I came across the text below via the #platformcoop mailing list and thought I’d share it here, since it sums up better than I’ve ever done the philosophical, economic, and political stance underlying the “gift economy” dimension of Cosmos and A Theory of Everybody (which is not the whole thing, but an important part).
Victor Bezrukov, sandgiver, via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Originally published on http://matslats.net
This is how, through collective nonpolitical action, we can in one fell swoop,
- forge bonds of trust and reciprocation in our communities
- start building resilience to economic collapse
- mitigate climate change
- transform our consciousnesses, from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality
- clear out a lot of junk and clutter and make space
- force the economy back into step and start it in a good direction
If we stop buying stuff and start giving away what we have. Not only our stuff, but our time, our skills and our emotions. Our fundamental measures of value, the fiat currencies, are collapsing under our very noses. The middle class faces being wiped out - the losses we face are still unimaginable to most people.
Economists and politicians are scrambling to find new ways to extend our indebtedness, to buy us time, but these debts will never be paid. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity now to redefine the measure-of-value. To stop using GDP as indicators of economic success; to put resources into productive activities, instead of into military, marketing, security, and inefficient ideologies.
This is how to throw a spanner in the works: how to emasculate those who seek to profit from your labour; how to declare “I have no part in this madness”; how to regain control over your productive energy; and how to do so with dignity, not violence or even harsh words.
Spend less time earning money, and simply stop buying stuff. You don’t need it. Really.
Humans, especially the pampered ones in developed economies, will never recover, economically, from the decline which is underway . We need to look up from our meaningless obsessions and nonproductive jobs and start working with our neighbours. Either that, or compete with them when things get scarcer.
Radical giving is a transformation anyone can make at any time. It is a revolution from within which requires no violence. Nor does it require changes to the law, grant-making trusts, or mass cooperation.
Radical giving means first, giving away all the shit you don’t need, to save other people the expense of buying new. This costs you nothing, and wins you a load of street cred. Spend time thinking who needs what to increase the value of your gifts.
Radical giving means second, creating instead of spending. Buying presents for money, even customised ones, is inefficient at fulfilling real needs and at building meaningful relationships. Instead put yourself and your resources at the service of others. Do things with them for any goal other than money.
Radical giving means third, turning away from private obsessions, and turning towards the humans in the immediate vicinity and asking what they might need from you. Having purged yourself of extraneous stuff, you are more likely to discover a deep reservoir of inner resources.
I wish to embrace ‘radical giving’ at the level of art. The idea is to remove as much creative production as possible from the debt-based monetary system into an alternative economy which is generosity-based, where a culture of appreciation is encouraged around exceptional writing and art, and a means of reciprocity (toward a virtuous circle) provided by the underlying platform.
The problem I wish to address is this: many artists need money, but to constantly be hustling and scrounging to sell individual works (books, paintings, movies, music, or whatever) that will never pay the rent or mortgage is mostly a losing game, and sucks.
However, if an audience / community that appreciates these artists’ work can be grown, and can be persuaded to provide financial and other forms of support through membership in the platform and sponsorship of individual artists, then artists can be freed to put their work out (radically give), outside of the exhausting transactional model. This “free giving” is what most of us end up doing anyway, but without appropriate valuation and economic sustenance.
The LitCoin concept is intended to provide the functional (and narrative) means of supporting contributors in the Gift Economy. It will be a way of recognizing and encouraging the sharing of “time, skills, and emotions” which are concretized in the work of art (or other creative offering). The co-op provides a structure for conducting these flows equitably.
The purpose of establishing a functional Gift Economy, however, is not merely for individual artists to make a living (though that’s a goal), but to punch a hole in dominant economic logic of our society, so that new logics can be experimented with, and if successful, scaled to larger networks, as existing systems falter and fail and more people decide (or are forced) to opt out.