Steve Keen: Eulogy to David Graeber

Yves here. I was shocked to learn of David Graeber’s untimely death. I met Graeber at the instigation of Michael Hudson, who brought Graeber to dinner at Sakagura, a sake bar in Manhattan. If my memory serves me right, this was fall of 2011, shortly after the publication of Graeber’s blockbuster, Debt: The First 5000 Years, and either during or shortly after Occupy Wall Street camped out in Zuccotti Park. Graeber was energetic and full of academic and leftie political gossip. He kept checking his phone because he was looking to join some fellow activists later in the evening.

Our differences over tactics (we had a dustup over Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee) don’t diminish the considerable impact that Graeber had on the understanding of how debt operated in ancient societies and how the power balance between borrowers and lenders has changed in the modern era.

By Steve Keen. Originally published at his website

This is not at all what I thought I’d be writing about tonight, let alone what I wanted to do. I am writing a eulogy for my friend and intellectual companion, David Graeber.

These are the tweets and DMs that I first sent in reaction to this shock:

Oh David! @davidgraeber. . They say only the good die young, but why did you have to be one of them? There’s even more bullshit in the world now that you are no longer with us. It was a pleasure to know you, and it is a tragedy to say goodbye.

I’m an agnostic and so was David @davidgraeber. But if he’s doing anything at all right now, it’s an anthropological study of Heaven. Preceded by a brief study of Hell, but just for comparative reasons. The Devil was sad to see him go.

I’m agnostic, but for the very first time, I am wishing that there is life after death, I told @stacyherbert , when she wrote “He’s actually trending in America now on Twitter! I wonder if he would be mortified by that or laughing his ass off . . . I suspect the latter?”

So yes David, this fellow agnostic wishes he’s wrong, and I hope you can read this and are laughing at what a sentimental twat I’m being. And being jealous of me getting smashed on Tequila as I write this—though I suppose Heaven has much better Tequila than we get down here on the Purgatory that is Earth in 2020.

2020.

Personally, David’s death feels as if 2020 is a mugger, who’s watched me escape relatively free from the chaos of 2020, and thought “OK boy, I’m going to get you where it hurts”.

So congratulations, 2020, I feel—at least to some tiny degree—the suffering that people are going through now, from losing a loved one to the Coronavirus.

I’d been exempt until now from 2020’s travails. I was in Amsterdam during Sydney’s fires, which threatened my family, but fortunately they weren’t affected. I jumped ship from Amsterdam to Thailand when it became apparent that Thailand was doing a much better job of containing it; now it has in fact eliminated it—though in more “2020 Sucks” news, Thailand has just reported its community transmission/unknown origin first case in over 100 days).

In a year of tragedy, I’ve generally managed to be an observer.

And now, one of my best friends, one of the people I admired and learnt from, whose company I all too infrequently enjoyed, and who happens to be one of the intrinsically nicest people I have ever known, has died.

“Take that Keen”, says 2020.

I’m still an observer though, compared to David’s wife, Nika. God knows how she must be feeling now. I was delighted to meet her with David at an Extinction Rebellion meeting in 2018, I enjoyed having dinner and chatting with them. I saw how much happier David was with her in his life, and how happy they were together. I thought they were set for a long life of happiness together. And now he is gone, and she is on her own.

They were married only recently, but they met a very long time ago: I’ve probably got parts of the story wrong, but they were neighbours in New York, and there was attraction then but Nika was married. That marriage ended and Nika contacted David. The rest is their love story, which I saw and, as one does a great relationship, I envied.

They understood and appreciated each other as very few couples do, especially in the contrarian world. Max and Stacy, you’re another such couple. Ross and Megan, you too. There are very few double acts in this world: just those three really. And now we’ve lost one of them. Or, rather we and Nika have lost David.

David was special for many, many reasons.

The first I’ll mention is what I expect is the foundation of David’s appeal to Nika: his trusting innocence. There was a boyish openness and lack of ego in David that made you trust him, because you could.

