Study Guide

René Girard - The Gifters

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The Gifters

As you know, Girard is the last one to jump on the bandwagon—but that doesn't mean other people can't use his work to jump on the bandwagon. Girard often feels braggy saying this, but his work has wide-ranging applications. This group uses his theory of mimetic desire to understand modern economics. Like him, they accept the inevitability and universality of violence.

The Gifters' solution is not the ritual of scapegoating; it's the ritual of gift-giving in a gift economy. People share, give away, and create their own systems of exchange instead of being greedy jerks who participate in the Corporate Machine and enrich Greedy Capitalists. The Gifters promote a sort of "pay it forward" attitude.

Andrew Feenberg
Chief Economist

Andrew is a vigorous promoter of Girard's ideas, going so far as to suggest that his study of literature has more than a faint whiff of Marxist thought. He organizes the agenda for Gifters meetings, making theorizing fun through such activities as "Name that Desire," "Top 10 Things I Hate about the Market," and "Truth or Violence?"

Michel Aglietta
Head of Annual Giving

This guy is French and a Marxist, so he really earns the group a little respect. He often draws on Girard's anthropological ideas to explain monetary theory. He doesn't care that people jeer at him for making these connections. He's all about making radical conclusions about economics—like the idea that speculation on the stock market is the financial version of violence.

André Orléan
Resident Keynesian

Any group worth its salt concerned with money must have a Keynesian as a member. André is that guy for the Gifters. In that role, he helps them see the "big picture." Just as John Maynard Keynes himself did way back during the Great Depression, André says that the government needs to start spending some dough and lowering the taxes. André loves raising money for the Gifters and always wears one of those "We Are the 99%" T-shirts. So 2011.

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