified, there is a modification in the subjectivity of the interactors. Thus the privatization of the material commons has an effect on the psychology of the participants as well as on their material well being. Vice versa the alteration of the common construction of reality by eliminating some perceptions – such as the rivers of clean water which were previously available as gifts for all – has a negative effect not only on the material well being of the whole population but also on their psychological subjectivity. The common topics, collective elaborations of discourse regarding the rivers are altered and polluted by the lies of corporations and government. On the other hand, the topic of water can no longer be treated as neutral. An apolitical poetic discourse on water becomes compromised as part of the denial of the privatization now taking place. The ‘commons’ of the topic of water is undermined and divided as lies are used to hide the devastating theft that is being carried out by the corporations who rewrite their takeover as “for the public benefit.” Only the truth, which is sometimes difficult to discover, can actually provide the common ground that can serve the many for the conduct of their lives and the creation of community. There is a continuity between the common ground of the truth and the commons of the gifts of nature and culture. Those who believe the lies often do not have access to the informational or material wherewithal with which to sustain themselves and their families. On the other hand, the subjectivity of the liar or propagandist becomes distorted and disaligned from its gift giving basis,20 a condition which leads to still more lies.
Masculation and categorization
Because exchange is so pervasive in our society and gift giving is unseen, exchange re broadcasts its backwards communicative logic, structure and values into society at large and also into our idea of communication…which we begin to read AS exchange. This has the effect of further excluding gift giving from our consciousnesses and we look at language as one among a number of sui generis abstract sign systems (based in concrete biological processes, hard wired into our brains) used for neuterized, seemingly de gendered categorization, in which gift giving – and mothering – still have no part. Moreover words and the definition/naming process (influenced by the definition process incarnated in exchange) become tools in the hands of those who divide and conquer, categorize, devalue, over value. In short, they become verbal tools of domination, finally coming full circle again every time a boy child is born, in the continued use of these tools for the categorization of the boy as a non-female, non-nurturing and superior categorizer while at the same time categorizing women and the ‘other’ generally as inferior. We think categorization is neuter when in fact it arrogates the categorizer role to the human exemplar, who is usually male and is validating the values of hierarchy and competition to be placed in the category of exemplars. This is particularly visible in the star syndrome mentioned above.
In this framework there is no place for a view of the world as the common ground of community; the motion is all centrifugal, like fragments of matter escaping from the Big Bang. What remains of the sense of community comes from categorizing oneself as ‘one of those’ whether this is gender, class, ethnicity, culture, religion, nation or even locale, school, job or astrological sign. We share common qualities or common properties with others who are like us but we do not have a sense of constructing our commonalities on the basis of giving and receiving in a shared reality. We understand our minds as private just as we understand our property as private (independently varying, individually containing more or less). A source of gifts external to us is rarely acknowledged and the construction of common ground is not even imagined even though we are doing it. In fact we are mostly constructing a reality of not-givers, indifferent to others’ needs, on the basis of the commons of the un common.
Our needs to know are altered by the market. What we want to know about is modified, because anything that might make a profit becomes relevant, a possible gift to us. The common ground of socially constructed reality is also altered because a need to know about everything comes from the market. What is new is given more value by advertisers and consumers. Moreover the change in productivity of new means of production with respect to previous ones allows the production of the same commodities with less cost to the capitalist. Knowledge is sellable. The products of this sellable knowledge applied, have transformed everything, our landscapes, weather, agriculture, workforce etc. New needs have been created in order to sell new products developed through the extension of knowledge. The saleability of knowledge takes it away from other needs. it satisfies the needs of the market, and thus limits the kinds of things we explore. We are used to needing to know about everything and thus ignore the specific needs to know that might inform our understanding of the world as a gift. If knowledge is a form of gratitude, market based knowledge is de natured because, like other market based interactions, it denies the gift and gratitude for the gift. Intellectual property rights, the seizure of the traditional knowledge commons, are the logical outcome of the encroachment of the market upon gift giving.
