m of care – jun 16

on david graeber‘s there never was a west (ch 11 – pgs 329-374 of possibilities)

For our next reading group, we’ll discuss ‘There Never Was a West’. We’ll start with the first 9 pages (p. 329-337), in which David offers a crushing and original critique of Huntington’s theses.

Also, 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:

vassily: plan to read it in 4 parts.. 10 pages each.. whole point of never was a west was to recombine theory and practice.. (so wanting all to participate in dialogue).. david says text is to spark a dialogue and i think this is what democracy is about.. those w/o title et al to have power.. can’t expect people to participate.. can be a very active listener..

vassily: background on text.. intro to possibilities.. he wants thru publication of these texts.. he wants to present dialogue outside academic ghetto.. david has harsh words for marxists.. he prefers anarchism.. to him anarchy = democracy.. so there’s no ‘graeber’s lesson’ because he didn’t want any.. it’s a bit of an excuse to reinvent forms of democracy (even though this is a small group).. a means to decolonize the enlightenment

ie: a nother way

simona: it’s an important text to read along w doe and pirates (new book coming out).. once more supporting democracy.. because people don’t believe any more in elections et al.. so important at this very moment to better understand what we want.. what do we mean by democracy.. important text to dispel some myths about democracy.. the west.. a western future.. et al.. how to org and live together.. shows how elections isn’t really in the tradition of democracy.. and how democracy wasn’t a positive thing till 19th cent.. and at that time had similar meaning as anarchy.. that’s my reason for suggesting this text.. the thesis david declares in this text are about western civ.. 2nd and 3rd parts are about democratic practices.. and how the idea of democracy reinvented in 19th cent.. what is most interesting for me is the last part.. about the contradiction between state and democracy as power from the bottom.. my questions to you are whether you agree on proposal of parting the text and to discuss it in a karaoke way.. my goal for this first meeting was discuss the rules for the next meetings..

avi: whole idea of nature/culture divide.. so idea of west doesn’t just hide things from elsewhere.. but things local.. ie: animals.. people only thinking in a dualistic ways..

steve: i like idea of 4 parts.. because like a shorter version of doe.. important for thinkers and for activists.. he wrote this in a way.. like all his work.. so approachable.. connecting mode of anal w ethics practice.. how difficult and time consuming.. and almost not worth it (on democracy)

simona: first ch about oscillation .. they treat culture and civ as if they were the same.. this is an ideological move.. this confusion is what allows huntington.. western writings.. to pretend that a rational civ et al exists..

avi: what i meant to say was.. if thinks a more popular version of the west.. which is about talking about being white.. fascist is the wrong word.. a darwinist perspective.. any cultural aspect of a human is an expression of genetic/determined chain of being.. just one naturalism.. some superior/inferior.. but not division at cultural level.. ie: hobbes.. why have pedophiles.. small fraction of people w brain failures.. so isolate.. get rid of them..

avi: i was going to tie it back to something.. that mono naturalist perspective is built on an idea of inheritance.. ie: land/property.. tells you nothing about all the work laborers have to do to keep it alive

michael: people do diff things and nature is that way.. mono naturism is something many others would contest.. how you interp nature is a bit of culture..

simona: ellen judd in one of reading groups said she noticed the continual dialogue between david and sahlins.. i’m just reading western illusion of human nature.. this is exactly about this opposition.. sahlins says: ‘people we call western have been haunted by inner being.. and reducing society to anarchy..’


ellen: sahlins is trying to do a defense of cultural specificity.. where culture is called racist.. et al.. what leapt out at me in these pages .. the way david is opening the door to things that get missed when we’re talking about states.. a way to bring people in.. that would be something to explore in this group.. the practice people have of dealing w horizontal relationships.. we deal w non horizontal all the time.. so some of the issues that arise in my mind.. how we go about dealing w the non horizontal features of everyday life..

we create a legit alt.. ie: hari rat park law et al..

ellen: on people saying.. state has policies and people have resistance.. on how people deal w things that aren’t horizontal in everyday life..

