Gift Economies

8c. Gift Economies

Gift economies confirm the addage ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ in action. As a self-confessed idealist I was quite happy to start giving things to my neighbours – all you need to do apparently to start the revolution.

Unfortunately my neighbours are of the ‘wetiko mind’ and caused me to feel like they were the ones doing me a favour just by taking them! Gifts of courgettes, jam, mackerel and the like never came back, nothing but the buzzing drone of their lawnmower mowing a tiny lawn for six hours on every sunny Sunday of the summer. Having got that off my chest, I do believe that one way to ‘live rich’ is by exchanging stuff you have too much of, but only with those of a like mind.

I am a fan of Mark Boyle and his social experiments and books about living. One of his books is ‘The Moneyless Manifesto, Live Well, Live Rich, Live Free, from the blurb: “That we need money to live – like it or not – is a self-evident truism. Right? Not anymore. Drawing on almost three years of experience as ‘The Moneyless Man’, Mark Boyle not only demystifies money and the system that binds us to it, he also explains how liberating, easy and enjoyable it is to live with less of it.

In this book, Mark takes us on an exploration that goes deeper into the thinking that pushed him to make the decision to go moneyless, and the philosophy he developed along the way. Bursting with radical new perspectives on some of the vital, yet often unquestioned, pillars of economic theory and what it really means to be ‘sustainable’ – as well as creative and practical solutions for how we can live more with less – Boyle offers us one of the world’s most thought-provoking voices on economic and ecological ideas.

The Moneyless Manifesto explores why making the transition beyond monetary economics is becoming the zeitgeist of the Occupy generation, and how you can participate in the world’s only booming economy – the gift economy.”

Mark followed this book up with ‘Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Ghandi’ and again from the blurb:

More than ever, people are longing for deep and meaningful change. Another world is not only possible; it is essential. Yet despite our creative and determined efforts to attain social justice and ecological sustainability, our global crises continue to deepen.

In Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi, bestselling author Mark Boyle argues that our political and economic system has brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe, ransacking ecosystems and unravelling communities for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. He makes a compelling case that we must ‘rewild’ the political landscape, as history teaches us that positive social change has always been wrought by movements prepared to use any means available. The time has come for pacifists, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters to work together for the creation of a world worth sustaining. Eloquent, visionary and beautifully written, this incendiary manifesto strikes at the heart of the world’s crises and reframes our understanding of how to solve them, signaling a turning point in our journey towards an ecologically just society.

The three R’s of the climate change generation — reduce, reuse, and recycle — are long overdue for an upgrade. Welcome to resist, revolt, rewild.”

I’m not going to attempt to boil down what Mark says in these books to some kind of flavourless sauce, enough to say – many of the answers we need, and the questions we should be asking, are in there already. Please read them. His books inspired me to live ‘within limits’ and for two decades now I have just refused to earn enough money to pay any income tax, drive a car or take planes. Mark had the good sense to build a ‘gift economy centre’ with a moneyless pub before setting off into his latest adventure, two years without technology, and is at time of writing, accepting messages by letter only.


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