utopia of rules backwards

after re re re reading david graeber‘s utopia of rules .. deciding to re re re re read from back to front

adding page same day as m of care – may 28 – via lse on utopia of rules (focus on ch 3)




on message from nolan’s batman movie: ‘.. charity is much better than addressing structural problems.. ‘ because in nolan’s universe, any attempt to address structural problems, even thru nonviolent civil disobedience, really is a form of violence; because that’s all it could possible by.. imaginative politics are inherently violent..


on bane.. his face behind a mask he must wear continually so as not to collapse in agonizing pain.. no one in her right mind would want to be bane.. but that’s the point.. a warning against the dangers of undue sympathy for the unfortunate..

masks and measures


nolan’s villains are always anarchists.. but always very peculiar anarchists.. of a sort that seem to exist only in filmmaker’s imagination: anarchists who believe that human nature is fundamentally evil and corrupt

anarch\ism.. graeber anarchism law

central theme of early superhero universes: dangers of human imagination

imagine if we


they aren’t fascists.. they are just ordinary, decent, super powerful people who inhabit a world in which fascism is the only political possibility


part of the work of developing *new forms of consensus process, for ie, is to create institutional forms that encourage rather than inhibit improv and creativity

imagine if we.. sans any form of m\a\p.. sans any form of democratic admin.. because public consensus always oppresses someone(s) – that’s part of the over 20 cliques wielding power in all sorts of subtle ways.. that happens with just 2 people.. ie: brown belonging law and why we need a means to listen to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. 

activists sometimes put it: in most circumstance.. bring together crowd.. it will behave in less intelligently/creatively than any single member.. activist *dm process is, instead, designed to make that crowd smarter and more imaginative than any individual participant

*decision making is unmooring us

it is indeed possible to do this but it takes a lot of work

takes a lot of work

and the larger the group the more formal mechs have to be put in place.. the single most important essay in this.. freeman’s tyranny.. what i want to bring to attention is that almost everyone.. misreads freeman’s essay, and interpret it not as a plea for formal mechs to ensure equality but as a plea for more transparent hierarchy..

freeman structure law (?) et al

so he’s saying (i think) that she was saying.. need formal mechs for equality (i’d say equity.. so ie: mech to undo our hierarchical listening) rather than transparent hierarchy


in the case of the cambridge anthro dept.. the rules were made explicit, and were then frozen in place, ostensibly as a way of eliminating *arbitrary, personal authority..

*arbitrary ness

the malagasy attitudes towards rules of grammar clearly have nothing to do w a distaste for arbitrary authority, and everything to do w a *distaste for arbitrariness itself.. a distaste which leads to an unthinking acceptance of authority in it s most formal institutional form.. after all, what is our first experience of formal, rule governed authority if not our grade school teachers..

yeah.. this is huge.. and what they kept referring to at m of care – may 28.. but 1\ i think we need to go deeper than malagasy as ie’s.. just like we need to go deeper than hunter gatherers et al.. 2\ even if they were *distasting arbitrary ness itself.. that’s like graeber fear of play law.. so i’d call it more whalespeak.. than the ‘attitudes’ of legit free people

i think we need to be as bold as david was in calling out our fear of play.. and call out our fear of arbitrary ness

on language as good ie of a basic *paradox in our very idea of freedom: 1\ rules constrain 2\ if no shared common conventions.. no semantics, syntax, phonemics.. we’d all just be babbling incoherently and wouldn’t be able to communicate w each other at all

*this is a paradox only in our whalespeak about freedom.. to me.. 2 is a myth perpetuated tragedy of the non common.. ie: we don’t legit communicate now..

thinking we need to try the combo of 1\ tech w/o judgment and 2\ idiosyncratic jargon.. to get us back/to non hierarchical listening

obviously in such circumstances (babbling ness) none of us would be free to do much of anything.. so at some point along way rules as contraining pass over into rules as enabling.. even it it’s impossile to say exaclty wehreh

i think that’s cancerous whalespeak.. we keep saying it because we have not idea what legit free people are like.. and so we have a fear of play and arbitrary ness

freedom, then, really is the tension of the free play of human creativity against the rules it is constantly generating

either we have no idea.. and have never practiced ‘constantly generating’ of rules.. or.. we don’t need them/tension


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

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

(on how all languages keep changing) human beings .. just find it boring to say things the same way all the time.. they’re always going to play around at least a little..

