David Graeber

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pages: 284 words: 92,387

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, John Markoff, Lao Tzu, late fees, Occupy movement, payday loans, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, working poor

The Democracy Project is a work of nonfiction. Some names and identifying details have been changed. Copyright © 2013 by David Graeber All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. SPIEGEL & GRAU and Design is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc. Grateful acknowledgment is made to The Weekly Standard for permission to reprint an excerpt from “Anarchy in the U.S.A.: The Roots of American Disorder” by Matthew Continetti, The Weekly Standard, November 28, 2011. Reprinted by permission. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Graeber, David. The Democracy Project : a history, a crisis, a movement / David Graeber. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. eISBN: 978-0-679-64600-6 1. Democracy—History.

Still, even if you eliminate the contestable categories the numbers are striking, and even more, the fact that the numbers vary dramatically between countries: with Greece, the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain having roughly 20–24 percent of workers doing some sort of guard labor, and Scandinavian countries a mere 1 in 10. The key factor seems to be social inequality: the more wealth is in the hands of the 1 percent, the larger a percentage of the 99 percent they will employ in one way or another to protect it. ALSO BY DAVID GRAEBER Debt: The First 5,000 Years ABOUT THE AUTHOR DAVID GRAEBER teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of several books, including Debt: The First 5,000 Years. He has written for Harper’s, The Nation, and other magazines and journals.

In New York, a victory like that was almost completely unprecedented. No one was sure exactly what would come of it, but at least for that moment almost all of us were delighted at the prospect of finding out. By the time we all headed home it was already about eleven. The first thing I did was call Marisa. “You can’t believe what just happened,” I told her. “You’ve got to get involved.” THE 99 PERCENT FROM: David Graeber <david@anarchisms.org> SUBJECT: HELLO! quick question DATE: August 3, 2011 12:46:29 AM CDT TO: Micah White <micah@adbusters.org> Hello Micah, So I just had the strangest day. About 80 people came down to assemble near the big bull sculpture near Bowling Green at 4:30 because we’d heard there was going to be a “General Assembly” to plan the September 17 action called by … well, you guys.


pages: 142 words: 45,733

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis by Benjamin Kunkel

anti-communist, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, creative destruction, David Graeber, declining real wages, full employment, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, savings glut, Slavoj Žižek, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

In place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic. —Karl Marx, afterword to the second German edition of Capital What ever happened to Political Economy, leaving me here? —John Berryman, “Dream Song 84” Contents Cover Title Page Copyright Dedication Epigraph Introduction 1. David Harvey: Crisis Theory 2. Fredric Jameson: The Cultural Logic of Neoliberalism 3. Robert Brenner: Full Employment and the Long Downturn 4. David Graeber: In the Midst of Life We Are in Debt 5. Slavoj Žižek: The Unbearable Lightness of “Communism” 6. Boris Groys: Aesthetics of Utopia Guide to Further Reading Introduction To the disappointment of friends who would prefer to read my fiction—as well as of my literary agent, who would prefer to sell it—I seem to have become a Marxist public intellectual. Making matters worse, the relevant public has been a small one consisting of readers of the two publications, the London Review of Books and n+1, where all but one of the essays here first appeared, and my self-appointed role has likewise been modest.

The mood of the memory, tinted blue by the hour, is one of mild but distinct hopelessness. One of us has just referred to the financial district around us, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center, as the belly of the beast, and it seems to us that from our position in the belly there isn’t anything we can do to provoke the least indigestion in the beast. At the same conference, I’d met the anarchist and scholar David Graeber (whose book Debt: The First 5,000 Years furnishes the subject of another essay here). Graeber struck me then, and on the half-dozen later occasions when we hung out, as a brilliant mind and fascinating talker, but by no means as the sort of person ever likely to be profiled by a major business magazine—as he was in 2011, when Bloomberg Business Week described his connection to a meteoric social movement called Occupy Wall Street.

* Keynes: “The whole management of the domestic economy depends upon being free to have the appropriate rate of interest without reference to the rates prevailing elsewhere in the world. Capital control is a corollary of this.” * The terror inspired by the notion of a “public option” attached to health care reform always indicated the bad faith behind familiar eulogies to the marvelous competitiveness of capital by comparison with the lumbering state. If the self-description of business were accurate, it would have nothing to fear from public competition. 4 David Graeber: In the Midst of Life We Are in Debt Most analysts divide postwar capitalism into two periods. The first extends from the late 1940s into the 1970s. The end of the second appears to have been announced by the crisis—at first a “financial” crisis, now often a “debt” crisis—that broke out in 2008. The precise boundary between the postwar eras gets drawn differently depending on which feature of the terrain is emphasized.


Work in the Future The Automation Revolution-Palgrave MacMillan (2019) by Robert Skidelsky Nan Craig

3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, anti-work, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business cycle, cloud computing, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data is the new oil, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, post-work, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, wealth creators, working poor

In particular there is a danger that patterns of decisions made by algorithms can become self-reinforcing, as their effect on reality starts to feed back to them, creating a loop. Finally, what measures might be useful in alleviating problems caused by automation? Of course, the way we react to change depends not only on the problem but also on the assumptions we hold about what would constitute a good outcome. Both David Graeber and Rachel Kay favour reducing human work, while Irmgard Nübler focuses on how technological unemployment can be mitigated and job growth maintained. David Graeber argues that the future of technological unemployment predicted by J.M. Keynes has in fact come to pass—but that we have compensated for the lack of work by creating millions of make-work jobs with little purpose. He recommends giving people the means to leave pointless jobs by severing livelihood from work through a universal basic income.

97 11 What Computers Will Never Be Able To Do 99 Thomas Tozer 12 Possibilities and Limitations for AI: What Can’t Machines Do?109 Simon Colton Contents vii Part V Work in the Digital Economy 123 13 Work in the Digital Economy125 Daniel Susskind 14 Two Myths About the Future of the Economy133 Nick Srnicek Part VI AI, Work and Ethics 143 15 AI, Ethics, and the Law145 Cathy O’Neil Part VII Policy 155 16 Policy for the Future of Work157 David Graeber 17 Automation and Working Time in the UK175 Rachel Kay 18 Shaping the Work of the Future: Policy Implications189 Irmgard Nübler Index203 Notes on Contributors James Bessen is an economist who studies technology and innovation policy. He has also been a successful innovator and CEO of a software company. Bessen is Executive Director of the Technology and Policy Research Initiative at the Boston University School of Law.

