m of care – dec 1

part 4 in series of reading groups on david graeber‘s debt (book)



mehdi: on joining the dots.. bs jobs.. david’s idea: universal support whether rich or poor.. if we look at home baseline community.. do t not connected at global level.. fine at local/communal level.. ie: if i don’t know someone what is my obliatoin to that person.. i don’t see a dot getting connected..

michael: he didn’t say gift econ so that was confusing to me.. and reciprocity.. seems like a good word.. like what you said.. what’s the obligation.. well .. not hurt.. take away from global commons.. diff from argument of ubi.. david’s use of reciprocity hard to understand.. whereas hierarchy.. easy to understand

not so much.. reciprocity.. gift\ness.. any form of m\a\p

stas: to scale baseline communities is to give up right to determine your enemies.. on values book

small scale ness

steve: what is able to refuse.. if have means of survival can refuse anything..

christian: graeber was looking for a way out. have to remove people from their position in society.. this is where everything has gone wrong.. the roots of the bad thing are already inherent in the good things

steve: on david’s use of communism .. to put that workd back in peopel’s mouths..

surest way to know that one is in the presence of communist relations is that not only are no accounts taken but it would be considered offensive, or simply bizarre, to even consider doing so..

nika: david on saying there’s no one doing everyday communism.. wondering if we can establish that in m of care.. maybe good idea to collect ie’s in a people’s communism..

steve: david said.. ends can never justify means.. all we have are means.. reconstitutes very idea of history.. most history has been framed around heroic existence.. not inaccurate.. but reinforcing the problem.. the very process that is solidifying us in these structure of violence.. history not so much about resistance.. it’s the .. authorities are exerting violence agains ut.. and we might not even be aware of what resistance can look like.. e

nika: yeah.. also dismantling whole marxist approach to history

john: when i think of communism..i think of regenerative wealth.. esp in context of reading doe.. that there might be this 2000 yrs of culture embedded in us.. that there’s a deeper nature to us that’s being covered up

yeah that

nika: yeah.. maybe do a reading group about (guy john was talking about)

chat: kathrin – How would you distinguish the term „communism“ like David used it from how the word is used most the time in economics? And why did he use the word communism? Because the term is so difficult. Sorry, my internet connection is not stable today…

surest way to know that one is in the presence of communist relations is that not only are no accounts taken but it would be considered offensive, or simply bizarre, to even consider doing so.. The sociology of everyday communism is a potentially enormous field, but one which, owing to our peculiar ideological blinkers, we have been unable to write about because we have been largely unable to see it’ – david

to me it’s like for legit communism (everyday communism) any form of accounting isn’t just happening or not happening.. it’s irrelevant.. and that mindset of irrelevance is something we’ve been unable to see/grok/imagine

nika: if you allow people to change org.. no fixed order would grasp us.. because we’re told that anything else is worse..

barbara: on a psychological trap

christian: big thing that hangs over it all is question of morality because it makes us do things we don’t really want to do.. to me whenever morale was entered.. it was powerful people wanting poor people to pay or wrk or whatever.. morality doesn’t play a role unless somebody powerful wants something

but to me.. that’s whales cope\ing ness

mehdi: on .. what is the way out.. this connects to my dots ness.. what is connecting the dots.. david wanted to reconstruct.. thru many hierarchical views out of the past.. but when addressing life and moral questions there.. what is david view on that.. ie: pay debts if have them.. what was his view about moral traditional.. this is my portion about the dots.. i see we have an idea would live our life.. f how we sho

stas: books opens with debt justifying violence.. ch 6 is on why debt has pmoral power to justify vioelnce

simona: i think david’s work is all about morality.. not about abandoning it.. about showing how c distorts our moral values.. and transforms them in weapons against us.. like for debt .. the ability to make promises is the very foundation of our social relationships.. values.. when it’s transformed in debt on one life.. gives justification for atrocious before.. ie: letting children starve.. for violence.. slaves.. killing.. what he does in debt is to show how debt is social relationships as promises/exchanges/mutual aid weaponized for violence.. it’s making true violence.. those fundamental values of our life as justification for terrible things.. he does the same thing with work.. that you have to contribute to society.. everybody has to work/contribute to society.. who doesn’t work doesn’t eat is the model.. whoever doesn’t sell his time for money doesn’t earn right to live/. all david’s work is about reassessing the true values behind those that c violently put on them.. this ch is to show what kind of fundamental values are appropriated by c.. c as transformation of slavery.. a slave is somebody who is not able to make promises

nika and stas: voting for re addressing ch 6..

steve: so ch 6 2 weeks from today





my notes from debt ch 5&6:

ch 5: a brief treatise on the moral grounds of economic relations

to tell the history of debt, then, is also necessarily to reconstruct how the language of the marketplace has come to pervade every aspect of human life.. even to provide the terminology for the moral/religious voices raised against it

language as control/enclosure

making the curious move: first describing all morality as debt.. but then in very manner of doing so, demo ing that morality cannot really be reduced to debt.. that it must be grounded in something else.. but what?


my aim here – modest.. so i will take opp approach.. (than the cosmo answers religions prefer).. must start w very small things.. way we treat friends enemies, children.. often w gestures so tiny.. passing salt.. that we rarely stop to think.. anthropology has shown how diff are ways humans have org’d selves.. but also reveals some remarkable commonalities.. wherever people transfer objects back and forth or argue about what other people owe them

so commonalities in org.. when whales in sea world? ie: exchange and debt not natural


in sense moral thought founded on tension of confusion of principles

to really understand debt then.. will be necessary to understand how it’s diff from other sorts of obligation

? when that‘s not natural? i don’t know

in turn.. means mapping out what those other sorts of obligation actually are.. doing so , however , poses peculiar challenges

perhaps biggest challenge: letting go of thinking obligation ness is natural

contemp social theory, econ anthropology included.. offer surprisingly little help.. ie: ie’s of gift econ completely diff than market

because everything/data/history to date is non legit.. ie: on whales.. even/esp gift ness

but in the end.. almost all this lit concentrates on the exchange of gifts, assuming that whenever one gives a gift, their act incurs a debt and the recipient must eventually reciprocate in kind.. t

yay .. yes that.. ie: gift ness as red flag et al

much as in the case of the great religions the logic of the marketplace has insinuated itself even into the thinking of those who are most explicitly opposed to it. as a result.. i am going to have to start over here.. to create a new theory.. pretty much from scratch

yes.. we need a re\set .. bad

just about anyone who runs anything important in america is expected to have some training in econ theory or at least be familiar w its basic tenets

training as red flag


those tenets have come to be treated as received wisdom.. as basically beyond question .. and those questioning treated as ignorant

what’s more.. start from same assumptions about human psych that economists do: humans best viewed as self interested actors calculating how to get best for self.. w least sacrifice.. curious considering experimental physiologists have demo’d over/over again that these assumptions simply aren’t true

from early on.. some wished to create theory of social interaction grounded in a more generous view of human nature.. key term became reciprocity.. the sense of equity, blaance, fairness, and symmetry, embodied in our image of justice as set of sclaes

reciprocity ness.. red flag – not even legit equity to begin with


but if one examines matters closely.. finds that all human relation s are based on some variation on reciprocity

perhaps whales are.. poisonous to human relations

levi strauss: ‘life imagined as 3 spheres: language (exchange of words); kinships (exchange of women); econ (exchange of things).. all 3 governed by reciprocity’.. not as if anyone has proposed a bold new theory to replace all this..