to me.. this is less about being bored.. and more about not being free enough to express what’s in our heart.. naming the colour kills us.. so the playing around is us coping.. trying to escape those restraints/rules/grammars..

what this suggests it that people, everywhere, are prone to two completely contradictory tendencies: 1\ playful just for sake of it 2\ agree w anyone who tells them they really shouldn’t act that way

yeah.. i think 2 is whalespeak.. and if we all let go enough to try the play just for sake of it ness.. we’d finally see/be the dance our souls are craving

this latter is what makes the gamification of institutional life possible.. because if you take the latter tendency to its logical conclusion, all freedom become is arbitrariness, and all arbitrariness, a form of dangerous, subversive power.. it is *just one further step to argue that true freedom is to live in an utterly predictable world that is free from freedom of this sort

yeah.. *this is whalespeak.. any form of m\a\p .. any form of democratic admin as freedom.. is whalespeak.. is us being afraid of play and of arbitrary ness

anti authoritarians around the world have been working on creating new, and more effective modes of *direct democracy.. ones that might operation w/o any need for a bureaucracy of violence to enforce them

yeah.. *that’s authoritarian.. any form of people telling other people what to do.. any form of democratic admin .. we gotta let go.. more


as my proficiency (of malagasy ‘language’) improved..i began noticing that the way they talked to each other was nothing like the way they were teaching me to speak

yeah.. we let go of all this teaching ness.. of any form of m\a\p.. esp here.. the p


anyone who objects to such personalize power can only do so by demanding even more rules and even more ‘transparency’.. suddenly freedom and justice really do become a matter of reducing everything to a game

so not legit freedom

most obvious ie is language.. call it the grammar-book effect.. people do not invent languages by writing grammars.. they observe the tacit/unconscious rules people seem to be applying when they speak.. yet once a book exists.. esp once employed in schoolrooms.. people feel that the rules are not just description of how people do talk but prescription for how they should talk..

so we need to stop describing/analyzing/grammaring/naming language.. and just use ie: (seemingly arbitrary/random) idiosyncratic jargon to connect us


(on cambridge anthro dept reforms) in order to become ‘transparent’ to the admin, the had to start articulating them; in practice, what this meant was that they had to take what had always been a subtle, nuanced form of procedures and turn them into an explicitly set of rules.. in effect, they had to turn custom into a kind of board game.. faced w such demands, everyone’s first impulse was just to say, ‘well sure, we’ll just write that so the authorities and proceed as we alway shave’.. but in practice this quickly becomes impossible because the moment any conflicts crop up, both parties will automatically appeal to the rule book

huge huge

from freeman misinterp of transparency to rules.. to board gamification ness.. to what computers can’t do ness


top down view of play (from 193) what some have called dark play.. no longer really holds sway.. replaced by more cheerful bottom up rhetorics that see play variously as subversive or imaginative.. no doubt true.. but seems to me that the older conception has not vanished entirely.. if nothing else.. preserved on a political level.. where every arbitrary act of power tends to *reinforce a feeling that it’s not power, but arbitrariness.. that **is freedom itself .. that is the problem..

see.. that.. (perhaps the voice of david perhaps that we keep not hearing).. it’s the lingering concepts of dark play.. in other words.. the *whalespeak.. not the arbitrary ness – which he said **is freedom itself


what i want to argue here.. this imperative (invasion of regulation/violence into every aspect of our lives) ultimately derives from a tacit cosmology in which the play principle is itself seen as frightening… while *game like behavior is celebrated as transparent and predictable, and where as a result, the advance of all these rules/regs is itself experiences as a kind of freedom.. good ie: academic dept’s

*whalespeak.. and the academia ness perpetuates it


schmitt’s ‘political theology’: sovereign power is power to set aside the laws.. so ultimately identical to play.. top down play (dark play on 195)


working defn of play: play can be said to be present when the free expression of creative energies becomes an end in itself.. it is freedom for its own sake.. but.. makes play higher level concept than games.. play can create games.. generate rules.. it inevitably does produce at least tacit ones, since sheer random playing around soon becomes boring

whalespeak.. legit free people wouldn’t be bored with (seemingly) random playing around

but therefore by defn play cannot itself be intrinsically rule bound..

we are just talking about the emergence of form.. freedom has to be in tension w something or it’s *just randomness.. suggests pure form of play.. untrammeled by rules of any sort (other than ones it generates and can set aside) can only exist in our imagination..

