– – –
adding page while reading David Graeber‘s theory of value.
thinking.. who gets to decide is most often what gets in the way of betterness. we don’t trust people to determine value .. so we attempt to manage/school/manufacture/bureaucratize/criminalize/etc it, to be ie: more efficient/safe/in-control.. when perhaps.. trusting people would be our best bet.
trusting all people is so very hard for us to do – because people seem to do some not good things. but perhaps ..we really don’t know what people are like. we just know what people are like in the systems we’ve created/forced/emerged.
seems perhaps all we really need to enforce/policize is a daily (at least) pause for all people. to reset their inner value/code/map. and then trust that.
thinking in particular of how even subtle things cause us to not be us. ie: praising/cursing, thanking/welcoming, obligations/obligings.. what if rather than helping us be kinder.. help us be less kind.
little/big things that change us.. in our seeking of approval/validation..
notes from David‘s book…
In short, it is always society that pays itself in the counterfeit money of its dreams. —from Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert, Mana and Magic (1904, trans. Loic Wacquant)
The logical thing would perhaps be to thank everyone I’ve ever known, because you never know where your ideas really came from.
alternatives can indeed be created, & not just come about. the prospect of coming up w/actual alternatives.
If we are not, in fact, calculating individ- uals trying to accumulate the maximum possible quantities of power, plea- sure, and material wealth, then what, precisely, are we?
So what, precisely, are values? Kluckhohn kept refining his definitions. The central assumption though was that values are “conceptions of the de- sirable”—conceptions which play some sort of role in influencing the choices people make between different possible courses of action (1951a:395). The key term here is “desirable.” The desirable refers not sim- ply to what people actually want—in practice, people want all sorts of things. Values are ideas about what they ought to want. They are the criteria by which people judge which desires they consider legitimate and worth- while and which they do not. Values, then, are ideas if not necessarily about the meaning of life, then at least about what one could justifiably want from it.
The as- sumption was always that there was, at the core of a culture, certain key pat- terns or symbols or themes that held everything together and that couldn’t be reduced to pure individual psychology; the problem, to define precisely what this was and how one could get at it.
deep enough ness
p. 10 –
market seen as given. free market as natural. feudal state stop it (example sice 99% of human history had no market)
Polanyi sows that as false.. he writes:
“Market behavior” would be impossible without police.
Polanyi to pen terms substantive (given society, study how people maintain it) and formalist (economics is not about economy but about economizing – & people naturally seek min output for max reward)
point of social science is not improving different forms of social systems but understanding what motivates human beings to act the way they do. –
need for clean slate ness to see.. rat park ness.
p. 14 –
in order to understand any object.. first identify kind of system
p. 20 – some .. argue that all anthropology really has to offer to the world is ethnography, the description of other societies and other ways of life. there is not doubt that this is a very important part of what we do: keeping a record, one might say, or cultural and social differences, a compendium of what being human has meant, in different times and places (and hence, perhaps of human possibilities).
p. 21 – on economics goal – to predict
p. 24 – marxist focus was on production.. formalists and substantivists had entirely missed the point because all their debates had been about distribution and exchange
p. 26 – on 60s debates about exchange, 70s about production and 80s about consumption
p. 28 – polanyi – economy as way to provide food & shelter, bourdieu – gift as longer time lapse between giving and counter giving as seen in barter.. it’s this delay that makes it possible to pretend.. acts of generosity.. rather than of self interest
p. 30 – one might well argue that the rise of neoliberalism (essentially, the exact thing polanyi was arguing against fifty years ago) has been made possible by the failure of the left to come up with plausible alternatives..
p. 35 – rather than value being the measure of how much one would like to acquire something one does not possess, in weiner, it becomes the measure of hoe little one would wish to give up the things one does.
one major theoretical alternative…in Melanesia.. from Mauss through work of Christopher Gregory to Marilyn Strathern.
on strathern: new melanesian ethnography. no one could possible deny its brilliance… key notions.. partible person..perhaps the main thing that has limited her work’s appeal is that most of it is written in an incredibly difficult language, largely of her own invention – one which seems to have an endless capacity to slip away almost as soon as a reader thinks she’s grasped it. it can be very frustrating to read.
i love this. idiosyncratic ness…
p. 36 – Gregory – gift economies tend to personify objects (ei: giving a part of the person with them). commodity economies, like our own, do the opposite: they tend to treat human beings, or at least, aspects of human beings, like objects.
p. 37 – strathern has come into a great deal of criticism for essentializing” difference. … strathern never claims that all melanesians think one way, or all westerners another..rather a thought experiment.
talking need for ni ness – means to both start at individual and start at society
p. 38 – strathern – if you examine talk of rights in our own society, she observes, you quickly discover a whole series of assumptions about private property. we assume that society is made up of individuals, and most of our conceptions of human rights are based on the idea that individuals own themselves. hence, they have the right to prevent others from intruding on their bodies, their homes, or their minds.. macperhson 62. marxists simply go further by arguing that this includes their powers of creativity, and therefore, that individuals have a right to the products of their labor. (lots here talking about the product not every being from just one person)
it is we who assume the producer should always have this right (to determine who has access to product as well as right to determine meaning/value of product). we are wrong to believe that this is universal.
p. 39 – value, then is the meaning or importance society ascribes to an object. marxists imply that individuals who produce objects should have the right to determine their meaning. in mount hagen, she (strathern) objects, people do not see things in this way, since they do not see objects as having been produced by individuals. they see them as the outcome of relationships.
also on people of melanesia – they don’t see individual as unique via individual’s view point.. they assume.. what we are .. before anything else.. is what we are perceived to be by others.. which gets into her partible/multiple person age. people have all sorts of potential identities, which most of the time exist only as a set of hidden possibilities. …
p. 40 – when a person fixes on this.. makes it visible… strathern uses making visible and giving value more or less interchangeably..
it would never occur to a melanesian that anyone would have the right to define herself, or the products of her own labor – value always exists in the eyes of someone else. .. people brought into being only through social relations..
p. 50 – if objects are in constant flux, even precise spatial measures are impossible.on e can take an object’s measure at a particular moment and then treat that as representative, but even this is something of an imaginary construct, because such “moments” (in the sense of points in time, of no duration, infinitely small) do not really exist – they, too, are imaginary constructs. it has been precisely such imaginary constructs (“models”) that have made modern science possible…
p. 51 – something ironic: what ricoeur is suggesting is that we have been ale to create a technology capable of giving us hitherto unimaginable power to transform the world, largely because we were first able to imagine a world without powers or transformations. it may well be true. the crucial thing, though, is that in doing so, we have also lost something. because once one is accustomed to a basic apparatus for looking at the world that starts from an imaginary, static, parmenidean world outside of it, connecting the two becomes an overwhelming problem. ….epistemic fallacy: a tendency to confuse the question of how we can know things with the question of whether those things exist.
.. most of us are accustomed to describe things as “realities” precisely because we can’t completely understand them, can’t completely control them, don’t know exactly how they are going to affect us, but nonetheless can’t just wish them away. it’s what we don’t know about them that brings home the fact that they are real.
p. 52 – in alternative, heraclitean strain has always existed – one that sees objects as processes.. best-known .. via Hegel and Marx. but whatever form.. has been almost impossible to integrate with more conventional philosophy. it has tended to be seen as existing somewhat off to the side, as odd or somewhat mystical.
bhaskar – and others w/this critical realist approach: 1\ realism 2\potentiality 3\freedom: reality can be divided into emergent stratum 4\open systems: there are always different sorts of mechanisms, derived from different emergent strata of reality, at play in any one of them. as a result, one can never predict precisely how any real-world even will turn out. this is why scientific experiments are necessary: experiment are ways of creating temporary “closed systems” in which the effects of all other mechanisms are, as far as possible, nullified, so that one can actually examine a single mechanism in action. 5\tendencies: so best to not refer to unbreakable scientific laws.. but rather tendencies..which interact in unpredictable ways. of course, the higher the emergent strata one is dealing with, the less predictable things become, the involvement of human beings of course being the most unpredictable factor of all.
p. 53 – ..not a matter of abandoning science but is, rather, the only hope of giving science a solid ontological basis. but it also means that in order to do so, those who wish to make claims to science will have to abandon some of their most ambitious – one is tempted to say, totalitarian, paranoid – dreams of absolute or total knowledge, and accept a certain degree of humility about what it is possible to know. reality is what one can never know completely. if an object is real, any description we make of it will necessarily be partial and incomplete. that is indeed how we can tell it is real. the only things we can hope to know perfectly are ones that exist entirely in our imaginations.