He was, at the same time, extremely intelligent and extremely funny. He had a nervy aspect, very befitting of someone raised in New York. But he was fundamentally funny, and looked on the world with a sense of bemusement, and all the while, incisive insight. He was intrinsically an anthropologist, in that he was capable of living amongst people and seeing their customs more clearly than they could themselves, while all the while celebrating those aspects, the good and the bad, because they were his people as well.

There was a selflessness to David too. There wasn’t an ounce of David’s body that was in it for David’s benefit alone. Well, he enjoyed his pleasures, but they could never be had at the expense of another person. That made him someone you could trust with your life.

On top of that, he was an excellent if sometimes rambling speaker, whose charisma attracted support which was worth giving. David, I believe, came up with the slogan “We’re the 99%”. David, I believe, developed Occupy Wall Street’s voting system, which was a very powerful form of democracy that still respected the rights of the minority. He was a true leader in large part because he didn’t want to be.

He was also an excellent historian of money and debt. If you haven’t read Debt: the first 5000 Years, buy a copy and do so. It’s such a pity that David won’t be here to chronicle the start of its next 5000 Years.

That’s the other thing: the suddenness. I knew David wasn’t feeling well—I’d exchanged a few messages with Nika where David’s health came up. Maybe it was Covid—I still don’t know. I won’t speculate.

But it is so bloody awful to lose such a brilliant, lovely, funny, warm human being. It’s the unkindest cut of all that 2020 has managed to deliver.

Now we know why we speak of 20:20 vision, and 20:20 hindsight. We thought it was an ophthalmologist’s crazy numbering system. In fact, it was a warning from a time traveller.

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45 comments

  1. Basil Pesto

    I read Bullshit Jobs last year. It certainly struck a chord, and it appears I’m not the only one given the response to it (and the many testimonials contained within the book). It was also a droll and engaging read. There was lots of interesting material around his thesis as well, including the concept he introduced to me of ‘The Pleasure of Being the Cause’ by a sociologist whose name I can’t recall. I still need to read Debt which, based on the reception its had here by bloggers and commenters alike, is a very fine and important piece of work.

    I didn’t realise until after I’d read Bullshit Jobs that he’d had writing featured here, and had some spirited engagements in the comments. I came across these when searching through the NC archives to learn about various topics. The debates in comments were often informative (and entertaining).

    His politics were rather lost on me but I’m not an especially politically activist kind of person, for better or worse, and am ignorant of anarchism generally (though he’s made me aware that I would do to educate myself more thoroughly on the topic). Having said that, his denunciation last year, as a Jew, of the – in his view – cynical exploitation of concerns around anti-semitism by a faction of Labour and other political opportunists to attack Corbyn was forceful and persuasive and I appreciated it.

    He’ll be missed.

    P.S. – His fear of a Jobs Guarantee and advocation of a UBI in its place is somewhat understandable through the BS Jobs lens – he was clearly afraid of the Soviet Department Store scenario which he relates in the book where you have three people selling a piece of meat. But I tentatively believe that the Job Guarantee as advocated by Mitchell, Kelton, Tcherneva etc. could be an antidote to the Bullshit Jobs phenomenon by providing work that is spiritually rewarding rather than soul destroying. Sorry if bringing up a point of disagreement comes across as crass or insensitive in light of this sad news, I just bring it up because I think it’s an interesting debate.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I was just talking online last night to a friend who is half way through Bullshit Jobs, he was quite shocked to learn of Graebers death. I haven’t read his two main books, but I will have to do it now – everything I read by him was interesting.

      I don’t think, btw, its in any way disrespectful to discuss his ideas, even critically. He seemed to me to be someone who enjoyed intellectual sparring and wasn’t afraid to change his mind on anything. He also seemed to have quite enjoyed challenging peoples views even when they were on his side. He was one of those rare people who even when wrong about something, was at least wrong in an interesting way. But certainly he was more often on the right side of arguments.

      He will be very sorely missed.