whalespeak – i think randomness is not *just randomness.. it’s what our souls crave.. i don’t think the tension described is what we need/crave

let me put forth a suggestion.. what ultimately lies behind the appeal of B is fear of play

graeber fear of play law.. need to add.. fear of arbitrary ness

principle of sovereignty/play: generates but not bound by rules


in almost every situation we find ourselves there are rules.. even in causal convo, there are tacit rules of who can speak in what order, pacing, tone, deference, apprpriate and inappropriate topics, when you can smile, wha tasor to human i sallowable.. what you shoudl be doing w yoru eyes and a million other things besides..

all these ie’s are sea world (socrates supposed to law) ie’s..

games allow us our only real experience of situation where all this ambiguity is swept away.. everyone know exactly what the rules are.. not only that.. but people actually do follow them.. and by following them.. it is even possible to win..

winning is whalespeak

this.. along w th efact taht unlike in real life.. one has bumitted oneself to the rules completely voluntairly.. is the sourc of the peolasure

oi.. not voluntary.. rather voluntary compliance.. ie: brown belonging law et al


games, then are a kind of utopia of rules

yeah .. that’s true.. and why ‘liking games/rules’ et al is whalespeak


games are pure rule governed action.. it seems to me this is important, because this precisely why games are fun.. in almost any other aspect of human existence, all these things are ambiguous..

non ambiguous as good.. whalespeak


Bs create games.. they’re just games that are in no sense fun

am thinking ‘games are fun’ is whalespeak


(in d&d) allowed to do *absolutely anything, w/in confined of world created by the dungeon master w his books, maps, and tables and present towns, castles, dungeons, wilderness

*rather absolutley nothing legit..

makes no diff how ‘free’ if still in sea world.. if still in rat park


legit authority impossible w/o constant physical insecurity


any form of m\a\p.. any form of democratic admin..

let’s try ie: gershenfeld something else law for safety/security

B procedures are based on a principle of transparency.. rules are supposed to be clear, accessible to all..

freeman structure law (?) on transparency.. and fuller too much law on clarity


above all.. the appeal.. the negation of everything B stands for.. historically.. most effective ways for a system of authority to tout its virtues is not to spake of them directly but to create a particularly vivid image of their absolute negation.. on some level profoundly appealing.. drawn to vision of an alt world.. thrill.. then recoil in horror at the implications of one’s own desires..

later says this ‘negation’ ness results in same song ness


one might argue that political action.. is a matter of acting in away that will influence other people.. everything to do with the manufacture of official narratives, rumors, and accounts.. this is why poets were so important.. *the whole point of life was to do things that other people might wish to sing about..

*not us.. magis esse quam videri et al.. brown belonging law et al


B techniques not to manage scale.. societies that became too big for f to f.. but rather they encouraged people to assemble in large

aristocracy literally means ‘rule by the best’.. and elections were seen as meaning that the only role of ordinary citizens was to decide which, among the ‘best’ citizens, was to be considered best of all.. we now think of this aspect of democratic systems.. but for most of human history.. seen as *more aristocratic phenom

any form of democratic admin.. *still aristocratic


but to understand the real historical origins of this world require going much further back in time

and further and further.. we have no idea.. so blinded


the enlightenment is supposed to have marked a fundamental break w it.. but the fundamental structure of assumption did not really change.. the appeal to rationality in descartes and his successors remains a fundamentally spiritual, even mystical, commitment, that the math or math like abstractions that are assumed to be the essence of thought, are also the ordering principle that regulate nature.. and this remained true whether they were id’d w god or seen as the ultimate proof of god’s nonexistence.. it is hard to think this way because of course we have by now come to id the soul not w reason, but w everything that makes us unique, idiosyncratic, or imaginative..

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. via tech w/o judgment


claiming merely that rational argument can be defined as one that is both grounded in empirical reality, and logically coherent in form.. the problem here is that these two criteria don’t really have much to do w one another.. one is about observation; the other is about reasoning.. what do they have in common?.. ie: crazy people are ‘irrational’.. rationality as logic.. as pure thought untempered by emotions.. seen as basis of scientific inquiry.. but fundamental problem: sci inquiry itself has proved it cannot possibly be true.. cog psychs have demo’d again an again.. that there is no such thing as pure thought divorced from emotions; a human being w/o emotions would not be able to think at all..

