david on war

About war, police and politeness. – david graeber jul 2020

war, evans polite\ness law, et al

notes quotes from 4 min video:

war on crime.. war on drugs.. war on terror.. in every case it’s a war on an enemy you’re not going to beat.. it’s a permanent war.. it’s a war on a state of being .. and in a way the state is that war.. the state is the battle of sovereign power against some enemy which is both completely dishonorable but also completely unbeatable.. because it’s a constituent element in our nature

look at the word police.. derived from polis.. greek for city/community.. polis is both the community and the means by which whereby we overcome our baser nature to be able to live w each other..

so police, polite and politics all come from the same root which in similar way.. to be civilized comes from cities.. to be civil.. civility.. politeness means repressing your bad impulses.. you’re not a person unless you have this freudian innate(?).. not a society unless we have crime.. crime will always be there .. we are sinful.. fallen creatures.. all goes back to a philosophy that says.. there is a deep evil in our nature.. which is what drives us to do things.. econ is based on marshaling that selfish and anti social force for good instead of evil.. but in order to do that you need to have cops to stop you from acting the same way you would in the econ in any other demented human activity

jensen civilization law.. evans polite\ness law..

2 min – so there is a permanent war.. necessarily at the basis of society and the police are this embodiment of that force of civilization.. which means.. they can’t be civilized themselves.. they’re the people who make a sacrifice of the gains you have.. like hobbes.. when he says we all give up the savagery of the sate of nature by giving one guy the power.. but that guy who has the power actually is still a savage.. he still ives in the state of nature

3 min – it’s a war that can never be won because it’s a war that makes us.. now the question is.. how do we overcome that.. what would peace actually be like.. how could we have a society where the social peace isn’t a truce in a permanent war but is rather actual peace.. t.. what would it mean to actually live w each other w/o police.. and it seems inconceivable.. but in fact police are relatively recent..

ie: a nother way..

created over course of 19th.. originally nothing to do w crime.. where to control workers.. escaped slaves.. they were there for means of social control and protecting property, breaking up strikes when the army couldn’t be brought in because they might be biased in favor of the strikers.. things like that.. they were political originally.. political police.. same word


from murray bookchin‘s social eco and communalism:


tribes .. rooted in bio facts of life held social communities together.. gave them a sense of internal solidarity so strong that the tribes largely excluded the strangers/outsider whose acceptability depended on canons of hospitality and the need for new members to replenish warriors when warfare became increasingly important

oi.. to nika quoting david here.. m of care – mar 17:

via nika dubrovsky fb share next day:

Simona at the 29th minute says: “war is a very special process related to the constructing of an enemy, with a “forbidden metamorphism” or, as David Greber would say, is an opportunity to rethink oneself. War is when you cannot stop being “Italian” or “Russian” when the natural process of internal pluralism stops. “

david on war.. marsh label law et al

so barriers drop so we can keep fighting


On the usefulness of the anti-war movement. https://t.co/AUP6ZImt8s

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/nikadubrovsky/status/1508782690765611013

It’s as if American forces in Iraq were ultimately defeated by the ghost of Abbie Hoffman.

trial of the chicago 7

On the origins of the war.  https://t.co/rJFVXIvvwz

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/nikadubrovsky/status/1508808433067245586

will continue with a quote from “Dawn of everything.”

The role of warfare warrants further discussion here, because violence is often the route by which forms of play take on more permanent features. .It’s an almost absurdly obvious point to make, but it matters. Play kings cease to be play kings precisely when they start killing people; .. there’s no actual reason to assume that war has always existed. Technically, war refers not just to organized violence but to a kind of contest between two clearly demarcated sides.

There is nothing particularly primordial about such arrangements; certainly, there is no reason to believe they are in any sense hardwired into the human psyche. On the contrary, it’s almost invariably necessary to employ some combination of ritual, drugs and psychological techniques to convince people, even adolescent males, to kill and injure each other in such systematic yet indiscriminate ways.

khan filling the gaps law


from nika fb share:

I am so sorry that David didn’t write his book about War.

I so want to read it!

Understanding that war is a very specific human practice such as torture, execution, human sacrifice and cannibalism. From time to time for some reason people engage in it.

Sometimes (for many hundreds of years) civilizations don’t practice mass murder, torture and human sacrifice.