Masculation and exchange
Exchange derives from the definition and naming but it also has roots in masculation, the relegation of the male child to a non-nurturing category. Masculation is in its turn a process influenced by the definition and naming of the boy as male. Thus there are two main roots of exchange, one deriving from language directly and the other deriving from a widespread construction of gender, which is deeply influenced by linguistic processes.
As the programmatically non-nurturing ‘signified ‘of the signifier ‘male’ the boy is expected to become adequate to his name (differently from other signifieds, for which we simply change the signifiers if they are not appropriate). This expectation becomes an agenda or life script, which includes his achieving similarity with the father as well as finally himself taking over the exemplar position in his own family or among other men, with the possibility and privilege of becoming a categorizer, categorizing others as he has himself been categorized. In economic exchange this manhood agenda of competition and the attempt to become the ‘one’ is displaced onto the classification of commodities according to different quantitative values from less to more as expressed in money. Money is a material word/exemplar (and categorizer) that can be owned and can be practically infinitely increased, demonstrating the quantifiable ‘superiority of its owner. The idea that more is better is instilled in children as incitement to grow ‘up’ and there is also a phallic aspect, having to do with the comparison between the boy’s genitals and the father’s.
The market is infused with the competitive values of masculation. Like the male identity, it is an area of life constructed in opposition to gift giving. Instead in matriarchal (Abendroth-Gottner 2004) groups outside patriarchy and the market, ego orientation, competition, greed (having more, being bigger) and domination can be less emphasized because they are not the ‘masculine’ characteristics upon which males’ ability to be similar to a paternal exemplar and to each other, depends. Rather community can be continually constructed through gift giving, and ‘maternal’ values prevail.
Knowledge and gender
In a market based society, the importance of categorization, influenced by exchange as well as by binary gender socialization, re infects male children, and the importance of ‘equality with the standard’ coming from the market re emphasizes masculation and therefore categorization. The tail of the snake slides into its mouth, and the effect (the market) feeds its cause (masculation). However because of the importance of the principle of equality for the market and the fact that women have become efficient market actors, masculation is undergoing a crisis. The gender roles have now been somewhat altered because they have been shown in practice to be independent from biological differences. Success in the marketplace does not depend upon physiological masculinity. In the market, the manhood agenda can be carried out equally well by men, by women, and even by corporate entities. This reality check has had the effect of abstracting the manhood agenda and displacing the values of masculation onto other aspects of the collective21 – that is, onto the relations of classes with other classes, countries with other countries, corporations with each other and with their workers, markets and resources, cultures of dominance with each other and with cultures of giving, dominant races with each other and with dominated races, religions of dominance with each other etc. Individuals within these different classifications can relate in more or less masculated ways to each other22 while remaining classified collectively as ‘male’, i.e., superior and non nurturing – according to their national identity, for example. Thus, being a US citizen, while it is a purely geo political classification, can also provide the collective ‘superior’ identity that dominates others in war and business even when the individual concerned is a woman or a non macho male who does not dominate anyone. Paradoxically the fact that his group carries out the manhood agenda perhaps makes it less necessary for the individual male to do so at a personal level. What is important is that he be part of a class that behaves in a dominant, competitive, accumulative and aggressive way. His need for a masculated gender identity is satisfied by belonging to a class or national or perhaps corporate identity, which performs successfully according to the values of the manhood agenda. Conversely when the category is behaving subserviently, as when a class is exploited or a nation has been defeated or colonized (or even just attacked), the macho agenda may appear more necessary for individuals. Perhaps this is the basis of terrorism, whether carried out by individuals, or by states. In both cases hypermasculinity (see also Ducat 2004) is the culprit.
When women witness the power, authority, freedom and liveliness of the manhood agenda, it appears superior to the subservient role to which they have been previously allocated and they can now choose to take on the manhood values23 or join organizations like the military in support of their own success and of their country’s ‘masculinity’. Suffice it to say that subservience is the complementary role to dominance and without the one the other would fail. Thus though women’s taking up the manhood agenda, whether directly or as actors in the military, the market or other aspects of patriarchal Capitalism, demonstrates that those values are not biologically determined and may liberate some women to dominate, it does not create the social change necessary to liberate everyone from domination. Rather it perpetuates the complementary roles, displacing them onto other areas and institutionalizing them, and it promotes masculation by imitation, the surest form of flattery.