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      1. Basil Pesto

        I don’t think, btw, its in any way disrespectful to discuss his ideas, even critically. He seemed to me to be someone who enjoyed intellectual sparring and wasn’t afraid to change his mind on anything.

        Thanks for saying so. That was my assumption too, but I can see how criticising someone’s work after they’ve just died can be read as… tacky? although probably moreso if one hasn’t just expressed earnest admiration for the same person.

        He was one of those rare people who even when wrong about something, was at least wrong in an interesting way.

        Something to aspire to.

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    2. Ignacio

      Your comment was well pointed and respectful. I have just read a comment in a Spanish site on “Bullshit jobs” which is very much in line with what you say. The article provides also with personal comments on Graeber that very much go with the spirit of Keen’s eulogy.

      Bullshit is not that easily translated into Spanish and we tend to miss some of the senses of the word. Correct me If I am mistaken if “something totally useless than nobody will miss if it disappears” could be a good definition. Bullshit would be the metaphysical idea of shit and crap as I understand this.

      Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        your definition is a good one for defining ‘bullshit jobs’, but a definition of ‘bullshit’ alone is more elusive (and also possibly more multifaceted than even English speakers realise?)

        In the broadest colloquial sense, I would say that it is a casual dishonesty that is also quite cynical. That casual dishonesty can often take the form of feigned expertise. It tends to be about something trivial, but not necessarily always.

        For instance, in high school and university, I would occasionally have to ‘bullshit’ my way through presentations in tutorials that I was unprepared for.

        But there can be a narrower use of the word, for example as an exclamation against any lie (or even erroneous belief):

        “I bench (whatever an impressive amount of weight to benchpress is) kg”
        “bullshit!”

        but also

        “if we spend any money on medicare for all, then the US will go bankrupt from all the debt that causes them to go in to”
        “that’s a bunch of bullshit”

        Even now I’m sensing how hard to pin down the word is!

        If I were going across languages though, I would say that a bullshitter, or bullshit artist, is one who vender humo

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        1. paul

          Harry frankfurt’s ‘On Bullshit’ nailed it for me.

          From wikimedia:

          Frankfurt determines that bullshit is speech intended to persuade without regard for truth. The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether their listener is persuaded

          I’ve met a few people (even non blood family) who live their lives along those lines.
          Fascinating but unenviable.

          Reply
          1. anonymous

            I’m sorry, but you just proved my point. You check with a source three places removed— who is misinformed, doesn’t understand key things — and they’re angry. What do you expect. And they, and especially others, have been living this misunderstanding for over two years. (In some cases 5 or more)
            Those who were in your apartment last year, should never do to another (sick and suffering human being) what they have done. And they know better. Its anathema to all that is good in these programs It violates all the principles and traditions, which is our common bond. But to taunt another to suicide?!! To threaten another!! To laugh and humiliate another, who suffers from the same condition as they themselves have said they admit to? (I’ve never even met some of these people)
            I’ve read NC for years. You know so much about medicine and healthcare on the individual level. They’ve mislead you! They’ve encouraged you and cheered you on to engage in behavior towards me which they know would never EVER be condoned in the rooms! (And you use all those false identities with, literally, familiar names.)
            And then when they see you do it, it must be ok. And they engage in actions that they KNOW are wrong! Sick people should never be treated like this!!! (Its not your fault. You had no way of knowing. )

            (Adding: I’m very sorry to J. I’ve never said anything against them; not now or in the past.)

            If I harshly criticized anyone, it was only to one other single person.

            Why didn’t you just moderate me out? I was hurting my self. i can’t write. its painful.

            I wish I could speak to you in person. I can speak better than I can write. You can ask me any questions you like. You could choose anyone you like to be in on the conversation, and they can ask me any questions they like in front of you and I will answer them in front of you. I’m wrong about a lot of things! But not in this area.

            Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          If you are looking for a definition, there is a whole book on that very subject written in the early aughts which is a relatively quick and entertaining read – On Bullshit

          RIP Mr. Graeber. I really enjoyed Debt: The First 5000 Years and will order Bullshit Jobs from my local bookstore today.

