June 8, 2019

"With Venezuela in collapse, towns slip into primitive isolation."

A Reuters headline.
At the once-busy beach resort of Patanemo, tourism has evaporated.... These days, its Caribbean shoreline flanked by forested hills receives a different type of visitor: people who walk 10 minutes from a nearby town carrying rice, plantains or bananas in hopes of exchanging them for the fishermen’s latest catch....

“The fish that we catch is to exchange or give away,” said Yofran Arias, one of 15 fishermen who have grown accustomed to a rustic existence even though they live a 15-minute drive from Venezuela’s main port of Puerto Cabello. “Money doesn’t buy anything so it’s better for people to bring food so we can give them fish,” he said, while cleaning bonefish, known for abundant bones and limited commercial value....

“I haven’t been to the city center in almost two years. What would I do there? I don’t have enough (money) to buy a shirt or a pair of shorts,” said a fisherman in Patanemo who identified himself only as Luis. “I’m better off here swapping things to survive.”...

In the mountains of the central state of Lara, residents of the town of Guarico this year found a different way of paying bills - coffee beans. Residents of the coffee-growing region now exchange roasted beans for anything from haircuts to spare parts for agricultural machinery....
Inflation is more than a million percent. The "primitive isolation" is a barter economy. They have absolutely no money.

Here's an article from 2016 in The Atlantic, "The Myth of the Barter Economy/Adam Smith said that quid-pro-quo exchange systems preceded economies based on currency, but there’s no evidence that he was right."
The man who arguably founded modern economic theory, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, popularized the idea that barter was a precursor to money.
In Venezuela, barter is a successor to money, which is some evidence that barter was a precursor to money, but this Atlantic writer, Ilana Strauss, questions whether human beings really ever lived without currency:
[V]arious anthropologists have pointed out that this barter economy has never been witnessed as researchers have traveled to undeveloped parts of the globe.
That was back in 2016.
“No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money,” wrote the Cambridge anthropology professor Caroline Humphrey in a 1985 paper. “All available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing.”...

When barter has appeared, it wasn’t as part of a purely barter economy, and money didn’t emerge from it—rather, it emerged from money. After Rome fell, for instance, Europeans used barter as a substitute for the Roman currency people had gotten used to.
So barter as a successor to money doesn't tend to show that barter was ever a precursor to money....

Communities of Iroquois Native Americans, for instance, stockpiled their goods in longhouses. Female councils then allocated the goods, explains [David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics]. Other indigenous communities relied on “gift economies,” which went something like this: If you were a baker who needed meat, you didn’t offer your bagels for the butcher’s steaks. Instead, you got your wife to hint to the butcher’s wife that you two were low on iron, and she’d say something like “Oh really? Have a hamburger, we’ve got plenty!” Down the line, the butcher might want a birthday cake, or help moving to a new apartment, and you’d help him out.

On paper, this sounds a bit like delayed barter, but it bears some significant differences. For one thing, it’s much more efficient than Smith’s idea of a barter system, since it doesn’t depend on each person simultaneously having what the other wants. It’s also not tit for tat: No one ever assigns a specific value to the meat or cake or house-building labor, meaning debts can’t be transferred.

And, in a gift economy, exchange isn’t impersonal. If you’re trading with someone you care about, you’ll “inevitably also care about her enough to take her individual needs, desires, and situation into account,” argues Graeber. “Even if you do swap one thing for another, you are likely to frame the matter as a gift.”

Trade did occur in non-monetary societies, but not among fellow villagers. Instead, it was used almost exclusively with strangers, or even enemies, where it was often accompanied by complex rituals involving trade, dance, feasting, mock fighting, or sex—and sometimes all of them intertwined. Take the indigenous Gunwinggu people of Australia, as observed by the anthropologist Ronald Berndt in the 1940s:
Men from the visiting group sit quietly while women of the opposite moiety come over and give them cloth, hit them, and invite them to copulate. They take any liberty they choose with the men, amid amusement and applause, while the singing and dancing continue. Women try to undo the men’s loin coverings or touch their penises, and to drag them from the “ring place” for coitus. The men go with their … partners, with a show of reluctance to copulate in the bushes away from the fires which light up the dancers. They may give the women tobacco or beads. When the women return, they give part of this tobacco to their own husbands....
Apparently, Adam Smith didn't think about women enough.

110 comments:

gilbar said...

The GOOD NEWS is: We aren't far behind Venezuela ! Socialism here we come!!
The EVEN BETTER NEWS is: In Twelve Years the world will be over!!!!

Bay Area Guy said...