… bhaskar’s ultimate interest is social; he is trying to come up with the philosophical ground for a theory of human emancipation, a way of squaring scientific knowledge with the idea of human freedom. here, too, the ultimate message is one of humility: critical realists hold that it is possible to preserve the notion of a social reality and, therefore, of a science able to make true statements about it – but only if one abandons the sort of positivist number-crunching that passes for science among most current sociologists or economists, and gives up the idea that social science will ever be able to establish predictive laws.
p. 55 – what makes capitalism unique, he (marx) argued, is that it is the only system in which labor – a human being’s capacity to transform the world, their powers of physical and mental creativity – can itself be bought and sold. after all, when an employer hires workers, he does not usually pay them by the task completed: he pays them by the hour, thus purchasing their ability to do whatever he tells them to do during that period of time.
marx was writing something that would be of use for those trying to overthrow such a system (market). therefore, he by no means assumed that price paid for something was an accurate reflection of its worth.
as a first approximating then, one might say that the value a given product – or, for that matter, institution – has is the proportion of a society’s creative energy it sinks into producing and maintaining it.
p. 56 – socially necessary labor time… material and symbolic: punch clocks, and money and hours
what, then, does one do where there is no market in labor at all, or none that is especially important? …. for anthropologists (or for that matter, those who would like to think about al alternative to capitalism) this is obviously one of the most important questions.
p. 60 – how was one to relate langue and parole, synchrony and diachrony, the abstract system, seen as existing outside of time, and the real events – people speaking,writing, and so on, none of them fully aware of the principles that guide their own practice, even though their practice is the only way we have of getting at those principles in the first place?
p. 61 – the crucial thing/point is that what we call structure is not something that exists prior to action. ultimately, “structure” is identical with the process of its own construction. .. (kurt godel): no logical system (such as math) could demonstrate its own internal consistency; ..
p.62 – bourdieu: a truly artful social actor is almost guaranteed not to be able to offer a clear explanation of the principles underlying her own artistry.
p. 64 – for piaget – achieving maturity isa matter of “decentering” oneself: of being able to see one’ sown interests or perspective as simply one part of a much larger totality not intrinsically more important than any other.
in matters social, however one clearly cannot do this all the time… in fact, human beings are notoriously incapable of doing so on a consistent basis. here again, there appears to be a very concrete limit to the human imagination… (turner): in order to understand this fully, one would have to be able to coordinate the subjective points of view of everyone involved – to see how they all fit together (or in case of conflict , don’t) , and so on. …. (marx): paradox of labor – created common interest.. but does so by confining everyone to such limited interests
p. 66 – on ideas of some people superior to others: re – arunda people – to argue that such people are incapable of sophisticated thought seems obviously ridiculous: even if, like people everywhere, they are unlikely to fully grasp the principles underlying their own most sophisticated forms of action.
p. 69 – the baining (of papua new guinea), a population of taro farmers who live in scattered hamlets in the mountainous interior of east new britain, are somewhat notorious… for complete lack of any elaborate social structure. fajans describes their society as a kind of “egalitarian anarchism” … as close as one is likely to find to a genuinely simple society. …as a result.. also lacking in mystification
p. 70 – the most prestigious act in baining society is giving food, or other consumables. to be a parent, for example, is not considered so much a matter of procreation but of providing children with food…
in the absence of enduring institutional structure which can be seen as existing apart from idnividual hman action, “society” itself has (to) be re-created by individuals on a day to day basis.
among the baining, producing food through the labor of gardening is seen as the origin of value, but that value is only “realized” when one give some of that food to someone else.
p. 77 – value is not created in that public recognition. rather, what is being recognized is something that was, in a sense, already there.
never nothing going on ness.. not having to be seen to be
p. 83 – kayapo women.. painting bodies of children.. endlessly re-encoding an implicit model of the human body and society. .. transformation of inner “libidinal” powers into visible socieal forms.
p. 84 – on the need/use of witchcraft.. as counter
p. 89 – the ultimate stakes of politics, according to turner, is not even the struggle to appropriate value; it is the struggle to establish what value is… similarly, the ultimate freedom is not the freedom to create or accumulate value, but the freedom to decide (collectively or individually) what it is that makes life worth living.
p. 92 – whenever one examines the processes by which the value of objects is established (and this is true whether one is dealing with objects of exchange or wealth more generally), issues of visibility and invisibility almost invariably seem to crop up.
p. 94 – on money … rather than serving as a mark of distinctiveness (like jewels might), it tends to be identified with the holder’s generic, hidden capacities for action
p. 96 – one become self0conscious, in other words, when one does not know precisely what to do. (when actors are jolted out of their accustomed ways of doing things by suddenly having to confront some clear alternative to it..)
p. 103 – what i’m suggesting is that if the polis felt the need to stamp money with its own image, it did so because it saw money as a dangerous, furtive power that had to be tamed and domesticated by rendering it visible.
the to and fro of visibility… (nathan ness et al) .. does it enslave us.. or set us free.. or perhaps both… if the dance is right.. no?
p. 105 – value, after all, is something that mobilizes the desires of those who recognize it, and moves them to action.
the object of desire becomes an illusory mirror of the desirer’s own manipulated intentions.
a person looking into a mirror is split into active and passive, observer and observed. the very perception of one’s own image implies the existence of an unseen agent who is seeing it.
walter on – .. it is in the nature of vision always to suggest a beyond something unseen. eyes take in only the surfaces of things…. looking at a thing, according to ong, is always looking at a mere fraction of a thing, and the viewer is always at least vaguely aware that there is something further underneath.
see with heart
p. 115 – … these struggles over value are always, in the end, political – if only because the most important political struggles in any society .. will always be over how value itself is to be defined.
p. 131 – … the designs of wampum used to resolve disputes or to “open channels of communication” were as ephemeral as ordinary conversation, but as in much ordinary conversation, what was said was not so important as the mere fact that people were speaking to one another. .. wampum was not simply a representation of value… by assembling/presenting it as soothing words to unblock grief/anger in others, one actually created that peace and solidarity. like marx’s money, wampum was a representation of a value that could only be realized through its exchange.
p. 133 – it (pulling strings/beads out of pouch) was an act of revelation, of brining the invisible, intangible contents of mind or soul into visible, physical reality. this was in a sense the quintessential creative act, by which new political realities could be brought into being. [earlier – wampum as word/thought/mind of giver..that made giving of wampum a pledge of sincerity, so that no important proposal or argument would be taken seriously without it.
