doe – david w astra
I first got to know @davidgraeber in New York where he was truly home. nothing gives me more pleasure than launching #TheDawnOfEverything there Nov 10 w. @astradisastra @StephanieKelton + Silvia Federici
Spread the word, join us in person/remote @fsgbooks
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/davidwengrow/status/1452248757530210310
#TheDawnofEverything proposes a radical revision to the history of humanity.
You can still tune in virtually for tomorrow’s talk about @davidwengrow & the late David Graeber’s new book. With @astradisastra. Co-presented w/ @greenlightbklyn & @nplusonemag.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/BPL_Presents/status/1458154948265447429
nevermind.. i guess i misunderstood how to get the zoom link.. maybe they’ll have a video recording.. (got in 25 min after it started – shoot.. just as david finished talking.. his last line – 181 on zoom)
d: we can no longer ask great questions..
d: we actually set out to write a thin pamphlet just to put out a few facts … ie: h g not in small bands.. et al.. and make contribution on lit of soc ineq.. then.. the question .. the whole way of framing human history.. when did ineq start.. assumes there was something else.. set us off on whole other direction.. what are the origins of the question of ineq.. and realized.. combo of anthro and archeo not being done.. so.. quite right.. didn’t mean for that (book) to happen.. david just posed the question to me.. any city based on egalitarian ness.. i said yeah.. but no one called them cities.. david: why haven’t i heard about that (which he often said).. i said.. nobody knows what to call them.. ie: overgrown village… megasites.. stuff like that.. i said.. you’re right.. why don’t we call them cities.. cyclical that cities have to be hierarchical et al
a: the question of scale.. and that small is simple..egal.. large is complex.. hierarchical.. another myth that things spring from head of philosophers
d: yeah.. why did people ask that question in the first place.. what is the origin of ineq among mankind and it is a natural state.. it occurred to us (d&d) what an unusual thing to ask.. why would anyone assume anything was ever diff? at the time everything was ranked.. like many enlightenment thinkers.. if read what they wrote about enlightenment values.. they tell you they’re getting these ideas from the americas (freedom et al).. but modern historians are completely dismissive of this idea that they (indigenous amer) could have been an influence.. suggests that some of these accounts which are framed as dialogues.. get these really pointed critiques of european behavior.. widely read by women refer to sexual freedom et al.. prevailing opinion is that the indigenous writer is a fabrication.. that might get people locked up.. actually george sauer has pointed out for many yrs that these storeis are consistent but can even id some of the individuals involved in these encounters.. it’s thru re evaluating those sources (in the book) that we get the diff angle..
a: asking silvia when making film what is democracy
silvia: william brandon book on new worlds for old takes up this same theme of book.. world where people didn’t know about ie: private property.. brandon came to conclusion that notion of freedom via enlightenment .. was taken in content from indigenous from n amer.. in greece always meant liberation from tyrant.. never meant self govt.. so the book upsets the whole idea that the world is children that had to be developed
d: also how freedom developed into equality.. europeans had this strange way of turning property into power over people.. which seemed to be a change in way people (got along) but in the mistranslations of these perspectives into enlightenment.. freedom becomes equality
s: on parent authority .. and beating up children to teach them.. one of political point is to say.. fighting this idea of the fall from an idealic state of happiness/innocence is to basically undermine the pessimism about the present/future
d: we get in all kinds of trouble w our colleagues over this.. don’t know why it’s so important to them to see egalitarianism at one time
stephanie (battling econ myths to this day): i kind of want to explore w david more the push back in professionalism when you color too far outside the lines.. w my book as an economist.. i’m kicking in some very core ideas about the nature of money.. david writes about this in debt.. we economists like to tell stories.. and they often begin w a myth.. this idealic time man was busy making clay pots and fishing.. and would barter.. exchange in our dna.. programmed to engage in productive activity.. and we did all this w/o money.. and it’s only over time humans decide this is dumb.. must be a better way to do exchange.. so the famous double coincidence of wants.. and then it’s this evolution.. to off and running to whole host of myths as to where money comes from.. state in back ground (lurking to put a stamp on).. individual in the back ground.. but in fact it’s the other way around.. state comes in first.. and once talk about private property and state.. already in bad vibes w colleages
stephanie: so on talking about money.. paul krugman at mit.. ‘didn’t they tell you .. don’t touch the money question if you want to become an economist of stature.. don’t talk about money’.. then here’s david w debt.. there are things people don’t want to be known.. things about money we’re not to confess in large circles.. ie: that money is not scarce.. we can’t have things because not affordable.. et al
d: interesting.. makes me think about every major discipline has its sacred cow.. for political.. i think it’s the state.. and really.. it all has to be questioned.. one of our biggest critiques.. ‘how end up w planet covered w nation states’.. strange question.. we know that.. ie: genocide, et al.. why would you want to tell the story it all created in ancient egypt
a: as opposed to the barrel of a bun
d: yeah.. as scientist.. supposed to take the simplest explanation..
