[E]veryone pretend[s] as if they were just giving one another gifts and then they fervently denied they expected anything back. But in actual fact everyone [understands] there [are] implicit rules and recipients would feel compelled to make some sort of return.

…. If I take a free-market economist out to dinner he’ll feel like he should return the favor and take me out to dinner later. He might even think that he is something of chump if he doesn’t and this even if his theory tells him he just got something for nothing and should be happy about it. Why is that?

This … shows there is always a certain morality underlying what we call economic life. …

[Marcel] Mauss didn’t really think of everything in terms of exchange; this becomes clear if you read his other writings besides ‘The Gift’….

For example, take hierarchy. Gifts given to inferiors or superiors don’t have to be repaid at all. If another professor takes our economist out to dinner, sure, he’ll feel that he should reciprocate; but if an eager grad student does, he’ll probably figure just accepting the invitation is favor enough; and if George Soros buys him dinner, then great, he did get something for nothing after all. In explicitly unequal relations, if you give somebody something, far from doing you a favor back, they’re more likely to expect you to do it again.

David Graeber

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Argonaut: someone engaged in a dangerous but potentially rewarding adventure.
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