Quoting: Mauss

If one can overlook the gender specific pronouns, the faith in “our great nations” and the awkward social evolutionist ideas, Mauss’ sentiment is grand, beard-ed and admirably handsome:

‘Hence we should return to the old and elemental. Once again we shall discover those motives of action still remembered by many societies and classes: the joy of giving in public, the delight in generous artistic expenditure, the pleasure of hospitality in the public or private feast. Social insurance, solicitude in mutuality or co-operation, in the professional group and all those moral persons called Friendly Societies, are better than the mere personal security guaranteed by the nobleman to his tenant, better than the mean life afforded by the daily wage handed out by managements, and better even than the uncertainty of capitalist savings.

We can visualise a society in which these principles obtain. In the liberal professions of our great nations such a moral and economic system is to some degree in evidence. For honour, disinterestedness and corporate solidarity are not vain words, nor do they deny the necessity for work. We should humanize the other liberal professions and make all of them more perfect. That would be a great deed, and one which Durkheim already had in view.

In doing this we should, we believe, return to the ever-present bases of law, to its real fundamentals and to the very heart of normal social life. There is no need to wish that the citizen should be too subjective, too insensitive or too realistic. He should be vividly aware of himself, of others and of the social reality (and what other reality is there in these moral matters?). He must act with full realisation of himself, of society and its sub-groups. The basis of moral action is general; it is common to societies of the highest degree of evolution, to those of the future and to societies of the last advancement. Here we touch bedrock. We are talking of men and groups since it is they, society, and their sentiments that are in action all the time’ (Mauss 1954, pp. 67-68).


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