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      2. jonboinAR

        “Bullshit” implies a dishonesty in explanation or justification for something of the sort that you know, comes out of every paragraph-long, at least, utterance of a politician, a boss, your employees, I suppose, if you’re a boss, your kids when they pretend to need something they really don’t, or your parents when you were a kid when they were trying to justify why you couldn’t have something you were SURE was perfectly fine to have. That is, the essential lie that’s couched in mostly truth that makes the utterance, as a whole, untruthful. So the jobs at “Gum”, or whatever it was called, were “bullshit” by virtue of being for the most part unnecessary and everyone knew it but had to pretend they weren’t.

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        1. John Wright

          I remember from my years in the Northern California electronics industry a humor game called “Bullshit Bingo” that was printed on a sheet of paper.

          It had a list of Corporate Speak phrases in arranged in boxes in a grid on a sheet of paper.

          Here it is recast as “buzzword bingo”.

          See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzword_bingo

          I note that “We’re on the same page” is not in the wikipedia example.

          As Bullshit Bingo was to be practiced, one would be in a meeting and cross off spoken occurrences and then exclaim “Bingo” when a row/column was checked off.

          I never remember anyone actually doing this, but it must have been in the minds of many during various meetings.

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        1. Ignacio

          I can’t say anything but thanks to you all (Basil Pesto, jonboinAR and m-ga). It is sometimes a good exercise to take a break, rewind and rethink about the semantics of words even if these are not proper for a family blog. Anyway, Graeber’s book is now in my list of English-written reads even though it has been translated to Spanish as “Trabajos de mierda”. It is good translation but doesn’t capture the precise sense of Bullshit, though I guess once you read it, you get it.

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          1. jonboinAR

            Yes, “mierda” and “shit” probably denote that something is, or should be, entirely undesirable, but “bullshit”, or colloquially, “horseshit”, implies that there is false justification involved in foisting said “sh!!” on everyone.

            Reply
  2. guilliam

    Absolutely gutted about this. It’s really crap when any public figure you admire dies, but it’s worst when you’ve only just become aware of how terrific they were! I’d only just finished reading ‘Debt : The first 5,000 years’ a few weeks ago and thought it was one of the most interesting books about finance I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a fair few) especially the stuff on relationship between money and theology. And I recommended it to a friend who’s currently midway through it at the moment and similarly upset. He had that magical combination of being smart, playful, campassionate and also being just plain likeable in interviews. RIP

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    I will miss all the brilliant and useful things that David was going to learn and share.
    If there is reincarnation, perhaps he had to leave early to be back in time. As the Tibetans claim the Dalai Lama did.

    Reply
  4. norm de plume

    I too recall David Graeber’s friendly responses to comments here. Like Michael Hudson, a much-admired thinker who took the time to respond to the musings of ordinary punters. And like Hudson and Prof Keen, someone who, apart from a penetrating mind, had a natural tendency to champion the interests of the many over the few.

    Debt was brilliant; to read it at about the time I was learning about Prof Keen’s Modern Jubilee made my learning curve near vertical for a while.

    I haven’t read Bullshit Jobs (not sure I have the stomach for it) but I can thoroughly recommend his recent book with Marshall Sahlins, On Kings. To say it is thought-provoking seems like faint-praise damnation, but take it from me, it is thought-provoking.

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  5. harry

    I saw the news on twitter. I followed David and God knows why but he followed me. Perhaps for my attempts at pithy lefty humor. “Debt” was a great work although I know Professor Hudson hangs out here so i will leave comment on that to him. I only mention cos a Fed watcher I am close to head also read it, and told me it had been widely read within the Fed.

    My suspicion was that David Graeber was a kind man. I don’t think there is any higher accolade. But he also did some excellent work, and told some excellent jokes. I hope to finally meet him on the other side one day. He will be one of the people i seek out.