to what computers can’t do


on david hume: ‘reason is and ought only to be slave of the passions’.. rationality a purely tech affair.. an instrument.. a machine.. a means of calculating how to most efficiently achieve goals.. reasoning can’t tell us what we should want.. just how how to best get it.. reason as way to facil passions/desire

sounding like B as trying to make tech w/o judgment.. and via graeber f & b same law.. both trying to go sans emotion.. maybe now tech can do that.. but/because also sans f & b

at very core of our conception of B: 1\ B systems neutral social techs.. just ways of getting from a to b.. a value free ethics.. role of Bs: public servants.. but.. how to figure out what the public really wants them to do..

imagine if we focus on and facil legit basic needs ie: a nother way

2\ rationality as moral order.. triumph of reason over chaos.. needless to say, creating an effective B always turns out to be the cornerstone of any such project..

until now.. now we have the means to go more with #1


on whims to chaos to violence.. to polis and policing politeness..

evans polite\ness law


on po via military .. and internet as globe spanning electronic super efficient po.. via military.. ultimate purpose.. to prevent other from being able to act.. org’d violence as form of communication.. ultimately prevents it

imagining now.. tech as it could be.. to facil chaos of everyone doing all the things.. and of non hierarchical listening et al


the concept of ‘officieal secret is the specific invention of B.. nothing is os fanaticallydefende dby the B as this attitude.. every B seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keepign thei knowledge and intentions secret.. secret sessions et al

vs later (earlier on this page.. p 195) where B – as games – as transparent.. transparency of rules.. as why we like B/games et al


ch 3 – the utopia of rules, or why we really love B after all


we’re going to have to figure out a diff econ system entirely.. t

yeah.. 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

let our imaginations once again become a material force in human history

imagine if we tried a legit nother way

– let our imaginations be a force


breakthrus will happen; inconvenient discoveries cannot be permanently suppressed

the internet does provide opps for collab and dissemination that may eventually help break us thru the wall as well.. where will tech breakthru come? we can’t know.. over the last couple yrs.. there has been whole spate of *new possibilities: 3d printing, advances in materials techs, self driving cars, a new gen of robots, and as a result, a new spate of discussion of robot factories and the end of work..

*not new.. same song


if the ultimate aim of neolib capitalism is to *create a world where no one believes an other econ system could really work, then it needs to suppress not just an idea of an inevitable redemptive future.. but really any radically diff tech future at all..

*just needs to perpetuate myth of econ system ness.. what we need is oikos ness


a few areas in which *free, imaginative creativity actually is fostered.. such as open source internet software development.. it is **ultimately marshaled in order to create even more /more effective platforms for filling out forms.. B techs rather than poetic techs

**because not actually *free/imaginative.. rather same song.. still sea world


certainly this is one of the great paradoxes of contemp life.. much though.. like the borken promises of tech.. we seem to have developed a profound reluctance to address the problem

taleb center of problem law

B oversight turned armies of peasant farmers into cogs of vast machine.. much later.. after actual cogs invented.. the design of complex machinery was always to some degree an elab of principles originally develop to org people

let’s facil.. via non hierarchical listening..


someone once figures out that the avg american will spend a cum 6 mos waiting for the light to change..filling our forms must be at least that much.. if nothing else.. safe to say that no population in history has spend so much time engaged in paperwork


but as american power grew more an more secure, the country’s B became less and less tolerant of its outliers.. ie: einstein, feynman

med/school outcasts via shaming et al .. crazywise (doc) ness


but the language is meaningless. the sort of thinkers most likely to come up w new conceptual breakthrus are the least likely to receive funding..


what these management technique invariable end up meaning in practice is that everyone winds up spending most of their time trying to sell each other things.. grant proposals; book proposals.. grant apps.. unis themselves ..now become brands to be marketed to prospective students/contributors.. marketing and pr thus come to engulf every aspect of uni life.. one can expect one’s best ideas to be stymied at every point..

graeber min\max law et al.. p 135 – where it came from


actually involved a shift in the orientation of govt-directed research, away from programs like nasa.. or .. alt energy sources.. and toward even more intense focus on military, info and med techs.. obviously advanced in military techs.. still.. all those much vaunted precision weapons never seem capable of taking out specific individuals.. (saddam, osama, gaddafi).. ever if 100s are dropped.. drones are just model airplanes, driven by remote control.. and ray guns of any sort have not materialized, surely not for lack of trying

internet – all talking about is a super fast globally accessible combo of library, po, and mail order catalog.. we were expecting computers that could actually think.. even w research funding increased dramatically since 70s..

