Here’s something we don’t say every day: This long, well-written profile in Bloomberg BusinessWeek is inspiring. It’s about David Graeber, “the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street,” and he is just the kind of smart anthropologist that Florida criminal/governor Rick Scott must’ve been thinking about during that whole “shut down the teaching of anthropology” idiocy.
Graeber is a 50-year-old anthropologist—among the brightest, some argue, of his generation—who made his name with innovative theories on exchange and value, exploring phenomena such as Iroquois wampum and the Kwakiutl potlatch. An American, he teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London. He’s also an anarchist and radical organizer, a veteran of many of the major left-wing demonstrations of the past decade: Quebec City and Genoa, the Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia and New York, the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, the London tuition protests earlier this year. This summer, Graeber was a key member of a small band of activists who quietly planned, then noisily carried out, the occupation of Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, providing the focal point for what has grown into an amorphous global movement known as Occupy Wall Street.
It’s a terrific profile, so hooray for reporter Drake Bennett for writing it, and for the Business Week editors for making it the cover story. (You don’t often see articles from Michael Bloomberg’s business-media empire with sympathetic portrayals of anti-capitalist camps named “Bloombergvilles.”)
And here is what Graeber writes in AdBusters magazine, about the Good News for Earth:
There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist – most obviously, as ecologists keep reminding us, because it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet, and the current form of capitalism doesn’t seem to be capable of generating the kind of vast technological breakthroughs and mobilizations that would be required for us to start finding and colonizing any other planets. Yet faced with the prospect of capitalism actually ending, the most common reaction – even from those who call themselves “progressives” – is simply fear. We cling to what exists because we can no longer imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.
How did we get here? My own suspicion is that we are looking at the final effects of the militarization of American capitalism itself. In fact, it could well be said that the last 30 years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures ….
We are going to buy his book about the Evil of Debt (Debt: The First 5,000 Years) which contrary to the BusinessWeek article, we did see at the #OWS Zuccotti Park library.