.. the uniform kernel behind them (souls) is never itself visible to the eye. on the other hand, one thing all souls do have in common is an ability to speak, and “the only sensory mode under which it is possible for a human being to directly perceive the presence of souls of any category, is the auditory one. in other words, even if souls are invisible, they always make some sort of sound.
silence and cage
.. words themselves can be seen as mediating between the invisible and the visible in much the same way wampum does. they provide the necessary medium between hidden desires and concrete, visible realities. this is very important because, i think, it opens up the question of an underlying theory of creativity.
p. 135 – … day after day, it continued that they sought to find his word.. what manner of thing his soul craved.
illnesses, as we shall see, were normally understood to arise from frustrated desires: desires that were often as not unknown to their victims, or revealed only indirectly in their dreams.
p. 136 – 1649 ragueneau writes of the huron: ….. now they believe that our soul makes these natural desires known by means of dreams, which are its language.
p. 137 – to realize such dreams, though, one usually needed the help of others; and jesuit reports make it clear that neighbors or kin felt it was incumbent on them to comply with all such “wishes of the soul,” insofar as they were able to do so.
guessing of dreams.. presenting them as riddles/charades..
p. 138 – violence was much more in the foreground.. dream guessing festival.. people running like maniacs thru streets/cabins.. the point – the more noise/uproar.. the more relief the sick person will experience.
violent chaos, and indulgent patience on the part of the community, are followed by the actual guessing of dreams…. it would be cruelty, nay, murder, dablon notes, not to give a man the subject of his dream; for such a refusal might cause his death. …. faking a dream was believed to lead to all sorts of terrible misfortunes.
p. 139 – sequence: ignorance (dreamer not aware of own desire), aggression (wild ness of evening), and the need for others to transform one’s desires into reality.
.. not always easy to square the sketchy and often sensationalistic accounts of iroquois ritual to be found in early missionary sources with the meticulous descriptions compiled since the nineteenth century.
p. 140 – spontaneous dream-guessing seems to have vanished entirely.
the most striking of these changes is the degree to which what was obviously an extremely free-form and improvisational process has since become tamed and formalized. the “language” of dreams has now become codified, and dramatic reenactments no longer occur; instead, there is an established code of what dreams are significant and an elaborate series of correspondences with certain foods and miniature talismans that are considered appropriate gifts for each.
Ed ness – dream ritual described here resonates with our credential ness rituals.. ie: (symbolic objects given) which the dreamer (again remember now only certain dreams are allowed) will normally keep afterward as her personal amulet or protector.
p. 141 – so we are back where we started: with a dreaming god who once again seems slightly confused about his own role in the process of creation, and who (therefore?) ends up mixing urges for destruction (he killed his wife – down the tree hole) in his creativity.
this is not what i mainly want to emphasize, though. what really interests me is the underlying theory of creativity and its relation to conceptions of the person…. via persona (embodied and eternal name) & soul (inner seat of desires). one was embodied in visible tokens such as wampum, while the other was fundamentally invisible and perceptible mainly through dreams and voices. both were to a certain degree exterior to consciousness, but exterior, one might say, in opposite directions: one a social imposition, the other, desires so intimate even the desirer was not entirely aware of them.
dreams were the desires of this inner soul, or “the language” in which those hidden, invisible desire could begin to take visual form.
nice. dream ness.
what wallace stresses, though, is that this process, by which hidden desires could become visible, manifest, and specific, finally taking on permanent material form – could happen only through the participation of others… the hidden can become visible (or the generic specific) only by the individual becoming social (or the specific, generic).
p. 147 – dream economy – combination of absolute unpredictability and ephemerality.
p. 151 ch 6 – i believe mauss’ theoretical corpus is the single most important in the history of anthropology. he was a man with a remarkable knack for asking all the most interesting questions..
p. 153 – gift-giving is a perfect example of this sort of thing: because it is a purely voluntary act (or, anyway, can be) that nonetheless creates a sense of obligation…… ie: what force is there in the thing given which compels the recipient to make a return.
p. 154 – on wanting material goods but having to pretend otherwise.. there is no doubt a profound wisdom here. but in this case, the wisdom comes at a terrible price, because the underlying assumption that order and amicable relations are things that need to be explained, while the potential for violence and conflict does not (an assumption which came to be the basic starting point of structural-fuctionalism) ends up reinforcing the cynical premises which lie beneath economism if anything even more than mauss’ conclusion undercuts them.
why do people feel obliged to return gifts? his (m’s) answer is famous: objects are seen to partake of something of the personality of the giver…..the part of the donor’s soul that becomes, as it were, entangled in the gift, and that, through its wish to return home, compels the recipient to make a return. (has come under great criticism.. by many including claude live-strauss 1950)
p. 156 – 1923-4 mauss writing the gift
p. 158 – what mauss set out to do, then, was to try to get at the heart of precisely what it was about the logic of the market that did such violence to ordinary people’s sense of justice and humanity.
..mauss began with what he called the “total prestation.” two groups that would otherwise come to blows end up instead creating a relation of complete mutual interdependence by offering one another everything
all or nothing ness. like trust is.
p. 162 – mauss was not trying to describe how the logic of the marketplace, with its strict distinctions between persona dn things interest and altruism, freedom and obligation, had become the common sense of modern societies. above all, he was trying to explain the degre to which it had failed to do so; to explain why so many people – and particularly, so many of the less powerful and privileged members of society – found its logic morally repugnant.
… he was trying to understand…. why it was that social insurance legislation, “inspired by the principle that the worker gives his life and labor partly to the community, and partly to his bosses” and therefore deserved more than a weekly wage, seemed right. his answer, quite different from marx’s, was that a relation of wage labor was a miserable and impoverished form of contract. because, as we’ve seen, the elementary form of social contract is, for mauss, precisely, communism: that is, an open-ended agreement in which each party commits itself to maintaining the life of the other. in wage labor the worker does give of the totality of himself, he “gives his life and labor,” but the cash he receives in return has nothing of the sam total quality about it. if one gives one’s life, one’s life should at least be guaranteed.
how to repay.. rather – just take care – like village with your song ness
p. 163 – on marx’s brilliant critique of capitalism. mauss’ instinct were quite the opposite: he was much less interested in understanding the dynamics of capitalism that in trying to understand – and create – something that might stand outside it
p. 175 – early european visitors to new zealand soon had to teach themselves never to praise or admire an object of maori manufacture, lest its owner immediately press it on them and then later expect to be able to demand something of roughly equal worth.
obligation ness.. with our praise.. with our thanks.. with our welcomes…
on the need to pause/reset our value at least daily.. so we’re not caught up in (wilde’s) other’s quotes/passions…
p. 200 – it is in part for this reason that rituals themselves could be referred to , in the kwakwala language, as “frauds” – though this made them no less sacred. indeed, the presence of sacred power, nawalak, was seen above all i its ability to make its audience shiver with fear.
Ed/manufacturing consent ness
p. 203 – ultimately everything goes back to theater, to what one can put over on a (demanding but appreciative) public. the title and treasures would be meaningless without it: everything about them refers to the presence of an audience.
p. 205 – skins to blankets to money (1910-20)
p. 207 – on copper – widerspack-thor calls coppers a “metaphor of energy,” a “container and catalyst of energy held in each individual, each chief, each tribe”…sergei kan argues that coppers were like slaves i that they were in a certain sense persons and in a certain sense not; also”like slaves, coppers were “alive,” and hence were the quintessential wealth exchangeable for al other types of property.
p. 213 – so why, then, does the identity of the modern celebrity not rub off in a similar way, if only slightly, with the transfer of guitar picks or autographed photos? the answer, i think, is that the celebrity’s mystique – if one wishes to cal it that – is seen as being derived not from an exterior apparatus, but from within. ..ie: what makes bb king famous is .. not his guitar but his ability to play it…. derived from inside, (essence/capacity/talent) rather than from anything he or she owns….. in such system (kwakiutl).. the key issue would be not the ability to play .. but the right to do so.. (if given bb king’s guitar)
p. 216 – maori – generative power of the gods …. made people fundamentally the same, differentiation (individualism) was seen as an effect of conflict and strife. (kin invites people to aggressively raid king’s house). kwakiutl – individualism plentiful..how to create society (king invites all to come and take whatever)
p. 218 – unlike competitive gift exchange, “total prestations” created permanent relationships between individuals and groups, relations that were permanent precisely because there was no way to cancel them out by a repayment…. no accounts need be kept because the relation is not treated as if it will ever end…. communism is built on an image of eternity.
