david on human economies
David Graeber: All Economies are Ultimately Human Economies (2015)
david graeber.. on econ ness: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space
via nika dubrovsky:
David Graeber: All Economies are Ultimately Human Economies (2015) https://t.co/E1tUFaGyZg via @YouTube
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/nikadubrovsky/status/1465838358572122115
notes/quotes from 33 min video:
1 min – it occurred to me that all economies are human economies and the strange thing about capitalism is it’s the only system that can make us forget this
i was particularly struck by confluence of thinking on this in rojava – visiting a rehabilitation center for wounded fighters .. and co director of clinic .. agir mardin.. was describing his med philosophy.. the philosophy he felt laid behind the social order they were trying to build in rojava
rojava’s third way et al
2 min – he said.. ‘we have a basically preventative idea of med.. first look at social factors.. since body is part of nature/society.. since body is sick .. heart is too.. most important factor in illness in modern society is stress.. cities ought to be rebuilt w 70% green space then levels of stress would decline.. ‘
unwanted stress et al..
graeber wealth law: when we think about being wealthy.. usually what we think about is being able to relax a little.. so .. if that’s the measure of wealth.. it’s definitely going down.. the fear of poverty i think has gone up.. the level of stress and people just totally freaking out about their future
but he also insisted that ‘it wasn’t just about nature it was about social ties.. a lot of stress from loneliness.. social isolation.. but that kind of isolation was engineered in modern societies as mode of social control.. we call this modern slavery..t in past by capture/sale of slaves and slaves knew they were slaves.. and now we think that very isolation which enslaves us is freedom.. that isolation causes a terrible stress and that stress opens us up to disease’
and the need to org around legit needs – would undo that engineered isolation
4 min – ‘but to understand the health/body in this sense.. he said.. as part of a web of social relations.. required a radical shift in perspectives of what society is actually about.. ‘
‘we always talk about production as if it’s the production of things.. any social system what labor really produces is people.. most important form of production is always the production of human beings..’
this really struck me because i had written an entire book about that idea.. called.. toward an anthropological theory of value.. which nobody every read.. certainly nobody (there).. so this got me excited.. these ideas convergin
5 min – when i was writing about the production of people i was coming out of fem readings of marx.. could say essence of marx’s critique of capitalism is that.. that it inverts our understanding of the production of people and the production of things..
at one point marx pointed out.. if look at ancient world.. no one wrote about what are conditions to create the most wealth.. interesting because nowadays only thing to write about.. but then most important was how to create the best people.. the kind you’d want to have as neighbors.. so what are the social conditions to create the best friends..t.. wealth in turn was a subord factor.. considered as part of that question.. too much people lazy.. too little working all the time then can’t be friends
7 min – then marx forgets this.. he adopts terms econ’s of his time used.. ie: markets free labor.. people forget this is an as if.. and think.. since marx said it has to be true.. he didn’t think they were true.. and certainly didn’t think they were good.. and.. those become dominant categories of our time
8 min – on most powerful people.. what do they think they are doing..? governing economies.. big question is how big is your econ… mine is bigger than yours.. for people running world.. that’s what matters.. creates kinds of political discourse that are insane
10 min – ie: africa having to be trained by world bank.. and people dying of aids will have terrible effects on econ.. used to be econ was to keep people alive.. and here best reason it’s a bad thing that people are dead/dying.. is that it will effect production of goods/services.. how did we get to the place where that person could make that speech and not be immediately be taken away in a straight jacket is insane.. since it is a form of structural insanity.. the way we talk about things
11 min – one way of thinking about this is to look at way we talk about value.. we talk about value (econ when making things to get money) and values.. marx: money has bizarre double role.. 1\ reps value of work 2\ do labor to get the money.. a symbol that brings into being thing it symbolizes.. work itself what’s important in life.. becomes that thing you do to get money.. and money is rep-ing work.. reflexively defined
12 min – the other thing it (money econ) does is tells you what isn’t work.. that’s where values comes in.. when people start talking about values.. fam values.. politicians always talk about fam values.. but also religious, art, et al.. those are exactly the areas where labor is not commodified.. the major form of work that isn’t paid is domestic work.. so then everybody starts talking about fam values.. so these are things we’re not supposed to think of as labor at all.. but of course they are
graeber values law et al
13 min – those values are values because they’re unique.. money .. you can talk about value in the singular because money can compare everything to everything else.. but when move to domain of values where labor is not commoditized.. then each value is valuable because it can’t be compared to anything else..