what computers can’t do et al

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh


make capitalism seem like only possible econ system.. et al

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


techs that emerged were in almost every case the kind that proved most consucive to surveillance, work discipline, and social control..


hoffman: ‘whole system.. people taught to postpone pleasure.. put all money in bank.. buy life ins.. a whole bunch of things that didn’t make any sense ‘

trial of the chicago 7


appears to have been profound shift, beginning in 70s.. from investment in techs associated w possibilty of alt futures to techs that furthered labor discipline and social control

way before that.. but yeah..


the need to guide tech development indirection that did not challenge existing structure of authority..

yeah.. that.. always that.. keep the same song


comte concluded we needed to develop a new science.. ‘sociology’.. and that sociologists should play the role of priests in a new religion of society.. *that would inspire the masses w a love of order, community, work-discipline, and patriarchal family values

so.. oi to sociology.. *all red flags


ch 2 – of flying cars and the declining rate of profit


forms of blindness and stupidity that result.. the fact these oblige the slave to devote even more energy trying to understand/anticipate the master’s confused perceptions.. are we not.. doing the same work as the whip? it’s not really about making its victims talk.. ultimately, it’s about participating in the process that shuts them up


about ending communication.. like language as control/enclosure et al

– not about making victims talk.. about shutting them up.. last yellow.. solitary et al.. ending communication .. like langue does..


but it (giving power to the imagination) takes a lot of work

yeah.. i don’t think we have that wrong.. ie: takes a lot of work

social theory itself could be seen as kind of radical simplification, a form of calculated ignorance.. a way of putting on a set of blinkers designed to reveal patterns one could never otherwise be able to see



if may 68 events showed us anything.. it was that if one does not aim to seize state power.. there can be no fundamental, onetime break..

yeah.. i don’t know.. we don’t need to ‘seize power’.. just need to offer a legit nother way that 8b people could leap to today.. so has to be deep/simple/open enough for all of us in sync.. for (blank)’s sake

as a result.. no one thinks skies are about to open any time soon.. there is a consolation though: that as a result , inso far as one actually can come ot experiencing genuine revolutionary freedom, one can begin to experience it immediately

yeah.. this is huge.. not if it’s not everyone..

we must make our freedom by cutting holes in fabric.. putting yourself in new situations constantly.. is the only way to ensure you make your decision unencumbered by inertia of habit, custom, law, or prejudice.. and it is up to you to create these situations.. freedom only exists in the moment of revolution.. change.. revolutionary change is going on constantly wand everywhere.. what is that but an elegant statement of the logic of direct action: the defiant insistence on acting as if one is already free..

yeah.. i think we have that wrong.. i think it has to be a leap.. it won’t work unless we’re in sync.. (that’s what we found).. otherwise we’re just perpetuating tragedy of the non common

direct actionas if already free ness – et al


is utopianism the problem? the very idea of imagining abetter world and then trying to bring it into being? or is it something in the very nature of social theory.. since the 60s, one common solution has been to start by lowering one’s sights..

yeah.. from leaping to increment ness



B not so much forms of stupidity.. but ways of managing situations already stupid because of effects of structural violence..

so we have incremental ness of too much ness over leaping


john holloway (marxist philosopher) wanted to title a book ‘stop making capitalism’.. he noted.. capitalism is not something imposed on us by some outside force.. it only exists because every day we wake up and continue to produce it.. if we woke up one morning and all collectively decided to produce something else, then we wouldn’t have capitalism anymore.. this is the ultimate revolutionary question: what are the conditions that would have to exist to enable us to do this.. to just wake up and imagine and produce something else?.. t


ultimate revolutionary question

we’d need to org around legit needs.. ie: a nother way


marx calling ‘imagining to being’.. production.. artists and revolutionaries affinity both committed to idea that hidden truth of world is that it is something we make and could *just as easily make world diff..