    Reply
  6. paintedjaguar

    Damn it. I feel the same loss now that I did when I heard that Joe Bageant had died: another unique and valuable public voice gone from the world. Fact is, most of us are mostly interchangeable – losing one of the few who aren’t leaves a big hole.

    Reply
    1. KLG

      Indeed. When I think of how Joe Bageant would have responded to the run-up to Trump (visible to anyone who eschews the PMC Kool-Aid) and the aftermath of November 2016, I have a sad.

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  7. cocomaan

    So sad. I remember chatting with him over email during 2011 when I was a graduate student, soon after 5000 Years was published and when he was in the middle of the Zucotti Park occupation. He still took time to email me back with some thoughts! David had a generous spirit.

    His thoughts came across in writing and speaking as immensely subtle. That sounds like a contradiction. It isn’t if you’ve read his work. That’s why he was a fantastic anthropologist: he could point right to the little quirks that make up the individual’s lived experience.

    Case in point: one of my favorite pieces by him comes from an essay collection called Possibilities, late 2000’s, about relations of avoidance within hierarchies. It explained to me, finally, why anyone with authority is always stodgy. http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Mail/xmcamail.2015-12.dir/pdfprPti_N1JR.pdf I highly recommend it. His insight was so valuable and I am so sad that we lost him when I felt like he was just getting started!

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      Side note about Graeber and my graduate philosophy program. I was enrolled at a medium size PhD in philosophy program and had been mostly focusing on hierarchy, starting with Weber and tracing through to Hannah Arendt’s work on totalitarianism. Graeber came across my radar on this blog and started to leak into my research because he had such a wealth of insight on hierarchies.

      I mentioned that I wanted to dive deeper into Graeber’s work in my own to one of the star profs of the department. He gave me a cold look and said, “Doesn’t Graeber write for the public?” Yes, he does. “Hmm.”

      That was the moment I realized I didn’t belong in an academic philosophy program. It wasn’t about seeking truth, it was a jobs program underwritten by undergraduate student tuition. I quit the next semester. Since then, I’ve done fundraising for non profits and have made a hell of a lot of difference in the lives of many hundreds and thousands of disadvantaged people.

      Thank you, David.

      Reply
      1. EoH

        The disdain for popular education and improvement, sadly, goes way back. It is antithetical to the elite class-driven educational programs that set the tone in most subjects. Medievalist Norman Cantor fought that dragon for decades. It extends to maintaining a narrow parochialness of view. As an economics PhD at Ann Arbor, Bill Black wrote that was warned not to be too progressive, lest the school withhold its imprimatur by not granting his PhD. By design, much of that filtering goes unremarked and undetected.

        Reply
        1. cocomaan

          Ah, I knew there was a hidden reason I liked Bill Black!

          It’s truly sad. But then, if you go all the way back to the book Lucky Jim, not much has changed. Great book that really put it all into perspective for me.

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  8. skippy

    Tequila here too, bought a bottle of silver just for the occasion with a slip for David with every pour.

    Osmosis Ameba ….

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    1. HotFlash

      Making do with a domestic Riesling here, but you go to a wake with the bottle you have, not the bottle you wish you had. Wasn’t prepared.

      Reply
  9. LowellHighlander

    As an economist, I’d like to claim him as one of our own. I think Bullshit Jobs re-established the imperative to study the economy as an anthropologist would – along the lines of Thorstein Veblen. Thus, David Graeber’s work here has shown that Institutionalist Economics can prove quite powerful in illuminating fundamental problems in the economy.

    To be clear, I would ask whether the highest tier of economists, such as Professor Michael Hudson, Dr. Dean Baker, Dr. Eileen Applebaum, and Dr. Mark Weisbrot – amongst many others, to be sure – would agree that Graeber has helped immensely to put Institutionalist Economics, particularly its capability to make economics accessible to everyone, back on the map.

    Reply
    1. Harry

      LowellHighlander? What makes me think that refers to where you live. I vaguely recall there was a project at UMass Lowell to study the importance of repo markets in overall liquidity provision (at least from my increasingly poor memory).

