m of care – feb 17

on david graeber and david wengrow‘s dawn of everything (book).. ch 10 –  why the state has no origin – the humble beginnings of sovereignty, bureaucracy and politics (p 359-441)

notes/quotes from meeting:

steve: think this is climax of book.. sums up all work they’ve been developing so far.. reach a conclusion about 3 elementary forms of domination: 1\ sovereignty 2\ admin 3\ charismatic competition.. author’s end up arguing.. with separate historical roots.. so any effort to talk about them being characteristics of civ are misplace.. because 3 separate strains of domination.. when taken together both ancient.. and modern states.. p. 441.. ‘what regard as states turn out to be.. power of kings held by people.. ‘

steve: aristocracies tend to be most common forms of govt.. but not the only

steve: quote from p 430-31 : ‘Sociologist Philp Abrams pointed out long ago (1977) that the “state is not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is.” To understand the latter, he argued, we must attend to the “the senses in which the state does not exist rather than to those in which it does.” ….’.. reinforce aristocracy and domination

again.. all in sea world.. so hari rat park law et al

steve: finally able to argue.. artists in crete.. who are outliers that can’t otherwise be explained.. suggest that what until now has passed for civ might be nothing more than gendered appropriation (p 433).. w women at center.. systems of knowledge that existed.. intimate relations of care can become relations of domination.. ie: where men are dominating women.. except for ie in crete.. possible conclusion.. that thru process of schismogenesis.. primitive matriarchy may be accurate..

[actual quote he pasted in chat]: ‘What until now has passed for civilization might in fact be nothing more than a gendered appropriation –by men etching their claims in stone–of some earlier system of knowledge that had women at its centre.’


steve: book making suggestions that one ways men have been able to appropriate/accum power for selves by appropriating wisdom taken from women and imposing structures of violence on top of those..

steve: so seems to say.. state relies on these forms of violence on women.. and relationships to property that exclude everyone else’s .. however.. this was never inevitable.. outliers really matter.. if we assume culture to be creative refusal this is where we have to start.. where people refused ie: nation states..

steve: this ch to me is like a book unto itself.. ends up state is really an oppression w/o much (real) power

steve: one beautiful line toward end of text (433): ‘Where we once assumed civilization and state to be conjoined entities that came down us as a historical package (take it or leave it, forever), what history now demonstrates is that these terms actually refer to complex amalgams of elements which have entirely different origins and which are currently in the process of drifting apart. Seen this way, to rethink the basic premises of social evolution is to rethink the very idea of politics itself. P. 431.’

steve: social scientists are as much of this project of state formation and only way to do rigorous science is to be aware of those trappings from start.. which is why this book is a call to action to start writing (rather than giving answers) .. rather than looking at all products of state formation.. end up delivering on their promise.. but it’s just an opening to call on us to do the work..

steve: on the coda.. confirming schismo as powerful force of cultural comparison.. requires a kind of creative refusal/rejection .. ruptures binary between insider/outsider.. while maintaining the reality of insider/outsider.. historians/scholars have not given adequate agency.. rather have suggested ancients didn’t know another way

simona: i agree.. this is an important book in itself.. about appropriation of women’s wisdom.. p about the abstractification of care.. how care for unique human became care for gods and kings.. process of transforming something abstract.. exchangeable.. not unique.. is the very process of reducing our freedom to property.. and of money and of sovereignty.. david says.. it’s only when you strip away property.. when you conceive people/body as something you own.. main meaning of property is that i can use violence to get everybody out of it.. it’s an idea of freedom of everything that is concrete.. relationships, value.. reducing everything to what can be exchangeable.. spinoza ‘you can’t alienate yourself.. can only alienate when commodified’.. and this is same process that happened w care and w women..

marsh exchange law

simona: on another side i was startled by beginning of chapter.. we’re never told of an origin of the state.. (weird) to ask .. reason of the state.. (because) state is just condition.. so just self org of a group of people.. for machiavelli was never issue about state.. but about govt.. also way spinoza uses the term.. so i was startled because this is not an issue.. the origin of the sate.. in my world.. but makes sense inside their discussion

simona: they say the state .. how we conceive it today.. max weber version.. is those 3 (forms of domination) .. they also say.. 2 aspects stand together.. but one is thrown off.. and actually charisma and competition are opp to sovereignty.. so easy to see they will drift apart..

steve: yeah.. important to recognize how intimately connected property is to violence.. so these regimes require this violence in order to maintain the institution of property.. not so much about ownership of property but exclusion of others.. creating this artificial scarcity.. which is why can perpetuate slavery.. can’t have these systems w/o there being violence.. which goes back to landed property.. so ultimately property is violence which is theft.. showing that it’s at most intimate level that care can be turned into violence

totality for kids

michael: this is really about the state.. not who gets stuff.. all defn’s of state.. but by end.. not clear if ch comes up with.. this is defn of state.. don’t know how successful if dominate w/o taking resources.. would run out.. but the conflation of care and violence i see as one of key points of text

state as mask p 431.. which presents us from seeing

simona: michael.. property is everything but material.. not about marxism/production.. it’s that when they start to define 3 forms of domination.. they start from property ie: of kim k protecting diamonds while parading them.. why does she bury them.. they say.. because of violence.. she has guards.. social power starts from property.. no real diff.. quote (363): property is not material.. it’s a legal understanding.. ‘ our logic of freedom is that we are kings in our house.. absolute power w/in borders of our property.. and state has absolute power w/in borders of their property.. quote ‘anyone has tried to squat will be keenly aware.. comes down to if someone is willing to follow orders.. ‘

simona: as for caring labor and property.. p 408.. ‘perhaps this is what a state actually is.. violence devoted to care/devotion.. diff between caring/mechanical labor.. [read long quote].. ‘.. family as a machine in which everyone was interchangeable’

steve: return to same thing.. 439.. them suggesting how we ought to rethinking state formation.. making suggestion that capitalism is great machine dedicated to production of something outside ourselves.. but what we’re really living for is production of each other.. but that practice/system/state.. is dedicated to producing goods to feed dead gods.. i see them smirking.. our production is not sustaining gods .. only the myth.. so it’s something we don’t need to keep doing.. return to idea of creative refusal being basis of culture.. rather than culture.. merely being things we do.. but lines we draw of where we will not go.. what isn’t to be done

david on creative refusal et al

steve: if we start from mutual aid.. will lead in diff directions.. graeber work is always interested in .. moment you have one side.. automatically another..