*not lots of work ness

from left perspective then.. the hidden reality of human life is the fact that the world doesn’t just happen.. it isn’t a natural fact, even though we tend to treat it as if it is.. it exist because we all collectively product it.. we imagine things.. but when think this way.. something wrong.. since who.. if could simply imagine any world.. would create world like this one..

begs a nother way


essence of right wing thought: .. thru subtle means allows violence to define the very parameters of social existence and common sense.. left essentially anti B.. so imagination as foundational


being ‘realistic’ usually means taking seriously the effects of the systematic threat of violence.. t

sovereignty ultimately comes down to a monopoly on what is euphemistically referred to as ‘force’ that is violence..


force/violence treated as the social equiv of the very energy that drives the cosmos

structural violence et al


forced to accomodat itself in practice to he ver B structure and mindset it orginally arose to oppose

democratic admin ness

68 slogan – be realistic.. demand the impossible

why do movements challenging such structure so often end up creating Bs instead? normally they do so as a kind of compromise.. *one must be realistic and not demand too much.. t

why not yet yes.. and part\ial ness.. *killing us.. can’t demand to much.. so never enough.. for (blank)’s sake


B authority, by its very nature, rep’d a kind of war against the human imagination..t

unsettling to now say he died innocent.. saying now legally innocent.. like using what he was against (what was against him) for proof of his legit ness.. seems a disservice to him and all his work.. using the too much ness of violence as if his human being ness needed it

so too.. trial of the chicago 7 ness


B not forms of stupidity.. but ways of organizing stupidity (unequal structures of imagination).. this is why even if a B is created for entirely benevolent reasons, it will still produce absurdities..


jim cooper .. former lapd officer turned sociologist.. most guaranteed to provoke police to violence is if challenge their right to ‘define the situation‘.. it only makes sense then that B violence should consist first/foremost of attacks on those who insist on alt schemas or interps


not arguing that social theory is pointless.. this essay is an exercise in social theory.. but.. both B and social theory only 2% of actual

yeah.. if that


so police are Bs w weapons.. enforcers of B rather than fighting crime.. ambulance=paperwork.. so B so police et al.. if no paperwork no police


structural ineq.. what i’ve been calling structural violence.. invariably creates highly lopsided structure of the imagination.. victims of structural violence tend to care about beneficiaries far more than (they) care bout them.. this might well be, after the violence itself, the single most powerful force preserving such relations..

structural violence


in the part of rural madagascar where i did my fieldwork, for ie, everyone took it for granted that states operate primarily by inspiring fear .. t (govt peoples/police didn’t need to be present to infiltrate minds/actions/violence)


we have *no idea how they would act, or what they would think, if the alphas’ command of the means of violence were to somehow disappear..t.. this is what i had in mind when i first began using the phrase ‘structural violence’ .. structures that could only be created/maintained by the threat of violence, even if in their ordinary, day to day workings, no actual physical violence need take place..

yeah.. *us have whales have no idea.. ie: black science of people/whales law

**sea world is dependent on structural violence et al


what makes it possible for grad students to spend days in stacks of uni libraries.. pouring over foucault-inspired theoretical tracts about the declining importance of coercion as a factor in modern life w/o ever reflecting on fact that had they insisted on their right to enter the stacks w/o showing a properly stamped and validated id,..t armed men would have been summoned to physically remove them, using whatever force might be required.. it’s almost as if the more we allow aspects of our everyday existence to fall under the purview of B regs.. the more everyone concerned colludes to downplay the fact.. that all of it ultimately depends on the threat of physical hard..



B not inherently stupid.. but way of managing social situation that are already stupid because founded on structural violence

structural violence – same quote repeated in other two essays

i think b is inherently stupid.. cancerous anyway.. any form of m\a\p.. any form of democratic admin


on all you have to do/perform.. before someone is entirely dead..(socially dead) ie: mother wanted cremation w no ceremony.. but had to fill out forms forms.. and guy doing it said it’s all he does.. proof of death ness..


after all.. is this not what we always say of utopians: that they have a naive faith in the perfectibility of human nature and refuse to deal w humans as they actually are? which leads to impossible standards and then blame individuals for not living up to them.. in fact.. all Bs do this.. set up demands they insist are reasonable.. and then on discovering they ar e not reasonable..conclude that the problem is not w the demands but w the individual inadequacy


on energy sunk into attempts to try to understand en influence whoever, at any moment seemed to have some kind of B power over me..