Frey has served as an advisor and consultant to international organisations, think tanks, government and business, including the G20, the OECD, the European Commission, the United Nations and several Fortune 500 companies. He is also an op-ed contributor to the Financial Times, Scientific American and the Wall Street Journal. In 2016, he was named the second most influential young opinion leader by the Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer. David Graeber is an American anthropologist, activist and author of Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018). He is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Rachel Kay is a researcher at the Centre for Global Studies. Before joining the Centre, she completed an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. During her MPhil she researched the trade of bazaar goods between China and the Central Asian states, focusing on the transnational relationships created by bazaar trade.


pages: 405 words: 103,723

The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism by Ruth Kinna

Berlin Wall, British Empire, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, friendly fire, ghettoisation, Kickstarter, late capitalism, means of production, moral panic, New Journalism, Occupy movement, post scarcity, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, union organizing, wage slave

Practised with ‘skill sharing, resource sharing, horizontal organizing without leaders, mutual emotional caretaking, no official membership lists or fees, joining by doing’, consensus contributes to the construction of the non-hegemonic social relationships that enable self-government.88 These ideas also infused the politics of the Occupy movement of 2011, where consensus decision-making was practised by large numbers of people. For David Graeber, one of the leading lights in Occupy, consensus not only described a participatory decision-making practice but an alternative system of self-government. As it was enacted in Occupy camps, consensus emerged as a political practice that enabled participants to take decisions at General Assemblies transparently and directly. It empowered them to make rules about their living spaces and social relations and to charge working groups or spokes-councils with formulating policy recommendations without resorting to representation.

All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.’ Splitting with the anti-art, Dada-inspired Letterist Isidore Isou, Debord set up the Letterist International (LI) in the early 1950s before founding the Situationist International (SI) in 1957. The SI was dissolved in 1972. In 1989 Debord published Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. He committed suicide five years later.5 DAVID GRAEBER (b. 1961) The anthropologist and activist Graeber was born on the West Side of Manhattan, studied at the State University of New York (Purchase College) and the University of Chicago. He is professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. In the early 2000s he participated in actions in Quebec City and Genoa, at the Republican National Conventions in Philadelphia and New York and the New York meeting of the World Economic Forum.

, in Social Ecology and Communalism (Edinburgh and Oakland: AK Press, 2007), p. 45 [19–52]. 75 Murray Bookchin, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (London: Verso, 2015), p. 71. 76 Bookchin, The Next Revolution, p. 70. 77 Murray Bookchin, Preface to Urbanization Without Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship (Montreal: Black Rose, 1992), p. x. 78 Guy-Ernest Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, ch. 7: ‘The Organization of Territory’, para. 174, online at http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/24 [last access 4 June 2018]. 79 Bookchin, Urbanization Without Cities, p. 3. 80 Bookchin, Preface to Urbanization Without Cities, p. x. 81 Bookchin, The Next Revolution, p. 66. 82 Bookchin, ‘Radical Politics’, in Social Ecology and Communalism, p. 66. 83 Bookchin, The Limits of the City (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1974), p. 137. 84 Bookchin, ‘Radical Politics’, p. 61. 85 Bookchin, The Next Revolution, p. 87. 86 David Graeber, ‘Enacting the Impossible (On Consensus Decision Making)’, Occupy Wall Street, 29 October 2011, online at http://occupywallst.org/article/enacting-the-impossible/ [last access 2 December 2017]. 87 Murray Bookchin, ‘What is Communalism? The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism’, Democracy & Nature: The International Journal of Politics and Ecology, 3 (2) (1995), pp. 1–17, online at https://www.democracynature.org/vol3/bookchin_communalism.htm [last access 5 May 2017]. 88 Émilie Breton, Sandra Jeppesen, Anna Kruzynski and Rachel Sarrasin (Research Group on Collective Autonomy), ‘Prefigurative Self-Governance and Self-Organization: The Influence of Antiauthoritarian (Pro)Feminist, Radical Queer, and Antiracist Networks in Quebec’, in Aziz Choudry, Jill Hanley and Eric Shragge (eds), Organize!


pages: 370 words: 99,312

Can Democracy Work?: A Short History of a Radical Idea, From Ancient Athens to Our World by James Miller

Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Donald Trump, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, mass incarceration, means of production, Occupy movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Republic of Letters, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transatlantic slave trade, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto

“There is an energy and an amazing consensus”: DG, “Some Impressions from Saturday and Monday,” 16beaver website, www.16beavergroup.org/journalisms09.23.11.htm. “Consensus only works if working groups”: David Graeber, “Some Remarks on Consensus,” February 26, 2013, http://occupywallst.org, and http://occupywallstreet.net/story/some-remarks-consensus. the militancy of Occupy Oakland: The infatuation with Oakland’s Black Bloc anarchists and their tactics provoked a heated debate. See Chris Hedges, “The Cancer in Occupy,” February 6, 2012, www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_cancer_of_occupy_20120206. David Graeber—the most prominent of those infatuated—responded to Hedges with an “open letter,” “Concerning the Violent Peace Police,” February 9, 2012, http://nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-police. “experiences of visionary inspiration”: David Graeber, “Revolution in Reverse,” in Revolutions in Reverse: Essays in Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination (London: Minor Compositions, 2011), 64.

other scholars have suggested a “fourth wave”: Joshua Kurlantzick, Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 51. “the power of organizing without organization”: Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (New York: Penguin Press, 2008). one of the most radical forms of direct democracy conceivable: For the instituting of participatory democracy within OWS, see David Graeber, “Enacting the Impossible: On Consensus Decision Making,” The Occupied Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2011; Drake Bennett, “David Graeber, the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street,” Bloomberg Businessweek, October 26, 2011; and Jeff Sharlet, “Inside Occupy Wall Street,” Rolling Stone, November 10, 2011. For an invaluable survey of some of the movement’s participants (based, unfortunately, on a survey conducted on May 1, 2012, months after the movement’s glory days in the fall of 2011), see Ruth Milkman, Stephanie Luce, and Penny Lewis, Changing the Subject: A Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City (New York: Murphy Institute, 2013).

