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It is said that the earth produces enough at the present time to feed everyone abundantly. However, this cannot be done on the basis of the exchange paradigm. Nor can the exchange paradigm or the kind of dominant ego it fosters continue in a situation of abundance and free giving. Many men practice it to some extent also. I believe, for example, that many of the conflicts between women and men that seem like personal differences are really differences in the paradigm we are using as the basis for our behavior.

Gli invisibili: L'enigma di Gaia by Giovanni Del Ponte (4 star ratings)

Each tries to convince the other to follow his or her values. Recently, many women have begun to follow the exchange paradigm, which has the immediate advantage of liberating them from grim economic servitude-and the psychological advantage that monetization defines their activity as valuable. But the servitude itself is caused by the exchange paradigm. As people change from one paradigm to the other, there is probably some holdover of the previous paradigm, so that women who take on exchange often remain nurturing while men who take on giving remain more ego-oriented.

I see this in the case of religions, in which men legislate other-orientation, often according to exchange, excluding and disqualifying women.

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Indeed, they make altruism seem so saintly that it is impractical for the many while ignoring that it is often the norm for women. This is like the madonna-whore syndrome, where the woman is either over- or undervalued, worshiped or despised. Altruism is made to seem above our reach, often with a self-sacrificing side because of the scarcity produced by the exchange economy , or it is seen as wasteful, spendthrift; charity is given by patriarchal religions in exchange for the soul. The gift giving done by the big exchange-ego does not work, as we have seen on the scale of aid between nations.

There are strings attached by the donor country, which pauperize the recipients. What we need to do is not to pay women s labor more, but to change the values altogether, eventually disqualifying monetization and exchange. How can a noncompetitive, nurturing paradigm compete with a competitive one? It is always at a disadvantage because competition is not its motivation or its value. Another major problem is that if satisfying a need is free, one should not require recognition for it.

But by not requiring recognition, women have themselves remained unconscious of the paradigm character of their actions and values.

Yet clearly the ego-oriented paradigm is pernicious. It results in the empowerment of the few and the disempowerment, depletion, death, and invisibility of the many. Since the ego is a social product, artificial in some ways, it needs to be continually re-created and confirmed. This can also be done by violence against the other, including sexual violence. Anyone in the position of the other is ignored, denied, excluded, degraded to confirm the superiority and identity of the dominant egos.

I would like to avoid any moral discourse on this point in fact, I see guilt as internalized exchange, preparing to pay back for the wrong one has done and simply see the problems as logical and psychological consequences of the paradigms. Vengeance and justice require a balance of accounts. But we need kindness and nurturing. When we find that 85 percent of people in prison have been abused as children, we must realize justice is not the issue.

Like charity, justice humanizes the exchange just enough to keep it from changing. We need a world based on giving and for giving, not retribution. At this point, it seems that it is important to create transitional structures by which giving can be validated. Such strategies as cause-related marketing, where profits are given to social change projects to satisfy needs, use exchange for giving. The social change funding movement also empowers giving, especially when it comes from an abundance rather than a scarcity model.

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But so do all the people in the peace, feminist. Sometimes, we even disparage other-orientation while we are practicing it, because the exchange model is so pervasive and strong. We need to give our money, time, and attention to the change in values, and both new and traditional economic alternatives not dependent on exchange and the market. Women need to realize that our values and energies are important outside the family as well as inside.

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Social problems are themselves needs that we must satisfy. Our other-orientation must become the norm. Then the ancient dream that the powerful will lay down their arms and the rich their goods might come true, led by women of the world. I call your attention to the word for-give.

He developed a theory along those lines, which can be seen, in his books, Il linguaggio come lavoro e come mercato Language as labor and trade and Linguistics and Economics I was completely fascinated by this project and spent a lot of time throughout those years trying to fit the pieces of the complex puzzle together. There was a sense of sharing and cooperation, a kind of life-enhancing creativity in language that was just absent from most commercial relations as I understood them. During those years I gave birth to our three daughters and was taking care of them. Because I had been concentrating on the comparison between language and exchange I could not avoid noticing that they were learning to talk long before they learned about exchange for money and before they were doing anything that might be called work.

Maybe, I thought, it is language that comes first in society and exchange derives from language. It seemed improbable that exchange could have made the same kind of fundamental contribution to our becoming and being human that language did. I knew that the indigenous peoples of the Americas had not had money or markets as such before the European conquest, yet they certainly spoke. Meanwhile I tried not to manipulate my children, or anybody else because that was antithetical to the way I thought human relations should be. The kind of — if you do this, I will do what you want — exchange, seemed to me to be a negative way to behave.

At any rate at the time I would not have thought of looking at communication as gift giving if I had not been trying to distinguish communication from exchange and to find a way to salvage language from the relations of capital and the market and even from work, considered as the production and use of tools. The theory my husband was developing, while fascinating, did not convince me. There was something else. An image came to me. From the work I did then I published two essays in semiotics journals.

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Money then appeared to be a kind of materialized word, used to satisfy the peculiar communicative need that arises from the mutually exclusive relations of private property. I had read L. If the exemplar varied, the abstraction would be incomplete and the relevant common qualities would not be separated from the irrelevant qualities.

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I realized that the general equivalent, money could be understood as the exemplar for the abstraction of the concept of value in the market. However I remember that by I had made the connection between communication and the gift giving of indigenous peoples.

If communication was based on gift giving, maybe societies that did not have markets, used gift giving for communication. Then maybe exchange and markets could be seen as altered gift giving, altered communication. In that year also I encountered another important idea, which redirected my thinking. After my divorce from Rossi-Landi, I began going to a feminist consciousness raising group.

Even in dialogue, what is happening is not exchange but turntaking in giving unilateral gifts.


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I speak and you understand what I say, whether or not you reply. It seemed clear to me that if it is inevitable that others understand our words, our giving our words to others and their receiving them will not be contingent upon a reply. Even questions, which are asked in order to receive a reply, are verbal products that are given and received as such, unconditionally. That is, they are understood anyway even if no reply is actually given. Both seller and buyer necessarily participate in the do ut des self-reflecting and contingent logic of exchange.

In fact I think that as a society we have believed acritically in the fundamental value of the logic of exchange and we have consequently embraced and nurtured an economic system that is extending itself parasitically over the planet, feeding on the unilateral gifts of all.


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  5. These are the unilateral gifts of tradition, of culture, of nature, of care and of love as well as the forced or leveraged unilateral gifts imposed by exploitation, the gifts of cheap or free labor. In Capitalism the values of Patriarchy — competition, hierarchy, domination — have been united with the values of the market. In order to understand this merger and justify some startling similarities in what are usually considered widely different areas, we need to look beyond both Capitalism and Patriarchy to underlying patterns.

    Rather both are caused by epistemological distortions and incarnations of our concept forming processes, which are due to the social imposition of binary gender categories.