Hmmm. And how did Venezuela collapse into this primitive barter system. Perhaps, certain socialist politicians (Chavez & Maduro) enacted certain socialist policy prescriptions - which always lead to government corruption?

Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Why do people think of Bitcoin as an "investment"?

gilbar said...

Female councils then allocated the goods which is pretty much THE definition of socialism

Birkel said...

Any argument at all against free markets and free people will be advanced by Leftist Collectivists as they aim only for power over others.

Christopher Phelan said...

Old Internet Joke: Q: What did Venezuelans use before candles? A: Electricity.
New Internet Joke: Q: What did Venezuelans use before barter? A: Money.

JPS said...

Here again I think of Dave Barry's 2016 description of Bernie Sanders, the "Vermont senator with a message of socialism, but the good kind of socialism where everybody gets a lot of free stuff, not the kind where starving people fight over who gets the lone remaining beet at the co-op."

SGT Ted said...

“No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money,”

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Owen said...

Is this either/or? A barter economy that uses perishable goods (here, farm produce exchanged for fish) is “pure” barter. But if the goods are less-perishable and not consumed, they can store value and become money-like. I believe in postwar Germany people used cigarettes and chocolate. “Trade goods” were used in frontier communities.

The idea that barter economies preceded or coexisted with money economies doesn’t seem unnatural. Like all human tools, but more than most, money is an abstraction.

Quaestor said...

Communities of Iroquois Native Americans, for instance, stockpiled their goods in longhouses. Female councils then allocated the goods, explains David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics

Really? And what is Graeber's source for this claim? If he isn't three hundred years old, he didn't witness this first hand or speak with anyone who did. The Iroquois didn't keep contemporary records, being non-literate. Nor are we assured the 17th-century European observer, perhaps Father Paul Ragueneau who divided his time between preaching the Gospel and stirring up the natives against those vile Protestants down in Plymouth Plantation, understood what he heard or saw.

Apparently, Adam Smith didn't think about women enough.

Apparently, what passes for modern scholarship — deconstructed sources, non-reproducible results, motivated rather than disinterested conclusions — thinks about women too much.

mandrewa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Begley said...

The veneer of civilization is mighty thin.

It could happen here.

William said...

If money doesn't make sense, very little else in your world will make sense. Hyperinflation leaves people unmoored.

mandrewa said...

It seems self-evident that barter must have preceded exchanges using money. Is anyone going to seriously argue that we had to invent something as non-obvious as money before our distant ancestors could have exchanged goods?

Why do we even have a word for barter, with most of us easily understanding what it means, if it is so unlikely that we would exchange goods without money?

But there's a bigger problem here than barter versus money. I'm not sure the modern left believes in objective truth. Isn't that one of the ideas that post-modernism promotes?

Should we be believing anything that comes from the post-modern dominated professions at the universities, since that for them 'truth' is what they want to believe?

Darrell said...

The EVEN BETTER NEWS is: In Twelve Years the world will be over!!!!

Nope--2022.

I'm still betting on that TV preacher from the 1980s that used math and blackboards to prove that the Doomsday clock started at the end of WWII with 77 years remaining.

mezzrow said...

barter = capitalism before the creation of/after the destruction of capital.

Someone needs to look into this and DO SOMETHING. For the people.

Venceremos!

hawkeyedjb said...

Socialists say "We're not gonna have THAT kink of socialism," but the Venezuelan, or the Soviet, or the East German kind are really the only options. Kids think Scandinavia is socialist, but those are highly competitive, productive capitalist economies. It's the only kind that can support Free Stuff. Bernie the Commie would never put up with the Swedish model - too damn many kinds of deodorant.

traditionalguy said...

Starvation is the Communist's #1 weapon. They want the mass death from disease attacking a hunger weakened population. That makes it so much easier to appropriate/nationalize/steal at gunpoint every last thing the dead once "owned"

Quaestor said...

Barter economies certainly predate currency.

Anyone who suggests otherwise must describe the history of pockets.

Narayanan said...

What did the reporters barter to get the people to open up about their plight?

It would be clearer and truer presentation of the facts of the situation.

I've read Dutch had money which was useless on Manhattan!

Ambrose said...

"No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, ..."

I think the key is in the "pure and simple" - otherwise known as the No true Scotsman fallacy.

Big Mike said...

In the event the US turns into Venezuela what would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have to trade for food?

William said...

Perhaps if they put these farms under collective ownership and nationalize the fishing boats, then these food shortage problems can be solved. There is much work that needs to be done before Venezuela reaches true socialism.

Quaestor said...

In the event the US turns into Venezuela what would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have to trade for food?

Oh, come now, Big Mike. We're all adults here.

Michael K said...