almost everyone continues to assume that in its fundamental nature social life is based on reciprocity and therefore that all human interaction can best be understood as a kind of exchange.. if so debt rally is at root of morality (balance not restored)

all red flags: recip, exch, debt

but can all justice really be reduced to reciprocity.. it’s easy to come up w forms of recip that don’t seem particularly just ie: do unto others; eye for eye;..

not to mention justice ness is messing w us as well.. (still measuring/accounting


precisely why presentation of such a bill (father to son on what he owes him for raising him) seems so outrageous.. squaring accounts means the two parties have the ability to walk away from each other.. by presenting it.. his father suggested he’d just a soon have nothing further to do with him.. in other words.. most can’t imagine what we owe parents.. or being able to pay it.. or even if we should.. yet if can’t be paid.. what sense is it a debt at all.. and if not a debt.. what is it


something extra ord about saving a life.. anything surrounding birth/death almost cannot help but partake of the infinite, and therefore throws all everyday means of mora calculation askew

if one save life.. considered responsible for taking care of that person forever.. defies our sense of reciprocity.. but somehow .. also makes a weird kind of sense.. let’s try a though experiment.. imagine we are dealing w a place where if one man saved another’s life.. the two became like brothers.. paying him back an insult.. wanting nothing further to do w him..


my point is.. such form of racial equality/ineq.. do exist in world.. each carries w/in it its own kind of morality.. own way of thinking/arguing about rights/wrongs of any give situation.. these moralities are entirely diff than that of tit for tat exchange..

yeah.. haven’t seen any diff than tit for tat in my looking/listening ness.. all i see is

rest of ch.. proposing 3 main moral principles on which econ relations can be founded: communism, hierarchy, and exchange

section on communism

I will define communism here as any human relationship that operates on the principles of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

commun\ism ness

david on communism


communism has always a distant, fuzzy utopian ideal.. to be achieved some pt in distant future.. dominated by a myth.. ie: eden; golden age; hunter gatherer bands.. then came fall.. and now cursed ww division of power and private property..

the dream was that someday w the advance of tech and general prosperity.. w social revolution or the guidance of the party .. we would finally be in a position to put things back.. restore common ownership/management of collective resources.. arguments over how plausible this pic was

well.. first need to let go of ie: ownership; property; management.. then.. now .. w tech to ground that chaos.. plausible.. ie: imagine if we

(argued over plausibility) but all agreed on basic frame: communism was about collective property, ‘primitive communism’ did once exist .. might return

hardt/negri property law et al.. even collective.. that’s a form of measuring/accounting

it’s high time to brush entire argument aside.. in fact, ‘communism’ is not some magical utopia and either does it have anything to do w ownership of the means of production.. it is something that exists right now.. in any human society.. although there has never been one in which everything has been org’d in that way , and it would be difficult to *imagine how there could be.. all of us act like communists a good deal of time.. **none of us act like communist consistently

*imagine if we

**because whales/rats in sea-world/cate


communist society in a sense of a society org’d exclusively on that single principle – would never exist..

hmm. i don’t know

but all social systems, even econ systems like capitalism, have always ben built on top of a bedrock of actually existing communism

? but the econ systems have all been poison.. so matters little what built on

no one’s tried this: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space

let’s try that.. with 2 convers as infra

starting as a i say from the principle of ‘from each according to their ability to each according to their needs’ allows us to look past the question of individual/private ownership (often legality anyway).. as more immediate/pracital question sof who has access to what sorts of things and under what conditions..

ie: have\need ness.. imagine if we


ironically enough.. considering the conventional wisdom that communism just doesn’t work: if you really care about getting something done, most efficient way to go about it is obviously to allocate tasks by ability and give people whatever they need to do them

huge – graeber min\max law et al

top down chains of command are not particularly efficient: tend to promote stupidity among those on top and resentful foot dragging on bottom.. important.. (how we come together in crises) shows we are not simply talking about cooperation.. in fact, communism is the foundation of all human sociability..

huge yes.. beyond coop ness


there is always an assumption that anyone who is not an enemy can be expected to act on the principle of ‘from each according to ability’ at least to an extent

so just need means to uncover/re-see our interconnectedness.. so that enemy ness is irrelevant

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman 


main point.. requires scale.. immediate life threat.. before people will ordinarily consider not giving a stranger accurate direction.. it’s not just directions.. conversation is a domain particularly disposed to communism.. lies, insults, put down and other sorts of verbal aggression are important.. but they derive most of power from shared assumption that people don’t ordinarily act this way.. ie: insult doesn’t sting unless assume other will normally be considerate.. lie unless tell truth.. when we genuinely wish to break off amicable relations w someone..we stop speaking to them entirely

language as control/enclosure et al..

begs 2 conversations et al


however.. this baseline of open handed sharing/generosity never extends to everything

so tragedy of the non common

often things freely shared treated as trivial for that reason..

obligation to share food and whatever else basic necessity

1\ obligation is poisonous word.. 2\ we have no idea what our basic needs legit are..


sharing not simply about morality.. but also about pleasure.. solitary pleasure always exists.. but for most human beings.. most pleasurable activities almost always involve sharing something: music, food, liquor, drugs, gossip, drama, beds.. there is a certain communism of the senses at the root of most things we consider fun

indeed.. but again.. not sure i’d call it sharing.. (too much accounting ness implied.. even if person being aware they are sharing.. much like what thank you ness dos to us)

surest way to know that one is in the presence of communist relations is that not only are no accounts taken but it would be considered offensive, or simply bizarre, to even consider doing so..



humanity craves a live sans any form of measuring/accounting


on baseline communism not enough.. even though.. it’s a recognition of our ultimate interdependence/peace..


on individualistic communism – 1 on 1’s et al

finally.. there are the diff sorts of commons (the collective admin of common resource..

i think this is baseline of our tragedy of the non common – thinking there are sorts of commons.. as ridiculous/impossible as it sounds.. it won’t work unless it’s all of us and everything

huge – listen deeper


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

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

imagine if we

The sociology of everyday communism is a potentially enormous field, but one which, owing to our peculiar ideological blinkers, we have been unable to write about because we have been largely unable to see it.


unable to see/be revolution of everyday life since blinded by sea-world/cage


1\ not reciprocity (accounting)

first (in everyday communism) we are not really dealing w reciprocity.. such relations are based on presumption of eternity.. this is why no accounts need be taken..

