The Gift: The Philosophy of the Cork City Community Resource Centre.

Nobody now doubts that Ireland, and Europe, is undergoing an economic crisis. There are economic solutions to this crisis that might include printing more money – like the US did – or refusing to pay the debts of private banks – like Iceland did.

But in the meantime, we are all experiencing the EU/IMF solution; austerity. In Ireland this is austerity for the many to compensate the rich, so that public monies are being used to pay off private debts.

The Cork City Community Resource Centre reverses all of this: First of all, it uses a private building for the good of the public – even though that building is in NAMA, which means the public own it by proxy.

Secondly, it is not an economic solution but a social solution; instead of money, the solution is the gift. Rather than a quick exchange governed by contract, and precisely remunerated the centre is based on giving.

From the generosity of local people and businesses who support the centre to the pro bono gift of time and care by its staff, everything is freely given. There are no debts, just obligations. If we can help each other we should.

Everyone who participates in the centre will give because they can.The philosophy of the gift runs entirely contrary to that of austerity. Rather than make cuts or raise taxes, the idea is to spend more and tax less.

This will start the economy going again, and if in the meantime money is printed or bondholders are burned, so be it. Equally, empty buildings like those held by NAMA should be used to reduce the housing lists, or to provide alternative business locations to those with ‘upwards only rent clauses’.

Giving provides abundance and flourishing. If we give we undercut the market until it adjusts down to a reasonable price. Giving is in the interests of the many rather than the few who have stockpiled money or resources.

Giving restores the social bonds which have been so badly eroded by the economic thinking of the Celtic-Tiger years.

Give, and you will receive.


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