m of care – nov 3

Debt:The First 5,000 Years is a book that eludes simple summary. It is an encyclopaedic journey through global history encompassing the stories of grand civilizations as well as small societies whose social logics reveal more about the human condition than anyone might imagine. It is primarily a story about money and the way material issues have always been underlain by moral considerations.

p2 in series of reading groups on david graeber‘s debt (book)



We’ll be reading Chaps 1 & 2 with moderation by @stevenbachelor 

03 November, 2022 20:00 (London time)

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/museumofcare/status/1587238320802873344

high points to me from ch 1&2:


the one thing that all these misconceptions have in common, we will find, is that they tend to reduce all human relations to exchange.

marsh exchange law et al

this leads to another question.. if not exchange.. then what?

we dance.. as one

(will address in ch 5) – origins of money to demo how the very principle of exchange emerged largely as an effect of violence.. t

the very principle of exchange emerged largely as an effect of violence – –

graeber exchange law

notes/quotes from 67 min meeting:

steve: what has changed over time is the app of math and violence to give a precise measurement to those debt obligations.. so that anyone who tries to escape from them can have a pound of flesh exacted from them precisely

graeber violence/quantification law et al..

and to changing over time because of math/violence.. any form of m\a\p was/is math/violence.. so change more about degree of it.. no?

2 min – steve: ultimately he argues a moral system.. that proceed history and that capitalism using violence/force makes this system highly predictable.. because violence is stupid and predictable..

steve: word on p 65 – amagi – a sumerian word that translates of freedom.. to return to mother.. first recorded word of freedom.. to assign numeric value to what we owe or are owed creates confusion.. seems to encapsulate the direction he’s going to be taking


It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment.

The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi4 “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”. Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom. Referring to its literal meaning “return to the mother”, he wrote in 1963 that “we still do not know why this figure of speech came to be used for ‘freedom’.”

The earliest known usage of the word was in the reforms of Urukagina. By the Third Dynasty of Ur, it was used as a legal term for the manumission of individuals.

It is related to the Akkadian word anduraāru(m), meaning “freedom”, “exemption” and “release from (debt) slavery”.

A number of libertarian organizations have adopted the cuneiform glyph as a symbol claiming it is “the earliest-known written appearance of the word ‘freedom'”. It is used as a logo by the Instituto Político para la Libertad of Peru, the New Economic School – Georgia, Libertarian publishing firm Liberty Fund, and was the name and logo of the journal of the London School of Economics’ Hayek Society. British musician Frank Turner has the symbol tattooed on his left forearm.

back to meeting

6 min – i’d like to search david’s twitter at time he wrote debt.. for quotes.. for me it’s so common knowledge that he actually is like a stand up comedian.. and done in a way you can’t even argue with

9 min – steve: it’s such a teachable book.. style of writing

11 min – simona reading ‘what does it mean to say our sense of morality and justice is reduced to language of a business deal’ .. this is a great book on ethics for me.. and politics and human relationships.. t

13 min – sid: quote where he mentioned diff between loaning to known and to stranger.. i think this is a very insightful quote.. it adds what you were saying simona.. as the human element in general.. it adds humanity what otherwise is a transaction.. this transaction vs human element was something that was for me important..

marsh exchange law.. 10-day-care-center\ness et al

15 min – ida: i also paid attention to same quote that simona mentioned.. highlights start.. of that women saying.. ‘oh surely one has to pay debts’.. then combines .. that is more about morality than econ.. at least 1st 2 ch’s makes you question idea of what econ is.. in uni.. econ is very narrow.. t

need: 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

20 min – mehdi: p 19 – ‘we can no longer ask great questions’

21 min – michael: begin of ch 2: ‘history of debt is history of money’.. words like obligation and debt.. where debt is quantified via math.. then makes distinction between violence and math.. and is there some hidden need to quantify.. on how he uses the same words in diff contexts

23 min – jenny: in field of anthro.. get lost in his minutia of terms.. but then he zooms back out.. a strategy in writing.. i don’t see that in others..