2\ not hospitality (enemies)

second has to do w famous ‘law of hospitality’.. what you do w enemies

hospitality ness


understandable that dealing w potentially *hostile stranger should encourage an **all or nothing logic.. a tension preserved even in english in etymology of : host; hostile; hostage; hospitality.. same latin root.. what i want to emphasize here is that all such gestures are simply exaggerated displays of that very baseline communism

and so (to me) not deep enough.. making us think in terms of *strangers (rather than interconnected)

and irony (to me) is that the **all or nothing ness is what we keep missing ie: trustunconditionalacross the board ness; et al

in fact, those things that exist above all to be shared often become those things one cannot share w enemies.. and inconvenience this creates is a major incentive to try to negotiate some sort of settlement

but no enemies if grok interconnectedness.. so hosting ness messed up .. and messes us up aka: red flags – incentive ness et al


3\ not morality (bias)

third.. if communism as principal of morality rather than just property ownership.. morality always at play to some degree in any transaction.. even commerce

begs tech w/o judgment ie: tech as it could be

we need to let go of judge\ment (other-ing bias ness).. and realize our interconnectedness.

so that 1\ commerce ness becomes/remains irrelevant and 2\ we become/remain legit us – fittingness et al


once gain.. we are back to the principle that if the needs (ie: dire poverty) or the abilities (ie: wealth beyond imagination) are sufficiently dramatic.. some degree of communist morality will enter into way people take accounts..

hmm.. was thinking of this (quote) more of a one body dance.. this description in ().. sounds lie a rich/poor balancing/accounting et al


section on exchange

communism then is based neither in exchange nor reciprocity – except as i have observed.. in the sense that it does involve mutual expectation and responsibilities

perhaps why it hasn’t yet worked of us.. expectations, mutuality, responsibilities.. all form of measuring/accounting)

exchange.. marsh exchange law.. et al

exchange is all about equiv.. it’s a back and forth process involving two sides in which each side gives as good as it gets.. not that there is ever an exact equiv – even if there were some way to measure an exact equiv.. but more a constant process of interaction tending toward equiv

equiv ness not the point – equity is


often element of competition.. but at same time .. sense that both sides are keeping accounts and that.. unlike what happens in communism (notion of eternity).. the entire relationship can be canceled out.. either party can call an end to it at any time


exchange allows way to cancel debts.. call it even.. end a relationship.. w vendors.. one is usually only pretending to have a relationship.. w neighbors.. one might for this very reason prefer not to pay one’s debts.. ie: all such gifts did have to be returned.. it would be entirely inappropriate to simply accept three eggs from a neighbor and never bring anything back.. one could even bring money.. provided in a discreet interval .. above all.. not the exact cost of the eggs.. had to be more/less.. to bring back nothings would be to cast oneself as exploiter/parasite.. bring back exact equiv would be to suggest one no longer wishes to have anything to do w the neighbor..

on commercial vs gift exchange – yet both swimming in the poison of tit for tat ness


‘an endless circle of gifts to which no one ever handed over the precise value of object last receive’ and in does so.. they were continually creating their society

ugh.. society based on supposed to’s.. jensen civilization law et al


unlike communistic relations, which are assumed to be permanent.. this sort of neighborliness had to be constantly created and maintained.. because any link can be broken off at any time

energy suck

there are endless variations on this sort of tit for tat or almost tit for tat, gift exchange.. the most familiar is the exchange of presents..t

there are endless variations on this sort of tit for tat or almost tit for tat, gift exchange.. the most familiar is the exchange of presents.. t

yeah.. oi.. esp on supposed to days.. ie: holiday ness et al – tit for tat ness

the feeling that one really ought to return the favor – can’t be explained by standard econ theory.. which assumes that any human interaction is ultimately a business deal and that we are all self interested individuals trying to get most for selves for least cost/effort.. but this feeling is quite real and it can cause genuine strain for those of limited means trying to keep up appearances

magis esse quam videri .. brown belonging law.. maté trump law.. et al


things can easily slip into games of one upmanship.. and hence obsession, humiliation, rage,.. or as we’ll soon see, even worse.. in some societies, these games are formalized.. but it’s important to stress that such games only really develop between people or groups who perceive selves to be more/less equiv in status


pierre bourdieu: ‘games of honor in algeria.. in which exchange of insults, attacks (in feud or battles), thefts or threats was seen to follow exactly the same logic as the exchange of gifts.. to give a gift is both an honor/provocation.. to respond requires infinite artistry.. timing is all important.. above all.. is the tacit moral principle that one must always pick on someone one’s own size.. otherwise damage to reputation if snubbed or cruel (giving to someone who can’t respond in like)

gift\ness.. exchange ness..


in some contexts.. even praising another’s possession might be interpreted as a demand of this sort (exchange ness).. sometimes gifts offered in order for giver to be able to make such a demand: if one accepts.. is then tacitly agreeing to allow the giver to claim whatever he deems equiv..

w/in communities.. almost always a reluctance.. to allow things to cancel out.. one reason that if money.. people often refuse to use it w friends/relatives.. or.. use it in radically diff ways..

section of hierarchy


exchange then implies formal equality or at least potential for it.. this is precisely why kings have such trouble w it.. in contrast, relations of explicit hierarchy.. that is.. one superior to other.. do not tend to operate by reciprocity at all.. hard to see because relation is often justified in reciprocal terms.. (peasants provide food, lords protection).. but the principle by which they operate is exactly the opposite.. in practice.. hierarchy tends to work by a logic of *precedent..

hier archy ness and *habitus ness

in similar way, religious traditions often insist that the only true charity is anonymous – not meant to place the recipient in one’s debt. ie: santa claus – a benevolent burglar


conquest, untrammeled force, becomes systematized, and thus framed not as a predatory relation but as a moral one, w lords providing protection and villagers, their sustenance..

structural violence et al


ie: just how much harvest king’s retainers are entitled to carry off.. very likely frame calcs in terms of quality or quantity of protection provided, but rather in terms of custom and precedent: how much did we pay last year.. how much did ancestors have to pay? .. same for charity.. if basis for social relation.. will not be based on reciprocity.. ie: give panhandles coins.. and he recognizes you later.. unlikely he’ll give you money.. but he might consider you more likely to give him money again.. such an act of one sided generosity is treated as precedent for what will be expected afterward..

this is what i mean when i say hierarchy operates by a principle that is opposite of reciprocity.. when lines of superior/inferior are clearly drawn/accepted.. and relations ongoing so no longer dealing w arbitrary force.. then relations will be seen as being reg’d by a web of habit/custom..

