communism of everyday life
Nika Dubrovsky (@nikadubrovsky) tweeted at 5:03 PM on Sat, Jan 09, 2021:
most of these companies have relied heavily on public funding, but so too has the entire process of vaccine development been crucially dependent on what late anthropologist and activist David Graeber used to call the communism of everyday life.
notes from kevin’s:
David Graeber, as we already saw to be the case with Elinor Ostrom, is characterized above all by a faith in human creativity and agency
Graeber is one of those anarchist (or anarchist-ish) thinkers who, despite possibly identifying with a particular hyphenated variant of anarchism, have an affection for the variety and particularity of self-organized, human-scale institutions that goes beyond ideological label. These people, likewise, see the relationships between individual human beings in ways that can’t be reduced to simple abstractions like the cash nexus or doctrinaire socialism. I selected James Scott and Elinor Ostrom for C4SS research papers *based on this quality, and I read Debt in the course of researching a similar paper on Graeber’s thought. I expect to continue with papers on Pyotr Kropotkin and Colin Ward who, despite identifying as libertarian communists, cannot be reduced to any ideological pigeonhole based on that label.
In fact, as we shall see below, this separate sphere of atomized cash nexus exchange has never existed in any human society except where it was artificially created by the state. The common pattern throughout human history, including communities where significant elements of exchange existed, was for production, exchange and consumption to be embedded in a context of social relationships, religion, love and family life. If anything, the common denominator throughout human history — even in our society, despite the capitalist state’s attempt either to destroy it or harness it as an auxiliary of the cash nexus — has been what Graeber calls “the communism of everyday life.” Every society in human history has been a foundation built out of this everyday communism of family, household, self-provisioning, gifting and sharing among friends and neighbors, etc., with a scaffolding of market exchange and hierarchies erected on top of it.
For Graeber, this kind of communism is the basis of everyday life in most societies, just as many anarchists like to point out that most of our lives are characterized by anarchy. He means the same thing by it as the classic definition conveyed: “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” Without this universal kind of communism, based on voluntary association and self-organization, what we refer to as “capitalist” or “state socialist” societies simply could not sustain themselves. To a large extent, the cash nexus and hierarchical institutions are parasitic on this basic stratum of communism in which human life and culture are reproduced.
‘In fact, “communism” is not some magical utopia, and neither does it have anything to do with ownership of the means of production. It is something that exists right now–that exists, to some degree, in any human society, although there has never been one in which everything has been organized in that way, and *it would be difficult to imagine how there could be. All of us act like communists a good deal of the time…. “Communist society” … could never exist. But all social systems, even social systems like capitalism, have been built on top of a bedrock of actually-existing communism.’
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people
Graeber recounts the story of a Danish traveller in Greenland who, encountering a successful Inuit hunter generously sharing his walrus kill with the less fortunate, thanked him for his own portion. The hunter was outraged.
This account, as Graeber shows (of origins of money), turns out to be as much of a legitimizing nursery tale as the “original accumulation of capital” and the “Social Contract.”.. Graeber’s history of money and debt falls decisively into the later category, as a credit theory of money.. The first money used for market exchange within communities, rather, has universally been credit.. So money was actually primarily a unit of measurement, and accounting systems appeared long before commodity-based currencies (in other words, just the reverse of the orthodox model)
i wish we could let go of money talk when thinking on such things as communism of everyday life.. credit or whatever.. any form of measuring/accounting.. it’s like arnold using a sword to symbolize strength .. we have to let go of the poison to get to the cure
eric frank russell’s ‘and then there were none’: ‘Money was no more ever “invented” than music or mathematics or jewelry; What we call “money” isn’t a “thing” at all; it’s *a way of comparing things mathematically, as proportions…. As such it is probably as old as human thought.‘
for widows with no other source of income, or as a way for neighbors to share in the profits from some minor commercial venture.” (This last sounds a lot, in fact, like recent models of crowd-funding local projects in the alternative economy with micro-credit).
yeah.. poison – microfinance ness
Ultimately, Graeber predicts, as we move into the post-capitalist era, we will return to horizontally organized credit money, and empires and vast standing armies will decay or collapse. We will return to a more humanly tolerable basis for arranging society. ‘…but we have no idea how long it will take, or what, if it does, it would really look like.‘
in my opinion, the building blocks are already there. They include the p2p model of organizing information production, open-source software design, and file-sharing — the foremost contemporary examples of the communism and conviviality Graeber celebrates. They include open-source hardware hackers, creating radically cheapened, small-scale production tools that destroy the basic material rationale of most wage labor. They include the growing development of local economic infrastructures based on small shops using such machinery, neighborhood food systems based on Permaculture and vacant lot and rooftop gardening, and local currency systems.
Graeber’s book, and the view of human nature presented in it, is a tribute to the fact that — in the words of the Inuit hunter’s declaration — we are human; and because we are human we help each other. We have done this since our *hunter-gather origins, long before the rise of states, and states — despite their pretensions of the contrary — have acted largely to **suppress this human tendency or subvert it, in the interest of making us easier for one parasitic ruling class after another to exploit.
i think we need to imagine deeper than *h g ‘s – some of that needs to be **unsuppressed as well
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people