Gratuitousness Speaks

  • Luigino Bruni
Part of the Virtues and Economics book series (VIEC, volume 4)


The first, fundamental characteristic of all idolatrous regimes is precisely the lack of gratuitousness, which is instead the first dimension of biblical faith. Creation is a gift, the alliance is a gift, the promise is a gift, the fight of the prophets against idolatry is a gift. Gratuitousness is the other name of God. The culture of the idol hates gifts. In fact, it is his number one enemy on earth, because the idol knows that the contact with the spirit of gratuitousness would kill it, it would take away its power of enchantment. Therefore, when idolatrous kingdoms are created, the first operation of the pharaohs is to try to remove all traces of true gifts from their sacred space, and fill it all and only with objects and merchandise. In our time this cancellation is attempted by oversimplifying and mocking gratuitousness, considering it a childhood nostalgia of wrongly educated adults. It is then transformed into the gadgets of the pharaoh, in his discounts, fidelity cards and harmless little gifts permitted only during his holidays. But the most insidious attempt to wipe out gratuity is to confine it in the realm of the non-profit, to entrust it as a monopoly to philanthropic institutions or sponsors who, like a scapegoat, should bear all the gift-giving/gratuitousness of the village, take it outside and let it die in the desert.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigino Bruni
    • 1
  1. 1.GEPLI Department – EconomicsLibera Università Maria SS. AssuntaRomaItaly

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