ch 1 – dead zones of the imagination – an essay on structural stupidity


to refugee or filled out forms for college admission..idea that B has anything to do w rationality/efficiency seems odd.. but from top/inside system.. the algos and math formulae as assess/measure/source of value.. much of what Bs do is eval things.. on every level.. (but) felt most cruelly by the poor.. who are constantly monitored on ie: child rearing skills; who they live with; finding job; .. all rich countries now employ legions of functionaries whose primary function is to make poor people feel bad about themselves.. t

inspectors of inspectors et al.. ie: kathryn edin; matthew desmond‘s evicted; et al


the most profound legacy of the dominance of B forms of org over last 200 yrs is that it has made this intuitive division between rational, tech means and the ultimately irrational ends to which they are put seem like common sense.. some declare rationality or even efficiency, are themselves values, others insist that life should become art; or else religion.. but all such movements are premised on the very division they profess to overcomes.. in the big picture.. it hardly matters then, whether one seeks to reorg world around B efficiency or market rationality: all the fundamental assumptions remain the same.. this helps explain why it’s so easy to move back and forth between them.. ie: state control to total marketization.. et al

graeber f & b same law


*here is another place where markets and Bs ultimately speak the same language.. both claim to be acting largely in the name of individual freedom, and individual self realization thru consumption.. even supporters of old prussian B state in 19th cent.. like hegel or goethe, insisted that its authoritarian measures could be justified by fact they allowed citizens to be **absolutely secure in their property and therefore, ***free to do absolutely anything they pleased in their own homes.. there was always assumed to be a synergy between impersonal, rulebound org – whether in public sphere or sphere of production- and absolute free self expression in the club, cafe, kitchen or family outing..

*graeber f & b same law

**hardt/negri property law

***graeber care/free law – but not


the term rationality is an excellent case in point here.. a ‘rational’ person is someone who is able to make basic logical connections and assess reality in a non delusional fashion.. in other words, someone who isn’t crazy.. anyone who claims to base their politics on rationality.. is claiming that anyone who disagrees w them might as well be insane, which is about as arrogant a position as one could possibly take..


steel magnate andrew carnegie spoke of it as ‘the gospel of wealth’ that value was instead derived from capital itself (rather than labor).. carnegie and his allies embarked on a well funded campaign of promoting the new gospel, not just in rotary clubs and chambers of commerce across the nation, but also in schools, churches, and civic associations.. the basic argument was that the very efficiency of the new giant firms these men directed could produce such a material bounty it would allow americans to realize themselves thru what they consumed rather than what they produced..


this is the world that all those endless docs about ‘vision’ ‘quality’ ‘leadership’ and ‘innovation’ have actually produces.. rather than causing our current situation, the direction that tech change has taken is itself largely a function of the power of finance..

the self actualization philosophy from which most of this new B language emerged insists that we live in a timeless present, that history means nothing, that we simply create the world around us thru the power of the will

history ness is killing us.. we do need a legit re\set


on being country that defines self as greatest democracy.. where election are our very sacrament.. we seem to just accept that voting machines will regularly miscount the vote, while every day 100s of millions of atm transactions take place w an overall zero % rate of error.. fin tech has gone from a running gag to something so reliable that it can form the assumed backbone of social reality.. this gives fin abstractions an air of utter certainty.. such an essential part of the practical infra of our daily projects/affairs that we never have to think about as something in itself at all

sea world

graeber f & b same law


first took place in 70s-80s w alliance of finance and crop Bs.. the new corp culture that emerged from it and its ability to *invade ed, scientific and govt circles in such a way that public/private Bs finally merged together in a mass of paperwork designed to facil the direct extraction of wealth

*already cancer/B.. et al.. invading/killing us


the B of daily life means the imposition of impersonal rules and regs; impersonal rules and regs in turn can only operate if they are backed up by the threat of force.. ie: men/women/cameras.. trained in tactics of menacing, intimidating.. appear just about everywhere.. even in places such as playgrounds, primary schools, college campuses, hospitals, libraries, parks or beach resorts.. where 50 yrs ago their presence would have been considered scandalous or simply weird..

huge.. sea world

and created earlier than 50 yrs


even inventing new form sof democratic processes that was at the core of the movement – the assemblies, the spokescouncils.. – was more than anything else, a way to show that people could indeed get on w one another and even make important *decisions and carry out complex **collective projects.. w/o anyone ver having to fill our a form, appeal a judgment or threaten to phone security or the police..