on habitus and hierarchy and structural violence


this intro’s another complication to problem of giving gifts to superior.. there is always the danger that it will be treated as a precedent.. added to web of custom and therefore considered obligatory thereafter..


once relations based on ‘custom’ only way to demo one has a duty/obligation to do something is to show that one has done it before.. often such arrangements can turn into a logic of caste.. ie: come to be known as fishermen or barbers..

caste ness

this last point can’t be overemphasized because it brings home another truth regularly overlooked: that the logic of id is, always and everywhere, entangled in the logic of hierarchy..t

the logic of identity is, always and everywhere, entangled in the logic of hierarchy.‘.. t

yes.. huge.. identity ness; label(s); habitus; hier archy ness; et al

it is only when certain people are placed above others, or where everyone is being ranked in relation to the king, high priest, et al.. that one begins to speak of people bound by their essential nature: about fundamentally diff kinds of human being.. ideologies of caste or race are just extreme ie’s.. it happens whenever one group is seen as raising selves above/below others.. in a way that *ordinary standards of fair dealing no longer apply


marsh label law et al

*unsettling to begin with.. so (for me) not the point here


the moment we recognize someone as diff sort of person.. above/below us.. then ordinary rules of reciprocity become modified or are set aside

again.. i don’t thing there are legit *ordinary rules of reciprocity.. i think rules/reciprocity are cancerous to human being

or.. diff via habitus means no legit whale diff

ie: if friend is unusually generous once.. we wish to recip.. if acts this way repeatedly.. we conclude she is a generous person and less likely to recip..

formula: action repeated become customary; as a result.. comes to define the actors’ essential nature.. alternately a person’s nature may be defined by how others have acted toward him in the past..

deadly marsh label law et al.. habitus ness..

much of art of being such a person is that of treating oneself in manner that conveys how you expect others to treat you ie: kings covering self w gold.. other end of he scale.. this is also how abuse becomes self legitimating ie: if middle class 13 yr girl old kidnapped, raped, killed.. national crisis on tv for several weeks.. if 13 yr old girl is turned out as child prostitute, raped systematically for years, and ultimately killed, this is considered unremarkable.. just the sort of thing one can expect to end up happening to someone like that


result being (wealth between superiors and inferiors) that there is no way to even conceive of a squaring of accounts.. ie: how much military protection was equiv to a ton of wheat.. nor did anyone ever consider making such a calc.. neither is it that ‘lowly’ sorts of people are necessarily given lowly sorts of things and vice versa.. sometimes it is quite the oppostie ie: noble patron provided room/board/money and client showed his gratitude by paining the mona lisa.. was in no way seen to compromise the assumption of the noble’s intrinsic superiority..


one great exception to this principe.. the phenom of hierarchical redistribution.. where give back/forth exactly same thing.. ie: nigeria.. fans throw money on stage.. star tours fans’ neighborhoods tossing same money from windows of limo..


ie: n american chief.. often poorest man in village such was the pressure on him for constant supply of largesse (generosity in bestowing money)

josé mujica

one could judge how egalitarian a society really was by: authority conduits for redistribution or sue positions to accumulate riches.. the latter .. most likely aristocratic societies.. that add another element: war and plunder.. after all.. just about anyone who comes into ver large amount of wealth.. will ultimately give at least part away. the more one’s ‘wealth obtained by plunder/extortion.. the more spectacular and self aggrandizing will be the forms in which it’s given away.. rep ing selves as protectors of helpless.. supporters of widows, orphans, poor.. the genealogy of the modern redistributive state.. w its notorious tendency to foster id politics.. can be traced back not to any sort of ‘primitive communism’ but ultimately to violence and war


we’re not talking about diff types of society here.. (very idea that we’ve ever been org’d into discrete ‘socities’ is dubious) but moral principles tha talwsy coexist everywehre.. we are communists w our closest friends, feudal lords when dealing w small children.. very hard to imagine a society wehr ethiws would not be true..

feudal lords w children? as natural? or as whales?

ie: maté parenting law

the obvious question is: if we are all ordinarily moving back/forth between completely diff system of moral accounting.. why hadn’t anybody notice this? why instead do we continually feel the need to reframe everything in terms of reciprocity?

because once we’re all whales.. all we can think in terms of is measuring/accounting.. which reciprocity is a part/result of

here we must return to the fact that reciprocity is our main way of imagining justice.. what we fall back on when thinking in abstract.. esp when trying to create an idealize picture of society.. way of imagining communism thru reciprocity

yeah.. and that’s our consensus/voluntary compliance of being whales.. thinking we have to focus on justice/reciprocity.. et al.. we have no idea what legit free people are like..


one simple formula: some pray, some fight, others work.. even hierarchy was seen as ultimately recip.. despite this formula having nothing to do w how real relations between priests, knights, peasants operated on the ground

despite recip ness having nothing to do w legit free people

anthropologists are familiar w the phenom: only when people who have never had occasion to really think about their society/culture as a whole.. probably weren’t even aware they were living inside something other people considered a ‘society/culture’ are asked to explain how everything works that they say things like ‘this is how we repay our .. ‘ which never seem to quite correspond to what real people actually do

go even deeper.. embed anthropologists in society.. ie: we’re all in sea world.. we have no idea what legit free people would actually do..


when trying to imagine a just society, it’s hard not to evoke images of balance and symmetry, of elegant geometries where everything balances out

only because we’re in sea world.. where all that measuring/accounting) is called perfection/success/et-al.. of math and men ness

the idea that there is something call the market is not so very diff.. economist will often admit this.. markets aren’ real.. they’re math models created by imagining a self contained world where everyone has exactly the same motivation /knowledge and is engaged in same self interest calculating exchange.. economists are aware that reality is more complicated.. but.. they also aware that to come up w a math model.. one always has to make the world into a bit of a cartoon.. *there’s nothing wrong w this.. problem comes when it enables some to say those who ignore dictates of market will be punished..



principles get tangled up .. difficult to tell which *predominates in a given situation.. one reason it’s ridiculous to pretend we could ever reduce human behavior, econ or otherwise, to a math formula of any sort


but we do have *predominating/essential basics.. that fit every situation.. and if we org’d around that.. math/formula/measuring/accounting ness.. all become irrelevant

ie: if have rich patron.. come to him in times of need.. and he is expected to help you.. but only to a certain degree.. no one expects the patron to provide so much help that it threatens to undermine the underlying ineq..

yeah.. wow.. that


on hunter customs – a member who draws attention to accomplishments will find self the object of mockery.. often only polite thing to do if accomplished.. is to make fun of self..

