Gift economy vs market economy

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying so give without pay (Matthew 10: 7-8)

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (Acts 4: 32-35) 

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!

Previously, I have explained in my previous posts about evil of usury and fractional reserve banking. However, I realized that actually outlawing usury is just to restraint evil (prevent exploitation) but it does not motivate people to become more generous at their heart. Preventing someone for doing evil does not automatically motivate that guy to become good person.

As I am approaching age 30, I am starting to think about the economic problems which affect my daily life, mainly high cost of living and inflation of everything including health care, property and higher education. So, during my free time, I decided to do research about possible alternatives for current economic model (which is capitalism and free market).

Around one week ago, I stumbled upon this free online book which offer solution to current market economy. In contrast of current economy where you need to buy for every daily necessities (which mean you will need to work endlessly for money supply controllers i.e. banks, governments and corporations), the writer suggested we can have economy based on gifts.

The bad thing is that this economy based on buying and selling is based on pure self-interest since both parties do not have further obligation after transaction is closed and both parties have their needs immediately. Money was invented to facilitate this exchange. However, this kind of economic method to fulfill basic needs are not needed at the ancient times when most of basic necessities can be received freely.

He exposed propaganda told continuously by international economic organizations: ‘Over two billion people live on less than two dollars a day.‘ as if this thing is negative thing:

From this perspective, we must be cautious in our indignation at such facts as, “Over two billion people live on less than two dollars a day.” A low cash income could mean that someone’s needs are met outside the money economy, for example through traditional networks of reciprocity and gifts. “Development” in such cases raises incomes by bringing non-monetary economic activity into the realm of goods and services, with the resulting mentality of scarcity, competition, and anxiety so familiar to us in the West, yet so alien to the moneyless hunter-gatherer or subsistence peasant (Sacred Economics, chapter 2).

So, actually without having a lot of money, ancient people managed to fulfill their basic necessities through gifts received from their community. Hence, community need to be broken down first to ensure that obtaining goods and services enter into monetary realm (using money). Of course, the people who get benefit from all these things are money masters (bankers) and capitalists (corporations). Broken community will ensure that people need to continuously enslave themselves to money masters to fulfill their daily needs.

In Chapter 4, the mentality of self-interest is linked to accumulation of possessions instead of sharing and giving within community. For when ancient humans roamed the earth, nothing on earth which can be possessed individually whether it is land, forest, river and mountain. Then, when civilization started to flourish, powerful families start to claim right to possess the land and use it to get their living from economic rent (land tax). By this mean, concentration of wealth and wealth gap between riches and poor increased.

The rest of the book is very well written and I recommended any of you who are interested in finding remedy of current economic situation to read this book. Essentially, we need to mutually give more among our community for our daily needs (family and church) and that will be the first step to recover from commercial market system. Additionally, he has some suggestions for public policies to solve problems with current economic system, which mostly I agree with.

This does not mean that monetary realm will be completely gone like full-scale communism for we still need money for big scale projects to coordinate human activity. The intention is to make people rely on gift economy for our basic needs.

As for me, I would learn about basic skills needed for household and community needs rather than adjust my skills for big corporations.

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About edwin2026

I am currently Indonesian expatriate working in Singapore, graduated from Nanyang Technological University with major in Computer Science in 2009. I am also working as software engineer, developing and maintaining systems for Singapore civil service. I write this blog to share to readers about my life principle on various aspects, like religion, politics, business, relationship, and technology. I am interested in alternative worldviews because I found that many things taught to us by establishments are not true and harmful. My dream is to become self-sufficient in food and energy. Hopefully, someday I can have my own fruit garden and my own power plant and able to sell my electricity to power company. I hope readers enjoy my blog.
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