Someday, if the Democrats ever win again, we will be reduced to gold and ammunition.

You can't have one without the other.

Paul said...

When are they going to start calling them Bernievilles?

Narayanan said...

A Money based economic system is closer to cargo-cult ritual than bartering products to support one's own lives.

Paul said...

Michael K said..."Someday, if the Democrats ever win again, we will be reduced to gold and ammunition. You can't have one without the other."

True. For one follows the Golden rule.

1) He that owns the guns gets the gold and makes the rules.

Fernandistein said...

Trade did occur in non-monetary societies,

So Adam Smith was correct.

but not among fellow villagers.

Which is an extended family. People don't barter within their own family.

Traditionally, the Iroquois were farmers and hunters who practiced a slash-and-burn form of horticulture.
...
"Trade
Long before European contact the Iroquois, as mentioned above, were involved in an intricate trade network with other native groups. Clay pipes were an important trade item that reached other native groups all along the east coast of North America. The aggressive behavior the Iroquois exhibited toward their neighbors during the fur trade period has been interpreted by some as the result of their aim to protect and expand their middleman role."

hawkeyedjb said...

"In the event the US turns into Venezuela what would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have to trade for food?"

She'll be ok. Hillary would starve, and Nancy would be put on an ice floe.

William said...

Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. Mohammed flatly prohibited charging interest on loans. The Dutch Calvinists did not allow actors, brothel keepers, and bankers to receive public communion. The human race, especially those of a religious or academic bent, are deeply distrustful of those who manage (and frequently manipulate) their currency. Although bankers not such great people, their track record is not noticeably worse than commissars, provosts, and abbots......Have there been any kind of academic studies that examine why academics are so distrustful of Adam Smith and so credulous when it comes to Marx and Iroquois matriarchs.

Owen said...

Fernandistein: “...People don’t barter within their own extended family.” At the risk of seeking to quibble, I think people barter all the time with everybody, especially for small intangibles, services, favors, courtesies. In a family or clan the favor-bank may be looser: you (usually) don’t obsess over how many times your uncle borrowed the lawnmower, but if he keeps returning it without gasoline, you adjust your generosity or start to press for some countervailing favor. I think this is a constant and almost-subliminal process in any social group. A lot of our mental real estate evolved to keep track of status, and favor-trading is part of how we create and maintain our social capital.

Money was a great invention but it doesn’t replace all that other stuff. IMHO.

Owen said...

“...seeking to quibble..” —> “...seeming to quibble...”

Christy said...

Don't we have a clue in the origin of the word salary?

Love the way people think the Roman era was the beginning of civilization.

Dr Weevil said...

Fifteen subsequent comments, and not one mentions hawkeyedjb's hilarious typo "We're not gonna have THAT kink of socialism" (9:20am - emphasis added)? What's wrong with you people?

chuck said...

IIRC, barter was common in the Soviet Union, even at the level of barter between factories for raw materials.

Narr said...

Yep, got to inoculate the reader against Old Adam Smith--who everybody knows is the great ideologist of laisser-faire-red-clawed-devil-take-the-hindmost-proto-fascist-Reagan-Trumpism.

I can't add to the critique already offered. What a dismally stupid and uninformed class of credentialed fools we have created.

Narr
And are supposed to take seriously

Michael McNeil said...

Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. Mohammed flatly prohibited charging interest on loans.

Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple (note: out of the temple!), but as Jesus also points out (in his own words) in the Parable of the Talents [Matthew 25:14-30]: the “master” in Jesus' parable well rewards those of his servants who had made much more money for him than the capital he'd originally left them responsible for — even though, one might note, they had to put those extremely-valuable funds at risk in order to make such a profit; they succeeded, but they might have failed.

Notice, however, the master’s other servant, who simply squirrels the money entrusted to him safely away (and who notably doesn’t fritter it away [or even risk it!] like the “Prodigal Son” did in another of Jesus’ parables) — but merely (while carefully safeguarding it) fails to invest it for income — receives a quite different “reward.”

{Continued on the next page: page 2}

Michael McNeil said...

{Continued from previous page: page 2}

Turning to the biblical text [with a few notes in square brackets added by me]; Jesus is speaking: [quoting…]

Parable of the Talents

It is like a man going abroad, who called his servants and entrusted his capital to them; to one he gave five bags* of gold, to another two, to another one, each according to his ability. Then he left the country. The man who had the five bags went at once and employed them in business, and made a profit of five bags; and the man who had the two bags made two. But the man who had been given one bag of gold went off and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money.

A long time afterwards their master returned, and proceeded to settle accounts with them. The man who had been given the five bags of gold came and produced the five he had made: “Master,” he said, “you left five bags with me; look, I have made five more.” [Note: 100% profit!]