p. 219 – while it is certainly true that tit-for-tat exchange of this sort can help create an ongoing, mutually supportive relationship, it has only really done so when it stops being strictly tit for tat.
p. 220 – rather than “generalized” or “balanced” reciprocity, then, it might be better to think of reciprocity as relatively “open” and “closed”: open reciprocity keeps no accounts, because it implies a relation of permanent mutual commitment; it becomes closed reciprocity when a balancing of accounts closes the relationship off, or at least maintains the constant possibility of doing so. phrasing it this way also makes it easier to see the relation as a matter of degree and not of kind: closed relations can become more open, open ones more closed.
it seems difficult to avoid the impression, then, that the closed reciprocity of gift and countergift is in fact the form of gift exchange that least embodies what makes a “gift economy” different from one dominated by market exchange. it is competitive, individualistic, and can easily.. slip into something resembling barter….. why did mauss put it as center.. even to point of ignoring those networks of individualistic communism that, it turns out, were actually far more important in most of the societies he was dealing with?….. the “obligation to return” gifts, in modern society, cannot be explained either by the market ideology of self-interest or by its complement, selfless altruism.
that’s part of the reason. i think there is another, deeper one as well, which has to do with freedom. mauss emphasized that our accustomed sharp division between freedom and obligation is, like that between interest and generosity, largely an illusion thrown up by the market, whose anonymity makes it possible to ignore the fact that we rely on other people for just about everything. in its absence, one must necessarily be aware that, unless one wishes to live a solitary life, freedom largely means the freedom to chose what sort of obligations one wishes to enter into, and with whom.
p. 221 – perhaps then we have an answer to our initial question: when do gifts have to be repaid? if one is speaking of strict equivalence, the answer is:
gifts have to be repaid when “communistic” relations are so identified with inequality that not doing so would place the recipient in the position of an inferior.
on obligation to reciprocity coming from “communistic” relations identified w/inequality
again – seeing the hope for freedom of obligation/reciprocity… by basing our everyday life on equity: everyone getting a go.. everyday.
p. 223 – our individuality (based on humanity) makes us equivalent – dumont
p. 225 – timeless relations of open-ended, communistic reciprocity,.. distinguished from balanced gift-exchange. while the former can often slip into relations of patronage and exploitation .. the latter has a tendency to degenerate into outright competition..
w/in relations of presumed inequality, no presumption of reciprocity exists.
unless it’s via serfdom ness.. no?
p. 226 – the ultimate valuables of a society or group will normally be those that are never given away..
compare to godin’s art – where you’d do anything to give it away..
on our habits .. ie: bottle of wine to dinner, communal living in college -gradually back to individualism… makes spontaneity more difficult.
p. 230 – the problem is that in western social thought, social contract theory is one of the only idioms in which it has been possible to talk about society this way (an intentional thing), and it is a woefully inadequate one. to imagine society as a contract is to imagine it in distinctly market terms….. those who think differently simply don’t have the power or influence to create new definitions in peoples’ minds, or at any rate, any significant number of them.
…leaves us without a language with which to discuss some very important phenomena.
so.. does our language become more image ish – emoticon ish – action ish – from doing/being….? maybe we can do this now… because tech is allowing us to break down the convo to a 24/7 flow/vote – local and global.
since marx, we have been used to talking about how social orders become naturalized; about..
how what are ultimately arbitrary conventions come to seem like inevitable constituents of the universe.
science of people ness
p. 231 – iroquois – society was seen not as something given but as a human creation, a set of agreements, which were the only alternative to endless cycles of destructive violence.. the way of creating society.. was through establishing long-term open-ended commitments…
the power ascribed to such objects (fetishes) were in this case quite similar to the sort of sovereign power imagine by hobbes: not only were they tokens of agreement, but they were themselves capable of enforcing those agreements because they were essentially forms of crystallized violence. …
(on wampum/fetishes) … here it was as if the power and abstraction of money itself were tuned back against itself as a form of imaginary violence that could prevent its own worst implications.
p. 234 – for block, the critical thing is the way all such rituals serve to mystify the real source of royal power, which is precisely the monarch’s ability to make other people pay tribute and otherwise treat him like a monarch .. by claiming that power comes from a domain beyond human action.
p. 236 – we are back again to social contracts. the message seems to be: kingship emerges from popular consensus. this consensus has to be constantly reaffirmed; …
p.237 – always seems to be some sort of notion of agreement and always too a sense that this agreement was established primarily through the power of words – two facts brought together by the fact that persuasive words themselves could themselves be referred to as masina.
word of persuasion – reeking of the obligation ness via invisible/imaginary silence..
..usually, at least implicitly, creating such an agreement also involves creating some invisible force of violence that has the power to enforce it (much as ancestors punish their descendants who do not respect their mutual obligations).
if one examines nineteenth century archival records, it quickly becomes clear that this was by far the most common way in which the monarch’s power really entered into people’s everyday affairs: in effect, by gestures meant to constantly re-create the king’s power to enforce agreement, in both sense of the term.
whoa. .. circling us back to daily reminders of debt ness..
p. 240 – magic, then, is about realizing one’s intentions (whatever those may be) by acting on the world.
p. 243 – the point is always that while curers( for instance) can hardly help but know that much of what they are doing is stage illusion, they also think that since it does cure people, on some level it must be true.
p. 244 – curers, genuine or not, are lclearly powerful and infulential people. it means anyone watching a performance was aware tha thte person in front of them might be one whose power was based only on their ability to convince others that they had it. and that, it seems to me, opens the way for some possibly profound insights into the nature of social power.
p. 245 – to a large extent, power is just the ability to convince other people that you have it (to the extent that it’s not, it largely consists of the ability to convince them you should have it).
.. could there really be a society in which people acted as if they were perfectly well aware that this was the case? would this not mean that power itself – at least in its nastier, most obviously harmful manifestations – would cease to exist..
on defining magic around two features..1\ that it is not inherently fetishistic, in that it recognizes that the power to transform the world ultimately goes back to human intentions
p. 247 – one might say that statements like”kings descended from the sky, except, not really” are about as far as one can go in defetishizing power without creating some sort of discourse, some way of talking and thinking about power, that is not itself entirely entangled in the practice of power – or that at last aspires to stand apart from it.. in order to create these exterior spaces, however, one must want to do so…in practice, it implies some sort of conscious program of social change.
p. 248 – seem to have changed their opinions on the subject of royal power almost instantly after the monarchy was overthrown i 1896 and now tend to describe it, or any kind of power which some people (have) the right to give arbitrary orders to others, as fundamentally immoral.
does leave us with the rather surprising conclusion that if one is looking for unfetishized consciousness in nonwestern societies, one of the most likely places to look is precisely around objects westerners would be inclined to refer to as “fetishes.” i suspect on reason has to do with the nature of revolutionary action itself- that is, if one interprets the word”revolutionary” in the broadest possible sense.
