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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Revert to Gift Economic System

Contrary to popular conception, there is no evidence that societies relied primarily on barter before using money for trade. Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When barter did in fact occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or would-be enemies.
The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins writes that Stone Age gift economies were, as evidenced by their nature as gift economies, economies of abundance, not scarcity, despite modern readers’ typical assumption of abject poverty.
Whilst Jonathan Dawson, head of economics at Schumacher College, writes that from an anthropological perspective, “economy and society are inseparable and that markets and money are relatively recent arrivals, a thin veneer layered onto a much older history of co-operation, gift and reciprocity.” 
Territorial conquests and colonization by alien military powers, saw Gift Economies being replaced by market economies based on commodity money. The period is marked by the emergence of city states and the rise of great empires in China, India and the Mediterranean, but was, in a way, connected with the advent of large-scale slavery and the use of coins to pay soldiers, together with the obligation enforced by the State for its subjects to pay its taxes in currency.