Real History of Not Bartering

-Six Nations of the Iroqouis: main economic institution was longhouses where goods were stockpiled and alloated by women’s councils. Nobody traded arrowheads for slabs of meat.
-“The definitive anthropological work on barter by Caroline Humphrey, of Cambridge, could not be more definitive in its conclusions: ‘No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money; all available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing.'”

Smith’s Founding Myth of Economics

“What, he begins, is the basis of economic life, properly speaking?”
-“certain propensity in human nature… the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog.” But humans always swap and compare things. Even logic and conversation are forms of trading, and “humans will always try to seek their own best advantage, to seek the greatest profit they can from the exchange.”
-Drive to exchange creates division of labor and thus civilization
-People naturally specialize into what they’re better at, and then they end up with surpluses. But if the other people in their societies don’t have the right surpluses to trade, everyone’s fucked. “So everyone will inevitably start stockpiling something they figure that everyone else is likely to want.” Which then makes that commodity even more valuable. Yadda yadda yadda, precious metals, yadda yadda yadda, currency.
-This creates the notion of “the economy” as a separate sphere of human life. It’s where trading takes place

pg 25-8

Myth of Barter

“Just about every economics textbook employed today sets out the problem the same way. Historically, they note, we know that there was a time when there was no money. What must it have been like? Well, let us imagine an economy something like today’s, except with no money. That would have been decidedly inconvenient! Surely people must have invented money for the sake of efficiency.

The story of money for economists always begins with a fantasy world of barter. The problem is where to locate this fantasy in time and space”