(on marx – and diff between human and other – is in architecture – human imagines building first.) this is the ambiguity, though: while our ability to revolutionize emerges from this same critical faculty, the revolutionist, according to marx, must never proceed in the same manner as the architect, it was not the task of the revolutionary to come up with blueprints for a future society, and then try to bring them in to being, or indeed to try to imagine details of the future society at all. that would be utopianism, and marx has nothing for revolutionary theorists who proceeded along these lines.
not task of revolutionary to come up with blueprints… that would be Utopianism..?
so a need for a nother way – that jumpstarts – us – into an ongoing emerging society..
p. 249 – all creative action is to some degree revolutionary; but to be revolutionary to any significant degree it must change that larger structure in which it is embedded. at which point one can no longer imagine one is simply working on objects, but must recognize that one is also working on people.
an act can be considered historical to the degree to which it could not have been predicted before it happened. in every case we are talking about what seems, from the perspective of a system, to be “arbitrariness,” but from the perspective of the individual, “freedom.” insofar as any system of actions is also historical, it is in a permanent condition of transformation, or, at the very least, potential transformation.
p. 150 – in most contexts, on is dealing with things that happen over and over in pretty much the same way. even if one cannot know how every actor in the marketplace actually sees things, if one understands the logic of the system one can understand enough to know why , say, a given product has the value that it does. if so, it also follows that the more historical creativity is involved in a situation, the less this is the case. in a moment of profound historical change, no one involved could possibly know what the total system in question actually consists of.
when it comes to establishing value, one common response to such confusing situation is to circle off a space as a kind of minimal, defacto “society,” a kind of micrototality, as it were.
science of people ness – on need to get outside of what we think we know.. and stay there.
the presence of an audience is what makes it possible.
p. 251 – the power of money is an effect of a gigantic system of coordination of human activity. –
in situation of radical change, a revolutionary moment in which the larger system itself is being transformed,…… the larger social reality does not yet exist. all that is real, in effect, is the actor’s capacity to create it.
on objects not having power… but in another sense, it- or the faith people place in it – really does have the power to bring a new social order into being.
.. it is unreasonable to expect anything like a social science, any systematic attempt to decipher the nature of social reality – that is, to create a discourse that aims to stand outside the practices of power – actually to emerge except as part of a very particular kind of social project. one might even say, “utopian project.” historically, imagining there could be a discourse that would not partake of practices of power and inequality was closely related to imagining there could be a world that wouldn’t. .. only .. around the enlightenment,… when one has a notion that it would be possible (or, perhaps more accurately, legitimate) to imagine what a new social order might be like, and then bring it into being… (famous from 68 – -give power to the imagination)
p. 252 – the reasonable explanation would seem to be that fifth century greece was a period of political possibility: full of social experiments, revolutions, utopian schemes for the founding of ideal cities.
.. not wrong.. but so often, invoking the word “science” brings so many other issues to the table that it probably confuse more than it illuminates.
p. 254 – on getting to the root of the problem (radical) – i think.. another set (fixed forms, extreme individualism, and assumption that human nature is founded on infinite/unquenchable desires all in a state of fundamental competition)…(are) far more challenging ones, because they are all far more deeply embedded in ordinary common sense.
over course of this book i’ve argued that systems of categories, or knowledge, are really just one side of a system of action; that society is therefore in a sense always an active project or set of projects; that value is the way actions become meaningful to the actors by being place in some larger social whole, real or imaginary. To adopt a dialectical approach means to define things not in terms of what one imagines them to be in a certain abstract moment, outside time, but partly by what they have the potential to become. It is extremely difficult to think this way consistently. But when one is able to, any number of seemingly impossible quandaries dissolve away.
levi-strauss – 58 – pointing out quandary – that while we reject the notion that some people are barbarians and insist that the perspectives of different groups are all equally valid, it almost invariably turns out that one of the first tenets of faith in most of those groups is that this is not the case.
p. 255 – on … priding self on ability .. to adopt children, or even adults, from other societies and turn them into proper human beings..
universal ideas are not ideas that everyone in the world has, that’s just false positivism; universal ideas are ones that everyone in the world would be capable of understanding; universal moral standards are not ones on which everyone in the world currently agrees – there is obviously nothing on which everyone agrees – but ones that, through a capacity for moral reasoning and experience of forms of moral practice that we already do share, we would be able to work out together and agree to (and probably will have to on some level if we are ll to survive in the world), and so on.
science of people – on not knowing yet what we’re capable of
his (marx) approach was in fact so relentlessly critical that he insisted it was impossible to find anything in the existing social order that could provide the basis for an alternative, except for the revolutionary practice of the proletariat itself, whose historical role, however, stemmed from the fact that as the one class that had absolutely no stake in the existing capitalist order it could liberate itself only by that order’s absolute negation.
systemic change.. making irrelevant.. rather than fighting..
p. 256 – i hope that if i have accomplished anything over the course of this book, it’s to suggest where on might at least look for a solution: that much of the problem lies in the parmenidean logic behind the very notions of “society” or “culture,” which lead to irresolvable paradoxes between individual motivation and social form, and that an approach that begins instead from questions of value, creativity, and an open-ended layering of real and imaginary social totalities, might do much to help resolve them.
a story about people grokking what matters. as the day.
p. 257 – the key move, one might say, the most important ideological work in all this is done by extracting all the more fundamental questions of desire from society (having thinking based on humans are simply people who’s desires are insatiable), so that it is possible to conceive of happiness largely as one’s relations with objects (or at best, people on treats like objects): …..and it is of course exactly this extraction that allows promoters of the market to claim to be acting in the name of human freedom, as simply opening the way for individuals to make up their own minds about what they want from life without anyone noticing that most of the individuals in question spend the vast majority of their waking hours running around at someone else’s beck and call. it’s a pretty neat trick if you think about it.
much of the power of market theory stems from its very simplicity. ….fact that so full of holes is, for ideological purposes, of almost no significance, particularly if no one is proposing a more coherent alternative.
p. 258 – what fascinates us is always that which radically excludes us in the name of its internal logic or perfections..
… this isn’t really a theory of desire at all – it’s more a declaration of why one isn’t necessary.
p. 259 – one of the key arguments of this book has been that what we call “structure” is not a set of static forms or principles but way in which changes – or in the case of social structure, action – is patterned; it consists, as piaget (or turner) would put it, of the invariable principles that regulate a system of transformations. as such, it is a notoriously elusive thing.
the critical thing is that whatever it is, it can on some level be said to contain everything.
… a household contains all the elementary forms of relation at play within a larger kinship system, even if at times in strange inverted forms. in any case, they become frozen images of those patterns of actions that in practice are called into being by the very fact that people value them; they are , as i sad, mirrors of our own manipulate intentions.
but hidden behind that glimmering image of perfection is almost always the awareness of something imperceptible,a looming absence of its own… this absence tends to be perceived not as a lack but as a kind of power. but the ultimate illusion, the ultimate trick behind this whole play of mirrors, is that this power is not, in fact, power at all, but a ghostly reflection of one’s own potential for action; one’s “creative energies,” as i’ve somewhat elusively called them.
p. 260-261 – on creative energies.. potential.. only being seen.. coming alive..through others….
What makes creativity so confusing, to both actor and analyst, is the fact that these powers are—precisely—so fundamentally social. They are social both because they are the result of an ongoing process whereby structures of relation with others come to be internalized into the very fabric of our being, and even more, because this potential cannot realize itself—at least, not in any particularly significant way—except in coordination with others.
one might .. say… that in all the most sophisticated formulations, pleasure ends up involving not just the effacement of self, but the degree to which that effacement partakes of a direct experience of that most elusive aspect of reality, of pure creative potential….(which also can)..if one is entirely unaware of the larger social context in which it takes place, also produce unparalleled misery.
