Dry Goods | Nick Szabo: The Origin of Money (Part-5): Heritage and Marriage

Relatives altruism

Coincidence between supply and demand in time and geography is extremely rare, and most of the trade types and trade-based economic systems that we are used to today cannot exist. It is even more impossible to say that it can meet the three coincidences of the supply and the needs of the relatives of the family (such as the establishment of new families, death, crime, victory or defeat). So we will see that both the clan and the individual have benefited deeply from the timely transfer of wealth in these events. Moreover, such a transfer of wealth is less wasteful because it involves only the transfer of value of wealth storage that can be preserved for long periods of time, without involving consumer goods or tools for other purposes. The need for durable and versatile wealth storage in these systems is often more urgent than the need for trading media. Further, marriage selection, inheritance, dispute mediation, and tribute may occur earlier than tribal trade, and involve more wealth transfer than trade. Therefore, these systems have more strongly promoted the emergence of the original currency than trade.

In most hunting-collecting tribes, the form of wealth transfer will be trivial to our “rich” modern people: a set of wooden utensils, meteorites and bone tools, as well as weapons and shellfish. Even a hat, or in a colder climate, may be some long-skinned fur. Sometimes all of this is something that can be worn on the body. These versatile things are the wealth of the hunter-gatherer, which is tantamount to our real estate, stocks and bonds. For hunter-gatherers, tools and warm clothes are essential for survival. And many of the items in the transfer of wealth are very valuable collections that can be used to fight hunger, buy a partner, and save lives in war and defeat.

The ability to transfer survival capital to future generations is another advantage of Homo sapiens for other animals. Further, skilled tribe members or clans can use surplus consumer goods in exchange for lasting wealth (especially collectibles), such transactions can only happen occasionally, but they can accumulate throughout their lives. A temporary adaptive advantage has thus been turned into a long-term adaptive advantage for future generations .

Another form of wealth (and that cannot be unearthed by archaeologists) is the official position. In many hunter-gatherer tribes, social status is more valuable than tangible wealth. Such social status includes tribal leaders, military leaders, hunting teams, and members of the long-term trading partnership (with other tribes), birth attendants, and religious leaders. Usually collectibles not only reflect wealth, but also a symbol of tribal responsibility and status. After a person with status has died, in order to maintain order, the person who succeeds in his position must be promptly and clearly designated. Delays may breed malicious conflicts. Therefore, the funeral becomes a public event in which the deceased is treated with courtesy, and his tangible and intangible wealth is distributed to his descendants, and the distribution is determined by the will of the traditional, tribal decision makers and the deceased.

As Marcel Mauss [M50] and other anthropologists have pointed out, in addition to heritage, other types of free gifts are very rare in pre-modern culture. It seems that the free gift actually implies the recipient's obligation . Before the advent of contract law, this implicit obligation of “gift” and the group condemnation and punishment that occurred when someone refused to obey this implicit obligation may be the most common motivation for deferred trading to go back and forth, and It is still common to provide informal support to each other now. Heritage and other forms of relative altruism, according to our modern definition of “gift” (ie, gifts that do not impose obligations on the recipient), only inheritance and other forms of relative altruism are the only widely practiced Gift form.

Early Western merchants and missionaries often regarded Aboriginal people as undeveloped races, sometimes referred to their tribute trade as a “gift” and trade as a “gift deal”, arguing that these behaviors were more like Western children’s Christmas and birthday gift exchanges, not legal and tax obligations between adults. This concept is biased on the one hand and reflects the fact that on the other hand, in the West, legal obligations were written down, and local people did not have legal instruments. Therefore, Westerners often translate the words that Aboriginal people use to describe trading systems, rights, and obligations into “gifts”. In the 17th century, French colonists in the Americas were scattered around several more populous Indian tribes, often tribute to them. Calling these tributes "gifts" is a way for them to protect their integrity in Europeans, because other Europeans do not feel the need for tribute, and they will regard tribute as a tribute.