But still more were partisans of direct-democratic public assemblies, who in some cases considered themselves anarchists. Expecting an open assembly, the radical democrats and anarchists had found instead a few people with megaphones and prefab placards, trying to rally participants for a conventional march that would make conventional demands. In response, the radical democrats, led by an anthropology professor and avowed anarchist named David Graeber, retreated to a corner of the park to discuss alternative steps. Sitting in a circle, they debated how they might better organize a Wall Street occupation. They agreed that they would take seriously the online call to create a general assembly—and proposed implementing one of the most radical forms of direct democracy conceivable: a daily meeting, open to all, where virtually all decisions would be made without voting, by consensus, and formally subject to veto by a single “block,” if anyone felt a proposed decision violated an ethical principle.


pages: 385 words: 123,168

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

1960s counterculture, active measures, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bretton Woods, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, David Graeber, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, full employment, global supply chain, High speed trading, hiring and firing, informal economy, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, moral panic, post-work, precariat, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software as a service, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, unpaid internship, wage slave, wages for housework, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, éminence grise

Sophie Carapetian and Rebecca Coles provided excellent research assistance and support. I think I should also thank Megan Laws, the indefatigable LSE anthropology graduate student whose entire job is to monitor my “impact.” I can only hope this book will facilitate her efforts. About the Author © MARI JAN MURAT David Graeber is a Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is the author of DEBT: The First 5,000 Years, and a contributor to Harper’s, The Guardian, and The Baffler. He lives in London. MEET THE AUTHORS, WATCH VIDEOS AND MORE AT SimonandSchuster.com Authors.SimonandSchuster.com/David-Graeber @simonbooks We hope you enjoyed reading this Simon & Schuster ebook. * * * Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. ALSO BY DAVID GRAEBER Debt: The First 5,000 Years The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy Notes Preface: On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs 1. I’ve got a lot of push-back about the actuaries, and now think I was being unfair to them. Some actuarial work does make a difference. I’m still convinced the rest could disappear with no negative consequences. 2. David Graeber, “The Modern Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” Canberra (Australia) Times online, last modified September 3, 2013, www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/the-modern-phenomenon-of-bullshit-jobs-20130831-2sy3j.html. 3.

My friend Andrej Grubacic tells me this was actually done to his grandfather as a form of torture in a Titoist reeducation camp in Yugoslavia in the 1950s. The jailers had evidently read the classics. 24. The three-part list is not meant to be comprehensive. For instance, it leaves out the category of what’s often referred to as “guard labor,” much of which (unnecessary supervisors) is bullshit, but much of which is simply obnoxious or bad. 25. In David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2015), 9, I refer to this as “the Iron Law of Liberalism”: that “any market reform, any government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will have the ultimate effect of increasing the total number of regulations, the total amount of paperwork, and the total number of bureaucrats the government employs.” 26.


Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres by Jamie Woodcock

always be closing, anti-work, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, David Graeber, invention of the telephone, job satisfaction, late capitalism, means of production, millennium bug, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, post-industrial society, post-work, precariat, profit motive, social intelligence, stakhanovite, women in the workforce

However, when work is stripped of these features almost entirely, then the refusal of work not only becomes a useful strategy, but it is also something that emerges organically from the labour process itself. The development of capitalism and the application of technology to the productive process led many to identify the potential to drastically reduce the amount of time that people had to work. David Graeber notes that Keynes predicted in 1930 that by the end of the century the working week would be reduced to 15 hours.48 Not only did this fail to materialise, but the opposite now seems to be true. The potential of technology has instead been exploited to make people work even more. In the place of declining manufacturing jobs there has been an increase in what David Graeber calls ‘bullshit jobs’. These jobs are far removed from any fulfilling activity, so much so that many people find it difficult to explain what they are actually employed to do. This has implications for workplace struggle: what demands could or would be raised in this context?

No longer faced with the same physical demands of the assembly line, the new demand is for a repetition of the same performance trying to convince people to part with their money for insurance over the phone. The reaction to this is not the loss or alienation of some part of the self; rather it is a ‘condition of estrangement from the mode of production and its rules, as refusal of work’.18 In the call centre, like many of the ‘bullshit jobs’ David Graeber describes,19 it is not a question of seizing back the means of production in order to fulfil the workers’ potential, but resistance is more likely to take the form of refusal. management The role of management in the call centre has been detailed in this book. We began with the figure of Nev, declaring that ‘Napoleon . . . a dictator’ was his inspiration.20 However, this ridiculous statement was not just a performance for the TV programme; it also indicates how much power managers and supervisors have on the call-centre floor.

Gigi Roggero, The Production of Living Knowledge (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011), p. 23. van der Linden, Workers of the World (2008), p. 179. Mario Tronti, ‘The Strategy of Refusal’, Operai e capitale (Turin: Einaudi, 1966), available at: http://libcom.org/library/strategyrefusal-mario-tronti Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (London: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 204. David Graeber, ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’, Strike Magazine, 17 August 2013, http://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs Ibid. Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital (1999). Graeber, ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’ (2013). 177 Working the Phones chapter 5 1. Robert Blackburn, Union Character and Social Class (London: Batsford, 1967), p. 18. 2. Beynon, Working for Ford (1973), p. 140. 3. Phil Taylor and Peter Bain, ‘Trade Unions, Workers’ Rights and the Frontier of Control in UK Call Centres’, Economic and Industrial Democracy, Vol. 22, No. 1 (2001), p. 62. 4.


pages: 252 words: 80,636

Bureaucracy by David Graeber

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, Columbine, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, David Graeber, George Gilder, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, means of production, music of the spheres, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, Parkinson's law, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, post-work, price mechanism, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, union organizing, urban planning, zero-sum game

Also by David Graeber Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value The False Coin of Our Own Dreams Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology Lost People Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar Possibilities Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire Direct Action An Ethnography Debt The First 5,000 Years Revolutions in Reverse Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination The Democracy Project A History, A Crisis, A Movement THE UTOPIA OF RULES Copyright © 2015 by David Graeber First Melville House printing: February 2015 Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint a panel from Kultur Dokuments, which originally appeared in Anarchy Comics #2 and was collected in Anarchy Comics: The Complete Collection, edited by Jay Kinney and published by PM Press in 2012.

