File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 371

Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2008 12:01:42 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Gift Economy

The idea of a gift economy is a grand cheese, quite tasty to munch on. 
However, there are many worms running through the theory that make it a 
swiss cheese. Swiss cheese is good, but it is not solid, it has lots of 
holes. In all that I have read to this point on the subject, a few 
solid ideas are extrapolated to an untenable degree, drawn out spider 
silk thin. There is no believable way proposed to get what works in a 
"primitive" society to work in a modern one with all of the comforts 
that are expected and/or included. The biggest worm to tame seems to be 
the very nature of the inequity of the gift - one may be extremely 
"gifted" while another is lacking.

On Nov 21, 2008, at 7:09 PM, Michael Moynihan wrote:

> Despite the majority of apparently happy capitalist puppeteers, I do 
> recall reading here some commiserating why we USA puppeteer/
> storytellers were often relegated to the kid's table at the performing 
> arts thanksgiving feast.
   Despite your obvious digs at the capitalist puppeteers, it seems you 
have very much been living and profiting from the same society they 
live in. Me thinks that would be called hypocrisy.
  And as best I can figure you have drawn together dissimilar ideas 
here. Please explain how you equate one to the other. And how this has 
anything what-so-ever to do with gift economy. The only thing I can 
figure is if you stretch the point extremely thin, you can extrapolate 
that this is a complaint that their "gift" is undervalued and 
compensated for, relegating them to the "kid's table" with their fare 
only fit for immature minds.

> An Gift interesting review:
   Yes an interesting review, but also one where another worm becomes 
apparent. This time, mostly the Noble Worm - the one where one only see 
the noble portion of a society, like the Noble Native, mostly ignoring 
the negative aspects. Such examinations ignore the exchange of goods 
and services as a different commerce and "monetary" system. I've yet to 
see a thorough examination of any supposed gift economy that has the 
gifts exchanged purely for the gift of giving or receiving. Every 
example so far has the altruistic gift as a augment to the economic 
system - just like a modern system.

> As to the Refrigerator biz in a gifty-ier, more human friendly 
> economy, not much different from any biz endeavors.
   Giant worm of contradiction! Giant worm of contradiction!

> Worker owned manufacturing? Consumer owned cooperative? Refrigerators 
> you cannot own, only use, so when you are done with it,
> it goes back to the manufacturer for rebuilding/recycling. Same with 
> iPods, computers, cars, tools?
   In a true gift economy the workers could not own the manufacturing, 
nor the consumers own the cooperative or it's not a gift. They would 
have to give the gift of their talents to create the product while 
someone else gave them the gift of clothes, a gift of building their 
home, their utilities, etc. And there would be no need for laws or law 
related jobs like police, lawyers, politics, etc. because everyone 
would be so giving.
   More recycling of products through reuse, remanufacturing, recycling, 
etc. would be great, but it is not a domain of the gift economy. How 
would you feel if my gift to you was my old fridge that no longer 
worked? I'm done with it, time to pass it along. You see, it would be 
my option in a gift economy to pass that "gift" along or back to the 
manufacturer. Useless gifts are not much of a gift, are they.

> Cooperatives usually are cost effective and responsive to their 
> owners. Here in the heartland of the USA we have Ace Hardware, a 
> cooperative that was created in 1924. Ocean Spray has been around for 
> over 75 years as an agricultural cooperative, owned by cranberry 
> growers and grapefruit growers. Consumer owned power utilities cost an 
> average of 13% less than investor owned. And they can choose how the 
> energy is generated.
   Another worm. I've never been to an Ace Hardware where they've given 
me my items as a gift. They always charge me. Same with Ocean Spray. 
Somehow the workers who manufacture and distribute those products still 
like to get paid in dollars.
   And another worm - the owners of a coop ARE the investors. It is held 
within a larger "family". It is the step between private ownership and 
public ownership. Part of the way that a coop controls its costs and 
manner of operation is through the fact that it is a smaller number of 
investors who also have a vested interest in the company beyond their 
dollars. Public investors could choose how the energy is generated at a 
utility IF they cared enough to have that active a part in the workings 
of the board. Like most major firms that are publicly held, much of the 
investor money is faceless and is only there to participate in the 

   So, I've yet seen an example of a working, modern, gift economy. One 
where the economy is gift driven and there is no exchange of money (be 
it coin, beads, or worms) for goods and services. I want to be a 
believer. Show me the no money.

   And might I be so bold as to ask if YOU create a gift economy within 
your own sphere? Do you give, or have you given, all or a substantial 
portion of your "gift" without asking for remuneration of any kind, 
living instead off of the gifts you get back unrelated to what you have 
given? If you've found the path, let me know and I'll climb on board. 
I'd be happy to provide the gift of my talents for free if I know that 
my needs will be met as well. I need to be provided via gifts all of 
the things required to do my shows, from raw material to the van and 
gas to get to the show, as well as the place to store all of these 
things until I am done with those gifts, and the home for my family and 
food, and clothes, and utilities, and comforts, and....  I'd also be 
willing to pitch in with other gifts (as I have already) like household 
repairs and other skills that I may have. I wouldn't expect to share 
only one gift.

   I await your reply and find this thread to be interesting, but I 
think this has gotten far off of puppetry, so any future reply I may 
have will be taken off list. This is my last post on the subject (I 
hope). Back to puppetry.


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