(back to author of book of the eskimo) – ie: hunter took offense when author tired to thank him .. after all.. humans help one another.. and once we treat something as a gift.. we turn into something less than human

ie: hunter took offense when author tired to thank him .. after all.. humans help one another.. and once we treat something as a gift.. we turn into something less than human

thank you ness

gift here does not mean something given freely not mutual aid that we can ordinarily expect human beings to provide to one another . to thank someone suggests that he or she might not have acted that way , and that therefore the choice to act this way creates an obligation, a sense of debt – and hence, inferiority.



the only liit is the knowledge tha nnything one can demand, th eother one can too.. htere, again , we are talkign abou tan intial establishment of trust

i don’t think legit trust works that way.. ie: initial estab ness has no strings attached.. it’s unconditional.. also.. always has been (infinite).. so initial estab ness in first place

and otherwise trust that each will look after the other’s commercial interests from then on

using human term: trust.. for whale life example: market/consumerism.. any form of measuring/accounting


it’s not as if someone who loses out in a contest of gift exchange is ever actually reduced to slavery, but he might end up feeling as if he were.. consequences could be catastrophic..

talking of ancient greeks.. but fitting today w gift\ness et al ie: marsh exchange law


competitive gift exchange, then, does not literally render anyone slaves; it is simply an affair of honor.. these are people whoever, for who honor is everything

any form of people telling other people what to do.. slavery/suffocation/the death of us

law of hospitality in ancient world.. insisted that any traveler must be fed, shelter, treated as honored guest.. but only for a certain length of time.. if guest did not go away, he would eventually become a mere subordinate


everyone places great emphasis on importance of mutual aid ‘giving service’.. people living in same community should look out for one another and pitch in when neighbors having trouble.. this is the essence of communal morality.. it’s how one knows that any sort of community exists.. so far so good..

yeah.. i see poison already ie: look out for one another ness.. form of help\ing.. rather than trusting people to know/grok own needs et al..

however, she notes, when someone does particularly great favor.. mutual aid can turn into something else.. it slips into ineq.. thus.. patron-client relations come into being

and i’d say they came into being once we started thinking we had to be help\ing others (rather than being our part of the body et al)


(back to eskimo story – walrus hunter): basket of tomatoes was simply equiv of saying ‘thank you’ it was a way of acknowledging that one owes a debt of gratitude. that gifts had in fact made slaves just as ships make dogs.. the boss and the employee are not fundamentally diff sorts of people.. the problem is that in all other respects.. they are not fundamentally diff sorts of people.. they ought to be equals.. as a result.. even the tomatoes.. which are really a token of recognition of the existence of a debt that can never be repaid.. has to be rep’d as if it was itself a kind of repayment – an interest payment on a loan that could, everyone agrees to pretend, someday be paid back.. thus returning the two members to their proper equal status once again..

a wage labor contract is, ostensibly, a free contract between equals – but an agreement between equals in which both agree that once one of them punches the time clock.. they won’t be equals anymore.. t


10-day-care-center\ness et al


seems to me this agreement between equals to no longer be equal (at least for a time) is critically important… it is the very essence of what we call ‘debt’..

debt is a very specific thinking, and it arises form very specific situations.. it first requires a relationship between two people who do not consider each other fundamentally diff sorts of being.. who are at least potential equals, who are equals in those ways that are really important, and who are not currently in a state of equality – but for whom there is some way to set matters straight


this means there is no such thing as a genuinely unpayable debt.. if there was no conceivable way to salvage the situation. we wouldn’t be calling it a ‘debt’..

during time that the debt remains unpaid.. the logic of hierarchy takes hold.. there is not reciprocity..

sans reciprocity

first thing jailers communicate is that nothing that happens in jail has anything to do w justice..

this is what makes situation of effectively unpayable debt so difficult and so painful.. since creditor and debtor are ultimately equals.. if debtor cannot do what it takes to restore herself to equality.. there is obviously something wrong w her; it must be her fault


a debt then is just an exchange that has not been brought to completion..

exchange ness as cancer too though.. even if it gets completed..

it follows that debt is strictly a created of reciprocity and has little to do w other sorts of morality (communism, w its needs and abilities; hierarchy, w it’s customs and qualities)..

wow.. keep re reading this..

reciprocity.. hier archy ness.. commun\ism..

true, if we were really determined we could argue that communism is a condition of permanent mutual indebtedness.. or that hierarchy is constructed out of unpayable debts.. but isn’t this just the same old story, starting from the assumption that all human interactions must be, by defn, forms of exchange and then performing whatever mental somersaults are required to prove it

same song ness


no. 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

i’m thinking if we’re thinking of it as exchange.. let go.. less defining/talking/accounting et al.. more dance

debt is what happen in between: when the two parties cannot yet walk away from each other, because they are not yet equal .. carried out in shadow of eventual equality.. because achieving that equality.. destroys the very reason for having a relationship..just about everything happens inbetween

on everything interesting/human happening in between.. meaning while in debt ..? that’s whale talk/non-opinion/voluntary compliance.. talk wrapped in measuring things assumptions

in fact, just about everything human happens in between – even if this means that al such human relations bear with them at least a tiny element of criminality, guilt, or shame

?.. in sea-world/cage

by ensuring that everyone was slightly in debt to one anther.. they (tiv women) actually created human society.. if a very fragile sort of society – a delicate web made up of obligations to return 3 eggs for a bag of okra, ties renewed and recreated as any one of them could be canceled out at any time..

our own *habits of civility are not so very diff.. consider the custom, in american society of constantly saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ .. to do so is often treated as basic morality: we are constantly chiding children for forgetting to do it, just as the moral guardians of our society – teachers and ministers, for instance – do to everybody else.. we often assume that the habit is universal.. but as the inuit hunger made clear.. it is not.. like so many of our everyday courtesies.. it is a kind of democratization of what was once a habit of feudal deference: the insistence on treating absolutely everyone the way that one used only to have to treat a lord or similar hierarchical superior

and to me.. none of it humane/natural

so yeah.. *habits (habitus) of civility.. (aka: sea world rules)

smiles ness .. evans polite\ness law.. et al


(and).. their apparent unimportance can be measured by the fact that almost no one would refuse, on principle to say ‘please’ or ‘thank yo’ in just about any situation – even those who might find it almost impossible to say ‘i’m sorry’


in fact in english please is short for if you please.. if it pleases you to do this.. it is the same in most european languages.. it’s literal meaning is ‘you are under no obligation to do this’ .. this is not true; there is a social obligation and it would be almost impossible not to comply.. but etiquette largely consists of the exchange of polite fictions (to use less polite language, lies).. when you ask someone to pass the salt.. you are also giving them an order.. by attaching word please.. you are saying that it is not an order.. but in fact it is..