She said she’d check with the manager, and after ten minutes returned, the manager hanging just within earshot in the background, to announce the bank could not accept the forms in their present state—and in addition, even if they were filled out correctly, I would still need a letter from my mother’s doctor certifying that she was mentally competent to sign such a document. I pointed out that no one had mentioned any such letter previously. “What?” the manager suddenly interjected. “Who gave you those forms and didn’t tell you about the letter?” Since the culprit was one of the more sympathetic bank employees, I dodged the question,40 noting instead that in the bankbook it was printed, quite clearly, “in trust for David Graeber.” He of course replied that would only matter if she was dead. As it happened, the whole problem soon became academic: my mother did indeed die a few weeks later. At the time, I found this experience extremely disconcerting. Having spent much of my life leading a fairly bohemian student existence comparatively insulated from this sort of thing, I found myself asking my friends: is this what ordinary life, for most people, is really like?

Attila the Hun, for example, appears as a character in both the Nibelungenlied and Volsunga Saga. 150. Obviously, “fantasy” can refer to a very wide range of literature, from Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Call of Cthulhu, and many critics include science fiction as a subgenre of fantasy as well. Still, Middle Earth style heroic fantasy remains the “unmarked term.” 151. Elsewhere, I’ve referred to this as “the ugly mirror phenomenon.” See David Graeber, “There Never Was a West: Democracy Emerges from the Spaces in Between,” in Possibilities: Notes on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (Oakland: AK Press, 2007), p. 343. 152. The key difference here is no doubt that Medieval carnivals were, in fact, organized largely bottom-up, much unlike Roman circuses. 153. From a letter to his son written during World War II: “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.


pages: 286 words: 87,168

Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel

air freight, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate personhood, COVID-19, David Graeber, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gender pay gap, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, land reform, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, passive income, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, universal basic income

Countries loaded with old debts are under heavy pressure to deregulate logging and mining and other extractive industries, plundering ecosystems in order to meet their debt obligations. The same is true of households. Researchers have found that households with high-interest mortgages work longer hours than they would otherwise need to simply in order to stay afloat.44 As the anthropologist David Graeber has observed, the financial imperatives of debt ‘reduce us all, despite ourselves, to the equivalent of pillagers, eyeing the world simply for what can be turned into money’.45 Fortunately, there’s a way to relieve this pressure. We can just cancel some of the debt. In an era of ecological breakdown, debt cancellation becomes a vital step towards a more sustainable economy. This may sound radical, but there’s plenty of precedent for it.

Big creditors would lose out, of course, but we might decide that this is OK – a loss we’re willing to have them bear in order for us to build a fairer and more ecological society. We can cancel debts in such a way that nobody gets hurt.49 Nobody dies. Compound interest is just a fiction, after all. And the nice thing about fictions is that we can change them. Perhaps no one has put this more eloquently than David Graeber: [Debt cancellation] would be salutary not just because it would relieve so much genuine human suffering, but also because it would be our way of reminding ourselves that money is not ineffable, that paying one’s debts is not the essence of morality, that all these things are human arrangements and that if democracy is going to mean anything, it is the ability to all agree to arrange things in a different way.50 New money for a new economy But debt cancellation is just a one-off fix; it doesn’t really get to the root of the problem.

At every step along the way I have relied on the grace of fellow travelers who have pulled me out of ruts and opened me to new ways of seeing the world. I’ve benefitted immensely from personal conversations – and in some cases collaborations – with Giorgos Kallis, Kate Raworth, Daniel O’Neill, Julia Steinberger, John Bellamy Foster, Ian Gough, Ajay Chaudhary, Glen Peters, Ewan McGaughey, Asad Rehman, Bev Skeggs, David Graeber, Sam Bliss, Riccardo Mastini, Jason Hirsch, Federico de Maria, Peter Victor, Ann Pettifor, Lorenzo Fioramonti, Peter Lipman, Joan Martinez-Alier, Martin Kirk, Alnoor Ladha, Huzaifa Zoomkawala, Patrick Bond, Rupert Read, Fred Damon, Wende Marshall, The Rules team, my editors at the Guardian, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera and other outlets, where I first worked out many of the ideas that appear in this book, and of course my agent Zoe Ross, and Tom Avery, my editor at Penguin, who were willing to give this idea a platform.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, basic income, battle of ideas, blockchain, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, late capitalism, liberation theology, Live Aid, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, post-work, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

Small communities of the kind required by direct democracy are not a suitable goal for a modern left movement. Moreover, participative democracy might well be constructed without them, particularly using the communications technologies available today. Another folk-political constraint emerged with the emphasis on consensus as a basic goal of the process. The aim of consensus is to reach a decision that is acceptable to everyone, again reliant upon spatial immediacy. As anarchist David Graeber notes, ‘It is much easier, in a face-to-face community, to figure out what most members of that community want to do, than to figure out how to convince those who do not to go along with it.’41 Yet what works well on one scale (the face-to-face community) is much more difficult to make work on larger ones. Perhaps inevitably in the case of a relatively diffuse movement such as Occupy, consensus decision-making led to a lowest-common-denominator set of demands, where they emerged at all.

., Communism in the 21st Century, Volume 3: The Future of Communism (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2013). 34.Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Mohamed Berrada and Hernán Cortés, World Protests 2006–2013 (New York: Initiative for Policy Dialogue and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2013), pdf available at fes-globalization.org. 35.Michael Albert, Parecon: Life After Capitalism (London: Verso, 2004). 36.Samuel Farber, ‘Reflections on “Prefigurative Politics”’, International Socialist Review 92 (March 2011), at isreview.org. 37.Jane McAlevey, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement (London: Verso, 2014), p. 11. 38.Not An Alternative, ‘Counter Power as Common Power’, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 9 (2014), at joaap.org. 39.Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, ‘Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens’, Perspectives on Politics 12: 3 (2014). 40.Rodrigo Nunes, Organisation of the Organisationless: Collective Action After Networks (London: Mute, 2014), p. 36. 41.David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago, IL: Prickly Paradigm, 2004), p. 89. 42.Helen Hester, ‘Synthetic Genders and the Limits of Micropolitics’, … ment 6 (2015). 43.Marco Desiriis and Jodi Dean, ‘A Movement Without Demands?’ Possible Futures, 3 January 2012, at possible-futures.org. 44.Noam Chomsky, Occupy (London: Penguin, 2012), p. 58. 45.Not An Alternative, ‘Counter Power as Common Power’. 46.Ibid. 47.Jeroen Gunning and Ilan Zvi Baron, Why Occupy a Square?

