Donarism: The Gift and Sharing Economy

The end of communism and capitalism

The communist civilizations era collapsed with the Berlin Wall in 1989. Capitalist civilizations will not be eternal either. Our economies are increasingly fragile. The excessive accumulation of capital by a very small part of the population generates tensions which are exacerbated day by day. Oxfam made a lot of noise by recently issuing two warnings that are unequivocal about the urgency of the situation.

A handful of rich people own more than half of the planet

First, Oxfam calculated that in 2010, the combined wealth of the world's 388 richest people was equivalent to the world's poorest half of the world's 3.5 billion people. The growth of the assets of the richest was such over the next 4 years, that in 2014 it was only necessary to group the wealth of the 80 richest people to obtain the equivalent of the combined wealth of the 3.5 billion most poor1 .

1% richer than 99%

Then, by projecting its figures on the wealth growth of the richest in relation to the rest of the world, Oxfam calculated that the combined wealth of the 1% of the richest of us became greater than the combined wealth of the remaining 99% of the world population, in 20162 .

Growth and wealth concentration

For centuries, our capitalist economy has been based on uninterrupted growth. Several voices are rising today, even among the richest, to sound the alarm. Indeed, despite the laudable efforts of this movement towards "sustainable development", we are close to reaching the practical limits of this economy based on consumption growth and wealth accumulation by a very small number of individuals.

Donarism: the sharing and giving economy

Matriarchies offer a more sustainable economic system in the long run. It is the economy of sharing and giving (or "Gift Economy"). We call it "donarism" (from the Latin "donare": give) as opposed to other well-known economic systems such as capitalism, communism or socialism. Donarism is primarily based on equitable sharing of livelihood resources within the population. Then, other goods and services are kindly offered among community members. This helps build lasting bonds between the inhabitants.

Offer gifts to one another

Offering a good or service as a gift without requiring anything in return, is a very effective marketing technique, already commonly used in commerce to ensure consumer loyalty3 . By generalizing this approach to the entire local economy within the community, the experience of matriarchies demonstrates that this system of circulation of goods and services based on gift giving, allows to establish a genuine economy of sustainable development and healthy relationships among community members.

Already a reality in ICT

This type of gift economy already exists very concretely in ICT. The free software world has established an efficient and widespread system of values that has created relationships based on people's self-esteem, as well as the prestige and recognition that comes with having certain activities succeed4 .

Fair sharing of livelihoods

On the other hand, the sharing of livelihoods is still far from being a reality in our rich societies. The poverty of Canada's children is a reality that our government promised to eliminate in the year 2000, by the beginning of the third millennium. There is still one in five poor children in Canada today according to UNICEF and one in seven according to Statistics Canada. We can debate the most representative of the 2 statistics 5 . But basically we believe that no child or even no citizen deserves not to be able to lodge, clothe and feed properly. Poverty must be eliminated immediately, for all.

Universal basic income

We have mentioned above the possibility of a guaranteed minimum income. The formula has refined in recent decades. Many prefer to speak today about a universal basic income6 . Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands have serious plans to implement a basic income7 . The amount that will be granted to all unconditionally varies greatly depending on the proposals. Whatever formula is chosen, it must ensure that no one is left below the poverty line. It must be the minimum objective to be achieved.

Eliminating poverty and isolation of children and seniors

In our asset-building society, a large number of parents and children begin their lives in an isolated nuclear family, without the benefit of guidance, adequately equipped housing or sufficient financial resources. Just at the time of their life when they would need it most. At the end of this ordeal, a golden retreat supposedly dangles before us, a dream far from materializing for everyone. Too many of our children start their lives in a precarious environment, while too many of our elders end up poor and isolated.

The pleasure of offering others what we do best

Our matriarchy’s matriages will naturally offer better conditions of guidance and housing to young children as well as to the elderly. But in terms of financial resources, the universal basic income is for us the first stage of economic donarism. The entire population will be assured of being able to feed, clothe themselves and find adequate housing. With the pooling of our resources and our energies facilitated by digital communications, we will see the emergence of a multitude of new networks for the circulation of goods and services offered free of charge. These new economic exchanges will be animated above all by the rewarding pleasure of emancipating through what we do best, and that we can offer to others8 .

