HEROES  1:39 pm October 31, 2011

Meet the Smart Anthropologist Anarchist Who Helped Launch #OWS

by Ken Layne

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.

 
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{ 83 comments }

Come here a minute October 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm

David Graeber is clearly not qualified to run for public office.

nounverb911 October 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Too smart?

donner_froh October 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Too anthropological.

Come here a minute October 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Also not enough "USA #1!!!!!!!!1!!!!111!!!!"

Monsieur_Grumpe October 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Too in touch with reality.

Callyson October 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Too moral.

Maman October 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Do you think he would sign my copy of The Anarchist Cookbook?

donner_froh October 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

David Graeber perfect person to describe very late stage capitalism in its death agony.

"Debt: The First 5000 Years" is a fucking classic.

NeonTrotsky October 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm

His new book should be required reading in every school. But of course it won't be, because he destroys Adam Smith.

nounverb911 October 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

"Graeber is a 50-year-old anthropologist"
He discovered Reagan was a Neanderthal.

SayItWithWookies October 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Capitalism — just like stupidity, religion, history and the world, its long-predicted death is right around the corner.

nounverb911 October 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Doric, Ionic or Corinthian Capitalism?

SayItWithWookies October 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Dostoevskian — as in his great work Capitalism and Punishment.

RadioOcupados October 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Crony?

Not_So_Much October 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Sure, he seems pretty smart. But this book will fail miserably here in the U.S. if he doesn't add a whole bunch of pictures to it. Maybe a pop-up or two…

SexySmurf October 31, 2011 at 1:56 pm

If he's really an Anarchist how come he doesn't spell "American" with three K's?

Pragmatist2 October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

He did poorly in Spelling at Anarchist Academy???

BaldarTFlagass October 31, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Dude, the Kwakiutl potlatch fucking rocks!

proudgrampa October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm

That does look like one hell of a party!

Monsieur_Grumpe October 31, 2011 at 1:57 pm

"it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet,"

Duh!

hagajim October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Duh is right…but ask an economist that question and all you get is a blank stare.

emmelemm October 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Derr.

GeorgiaBurning October 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm

At last! An individual OWS leader for Fox news to attack. Over/under on a piece tying him to ACORN is three hours. I'm sure he's already been declared a Soros agent.

hagajim October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Or a commie.

Chichikovovich October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Those are the worst kinds of anarchists.

Come here a minute October 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Must be a little bit muslim, too.

Monsieur_Grumpe October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I bet he's not white also.

snoopyfan2010 October 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Well his mother's last name was Rubenstein.

Dok-cupy Everything October 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Breaking: OWS an invention of Academic Leftist, Tenured Radical!

RadioOcupados October 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

He had lunch with Obama, Bill Ayers and Soros.

AmericanBeauty November 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

Graeber has a PhD in anthro from University of Chicago, home base of eevil Milton Friedman, Leo Strauss, and a number of other conservatives.

NeonTrotsky October 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

His new book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, needs to be read by fucking everybody.

McRibzgood October 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

What does SkoalRebel think of this AdBusters piece? He's a smarty pants ya know.

ifthethunderdontgetya October 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

BACON!
~

McRibzgood October 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm

(ring…..ring)

Hello Nobel prize committee.

Yes my name is Baconzgood I have 2 candidates I'm going to recommend for nomination in the category of "OMG The Fucking Most Awsomest Thing Ever Conceived by Mankind!"

SorosBot October 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm

And here I thought capitalism will soon no longer exist because it will, within the next few decades, lead to the creation of the first true sentient AI and the consequent inevitable robot revolution and enslavement or genocide of humanity.

emmelemm October 31, 2011 at 2:23 pm

That's what I'm hoping for, personally. It kinda beats some of the alternatives.

LesBontemps October 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Pffft! What could an anthropologist know about people?

Pragmatist2 October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The move from "anarchist" to "antichrist" is just a couple of letters.

Chichikovovich October 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Not to mention "Anti-archs".

#OWS is trying to take away your McDonalds! The whole thing is obviously Michelle's doing!

BaldarTFlagass October 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm

She's gonna drive Baconzgood from the fold, unless she waits till the McRib thing is gone…

Chichikovovich October 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm

The McRib is available again?????????

Excuse me a moment, I'll be right back….

Bonzos_Bed_Time October 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

6-6-6 is just 9-9-9 upside down!

McRibzgood October 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

All anthropologist are anarchist but all anarchist aren't necessarily anthropologist. So now you know.

OccupyFnChicken October 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

South Park is right. as long as there is desire, we're fucked. Let's see anyone turn that goddamn boat around.

edgydrifter October 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Well, the Buddhists tried to teach it out of us, but Kwai Chang Caine and Richard Gere were the only ones who payed attention in class.

donner_froh October 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Graeber is fireproof as far as attacks from Fox News and the rest of the gutter press. He is open and aboveboard on what he wants to accomplish and how he wants to do it–for example he makes clear that one of the aims of the Seattle/Genoa demonstrations was to destroy the IMF.

I had no idea he was one of the intellectual godfathers of OWS but it certainly makes sense.

