Post Anarchism - #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

David Graeber

Bursting capitalism's bubble.
Capitalism is Eating Itself

Andrea Giacobbe remixed by Steve Keys

Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download

This article is available in:

There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist – most obviously, as ecologists keep reminding us, because it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet, and the current form of capitalism doesn’t seem to be capable of generating the kind of vast technological breakthroughs and mobilizations that would be required for us to start finding and colonizing any other planets. Yet faced with the prospect of capitalism actually ending, the most common reaction – even from those who call themselves “progressives” – is simply fear. We cling to what exists because we can no longer imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.

How did we get here? My own suspicion is that we are looking at the final effects of the militarization of American capitalism itself. In fact, it could well be said that the last 30 years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures. At its root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world – in response to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s – with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, flourish or propose alternatives; that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win. To do so requires creating a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police; various forms of private security firms and police and military intelligence apparatus, and propaganda engines of every conceivable variety, most of which do not attack alternatives directly so much as create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity and simple despair that renders any thought of changing the world, an idle fantasy.

Maintaining this apparatus seems more important to exponents of the “free market” than maintaining any sort of viable market economy. How else can one explain what happened in the former Soviet Union? One would ordinarily have imagined that the end of the Cold War would have led to the dismantling of the army and the KGB and rebuilding the factories, but in fact what happened was precisely the other way around. This is just an extreme example of what has been happening everywhere. Economically, the apparatus is pure dead weight; all the guns, surveillance cameras and propaganda engines are extraordinarily expensive and really produce nothing, and no doubt it’s yet another element dragging the entire capitalist system down – along with producing the illusion of an endless capitalist future that laid the groundwork for the endless bubbles to begin with. Finance capital became the buying and selling of chunks of that future, and economic freedom, for most of us, was reduced to the right to buy a small piece of one’s own permanent subordination.

In other words, there seems to have been a profound contradiction between the political imperative of establishing capitalism as the only possible way to manage anything, and capitalism’s own unacknowledged need to limit its future horizons lest speculation, predictably, go haywire. When speculation did go berserk, and the whole machine imploded, we were left in the strange situation of not being able to even imagine any other way that things might be arranged. About the only thing we can imagine is catastrophe.

David Graeber, an anarchist direct action activist, has been called “the best anthropological theorist of his generation.” The above essay is adapted from his latest book Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

78 comments on the article “David Graeber”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 78

Page 1 of 8

maverickpower8

Brilliant ! To be on the optimistic side of the line is like jumping in a cold creek. We must all brace ourselves for transition , into what , into where , into who ? It can be simple , it can slow down , re-calibrate it self , like a perfect wheel in balance , sacred geometry with room for the miraculous .

maverickpower8

Brilliant ! To be on the optimistic side of the line is like jumping in a cold creek. We must all brace ourselves for transition , into what , into where , into who ? It can be simple , it can slow down , re-calibrate it self , like a perfect wheel in balance , sacred geometry with room for the miraculous .

Anonymous

Let's imagine a Resource Based Economy!
After all, progress cannot be stopped, but maybe it can actualized

Anonymous

Let's imagine a Resource Based Economy!
After all, progress cannot be stopped, but maybe it can actualized

secede or bust

OK, so the capitalist model has infected the whole world, and has a basic strangle hold on any other form of trade and development. It was just 20 years ago that capitalism spread it's octopusian arms to capture the northern European countries, China, and the former Soviet Union. Thus making the whole world believe that America's capitalistic model was superior to any other form of government and trade. Since the time of "voodoo economics" of Reagan/Bush we have been over extending our reach, and exploiting other countries to "do it our way", as we gobbled up their countries. We exchanged the need to serve all the people with a success model that could only be had by 1% of the total population of the world. By doing so those same people/corporations have almost ( if not actually ) destroyed our planets eco system. Chewing and swallowing whole parts of the eco system that keeps the planet in a holistic balance. It is no wonder that the capitalistic model is collapsing worldwide. Divide and conquer economics has destroyed our planets ability to function correctly and thereby destroying mankind's ability to govern the over populated masses. Nothing short of violent revolution against the ruling wealthy elite, and that needs to be done post haste, will begin to correct and balance both the current ecological and economical systems death, and restore some equality among humans so that our grandchildren will have a planet to live on, and a chance to live out their lives without suffering great hardship.

secede or bust

OK, so the capitalist model has infected the whole world, and has a basic strangle hold on any other form of trade and development. It was just 20 years ago that capitalism spread it's octopusian arms to capture the northern European countries, China, and the former Soviet Union. Thus making the whole world believe that America's capitalistic model was superior to any other form of government and trade. Since the time of "voodoo economics" of Reagan/Bush we have been over extending our reach, and exploiting other countries to "do it our way", as we gobbled up their countries. We exchanged the need to serve all the people with a success model that could only be had by 1% of the total population of the world. By doing so those same people/corporations have almost ( if not actually ) destroyed our planets eco system. Chewing and swallowing whole parts of the eco system that keeps the planet in a holistic balance. It is no wonder that the capitalistic model is collapsing worldwide. Divide and conquer economics has destroyed our planets ability to function correctly and thereby destroying mankind's ability to govern the over populated masses. Nothing short of violent revolution against the ruling wealthy elite, and that needs to be done post haste, will begin to correct and balance both the current ecological and economical systems death, and restore some equality among humans so that our grandchildren will have a planet to live on, and a chance to live out their lives without suffering great hardship.

Anonymous

I couldn't agree more. The only problem with socialism is finding someone to pay for it. This is why is does not work! Work hard play the game and you can feed and clothe yourselves. Save ideologies for our current administration. Anti business but somehow trying to increase jobs???

Anonymous

I couldn't agree more. The only problem with socialism is finding someone to pay for it. This is why is does not work! Work hard play the game and you can feed and clothe yourselves. Save ideologies for our current administration. Anti business but somehow trying to increase jobs???

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.