Our society well equipped to become the world leader of the digital revolution

The political aviacracy, our families in matriages and the economic donarism will allow our society to become the world leader of the digital revolution (DR). The breadth and geographical stability of our families will allow us to develop our civilization rather than expand it. Ultimately, we will be able to put a brake on continued growth to focus on developing more effective ways and techniques to take advantage of our skills and share our knowledge.

Put an end to the spread of our populations

The horrendous amounts of energy and resources that are now being swallowed up in the sprawl of our suburbs will finally be invested in much more collectively exciting projects. Examples include transport electrification, food self-sufficiency, local renewable energies’ production and distribution, as well as artistic performances more original and exciting than ever before.

Protect ourselves from attacks or cataclysms

It is necessary to add an extremely important aspect concerning the DR. It generates locally produced energies distributed by means of a point-to-point network, just like the Internet. But the Internet network technology was originally designed by the US military, to guard against a possible enemy attack. Indeed, at that time, it would have been enough to target some neuralgic points of a telecommunication network then centralized, to completely paralyze it.

Our electricity distribution network suffers from the same weakness today. And two very present threats weigh on it: a climatic catastrophe and a terrorist attack. There was a foretaste of this serious risk during the 1998 North American Ice Storm. Fortunately, at the time, the tragedy was avoided because the prolonged breakdowns were limited to a relatively small area. The surrounding communities were therefore able to organize effective relief for the people in distress.

What if the ice storm had a much larger impact?

However, imagine what could happen in the very near future, if the electricity grid throughout Ontario, Quebec and Northeastern United States was completely paralyzed for a very long time. This could happen if the whole of this area suffered a climate catastrophe of a much larger scale than that of 1998, something very seriously announced by our scientists. Or if a terrorist attack succeeds with few very well targeted means, to completely paralyze the electricity network without being possible to set it up again within a reasonable time. Again, with the events of recent years, the seriousness of the terrorist threat does not need to be justified.

A decentralized energy network thanks to local and shared production

The greatest quality of the Internet is to allow information to flow from one point to another without knowing in advance the path that will be taken. It is virtually impossible to prevent the flow of information without completely destroying the network.

With its large matrilocal families grouped in matriages, whose resources will be stable and numerous, our communities will quickly be able to set up a distributed network of electric power sharing. Indeed, with lower prices and anticipated power gains, each family will gradually be able to produce their own electricity locally. Our matriarchy will then have a way to put back its energy sharing network on foot much faster in case of climate catastrophe9 . In addition to discouraging any terrorist attack that could target this great weakness.

Develop a technological know-how that will be of great value

By becoming the world leader of the DR, our communities will be able to experiment and develop a technological know-how that will be of great value during the transition from capitalism to donarism. Several existing or newly created technology companies will be able to take advantage of this expertise, offering it to countries that have not yet made the choice of matriarchy, and who have not had the opportunity to take as much advance than us.

Unusual economic pillars

In Quebec, we can also count on the Desjardins Group and the Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund, two major financial institutions, which are quite exceptional internationally. They will play an extremely important role in the transition to economic donarism, serving as bulwarks against the economic upheavals caused by a capitalism that will fight hard not to lose its hegemony.

A public electricity grid ready for sharing

Although it will be necessary to review fundamental aspects of its hierarchical and centralized operations, we must not forget either Hydro-Québec, which is still a world leader in the production of renewable energy. Its organizational model will not harmonize seamlessly with the collaborative network that will be needed in the coming years. However, the fact that it is already a state-owned company may facilitate the use of its network for the sharing and distribution of new local energy sources.

The rich experience of our cooperatives

Finally, the cooperative enterprise form, for which Desjardins Group is a key model and which also has several other flagships in Quebec, is expected to play a big role in this DR. The very nature of the cooperative model corresponds directly to the essence of the emerging collaborative movement. The cooperatives will promote the transition to this new form of sharing economy that is donarism. For example, we will need networks of local, regional and national cooperatives to organize local production and sharing of energy and food, for 3D production of various objects and buildings, and to extend and generalize electrified collective and individual transportation, without forgetting of course a universal, open and free access infrastructure to a wireless Internet.


