m of care – jul 21

parts 2 & 3 of there never was a west [https://museum.care/events/there-never-was-a-west-part-2-3-by-david-graeber/]

We are combining Part 2 and Part 3 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. 337 to 355 or from the Parenthetical note until Traditions as Acts of Endless Refoundation.

We welcome presentations on any aspect of this text, be it 1 minute or 10 minutes. Like a democratic university lecturing isn’t the prerogative of the lecturer.

notes/quotes from meeting:

simona: i suggested this text because of the war and that we’re supposed to bring this western democracy.. appeared relevant in this moment.. when reading more carefully.. still think relevant.. not so much about western civ.. on spaces where people self org.. the text is more about democracy than west.. about where should we look for the origins of democracy.. the way we interp democracy is relevant to our actions.. if we think democracy is athenian tradition.. we miss most important parts of democracy.. ie: ordinary people managing their own affairs.. as david says.. so text is about being able to think of new ways to think about democracy..

simona: p 2&3.. that democracy was not invented.. we can think of it as athenian/military founded on violence.. or in broader sense.. community making decision in an egal way.. david strikes importance of 2nd kind.. a way to take collective decisions when you have no ways to make or if you want to avoid ..coercion..

decision making is unmooring us law

simona: in western tradition democracy is athenian .. mob rule.. spinoza is one of few philosophers that talks positively about democracy

avi: so what is your point of comparison.. if not one size fits all.. then what do you belong with

simona – do we really need a point of comparison.. we have a point of view.. but .. in text.. western point of comparison.. in my opinion it’s more about neutral pov where neutrality doesn’t exist..

graeber values law: values are valuable because they cannot be compared with anything – David Graeber

vassily: if don’t have a point of ref have to look at dialogues

sounds like idiosyncratic jargon ness..

avi: idea of guilds that kropotkin talks about an non humans.. so point of comparison.. not between you and imaginary national fam.. and bio properties.. but with a collective of species you move around with

vassily: he’s not saying we need to leave out comparative anal.. just a criticism of ethnocentrism

steven: important distinction graeber makes.. relying on same kind of social theory of action he started on in his ma thesis.. he sees process of constituting actors.. so no singular point of rev.. zones of improvisation.. when two parties come into contact in a schismgenetic exchange.. they will develop a fetish of a sovereign power outside of them.. so graeber walking thru his methodology .. he’s unlearning us so we can relearn

muna: to disentangle the enforcement/violence from conception of consensus/democracy..

nika: a little story.. when in ny w ben and david went to museum w lots of weapons and knights.. so david gave us .. on weapon history.. so this connection between democratization tech of violence and social structure.. we were planning to do children book of .. what is weapons..

nika: another story.. seems so obvious.. between republic and direct democracy.. but not so for many.. strange that it didn’t penetrate the public imaginary yet

vassily: i want to reiterate.. this is what we wanted.. these interventions.. thank you max.. do we have any other presentations like that

max: the emergence of demo ideals.. it was w rise of idea of demo we have now.. ie: politicians forced to seek votes of farmers and small laborers.. why did they have to ask.. and why did farmers give the powers.. on p 345.. who was getting what out of who

simona: has to do w institutional level of voting rights and actual power of people in 19th cent.. they had some revolutions.. in preface of the democracy project.. david .. demo is never a concession from top.. those in power never want democracy and people’s power.. but when they are obliged to take it into account they do their best to disempower.. to translate in terms that are valuable to them.. the text starts with.. something is emerging.. what to call it.. importance of this ideal.. is that no matter how it’s abused.. people still push for it.. it’s a shared value for all of humanity and humanity pushes for it.. and those that do best to flatten it

vassily: i don’t think david gives a straight forward answer (max) .. but he tries to date it

avi: once you’ve got a republic and research on farmers.. you need to create an imaginary idea of who belongs in your club.. and farmers are important part.. important to have them on your side.. if

michael: on democracy being normal.. people being together and making decisions and voting.. so saying what you need (democracy) to get the vote

muna: most early american pres/politicians were farmers themselves.. so same types ness

simona: connection between abstract human and with democracy as market.. ie: new elections.. will be a market




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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