See, for example, historical reflections on anarchism and communism in Mexico in ibid., p. 6. 56.The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), p. 12; John Holloway, Crack Capitalism (London: Pluto, 2010); Nathan Brown, ‘Rational Kernel, Real Movement: Badiou and Theorie Communiste in the Age of Riots’, Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion 5 (2012); David Graeber, ‘Afterword’, in Khatib et al., We Are Many, p. 425. 57.Spence and McGuire, ‘Occupy and the 99%’, p. 61. 58.Paul Mason, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (London: Verso, 2012), p. 63. 59.In light of the emergence of Occupy, McKenzie Wark memorably asked: How do you occupy an abstraction? See McKenzie Wark, ‘How to Occupy an Abstraction’, at versobooks.com. 60.R.


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How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran

access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

Keith Roberts, The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 126; “Temple archives demonstrate that the temple held deposits by individuals but did not allow others to access them or in any other way use the negotiable instruments that complete the definition of ‘banking.’ … So temples were not ‘banks’ in antiquity. Rather, the more precise designation for the role of the temple in antiquity would be ‘financial intermediary.’ ” David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2011), 13. 2. Earlier Italian banks formed during the fifteenth century. The Medici Bank and those in the Venetian Republic were family-run institutions that lent to the crown but were not as integrally tied to the state and did not issue government bonds. The Swedish Riksbank of 1668 also predates the Bank of England. Richard S. Grossman, Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), 29, 171. 3.

Some states such as Texas were so set against the spread of branch banking that anti-branching statutes were made a part of its state constitution … the federal government added its own imprimatur to the actions of the states in 1927 and 1933.” Peter Rose, The Interstate Banking Revolution (New York: Quorum Books, 1989), 4–5. 64. “Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention Held in Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, 1896,” in The Annals of America, vol. 12, 1895–1904: Populism, Imperialism, and Reform (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968), 100–105. 65. Ibid. 66. Ibid. 67. Ibid. 68. David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2012), 52–53. 69. In fact, Grossman and Calomiris and Haber all remark on just how uniquely unstable this period was. Calomiris and Haber, Fragile by Design, 183; Grossman, Unsettled Accounts, 68. 70. Political debates during this era, and especially the presidential election of 1908, were focused on banking reform. The Democrat-Populist William Jennings Bryan proposed deposit insurance to stabilize the banking system, and William Taft proposed postal banking, discussed later in the book.

Courts will not enforce contracts that run counter to public policy or are not allowed by law, such as selling babies, organs, cocaine, or human slaves. 2. This is not to say that human civilization was ever free of usury. In fact, predatory lending has been present ever since human societies have existed but has generally operated on the fringe of society within a sphere of corruption, violence, and stigma. David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House 2011), 10–11. 3. Ronald W. Del Sesto, “Should Usury Statutes Be Used to Solve the Installment Sales ‘Problem?,’ ” Boston College Law Review 5, no. 7 (1964): 389, 390. 4. L. C. Jain, Indigenous Banking in India (London: Macmillan, 1929). Vasishtha, a well-known Hindu lawmaker of that time, made a special law that forbade the higher castes of brahmanas (priests) and kshatriyas (warriors) from being usurers or lenders at interest. 5.


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Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

Most people play no part in the production of iPhone cases in their panoply of colors, exotic shampoos containing botanical extracts, or Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccinos. Our addiction to consumption is enabled mostly by robots and Third World wage slaves. And although agricultural and manufacturing production capacity have grown exponentially over the past decades, employment in these industries has dropped. So is it really true that our overworked lifestyle all comes down to out-of-control consumerism? David Graeber, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, believes there’s something else going on. A few years ago he wrote a fascinating piece that pinned the blame not on the stuff we buy but on the work we do. It is titled, aptly, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” In Graeber’s analysis, innumerable people spend their entire working lives doing jobs they consider to be pointless, jobs like telemarketer, HR manager, social media strategist, PR advisor, and a whole host of administrative positions at hospitals, universities, and government offices.

Globalization may even have put the brakes on technological progress. After all, for the moment our clothes aren’t being produced by steel robotic arms or intelligent cyborgs but by fragile children’s fingers in Vietnam and China. For many companies, outsourcing work to Asians still beats using robots. This could also be why we’re still waiting for so many of the big technological dreams of the twentieth century to materialize. See: David Graeber, “Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit,” The Baffler (2012). 30. Andrew McAfee, “Even Sweatshops are Getting Automated. So What’s Left?” (May 22, 2014). http://andrewmcafee.org/2014/05/mcafee-nike-automation-labor-technology-globalization/ 31. Steven E. Jones, Against Technology. From the Luddites to Neo-Luddism (2006), Chapter 2. 32. “Leeds Woollen Workers Petition, 1786,” Modern History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1786machines.asp 33.

The cynical thing is that claimants often aren’t even allowed to do purposeful work in exchange for their benefits because that would lead to fewer paid jobs. 37. Deborah Padfield, “Through the eyes of a benefits adviser: a plea for a basic income,” Open Democracy (October 5, 2011). http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/through-eyes-of-benefits-adviser-plea-for-basic-income 38. David Graeber, “On The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” Strike! Magazine (August 17, 2013). http://www.strikemag.org/bullshit-job 7 Why It Doesn’t Pay to Be a Banker 1. This reconstruction of the strike is based on contemporary coverage in The New York Times. 2. Though officially there were only 12,281 lobbyists registered in Washington in 2014, this misrepresents the situation since an increasing share of lobbyists operates underground.


