Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shared joy is double joy!

The idea is simple: Let's liberate love and joy from the confines of the individual, the couple, and the family, and let's create new forms of shared joy and shared love! Write poetry on post-it notes and stick them up all over town! Steal children's books from your local mega-chain bookstore, and give them out to random kids on the street! Steal food from your local chain supermarket, and give it to the homeless! Let's turn commodities into gifts! Raid some bourgeois suburban gardens for their roses, and walk around the city giving free flowers to all and sundry! It's like the Situationists used to say: "You can't buy happiness, so steal it!" This is true liberation! Liberating commodities from the market and reclaiming the commons! We need a new theory of value too... Capitalism is all about exchange value - the worth of goods and services becomes reducible to its exchange value on the market. Marxists argued against this, in favour of "use value" - that goods and services should be valued according to their utilitarian value, not their exchange value. How boring though!!! Why reduce joy and love and art and beauty to either exchange value OR utilitarianism??? Maybe we can argue for "gift value" as that which enables joy and love and desire to flow and to become COMMON. Let's create a "gift economy", as Marcel Mauss called it! Think for a moment about the joke that is the capitalist "free market". Of course we know that it means freedom for business, not freedom for people. And it is anything but free! Think of all the human and environmental costs! The true "free market" would be the gift economy! The true free society would be a kind of "wiki-society"! A few years ago, I read about an anarchist group in Berlin who used to gather all their unwanted stuff every Christmas, and give it away for free in the centre of Berlin. I thought this was brilliant! It totally challenges the capitalist consumerist orgy that it Christmas, but not in a head-to-head antagonistic way. It redefines the gift in a Maussian sense, and challenges the commoditisation of giving and the way in which this has been institutionalised through Christmas. Love needs to be redefined as LIFE IN COMMON!

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