from notes at end
265 – #9 – disinterested means,,,?265 #10 – consumption… as reproducing inequality266 #21 – work vs exchange267#25 – coercion same as violence. – tantamount267 – 1 – impossible to give things names268 – 8 – not wanting to live there268 – 13269 – 15 – own language. shouldn’t we all. isn’t that our privacy.. property ness..no robbers.. just like minded.. or curious enough unlike minded269 – 16 – on grokking and tacit ness269 – 18 – on children seeing life as gift.. by adult.. have to relearn …via market…?269 – 22, 23 – beauty and completeness.. and inequity.. pov… absence of shalom in all it’s forms270 – 25 – chief… those allowed to chant271 – 29 – gift economy.. value/ commodity disappears.. rather than people disappearing29 – relations.. not just people (last note).. brilliant.. but where does initial code come fromsociety and culturerelations and conventionsfractal nesscode already withinpartial understanding…how to make the more than 21 work/hear/grok272 – 12 – indexical sort that comes with language273 – 7 – sticks and gifts – reread Amanda‘s page and add to www deck (can’t find it – the stick story)273 – ch 5 added to j silva page as convo274 – 2 – amanda and gifts and emmerson and gifts…. value.. to be seen rather than looked atshe is essence of ni ness, ie: twitter… was the work274 – 6 – praxis…live doings278 – 48ch 6 – can’t measure/compare ie intelligence278 – 7 – on persuasion even of violence27914 checkers control15 desire as driver
value in the commons econ – pdf – by Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Niaros
1\ theoretical framework
p 4 – s. Its (graeber’s value) main underlying thesis, if we understood it correctly, is that value is related to ‘making society’ and that we need value regimes which allow us to direct attention and energy to what we commonly value. Value comes into being through social practices. This stands in paradoxical contrast to the capitalist value regime, which seems to lead to avenues that no one in society, or perhaps only very few, really want. There is, of course, no consensus about what value is nor from where it is derived, neither cross-historically nor amongst analysts and commentators of contemporary capitalism. What human individuals and societies are willing to put their attention and energy toward, and the ‘rules of the game’ through which resources are allocated, varies amongst cultures, regions, ideological and social groups within a society, and throughout historical times.
p 7 bottom -Many of the new value-measures that are presently being developed and experimented with will be post-monetary ‘current-sees’ (seeing currents), as Arthur Brock of the MetaCurrency Project calls it – systems that enable communities to see flow, and react to it. Michel Bauwens’ commons-centric interpretation is that human societies, through commons-based peer production and related modalities of creating value, are now able to exponentially increase use-value production outside of
p 8 – corporations and markets. However, because abundant, digitally reproduced immaterial use-value is generated outside of the commodity form, it moves to the periphery of market production, and therefore ever greater amounts of use-value production are no longer recognized through monetization. This is creating a crisis of capital accumulation (as it becomes harder for capital to discover reliable sources of return), but also of precarious livelihoods.
p 10 – Moving towards a commons economy is moving to an economy centered around commoning, i.e. caring, where people can freely choose their object of care, be *recognized for it, and be *rewarded for it so that they can maintain fulfilling lives.
i don’t see *rec and **reward as a part of common ing.. i think it’s huge.. that we don’t assume this..
h u g e
Perhaps as importantly, the *capacity for the ‘global scaling of small group dynamics’, one of the key characteristics of commons-based peer production (CBPP) brings back the community dynamics of our original hunter-gathering anthropological condition, but adds the logic of affinity to the original logic of kinship.
Bringing the commons back to the core of value creation and distribution, in the context of small group dynamics, brings care back at the center of production. While peer-based communities are starting to develop techniques that recognize all contributions within a peer network of common production, we need the same capacity at the level of much larger common territories for *recognizing care work as value creation.
*why do we need to recognize it..?
Let’s move now to what is perhaps an even more important and central issue of the current value crisis: our ‘survivability’, or *our connection to the natural world. We are embedded in this world and form a substantial, and not separate, part of it.
we all need to become *indigenous…
Our monetary system must reflect reality. (Groome, 2016).
or perhaps it’s time to disengage from any measuring/validating/recognizing of transactions…
Therefore, the key underlying shift needed is one from extractive models, practices that enrich some at the expense of the others (communities, resources, nature), to *generative value models, practices that enrich the communities, resources etc., to which they are applied. This is what we could call the Value Shift.
imaging that will just happen.. (generation/regeneration) if we facil curiosities.. and trust.. us.. indigenous us… no need to call it a model or title it..
According to Kojin Karatani (2014) in, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, there are four fundamental modes of exchange. The first is Mode A, which is based on the reciprocity of the gift and on the ‘community’. The second is Mode B, which is related to ruling and protection, and based on the ‘state’. The third is Mode C, which involves commodity exchange mediated by the ‘market’. …The fourth is the hypothetical Mode D, which transcends all the other three.
well.. i wouldn’t even call it a mode of exchange (so not even mode d) ..too much attention to the exchange ness… think of the indigenous tribe that doesn’t say thank you… et al..
If mode A is dominated by gift exchange and on the pooling of resources, then the digitized commons enable all kinds of pooling of physical and infrastructural resources, but at a global scale. In other words, mode D is an attempt to recreate a society based on mode A, but at a *higher level of complexity and integration.
i’d say not just higher (guessing you’re meaning zoom out..) but lower/smaller/whatever (zooming in).. has to be both.. and begs we let go of an exchange structure.. rather.. a stigmergic facilitation of curiosity/chaos
spending our energy/resources/techs listening to all the voices.. rather than maintaining any kind of checks and balances of exchange.. ie: reciprocity; obligation;..
It is important to stress the following point made by Karatani. To begin with, all systems are multimodal. The four modalities (or five according to our adaptation of Karatani’s scheme) exist in some form in all systems and it is only their mutual configuration which changes. This means that transitions depend on struggles for dominance among these modalities.
i think it’s important to stress the need to disengage from all modes.. i don’t think this is something we can go part\ial on .. i think it will end up like shirky’s day care center story.. we have to get back to trust.. which is 100%.. not shifting to diff modes depending on .. this seems like a non-negotiable.. (if we want equity.. obviously the modes exist..)
The question then becomes, how can we think about a commons transition as a way for the commons to engage the other modalities? Just as the logic of capitalist markets attempts to commodify, the logic of the commons is an effort to commonify. There is *evidence of this type of value shift in the current practices of peer to peer based, commons-producing communities.
*and i think that’s why we haven’t yet… gotten to equity… we have to let go of measuring any transactions.. of any modes..
The underlying operating concept here is a quest for ‘value sovereignty’.
i think that smells of cancerous rna
The last question becomes, how one can move from seed forms, however complex, that operate within a capitalist dominated economy to a new overall system that is itself commons-centric and has *successfully incorporated market practices to serve the commons.
*or not.. unless you consider something like this.. where money used as a temp placebo in order to disengage from it..
2\ case studies
enspiral – Enspiral has successfully pioneered a funding process based on capped returns, in which capital is separated from decision-making, and the resulting resources can be donated to the commons after the agreed payments of the returns….Enspiral is a network of professionals and companies aiming to empower and support social entrepreneurship…..it also serves as the legal entity of the network as a whole.
Regardless of the formal structures, all the people that contribute to Enspiral effectively participate in the governance and dayto-day coordination of the network through a series of coordination tools, including (Enspiral, 2016a): • Loomio;Cobudget; Chalkle: a virtual space where all the Enspiral events are listed, ;Numerous communication channels,…
In the case of Sensorica, however, they have created independent entrepreneurial entities that have the sole right to commercialize their products and services.
Sensorica identifies itself as a new type of organization tuned for P2P organization; an expanding type of open enterprise or, as it is referred, an Open Value Network (OVN) (Sensorica, 2016a). An OVN is a generic organizational and business model, apt to enhance and support commons-based peer production.
Unlike our two previous examples, Backfeed is not a really operating peer production community, but we believe its innovative and integrated design features warrants a special discussion. Backfeed is a system based on the use of the blockchain ledger, which imagines itself as a full infrastructure for decentralized production, which comes with sophisticated capabilities to develop incentives and express them through cryptocurrencies.
host life bits on blockchain.. no need for incentives/cryptocurrencies.. value sovereignty..
By doing this, they address the capacity to more easily create ‘value sovereign’ communities, and make technical tools available for their management of value. If Enspiral has a full wall between the market and the commons, which Sensorica aims to bridge through its open value accounting system, then Backfeed is even more directed towards the market polarity, by an intensive use of ‘incentives’ for the commons-based production.
