david on B and books
Nachgefragt: David Graeber, recorded by Heiner Wittmann for the blog of Klett-Cotta, april 8, 2016 in Stuttgart
via @sidneyluckett (know from museum of care meetings et al) fb share:
An excellent interview! David responds to succinct questions about the books he wrote before 2016 when the interview was conducted. Much is about bureaucracy (its origin & place in government as well as the private sector), rules & games, violence, police, basic income grant
1 min – anarchist because believe one day can have free society.. free of violence of B
2 min – i wrote frag of anarch anthro.. i said.. why is there no such thing as anarch anthro.. anthro has a lot to contribute to social movements.. particularly anti authoritarian ones.. distinction between marxism and anarchism.. can have marxist anthro/socio quite easily because marxism is theoretical discourse about rev strategy.. whereas anarchism is more an ethical discourse about rev practice.. anarchism is about the doing.. so hard to see how it fits into academia
4 min – one of things i wanted to understand when writing u of rules.. why does everybody say they hate B so much.. but we seem to get more and more of it.. so there must be on some secret level where we actually really love it.. i was trying to play around w it and get to the heart of it.. need to understand the secret appeal
5 min – to some degree it’s infantilizing.. mature adults can come together and make arrangements.. usually defined as maturity.. take into consideration others’ perspectives.. in a way we live in a society where we never get to do that.. instead.. every aspect of our lives.. esp in public is reg’d by endless codes.. ordinances.. who can stand/smell/smoke/eat/anything.. where.. endless laws.. and those laws are enforced by violence.. so there are people w weapons who are there who threaten to hit us if we don’t obey the tiniest little rules
6 min – one of the things that fascinated me while writing the book is the role of police.. perhaps comes from the fact that i’m thinking about the anarchist tradition.. people who theorize police more than most political groups
7 min – but the fact that most of what police do is enforce admin ordinances.. very little of what they have to do on a day to day basis have anything to do w crime or fighting crime.. actually what they do is bring the possibility of crime.. selling untaxed cigs.. where there’d never be any violence had they not shown up
9 min – on way people use us/them.. them as something you couldn’t possibly influence
10 min – back to roll of violence..we don’t like to think of pervasive violence of our social relations.. life is largely about the denial of the violence in these things.. t
11 min – violence creates lopsided structures of the imagination.. if equally matched in ability to do violence have to get inside others’ head.. if unequal.. one w means to violence doesn’t have to understand the other.. violence is only form of action where don’t have to understand each other.. structural ineq’s backed up by threat of force.. people on top don’t have to do much imagination.. and people at bottom have to do a lot.. when you imagine people.. you care about them.. so one of perverse effects of systematic violence in our society.. people receiving the violence care about oppressors
14 min – enlightenment challenged idea of received authority.. but created a charter for increased B.. in many ways chinese B model brought in by the enlightenment
16 min – i read at one time.. about 1/2 of children’s play consists of arguing about the rules.. same thing happens in language.. why should language change? from functional pov.. only explanation is that people get bored.. like to play around w it.. but at same time.. people will say.. if changing it doing it wrong.. so have this tension.. when authority.. that we go along with.. that everybody likes fixed rules..
17 min – so we both need to play.. but we tend to believe anyone that tells us we shouldn’t.. so i thought.. i guess there is something kind of scary about play.. it’s so unpredictable.. something kind of terrifying in that
18 min – whereas B.. it appeals to the opposite.. to that sense that.. wouldn’t it be nice if i knew exactly what the rules are.. in u of rules.. it refers to games.. and what we really enjoy about games.. competition .. but contained in a set of rules..
19 min – in life there’s always lots of rules about what’s going on.. but you’re never quite sure what they are.. imagine rivalry in workplace.. who’s playing who isn’t.. but in a game.. they tell you.. here are the rules.. go.. it’s the only situation in life where you know exactly what the rules are and you can play by the rules and still win
20 min – yeah.. i could see that.. it’s (tech) a way of channeling imagination and B-in it.. i made a similar argument w computer games.. fantasy lit is way to imagine completely un-B’d society.. almost as a warning.. so thrill .. but you feel safe when you go back to boring existence
but once you have that fantasy.. they turn it into games.. d&g stats et al.. then they make games that are purely statistical.. it’s almost like they make games where you can B-itize fantasy.. social media is the same way like you’re suggesting.. the very freedom of sociality.. and increasingly quantify/B it.. (ie given was twitter).. make it more/more impersonal
21 min – it’s possible to have a B that would help (at uni).. nowadays when they say uni.. they mean the admin.. ie: (to my situation.. applying to cambridge and turned down because admin didn’t know what he’d use him – david – for).. i thought.. there was a time when professors at cambridge saw admin in those terms.. they are there to help us
23 min – i guess that B of academic life.. we have this system where everybody who has a sign where it might be possible that they have some creative break thru.. has to spend most of their time either competing w one another trying to convince people w money that they already know what they’re trying to come up with.. or alternately trying to prove that the other guy doesn’t
24 min – (answering how to get less B) i’m a great believer in democracy.. we juxtaposed to B .. direct democracy.. i think that idea of reinventing things from the bottom up is one element in that
any form of democratic admin.. killing us
25 min – but i think there’s very specific programs people have been talking about recently that would go a large way in reducing the worst aspects of B.. i’ll go with just one.. this big movement now for bi guarantees.. rather than having these very elaborate welfare systems.. that lead to people being constantly judged/monitored..
just have a flat rate .. everybody.. certain things would have to be guaranteed, housing, health, ed, .. if you think about it.. most rich countries pay tons to have people just to make poor people feel bad about themselves.. they’re constantly monitoring them telling them what a bad job they’re doing.. raising their children.. are they really looking for a job hard enough.. and people doing that hate those jobs.. so if have bi.. get rid of them.. if alive.. good enough to have money.. all those people free too.. contribute a lot more to society than now
bs jobs from birth et al
26 min – i don’t only want to put B’s down.. now it’s the technocrats.. some parts of that civil structure has something to say for themselves.. but i think it’s really important to establish the principle that you don’t need to have these monitoring systems to tell people what they’re worth..