david on rethinking resistance

from david graeber‘s (2017) – rethinking resistance – Smashing Bureaucracies and Classes – via anarchist library [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/david-graeber-re-thinking-resistance]


I will be talking about bureaucracy and class, and dangers threatening the revolution in Rojava. I think this is very, very important, because if we’re talking about beacons of historical hope, the revolution in Rojava is probably the most important thing that’s happened on this planet since Spain in the 1930’s. This is a magnificent opportunity, and in fact the revolution in Rojava has now lasted longer than the Spanish revolution; it’s managed to maintain itself. I think that as the embargo is lifted, certain problems are going to occur that have to be dealt with, and I think people are thinking about this, but I think it’s really important for us to understand exactly what the danger that we’re facing is, or its most insidious forms.

rojava’s third way et al

My own experience with the Global Justice Movement and then Occupy Wall Street ..The so-called “anti-globalization movement” was, of course, not an anti-globalization movement; we called ourselves the “globalization movement.” We saw ourselves as calling for a real effacement of borders, and human solidarity against a system which masked itself as globalization, but was actually creating stronger and stronger borders against the movement of people and ideas, so as to allow capital to flow freely and exploit those borders.

Over time we realized that, in fact, what we were really dealing with was the first global administrative bureaucracy. ..for the first time in human history, there was a planetary administrative bureaucracy, which was completely lacking in democratic accountability. What we were trying to do was expose the workings of that system. That’s why we had those giant festivals against capitalism every time the IMF met, or the World Bank met; ..we tried to fight that by creating our own model of what genuine bottom-up democracy could be like.

When we fast-forward 10 years to Occupy Wall Street, in fact in away it was kind of the same thing. ..so essentially bureaucracy was being used as the mode for extracting capitalist surplus. So you have this global system which creates and maintains debt, and other means of extracting resources, and it’s completely outside any kind of democratic accountability.

accountable ness as red flag.. in this case.. that it will/would be an ongoing whack a mole situation..

It struck me that this is all very important when I visited Rojava 2 years ago, because there are similar bureaucracies there working. .Essentially the game is that you create images of both terror and human suffering, so there’s this sort of marketing of images, scary images and heart-breaking images, that are then circulated. And you exploit them to essentially get weapons, patronage, money, and control resources, mainly oil. So the entire thing was a series of top-down redistributive hierarchies. ..what really struck me when I talked to people in the Kurdish freedom movement was that their basic question was “how do we create a different game? How do we break out of these constraints?”

gershenfeld something else law

So in thinking about this, I realized that in a way this is one of the greatest problems that revolutionary movements face, and it allowed me to rethink my own experience, and re-evaluate it in this light. Essentially, how to integrate with these larger bureaucratic institutions, which are based on course of force, and are essentially the life-blood or very fabric of capitalism at this point. You have to integrate with them to get resources, but at the same time you have to create structures which ensure that their logic doesn’t capture you and take you over..t I realized that that’s exactly what they were trying to do.

..So it shows how these sort of bureaucratic mechanisms, which on surface are very benevolent and necessary — for instance, you don’t want your airplane to crash, and people in Rojava have definite security concerns; if they were flying planes people would try to blow them up — but nonetheless, all those international agreements assume a certain form, they assume that you’re a state, and they won’t deal with you unless you do actually assume that form.

So basically you have to create a membrane, some sort of structure between all the organizational forms that can integrate with international institutions, which will impose a state form on you, and the bottom-up directly-democratic experiment, which is the very life-blood of what makes Rojava so brilliant and historically hopeful.

So there’s already a deep awareness of the danger of the sort of top-down logic, and something like the state would happen unless you’re constantly vigilant about making sure that doesn’t occur. I thought that was extremely important, because it shows what’s really at stake here. There is intense pressure from above to integrate into larger systems; you have to have international relations, but at the same time they’re going to constantly encourage a sort of logic, which is going to assume that things go top-down rather than bottom-up..

takes a lot of work as red flag (rather.. gershenfeld something else law.. imagine if we ness.. et al)

..when you have a system of delegates, it’s very time-consuming, and not everyone can do it, so how do you guarantee that certain people don’t become basically political specialists and emerge as a political class? That was one question.

Another one was what I discussed above; how do you create a membrane between the bottom-up structures and the top-down structures to ensure that this kind of very well-meaning but very dangerous creeping bureaucratization doesn’t enter in?..t ..there are certain people who have international connections and also know how to deal with certain types of situations and people, who will, for the best of reasons, end up re-creating hierarchies through their relations with the outside world. I think that one of the most important things is to figure out how to prevent that from happening..t

We had exactly the same problem in both the movements I was talking about, in the Global Justice Movement and in Occupy Wall Street. There was a tendency for internal bureaucratization; people started treating processes and principles as if they were rules and you had to go by the rule-book. And the more that happened, we noticed, the more people of relatively upper-middle class professional backgrounds started feeling much more comfortable, and people of less elite backgrounds much more uncomfortable and ultimately leaving the meetings. This is a constant danger in any social movement unless you’re very deeply self-conscious about it. Paradoxically, I think in Rojava the embargo has allowed a new type of society to emerge, but the real challenges, I think, are going to be faced as things open up, and they have to figure out a way to maintain the beautiful bottom-up energy without creeping bureaucracy taking over..t So I just wanted to throw that out as a problem that I think is very important to think about.

gershenfeld something else law..

neil gershenfeld at 9 (of 11) min talk on edge site: [http://edge.org/conversation/personal-fabrication]:

9 min… on pentagon trying to improve defense:

….possibly one of the best/most significant impacts of tech is not a better weapon to win a war but tech that gives people something else to do.  .. there will always be bad people that want to use best available means to shoot at each other but the roll of tech in giving everybody else something else to do – as a cost benefit trade off – may be one of the best military investments – and the generals got that.. but not clear what office in the pentagon is the office of preventive technology

bateson safety law et al