As long as people trust the underlying technological infrastructure, it is possible for them to engage in direct peer-to-peer transactions. But, how can people use blockchain technology to engage in *complex social relationships that do actually require some kind of trusted interactions?
*like all of them.. like with 100% (otherwise.. isn’t it just judgment.. not trust..)
Backfeed develops a trust layer, enabling people to engage in secure and decentralized trusted interactions on top of the trustless blockchain technology. The blockchain is regarded as a technological infrastructure that could allow for the establishment of a new organisational structure, called ‘Decentralized Cooperation’ (DC). In this context, autonomous agents collaborate to achieve a common goal, making spontaneous contributions to a network, with no central coordinating or ruling authority.
this makes it possible for people to effectively manage, coordinate and reward contributions, while they collectively develop and deploy applications on the blockchain.
not the kind of equity we need.. disengage
In conclusion of the three case studies, we can see how they present three options for *negotiating the interaction and boundary between the commons and the market, as illustrated below (Figure 4). In Enspiral, the commons and the market are clearly delineated and there is no direct interaction. In the case of Sensorica, the open value accounting system represents the social contract that any subsequent value realization in the market will be rewarded fairly. In the Backfeed case, through the creation of tradeable crypto-currencies, it is possible to directly ‘marketize’ the contributions. This could be problematic as the market incentives could ‘crowd out’ the commons-based contributory logic, so experimentations with Backfeed are of great interest.
imagine we don’t need to negotiate interaction.. just facil it.. disengage from market
3\ policy recommendations
p 36 – econ infrastructure
i rec: short bp.. as temp placebo to make econ infrastructure..irrelevant
p 38 – political infra
p 39 – much on chart on this page.. will happen.. if we just trust it to happen..
Why would this proposed strategy be effective?
First, it is *consistent with the historical record
2\ very important in our minds are the changing cultural expectations of millennial and post-millennial generations, and their requirements for *meaningful engagements and work, which are hardly met by the current regime
*agreed.. story about people grokking what matters
3\ The precarization of work under neoliberalism drives the search for *alternatives, and the cultural force of P2P self-organizing and corresponding mentalities fuels the growth of commons-oriented networks and communities
.. begs we go all out.. global do-over .. alternative.. otherwise.. self org ness is killed/compromised.. we have no idea how much the raised eye-brow (compromised rna) is killing us
4\ truly *sustainable **production.
the everyone *indigenous part.. and.. less **production ness more living/being ness..
5\ ..vital need of renewing the strategic thinking of the forces that aim for *human emancipation and a sustainable life-world
let’s not try to fit what we already have.. ie: fake people.. into makerspaces..
The commoners are already here and so are the commons, and *the prefigurative forms of a new value regime.
perhaps no common ing.. unless we disengage from value regime ness
The time has come
Value is regarded as a morally neutral attribute that arises from the natural workings of free and independent individual agents. Market champions celebrate
that supposedly stems from rational and efficient consumer/seller transactions.
what if once we go from value to *exchange value.. we lose value – 10 day cares et al
perhaps true value is a perception per individual per day per hour.. whatever.. so the idea of exchanging it .. which implies measure\ing it.. makes no sense.. it compromises value.. trying to get some norma value label.. some consensus.. which then oppresses not only the concept of value.. but the people who hold it..
exchanging ness.. transaction ness.. is the thing that’s not natural..
value can’t be compared.. from one thing/time/person/whatever to another.. so exchanges ness.. well..
ie: lots of things.. but one in particular.. mona lisa smile.. what is art.. who decides.. not comparing thins.. 9 to 13 min ish – my mother thought this was brilliant.. i painted it for her bday.. art isn’t art until someone says it is.. it’s art.. the right people.. who are they..
comparing.. value (there is always an s… even w in one thing/person)..so the idea if exchanging value is impossible/irrelevant
flavors ness..always changing.. always seen from diff angles..
Really enjoyed reading this 2013 article by @davidgraeber on the anthropological theory of value – so well written: https://t.co/hngCGTScqp
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/g_kallis/status/921029834725347328
It is value that brings universes into being
It’s genuinely hard to say what all these have in common, other than that some people wish they had them more than they already do. Not surprising, perhaps, the organizers of the conference from which these papers emerged came out of the experience uncertain whether a single, unified anthropological theory of value is even desirable.
Yet at the same time, I am convinced that if it isn’t, this is very bad news for the project of anthropology. In a very real sense, anthropology could be said to have emerged around questions of value, and such questions have remained just below the surface of just about every important theoretical debate.
The problem with this whole assumption, he noted, was that it assumes that humans were all pursuing the same sorts of thing: as two shepherds, he notes, might quarrel over a stretch of pasturage. ..Instead, what one actually observes is humans rapidly clustering into different language groups, in which members had a spontaneous sense of familiar solidarity with one another but profound contempt for their neighbors, precisely because.. they are not pursuing the same forms of value as they
many attempts to find some kind of common substance underlying all these different forms of value. Hegel’s Phenomenology, which organized each historic culture as one moment in a single project of the selfrealization of the human spirit, was perhaps the most ambitious.
Marx often seemed to be making fun of this tradition, ..But in the end, he was working squarely in the same tradition..Perhaps it’s inevitable. Perhaps something like this necessarily follows if one starts not with the idea of society as a collection of individuals or groups and then sets about to understand how that society hangs together, as the French and British sociological traditions tended to do, but rather, as the German does, as a mode of coordinating projects of human action. If so, there must be some concept or conceptions of value that set everything in motion; and if we are to assume that human beings are on some level ultimately the same sorts of creature, we also have to assume that on some ultimate level we are all pursuing the same sorts of thing.
(written in language no one could understand et al) As a result, we had a sense that the promised revolution never quite happened, that the core magic texts remained hidden, never quite to be revealed. When I conceived the idea of writing my own Toward an anthropological theory of value (2001) in the late 1990s, I originally thought of it as much as anything as an attempt to draw all these texts and arguments out into the open—I imagined its appearance would be followed by irate critiques from many of the principals insisting I had got their core arguments wrong, and a flurry of productive debates. Nothing of the sort ensued. Indeed, the book seems to have appeared at precisely the moment when the discipline was collectively dismissing all such great debates as somehow passé, in fact, anthropological theory itself ..as tokens of airs that anthropologists, with their colonial legacy, really ought not be putting on—even itself as a kind of left-over, would-be intellectual imperialism.
This is what I tried to argue in Toward an anthropological theory of value as well: that value will necessarily be a key issue if we see social worlds not just as a collection of persons and things but rather as a project of mutual creation, as something collectively made and remade. .t This is why most debates over Marx’s deployment of the “labor theory of value” completely miss the mark. Marx’s theory of value was above all a way of asking the following question: assuming that we do collectively make our world, that we collectively remake it daily, then why is it that we somehow end up creating a world that few of us particularly like, most find unjust, and over which no one feels they have any ultimate control?.t
five ways that what might be called Chicago value theory—or with hope, someday, just the ethnographic theory of value
1) Production as people-making.
If labor consists of all those creative actions whereby we shape and reshape the world around us, ourselves, and especially each other, material wealth only exists to further that task of shaping one another into the sort of beings we feel ought to exist, and we would wish to have around us..
as long the shaping ness is as ie: eduaimoniative surplus ness.. and not.. ie: current Ed ness
It’s the role of money as universal equivalent that allows for the division. (primary labor being that which can commodify: value.. secondary being that which can’t.. interp labor ness: values) That which is thus rendered comparable can be considered under the rubric of “value” and this value, like that of money, lies in its equivalence. The value of “values” in contrast lies precisely in their lack of equivalence; they are seen as unique, crystallized forms. They cannot or should not be converted into money. Nor can they be precisely compared with one another. No one will ever be able produce a mathematical formula for how much it is fitting to betray one’s political principles in the name of religion, or to neglect one’s family in the pursuit of art. True, people do make such decisions all the time. But they will always resist formalization—to even suggest doing so is at best odd, and probably offensive.
imagining all we’d put under value – is no longer needed.. if it ever was..
