10/11/12 – giving, receiving, and eskimos


Richard Moore

Bcc: FYI
rkm website

delanceyplace header
In today’s encore selection – the supposedly virtuous act of giving is often instead an act meant to create an obligation, an act whereby the giver measures himself against the receiver and requires a repayment, even if that repayment is gratitude:

“[Here] are the words of an actual hunter-gatherer — an Inuit from Greenland made famous in the Danish writer Peter Freuchen’s Book of the Es­kimo. Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat [for him]. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:

” ‘Up in our country we are human!’ said the hunter. ‘And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.’ 

“The last line is something of an anthropological classic, and simi­lar statements about the refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found through the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunt­ing societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly hu­man meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began ‘comparing power with power, measuring, calculating’ and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt.”

Author: David Graeber    
Title: Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Date: Copyright 2011 by David Graeber
Pages: 79

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

by David Graeber by Melville House
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2011-07-12

If you wish to read further: Buy Now

If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children’s literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity.


  Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterVisit our blog  

About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came.  

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here 
To view previous daily emails click here.
To sign up for our daily email click here.

This email was sent to •••@••.••• by •••@••.•••  
Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy. | 1735 Market Street | Suite 3750 | Philadelphia | PA | 19103