But from a practical point of view, all means are good for only one action — to immediately stop everything by any means.

– torture,

– punishments,

– human sacrifice

– cannibalism

All other strategic, ideological and any other abstractions seem to me a criminal distraction from the main question: how to stop?

We’ll deal with the rest later.

I remember my friend, a German journalist who worked in Syria, saying at the very beginning of the war:

“well, that’s it. Now that’s for a very long time”

Around the same time I saw a video story where some rebel (I don’t remember which side) proudly stated that he cut off his enemy’s breast, took out his heart and ate him.

(it seems he did it in front of the camera, but it was not shown in the plot).

Something happens to people during war. The stuff that is actually incredible.

This is exactly what needs to be stopped immediately.

Any continuation leads to growing mass obstruction.

this is huge to khan filling the gaps law

possible because (we are all) missing pieces


from his anarchy in manner of speaking:


DG: There’s a military theorist called Martin Van Creveld who made the same point as Scarry, that Clausewitz’s position—that the reason why war is a contest specifically of violence is because a contest of violence is the only one that carries within itself the means of its own enforcement—can’t really be true.

Creveld makes the trenchant point that if you look at history, war is anything but an unlimited contest of power; there are always rules. Often very elaborate and intricate ones. There are rules about who is a combatant and who isn’t, what you can and can’t do with prisoners, messengers, medics, what kinds of weapons and tactics are permissible and what aren’t. Even Hitler and Stalin, for instance, agreed never to use poison gas against each other’s troops. Part of this is just an extension of the principle of discipline—an army that fights without rules is just a rampaging mob, and when a rampaging mob meets a real army, they always lose. But even more there have to rules because otherwise you don’t know who won. Often these rules are very specific: in ancient Greece the battle wasn’t over until one side has to ask the other for their dead; in medieval Europe apparently, an army had to stay on the field for three days after the battle so the other side could come back and try again. So the victor was in no sense simply determined by de facto preponderance of force. In fact the only people who systematically broke the rules—Attila the Hun, or Hernán Cortés—tended to be remembered as monsters for centuries after for that very reason.

At the time I read Van Creveld I was involved in the alter-globalization movement and taking part in lots of large-scale direct actions, in Quebec City, Genoa, Washington, New York … It made sense: what I’d been seeing on the streets in many cases exactly resembled ancient warfare, with feints, charges, flanking maneuvers, even helmets and shields. It was just that the rules of engagement were far more limiting. And it suddenly occurred to me, wait a minute, cops break almost all those rules all the time. If you try to negotiate with them, half the time they arrest the go-between. They attack medics all the time. If you declare a “green zone,” where no one will do anything illegal, so as to make a safe space for old people or children, the cops will almost invariably teargas or attack it. They act like totally dishonorable opponents.

It’s not just that all cops are bastards though. There’s a logic. After all, if police were to treat you honorably, that would be recognizing you as an equal party to a conflict. But they represent the state. They’re not going to recognize you as the equivalent to the state. That would be recognizing a legitimate dual power situation. That’s the last thing cops are going to do. But they can’t just kill you, either—especially if you’re white.


So the solution: systematically break all the other rules.

One corollary of this is that all the most brutal, the most truly vicious wars that have been fought in recent memory are ones which aren’t wars at all in the eye of those commanding the largest forces, but police actions. Like Vietnam, or Algeria, or Angola, Syria, Iraq. Not only are they called “police actions,” they actually do follow the logic of police, which is to fight a permanent war—the “war on crime”—between the state and an intrinsically dishonorable enemy, one that can never be fully defeated. In part it can’t because the “war on crime” itself is a transposition of the underlying war that constitutes the nation to begin with, the permanent war between sovereign and people, which I would argue is prior even to Schmitt’s friend/enemy distinction. One could even say the cosmic war that marks the imagination of free societies is brought down to earth. In a way the modern nation-state is just a truce, a “social peace” established between two warring parties, sovereign and people. It’s transposed onto a “war on crime,” and then of course the “war on drugs” (the first to go international) and “war on terror.” All of them are permanent wars against an inherently dishonorable opponent that cannot, however, be defeated. Because it’s not like crime, or drugs, or terror, are going to surrender and cease hostilities

war.. david on war.. nika on war.. et al