huge to evans polite\ness law and any form of people telling other people what to do

in english.. thank you .. derives from ..think.. it originally meant.. ‘i will remember what you did for me’.. which is usually not true either .. but in other languages.. (ie: portuguese obrigado) the standard term follows the from of the english ‘much obliged’.. it actually does mean ‘i am in your debt’..

the french merci is even more graphic: derives from mercy.. as in begging for mercy; by saying ti you are symbolically placing yourself in your benefactor’s power.. since a debtor is, after all, a criminal..

saying you’re welcome or it’s nothing (spanish de nada) the latter has at least the advantage of often being literally true – is a way of reassuring the one to whom one has passed the salt that you are not actually inscribing debit in your imaginary moral account book.. so is saying .. my pleasure.. you are saying ‘no actually , it’s a credit, not a debit.. you did me a favor because in asking me to pass the salt .. you gave me the opp to do something i found rewarding in itself’..


decoding the tacit calculus of debt (i owed you one.. no you don’t own me anything.. actually if anything it’s me who owes you… as if inscribing and the scratching off so many infinitesimal entries in an endless ledger) makes it easy to understand why this sort of thing is often viewed not as the quintessence of morality, but as the quintessence of middle class morality

aka: base of the whales

in other words, middle class etiquette insists that we are all equals, but it does os in a very particular way.. on one hand.. pretends that nobody is giving anybody orders (think of burly security guard at mall who appears before someone walking into a restricted area and says .. can i help you); on other .. treats every gesture of what i’ve been calling ‘baseline communism’ as if it were really a form of exchange.. as result .. mid class society as to be endlessly recreated.. criss crossing of an infinity of momentary debt relations.. each one almost instantly cancelled out..


all of this is a relatively recent innovation.. the habit of alway say ing please and thank you first began to take hold during the commercial revolution of the 16-17the centuries.. language of bureaus, shops, and offices, and over course of last 500 yrs has spread across the world along w them.. it is also merely one token of a much larger philosophy: a set of assumptions of what humans are and what they owe one another, that have by now become so deeply ingrained that we cannot see them.


the pantagruel story – in praise of debt: ‘a universe sans debts.. the moon would remain dark and bloody; why should the sun share his light w her? he is under no obligation.. between the elements there will be no mutual sharing of qualities.. not alternation.. not transmutation whatsoever.. one will not think itself obliged to the other; it has lent it nothing.. amongst human beings.. none would save another.. ‘


his perspective of course is that of a wealthy debtor – not one liable to be trundled off to some pestiferous dungeon for failure to pay.. and what he says is true.. *if we insist on defining all human interaction s a smatters of people giving one thing for another.. being human would have no significance; we would all become isolated planets who couldn’t even be counted on to maintain our proper orbits..

these words are huge.. ie: true *if sea world true

proper orbit..

proper ness

ch 6 starts 2611

ch 6: games with sex and death

reducing all human life to exchange means not only shunting aside all other forms of econ experience (hierarchy, communism), but also ensuring that the vast majority of the human race who are not adult males, and therefore whose day to day existence is relatively difficult to reduce to a matter of swapping things in such a way as to seek mutual advantage, melts away in to the background..

as a result, we end up w a sanitized view of the way actual business is conducted.. the tidy world of shops and malls is the quintessential middle class environ.. but at either the top/bottom of the system.. the world of financiers/gangsters.. deals are often made in ways not so completely diff from ways that the funwinggu or nambikwara make then – at least in that sex, drugs, music, extravagant displays of food and the potential for violence do often play parts ie: neil bush (g bush’s bro).. getting un paid prostitutes to room et al


as a result, though, the histories we tell are full of blank spaces, and the women in them seem to appear out of nowhere w/o explanation, much like the thai women who appeared a bush’s door.. ie: passage from ch 3 – about money in the barbarian law codes: compensation reckoned primarily in cattle and in the irish ones in cattle or bondmaids..’.. how is it possible to read this passage w/o immediately stopping at the end of the first line? ‘bondmaids’?.. doesn’t that means slaves? (it does)

huge.. deeyah et al


in ancient ireland, female slaves were so plentiful and important that they came to function as currency? how did that happen? and if we are trying to understand the origins of money here, isn’t the fact that people are using one another as currency at all interesting/significant? ..yet none of the sources on money remark much on it.. who were they? how were they enslaved..? answers seem to be yes.. but hard to say because history remains largely unwritten

was it normal for a man in 1st cent palestine to be able to sell his wife? (it wasn’t).. if he didn’t own her, why was someone else allowed to sell her if he couldn’t pay his debts?.. same could be asked of story in nehemia.. one could ask.. why weren’t they taking him (rather than his daughter).. the daughter hadn’t borrowed any money..


not as if it is ordinary for fathers to sell children.. this is a practice w a very specific history: appears in the great agrarian civs form sumer to rom to china.. right around time when w e also start to see evidence of money, markets, and interest bearing loans;.. and later as those surrounding hinterlands supplied those civs w slaves.. seems to be good reason to believe.. that the very obsession w patriarchal honor that so defines ‘tradition’ in middle east .. arose alongside the father’s power to alienate his children – seen as moral perils of the market.. all of this is treated as somehow outside the bounds of econ history..

excluding all this is deceptive not only because it excludes main purposes to which money was actually put in the past.. but because it doesn’t give us a clear vision of the preset.. after all, who were those thai women who so mysteriously appeared at neil bush’s hotel door? almost certainly, they were children of indebted parents.. likely as not, they were contractual debt peons themselves..

focusing on sex industry would be deceptive, though.. then as now , most women in debt bondage spend the vast majority of their time sewing, preparing soups, and scouring latrines.. even in bible.. ‘don’t covet neighbor’s wife’ clearly referred not to lust in one’s heart (adultery already covered in commandment 7) but to the prospect of taking her as a debt peon.. as a servant to sweep one’s yard and hang laundry.. in most such matters, sexual exploitation was at best incidental..


again as we remove some of our usual blinders.. we see that matters have changed far less.. over last 5000 yrs than we really like to think..

ie: ‘primitive money’.. the sorts one encounters in places w no states/markets.. (cloth, feather monies – ironic because primitive was suggesting crude version of currencies we use today) .. these are kinds of transactions economists don’t like to have to talk about.. often such currencies never used to buy/sell anything al all.. instead.. used to create, maintain and otherwise reorg relations between people: to arrange marriages, estab paternity of children, head off feuds, funerals, forgiveness for crimes.. negotiate treaties, acquire followers.. almost anything but trade in yams, shovels, pigs or jewelry


i’ve decided to refer to them as ‘social currencies’.. and the econ that employ them as ‘human econs’.. by this i mean not that these societies are necessarily in any way more humane but that they are econ systems primarily concerned not w the accumulation of wealth but w the creation, destruction, and rearranging of human beings

historically, commercial (today call them market ) econs are a relative newcomer.. for most of human history, human econs predominated.. so ask.. what sort of debts/credits// do people accum in human econs? and what happens when human econs overtaken by commercial ones.. this is another way of asking: how do mere obligations turn into debts?


