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In this post, I thought Iíd just paraphrase Charles Eisenstein (rough and ready transcript) from the video above. Heís an engaging writer and speaker on the role of the gift economy today. Iíve pulled out the part of the explanation which is particularly pertinent to a lot of the subjects Iíve raised on the blog. For example, how volunteering connects with the idea of the gift economy. ďA new story of selfÖ Money is an agreement. It doesnít have value all by itself. It has value because people agree that it has value. Scarcity is built into the system. On the most obvious level this is because of interest bearing debt. Any time a bank lends money into existence, there is a corresponding level of debt. And because thereís always interest payable on the money, the amount of debt is always greater than the money in existence. It essentially throws people into competition with one another -for never enough money. Growth is another thing that is built into our money system. If youíre a bank, you are going to lend to those people who are going to create new goods and services, so that they can profit and pay you back. Youíre not going to lend to people who donít create goods and services. So money goes to those who will create even more of it. Growth means you need to find something that was once nature and turn it into a good/commodity; or find a gift relationship and turn it into a service. You have to find something that people once got for free, or that people did for one another for free. You take it away from them, and then you have to sell it back to them- somehow. By turning things into commodities, you cut people off from nature, in the same way that weíre cut off from community (when gift relationships are transformed into relationships between service user and service provider). (The money economy encourages us to) look at nature as just a bunch of stuff. This leaves us very lonely. And it leaves us with many human needs that go unmet. (One way we) fulfill this hunger (is) through purchasing, through buying things. We know life is a gift. Well, if we know we have received a gift, then our natural response is gratitude. In a gift society, if you have more than you need, you share it. This is how you build up status. Itís also how you build up security too. If you build up gratitude, then people are going to look after you too. No gifts, no community.







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