      Regards

      Reply
  10. michael hudson

    I’ve known David Graeber for over 15 years. After I published my third Harvard colloquium on Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East, he contacted me to discuss the views of Karl Polanyi, as my group was in many ways the successor group to Polanyi’s at Columbia University (where the colloquium was held).
    We talked sporadically, and he mentioned he was going to write on the history of debt as an anthropologist. My own view was that people would not be very interested in the idea of debt cancellation in antiquity until the way could be prepared for discussing it in today’s world, which is what most of my own journalistic and academic writing was all about.
    But it turned out that his treatment was much more popular than anything I could have written. It came out at the right time, and hit a cord – largely because of his personal vantage point, which guided the reader to accept his views.
    People who did not know of our relationship began to call me up and worried that his Debt: The First 5,000 Years had grabbed all the attention away from my writings. The reality was just the opposite. David promoted my ideas very clearly and explicitly in his book, and also in his radio and TV interviews. I have never known of any academic or popular writer as generous as David.
    We usually would have lunch near Union Square, where I would come in on Wednesday’s to go to the farmer’s market. This was during the Occupy Wall Street period. When we walked back from the restaurant, he would amazingly merge into the crowd of demonstrators as one of them, as if it were truly a collective whole. He was completely natural and at ease with any group, and it was as if they all had a common purpose and strategy, powered largely by his good humor and judgement.
    More concretely around that time, he introduced me to his literary agent, Mel Flashman. One result was that both our books were published by Klett Cotta in Germany. We had a wonderful presentation in Berlin – where a rather thuggish Nobel economics prize winner, Angus Deaton, had a third Klett-Cotta book being presented. He refused to appear on a panel with us to answer journalists and book reviewers, because he said he “wouldn’t appear with someone who didn’t accept capitalism.” I think he was referring to David, but possibly it was to me as well. It was obvious that the tunnel-visioned Deaton had no idea that debt was extraneous to the workings of industrial capitalism, long preceding it and spanning all economic systems as a distinct dynamic in itself. We had a good laugh and made our views clear to the audience there.
    In Tubingen’s castle high on the hill, John Weisweiler organized a colloquium around David’s book, on Debt: The first 3,000 years. A member of my Harvard assyriologist group, Michael Jursa, reviewed the Babylonian antecedents for Clean Slates, so I spoke about classical Greece and Rome. I hadn’t been in Tubingen for fifty years, and the group went out for dinner at a French restaurant. (The city had changed a lot.) David and I joked about how we had never had a good German steak, as it was always very tough, but thought that certainly a French restaurant would be able to do something. So they had a large T-bone steak for two that we shared. It was as tough as any other beef we had had in Germany.
    David had just taken his job in London teaching, seeing that his anthropology department chairman promised to give him a free hand. But he soon told me that most of his time was teaching English as a Second Language. Despite the fact that teaching took up much more of his time than he anticipated, he was remarkably prolific, and in fact was working on some wonderful books, which I hope can somehow be presented – especially his intriguing theory about the transition to the Neolithic, by peaceful groupings fleeing the violence of paleolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.
    I think we’ve been discussing this for five years – and David had not yet written an introduction and commentary on our Tubingen papers, claiming to be burdened with his academic obligations. So there are so much unfinished projects cut short …
    We always got together when I was in London, and David had another great talent: for finding wonderful restaurants, seemingly unknown and hence unspoilt by the usual crowds. I had the best roast duck I ever had had at a Chinese restaurant he found in Soho.
    I was in China when he got married to Nika in New York, but in 2019 we got together when they were here. He was very happy, and it was such a pleasure to be with the two of them, because their creative interaction and good humor and enthusiasm was so contagious. That’s what makes me so tearful when I think of all that might have been, all that they and I had hoped for regarding work and times to come.
    Michael

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    1. Harry

      Thank you Professor Hudson. I think many of us are a bit tearful about Mr. Graeber’s passing and all that he might have done given more time.