the most interesting theory of the origin of money .. rospabe’s argument is that ‘primitive money’ was not originally away to pay debts of any sort. it’s a way of recognizing the existence of debts that cannot possible be paid.. his argument is worth considering in detail

in most human econs, money is used first/foremost to arrange marriages.. simplest and probably most commons ways of doing this was by being presented as what used to be called ‘brideprice’

marriage\ing et al


practice (seen as buying a woman for marriage) caused something of a scandal.. by 1926 league of nations was debating banning practice as a form of slavery.. anthropologists objected.. really, they explained, this was nothing like the purchase of say an ox.. let alone a pair of sandals..

it’s a way of rearranging relations between people.. if he’s buying anything.. it’s the right to call her offspring his own.. everyone at time insisted that a proper marriage should take the form of an exchange of sisters..


the system quickly gave rise to a very complex set of arrangements ie: men as wards.. would swap/trade them (women) in process accumulate numerous wives for selves.. while less fortunate mean wer only able to marry late in life or not at all (tiv women)


money then begins.. as rospabe himself puts it.. ‘as a sub for life’.. one might call it the recognition of a life-debt.. invariably exact same kind of money used to arrange marriages also used to pay money present to fam of murder victim.. so as to prevent/resolve a blood feud..


again, money is first/foremost an acknowledgement that one owes something more valuable than money.. in case of blood feud.. both parties aware that even a revenge killing.. while at least conforms ot principle of la life for a life.. won’t really compensate for the victim’s grief/pain.. this knowledge allows for some possibility of settling matter w/o violence.. but even here.. often a feeling that.. as in case of marriage.. the real solution to the problem is simply being temporarily postponed


much the same as w bridewealth.. money doesn’t to wipe out debt.. at best.. those paying bloodwealth, by admitting the existence of the debt and insisting that they wish they could pay it.. even thought they know this is impossible, can allow the matter to be placed permanently on hold

on hold ness as enslavement


(lewis henry morgan): present of white wampum (beads) was not in nature of compensation for life of deceased.. but of regretful confession of the crime.. w a petition for forgiveness.. a peace offering .. acceptance of which was pressed by mutual friends (to keep from future fights/harm)

also in many cases.. also some way to manip system to turn payments meant to assuage one’s rage/grief into way of creating a new life that would in some sense sub for the one that was lost.. (because in taking a life loved one left) had effectively been robbed of his eternity


it’s not that we owe ‘society’ .. if there is any notion of ‘society’ here.. and it’s not clear that there is – society is our debts


(lele – african/congo people – 10 000 ish) by 1950s managed to turned the principle of blood debts into the organizing principle of their entire society.. couldn’t use (cloth) to acquire food, tools, or really much of anything.. it was the quintessential social currency.. informal gifts of raffia cloth smooth all social relations


these gifts were hierarchical in nature: that is, it never occurred to those receiving them that they should have to recip in any way


men could not use money to acquire women; nor could they use it to claim any rights over children.. the lele were matrilenial.. children belonged not to their father’s clan but to their mother’s..

there was another way men gained control over women however.. this was the system of blood debts.. common understanding among many traditional african peoples that human begin do not simply die w/o a reason.. if someone dies.. someone must have killed them.. once village was satisfied that a culprit had been id’d.. that person owed a blood debt: victim’s next of kin a human life.. ie: young woman from his fam to be victim’s ward or ‘pawn’.. as w the tiv.. the system quickly became immensely complicated.. pawnship was inherited.. point was to get hold of a young woman who would then go on to produce additional pawn children..


trading humans.. so life-debts more appropriate.. also.. human life meant woman’s life.. even more specifically.. young woman’s life.. mary douglas.. who was in no sense a feminist.. was forced to admit that the whole arrangement did seem to operate as if it were one gigantic apparatus for asserting male control over women.. true above all because women themselves could not own paws.. they could only be pawns.. young women were thus the credits/debits.. the pieces being moved around the chessboard.. while the hands that moved them were invariably male..


form male pawns: advantageous since owner paid most of fines/fees et all.. this is why .. douglas informants insisted.. pawnship had nothing in common w slavery

for a woman: since was the stakes in game all men were playing.. afforded all sorts of opps to game the system.. flirt/intrigue.. could get another husband if it suited her


could slip off at night to an enemy village where she asks for sanctuary.. they would immediately declare her ‘wife of the village’ who all men living there would then be obliged to protect..

most older men had several wives.. reducing pool for younger men


village wife was more than respectable.. treated very much like a princess.. all household chores were done by her eager young husbands.. she could help self to others’ possession and was expected to make all sorts of mischief to the bemused indulgence of all concerned.. also expected to make self sexually available to all members of the age set.. perhaps 10-12 diff men.. at first, pretty much whenever they wanted her..


over time.. she’d settle down w just 3-4.. and finally.. just one.. flexible.. but in principle.. married to the village as a whole.. if she had children.. the village was considered to be their father.. ..expected to bring them up.. provide them w resources .. as result.. villages became corp bodies.. collective groups that.. like modern corps.. had to be treated as if they were individuals for purposes of law.. unlike ordinary individuals.. villages could back up their claims w force..

doulgas emphasizes this as crucial.. because in everyday affairs.. there was almost complete lack of any systematic means of coercion.. there were all sorts of rules.. but w no govt/courts/judges to make authoritative decisions.. no group of armed men willing or able to employ the threat of force to back those decisions..


so.. gentle/agreeable behavior.. if fight did break out.. everyone would immediately jump in to break it up..

your own song ness

villages in contrast.. were fortified and age sets could be mobilized to act as military units. here, and only here, did org’d violence enter the picture.. true, when villages fought, it was also always over women

it’s exactly this point too where the potential for violence enters.. that the great wall constructed between the value of lives and money can suddenly come tumbling down..


in other words, it was only when violence was brought into the equation that there was any question of buying and selling people..

the ability to deploy force to cut thru the endless maze of preferences, obligations, expectations, and responsibilities that marked *real human relationships, also made it possible to overcome what is otherwise the first rule of all lele econ relationships: that human lives can only be exchanged for other human lives.. and never for physical objects

*real human? or whale..? (w all those red flags: obligations, expectations, responsibilities et al)


mere fact of their (slaves) existence set a precedent.. the value of a human life could, sometimes, be quantified.. ; but if one was able to move from – one life equal another – to one life equals 100 cloths.. it was only because the equation was established at the point of a separation..


