Tag Archives: graeber

Because: Imperialism! — Crooked Timber

4 Apr

Some very interesting comments by someone identified only as Z:

Graeber posits that actors buy T-bonds because the US has a central role in the world system and also notes that this central role is being contested; both by other industrial powers in the conventional economic sense and by a world movement in the political arena (I am not necessarily endorsing those claims, just trying to present Graeber’s thesis accurately). Confronted to these challenge to its central position, and seeing that its central position is crucial to the functioning of its economy (because it is in massive debt), the US has to maintain its predominance in one way or another. Now think about it as an economist: what is the one comparative advantage that the US has on the rest of the world? Obviously military power. So, on the short term, it might be tempting to US elites to try to organize the world around military power as a way to maintain their quite surprising position within the world economy. This, as I understand it, is Graeber’s thesis: not we buy T-bond because we fear we will be bombed but as long as the world is organized around geo-strategical lines, the US will be able to live off the rest of the world.

via Because: Imperialism! — Crooked Timber.


Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

23 Feb

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

As I’ve all ready noted, Crooked Timber is running a symposium on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years. Contributions so far:

All are worth reading, as are many of the comments. I’ll end with the last paragraph from Bertram’s introduction:

Does Graeber find in utopian and democratic resistance to the Axial empires an historic precedent for the Occupy movement to emulate? Perhaps our best possibilities lie not in grand schemes of societal transformation but in developing the “baseline communism” and the democratic instincts that persist even in the heart of modern capitalism. The anarchist writer Colin Ward used a phrase from Ignazio Silone – “the seed beneath the snow” – to make a similar idea vivid. We cannot take the beast on in a direct assault, and nor should we, but we can work together to develop a more human society within the nooks and crannies of the commercial one.

Sounds a bit like a plug for the Transition Movement, which originated in England and has since spread around the world.

The Dangers of Pricing the Infinite — Crooked Timber

23 Feb

Crooked Timer is running a symposium on David Graeber’s Debt. Here’s a passage from Malcolm P. Harris’s essay on student debt:

In April of last year I wrote an article for N+1 on the astronomic growth of student debt in America since the 70s. At the time, student loans had just passed credit cards as the largest source of consumer debt at $800 billion. Less than a year later, the total has topped $1 trillion with no real signs of slowing, while the other measures I referenced, including youth unemployment, have increased to new record levels as well. The conclusion that “the most indebted generation in history is without the dependable jobs it needs to escape debt” is more valid than ever.

via The Dangers of Pricing the Infinite — Crooked Timber.