      I had no idea Deaton appears to be a bit of a tosser. Who knew?

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      1. skippy

        Such scenarios remind me of a certain someone storming out of a discussion and flinging the expletive – “your all a bunch of Communists” as they depart.

        Then again I’ve had a doctrinaire PhD call me a deviant after a protracted discussion and ran out of index card responses, extrapolation of that psychological condition is both interesting and of concern E.g. is it there all the time.

        Second the fleshing out of the man outside the media portrayal so everything else can be put in context. But then again there was already a big passing on in the works and covid just put it in big neon lights. More than many other things I’m concerned about its effects on society at large due to orthodox administration at this juncture.

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    2. Susan the other

      Thank you for these memories. Graeber was very focused on the contradiction debt posed. I wonder if that was why he was so low key. Reactionaries like Deaton are a big problem. You’d think that capitalism did not evolve – it was some immaculate conception, it just popped up out of nowhere. Or it finally became so perfect there was no reason to advance any more useful adaptations. When Graeber was involved with Occupy he was so calm about the whole thing he was easy to listen to and convincing. From the heart no doubt. And I might be in the minority, but I still think Occupy was very effective. Everyone on both sides began thinking it was possible to change the system. And it was actually no big deal.

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    3. Ann Pettifor

      Thank you Michael for these poignant memories…but also for the powerful imperative your work on debt proved to be for David…We all owe you a great debt. Ann Pettifor

      Reply
  11. Carolinian

    Yves (from 2013) gets a cite at the end of this Wiki

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Graeber

    Not being an economics person I can’t offer much on Graeber, but will observe that Occupy Wall Street is about to reproduce itself–at least in name–with Occupy the White House (a park outside actually) which is announced to soon begin and last until the election. Have TPTB grabbed Graeber the way they embraced and transmogrified the Arab Spring?

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  12. eg

    Like Yves I came by Graeber by way of Hudson — but only in their writing, since I have never met either in person. I read “Debt” many years ago and found it most fascinating for its exploration of non-monetary debt before the Bronze Age, since I already had familiarity with the latter from Hudson’s work.

    I never read “Bullshit Jobs” but perhaps I should, given the many references to it here.

    An original thinker lost, to the detriment of us all.

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  13. Starry Gordon

    My acquaintance with David Graeber goes back to Usenet days; mostly we discussed/argued about the possibility of anarchic societies. Our ideas were probably rather similar so it was a love/hate sort of thing. He gave me a copy of Keep The River On Your Right which I had been ranting about. I took him around to see Blackout Books and Food Not Bombs. My most recent contacts were: Molly Crabapple had a show downtown several years ago, and I happened to see it from the street and went in to the opening to look around, chat up Molly, and gather material for a review. There was a fresh copy of Debt shining on a little table, all by itself! I immediately called David and told him to get downtown and become the hero of the opening. I don’t know if he came down immediately but he did make it to the show. At a later time he came to MoMA/PS1 for a discussion of his ideas. Just today I cited Bullshit Jobs and thinking about it with relation to COVID-19 and ‘working from home’, I started to compose a message in my head which I was going to send to him, since I think the plague has expanded our view of bullshit considerably. And now he’s not there!

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    1. HotFlash

      Thanks, both of you. Your cites are now in my David Graeber file. That file lives on my desktop for ready reference and to easily send to people who might find it useful. Also I watch the Anarchism video from time to time when I am feeling hopeless.

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Thanks, both of you. Your cites are now in my David Graeber file. That file lives on my desktop for ready reference and to easily send to people who might find it useful. Also, I keep the Anarchism video close so I can watch it times when I am feeling hopeless.

      Reply
  14. Rana Roy

    Greetings from far-away Australia!

    I am shocked and saddened to hear this news. But let me record my thanks to Yves Smith for carrying the report, my thanks to Steven Keen for his eulogy, and my thanks to Michael Hudson for the recollections in his below-the-line comment.

    With kind regards,

    Rana Roy

    Reply

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