again.. graeber values law
so you can’t come up w a formula for ie.. for how much it’s legit to neglect fam in pursuit of religion.. i mean people do it all the time.. but can’t do it mathematically
but on other hand.. this is where that pernicious effect of taking capitalist categories and naturalizing them is most pernicious .. this whole domain in radical theory is called reproductive labor.. almost biological.. doesn’t produce value for capitalism so it’s secondary
14 min – what i’d like to suggest.. is in fact that’s the primary form of labor.. and what you do in a factory is secondary.. the major form of labor and the creation of real social value is a production of each other.. that we ourselves are projects of mutual creation..
if you think about what’s happening to capitalism today.. financialization.. what they are doing is producing all these incredibly complicated forms of value.. and to some degree it’s just simply a cover for military domination.. i think it’s very important that the chief fin powers are always the chief military powers.. they want us to think that countries are sending things to europe and n america because confused by all complexities.. but nobody is that dumb.. basically it’s a military shake down
15 min – but it’s also a system of rent extraction..
i have seen this before.. remembering how he’s so hilarious.. slowing down with pause.. can’t find it though in notes anywhere
on one hand what fin does is operate w state power to create debt.. and on other hand.. domestic forms of labor.. social labor.. is regulated .. as feminists have long pointed out.. there’s a million diff forms of sci.. to psych.. all about regulating/measuring/managing those forms of labor
16 min – essentially what fin is doing is taking those forms of labor and spreading it out to entire society.. so emotional labor spreads everywhere.. supposed to be happy all the time when you work.. a key part of fin capital
17 min – and as a result.. our old ways of talking about labor need to be reformulated.. now that capitalists are drawing rents and extracting from these new forms of labor that have been created ..
because that’s what fin does.. it takes all these things that have not been commoditized and comes up w math formulas.. financialization is about commoditization of love/trust.. that’s what microcredit does.. it takes fam ties, forms of creativity, and figures out a way to stamp a price on them in a million diff ways.. t
graeber f & b same law et al
18 min – to actually think about this we need to reformulate our basic ideas about value.. and i would propose this.. in the 19th cent a conceptual revolution.. i really believe that all revolutions are moral transformations.. they take common sense and transform our basic political common sense.. our most fundamental ideas about what life/politics/econ actually is.. so when you have revolutionary moments.. 1848, 1917, 1968, .. all these were moments where basic assumptions changed.. a sort of global insurrection then a transformation of common sense that followed
19 min – what happened in the 19th cent was somewhat of a labor theory of value.. came to become popularly accepted as common sense.. everybody talked in the 19th cent like we’d think of as marxist.. and the idea that spread was that it’s labor.. particularly factory.. working class.. construction of things.. as the source of all social value..