graeber make it diff law et al..

steve: next ch.. full circle.. now can return to indigenous critique.. they didn’t see all of it

steve: when i read it.. i fell like entire text books need to be re written.. and i’m hoping that happens

or maybe no more text books.. research ness.. history ness et al.. lit & num as colonialism et al..

christian walter: point where goes wrong.. when relationship of care/dependence turns into form of violence.. expropriation of spirit (not just good).. ie: abusive relationships.. starts between 2 people in household.. all possible w/o property/armies/feeding-the-gods.. things have gone a long ways by then

steiner care to oppression law

[michael in chat: The problem as stated in the book is not care but the conflation of care with violence- expropriation of care through violence/use of slavery]

michael: saying care is violence is not so much what book is saying.. rather that violence is used to appropriate care.. ie: forced to look after the master et al.. you’re appropriating the labor of care.. means their vision of world is enacted and perpetuated by violence.. not just care for owner.. but also in ed sector.. have to care for owner’s vision of the world.. we’re producing care for human beings.. so students can participate in world.. and higher ups say.. not going to pay.. but also going to make them produce humans/students in version we want

any form of m\a\p.. esp people telling other people what to do

[vasilly in chat: I find it interesting that nobody raised the fact that this chapter is a very mild critique of the state for someone coming from the anarchist tradition]

yeah to that.. unlike ie: totality for kids

steve: someone who enslaves someone is socially killing them.. but if not enslaved.. dead..

simona: a book should stand by itself.. and be understandable by itself.. but i think in this case we need to refer to other dg works.. ie: the bully pulpit.. affirming an order of reality.. not just enacting violence.. he’s enacting a vision of the world.. a social order he thinks is the right one.. ie: patriarchy forming from heroic societies.. women belonged to fam from women who could be sold.. came from creative refusal.. women needed protection.. so this structure of power comes from whole issue of being able to defend members of one’s fam from violence.. being sold.. and other side protection temples provided .. also working groups of pyramids called phyles (friendship).. et al.. so ways in which care becomes power/vioence.. protection of 1\ women/fam 2\ those entrusted to temple 3\ dead who become abstract

[michael in chat: The section of chapter on the origins of bureaucracy in surprisingly small situations seems to be where there is some confusion about care/violence/exchangibility of people]

syedh2: i think anarchist sentiment comes forward.. could be read as protests happening now.. how state protects/cares.. for people trying to do jobs.. and protestors inhibiting that ability for the state.. and other people just trying to go about their life.. makes me think all of this could be framed in support of the protestors.. and where we are in society.. restrictions on movements et al

steve: yeah.. good point.. i would add. . creative refusals funded by a lot of outsiders hoping to disrupt everything.. authors speak to it directly.. ‘do all politics come out of barrel of gun’.. they say no.. the refusal is stronger than the violence.. because they’re working from human nature being neither bad/good.. reminder that refusal is one of the strongest political weapons we have.. anarchism is an ethics of practice.. should be actively creating world you want and refusing to create world you do’t want to create..

next time.. ch 11.. full circle..

vassily: going to do a karaoke in april for doe.. might start collecting quotes.. 14th of april – https://museum.care/how-to-do-karaoke-reading-group/





some of my notes from dawn of everything (book):


perhaps this is what a state actually is: a combo of exception violence and the creation of a complex social machine, all ostensibly devoted to acts of care and devotion.. paradox.. caring labour is very opposite of mechanical labour.. it is about recognizing… what’s needed to provide what they (people) *require to flourish..

*we have no idea .. what we need is to get out of sea world in order to get back/to legit needs

caring labor et al..


our present situation regularly leads people to make ‘scientific’ assumption about how we go here (planet covered by states) that have almost nothing to do w the *actual data

not to mention.. even if we did have even *actual data.. none of it would be legit for free people.. because all of it to date has been on whales in sea world


philip abrams ‘the state is not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. it is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is’

which.. is.. all in sea world.. so hari rat park law et al


coda(concluding passage): on civilization, empty walls and histories still to be written

latin civilis.. refers to qualities of political wisdom and mutual aid that permit societies to org selves. thru *voluntary coalition.. if mutual aid, social coop, civic activism, hospitality or **simply caring for others are the kind of things that really go to make civs.. then true history of civ is only just starting to be written

*aka: voluntary compliance.. so many red flags.. ie: *not caring.. more like structurally violent help\ing ness (steiner care to oppression law et al).. jensen civilization law.. et al


as evidence accumulates.. for large settlement and impressive structure in perviously unsuspected locations.. we’d be wise to *resist projecting some image of the modern nation state on to their bare surface, and **consider what other kinds of social possibilities.. ***they might attest to

rather *let go of all data to date.. (realize it’s from whales in sea world).. and **consider all the possibilities ***8b people hear in their soul .. everyday

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



museum of care meetings

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