a: on idea of linear evolution
d: when i mentioned before that these critiques of european society were popular.. that’s an understatement in early 18th cent.. almost every thinker came up a variant on (?) text.. many accounts that this man was intelligent great speaker.. people changed id of so called savage.. then david referred to as madame givonchi.. who wrote letters.. puts these in mouth of princess.. way it originates is interesting.. he sends her his draft.. ‘maybe we could live in large societies w/o homelessness.. et al’.. they say this is wonderful.. but do you not feel this is a bit dangerous.. ie: should probably keep money et al.. she ignores it and keeps it the way she likes.. he gets revenge.. and publishes reason they have these egal societies i snot because superior but inferior to us in terms of tech.. so.. where we got.. yes egal if primitive.. he relegates this indigenous critique to bottom rung of ladder.. so that we can’t take it serious anymore.. so whole scheme reverts to
a: man splaining
d: yeah that too..
a: there’s a way in which the private/public sphere.. a lot of tricky things happen.. the slippage
d: this is really crucial.. once you’ve done away w the big myths.. of what caused ineq (not farming, not big cities).. left with the most insidious form of soci ineq take root on small scale.. family, gender, generations.. and when those become entrenched and scaled up.. ie: modeled on patriarchal households.. question becomes.. how/when did this happen.. even posing question if there are alts gets you in hot water rather quickly.. t
d: on someone (women) arguing early egal societies were not patriarchal.. not matriarchal.. but women not suppressed by men et al.. as far as one can tell.. and if look.. see men/women had comparable standards of living.. nothing to suggest men were dominant.. not sure attack on this was so virulent.. but the book is to just open up the question again
silvia: you say begins on small scale.. but every i’ve looked at.. this is the question that is still open.. what creates unless you assume.. ie: men as hunters..e t al
d: easy to then slip back into a kind of linear story where these things appear irreversible.. but way history of societies tend to be written.. you wouldn’t know about it.. ie: periods where women have run of country.. but name for this period of history is the third intermediate period which is like a sign saying.. nothing happening here.. and there’s lots of that
d: one of d’s fav was in crete.. showing a lot of imagery showing women in positions of authority.. d would point out.. yes.. no ie’s in ethnography.. but also no ie’s of men in authority w women in pics showing authority
a: so what you’re doing is saying.. we need to ask these questions.. it makes me think sylvia a slogan from you.. democracy runs in home/society
silvia: i think the question is more.. is .. under what condition
d: doesn’t this come back to notion of freedom.. we came up w 3.. we realize we needed to condense ideas into forms that are memorable.. fancy way to say buzz words..
d: the way people talk about freedoms today is much like used to be.. in isolates.. ie: i’m not going to wear a mask.. for social freedoms that do imply care for others.. we found 3: 1\ move away/escape in knowledge you will be received at destination .. somebody comes to you even if you’ve done something abominable.. they take you in .. 2\ freedom to disobey arbitrary authority.. knowing you won’t be ostracized.. 3\ freedom to say no.. we don’t like relations we’re in.. let’s try something else
d: so think about patriarchy where you are trapped and movement isn’t an option.. i’ll read from book that touches on this
d: (reading): one of david’s fav bits.. from conclusion: ‘if particular story we should be telling/asking.. how did we find ourselves stuck in just one form of social reality.. and how did relations based on violence become normalized in it.. closest to it.. steiner.. polymath.. et al.. legend has it he completed 800 pgs on slavery only to have briefcase w notes stolen on train.. very unlucky man.. shorter version of his work.. pre-servile institutions.. a study of what happens in diff cultural/historical situations to people who become unmoored.. runaways/refugees.. first welcomed.. treated as sacred beings.. then become degraded.. so collapse of first basic freedom.. and how this paved way for loss of 2nd .. freedom to disobey.. what happened steiner asked .. when expectations that make freedom possible.. where ie: shelter et al.. erode.. (skipping to end).. others made points.. slave/women as servile.. to now et al..