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The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and Its Solutions by Jason Hickel

Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Sanders, Bob Geldof, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Attenborough, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, dematerialisation, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, European colonialism, falling living standards, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, Howard Zinn, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land value tax, liberal capitalism, Live Aid, Mahatma Gandhi, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, plutocrats, Plutocrats, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration

The feeling that debts have to be repaid is so deeply entrenched in our culture that it is almost impossible to dislodge. It is not just an economic claim, it is a highly moral one. It’s about giving people what they are due. It’s about accepting one’s responsibilities. It’s about fulfilling one’s obligations. Refusing to pay a debt seems like reneging on a promise – it’s just wrong. And this is why debt is so powerful. The anthropologist David Graeber puts it nicely when he says, ‘There’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt – above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong.’54 There have been some efforts to challenge the framing around debt, and to call it what it is. In the early 1990s, a coalition of academics and NGOs formed the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which was later joined by churches and celebrities and grew powerful enough to exert significant pressure on Western politicians to drop $90 billion of debt owed by the world’s poorest nations.

Five: Debt and the Economics of Planned Misery 1  ‘It drove right to the …’ For more on this movement, see Vijay Prashad’s excellent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007). 2  ‘The idea was to create …’ Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (London: Verso Books, 2013). 3  ‘Outraged by this incursion …’ This shipment was known as Operation Nickel Grass. 4  ‘In response, the Arab coalition …’ Egypt’s Sadat managed to convince Saudia Arabia’s King Faisal to make this move. 5  ‘Desperate for a quick solution …’ Lizette Alvarez, ‘Britain says US Planned to seize oil in ’73 crisis’, New York Times, 2 January 2004. 6  ‘As a result of the oil …’ The $450 billion figure reflects petrodollar influx into OPEC as of 1981. 7  ‘Loan pushers were trained …’ John Perkins offers a troubling account of his time as a loan pusher during those years, in his bestselling book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. 8  ‘These “juicers” created a strong …’ Perkins, Economic Hit Man. 9  ‘By 1982, total debt stocks …’ In 2013 dollars, according to World Development Indicators (DataBank). 10 ‘Through the miracle of compound …’ In 2013 dollars, according to World Development Indicators (DataBank). 11 ‘And that’s exactly what happened …’ Average interest rates on new loans to global South countries shot up from 5 per cent in 1970 to more than 10 per cent in 1981. 12 ‘In 1982, Mexico took …’ In current dollars. 13 ‘In other words, the IMF …’ I am indebted to my colleague David Graeber for this comparison. 14 ‘This is how the plan …’ The IMF had been using conditional lending since 1952, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that this power was leveraged to impose a specific economic ideology around the world. This idea was first hatched by World Bank president Robert McNamara (formerly president of Ford Motor Company, and then Secretary of Defense) in 1979. The goal was to begin to dismantle developmentalism and get indebted countries to focus on exports again.

See note in Chapter 1 for more on Köhler’s methods and the meaning of unequal exchange. 50 ‘Altogether, during the whole period …’ All of these figures come from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, accessed through DataBank, and are reported in 2013 dollars. 51 ‘Lebanon, for instance, spends 52 …’ New Economics Foundation, ‘Debt Relief as if Justice Mattered’, 2008. 52 ‘The rest was piled up …’ J. W. Smith, The World’s Wasted Wealth (Sun City, AZ: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 1994), p. 143. 53 ‘External debt as a percentage …’ External debt stocks (percentage of GNI), World Bank, International Debt Statistics. 54 ‘“There’s no better way …”’ David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (New York: Melville House, 2011), p. 5. 55 ‘In all of these cases …’ In other words, in order win debt relief a country must first agree to submit to IMF structural adjustment. 56 ‘One of the key tenets …’ Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). 57 ‘The World Bank itself defines …’ World Bank, ‘What is Development?’ http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/beyond/beyondco/beg_01.pdf.


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The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, Joi Ito, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

This “metallism” viewpoint: Distinctions between metallism and chartalism informed by Stephanie Bell, “The Hierarchy of Money” (Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, April 1998). Aristotle, who wrote, “When the inhabitants”: B. J. Gordon, “Aristotle, Schumpeter, and the Metallist Tradition,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 75 (4) (1961): 608–14. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations: Martin, Money, 8–10. The anthropologist David Graeber hypothesizes: David Graeber, “On the Invention of Money—Notes on Sex, Adventure, Monomaniacal Sociopathy and the True Function of Economics,” http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/david-graeber-on-the-invention-of-money-%E2%80%93-notes-on-sex-adventure-monomaniacal-sociopathy-and-the-true-function-of-economics.html. Money, then, made human settlements less vulnerable: See Martin, Money, 50–64. worsened by Emperor Diocletian’s flawed attempts at price controls: Robert L. Schuettinger and Eamonn F.

You draw on the writings of dozens of twentieth-century anthropologists who have visited places where currencies weren’t used; anthropologists who claim to have found no evidence that these peoples ever engaged in barter, at least not as the primary system of exchange. Instead, these societies came up with elaborate codes of behavior for sorting out their various debts and obligations. Debt, in other words, came first. The anthropologist David Graeber hypothesizes that specific debt agreements likely evolved out of gift exchanges, which generated the sense of owing a favor. After that, codified value systems may have emerged from the penalties that tribes meted out for various wrongdoings: twenty goats, say, for killing someone’s brother. From there human beings started to think about money as a system for resolving, offsetting, and clearing those debts across society.


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Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin

bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invention of writing, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Scientific racism, scientific worldview, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, South Sea Bubble, supply-chain management, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail

The great American economic historian Charles Kindleberger, for example, wrote in the second edition of his Financial History of Western Europe, published in 1993, that “Economic historians have occasionally maintained that evolution in economic intercourse has proceeded from a natural or barter economy to a money economy and ultimately to a credit economy. This view was put forward, for example, in 1864 by Bruno Hildebrand of the German historical school of economics; it happens to be wrong.”17 By the beginning of the twenty-first century, a rare academic consensus had been reached amongst those with an interest in empirical evidence that the conventional idea that money emerged from barter was false. As the anthropologist David Graeber explained bluntly in 2011: “[T]here’s no evidence that it ever happened, and an enormous amount of evidence suggesting that it did not.”18 The story of Yap does not just present a challenge to the conventional theory’s account of money’s origins, however. It also raises serious doubts about its conception of what money actually is. The conventional theory holds that money is a “thing”—a commodity chosen from amongst the universe of commodities to serve as a medium of exchange—and that the essence of monetary exchange is the swapping of goods and services for this commodity medium of exchange.