these (cloth and wood.. what they used as currency) then were the materials used to shape people’s physical appearance.. to make them appear mature, decent, attractive and dignified to their fellows.. they were what turned a mere naked body int a proper social being

this is no coincidence.. it’s extraordinarily common in what i’ve been calling human econs.. money almost always arises first form objects what are used primarily as adornment of the person.. ie: beads, shells, feathers, teeth.. all are useless for any purpose other than making people look more interesting and hence more beautiful..

as a general rule.. it’s only when govts and then markets.. enter the picture that we begin to see currencies like barley, cheese, tobacco or salt


here too.. there was one dramatic exception.. a man could buy a slave, a woman kidnapped in a raid from a distant country.. slaves, after all, had no parents, or could be treated as if they didn’t; they had been forcibly removed from all those networks of mutual obligation and debt in which ordinary people acquired their outward id’s.. this was why they could be bought and sold..

perhaps a gen principle: to make something sale able, in a human econ.. one needs to first rip it from its context.. that’s what slaves are: people stolen from the community that made them what they are.. only relation they had was to owners.t

fitting with kids in school and people at work as well.. the death of us ness


hence.. the notion of ‘sphere’ .. in principle.. these 3 levels: ordinary consumption of goods, masculine prestige goods, and rights in women, .. were completely separate.. non trade able


in another way, it is unusually revealing, since the lack of any larger govt structure made it easier to see what was really happening.. the pervasive climate of violence led to the systematic perversion of all the institutions of existing human econs.. which were transformed into a gigantic apparatus of dehumanization and destruction


according to some contemp accounts.. a man who simple disliked his wife and was in need of brass rods.. could always come up w some reason to sell her, and the village elders.. who received a share of the profits.. would almost invariable concur..

the most ingenious trick of the merchant societies though was to assist in the dissemination of a secret society, called ekpe, which made its members complicit in their own potential enslavement


a neighbor’s goats or children would do just as well, since the whole point was to bring social pressure on whoever owed the money

the distinction between pawns and slaves had largely disappeared..


to be a slave was to be plucked from one’s fam, kin, friends, and community, stripped of one’s name, id, and dignity; of everything that made one a person rather than a mere human machine capable of understanding orders

except.. deeper.. ie: id, dignity, not really what we crave.. not really our essence.. they are more part of the stripping away than the legit us ness..

a&aown song ness, ..

what is remarkable is that this was done, the bodies extracted, thru the very mechs of the human econ.. premised on principle that human lives are ultimate value.. to which nothing could possibly compare.. instead.. all the same institutions – fees for initiations, means of calculating guilt/compensation, social currencies, debt pawnship – were turned into their opposite; the machinery was, as it were.. gears, mechs designed for creation became means for destruction – of human beings..


one could find exact same things wherever human econs came into contact w commercial ones. (esp ones w advance military tech and an insatiable demand for human labor)..


reid insists that most of this was .. poor men take out loans for purpose of becoming debtors to wealthy who could provide food, roof, wife, et al.. important to point this out.. because one of effects of slave trade is that people often left w image of african continent as an irredeemably violent, savage place .. an image that has had disastrous effects on those who do live there


on bali.. before becoming famous paradise.. had been turned largely into a reservoir of the export of human beings.. entire island as apparatus for forcible extraction of women


began book w question: how is it that moral obligations come to be thought of as debts and end up justifying behavior that would otherwise seem utterly immoral?

obligation ness – red flag

began this chapter with answer: by making distinction between commercial/human econs.. where (human) money acts as social currency to create/maintain/sever relations between people rather than to purchase things


in human econ – each person is unique.. and of incomparable value.. each relation is unique.. objects (of exchange) such as raffia cloth or bundles of copper wire.. make one who one is – illustrated by way the objects used as social currencies are so often things otherwise used to clothe/decorate the human body.. that help make one who one is in the eyes of others..


in this sense.. term human econ is double edged.. thee are after all, *economies: that is, systems of exchange in which qualities are reduced to quantities.. allowing calcs of gain/loss..

we could have a legit human *econ.. sans the double edge.. sans the systems of exchange.. sans the calcs .. ie: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space

how is their calculability effectuated? how does it become possible to treat people as if they are identical? the lele ie gave us a hint: to make a human being an object of exchange, requires first of all *ripping her from her context; that is treating her away from that web of relation that makes her the unique conflux of relations that she is and thus, into a generic value capable of being added/subtracted and used as a means to measure debt.. this require s a certain violence

again.. take it deeper .. get to maté basic needs – a&a ness

*st\ripped from context

to make her equiv to a bar of camwood takes even more violence, and it takes an enormous amount of sustained an systematic violence to rip her so completely from her context that she becomes a slave.. t

structural violence et al – the death of us ness


no reasonable man/woman would want to live in a place where neighbors don’t look after one another.. one must still ask.. how would community have reacted if they though she was beating him..


(after showing ideal pattern of bilateral cross cousin marriage – sometimes diagrams can be quite beautiful) human beings, left to follow their own desires, rarely arrange selves in symmetrical patterns. such symmetry tends to be bought at a terrible human price

price: the death of us

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

pattern: not symmetrical..


real point: certain sorts of violence were considered morally acceptable.. no neighbors would rush in to intervene if a guardian was beating runaway ward (woman). . and it as because women know that this is how their neighbors, or even parents, would react that ‘exchange marriage ‘ was possible.. this is what i mean by people ‘ripped from their contexts’

st\ripped from context ness.. which to some degree is everyone.. ie: whales


nonetheless.. there were mechs for forcibly removing young women from their homes. and it was precisly this that made them exchangeable..

banaz mahmod et al


the violence is preserved w/in the structure of the law.. t

and the structure of the whales


the crucial question: how common was this? the african slave trade was.. an unprecedented catastrophe but commercial economies had already been extracting slaves from human econs for 1000s of years.. it is a practice as old as civilization.. the question i want to ask is: *To what degree is it actually constitutive of civilization itself? I am not speaking strictly of slavery here, but of that process that dislodges people from the webs of **mutual commitment, shared history, and collective responsibility that make them what they are, so as to make them exchangeable—that is, to make it possible to make them subject to the logic of debt.

*jensen civilization law et al

dislodging of people.. how to detox that subjection to the logic of debt..

slavery is just the logical end point.. the most extreme form of such disentanglement.. slavery has shaped our basic assumptions /institutions in ways that we are no longer aware of and whose influence we would probably never wish to acknowledge if we were.. if we have become a debt society, it is because the legacy of war, conquest ,and slavery has never completely gone away.. it’s still there, lodged in our most intimate conceptions of ***honor, property , even freedom.. it’s just that we can no longer see that it’s there..

he is tapping into deeper ness.. but referring to it as: **commitments, history, responsibility, ***honorr property, freedom.. not deep enough.. those to will be/cause/perpetuate the death of us



museum of care meetings

museum of care