1 « Les richesses de ces 80 individus sont désormais équivalentes à celles détenues par les 50% les moins bien lotis de la population mondiale. ... un nombre de milliardaires toujours plus restreint au cours des cinq dernières années possèdent le même niveau de richesses que la moitié la plus pauvre de la population. En 2010, il s'élevait à 388 milliardaires; en 2014, il était de seulement 80 milliardaires. » (p. 4)
Insatiable richesse : toujours plus pour ceux qui ont déjà tout, Rapport thématique d'Oxfam
2 « En amont de la réunion annuelle du Forum économique mondial 2015 à Davos, Oxfam a calculé que l’an prochain, le patrimoine cumulé des 1 % les plus riches du monde dépassera celui des autres 99 % de la population. »
Winnie Byanyima, Les 1 % les plus riches possèderont plus que le reste de la population mondiale en 2016
Oxfam International
3 « Gift giving has been the interpersonal glue of human society for thousands of years... Gift giving is now catching on with brands as a way to connect with consumers. »
Jim Taschetta, Why Gift Marketing Is the Next Big Thing
4 « Another peculiarity is the relative purity of the open-source culture. Most gift cultures are compromised – either by exchange economy relationships such as trade in luxury goods, or by command-economy relationships such as family or clan groupings. No significant analogues of these exist in the open-source culture; thus, ways of gaining status other than peer repute are virtually absent. » (p. 85)
Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar : Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary,
O’Reilly Media, 2001
5 « UNICEF has once again make effective use of that device. By forcing us to look at others, it encourages us to look more closely at ourselves, and ask whether things are getting better or worse according to the standards by which we live. The appropriate Statistics Canada numbers suggest that child poverty rates actually increased during the recession, and by implication that a commitment made 25 years ago continues to go unfulfilled. »
Miles Corak, UNICEF gives Canada a passing grade, child poverty actually fell during the recession … or did it?
Economics for public policy, 2014
6 « Basic income has a universal vocation. It is clear that replacing old programs is part of the goal ... Let's think about social welfare. Indeed, all citizens would have guaranteed access to prime goods. Programs to help parents would also be replaced because children would get a basic income from birth. » (loose translation)
Original quote: « Le revenu de citoyenneté a une vocation universelle. Il est évident que le remplacement des anciens programmes fait partie de l'objectif Pensons à l'aide sociale. En effet, tous les citoyens auraient un accès garanti aux biens premiers. Les programmes destinés à aider les parents seraient aussi remplacés puisque les enfants obtiendraient un revenu de citoyenneté dès la naissance. » (p. 79)
Michel Bernard et Michel Chartrand, Manifeste pour un revenu de citoyenneté
Éditions du Renouveau québécois, 1999
7 « ...this national basic income would replace all other benefit payments, and would be paid to all adults regardless of whether or not they receive any other income. The Dutch city of Utrecht is also planning to introduce a basic income ... Switzerland is also considering introducing a national basic income. »
Adam Boult, Finland is considering giving every citizen €800 a month
The Telegraph, 2015-12-06
8 « Now the zero-marginal cost revolution is beginning to affect other commercial sectors. The precipitating agent is an emerging general-purpose technology platform – the internet of things. The convergence of the communications internet with the fledgling renewable energy internet and automated logistics internet in a smart, inter-operable internet-of-things system is giving rise to a third industrial revolution. ... Hundreds of millions of people are already transferring bits and pieces of their lives from capitalist markets to the emerging global collaborative commons, operating on a ubiquitous internet-of-things platform. The great economic paradigm shift has begun. »
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/31/capitalism-age-of-free-internet-of-things-economic-shift Jeremy Rifkin, Capitalism is making way for the age of free
theguardian / Economics, 2014-03-31.
9 « Même si les transformateurs électriques brûlent, quand un Internet de l’énergie pleinement opérationnel est en place dans toutes les régions du pays, les collectivités locales peuvent sortir du réseau et continuer à produire leur propre électricité verte, à la partager sur de microréseaux avec leurs voisins et les entreprises proches, et à maintenir le courant et l’éclairage, du moins assez longtemps pour que la société fonctionne. » (p. 378)
Jeremy Rifkin, La nouvelle société du coût marginal zéro
Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2014