Meet Mago Contributor, Genevieve Vaughan.
Abstract reasoning has been influenced by exchange. It is not a sui generis activity but only a complication of giftgiving and language, which has left aside or cancelled the other oriented content in order to contend with cause and effect, quantification, self reflecting consciousness and supposedly value-free (not value- giving) ‘activity’. By abstracting from giftgiving we prepare ourselves for exchange. We eliminate meaningful human relations and bonding based on giving, and separate reason from the emotions which respond to needs. Our emotional responses create the map that tells us where and what gifts to give. Basing reason as we do on the equations and categories of exchange while discrediting emotions, we find our lives are no longer ‘meaningful’. That is because meaning – in life as in language – is formed by gift giving communication. We also forget that the truth is other oriented, that it satisfies the other’s need to know, while lying is constructed according to the model of exchange, satisfying only the speakers’ own need. Our lack of honesty is also a lack of altruism and gift giving is defeated once more.
Many aspects of our lives are informed by the paradigm of exchange without our realizing it. For example, justice is constructed upon the exchange model. We quantify wrong doing and impose a payment. The feeling of guilt is a kind of personal readiness to pay. We need kindness instead, for-giveness and a concentration on the needs of all the parties involved. Profit, in Marx’s sense of surplus value, is an unpaid portion of the workers’ labor, which may be considered as a leveraged gift. The system of exchange depends upon this gift for its motivation and on the many free gifts that are given to it by women’s (and some men’s) nurturing work, the sometimes laborious activity of shopping, of child care and elder care, the ‘reproduction’ of the work force. Slavery of one kind or another throughout history has provided the forced unpaid ‘extra’ that was necessary for the growth of ‘just’ and equal exchange. Presently the cheap labor and natural resources of third world countries provide a flow of gifts to the market economies of the North.