the idea is that people came to realize.. the world is what we make.. it’s not something that just exists.. everyday we get up and we create the world.. why can’t we make it differently.. it’s paradox right.. because if we’re all collectively making the world.. why is it that we don’t make the world that we particularly like.. almost nobody actually likes.. even the ruling class don’t really like it.. that’s the great paradox of leftist thought as it emerged in the 19th cent.. here we are collectively creating a world that we don’t like very much.. everyday
20 min – john holloway: ‘stop making capitalism’.. capitalism doesn’t exist.. not imposed on us.. we make it.. we wake up everyday and we make capitalism.. why can’t we make something else.. if we did just stop and make something else.. capitalism wouldn’t be there.. so what would it take to do that.. that was the great revolutionary question.. as it proved remarkably difficult.. all social theory is about that.. why can’t we just wake up and make something else.. t
21 min – so the labor theory of value is one way of trying to come to terms w that.. but it proved to be somewhat flawed.. because it fell into very notion that what production is is production of things and not of people
as a result.. that paradox was w us all the time .. 1\ labor was value 2\ we didn’t want to work how to reconcile them
22 min – as a result of this strange view of labor.. a lot of revolution went off the rails.. and it was possible for the other side to redefine the question.. so late 19th capitalists started promoting a notion that no.. value comes from the minds of brilliant entrepreneurs.. and you’re just a bunch of robots.. what you do is not important.. pushed over and over again..
23 min – new line was .. work is valuable in itself.. if don’t spend most of your time doing something you don’t like.. you’re not a good person.. people who don’t do enough work are parasites.. that idea has been the most effective.. most insidious idea c has come up with .. because most people really believe that .. that people who aren’t working all the time at something unpleasant at something they don’t really enjoy.. there’s something wrong with them
24 min – as a result it’s created this bizarre inversion.. i’ve written about this myself in this essay.. on phenom of bs jobs.. ie: 1/2 jobs produced by capitalism don’t do anything.. whole industries that are useless.. (applause)
we could get rid of all these industries and all be working working 15 hrs days.. but were not.. if there’s ever a sign that our society is org’d insanely/stupidly.. people are talking about robots replacing human labor as a problem.. oh no.. what will we do if we don’t have to work so much.. if there’s a sign that an econ system is crazy it’s like labor saving devices are a problem..
26 min – so this inversion.. not only are there useless jobs.. but the more useful your work is.. the less they pay you.. most of low payed jobs are necessary.. ie: nurses, garbage collectors, drivers, et al.. if they were all to vanish.. we’d immediately suffer.. if telemarketers, fin ceos would vanish.. world would be better..
strange/terrible thing.. is that our econ system teaches people to think that’s right.. this is why idea that work is value in itself, esp unpleasant, if work produces something.. getting something out of job and shouldn’t be getting pay.. ie: resentment to teachers.. shouldn’t get benefits.. because they get to teach kids.. and that works.. part of our bizarre inversion of econ logic.. so how do we get away from that
we need to completely reverse our perspective.. start by redefining all terms we’re used to using.. ie: communism.. used to it as a total econ system that has to do w collective property.. need to think of it as any social relation based on from each to each.. almost all work on ground level is org’d communistically.. why.. because most effective way to coop and allocate resources..
29 min – so .. i think capitalism is just a bad way of org-ing communism.. we need to find a better way of org-ing communism .. t(applause).. so most social relations are based on communism.. we just need to expand it a bit.. caring relations are entirely based on the communistic principle
30 min – .. in 2011 we had a revolutionary moment and they were violently put down.. but every since.. haven’t sought to seek power.. in order to go further.. we need to change our categories of what labor is.. we need to change conception of labor to one that starts from caring labor.. not creation of material needs but of each other
there’s a free ed movement in amsterdam.. i find this very exciting.. first things they’re doing.. we’ve been told purpose of ed is to improve econ.. this is backwards.. purpose of econ is to improve ed.. to give people freedom/leisure to understand world.. to learn things.. perspectives are backwards.. ed creates world in which we create each other
32 min – if we begin to look at world that way.. in fact.. that’s the way most people who ever lived did see the world.. most societies it’s assumed that material production/objects is one subord moment in broader process by which we create each other.. of creating people.. thus factory labor is a form of caring labor if stuff producing in factory are things people care about.. need.. but it’s second order.. things that are useful in primary business of human life.. which is our taking care of each other..
33 min – and i think if we do that.. if we’ve transformed our categories to rethink the world in that .. make that common sense.. then we’ll truly have achieved a revolution..