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” said the master. “You have proved trustworthy in a small matter; I will now put you in charge of something big. Come and share your master's joy.”

The man with the two bags then came and said, “Master, you left two bags with me; look, I have made two more.” [Another 100% profit!]

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” said the master. “You have proved trustworthy in a small matter; I will now put you in charge of something big. Come and share your master's joy.”

Then the man who had been given one bag came and said, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man: you reap where you have not sown, you gather where you have not scattered [anybody heard a better definition of capitalist?]; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your gold in the ground. Here it is — you have what belongs to you.”

“You worthless, lazy servant!” said the master. “You knew, did you, that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered? Then you ought to have put my money on deposit, and on my return I should have got it back with interest.**

“Take the bag of gold from him, and give it to the one with the ten bags. [!] For everyone who has will be given more, till he has enough and to spare; and everyone who has nothing will forfeit even what he has. As for the useless servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth!”

[/unQuote]

Sounds pretty hard-headed capitalist to me!

____
(Matthew 25:14-30, Oxford Study Bible (Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha), Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, p. 1297)

––––
*Note that — though the translation employed here (the 1989 Revised edition of 1970’s New English Bible, known as the Revised English Bible) speaks of the servants' capitalization in terms of “bags” of gold — in actuality each “Talent” (a Babylonian measure) so-called in antiquity meant some _60 pounds_ of the valuable glittering metal — which is to say, a _very_ considerable fortune. (More than US$1 million per Talent at modern prices for that weight in gold.)

**Moreover, it certainly doesn't appear here that Jesus had any objection — in principle — to the making of substantial interest (or “usury,” as the King James Version puts it) — i.e.: 100% interest! — off the principal.

Seeing Red said...

Tsk tsk. All that “bad luck.”

It could never happen here, could it?

Seeing Red said...

Ah, for the good old days of my youth when American Jeans was currency in the Soviet Union.

Rae said...

Interesting that Venezuela has regressed back (economically) to prehistory. I wonder how far they can regress before American socialists realize it's a bad thing.

daskol said...

A more likely explanation for anthropologists coming up snake eyes on a pre-currency barter economy is that currency is very ancient, and follows very quickly at least in primitive form a barter system in any settled society.

buwaya said...

In the good old days the neighboring kingdom would see this weakness, invade, take over, and replace the collapsed native ruling class with land grants to its own warriors. Any remaining, cooperative native rulers would be bought off and integrated into the new aristocracy.

buwaya said...

The Venezuelans can entirely exterminate themselves and it would not matter a bit to American political arguments. All foreigners are just occasions for generating words, providing verbal ammunition.

Foreigners, even those actually on this soil, only count if they manage to buy their way into the American internecine wars.

Fernandistein said...

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamberder today."

mockturtle said...

In Asia's 'silk trade' many goods were traded without the use of currency. Silver and gold were commodities, not currency, in these trades. I'll trust Adam Smith before I trust some bogus anthropology professor.

Leland said...

Free markets find a way.

JaimeRoberto said...

So abalone shells, turquoise and obsidian made their way to different Indian tribes by not-barter. OK.

Yancey Ward said...

Anyone who takes David Graeber's work in this area seriously is a fucking idiot. The man is a full-blown Marxist and will make up any story he has to in order to support his ideology. He needs you to believe in the so-called gift economy because it aligns perfectly with the "each according his needs, each according to his abilities"- the problem for Graeber is that humans are not wired this way, and never will be.

I imagine that, eventually, a Venezuelan government will dollarize the economy, and then the barter will slowly disappear again- right now it is dangerous to use dollars in the open because you don't want people to know you have them.

Fernandistein said...

towns slip into primitive isolation

I hope their isolation is diverse, inclusive and solar powered, as well as primitive.

Oso Negro said...

In the USA, you are only allowed to barter for pussy, you are not allowed to use currency. Because our women are empowered. Unlike Austrian women, who can just give it up for cash.

Gahrie said...

But there's a bigger problem here than barter versus money. I'm not sure the modern left believes in objective truth.

It doesn't. Neither does our hostess.

Isn't that one of the ideas that post-modernism promotes?

Yes.

hawkeyedjb said...

Rae said...
"I wonder how far they can regress before American socialists realize it's a bad thing."

It's never a bad thing, as long as they're the ones in charge. Maduro, like most socialists, would rather rule over a primitive and destitute society than live as a nobody among free and prosperous people.

Temujin said...

