"In any case, whole cultures were built around the idea of the gift, in Malaysia, in the American northwest, in many primitive cultures. In Arabia, we gave water, or coffee. Food and shelter. And whatever you were given, you did not expect to keep, but gave it back again in your turn, hopefully with interest. You worked to be able to give more than you received. Now we think that this can be the basis for a reverent economics."
"It's just what Vlad and Ursula said!" (5.7.102-103)
Two counterbalances to the transnat system are the gift-giving society of the Sufis and Vlad's eco-economics. Neither gets its chance to do its thing in Red Mars, but since both of the sequels have the same page length, we're thinking there's plenty of time later on.