Recently, a friend and I were exchanging seeds, but by ‘exchange’ I do not mean ‘trade’; we were instead asking for what we needed while being respectful of the other’s needs, and it turned out to resemble the cold-hearted, ‘rationally self-interested’ supply and demand that economists believe in and yet surpass it in both social and material quality.
Trade, I speculate, arose as this mutual aid became more and more detached and ritualised and systematised. While ritual may make interactions easier and more easily doable, especially with strangers, they cut the bonds of compassion that are the the heart of mutual aid and eventually created a hyper-individualised or tribal society. Those who might have been friends are now tools; that which might have been a gift is now a commodity. With our robotic limbs of ritual, we may amputate ourselves to make it easier, rid ourselves of nature’s outdated ways, be cold and rational, without emotion, like social computers. This, I imagine, is the beginning of trade.