m of care – aug 4

p 4 of there never was a west by david graeber – [https://museum.care/events/there-never-was-a-west-part-4-by-david-graeber/]

For this fourth edition of our reading group of David Graeber’s text There Never Was a West: Or, Democracy Emerges from the Spaces in Between.’ we continue from p. 355-362 or from Traditions as Acts of Endless Refoundation until Part V.

notes/quotes from video (didn’t make meeting):

2 min – simona: this text has one of things i love most about david.. he never gives directions but he always shows you where to look and new ways to look at things.. tnwaw is a text about democracy and how important it is to us to think about democracy and to have tools to think about it.. he doesn’t give us directions to what democracy means.. but the origins of democracy and where to look.. this part is particularly interesting/important from this pov.. here he says first.. democracy as we think of today is not something that has to be retrieved.. it only emerges in our contemp ideas and values..

4 min – simona: so at start of ch.. david says.. democracy only emerges w/in centers of empire.. he’s speaking about contemp ideas of freedom/democracy and this system of values only emerges, pirates, native americans, and from the spaces in the between..

6 min – simona: showing us where to look for origins of democracy.. he shows us diff of written and hidden history..

7 min – s: on pointing out history of oppressed in doe.. can’t find it in history books.. when look in books.. looking in wrong place.. we’re looking in a tradition that has been against democracy.. we gain a distorted translation of our ideas..

all our ideas are distorted.. because all like history of whales in sea world

8 min – s: reading p 349 – core in whole book – david says the values attrib to west civ were actually told as matter of fact.. reading 1st para of 349.. ‘my real point is that one can’t lay any of these values down to one tradition.. they arise from interaction’

15 min – s: no ref in constitution to native indians ways or traditions.. but would be strange if there were.. because those writing the federist papers were not for democracy.. not the kind of people that would support it

18 min – s: problem is always in translation.. and suppressing self govt

michael: same in the democracy project

the democracy project

21 min – steven: discernible progression where he’s putting together some of these ideas about indigenous confederation.. the space between confederation and authority.. right there is the magical property.. the fetishistic social obligation.. gift.. mauss.. that magical relationship where when you extend debt.. there’s this implication of obligation.. democracy happens in space between authority.. there to do what david did.. toss balls into air and get convo going.. it’s the collective expression.. that spirit of collective energy.. still improvisatory but there’s the ability for consent

oi to magical.. gift\ness.. obligation

public consensus always oppresses someone(s)

25 min – s: it’s because historians erase the infinite entanglements

26 min – steven: i’m a little bit on fire.. because i’m in the midst of writing about how the collective energy of the revolution.. liberalism.. how that allows for privatization.. because there’s an arrogation of private actors that can happen .. that if that is not revealed in that (walter) benjaminian way.. is forever lost.. and that’s where the possibility lies.. t

this is why we need a means to undo our hierarchical listening

ie: imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. to (re)connect us

27 min – s: reading from p 355 – on springing from zones of cultural improvisation..

33 min – steven: you’ve totally animated me.. where you concluded about the fetish.. david wrote extensively about 3 articles by william peech.. he would say are 3 finest articles written on objects having this supernatural power.. if we think of contemp society where we are so beyond supernatual thought.. we would never subscribe to supernatural thought.. but there’s this doc (where we have to).. or go outside some kind of sovereignty.. and hobbes’ sovereignty is totally a fetish

35 min – michael: fetish as an item used to make a swear for contracts.. that contract doesn’t appear to have violence in it.. where hobbes wants a state to protect violence.. so hobbes violence is definitely a fetish

37 min – steven: that’s where i’d love help

s: actually hobbes is finer than that.. it’s not just violence..