The role of money leads to the second crucial point of intervention.
2) Marx’s Capital as a work of symbolic analysis.
Money in this sense is a very particular sort of symbol. It both represents the value (importance) of our creative actions (labor) in a form in which it can be socially recognized and it also does so in a form where it can seem to be a source of the very creative power that it represents. As such, it becomes an object of desire, the pursuit of which motivates workers to actually carry out the very creative actions whose value it represents—since, after all, this is the reason one goes to work to begin with: in order to get paid.
Gold and silver used as money is enduring but it is generic and quantifiable; it thus allows liquid, comparable forms of value. A unique heirloom, a diploma, or a performance each have very different qualities. As a result, even though value is by definition always comparative, different values can be compared in different ways: ..But in every case, it is easy to observe the same tendency for the object—which represents and embodies the value of a certain genre of creative activity—to seem to generate the very power it embodies, because, in immediate pragmatic terms, that’s precisely what it does. Tokens of honor embody the value of honorable conduct, but one conducts oneself in an honorable way largely in order to obtain them; educational certificates represent the value of learning; one-man retrospective shows in famous galleries represent the value of an artistic career, and so on.
These tokens can be more or less formalized. ..unpaid domestic labor,..imagined largely as love, . ..the kind of process of the objectification of creative labor into value tokens that then make it easier for some class of people (in most cases, male elders) to more easily appropriate the honor, prestige, fame, vitality, or dignity collectively created by others.
tokens.. oy.. why is vinay saying future will be tokenized.. it already is.. we need blockchain or whatever to de tokenize (de tox) us
3) Imaginary totalities, or society as arena for the realization of value.
One aspect of this approach that has been largely overlooked is the critical role of imagination. ..always a comparison; value can only be realized in other people’s eyes. ..there must always be an audience. It is not just a question of being recognized as just, or honorable, or a good provider, not even a matter of being able to establish that one is more just, or more honorable, or a better provider than someone else, but also, whose assessment one takes seriously (and of course, by the same token, whose views it never even occurs to one to think about at all). For most of those involved in pursuing a particular form of value, that’s what “society” is: that audience. But there is an interesting corollary here. This also means that in the ordinary course of events, “society” exists largely in the imagination of the actors. If society takes concrete, material form, this tends to happen only during important ritual events (funerals, graduation ceremonies, marriages, games, trade summits, etc.). Yet when it is imagined, it is always as some magnificent, all-embracing totality of some sort or another, a kind of universe. What’s more, in complex societies, there are any number of such imaginary arenas for the realization of value, each making similarly totalizing claims, and the ultimate stakes of political life tend to lie precisely in negotiating how these values and arenas will ultimately relate to one another..t
energy loss.. zinn energy law
I think we might do well to think about the political implications of this fact. It may well be one of the most important potential contributions of value theory, but it’s been largely ignored.
Such beautiful events are always said to transcend the petty power struggles of everyday life. In reality, however, this isn’t really true.
often seemed to have very little to do with the much messier and contentious realities of what actually went on in small-scale communities. What did these models actually represent?
Turner’s formulation also offers a much more compelling explanation of why it must be made to appear: in order to provide an arena for the realization of social value.
Max Weber’s notion of status (or stand), 1\status group are vying over their own peculiar notion of esteem; 2\society as a whole to establish that particular notion of esteem..
It is actually quite useful to examine what we’ve come to call subcultures, or similar identity-based groups; ..Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of social “fields” .. Each can, again, be imagined as a kind of game where the players are vying to accumulate some form of “capital,”
why do we have to measure anything..?
What Turner would add here is that this is what politics is always ultimately about: not just to accumulate value, but to define what value is, ..In the end, political struggle is and must always be about the meaning of life.
perhaps we’ll not grok meaning of life until we let go of.. accumulating and not defining.. not measuring..
4) Cosmologies, games, and the anti-ontological approach.
implies that questions about the ultimate nature of reality actually matter to most people; in actual practice, what seems striking is the degree to which they do not.. ie: Stanford Prison Experiment
Maurice Bloch..imaginative play appears to be a peculiarly human phenomenon, and even in small children, is always characterized by this kind of “as-if” quality that stands apart from everyday affairs. In formal games, the “as-if” space has to be clearly bounded off from that everyday reality
My point at the time was that while Aristotle was quite right to insist that— stories being as he puts it, “imitations of action”—the plot is the real essence of the thing (and not the characters, who actually are defined by the action and not vice versa), from the point of view of the audience, it necessarily has to be the other way around because if they did not care what happened to the characters, they would have no interest in following the story to begin with.
The point is that if one identifies with the players in their pursuit of a certain form of value, if one is drawn into becoming part of the audience in their arena, one simply accepts the terms of the attendant universe, whatever its reality. To do otherwise would at best be vaguely obnoxious, like interrupting a game to demand a group of fans explain why their favorite footballer is not allowed to use his hands.
It is value, then, that brings universes into being. Whether anyone believes in the reality of these universes is usually inconsequential.10 This, in turn, is what makes it so easy, in contexts characterized by complex and overlapping arenas of values, for so many actors to simply stroll back and forth between one universe and another without feeling any profound sense of contradiction or even unease.
We are dealing less with anything that could be called “religion” than with a kind of cosmic play. And this is considered perfectly appropriate so long as the purpose of the ritual is attained: whether that be health, fertility, prosperity, or anything else. Once again, the universe comes into being around the value
Why is it then, that some cosmologies can have this playful “as-if” quality, and others make such powerful truth-claims?
What I am suggesting then is that ontological claims are not essential to cosmologies, but themselves, a kind of political move—one possible political move—that will tend to be made in the context of competing claims of value. It’s only then, when universes collide, that it occurs to anyone to cement one universe’s status by insisting that it is somehow more real than any of the others, or that it has some special purchase on the nature of reality, as in the case of science or revealed religion.
After all, “reality,” if it is to mean anything, must always be that which lies beyond our imaginative constructions, or at the very least, which always contains some properties that extend beyond anything we can think or say about it. That is both undeniable, yet ultimately incomprehensible.
5) Metavalues and infravalues.
If value systems create a potentially endless series of little worlds—“a thousand totalities”—and if the ultimate stakes of politics are negotiating how these come into relation with one another, then the obvious question is *how? Does this not require some sort of system of metavalues, criteria by which to prefer some structures of value over others? In fact, there is no reason to believe an explicit system of metavalues is necessary.
*how about via 2 convos..
We can refer to such tacit interior values as infravalues. Rather than being seen as ends in themselves, they are thought of as necessary prerequisites for, or means to, being able to pursue those forms of value that are socially realized in the kinds of arenas I have been describing
maybe we quit labeling everything.. and instead just label (listen to and label to facil) curiosities.. as the day
Most of us wish to secure access to basic life necessities precisely in order to pursue something else.
If politicians were really interested in “what works,” the obvious thing would have been to remake the financial system to be more like the educational system, rather than the other way around. But this option was not even considered.
both bad for humanity .. in my thinking/experience..
drawing of circle as starting point.. not circle..
Dumont himself did not really accept a fundamental division between value and values either, except, in a very broad sense, as a distinction between modern, individualistic societies where economic value reigns supreme, and traditional, hierarchical, “normal” ones
takes as its starting point the circle rather than the act of drawing it..t
in order to even begin to ask such questions, I think we have to place ourselves back in that original tradition: one that understands human beings as projects of mutual creation, value as the way such projects become meaningful to the actors, and the worlds we inhabit as emerging from those projects rather than the other way around.