kelig: at end he’s a bit ironic saying could have been talking about others than hintington.. but i chose him.. because he’s so clumsy.. he brings out concepts shared by everyone.. if we want to see change.. need to see how everyone is seeing this.. how do we change the narrative.. what do we do w this as a starting point

pehr: in reinventing self in the in between ness.. i what to hear this article in activist ness.. whether we should join it or not

avi: i would like to hear the answer that you discover.. i work in food activism.. food sovereignty.. to me.. electoral democracy is like a menu democracy.. ie: eat hamburger for 4 yrs.. till another election.. sovereignty/horizontalism is important to activism..

simona: the book is about .. before defending democracy we should agree what we mean by this word.. been both bad/good term.. it’s positive because people pushed for it to be positive..

[michael in chat: book “The Democracy project” by David Graeber which has a pretty extensive review of what David thinks of concept of democracy]

the democracy project

pehr martens: democracy creates itself in in between ness.. they had to self org.. it’s in this in between ness that democracy can reinvent itself.. it’s a bit difficult to relate this text to what i’m doing as an activist..

avi: if i hear you correctly.. ie: swedish people to join nato et al

again.. getting caught in specifics of sea world.. we’ll never hear/see/be a legit alt

kelig: this idea of govern by crisis.. this is big issue we now have.. we have a system.. but there’s always a crisis that justifies.. important to trace it back to who practiced it first.. then we know where to turn to see how it is enforced

if it has to be enforced.. isn’t that a red flag

kelig: p 336 – text.. based on what.. not just ideas.. but people who have experiences.. continue this on monday.. https://museum.care/events/this-is-not-an-enlightener/

seems (to vassily’s words above) we’re spending time on theory and not on a legit alt.. we’re just been so well trained to default to that distraction..

i think biggest part.. (a legit alt).. is ref’d in:


the need to maintain *some kind of mechanism—whether these be North American-style “facilitation,” Zapatista-style women’s and youth caucuses, or any of an endless variety of other possibilities—to ensure that the voices of those who would normally find themselves marginalized or excluded from traditional participatory mechanisms are heard..t

huge huge huge

need (and now have the means for): a means to undo our hierarchical listening (currently/always.. no voices have been legit heard ie: maté trump law, public consensus always oppresses someone(s), none of us are free, et al).. we all need detox first

1\ because what we need is a legit alt.. a means to listen deeper.. so we can org around legit needs.. and 2\ i think that’s what we keep spinning our wheels with hopes of what democracy can do.. trying to figure out a way to hear everyone..


simona ferlini fb post next day:

Hi everybody, heartfelt thanks to those who managed to attend notwithstanding the technical difficulties that obliged us to postpone our meeting by one hour. For those who couldn’t make it, here is the proposal we agreed on for the next steps. We want the reading group meetings to be as little as possible lessons and as much as possible exchanges of ideas around the text. Therefore, we are splitting the text in short pieces of approx 7 to 10 pages each, so that everybody can find half an hour to read it, and we strongly encourage everybody to contribute with a quote, or a short comment, or a short speech (3 to 10 minutes). Of course, no pressure and no obligation, but we would really like to hear something from everybody.

We’ll also have icebreakers to at the beginning, just for the fun of hanging out together, so we’ll start 10 minutes earlier (at 18:50 London time).

The partition will be:

(today) p. 329-337 in Possibilities, AK Press 2007 (https://davidgraeber.org/books/possibilities/), that is from the beginning until the “Parenthetical note” (https://theanarchistlibrary.org/…/david-graeber… to )

June the 30th at 18.50 London time p. 337-347 or from the Parenthetical note https://theanarchistlibrary.org/…/david-graeber… until part IV, Recuperation

July the 14 at 18.50 London time p. 347-355 From Part IV Recuperation https://theanarchistlibrary.org/…/david-graeber… until Traditions as acts of endless refoundation

July the 28 at 6.50 London time p. 355-362 From Traditions as acts of endless refoundation until Part V

(TBS, either in August or at the beginning of September) 355-362, or Part V https://theanarchistlibrary.org/…/david-graeber…

Looking forward to meeting you.. Simona and Vassily




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

m of care – sept 1there never was a west – p 5



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