David Graeber


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David Graeber

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David Rolfe Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist.

On June 15, 2007, Graeber accepted the offer of a lectureship in the anthropology department at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he currently holds the title of Reader in Social Anthropology.

He was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him, and his term there ended in June 2007.

Graeber has a history of social and political activism, including his role in protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City (2002) and membership in the labor union Industrial Workers of the World.

Average rating: 4.07 · 21,305 ratings · 2,766 reviews · 47 distinct worksSimilar authors
Debt: The First 5,000 Years

4.15 avg rating — 10,453 ratings — published 2011 — 53 editions
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Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

3.95 avg rating — 4,934 ratings — published 2018 — 27 editions
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The Utopia of Rules: On Tec...

3.96 avg rating — 2,176 ratings — published 2013 — 25 editions
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Fragments of an Anarchist A...

4.14 avg rating — 1,518 ratings — published 2004 — 17 editions
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The Democracy Project: A Hi...

4.02 avg rating — 789 ratings — published 2007 — 25 editions
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Direct Action: An Ethnography

4.15 avg rating — 401 ratings — published 2009 — 5 editions
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Toward An Anthropological T...

4.10 avg rating — 236 ratings — published 2001 — 10 editions
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Possibilities: Essays on Hi...

4.22 avg rating — 221 ratings — published 2007 — 2 editions
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Revolutions in Reverse: Ess...

3.93 avg rating — 175 ratings — published 2009 — 10 editions
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On Kings

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4.07 avg rating — 30 ratings — published 2016 — 3 editions
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Can You Stiff You...
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Singularity Sky
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David’s Recent Updates

Debt by David Graeber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Direct Action by David Graeber
The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber
"David Graeber’s becoming one of my favorite contemporary political thinkers. He’s got the same askew, humorous, and pop culture savvy perspective of a Zizek but with far more clarity and accessibility. This book felt a little disjointed at times a..." Read more of this review »
The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber
"I avoided this book by Graeber primarily because it sounds incredibly dull. But I should have known better, Graeber being the writer that he is, that he could turn something as dull as bureaucracy into a riveting examination of political and socia..." Read more of this review »
David answered a question about Bullshit Jobs:
Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
Ask the publicist! (i.e., I didn't write that).

Me, I don't think anyone needs permission, obviously, I think what they were trying to convey was more "encouragement" - i.e., if you think there's something terribly wrong, well, actually, you're pro... See Full Answer
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Can You Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer? Tales of How Cunning Clien... by Portia Porter
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The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber
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Lost People by David Graeber
" tsisy fisoarana "
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Ritual and Its Consequences by Adam B. Seligman
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The Beginning of History by Massimo De Angelis
" I was referring to Negri's "letter to the emperor" or whatever he called it. "
More of David's books…
“Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:
"Up in our country we are human!" said the hunter. "And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.

... The refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began "comparing power with power, measuring, calculating" and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt. It's not that he, like untold millions of similar egalitarian spirits throughout history, was unaware that humans have a propensity to calculate. If he wasn't aware of it, he could not have said what he did. Of course we have a propensity to calculate. We have all sorts of propensities. In any real-life situation, we have propensities that drive us in several different contradictory directions simultaneously. No one is more real than any other. The real question is which we take as the foundation of our humanity, and therefore, make the basis of our civilization.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

“If history shows anything, it is that there's no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt—above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it's the victim who's doing something wrong.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

“Traditional hedonism...was based on the direct experience of pleasure: wine, women and song; sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll; or whatever the local variant. The problem, from a capitalist perspective, is that there are inherent limits to all this. People become sated, bored...Modern self-illusory hedonism solves this dilemma because here, what one is really consuming are fantasies and day-dreams about what having a certain product would be like.”
David Graeber, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire

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“Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began "comparing power with power, measuring, calculating" and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

“[A] great embarrassing fact… haunts all attempts to represent the market as the highest form of human freedom: that historically, impersonal, commercial markets originate in theft.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

“Political economy tends to see work in capitalist societies as divided between two spheres: wage labor, for which the paradigm is always factories, and domestic labor – housework, childcare – relegated mainly to women. The first is seen primarily as a matter of creating and maintaining physical objects. The second is probably best seen as a matter of creating and maintaining people and social relations.
[...] This makes it easier to see the two as fundamentally different sorts of activity, making it hard for us to recognize interpretive labor, for example, or most of what we usually think of as women’s work, as labor at all. To my mind it would probably be better to recognize it as the primary form of labor. Insofar as a clear distinction can be made here, it’s the care, energy, and labor directed at human beings that should be considered fundamental. The things we care most about – our loves, passions, rivalries, obsessions – are always other people; and in most societies that are not capitalist, it’s taken for granted that the manufacture of material goods is a subordinate moment in a larger process of fashioning people. In fact, I would argue that one of the most alienating aspects of capitalism is the fact that it forces us to pretend that it is the other way around, and that societies exist primarily to increase their output of things.”
David Graeber, Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination

“In fact this is precisely the logic on which the Bank of England—the first successful modern central bank—was originally founded. In 1694, a consortium of English bankers made a loan of £1,200,000 to the king. In return they received a royal monopoly on the issuance of banknotes. What this meant in practice was they had the right to advance IOUs for a portion of the money the king now owed them to any inhabitant of the kingdom willing to borrow from them, or willing to deposit their own money in the bank—in effect, to circulate or "monetize" the newly created royal debt. This was a great deal for the bankers (they got to charge the king 8 percent annual interest for the original loan and simultaneously charge interest on the same money to the clients who borrowed it) , but it only worked as long as the original loan remained outstanding. To this day, this loan has never been paid back. It cannot be. If it ever were, the entire monetary system of Great Britain would cease to exist.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

“If history shows anything, it is that there's no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt—above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it's the victim who's doing something wrong.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

41424 Anarchist & Radical Book Club — 1410 members — last activity Dec 02, 2019 11:16AM
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