Unfortunately, both Mauss and modern anthropologists retain this term. (The term implies) These uncivilized people are still like children, and they are as naive as children. They are morally superior and will not succumb to our cold-blooded economic transactions. However, in the West, especially in transaction-related laws, the term “gift” refers to a transaction without any obligation. When we encounter an anthropological discussion about the “gift exchange,” these matters should be kept in mind— the term is not a free or informal gift that we refer to in our daily lives. They refer to the very complex system of rights and obligations involved in the transfer of wealth . The only form of exchange in prehistoric culture that resembles a modern gift, that is, the gift itself is neither a widely recognized obligation nor an obligation to attach to the recipient, that is, the care of the parent or maternal relative to the child, and heritage. (The one exception is that the inheritance title itself imposes the responsibility and privileges of the position on the heir).

Some heirloom heritage may last for generations without interruption, but it does not itself form a closed loop of collectibles. It will only be valuable if heirloom is finally available for other uses. They are often used for marriage transactions between clan, so that a closed loop of collectibles can be formed.

Family trade

An early important example of a small closed-loop trading network of collectibles involved higher investment by humans in raising offspring (compared to our primate relatives) and related human marriage systems.

Marriage mixes long-term matching of mating and parenting, inter-tribal negotiations, and wealth transfer. It is a common phenomenon in human beings and is likely to be traced back to the first Homo sapiens.

Parenting investment is long-term, but it is almost a hammer sale – there is no time to repeat the choice. From the point of view of genetic adaptability, divorce from a husband or an unfaithful wife usually means that a period of time has been wasted by the infidels. The loyalty and commitment to the child is mainly guaranteed by the in-laws (that is, the clan). Marriage is actually a clan contract, usually containing such loyalty and commitment, as well as wealth transfer .

The contribution of men and women to marriage is rarely equal; this is especially true in an era when marriage is dominated by clan and patriarchs are not many. Most commonly, women are considered to be more valuable, so the groom's clan pays the bride's clan. In contrast, the bride's family gives the groom family money is very rare. Basically, the upper class in monogamous and highly unequal societies (such as medieval Europe and India) will do this, and, in the end, this situation is also exacerbated by the superior potential of men in high society compared to women. from. Because most of the literature is written in the upper class, dowry often has a place in traditional European stories. This does not reflect its universality in human culture – in fact, dowry is very rare.

Marriage between families can form a closed loop of collectibles. In fact, as long as the brides want to exchange the collections, the two clans who exchanged members can form a closed loop . If a family is richer in collectibles, they can get better brides for their sons (in monogamy) or more brides (in a polygamous society). In another cycle involving marriage only, the original currency can replace the family's need for memory and trust, so that renewable resources can be credited and repaid after a long period of time.

Just like inheritance, litigation and tribute, marriage requires a triple coincidence of events. Without the transferable and durable value storage, the ability of the groom's family to satisfy the bride's wishes is unlikely to be satisfactory (this ability also largely determines the misplacement between the bride and the bride, of course, the marriage must also be satisfied Matching political and romantic needs). One solution is to impose a long-term ongoing service obligation on the bride's family to the bride and groom. This scheme has appeared in 15% of known cultures [DW88] . In 67% of the cases, the bride or bride's family paid a large fortune to the groom's family. In some cases, bridal dowry is paid for with ready-made consumer goods, that is, plants collected and harvested for the wedding and animals slaughtered for the wedding. In animal husbandry or agricultural societies, most bride brides are paid for by livestock (this is also a wealth that can exist for a long time). The rest – usually the most valuable part of the bride's gift in a culture without livestock – is usually paid for with the most valuable heirlooms: the rarest, most luxurious and most durable necklaces, rings, etc. Wait. In the West, the groom will give the bride a ring (the suitor will give women other forms of jewelry), which used to be a massive transfer of wealth and is common in many other cultures. In about 23% of the culture (mostly modern culture), there is not a lot of wealth transfer. 6% of the culture will have a mutual transfer of wealth between men and women. Only 2% of the culture, the bride family to provide new people with a dowry [DW88] .

Unfortunately, some wealth transfers are far from altruism and marriage, such as tribute.


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Author: Nick Szabo

Translation: Ajian

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