46 min – nika: they’re saying.. who are these people who decided.. how would you describe this space.. inbetween.. requires consensus

47 min – simona: no it’s 2 diff things.. spaces in between are the spaces out of the rudder.. spaces where people are obliged to figure out ways to live together outside the rule of law..t david’s thesis is that it is in such spaces of experimentation.. people trying to figure out how to live together.. that democracy emerges.. this is fetishes in africa markets was one of the ways they figured out about how to guarantee contracts.. fetish were a way to guarantee contracts

we need detox first.. otherwise spinning our wheels figuring out irrelevant s.. like contracts, markets, et al, any form of m\a\p

50 min – s: modern state is a fetish.. that contracts will be respected.. because there is a force that will respect them.. very material.. ie: police enforcing.. on other side.. a fetish.. relies on the imaginary side..

51 min – nika: david and i went to museum w fetish figures.. mostly about marriage contracts.. they would mutilate statues/dolls of people who did bad.. and we know state punishes people who do bad.. my question was about more complex org.. how to deal w contradictions.. need to create orgs beyond national state.. and can’t pretend anymore that they’re democratic.. so how is this artist more complex space constituted.. when you don’t deal with spaces in between.. so how is this space org’d..t

ie: imagine if we.. org’d around legit needs

54 min – michael: the 5 nations were to prevent them from going to war.. the women being that constituting process.. referring back to constitutional rules.. to push them back into a balance.. for more peace maker convos..

1:01 – steven & max: on people org ing in crises et al

max: govt is kind of like an equation now

any form of m\a\p always has been.. of math and men et al

steven: i think you’re onto something m of care has talked about.. david talked about.. ai.. inevitable crises that then require spontaneous auto self org that precedes state forms.. that’s the very contradiction of the kind of system of private ownership we have where we would expect owners to be the first ones out there.. but owners but employees out there first.. as cannon fodder.. there are dynamics to social relations..

1:03 – nika: yeah .. david was talking about ai as this new version of this obstruction that may replace the (?) in years to come.. because totally outside.. bigger than everyone.. can make only right decisions.. know better.. connected to all data bases..

makes no diff if all data is like data from whales in sea world

1:04 – steven: exactly .. which is the inherent problem w any algo because it ultimately ascribes a numeric value to what is a moral relationship.. that is the ultimate argument of debt.. the ultimate fallacy of materialist thinking.. this idea that there’s something outside of us that is more valuable than what’s intrinsic..t any standard requires a sacred that is outside.. and that’s inherently fetishistic.. that’s what needs to be unpacked


kingdom is within you.. et al.. again.. huge to

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. (ai we need most/1st)

1:07 – s: on emergency .. as 1\ justification for powers but also 2\ for alts

nika: ie: climate causing powers to now say yes yes yes.. embracing mythology in a more harsh way.. in more horrifying solution

1:09 – s: one of the myths david dismantled was the efficiency of dictatorship.. it’s the simple solution that’s usually wrong

nika: extremely important to merge these practical solutions to survive.. and this obstructions coming upon us.. he was always saying.. may come the day who can save that.. tech.. for climate change.. and of course this is scary what people try.. put something in air and water.. and then we’re just exposed to the outcome

tech as it could be

1:11 – madeline: what is the role of writing in these spaces in between.. unlearning or realizing something else.. spread of ideas.. thru word of mouth.. proclamations that are suppressing.. but can you use to reveal other democratic forms

1:13 – nika: that’s the main pt .. david believed revolution was transformation of common sense.. expose a way of truth.. and that’s how everybody lived.. ie: why do we live in a hobbesian world..? because it was a system that created common sense.. in schools et al.. so forms of transmittable ness.. artistic expressions.. to take over the world

again.. imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness..

1:14 – michael: p 363.. on zaptista’s using word democracy.. because american’s used it.. but bringing a diff democracy .. but have to use that word because it’s the only word everyone understands.. when wouldn’t normally use that word

1:16 – s: ideas of democracy come out of mayan ideas described in doe




m of care – jun 16there never was a west – p 1

m of care – jul 21there never was a west – p 2&3

m of care – aug 4there never was a west – p 4




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