Money, such as we know it, has value only as long as we have confidence it it as something of value. Before the Federal Reserve Note, before the Euro, the Pound, Lira, Franc, Deutsche Mark, Rupee, Ruble, Boliviano, Real, Peso, the Aussie, Yen, Yuan, Guilder, and on and on...there were other means to trade for goods and services. We have not always had nationalized banks. We have long treasured gold and other shiny stones and metals, so those were traded as coins before paper and bytes. And before stone or metal coins? Fish heads? Bowls of rice? Sex? Children? 1927 Baseball Cards?

Call it what you will: trade or gifting, it was bartering- offering something of yours that had value to another person, while getting something from them that had value for you. We'll get a chance to re-kindle this fine old tradition at some point here in the not too distant future.

Nobody said...

The original barter economy began when humans differentiated from the other great apes, probably about the same time women evolved to be sexually receptive throughout their cycle.

Fernandistein said...

Monkeys in Bali Swipe Tourists’ Belongings and Barter Them for Snacks

Nobody said...

“And what is Graeber's source for this claim?”

His need for you to believe it.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Barter doesn't make sense among the members of a small, interdependent hunter gatherer band. They'll all be related. But it does make sense among different bands. We know, for instance, that flint was used to make arrowheads hundreds of miles away from where it was quarried. Copper jewelry has been found far from any copper mine. People traded goods, that is, they bartered.

http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/mining.htm

tcrosse said...

There's a point at which you have enough fish.

Michael K said...

The other aspect of the Venezuela situation, not often mentioned, is that those currently starving are the voters who put Chavez in office originally. The middle and upper classes got out years ago. A few are idiots like the illegal alien Venezuelan who poured his drink on a Trump supporter's head in Boston. You've got to be really stupid to do that when you are an illegal.

The oil workers were threatened and bailed out. The tar sands in Canada were just getting going and jobs were there.

The Chavez voters were the last ones left. Too bad. Karma is a bitch, even if you don't know what karma is.

Achilles said...

Ann said...

In Venezuela, barter is a successor to money, which is some evidence that barter was a precursor to money,

What did socialists use for light before candles?


but this Atlantic writer, Ilana Strauss, questions whether human beings really ever lived without currency:

Journalists are just really stupid people in general.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Geez, that article was dumb.

It gives no evidence for what it claims to be giving evidence for. Only quid-pro-quo exchange with outsiders counts as barter? OK, so how does this demonstrate that barter doesn't come before money? People have been doing quid-pro-quo trading with strangers across vast distances since at least the Stone Age, and we have some knowledge of the evolution of accounting systems that developed along with them.

Same with the descriptions of in-group sharing. Homogeneous tribal societies have a "socialistic" exchange structure? Do tell. How does this demonstrate the proferred thesis? It doesn't. Is it supposed to be a revelation that "socialistic" norms prevail in tribal groups where people have personal knowledge of one another and, more likely than not, kin connection? (Hey, I give my neighbors cakes and shovel the snow off their sidewalk without expecting an immediate quid-pro-quo, too. How is this is evidence that barter could not precede more abstract money systems?)

Seems pretty plausible even even from the author's agenda-driven narrative that "money" is a necessary development of keeping track once larger, more complex, impersonal exchange networks develop among humans.

tl;dr: really woolly-minded article wandering around in search of a coherent critique of advanced complex society and its discontents.

Yancey Ward said...

On the fifth day, God created currency.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

The linked Atlantic article, that is.

alanc709 said...

Only a fool or an idiot would think currency always existed in some form. Currency only works when you can reliably predict its value, and have it stay reasonably constant at that value.

Ken B said...

Quaestor has the best comment. I confess I did enjoy reading the detailed description of a barter society in operation followed immediately by “see! No barter!” As if “I’ll give you three bushels of corn after harvest for that milk today” isn’t barter.

AZ Bob said...

Michael S. Sanders wrote about his life in the tiny village of Les Arques (pop. 159) in his book From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant.

He said when he got there, he ordered up some fire wood from a man in the village. It was delivered and when Sanders gave him the money the man acted insulted.

Sanders was later told by a friend that the custom is to receive the fire wood and thank him profusely as if it was being done out of the goodness of one's heart. But then a week or two later, he would need to quietly slip the money to the man when he bumped into him in town.

Enjoy this visit to Les Arques. Les Arques vu du ciel par un drone

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

before all this, wasnt forcibly taking other's stuff the norm?

and isnt that approach still tried to this day?

daskol said...

It is interesting that a clever mind with an ideological axe to grind can take evidence for a phenomenon—the emergence of barter economics in a collapsed complex economy—and spin a yarn exactly opposite.

Tomcc said...

Reuters uses the word "collapse" referring to Venezuela. Look for an update to their style book soon. A Socialist society can't collapse; maybe it's just "evolving"!

