It is that time of the year again we hear it over and over again, “Peace on earth, good will to all men.” But there is little peace and a scarcity of goodwill. Never has the alternatives of barbarism or socialism been starker. Yet for all the commercialism and consumerism, Christmas is a festival of giving and what would Christmas be like without the joy of presenting gifts to eachother. It reveals the dormant kindness within the human spirit when people wronged and abused can still make merry and offer good cheer to their fellow-workers. Despite their stress and distress, many will endeavor to be jolly.
Regretfully, Christmas after Christmas has gone by and workers keep forgetting the lesson of standing by one another in unity and solidarity. As soon as the festive holiday has passed we return to our divisive daily lives under capitalism. Christmas was one day of hope. Capitalism is weeks and months and years of deprivation and misery. Christ-mass was a celebration of a birth. Let socialists use its symbolism for the birth of a new society, one based on generalized reciprocity – of personal and individual gift-giving becoming a social and collective act. Socialism could easily be described as a system of gift-giving without the expectation of an immediate return. the voluntarist nature of work in socialism means in a sense that it is a kind of "gift" that we give to society without the expectation of a return (we don’t receive any payment for our work) and in full awareness of the fact that we all depend on each other and benefit from the labour contributions of millions of anonymous others in a world in which production is a globalized and socialised phenomenon. Voluntary work hangs together with the idea of free access to the collective fruits of our labour. You can’t have one without the other.
A universal gift economy unites people and cements social relationships while a market economy separates people and places them in position where they confront each other with antagonistic interests as buyers and sellers.