Reapplying the incarnated definition of exchange
In thinking about language we usually concentrate on the aspects of the definition and naming having to do with substitution and the assertion of equality, while we continue to do gift giving unconsciously, without recognizing that is what it is. Substitution and the assertion of equality are also aspects of quantification underlying the exchange process and they extend to many disciplines from formal logic to mathematics. The more we concentrate as a society on the relations of substitution and equality and leave aside gift giving, the more they actually take the place of gift giving, that is, they displace gift giving as the principle of human relations. Thus for example, we do not see giving and receiving as creating a relation but we look for quantitative relations among things, assessing them according to their size or weight, as independently corresponding, proportional or varying. As far as relations among people are concerned we acknowledge primarily the categories they belong to and we focus on quantitatively constrained ‘economic’ relations based on the obligation to reciprocate, debt, deserving, justice and injustice, all of which aim at an equalization of independent entities, with punishments (exchanges) for non compliance ranging from loss of ‘face’ to loss of livelihood, to loss of life. The extension over time of debt and obligation appears as the most important kind of bond, as if people who freely gave to and received from each other were not related, and would not continue to give to and receive from each other without constraint. Thus paradoxically there appear to be no human relations that are undertaken freely without fear of punishment or self-interested hope of reward, while perhaps the only time one is ‘free’ is when s/he is alone – a situation that fits well with individual ego dominance. In this way a world view in which patriarchy, domination and submission, the denial and appropriation of the gifts of the many, violence, war, environmental devastation all appear to be the only possible shared ‘reality’, is continually validated.
Like patterns of gift giving aligned at different levels, from the material interpersonal, to the verbal, to the interverbal (syntax), to perceptual levels, which we spoke of above, self similar patterns of exchange also align at different levels and validate each other. The substitution of exchange for gift giving, which coincides with its own principle (of substitution), structures the exchange paradigm. Exchange is substituted for both linguistic gift giving and material gift giving. The principle of equivalence is denied by this substitution of exchange for gift giving at the level of paradigms however, because exchange is not seen as equivalent to anything it is substituting (since gift giving is invisible or discredited). Rather it seems to stand alone as the standard human interaction. The market economy appears to be the superior or more developed economic mode, which rightly conquers so called ‘primitive’ less successful economies, which have not yet taken up the more ‘evolved’ form. The same overcoming continues to take place within the exchange paradigm at the individual level, as the exchange ways ‘supercede’ the care giving ways in each individual life. Women can achieve equality with men, if they give up gift giving, which has been discredited by patriarchy and take up the more evolved form of the market.
The values of patriarchy as expressed in the violence of military attack also ‘supercede’ the community-creating values present in linguistic interaction, as dialogue is replaced by war. The substitution of one way of interacting for the other is itself another expression of patriarchy, it being more ‘male’ to attack on the material level, to ‘give them what’s coming to them’, what they ‘deserve’ than to resolve problems by dialogue and diplomacy. Substitution itself, invested with the motives of patriarchy, becomes overtaking, domination and finally even killing. The system based on exchange invested with patriarchal motivations, thus provides the ideological matrix for war. While trade may seem to be a more peaceful kind of interaction than war, it actually sets up the exchange-and-retaliation logic from which wars derive. The principle of substitution substitutes itself for gift-giving and one nation substitutes itself for another, dominating the other nation’s territory and people and transforming their property into free gifts, which it claims and plunders for itself.
Colonial powers export the market as the acme of civilization, a gift to ‘savages’ many of whom were living in gift economies. It is not only the transposed ‘gift’ of violence and superior phallic technology but the denial of gift giving and its logic that allow the Patriarchal Capitalist societies to take over in this way. Creatures of exchange, colonialists simply carry out its logic because they are alienated from their gift based subjectivities, oppressors of the women they live with and practicing at most a morality also based on exchange. There is no moral appeal that can check them and indeed they are rewarded materially by the wealth they manage to take and the exemplar position they manage to achieve for themselves and their country. For those engaged in war, compassion is considered weakness. Other orientation is contained within the squad or division as soldierly teamwork, camaraderie, loyalty and heroism, polarized against the violence and hatred given to the enemy. A conscience built upon the exchange paradigm does not fetter male violence but often even justifies it, as our tragic history of genocides attests.