Rusty said...

“No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money,”
You need to read how pweople did business in these colonies before the revolution. It was why the Stamp Act was so unpopular.

mockturtle said...

before all this, wasnt forcibly taking other's stuff the norm?

This was how the barbarian tribes survived. And gypsies to this day. ;-)

Nobody said...

As if “I’ll give you three bushels of corn after harvest for that milk today” isn’t barter.

If you want to find the best rationalizations for how it isn’t barter, just say that Trump said that it was.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

@mock
we were thinking 'the government' ;-)

rehajm said...

So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

mockturtle said...

@mock
we were thinking 'the government' ;-)


Well, 'government', barbarian tribes...it's all about taking other people's stuff. ;-)
All I ask is the right to self defense so neither government nor barbarian tribes can take my stuff. And didn't our Revolutionary heroes fight for this very principle? The tricky point is determining at what point you stop them. But, at some point, you must.

Roger Sweeny said...

But there's a bigger problem here than barter versus money. I'm not sure the modern left believes in objective truth.

It doesn't. Neither does our hostess.


Gahrie, that's an awful unperceptive thing to say.

ALP said...

“I haven’t been to the city center in almost two years. What would I do there? I don’t have enough (money) to buy a shirt or ***a pair of shorts***,” said a fisherman in Patanemo who identified himself only as Luis.

*************
But, but - soon shorts will be just a memory in that country. No more men in shorts. Isn't that worth all the pain? Isn't it???

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Between Bullying and Barter--
was coercion the intermediate phase?
The monkeys in the video arent 'bartering'--that's coercion.
"Nice village you have here-- it would be a shame if it was burned down"
When was 'That Day' we switched from "I'll harm you" to
"Hey- how much you want for that?"

walk don't run said...

Bartering always exists. My son who was a naughty boy was sent on a 42 day wilderness program in Arizona where he lived a "stone-age" existence walking 10 miles a day and making fire with sticks. Every week he and his fellow travellers were given 20lbs of food each. He learnt pretty quickly that the secret was to preserve your food for as long as you could. Most of the kids would run out of food after 5 days. He would then barter a potato for 2 or 3 potatoes next week. As a result he never ran out of food and was never was hungry. He would also do favours by giving his excess food which gave him status in the group. Interestingly he is still a trader importing and selling wine. Where there is no currency of exchange there is always bartering.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Fernandistein,
"The aggressive behavior the Iroquois exhibited toward their neighbors during the fur trade period has been interpreted by some as the result of their aim to protect and expand their middleman role."

The native American tribes all lived in peace and harmony with each other. The white man brought violence to the Americas.

chuck said...

> when American Jeans was currency in the Soviet Union.

Cigarettes were currency in Germany immediately after the end of WWII.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"maybe it's just "evolving"!"

It's evolving to a post-money economy!! (Reminds me of the parrot sketch.)

cubanbob said...

What is money if not a form of bartering?

Gahrie said...

But there's a bigger problem here than barter versus money. I'm not sure the modern left believes in objective truth.

It doesn't. Neither does our hostess.

Gahrie, that's an awful unperceptive thing to say.


????

Althouse has stated this explicitly and defended it repeatedly.

mockturtle said...

Walk don't run: Did your son ever read King Rat?

My brother was much the same as a young boy. He would still have all of his allowance at the end of the week and, knowing that my sister and I would run out, loaned to us with interest.

mockturtle said...

Cigarettes are apparently used for bartering in prison for any number of goods and services.

RichardJohnson said...

Michael K @ 12:13 PM
A few are idiots like the illegal alien Venezuelan who poured his drink on a Trump supporter's head in Boston. You've got to be really stupid to do that when you are an illegal.

Yes, she was really stupid, but she was not a really stupid Venezuelan illegal alien. She was a really stupid Brazilian illegal alien. BTW, it didn't happen in Boston, but on the Cape. Falmouth Woman Detained in 'MAGA' Hat Incident Detained by ICE, Facing Deportation Proceeding. FALMOUTH – The woman charged last week for allegedly attacking and harassing a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat at a Mexican restaurant in Falmouth has now been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and faces deportation proceedings.

“Deportation officers with ICE’s Fugitive Operations Team arrested Rosaine Santos, an unlawfully present citizen of Brazil, today near Falmouth, Massachusetts,” said ICE Spokesperson John Mohan in a statement to CapeCod.com.

“Santos is currently facing local charges for assault and other offenses,” the statement continued.


Her problem was that though she had acted like a typical Masshole, she hadn't been born and raised in Massachusetts. You gotta be born and raised in Massachusetts to be able to get away with acting like a Masshole.