25 min – sid: essence of beginning is debunk myth of origins of money.. that barter was the origin of money.. he continues to debunk it.. but still seen as a myth and no one questions it.. from tik tok – money has diff names (dowry, donation, fee, alimony, fine, ransom, allowance, taxes, loan, salary, debt, wage)

30 min – kathrin: interested in people who are here.. never had a chance to know david.. so would like to ask.. how was process of writing this book.. must have been very much of an effort.. demanding subject.. in german.. debt and guilt the same.. very heavy moral topic.. so interested in the making of the book.. and david while writing book.. that process

32 min – nika: i agree with sevin and disagree w simona that should be economists to understand this book.. this book makes fun of people who pretended to be so knowledgeable but turned out to be a fraud.. professionals are ones making it complicated.. a whole industry of people w special languages.. i think that.. why david become so popular.. yes i knew david when writing this.. he was sending me chapter by chapter in a word file.. he was angry/whining about the process of publishing.. when i asked him why.. ‘i feel i need to participate in public debate.. i feel what i’m saying is clear.. and it would help people..’.. diff from publishing doe.. he was a young/unknown author

35 min – mehdi: how long did it take to write this book.. big book a lot of anal

36 min – nika: i don’t now.. his secret was.. always to work inbetween.. in the bath/restaurant.. he also likes to be w people.. so in taxi/subway.. he was just living like that.. it wasn’t a work for him.. it’s just how he perceived the world..t

37 min – steve: funny interviews about how he did it when book came out.. describing those inbetweens.. clearly some people have gifts that are supernatural.. not sure we can explain them

38 min – tom: struck me first read.. at how much violence was mentioned in beginning.. almost every page.. which as an economist.. that wasn’t natural.. so made me doubt a lot of what i had studied in the past.. that’s how i ended up with steven keen..

39 min – bruno: on the international and violence.. what i took from law.. if turn something into math easy to insert the violence.. but bigger system in a whole is based on violence.. madagascar french called it ‘to integrate you into our system’..

41 min – john: i was connecting thread about math to thread in doe.. of how math has started saturating way we think about everything.. ie: 2 concepts of equality.. people same and people diff.. we start using math operations to measure people.. and those operations are quite simple.. so maybe why it’s spread so much.. and why nobody understands ie: where money is coming from

43 min – kenneth: same question as nika.. what has changed since 2000-1 crisis.. book shows us econ is only one way system/way to show value.. if we can imagine a world of debt.. we can certainly imagine a world where there isn’t.. i have difficulty of translating this into something that breaks the common sense in talking.. they default into interest rates and recession et al.. i reject econ as way to understanding world but i also default to econ language.. and i’d like to break from that..

47 min – nika: that’s a crucial question now.. i believe this war we’re seeing now is partly about kenneth’s question.. chinese/greeks creating same international bureaucratic structure.. own bank/imf.. everything.. and system is clashing w each other and debt is about diff way of arranging social relationship.. regard to crypto currency.. this is an illusion of apolitical money.. all created by tech people who are most free market people.. so no way to provide this 3rd way to go.. tech will be hijacked..

need: perhaps let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence w/ubi as temp placebo.. where legit needs are met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring

50 min – michael: what do you think myth of barter covers up.. why did money theorists/econs need that to start their story.. t

51 min – mehdi: i teach econ.. i think this is brilliant/amazing subject.. i would think david wasn’t an econ.. but really good understanding of econ.. why the barter.. ? econ text books start w barter.. david undid that.. when you know someone.. and exchange goods.. you do don’t do it thru debt.. don’t need medium of exchange because know it will come back around.. david had that view.. but when exchange w unknown people.. then will have immediate exchanges.. one of david’s most important contribution.. michael enis.. wrote ‘credit theory of money’ in 1913..

55 min – simona: like very much book by steve kedeski ‘against econ’.. and.. quote i was looking for.. so yes.. econ is in a way a scam.. what happens when you reduce complexity of human relationships to numbers.. and an abstraction.. property is an abstraction.. affects many areas of our life.. even manners.. and hierarchy (in first ch of possibilities).. so very important point in connection of ideas in david.. i agree w mehdi that key point is diff kinds of exchanges between knowing.. not knowing people.. and also enemies..

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

lit & num as colonialism et al

59 min – bruno: in barter people are equal.. but people aren’t equal.. i think that’s what barter myth is based by.. if two tribes meets.. tension of going toward violence.. and taking upper hand .. all theories are extractions.. barter is of that model.. because never happened.. but if two tribes meet and enforced equilib.. if want world where people can trade.. have to have forced equilib.. my take on why econs invent myth of barter.. t

62 min – sid: yes.. bruno.. that myth of equilib.. maybe close w quote from another great man ‘orwell: all animals equal but some more equal than others’.. on the myth of equality.. orwell attempted to shine light on that

63 min – steve: on google doc for debt group

64 min – francesco: myth of barter very much connected w myth of savage.. quite clear by david on stockpiles.. and how it was irrelevant to people traveling at that time.. and connects to idea of the white man’s bartering

66 min – nika: thank you for coming to the opening.. we keep getting press for it.. so very exciting..

67 min – steve: next time ch 3&4







museum of care meetings

museum of care