C-6. Barter and banter

Fundamentally, barter (aka trade) is both a collision avoided and a collision arranged. When the situational problem includes another actor (human BE) a collision avoided may be as salient as a collision arranged. (As J.K. Galbraith has said, economic trade relationships could well improve international political relationships. [See XI: the economy x polity dynamic] Indeed, we might even expect to see somewhat unfavorable trade terms accepted just because they assure the absence of a hard collision [e.g., war].)

Generally, barter assumes a fair, an equitable exchange, whether it be a smile for a smile, a resource for a resource, a service for a service, a product for a product, etc. The exchange need not be of parallel offerings such as these. Equal consequentiality may occasion a trade of quite different offerings: One person’s want may equal another’s need. Parent-child relationships characteristically have this feature.

Exchanges may occur within a continuing trade relationship, so as to allow some elasticity in situational equity. Marriage and other partnerships almost demand such an arrangement. Trust characterizes fair exchange in a continuing trade relationship.

“Fair trade,” interestingly enough, seems to be either a dubious redundancy or an indictment of past practices.

Banter carries barter into the communication realm. Taking turns in a conversation is simple barter. Banter brings the interpersonal relationship more prominently into the picture, where each participant is coping with the dynamic of understanding x agreement (XI). As they communicate to compose a shared understanding, they must be agreeable to each other and use expressions which have agreed-upon meanings. Banter epitomizes this capability. Given the difficulty of communication – it seems to breed accidents (VI) – humor’s bringing cognition’s observed discrepancies into play (VIII) can relieve situational stress.

Emotion, how one feels (IX) about how things are going – i.e., outcomes – feeds both arranged and avoided collisions, and can intrude on either barter (e.g., unfair advantage) or banter (e.g., wounded feelings). Escalation, portending a hard collision, is a much- dreaded symptom.

When more than two persons are involved in a situational problem, equity must be produced in lieu of the barter principle (although fair play as a corollary might be operative [say, as an elicited criterion: VIII] in one or more of the participants). And it may be difficult, as we see with phenomena like envy, jealousy, meddling, exclusion, etc. (See VI diagram: Sitypes) Control entities and control structures may be added to provide some degree of equity, such as, for instance, organizational membership, equal voting rights in an initiative-review procedure, or taking turns in a discussion.

But multiple (3+) participant situational problems are typically unstable, and may not provide the stability (oneness) compositional change requires of problem solving. (See C-4.)

It seems useful to examine market developments (aka economics) as extensions of barter. (In this sense, barter can be regarded as behavioral need – as in the sense of sharing — and these market developments, tools and procedures, are then to be seen according to the Behavioral Manifold [V].) One caution arises immediately. Barter’s equity is more fundamental as a behavioral principle than the market’s “supply and demand.” Each market development bears analysis for any potential trauma it may bring on the equity principle. (Usury is a heinous exemplar, taking unfair advantage of a credit procedure to buy in anticipation of later payment.)

When economics’ market as a control structure (VI) replaces barter as our focus of attention too much may be assumed of familiar control entities (VI) such as money, credit, capital, distribution, want x need as a behavioral dynamic confounded as and in “demand” (XI), labor, etc., … assumed in the sense of their constituting the situation (the “reality”), to the neglect of the behavioral problem and the Nature of things (III). These market developments are compositional products which, tragically, could block the way to further and better composition in response to behavioral necessity.

Fairness, it would seem, is an imperative for individual behavior and a requisite for community behavior.

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter