gillis on debt

william gillis‘ – Debt: The Possibilities Ignored – (2014) – via kindle form from anarchist library []

debt (book) et al

notes/quotes from 15 pages:


Which brings us to a particularly irksome current in Debt. If the book’s systemic failure is not recognizing the breadth of the possible, Graeber’s weakest and at times most embarrassing arguments by far stem from his assertion that a critical distinction between good obligations and bad ones is whether or not anyone’s gotten rigorous or considered about it. In his worst moments he blames mathematics, and indeed elevates it as a *comparable evil as you know, loan sharks bludgeoning people to death:

Debt is just a perversion of a promise. It is a promise corrupted by both math and violence.

if we’re doing math.. if we *compare.. same song man.. perhaps worse.. because it’s so hidden/pervasive..

wasn’t going to add page till this.. showing gillis reacting to graebers stance on math.. gillis being (seen in last article.. beyond hellish) on defense as a good ‘physicist’

*Of course what’s actually happening is not an issue with mathematics or even arithmetic and quantification, it’s an issue with violently imposed universal simplifications of richly complicated or localized dynamics. The problem is the state and the legalistic impulse that underpins it here, not the **innate tendency of human minds to geek out and analyze shit in pursuit of precision and efficiency. Mathematical analysis unto itself in no way implies oversimplification or misrepresentation. And while there are often limits to what we can know and calculate in a given context, especially when dealing with other minds, such limitations are themselves mathematical dynamics. There is just as much to be gained from augmenting our interactions with awareness of these limitations as there is from using mathematical modeling directly when and where it can clarify dynamics and expand our agency.

*oi.. any form of m\a\p is a cancerous distraction (energy suck et al)

rather **whales.. we have not idea what legit free people are like.. am guessing no need to compel self to efficiency

of math and men et al.. graeber violence/quantification law et al..

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

Distinctions between what can and can’t be quantified substantively in different dynamics and contexts have long been core to modern libertarian analysis, both in the pragmatically mathematical Hayekian sense and the more analytic Praxeological sense.

*Yet it should be obvious that such situations are not a product of quantification! The impulse seen in the use of coinage to dismiss rich context or make declarations about the objective comparative value of incredibly complex and situational things like favors is clearly sloppy at best and dangerous as hell at worst. But that’s completely different from using a measuring cup when loaning your neighbor rice (or gold) so there’s no lingering misperceptions, disagreements or wasteful default biases. Artificially simplifying universal norms are only sustainable when there’s coercion backing them on some level. **The issue is whether debts are enforced through the violent suppression of contextual awareness or the voluntary maximization of it through reputation, trust networks, and risk conveyance. By the time there are kings, chiefs, governments, oligarchs, or central committees remotely capable of revoking debt, things have obviously gone too far and the whole system can be assumed rotten. But the imposition of universal simplifications certainly doesn’t satiate anyone’s drive for precision and informed agency save the rulers, indeed it acts to suppress precision and complex analytic depth at play in our relationships and calculations with regard to one another. ***The sort of debts Graeber conveys are not, as he puts it, the collaboration of violence and math but rather the suppression of math by violence.

*oi.. 10-day-care-center\ness et al.. any form of m\a\p

**both same song.. oi.. 2nd is just a milder (or worse) form of structural violence.. via voluntary compliance et al

***oh my.. of math and men.. oh my


You may ask why I dwell so strongly on this theme within Debt. The misuse of something as richly descriptive and human as mathematics to refer to arithmetic and artificially simple quantification is irritating to be sure, yet I feel this framing belies something deeper than mischosen words. Graeber makes quite a lot to turn on the distinction between quantified and unquantified interactions but in his writing he rarely stays content with such, expanding this theme to decry the “impersonalism” of mathematics and reason. Now one might say math and reason are defined by their search for global symmetries in a world of messy particulars, something that can momentarily disregard those particulars, but in application math and reason have infinitely rich descriptive capacity. I can’t help but smell an anti-intellectual current in Graeber’s language that’s sadly all too common among the left wherein intelligence or analytic rigor is implicitly conceded as inherently sociopathic at high values. Where measuring, modeling or keeping accounts of things inherently implies hostile or untoward intent. In this inversion of any sane or coherent ethics vigilance itself becomes suspect. We cannot afford to examine, measure or analyse our social or interpersonal dynamics too closely because that way lies sociopathy! I’m well aware that through centuries of misappropriation math and reason now strike many as the devil’s sign. But I shudder to think of what it must be like to live in such a world, that openly swallows the premise of our enemies that humane relations are only possible through ignorance and then reacts by embracing ignorance!

oh my.. not grokking the non binary ness of math (and of which he speaks)

Of course I doubt that Graeber is so quite explicit with himself–and we are all sometimes subject to cognitive dissonances–but Debt contains so many arguments or implications from association (even just loose etymology) it risks Glenn Beck territory at points. And, as such, it poses dangers within the wider left and radical discourse. While the scattershot explorations can be enjoyably bracing, it’s embarrassing to see the most powerful and popular anarchist work of this century get mired in weak arguments. Leaping from historical association to causation is the same shit pulled by primitivists to critique refrigerators. Indeed many of Graeber’s fans would be shocked to stop and actually dwell on lines like this:

not only do existing technologies necessarily mean a society based on alienation and oppression, which is hard to deny, since existing technologies have been developed in that context

I mean that is just some pretty extreme faulty reasoning.

For example the more significant dynamic contemporaneous with the advent of large scale states and widely accepted currency is *not quantification but writing. Let us remember that bureaucratic account keeping and laws imposing universal prices are direct result of the technology to save memories to papyrus or stone and convey them.

*no.. actually both.. again.. literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things


Yet aside from John Zerzan and the occasional wingnut no anarchists reject writing as inherently implying “a society based in alienation and oppression”. We correctly realize that despite its sharp and profound dangers in certain contexts, writing’s even sharper positive potential outweighs them. …Just as the danger from Einstein’s insights making possible nuclear bombs is profound, but the value to better understanding the world around us is even greater still.


In exactly the same sense markets and dastardly evil of measuring cups can be extraordinarily useful.

perhaps.. but perhaps not.. ie: best cooks go by feel/taste.. et al.. measuring creates cookie cutter (myth of norm) recipes

While priorities vary wildly between each person and over time, *human beings have always sought precision in their crafts and interpersonal communications. Even **determining what one’s priorities or preferences are in a situation is a calculation, often requiring extensive consideration and measurement. Freed from the oppressive tensions of capitalism we would surely prefer to turn such focus on say crafting baskets or writing poems rather than neurotically calculating and re-calculating the week’s remaining expenses or the quickest trip across town, but even in a world where our everyday stopped being a hustle to merely survive there would still be necessary calculations. The abolition of the artificial scarcities that plague our world does not imply the triumph over scarcity in general. You could no more triumph over entropy. And many of the passions we develop free of survival concerns involve a great deal of complexity and coordination of scarce goods. So long as human beings have dreams and desires in a finite environment there will be coordination and calculation problems to be solved. While the extent of the possible is vast there are limits; you can’t shuffle around loaves and fishes under some cups and magically end up with more loaves and fishes. Sure, much of modern economics is infected with neoliberalism, but there are nevertheless strong mathematical constraints to our interactions with the material universe and each other. Markets provide an array of extraordinarily useful tools for solving these coordination problems; indeed they denote the only phase space where solutions can be found for problems past a certain complexity. Whereas the inherency of subjective knowledge, experience, and desire in our individual brains and the tiny bandwidth of human language place strong limits on communist alternatives, decentralized or not.

rather *whales

**ie of huge red flag.. we assume life is about choices (finite set of choices to be exact – ha).. but perhaps what we need most is to try curiosity over decision making.. otherwise we get spinach or rock ness that (via khan filling the gaps law et al) lead us to myth of tragedy and lord ness..

oi oi oi

While there’s much to critique on many levels to current norms of currency (and the surrounding economic, political, and cultural context), *double-incidence of wants is a real phenomenon with important implications. The value of currency of some form in facilitating the cosmopolitan mass society we so desire clearly outweighs the dangers.

oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi oi

*coincidence of wants et al.. this all irrelevant s if we org around legit needs

Indeed setting our sights slightly further, there’s a very potent point only somewhat obscured by Graeber’s instincts in his own pages, which is that the evidence doesn’t show prohibiting usury makes for positive markets, but rather merely the violent enforcement of usury. “Under genuine free market conditions loans at interest will become effectively impossible to collect,” Graeber writes, but while they would surely be much harder to collect, I highly doubt all instances will disappear because there are occasionally quite valid reasons to ask for and accept it. Instead, defanged of the threat of violence one would expect quantified debts to collapse more directly and organically to the full human relations and contexts that underpin them… including risks and opportunity costs. My British syndicalist friends obsessed with policing the borders of mutualism and individualist anarchism might gasp to hear me suggest it but, in the absence of physical violence or a broadly coercive context like capitalism, voluntary agreements should be free to involve interest in recognition of subjective costs. Because *when reputation is the only enforcement mechanism the state’s mercenary coinage is not positioned as the ultimate good, instead goodwill is. **To remove violent enforcement from the equation puts an immediate release valve on any potentially metastasizing power relations and grounds people directly in their social context. ***The main benefit and promise of mass society is having more degrees of freedom with which to respond to cancerous social forms. If usury or wage labor were to completely overrun a society and catalyze a shift from centrifugal tendencies on wealth to accumulative ones we’d surely consider that society a failure. But interest, like credit, often reflects and models important realities of uncertainty and subjectivity that we’d be likewise insane to always ignore.

oh.. oh my.. falling back on *reputation ness is another huge red flag

**violent enforcement is any form of m\a\p – so not removed.. so grounding is in sea world.. black science of people/whales law

***not a benefit.. rather a broken promise.. a myth.. ie: responding ness is already a cancerous social form (distraction et al)

we have not idea what legit free people are like.. and will never see if we don’t let go of any form of m\a\p

but.. it has to be all of us in sync.. or it won’t work

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

for (blank)’s sake

[to me.. he’s showing lack of complexity in his math thinking.. ie: naming the colour; measuring things/liquids; et al.. deafens/blinds/deadens us.. so frustrating after his gillis on small scale ness]


The problem in all these situations isn’t modeling, but cognitive simplicity and/or the *wrong models. Our tools should not simplify or ignore dynamics but **give us more awareness of, options in, and leverage over them.

*all data to date non legit – like from whales in sea world

**not about options/leverage.. about curiosity over decision making.. about itch-in-the-soul ness..

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature ie: tech as it could be

It is *precisely through not simplifying our desires into a form parsable by CEOs, politicians, and general assemblies, but instead embracing their infinite diversity and potency that we can begin to make traction against the forces that need visibility and human interchangeability to control us. Yet our desires will always map onto material realities in one way or another–**with ordinal preferences–and scarcities of elements, energy, etc. will always exist. Coordinating their allocation with any remote efficiency is not always hyper important, but for ***desires and considerations of any complexity they will be. I hear tell it’s hard to build a good radio telescope without at least rounding up both string and coconuts. Hayekian calculation problems are no trivial concern and as hardbaked into the universe as entropy or cryptography. ****Social forms that don’t prioritize individual agency in the allocation of goods that affect them will lose tons of information. Conversely no matter how complex individuals’ subjective desires, autonomous direct action can maximally convey the relevant underlying information through revealed preference. *****Unless we all retreat to the most tame of land projects and meditation regimes anyone seeking to build a freer society will need to adopt market forms to some degree.

*true that.. and any form of m\a\p does that

**whalespeak.. energy scarcity? oi ordinal preferences? (decision making is unmooring us law et al)

***for that need this: imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness)..

in order to org around legit needs


*****if we adopt any degree of market forms.. will be same song.. same song.. same song

At the same time anarchists should also be the first to point out the dangers in simplifying these motivations. *Problems arise when we lose sight of the roots of our reasons for utilizing markets. One of the most fascinating considerations in Debt is the way popular frameworks of ethics have changed over time as religious, ideological or radical movements got knotted up appealing to the dominant language in their society.

*nah.. perhaps problems perpetuate.. but problems arise when we assume any form of m\a\p

When people start fetishizing the act of exchange as a foundation for ethical analysis–internalizing strategic oughts as full blown motivations unto themselves–danger arises.

rather.. when people assume (don’t let go ot) any form of exchange

Graeber has a complicated and tumultuous affair with the notion of reciprocity throughout Debt‘s pages. On the one hand he wants to point to debt as the source of positive currents in societies, lending weight to his abhorrence for quantification by showing how some use a mesh of debts that are never precisely resolved to build ties of community and brotherhood. On the other hand he wants to reject that in favor of the “Everyday Communism” of community members giving to one another (whether salt or accurate directions) without a second thought. Where accounting is never undertaken and human relations are artificially assumed to be permanent:

the understanding that, unless people consider themselves enemies, if the need is considered great enough, or the cost considered reasonable enough, the principle of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” will be assumed to apply.

thurman interconnectedness law (why we need this 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature)


I sympathize strongly with the impulse here, but not the terms of the solution Graeber presents. In trying to seize the pragmatic high ground by abandoning foundational conceptual considerations and speaking instead in terms of groupable existing cultural practices, Graeber inherently blocks himself from anything more robust or potent than the most mundane casual kindness.

*“From each according to their abilities to each according to their needs” is nice as a very abstract guiding light but when applied to any non-trivial particulars it rapidly falls apart. **Human needs are simply unfathomably complex. Aside from some base considerations like food, water and shelter that could be easily universally assured by merely toppling the state and capitalism, the vast majority of our needs or desires are in no sense objective or satisfyingly conveyable. Measuring exactly whose desire is greater or more of a “necessity” is not just an impossibility but an impulse that trends totalitarian. ***The closest we can get in ascertaining this in rough terms is through the decentralized expression of our priorities via one-on-one discussions and negotiations. The market in other words. Communism through praxis rather than the attempted omniscience of committees and general assemblies. But a communism in which individuals must proactively stand up for themselves and give voice to the desires and complexities that only they have access to. A communism in which whenever our knowledge of another person’s needs and preferences grows hazy we solve the calculation through a conversation of comparisons with our own. A communism in which we are constantly looking for opportunities to ****build trust (through tests like exchange and loans) outside our immediate circles so that our conversations can spread wealth faster and dynamics of distrust can be countered.

*rapidly falls apart in sea world.. part of myth of tragedy and lord ness

**whalespeak.. ie: maté basic needs.. and everything else takes care of itself

***oi oi oi .. not true

ie: imagine if welistened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness)

****you don’t/can’t build trust.. if think have to build it.. not trust.. just judge\ment

(Don’t be distracted by the fact that sociopathic wars of all against all can likewise take place in a decentralized one-on-one fashion of hostile discussions and negotiations. In a different environment with different cultural instincts and different, more advanced social organisms, intentions that slide towards the sociopathic can be recognized and organized against before such contagion gains the strength to seriously self-compound.)

In contrast to the communist potential of the market Graeber’s notion of Everyday Communism in which *“no accounts are taken” is capable of sliding by in only a tiny region of possible circumstances. I don’t know about you but a **communism that’s only maintainable through our ignorance of details sounds awfully unsatisfying, and certainly unstable. Granted, we all instinctively relax a bit at the prospect of any relief from the constant stressful calculations we’re forced to preform under capitalism, where precarity disrupts our thoughts with a blaring hyper-awareness of every last penny, every last contact, every last risk. But that trauma shouldn’t lead to ***overreaction in blind pursuit of carthesis. The problem is not that accounts are taken, that relationships are mapped, or trust flows established more rigorously, but that we are forced to pay constant attention to a small and crude subsection of these. That our other desires and preoccupations–some involving extraordinary attention to detail–are suppressed. ****The problem is not the availability of tools and knowledge, but the infrastructure that denies us a choice in them. *****Keeping accounts of all the details of our interactions with extraordinary degrees of precision, or merely being able to, do not equate always paying attention to those details. ******As active minds with desires we will always geek out and stress out about things, and the coordination of goods will always remain one. Similarly Graeber’s exhalation to delude ourselves into assuming infinite persistence (in relationships, in societies, etc) is obviously incredibly dangerous and conducive to oppressive situations. *******Moralizing in favor of ignorance is a dumb strategy for communism and certainly not pragmatic. The dynamics at play in trivial situations like passing the salt to one another and not giving people false directions, while positive, are not scalable blueprints for a better world.

*i would say.. graeber doesn’t take/believe this far/deep enough.. has to be sans any form of m\a\p (and none of us have been able to let go that much yet.. to see)

**oi.. again.. we have no idea the potential if we let go of calling things ignorant.. ie: not yet scrambled ness and intellect ness.. oi

***(to me) this is over reaction in blind pursuit (sinclair perpetuation law et al).. the problem is that we assume accounts have to be taken.. that legit free people would give a hoot about them.. the problem is.. we need to let go of any form of m\a\p.. and that scares us too much to try.. yet.. what’s more ridiculous.. oi

****the problem (perpetuation) is that we should use our tools to help us choose things.. rather than to listen to itch-in-the-soul ness

*****rather.. the negate/corrupt listening deep enough

******this is whalespeak – we have no idea what legit free people are like.. myth of normal et al

*******great ie’s of how we perpetuate myth of tragedy and lord.. by calling anything legit diff ‘ignorant’ et al


I want to be absolutely clear here. By rejecting Graeber’s “everyday communism” I am not advocating the secondary moral framework he implicitly sets up as competitor or fallback. There are deep issues with ethics built on notions of exchange. *Indeed my greatest critique of “everyday communism” is that it doesn’t go far enough in rejecting the ethic of reciprocity. The internalization of the useful strategy of exchange or tit-for-tat into a core motivating obligation is a cognitive error with nasty consequences. In short reciprocity would be recognized and denounced by millennialist rebels throughout history as a respecter of persons; it differentiates the world according to who has done what for us personally rather than who could best benefit. **This is fine for many strategic considerations but awful as a motivational framework. Empathy and compassion are not strategic, they are prior to strategy. They’re what set the goals. The oughts of ethical motivations arise when our identity, our selfhood becomes blurred across time and space. To future versions of one’s “self” who’d be irritated if today one didn’t take out the trash, but also to other fountainheads of creativity and inquiry embedded in different contexts, different bodies. It’s not that we in some sense owe them, it’s that we in some sense are them. Albeit subjectively closed from their full context. Such oughts are not external obstacles or dynamics but direct expressions of our selfhood. Our communist motivations precede the realm of strategies and market exchanges, and will on occasion overwrite the heuristics we adopt in those contexts. As in the case of “intellectual property” where there’s no reason to persist in strategies adopted to deal with actual scarcities.

*(to me) you are not going far enough.. ie: any form of m\a\p is not far enough

have to go further than just getting rid of (and/or just assuming we’re getting rid of) a few red flags: tit for tat ness; obligation ness; reciprocity ness; ..

**ie of not going far enough.. thinking we need strategy.. thinking we need motivation

Graeber is not unaware of the dangers to reciprocity as an idea and he tries to stretch it as far as the concept can go without breaking, but what he conjures as an idealic reciprocity in a broad sense is still not enough:

What is equal on both sides is the knowledge that the other person would do the same for you, not that they necessarily will.

This falls dramatically short of empathy as a foundation for an ethical outlook in two respects, 1) it requires knowledge of the other person’s motivations and 2) it restricts my obligation to merely those who share the same ethos as me. Now I’m not saying that those aren’t strategically important considerations. But most of us would fight to save people from genocide regardless of whether our ethnic or social circles overlapped enough for us to know a damn thing about their motivations. And we’d fight to save them if even we knew they wouldn’t do the same for us.

the deeper point is that all of us would if legit free.. devijver assume good law.. pearson unconditional law.. et al..

Indeed, as anarchists putting our lives on the line to fight oppressions that the vast majority of the world silently tolerates or endorses, this is no rarefied academic issue. It’s one that anarchists have grappled with for as long as there have been anarchists. Tensions between egoist theory and altruistic consequentialist practice rivet every single nook and cranny of our movement’s history. Yet as bad as this supposed dissonance has been, many of the grand solutions we’ve flirted with have been even worse. If Kropotkin’s attempt to play realist by embracing mutual aid as “human nature” condemned the anarchist movement to a century of luddism and the natural fallacy run rampant, Graeber is on the verge of canonizing the present generation’s mistakes in which the anarchist decides to play realist by valorizing anti-intellectualism, social capital, and reciprocity.

true.. if recip.. social capital.. anti anything.. but we do the same with any form of m\a\p

There are major problems lurking here. We are not “national anarchists” content with a retreat to tribes, with smaller states more attentive in their oppression. Rwanda proved that just as decentralization is always more efficient than centralization, decentralized fascism can be more efficient than centralized fascism. Informal power dynamics matter and must be countered. As do material constraints. *A society incapable of complex economic calculation is a society that will leave Einsteins stifling in the fields and the blind without restorative implants.

*oh my.. as if not already all in stifling fields..


It’s not enough to merely identify that there are currents of a better world coursing through our veins. We’ve long known this. *What should preoccupy us is less what has worked in the past, but what else is possible going forward.. t Graeber, like all academics, trapped in the land of liberals and sneering marxist dinosaurs, is loathe to commit or substantively consider beyond the most shallow of prescriptions: Abolish the debt. Well of fucking course. Even Chomsky starts to look radical from that position.

*huge huge huge

need to let go of all history ness.. of all research ness.. of all intellect ness.. all non legit because based data from whales in sea world

hari rat park law et al

Engaging with what is possible–and how to work backward from there to attacks on the existing–requires an analysis deeper than clustered associations from anecdotes. *I would love to see left market anarchists and radicals more broadly seriously take up the challenges raised in Debt.

*wish we could convo

What would currency look like in a freed society? We don’t know, but it’s safe to say it would no more look like the current economy with US treasury notes replaced by silver coins than businesses in the absence of the state would look like Walmart.

oi.. this is great ie of not letting go of past.. of not letting go of assumptions.. currency? oi

There’s been a paucity to our imaginations here too. *And mapping out the possibilities, much less learning through praxis which array best meet our situational needs, is sure to be a huge task. I’ve been studying, writing and having conversations about this since 2003 and so too have many mathematicians, economists and computer scientists (“currency” obviously sitting within a much wider phase space of trust and protocol dynamics). There’s **interesting work being published on the arXiv, in books and monographs by activist economists like Thomas Greco, and amid the deluge of cryptocurrencies. Indeed the popular explosion of cryocurrencies immediately following the publication of Debt is perhaps one of the most interesting examples of convergent historical pressures, and has seen both truly out there proposals as well as studiously primordial experiments like Ripple and Etherium.

*huge red flag: takes a lot of work ness.. not about mapping out possibilities.. that leads to finite set of choices and spinach or rock ness.. and more un mooring ness

**oi man.. let go.. listen to your own words

Amusingly a good many libertarians are still kicking themselves today for disregarding Bitcoin thanks to Austrian orthodoxy pretty much rooted in a cobwebbed few paragraph aside by Mises in Human Action. If only they’d paid attention to the man considered by far to be the most likely creator of Bitcoin, Nick Szabo, who wrote extensively on the history and nature of money as a social relation a decade before Debt. Szabo launched off Dawkin’s summary that “money is a formal token of delayed reciprocal altruism” and expanded it into a more rigorous examination, explicitly laying out many of the motivations for Bitcoin:

oi oi oi

bitcoins ness.. any form of m\a\p.. cancerous distraction via whalespeak


Of course as a vision of an ideal world Bitcoin is problematic in many respects. The environmental cost of the energy consumption is nowhere near as high as has been insinuated but is still arguably unnecessary. The trust model has insufficiently examined weaknesses when it comes to the proliferation of future protocol updates–even just the ratio of core developers to users inherently introduces weaknesses the government has been eager to pressure. And the implicit goal of One Big Currency is just as unreasonable as One Big Union. Any flat global currency will radically fail to match the topologies of trust, reputation, and other diverse human realities it floats on top of – lurking instabilities are inherent. Introducing parallel competing currencies all modeled on the dream of a universal standard hardly solves the problem. *My own inclination is that exchange facilitating human reputation systems will trend towards a rhizomatic federative model with every community, collective or congealing association floating their own “currency” in a sense, built to be dynamically recognfigured, and with routing protocols fluidly negotiating the network topology on the fly for individual transactions while retaining far more directed information regarding lines of trust and repute. And indeed Bitcoin has already set off a vast cornucopia of such developments from things like color coins, side chains, and meta coins, to communities like the Lakota nation and Catalonia launching their own alt coins (Catalonia even working on a scheme to **bake in basic universal income). Of course it’ll be a while before this development process or praxis achieves everything we want. But in the meantime, in the non-prefigurative actually-existing world of violence distorted markets, we’re having a hard time holding onto even the precondition of a decentralized internet. It’s not just an analogy to note that while the anarchist ideal may be a rich ecology of mesh networks, we’re anemic enough that net neutrality is better than DisneyComcast. And in that context Bitcoin and its variations, must be acknowledged as holding immense practical utility when compared to the current regime. The CNT was a clusterfuck but it ***did get some good shit done.

*ugh.. if need info on lines of trust and repute.. same song man..

we need to try something legit diff.. (sans any form of m\a\p).. for (blank)’s sake

**perhaps let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence w/ubi as temp placebo.. where legit needs are met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring

***like what? oi.. mufleh humanity law.. chomsky serious things law.. taleb center of problem law.. et al

*And there are a number of things Bitcoin gets right. Whatever sloppily imposed tale of grand historical cycles Graeber cares to conjure, many of the attributes of specie currency are of **great utility to resistance movements. If we are to make a serious push back through direct action against global power structures we need the same fungible currencies that gave (and give) lifeblood to pirate utopias and enable millions to hustle out survival under the table. .. Bitcoin has merely used mathematics to extend the number of parties to such consensuses while freeing our brains to remember and think about other things. (Interestingly this ease has also facilitated an explosion of ****social gifting which currently constitute the majority of Bitcoin transactions.)

*can only be right for sea world if any form of m\a\p

**resistance/refusal/direct action..any form of democratic admin ness.. all cancerous distractions

***public consensus always oppresses someone(s).. cancerous distraction.. today we have the means for non hierarchical listening



Of course even when it’s possible there can be problems with simply scaling up tools and approaches that work well on the tribal level, just because we can get around Dunbar’s limit on some dynamics doesn’t mean we can for all interrelated dynamics, and to grab onto solutions that have worked before ignoring changes in context is dangerous in the extreme. If a technology–like a currency–can facilitate a liberatory mass society it should be built around enhancing agency and giving folks broader and more fluid choices.

not deep enough math thinking here.. we have no idea.. gillis on small scale.. small is {ginormous} beautiful ness et al..

That said, while a great number of problems can be solved by automating the *grunt work involved in protocol negotiation, routing, map-learning, stock predictions, etc., even the most furturist general AI will still be starkly limited by Hayekian subjectivity. Unless we buy into the capitalist and state communist vision of limited, controllable desires we will still have to at some point, at some level engage. **Even the most advanced tool can’t intuit our needs, or, for example assume a threat or trust model for us. We have to declare our ever changing preferences and contextual considerations, we have to make decisions, we have to actively judge. And it’s here that the issue of what exactly do we want to pay attention to arises. Markets can exist only wherever attention is placed. And some people feel deeply annoyed when huge amounts of attention is placed in areas by others that they don’t want to likewise pay attention to. What should we have markets in? What should we calculate with precision? How can we, in wildly varying situations, mediate between those who for various reasons want to obsess over a dynamic and those who would rather not give a fuck? These are questions often cloaked in combative, reactive rhetoric, but are worth bringing to the fore.

*this is part of why we think energy is scarce.. we keeping sucking all energies via irrelevant s (cancerous irrelevants)

**(to me) this is all bs whalespeak.. oi.. assumptions based on whales in sw

***imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness) – not about precision (unless we’re talking getting to legit itch-in-the-soul ness.. so we can all legit be ourselves).. mediation..

Obviously we shouldn’t just retire human inquiry away at some level of awareness, start some land project and seek no further, but we do occasionally reach plateaus in human computational capacity with diminishing returns. *In the absence of a higher-bandwidth language or telepathy, micromanaging our relationships can become counterproductive. When I was a teen I felt horrified and betrayed to overhear a cluster of anarchafeminists bitterly complaining about their sensitive partners checking in about consent on every little action in bed, but the point is actually valid. Over-resolution in a specific realm when it becomes normative can be constraining to those with other priorities in exploration. That said there is of course, ultimately no such thing as over-resolution in our collective striving for understanding in every arena. **There’s no area or level to which we all should flinch from examination–regardless of whether we decide we want to live at that granularity in our everyday lives with boring old non-transhuman homo sapiens brains.

*ok.. let’s do that.. via a means to undo our hierarchical listening

ie: as it could be

**or perhaps we should quit thinking we have to examin things


*We have many problems to solve, from the feedback loops in social capital that drive informal power relations to means for survivors of secret rapists to find one another and coordinate in an untrustworthy environment. **A wishful longing for ignorance of historical accounts is not a productive or workable ideal. If there’s one thing I hope readers take away from Debt it’s a calling to geek out on particulars and tackle these dynamics. This isn’t unchartered territory, there’s a lot of really great work going on and tools being forged by heroes. The next chapter on debt, in which many of its forms aren’t abolished from on high but dissolved from below, has still yet to be finished.

