dawn of everything (book)

(2021) dawn of everything by david graeber and david wengrow


notes/quotes (actually reading the hardcopy):


‘my brain feels bruised with numb surprise’ dg.. t


‘rain riding suddenly out of the air, battering the bare walls of the sun.. rain.. rain on dry ground’ dw.. t

1 – farewell to humanity’s childhood – or why this is not a book about the origins of ineq

small good, agri bad, .. we have no idea..t

david on science of people.. black science of people/whales law


the only laws are those we make up ourselves.. t

graeber make it diff law


foundational (hobbesian assumption).. people bad.. need to be controlled

people telling other people what to do ness


debating ineq allows one to tinker w the numbers, argue about gini coeff’s and thresholds of dysfunction, readjust tax regimes or social welfare mechs, even shock the public w figures showing just how bad things have become.. but w/o addressing factors people actually object to .. we are supposed to believe the inevitable effect of ineq.. and ineq the inevitable result of living in any large/complex/urban tech sophisticated society.. t

[so weird.. normally i’d be done with the book by now.. but it’s like i don’t want to read it because i don’t want to be done reading it.. reading like a page a day.. crazy ness]


what ultimately matters i s whether we can rediscover the freedoms that make us human in the first place..t

graeber and wengrow freedom law (3) .. maté basic needs (2)

huge.. let’s do that.. let’s focus on that.. let’s org around that..

that was my/our deep dive


what if we treat people, form the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such..t

yeah that.. but has to be all of us or the dance won’t dance and we’ll just keep perpetuating sea world (aka:tragedy of the non common)

so.. we need a means to org/facil that chaos


it’s *hard to argue w the numbers, but as any statistician will tell you.. stats (after pinker tales/graphs section et al) are only as good as the premises on which they are bases.. has ‘western civ’ really made life better for everyone? this ultimately comes down to the question of **how to measure human happiness.. which is a notoriously difficult thing to do.. ***only dependable way.. give them a choice, then watch what they actually do..

*this is fitting w whole takes a lot of work thinking.. ie: hard for whales in sea world to argue w numbers.. but legit free people wouldn’t even spend energy arguing.. to them any form of m\a\p would be irrelevant s

**rather.. why don’t we stop measuring things.. (graeber violence/quantification law et al)

***but we’ve not given a legit choice of freedom.. so still non legit data.. hari rat park law et al.. we


colonial history of n/s america is full of accounts of settlers, captured or adopted by indigenous societies, being five the choice of where they wished to stay and almost invariably choosing to stay w the latter.. this even applied to abducted children.. choosing adopted kind for protection over bio parents

again.. yeah.. good reaffirmation of indigenous societies being closer to legit free people.. but we haven’t yet give people (all of us) the option of a true ie: rat park.. meaning.. a space 8b souls already crave.. so.. we’re still perpetuating tragedy of the non common

this is why we have not yet gotten to global equity (everyone getting a go everyday)


all such authors are really saying is that they themselves cannot personally imagine any other way that precious objects might move about.. t

or imagine a world where that whole idea (objects being moved about) might be irrelevant

would legit free people even trade things? or ie: just leave things.. trading assumes ownership.. leaving assumes interconnectedness


the course of human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume..t

graeber unpredictability/surprise law et al

this book is also something else (besides trying to lay down foundations for a anew world history): a quest to discover the right questions.. for about a decade now..we.. that is the two authors of this book.. have been engaged in a prolonged convo w each other about exactly these questions..(what should be biggest question we should be asking about history.. how do we characterize what has been lost.. is it really lost.. what does it imply about possibilities for social change today..

same time frame for me.. but prolonged convo about what legit free people are like .. what they need to be set/stay free.. and how 8b people can get there

deep dive


our findings:

1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people


2 – wicked liberty – the indigenous critique and the myth of progress


on rousseau and essay contest.. ‘what is origin of ineq’


on – remarkably arrogant assumptions.. ie: intellectual history being said to be from individuals writing great books and thinking great thoughts.. exclusively w reference to each other.. powerful and monolithic body of ideas that no one else could possibly have any meaningful influence on it.. but (doe) showing it was more european intellectuals being exposed to civs of china and india but to whole plethora of previously unimagined social, scientific, and political ideas.. aka the enlightenment


on the indigenous critique.. revealing possibilities for human emancipation that, once disclosed, could hardly be ignored..

that’s how i felt from findings.. couldn’t unsee

ideas expressed in that critique came to be perceived as such a menace to the fabric of european society that an entire body of theory was called into being, specifically to refute them..

yeah.. that’s how i felt with ed system in particular.. i was a menace to their sinclair perpetuation law.. so i was gotten rid of


theory – that freedoms are lost when societies grow bigger and more complex.. was invented largely for purpose of neutralizing the threat of the indigenous critique..

hierarchy from beginning (adam outranked eve).. ‘equality’ and ‘ineq’ only from early 17th cent


on questions what rights people ‘naturally’ have.. simply by being human

rights is a killer.. wrong focus.. energy suck.. messes with the dance

hobbes, locke could skip past biblical narratives everyone used to start with and begin instead with: what might humans have been like in a state of nature, when all they had was their humanity.. they concluded that original state was that of freedom and equality

i agree.. but only for a split second.. i believe we have that potential.. for that rat park ness (more on garden-enough page)


on state of nature ness allowing political philosophers after 17th cent to imagine people w/o the trappings of civ as something other than degenerate savages as a kind of humanity ‘in the raw’ and this in turn allowed them to ask a host of new question about what it means to be human.. what if no govt… would have marriage? would be gregarious?.. would have religion?.. et al..

but not really.. we haven not yet looked/listened that deep.. all our thinking/philosophizing has had a whalespeak embed.. so.. we have no idea.. even of what questions would be relevant or not


none of it, however, explains why they came almost universally to assume that human beings, innocent of civilization, would ever exist in such a state

explanation: we’ve not yet been/existed outside of sea world


what seemed to irritate biard the most was that the mi’kmaq would constantly assert that they were, as a result ‘richer’ than the french.. the french had more material possessions, the mi’kmaq conceded: but they had other, greater assets: ease, comfort and time..

nika & david wealth p3 and graeber stop at enough law


left off taking notes from book p 39

add: 61 – indigenous critique