ApplesauceRobot October 31, 2011 at 2:12 pm

From each according to his wampum, to each according to his potlatch.

ttommyunger October 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I only hope Soros is behind him, because he obviously has no fucking money and never will have; Anarchists never do, if you don't believe it, check my bank account.

weejee October 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Ken, are you channeling the ghosts of Sacco & Vanzetti?

OneYieldRegular October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Speaking of which, where the heck has Joan Baez been during OWS?

Limeylizzie October 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Eating pussy, I believe.

Mumbletypeg October 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

ghosts of Sacco & Vanzetti

Which I first learned of… oh, let me think.. that's right, here. From you!

weejee October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Just some of the cob-webbed detritus that collects between my olde ears.

FakaktaSouth October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Coolest resume fodder ever –

Anarchist, Radical Organizer of: 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

If I had a resume, it'd be all "doesn't know html or even what it was til the other day, jazzercise"

Ken Layne October 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Putting down "Yale professor fired for political reasons" is just gravy.

AmericanBeauty November 4, 2011 at 12:49 am

I sat in on his last semester of classes at Yale. He is a fucking good lecturer.

fuflans October 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm

if i had a resume

fakakta you are my hero.

HistoriCat October 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm

David Graeber likes to say that he had three goals for the year: promote his book, learn to drive, and launch a worldwide revolution. (emphasis added)

Obviously not a Real American.

MadBrahms November 3, 2011 at 12:04 am

As an anthropology grad student who can't drive, I feel vindicated by one of my heroes. Oh, David.

Negropolis November 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

But, definitely an Honorary New Yorker.

DaRooster October 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm

"There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist…"

My Uncle has preserved for me, a Red Barchetta… and I am gonna keep it.

doloras October 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm

And run it on what oil, Randroid?

Dok-cupy Everything October 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Rick Perry will NEVER anthropologize for America!

bureaucrap October 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

"it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet…"

So Graeber and Krugman should team up and lead Earth's invasion of Pandora. Finally, something we can ALL believe in.

freakishlywrong October 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Graeber needs to watch the sky for drones.

AmericanBeauty November 4, 2011 at 12:50 am

As does Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Michael Hudson, and several others.

RadioOcupados October 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm

That's impressive and all, but does he comment here at Wonkette?

MissTaken October 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I bet Graeber gives out the most awesome treats to the kiddies for Halloween.

chascates October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm

But do his writings point out the dangerous swerve to socialism under Obama?

proudgrampa October 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm

To Gordon Gecko, this Graeber fella IS the antichrist.

finallyhappy October 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I got my anthro degree before him but I'm not brilliant.

deanbooth October 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm

5,000 years of debt? That new bankruptcy law is harsh!

Goonemeritus October 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Well resources may indeed be finite on our planet and the time we start experiencing that may well be here but that certainly does not mean and end to capitalism. We will just focus the mighty engine of our economy on making sure whatever is left goes to the right people.

deanbooth October 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Does anyone have a copy of Debt: The First 5,000 Years that I can borrow?

emmelemm October 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Seriously not meant to be snarky:

Library?

deanbooth October 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I say, I say, that was a joke, son.

emmelemm October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Mea culpa. You might think I'm a sekrit conservative who doesn't understand the nuances of humor, but I plead that it's not true…

grex1949 October 31, 2011 at 8:26 pm

5000 years of debt sounds like my credit card repayment plan at 29% APR

archikvetch November 1, 2011 at 2:02 am

That Jubilee idea has legs and daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Negropolis November 1, 2011 at 2:36 am

No snark, this David Graeber offends what I believe to be my 'liberal' sensibilities, by revealing them to be no such thing. He makes me feel uncomfortable and challenged – I find that to be a good and helpful thing.

In fact, on a related note, it's been pulling me into reality. For instance, I've heard a lot of so-believed and so-called libeals bashing the OWS protestors, because their very apperance (i.e. "Dirty Fucking Hippies") offended their sensibilities of what the movement should be, and it's got me to see how shallow we can be. Here these men and women are, of all ages and persuasions and backgrounds literally using their bodies to physically occupy the public (and sometimes private) sphere, when they could be sitting comfortably in their living rooms like myself bitching and moaning about all the bad things in the world, and what do some of us give them? Criticism because they are "too hippyish" for our mainstream sensibilities. If you got a problem with these folks representing you (and you shouldn't), then get the fuck down to the squares, yourself, for just STFU. Really. Actually. Only "liberals" sit back and consicously and willfully self-sabotage over the silliest and shallowest of details.

I'm no anarchist – at least, I don't think I am – but we should listen to more voices than we are currently listening to. I know that I don't want to be on the outside when the world comes falling down. I think we're finally being asked in a very real way to choose very real sides, and I hope I'm ready to answer the questions when it's put to me directly, whenever and wherever it may be.

You know, I see people still incredulously asking "what do they want?" and I honestly think that if you haven't figured it out, by now, I'm not sure you'll get it, because you don't want to get it.

DahBoner November 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

Anthropologist Anarchist…Zuccotti Park library.

You know, like I always say, topless library babes make reading FUN again….

hagajim October 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Now not all economists believe in that concept…at least I know I don't…and I do practice some form the the art…though it is a bastardized one in which all economic decisions are based on the body politic and society…vs. that econometrics crap that takes all humanity out of it.

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