Category Archives: The Gift

“Any sane economy has to rest in an exchange of gifts

Well this is rather cool. In my post below on the Gift ‘vs.’ Economy, I suggested that a way forward would be toward some form of distributivism, linking to John Médaille’s book in the process, called The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace. Yesterday, I copy-and-pasted that post into a post over on the Church & Pomo blog, and John Médaille actually showed up and offered his comments! Turns out he has what looks to be a rather interesting group blog as well.

Economy vs. the Gift?

In Peter Leithart’s post “Gift and Economy,” after clarifying that in reality, the gift and economy are not actually opposed, he concludes with the following question: “If I am right about classical economic theory (and I might stand corrected), the question arises of why it should have developed this way.  Why would gift/gratitude/relationship be left out of economic consideration?  And, how would economic theory be different if it’s included?”

I am no economist, but my first inclination is to say that the reason that gift/gratitude/relationship is left out of economic consideration is because modern economics itself it predicated upon an economy of lack.  The gift is one of surplus, one that in divine terms as D.B. Hart puts it in regards to Anselm, one that “exceeds every debt.”  In the gift, there is always a ‘more’ that exceeds the violence of exchange, which is also why Milbank is right to argue for the gift before the contract in our society (see his essay “Liberality versus Liberalism”).  Economic theory, if it assumed an economy of abundance (jubilee economics), would be very much more distributive, I think!