Automatic_Wing said...

Men from the visiting group sit quietly while women of the opposite moiety come over and give them cloth, hit them, and invite them to copulate. They take any liberty they choose with the men, amid amusement and applause, while the singing and dancing continue. Women try to undo the men’s loin coverings or touch their penises, and to drag them from the “ring place” for coitus. The men go with their … partners, with a show of reluctance to copulate in the bushes away from the fires which light up the dancers. They may give the women tobacco or beads. When the women return, they give part of this tobacco to their own husbands....

Sounds very, uh, empowering. How do you say "You go, girl!" in
Gunwinggu?

Or maybe it's complete bullshit, like Margaret Mead's tales of free love in Polynesia. Who knows, lol.

Narr said...

I used to get some of the tobacco my wife brought back, but then they found out it was bad for you.

Narr
What the hell do -I- need beads for?

EMyrt said...

I'm an ex archeologist with an MBA and I agree with MockTurtle. The Atlantic article is full of shit, including the usual changing definitions to exclude barter. Money in the full sense (medium of exchange, unit of accounting, store of value) shows up fairly late (long after accounting, lol) and disappears quickly when cities and civilizations collapse.

FIDO said...

I am continually agog at the Academy at their incredible lack of imagination. THEY cannot imagine a world of barter, a world of primitive savages engaging in war, a world without some valid expressions of matriarchy, a world without a black Cleopatra...and so they create such nonsense out of whole cloth.

But then again, one does not get published by saying 'Yeah...those Turks...they took over Constantinople' for the 50,000th time. So to make any kind of name for themselves, they have to 'discover' (i.e. make up shit) the fact that the entire male Turkish hierarchy was gay. (No, this isn't an actual article, but I recall one nincompoop who fervently believed that the entire Roman Legions were gay...so I wouldn't doubt that there wasn't a Rule 34 for Academic Idiocy)

The incentives are not to teach, but to subvert expectations, be 'contrary' or to go to rationalize stupid extremist positions (See Peter Singer).

So is it any wonder that the Academy became a place where such tripe is considered seriously or we have a surfeit of Socialists on campus?

Michael K said...

Yes, she was really stupid, but she was not a really stupid Venezuelan illegal alien. She was a really stupid Brazilian illegal alien.

OK Nit nicely picked.

Sally said...

With a current inflation rate of 1.3 million percent, inflation index, I can see why they t
Barter.

buwaya said...

Actually there’s a remarkable amount of even modern history unexamined and unwritten, and a great deal more unavailable in English.
History does badly not because they have run out of fascinating stories to tell.
I myself have a half a dozen post-retirement projects, of a “there oughta be a book” sort.
Most concerning Franco-Spanish colonial history. It’s full of crazy stories and “how’d that happen?”

Roger Sweeny said...

But there's a bigger problem here than barter versus money. I'm not sure the modern left believes in objective truth.

It doesn't. Neither does our hostess.

Gahrie, that's an awful unperceptive thing to say.

????

Althouse has stated this explicitly and defended it repeatedly.


I fear I have missed that. Or has she defended something which sounds sorta kinda if you squint like "I don't believe in objective truth" but really isn't? I'd love a cite--or even better, our hostess could clear it up. Much of the Graiber kerfuffle seems to be different people meaning different things by the word "barter".

Narayanan said...

The plan is to prevent your mind forming the concept property and trade so that you never realize you've been lied to and cheated by them

Fen said...

Sounds very, uh, empowering. How do you say "You go, girl!" in
Gunwinggu?


Yup. I hooked up with a lot of lap dancers when I lived in Austin. Maybe 30? Every single one of them was suicidal (before they met me, you there in the back smirking). Must have been all the "empowerment" they had experienced.

RichardJohnson said...

Michael K: A few are idiots like the illegal alien Venezuelan who poured his drink on a Trump supporter's head in Boston.
Richard Johnson: Yes, she was really stupid, but she was not a really stupid Venezuelan illegal alien. She was a really stupid Brazilian illegal alien.
Michael K :OK Nit nicely picked.

You got FOUR things wrong.
1) Not Venezuelan, but Brazilian.
2) Sex of the illegal alien Trumpo-phobe: "poured his drink." 'Twas a woman.
3) What the Trumpo-phobe did: "poured his drink on a Trump supporter's head." No, according to the link YOU supplied, "Police reports say the man was first verbally assaulted by the woman, then hit over the head.....A video posted by Turner to his Facebook page shows some of the confrontation including Santos ripping the hat off of Turner’s head."
4) Where this occurred. You wrote Boston. It occurred in Falmouth, on the Cape. That is over an hour from Boston.