*taleb center of problem law.. we need to get to the healing (roots of) first..

**oh my.. that’s same song.. that’s holding onto nonlegit data from history ness.. since we can now.. let’s use tech as it could be.. not a new fangled version of same song

So what then to say in conclusion?

I think this summary of Graeber’s is supremely illustrative of the mistakes creeping into his account:

All human interactions are not forms of exchange. Only some are. Exchange encourages a particular way of conceiving human relations. This is because exchange implies equality, but it also implies separation. It’s precisely when the money changes hands, when the debt is cancelled, that equality is restored and both parties can walk away and have nothing further to do with each other.

Yet there are no such thing as unseparated human beings! Every human relationship is deeply predicated upon separation. *Until brain-to-brain technology matures and radically scales up the bandwidth of our potential communication even the closest of lovers face strong limits from the subjectivity inherent to individual existence.. t For some relationships and situations Gift of the Magi style catastrophes are a tolerable bullet to bite, but only ever to a certain degree. And as we shake off the shackles of capitalism and let our desires stretch such confusions and logjams will become even less cute.

*we already have ‘mature’ enough tech for that.. and we’re missing it

lanier beyond words law ness.. we just can’t hear/trust it (which is the deeper problem)

*Further, the notion that “equality is restored” wildly ignores what social currency was about imperfectly declaring: standing and trustworthiness, realities that don’t have to be hierarchical and assessments thereof that don’t have to be collectively managed. When the neighbor returns precisely one cup of rice and maybe a little more as agreed on, that doesn’t have to cancel the relationship, it can enhance it by **proving trustworthiness. I am freeing you to have agency in your association with me, so that our friendship might be richer for the knowledge that we are not bound by material considerations. Only with such knowledge can we be capable of developing real affinities. ***A consensual society should be built off knowing we can reconfigure our social relations at any moment. That their substance lies not in ossified roles or identities but in empathy.

*(to me) this goes with your comment above about ‘can’t separate’ ness.. (to me) has to be all or nothing.. we keep trying part\ial ness.. and that’s killing us.. it’s keeping us not us..

**cancerous distraction.. if have to prove trustworthiness.. not trust

***or perhaps in curiosity over decision making.. itch-in-the-soul..

In an understandable but dangerous rush to paint a clean picture David Graeber ignores a host of other possibilities and paints an all-too-cute historical progression and taxonomy in which all human societies mix different degrees of hierarchical, communistic, and market oriented dynamics. But markets, in his tale, are primarily a confused state of affairs in which any permanence or substance to human relations is dissolved and everything is quantified. *And the unquantified, unexamined, unmapped ignorance of communism is bliss.

I disagree.

**perhaps you disagree because we haven’t (none of us have to date) let go enough to see

Whatever moralistic language may sometimes cling to them, markets themselves are not rooted in cultural confusion but in inescapable material and game theoretic realities. *Currency resolves an important issue in mass societies and while it can have problems they can be solved with more mathematical nuance not less.

*fine.. let’s go with more math nuance.. let’s go infinitesimally deeper.. ie: small is {ginormous} beautiful et al.. gillis on small scale et al


We should be incredibly suspicious of valorizing alternatives like Maussian gift economies that embrace interpersonal power dynamics rather than working to negate them. And Graeber’s *communism-as-a-deliberate-state-of-ignorance hardly serves any better. **If we really care about one another, if we really want to build a freer world from an orientation of empathy and compassion, if we’re really concerned about the crystalization of hierarchies, we owe it to ourselves to be maximally vigilant, to seize every tool at our disposal and remain unpetrified of exploring root dynamics..t

*again.. we use ‘ignorance’ because we don’t grok not yet scrambled ness.. we’ve been raised in and used naming the colour ness so we’re deeply intoxicated.. we need a legit global re\set

**agree.. and need to be brave enough to legit try something diff.. for (blank)’s sake

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature

ie: tech as it could be..

It is the interplay of desire and math that ultimately shapes what is possible, not sweeping historical impressions or awkward taxonomies of cultural dynamics. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is an exhilarating storm of anecdotes and with many insightful themes, but it flounders in many respects when it seeks to draw lessons from history.

The past is no cage for the future.. t

hari rat park law.. we need to try a legit nother way