yeah.. not deep enough.. *decision making is unmooring us.. any form of **democratic admin is part of the B/cancer ness


globalization really meant B-ization


what the media was calling globalization had almost nothing to do w the effacement of borders and the free movement of people/products/ideas.. it was really about trapping large parts of word’s population behind highly militarized national borders.. we discovered there as something we could do.. we could besiege the summits where the trade pact were negotiated and the annual meetings of the institution .. until ie: seattle.. many had no idea any of these orgs (imf, world bank, et al) even existed.. the actions operate like a magic charm that expose everything that was supposed to be hidden: all we had tot do was show up and try to block access to the venue, and instantly we revealed the existence of a vast global B of interlocking orgs that nobody was supposed to really thing about.. and of course at the same time we would magically whisk into existence 1000s of heavily armed riot police ready to reveal just what those Bs were willing to unleash against anyone .. no matter ho nonviolent – who tried to stand in their way.. the imagery worked because it showed everything people had been told about globalization to be a lie.. what was being talked aobu tin germs of free trade/market.. really entailed the self conscious completion of the world’s first effective planetary scale administrative B system

huge – trial of the chicago 7 et al


the last two centuries have seen an explosion of B, and the last 30-40 yrs in particular have seen B principles extend to every aspect of our existence.. as a result.. this culture of complicity has come to spread as well .. many of us actually act as if we believe .. ordinary citizens really do deserve to be penalized a 100 times more harshly for an overdraft.. everyone scurries about trying to curry favor by pretending they actually believe this is to be true..


the first criterion of loyalty to the org becomes complicity..t.. fiction that rules/regs apply to everyone equally when i fact they are often deployed as a means for entirely arbitrary personal power.. this is how Bs have always tended to work..


the rich always play by a diff set of rules.. children of bankers can regularly get off hook for carrying quantities of cocaine that would almost certainly have earned them decades in fed pen if happened to be poor/black.. but something deeper going on here.. and it turns on the very nature of B system.. such institutions always create a culture of complicity.. it’s not just that some people get to break the rules.. it’s that loyalty to the org is to some degree measured by one’s willingness to pretend this isn’t’ happening.. and insofar as B logic is extended to society as a whole.. all of us start playing along.. t



precisely those whose family resources make them least in need of fin support, who best know how to navigate the world of paperwork that enables them to get said support.. for everyone else.. main result of one’s years of professional training is to ensure that one is saddled w such an enormous burden of student debt that a substantial chunk of any subsequent income one will get from pursuing that profession will henceforth by siphoned off, each month.. by fin sector.. in some cases.. these new training req’s can only be described as outright scams.. ie: leaders legislating themselves a cut of most pharmacists’ subsequent incomes


sarah kendzior: ”us has become most rigidly crendentialised society in world’ wrote james engell and anthony dangerfield.. …. journalism is one of many fields of public influence – including politics – in which credentials function as de facto permission to speak..t.. ability is discounted w/o credentials.. but the ability to purchase credentials rest more often than not on family wealth.. t


*need: nonhierarchical listening

ie: imagine if we

sarah kendzior


there is a rich anthro lit for instance, on the cult of certificates, licenses, and diplomas in the former colonial world..

credentials et al as red flags.. any form of m\a\p


the common cant was that thru participation in personal retirement funds and investment funds of one sort or another (stocks et al), everyone would come to own a pieces of capitalism.. in reality, the magic circle was only really widened to include the higher paid professionals and the corp Bs themselves..

this was a cultural transformation.. set stage for process whereby B techniques (performance reviews, focus groups, time allocation surveys..) developed in financial and corp circles came to *invade the rest of society – ed, science, govt – and eventually to *pervade almost every aspect of everyday life.. one can best trace the process by following its language.. empty terms like ie: vision, quality, stakeholder, leadership, excellence, innovation, strategic goals, best practices..

language as control/enclosure et al.. but already *invade/pervaded.. way back..


i think what happened is best considered as a kind of shift in class allegiances on part of the managerial staff.. from their own workers to (their) investors

graeber min\max law et al


so what are people actually referring to when they talk about dereg? .. word seems to mean ‘changing the reg structure in a way that i like’… results if 5 fold increase in actual number of forms to be filled in.. rules/regs for lawyers to interpret.. and officious people in offices whose entire job seems to be to provide convoluted explanations for why you’re not allowed to do things.. t

inspectors of inspectors et al

people telling other people what to do et al


as a result, amongst working class americans.. govt is now generally seen as being made up of two sorts of people: politicians – blustering crooks/liars but can at least occasionally be voted out of office… and Bs who are condescending elitists almost impossible to uproot..

democracy thus came to mean the market; B (came to mean) govt interference w market;.. and this is pretty much what the word continues to mean to this day..

democratic admin.. killing us


historically markets are either side effect of govt, esp military, or were directly created by govt policy.. invention of coinage.. first as a means of provisioning soldiers.. modern central banking systems first created to finance wars..