As a native New Englander no longer residing there, I tend to pay attention to these things.If you don't want to be nit-picked, read before you post. Don't want to come off as a fact-free Lib, do you? (that was intended as a joke.)

Danno said...

hawkeyedjb said..."In the event the US turns into Venezuela what would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have to trade for food?"

She'll be ok. Hillary would starve, and Nancy would be put on an ice floe.

Some polar bear will die because of botox poisoning.

Danno said...

"like a Masshole"

Is this the equivalent of M(asshole), a reference to the Big Dig, or Titus' favorite orifice?

All of the above?

RichardJohnson said...

Danno, it's a combination of "Mass," the old abbreviation for Massachusetts, and "asshole," which indicates the fondness that residents of adjoining states have for Massachusetts. To know is not to love- especially when it comes to Bay State politics and with drivers inside Route 128- the worst in the country.

Though in my case, there is a lot of ambivalence. My siblings have in-laws from Massachusetts. I would label only one of those in-laws a Masshole.In this case, it's not just politics, though politics is part of it.

Paul Snively said...

Ambrose: I think the key is in the "pure and simple" - otherwise known as the No true Scotsman fallacy.

Exactly. This "analysis" concluding "pure barter never existed" is confusing a thought experiment (and an early one, improved upon by later economists) explaining how the money commodity arises in societies with some sort of historical description. Indeed, Austrian monetary theory makes the point very sharply that a money commodity will arise almost immediately in any population with size > 1. Nick Szabo wrote an excellent essay on the subject, reminding us that different cultures have, at different times, used a number of things as the money commodity: dried fish, clam bones, etc. as well as the more expected silver and gold (when and where mining, smelting, etc. became feasible).

What strikes me about these "there was no barter" just-so stories is how, when you scratch them, you find a very specific motive: the insistence there's no such thing as the "money commodity," that credit is everything, that no one historically took the need to repay debt seriously and so "debt jubilees" were commonplace, and that all of that is somehow desirable to the poor. If this sounds outlandish, read Graeber's Debt—Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years. As a restorative, I then recommend The Theory of Money and Credit.

Eddie said...

A fundamental feature of market exchanges is that each party is fully compensated in the exchange. This means each party can walk away with no further obligations. In traditional societies, there is no such walking away. You are always obligated to everyone else in the tribe. You can hope and expect that the good you do for others will be returned to you, but no provision of value settles you up.

This is why barter does not predate the use of currency. Barter, like the use of currency, implies a settling up, which permits a walking away. As noted in the article, in traditional societies this will only happen between tribes. And tribal members are very concerned about getting fair exchange in such settings. Homer's Iliad has a moment where a Greek and Trojan exchange armor, and one of them is mocked by Homer for the inequality of the exchange.

Marx thought capitalism was an advance over traditional societies exactly because of this possibility of walking away. In traditional societies, you don't have the opportunity to define yourself, because you are always defined by your relations that have been established by birth. With capitalism, you can interact with others to obtain value, but then you get to walk away, which means you can decide who you are. Of course, obviously Marx thought capitalism was just a temporary step in story of progress.

It had not occurred to me that barter is logically something that follows the use of currency, not something that comes before. It is an inefficient solution for people who want exchanges where they can walk away but lack a stable currency to exchange in.

Rusty said...

Thanks Paul and Eddie. I hadnt looked at it thatway before. So in the end socialism is an attempt to return to tribalism and the obligations that tribalism entails.
Venzuela. Largest proven oil reserves in the world. Its people are broke and starving. What went wrong? Bad luck?

Zach said...

When people track down the origins of the flint used in stone tools, they find that high quality material could travel hundreds of miles.

The lapis lazuli used in Ancient Egypt originated in Afghanistan.

Pre-monetary civilizations must have had some kind of trade, because that's a long way to walk every time you want a particular kind of stone.

narciso said...

About that:

https://babalublog.com/2019/06/08/oops-venezuela-loses-twenty-tons-of-gold/?fbclid=IwAR26IvZ_FRVQIZ1IdYsKUgClW0Bf4eiVHIWp4678xudtcdP6v6rjMfZk0gY

Zach said...

It boggles the mind to think that the Pyramids were built by a pre-monetary society. There's a lot of specialized labor and planning that has to go into something like that, and you wonder how the accounts were settled up at the end of the day.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Saddest story I've heard out of Venezuela recently (on NPR, believe it or not): A woman in Venezuela lost her old job (something lucrative, IIRC, of the doctor/lawyer/banker sort), and is now making a living, sort of, as a seamstress. Her work, almost entirely: Taking in clothing that is now too large for its involuntarily-dieting owners.