Furness, 1910. 2. Ibid., p. 92. 3. Ibid., p. 93. 4. Ibid., p. 98. 5. Ibid., p. 96. 6. Ibid., p. 97. 7. Ibid., pp. 97–8. 8. Keynes, 1915a. 9. Aristotle, 1932, I.3.13–14. As we shall see in chapter 8, Aristotle also developed a quite different theory, however. 10. Locke, 2009, pp. 299–301. 11. Smith, A., 1981, pp. 37–8. 12. Ibid., p. 38. 13. Ibid., pp. 38–9. 14. The anthropologist David Graeber exasperates himself presenting a catalogue of examples from recent textbooks in Graeber, 2011, p. 23. 15. Dalton, 1982. 16. Humphrey, 1985, p. 48. 17. Kindleberger, 1993, p. 21. 18. Graeber, 2011, p. 28. 19. Smith, T., 1832, p. 11ff. 20. Mitchell Innes, 1913. Like, I expect, most modern readers, I owe the discovery of both this essay and Mitchell Innes, 1914 to Wray, 2004. 21. Statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of St.

For American readers, and anyone interested in particular in how “high finance”—the global, wholesale capital markets—works, then Perry Mehrling’s The New Lombard Street: How the Fed Became the Dealer of Last Resort (Mehrling, 2011) is an exceptional treatment by a distinguished economist who truly understands not only the workings of today’s financial markets, but also the developments both in financial practice and theory that made them. It was a fundamental influence on the present book. Finally, two significant books on money were published in the U.K. when I was already in the midst of writing, with the unfortunate result that I was not able to absorb and make reference to them as I would in retrospect have liked. These are Philip Coggan’s Paper Promises: Money, Debt, and the New World Order (Coggan, 2011) and David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Graeber, 2011). BOOKS AND ARTICLES Alessandri, P., and Haldane, A. (2009), Banking on the State. London: Bank of England. Amis, M. (1984), Money: A Suicide Note. London: Vintage. Andreau, J. (1999), Banking and Business in the Roman World (tr. Lloyd, J.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Appleby, J. (1976), “Locke, Liberalism, and the Natural Law of Money.”


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Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Simply concentrating on the share taken by the 1 per cent is enough. It may even be one of the best measures of inequality to consider in terms of how simple a target it may be for effective social policy.12 Economists have measured the fortunes of the best-off 1 per cent for decades. Only recently have political activists, campaigners, and even those anarchists who most distrust economists become as interested in these statistics. In 2011 David Graeber was credited with coining the phrase ‘We are the 99 per cent’, and so made the best-off 1 per cent the object of opposition. And with that phrase came what appeared to be new home truths. For example, for the 99 per cent, as Graeber explains, for most people ‘the fear of losing your job is far greater than the hope of finding a truly fulfilling one’.13 However, not all of the 99 per cent are unfulfilled, and many of the 1 per cent undertake work they find dull just to remain in that income bracket – though their income often means that in the rest of life they have choices that others can only dream of, other than the choice to be normal.

Others suggest the Palma ratio of the income share of the top 10 per cent divided by that of the bottom 40 per cent, which tends to vary around 1. While better than the Gini measure, it is still not as simple as the 1 per cent measure, and may well not correlate as well with social problems. On the Palma ratio, see A. Cobham, ‘Palma vs Gini: Measuring Post-2015 Inequality’, Centre for Global Development Blog, 5 March 2014, at cgdev.org. 13. D. Runciman, ‘The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, by David Graeber – review’, Guardian, 31 March 2013. 14. When the very well-paid, now publicly owned, financial institutions such as Royal Bank of Scotland are excluded. See ONS, ‘Labour Market Statistics’, 16 October 2013, at ons.gov.uk. 15. We know it is roughly fifteen times as much, because that figure is given by the World Top Incomes Database – the most respected source in the world. This average income of the 1 per cent is calculated by multiplying the mean average income in the UK by the proportion of national income received by the 1 per cent in the UK, reported by the World Top Incomes Database to be 15 times average incomes in 2007.


pages: 222 words: 70,132

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

But that is not to say that we shouldn’t think about Keynes’s and Andreessen’s vision of a world in which most of us have a lot of leisure time. If Frey and Osborne are right, and 47 percent of jobs may be automated in the next two decades, then we face one of two possible futures. The dystopian future of mass unemployment and psychological alienation leading to deep social unrest is one we have already seen in Blade Runner. The only present remedy is to create millions of low-wage “bullshit jobs”—the writer David Graeber’s term. Graeber notes, “Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.” This is not a world any of us wants to live in, let alone work in. Already in the United States we know that the labor-force participation rate for men between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four who have only a high school diploma is at historic lows as this chart demonstrates.

It can be found at www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/news/201501_Technology_Employment. Andrew Gumbel, “San Francisco’s Guerrilla Protest and Google Buses Swells into Revolt,” Guardian, January 25, 2014, www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/25/google-bus-protest-swells-to-revolt-san-francisco. Tom Perkins, “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2014, www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304549504579316913982034286. David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (London: Melville House, 2015). This is a funny, biting chronicle of the world of “bullshit jobs.” Chapter Eleven: What It Means to Be Human Nir Eyal, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (New York: Portfolio, 2014). Eyal takes B. F. Skinner’s conditioning model to its logical conclusion. Donald Trump’s fake Twitter followers can be found at fakers.statuspeople.com/realdonaldtrump.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, do-ocracy, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

In subscribing to this notion, the left unconsciously accepts the key notion of the populist right and the neoclassical orthodoxy, that “nothing is substantially different between then and now.” Markets are timeless entities with timeless laws, they insist. Indeed, this is the identical premise of some of the most popular crisis books of the last few years, from Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart’s This Time Is Different to David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years.24 Yet that is precisely where the polemical divergence should originate on the left. Things are profoundly different about the economy, the society, and in the global political arena than they were during the Cold War: some recent neoliberal innovations have lent the current crisis its special bitter tang; understanding precisely how and where they are different is a necessary first step in developing a blueprint for a better world.