In his doctoral work on Servile Institutions, he analysed the concept of slavery in similar terms,
to nika dubrovsky‘s tweet thread a few days ago:
One of the characters of Dawn of everything. David admired him and how accurately he described the transition from care to oppression.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/nikadubrovsky/status/1457135990787686405
Beginning with, powers welcomed widows and orphans, refugees and the homeless, housed them, usually in the temple or the royal palace and nourished them. But when times of hardship came, such as war, they were put to work. 2/
This is how workhouses came into being. And if slaves were suddenly captured during the war, they were also sent to workhouses. Refugees and the weak in general are usually loved and protected at first, but then the power dynamics change everything. 3/
As we all know: war and violence are never good solutions.
back to notes on talk..
a: d’s big theme.. doesn’t ahve to be this way.. so my question.. to all .. how did we get stuck and how to unstick us
stephanie: on right to job, healthcare, living wage, .. can we get to a place like that.. or is this unstuck ness.. that we could meet the material needs.. why are we stuck.. m thatchers (and fdr): ‘there is no alt’.. there is no money.. et al.. we have to pony up.. will we get there.. no .. because the price tag is just out of reach.. we can’t allow ourselves to imagine doing this any other way than to match the new spending w old revenue
a: central theme of book.. people have been creative.. they don’t just rebel they think.. so sylvia what are the prospects of getting unstuck
silvia: i find myself silenced on this issue.. lot of progress taking place.. i’m impressed by struggles/fights against destruction of capitalist society.. i don’t know if we’re going to get unstuck. you have to assume and continue to struggle.. no magic formula.. on a lot of work on local change.. not because that is the solution itself.. we need a major transformation.. but that builds the power to confront the state.. so how do you build this trend to continue and not give up.. so a lot of work going into building the social fabric
d: made me think of one of reviews of our book.. ie: if imagine a society that took this.. a more evidence based account.. as official origin story taught in schools et al.. reviewer pointed out that would have to be a very diff society than what we live in.. i think ed is a major contribution.. i think book gives us on meta narratives.. stories we tell ourselves and what if we stop telling those stories.. it think that’s where our contribution to our story goes
a: on defining ourselves against system we are in
d: there are societies set on hierarchy and then reversed it.. changed to everyone living in very nice luxury buildings.. not like our central housing.. this existed.. lasted for many centuries.. and it’s just one ie of a society of considerable scale changing course.. (today) people thinking along these lines.. tech is there (to decentralize) .. what is in the way is the thinking/mindset.. you have the ney sayers.. ‘that’s impossible’ .. et al
a: any closing thoughts david
d: one of very few things d & i disagreed on .. 3 forms of domination.. i wanted beyonce.. but david was kardashian.. that’s about as bad as our arguments got.. he tended to win.. so he used the ie that kim kardashian has a diamond ring.. why does she have it 1\ security that protects here.. domination thru force .. imagine a world that makes you physically vulnerable.. can kim still keep her ring? yes.. she could hide it et al.. leads to 2\ control of knowledge.. now another potion.. no one can keep secrets.. can she still keep her ring .. yes.. by virtue of being who she is leads to 3\ charisma/politics/elections.. fighting out while we spectate until we decide the winner.. democracy you know.. you can triangulate between the 3 forms of domination.. comes together in the modern state.. nothing in history/evolution that makes this natural or inevitable.. something that’s happened in last 50-100 odd years.. where all 3 are there (in state). so .. now .. things that seem inevitable seem more questionable.. comes down to ineq being rooted in small scale.. domination w/in personal relationships
a: on domination in econ.. don’t have right to have these opinions
stephanie: you know what i mean econ’s talk in prose in math .. et al
lit & num as colonialism et al
a: we can get over this.. a new era of social housing.. that’s what we need..
ie: a nother way