My thesis, which is surprising in this context, is that altruism is the basic economic (and human) motivation. It is being altered towards exchange and both individual and collective self interest and war by masculation, however, to such an extent that it is no longer visible. Patriarchal capitalism is like a huge growth that covers up an originally healthy face. No mirror reveals its ugliness however because we consider it normal. We cannot imagine ourselves without it.
Gift giving when it is seen at all, appears to be part of the private sphere, and is considered an instinctual gender tendency, a duty or an individual preference rather than a part of ‘economic reality’.24 The definitional and naming side of language has evolved – or devolved – into law, accompanied by hierarchy. The principles based on the definition and naming are used to regulate the behavior of self-interest in the absence of a validation of gift based consciousness. As the original logic of a practice that underlies both economics and language, both material and linguistic communication, gift giving functions according to values of other orientation. Thus a morality, which is identified with other-orientation is not originally a separate area. It is an aspect of gift giving, which has to do with the transmission of value to the other, the prioritization of the satisfaction of needs, and the recognition of needs of all kinds not only basic needs but, for example, psychological needs such as the need to be respected, or the need for independence, which may at times take precedence over material needs.
Because of the ideology of exchange and the denial of gift giving, morality splits off from gift giving and becomes an independent area, the privileged province of patriarchal philosophy, law and religion.
Now, what we know as morality tries to restore a ‘balance’ of other-orientation in an ego-oriented market-and-patriarchy-based system, and to regulate behavior according to exchange principles such as justice, equality and autonomy. The best it can do is to in this endeavor is to contain some of the most damaging aspects of the exchange based behavior. However it never achieves a transformation, as every victory is only temporary and the usual progression of events is one step forward and two steps back. Our present systems of morals cannot regulate our globalizing behavior. As corporations encroach there is nothing to stop them. Morality as we know it is just not enough. The only really moral thing to do is to shift the paradigm towards gift giving.
Answers to the problems created by Capitalist Patriarchy have continued to be proposed from within Capitalist Patriarchy in laws and systems of ethics, which are themselves based on market principles of definition/naming, and exchange. The way out is to look at the ‘other’ of definition and exchange, the flow of speech and the flow of gifts and to bring the gift giving, which is already present into focus. In fact if gift giving were recognized as the human logic and practiced consciously beyond exchange, we would bring mate-rial and verbal communication back into alignment individually and collectively, and morality would no longer be necessary to regulate behavior. The needs that we now see as having to do with justice, equality and autonomy would be satisfied in other ways by gift giving and its values.
An exception is the meta linguistic discourse which identifies exemplars of verbal elements, e.g., ‘noun’, ‘sentence’.
In order to look at words as exemplars we have to see them as physical objects, which can be reproduced vocally by speakers. Not only do we repeat and imitate the sound form of the word we hear, but there is an implication that all the instances of that word are like it. That is, words taken singly have a kind of exemplarity (because of the way we use them) which things taken singly do not unless for some reason they are purposely put in that position. Written words are substitute exemplars for spoken words which are substitute exemplars for non verbal gifts. The way in which the written word takes the place of the spoken word is similar to the way the spoken word takes the place of the non verbal exemplar. Then, just as the non verbal exemplar is no longer necessary for constructing the relation of similarity among members of that category because the word has taken its place, the spoken word is no longer necessary for the functioning of the written word, which can function also as the exemplar of the category. The written word “cats” can refer to cats without speaking that word or even hearing it mentally.
See For-Giving for the discussion of ‘to be’ as the substitute for the act of substitution of both the definiens and the definiendum for the non verbal gift.
A kind of social self similarity is created between different scales, the minute and fleeting level of the sentence and the macroscopic level of the market. In this we have created something similar to the fractal configurations found in nature by Bennoit Mandelbrot.
The learner would have located this exemplar in her past experience or perhaps in the present environment.
