Civilitics is a new word for the very old, hitherto unnamed, ethic of giving to the public benefit without requiring explicit compensation. The way early humans interacted before the advent of barter, it still remains the supporting relationship within modern families. The principle has also been referred to as a gift economics or gift culture, and Charles Eisenstein used the term Sacred Economy for his book on the topic.
Despite this ancient human relationship, for more than a hundred years there has been an unspoken assumption that exchange economics (buying, selling, trading, bartering) is the only way to organize the relationships that support our modern world. The fall of the U.S.S.R. only served to underscore the idea that exchange economics, based on market capitalism, is the only viable way to run the human provisioning “machine.”
While gifts and charity have always been a part of human culture, recent decades have seen a remarkable increase in the ways and means by which these “giving” relationships are enacted. The mass consciousness, made possible by the Internet and various social media tools, has spilled over into a world-aware community and willingness by many to be “part of the solution.” Where charitable giving was once the strict purview of religious institutions, it is now the domain of the Internet with on-line communities of software developers, question and answer boards, music-sharing and composition networks, home letting, ride sharing, and resource gifting services, not to mention the dozens of crowdfunding portals.
Grounded in an essay by Roy Guisinger, published in 2005, the International Civilitics Institute (ICI) was established to advocate for practical implementations of civilitic (i.e. gift economic) social systems of provisioning that can be scaled to meet the needs of the modern world. Because of its important role in the past, the focus of mainstream economics has been almost exclusively on exchange economics while the idea of gifting has been all but overlooked, considered irrelevant or unimportant.
Now that social landscape has changed, we recognize that civilitics needs to be treated as a fully independent field of study which is important to the next phase of human social evolution. To this end, the ICI provides lectures on civilitics and related topics, tracks the existence of quasi-civilitic systems where they are found (some mentioned above), and offers commentary in areas where we believe civilitics solves problems inherent in exchange economics. Meanwhile, the primary effort of the ICI is to build the framework for a fully civilitic network that can be used widely and easily.