There is a new change of level towards the verbal, a sort of disincarnation of money now as credit cards and on line banking have become prevalent, and money is understood only as numbers in a computerized bank account.
This notation is not completely correct however because it does not capture the general equivalent aspect of the definiendum. Thus if it represents a definition A = B is not completely reciprocal because one side is more general than the other.
See the fetishism of commodities, human relations transferred onto relations between objects – Capital.
That is, leaving aside the consequences that giving it away would have on its owner, due to the scarcity necessary for the system to work. This scarcity imposes a penalty, that is, an exchange, for giving because at the meta or systemic level we have “chosen’ exchange over gift giving, patriarchy over matriarchy.
Heide Gottner-Abendroth has researched matriarchies and hybrid societies, which combine elements of both matriarchy and patriarchy. My point is that Patriarchy cannot completely prevail.
It would be interesting to compare this circulation of money to the kula of the Trobriand islands (Malinowsky 1922) where gifts circulate in a (psychologically and spiritually) communicative way without this division of the communicative aspect from the physical aspect. Everyone attributes a particular kind of communicative aspect to certain objects, which gives them a spiritual value or hau.
Is this division of gratitude and knowledge perhaps the original sin? By disobeying God and eating the apple, Adam and Eve demonstrated a lack of gratitude, which effectively changed their knowledge, deleting the gift. Later they could not be grateful because they were punished.
This pattern is similar to Vygotsky’s family name complex, not yet a concept because there is no common quality among the properties except the fact that they are owned by someone, that is related as many to one in h/er regard.
Recognition can be a kind of gratitude but it is also a cognate of exchange, as a self reflecting process having to do with equating – possibly equating an item with an equivalent as part of a category (sort of ‘this is one of those’ ) – as in pricing and exchange for the general equivalent. Recognition as categorization takes the place of recognition as gratitude. Categorization is as we have said above, similar to the ‘complex’ of ownership. So called ‘open source’ internet technology which is now also seen as gift economy is becoming assimilated to exchange as a ‘recognition’ economy.
I Locating the givers in places far from the receivers also diminishes occasions for gratitude. Thus the South/North divide allows the North to ignore the gifts that it has received from the South and to ‘know’ what is happening there only intellectually if at all. Vice versa people in the South are made to consume the culture of the North and its models.
Other examples include, as we have been saying, the home which supports the market where free housework is channeled through salaried work into profit. The market takes the place of the home as the model for human relations and value. Another example is that of the arts which can be considered gifts to the receivers but are now highly commercialized. The reproduced image now takes the place of the individual work of art. Advertising and propaganda take the place of person to person truthful communication, etc. etc.
Thus cogito ergo sum is wrong. It is not by thinking that we exist but by being cared for by a mother.
Partnership societies, as described by Riane Eisler require the ability to practice the gift logic.
Lying, we rationalize and save our self respect by considering that we are satisfying commercial needs, for example the need for advertising in a competitive market. Constructing a reality in which the market is normal and the common source of goods allows us to look at its needs as primary and to function as gift givers of a sort, by satisfying its needs. Similarly with political propaganda.
The desire for women to go back to the home is perhaps a reaction to the loss of this automatic, because physiologically identified, male superiority. In fact the displacement into other projections of superiority requires still more effort to carry out behaviors and agendas.
And they can participate as individuals in the many hierarchies available to them, in the military, the church, the law, education, government and business, to achieve their livelihoods and their masculine identities.
It is not useful to deny the differences in males and females when they are already adult, while at the same time constructing them as different when they are children. The institutionalized patriarchal structures also continue to create difference, violence and exploitation by repeating the patterns of the early socialization into gender. Promoting the equality of men and women according to the masculated model hides the root of the problem, which is the socialization of males into a category, which is the binary opposite of the mother. At the same time it discredits gift giving and focuses our hearts and minds on patriarchal market values. The solution to the problem is a return to gift giving for all and the socialization of both genders in that direction. As we do this we need to recognize the defects of masculation and the market and begin to peacefully dismantle the institutions that carry them.
Yet authors like Richard Titmuss ( ) have written about the’ economic feasibility’ of altruism.