The website also has a set of pages devoted to economics; under the rubric “Meet the Mavericks” it profiled Paul Samuelson, George Akerlof, Joseph Stiglitz, and Herman Daly. Kalle Lasn Associates has also published an anti-textbook entitled Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics which contains contributions by George Akerlof and Joseph Stiglitz. At least the graphics were radical. Similar ideas were promoted in the curiously titled Occupy Handbook, which included chapters by Raghuram Rajan, Tyler Cowen, Martin Wolf, David Graeber, Jeffrey Sachs, and Robert Shiller.6 Besotted by the millenarian idea of starting anew, and lacking any sense of the history of protest and political organization, both neoliberals and neoclassical economists rapidly addled whatever political curiosity and radical inclinations that the well-intentioned protestors might have had. Rebels railed against corporate power, but apparently had no idea how it actually worked.

“Predators and Professors” (2012), at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/predators-and-professors. Johnson, Simon, and James Kwak. 13 Bankers (New York: Pantheon, 2010). Jones, Daniel Stedman. Masters of the Universe: Friedman, Hayek and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012). Jones, Owen. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class (London: Verso, 2011). Jones, Rachel. “Bookforum Talks with David Graeber” (2012), at www.bookforum.com/interview/9154. Jovanovic, Franck. “Finance in Modern Economic Thought,” in Alex Preda and Karin Knorr-Cetina, eds., Handbook of the Sociology of Finance. Judt, Tony. Ill Fares the Land (London: Penguin, 2010). Jung, Alexander. “The EU’s Emissions Trading System Isn’t Working,” Der Spiegel, February 15, 2012. Kagel, John, and Dan Levin. “Implementing Efficient Multi-Object Auction Institutions: An Experimental Study of the Performance of Boundedly Rational Agents,” Games and Economic Behavior 66 (2009): 221–37.


pages: 206 words: 9,776

Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey

Bretton Woods, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, David Graeber, deindustrialization, financial innovation, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, precariat, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, special economic zone, the built environment, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, urban planning, We are the 99%, William Langewiesche, Works Progress Administration

All of this conflicts with the dominant self-perception within these social movements, which tends to believe that there is no guiding or overarching organizational theory, but simply a set of intuitive and 1 26 R E B E L CITI ES flexible practices that arise "naturally" out of given situations. In this, as we shall see, they are not entirely wrong. To top it all, there is a conspicuous absence of broadly agreed concrete proposals as to how to reorganize divisions of labor and (monetized?) economic transactions throughout the world to sustain a reasonable standard of living for all. Indeed, this problem is all too often cavalierly evaded. As a leading anarchist thinker, David Graeber, puts it, echoing the reservations of Murray Bookchin set out above: Temporary bubbles of autonomy must gradually turn into permanent, free com munities. However, in order to do so, those communities cannot exist in total isolation; neither can they have a purely confrontational rela­ tion with everyone around them. They have to have some way to engage with larger economic, social or political systems that surround them.

Im manuel Ness and Dario Azzelini, eds, Ours t o Master and t o Own: Workers' Control from the Commune to the Present, London: Haymarket Books, 20 1 1 . 8. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 2, London: Pengui n, 1 978; David Harvey, A Companion to Marx's Capital, Volu me 2, London: Verso, forthcoming. 9. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: OUP, 2005. 1 0. Murray Bookchin, Urban iza tion Without Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship, Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1 992. 1 1 . David Graeber, Direct Action: An Ethnography, Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2009: 239. See also Ana Dinerstein, Andre Spicer, and Steffen Bohm, "The (lm)possibilities of Autonomy, Social Movement in and Beyond Capi tal, the State and Development;' Non- Governmental Public Action Program, Working Papers, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2009. 1 2. Mondragon is one of the most instructive cases of worker self­ management that has stood the test of time.


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Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar

accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, bank run, Basel III, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, High speed trading, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, John Markoff, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game

To many in Washington, regulating finance is a job that should be done by insiders. That might work in theory, but when those insiders’ priorities are not aligned with what’s good for the general public, then we have a problem. Indeed, the careful cultivation and protection of that group of technocrats by both Wall Street and Washington is one reason the discussion around financialization and its perverse effects on our economy has become so muddled. As the anthropologist David Graeber, one of the key participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement, has pointed out, bureaucracy of this kind is the enemy. Incomprehensible rules crafted and controlled by a small cadre of insiders, discussed in a language that only they find comprehensible, is one of the key ways that elites maintain power—in finance and elsewhere.19 Financiers claim that their disproportionate privilege is a reward for the responsibilities they assume for lubricating the economy.

Thanks also to the many academics and policy thinkers whose research I relied heavily on, including but not limited to: Greta Krippner, Moritz Schularick, Alan M. Taylor, Robin Greenwood, David Scharfstein, Raghuram G. Rajan, Carmen Reinhart, Ken Rogoff, Thomas Philippon, Robert Atkinson, J. W. Mason, Luigi Zingales, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Jeff Madrick, George Akerlof, Robert Shiller, John Coates, Karen Ho, Enisse Kharroubi, Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, David Graeber, Charles Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber, Allan H. Meltzer, Robert Reich, Alan Blinder, John Asker, Joan Farre-Mensa, Alexander Ljungqvist, Kimberly Krawiec, Thomas Ferguson, Gerald Epstein, Michael Spence, Sarah Edelman, Monique Morrissey, Mariana Mazzucato, Atif Mian, and Amir Sufi. Finally, the biggest thanks of all to my husband, John Sedgwick, the author of thirteen books himself, who talked me down from the ledge numerous times during the three years it took to complete this project.

Most economists agree with this assessment. For example, Princeton economist and former Fed vice chair Alan Blinder has estimated, in a study he coauthored with Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, that without the bailouts, American GDP would have plunged 12 percent rather than 4 percent. See Alan S. Blinder and Mark Zandi, “Stimulus Worked,” Finance & Development 47, no. 4 (December 2010). 19. David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2015). 20. Mason, “Disgorge the Cash,” 32. 21. William Lazonick, “Profits Without Prosperity,” Harvard Business Review, September 2014; Drew Desilver, Pew Research Center, “For Most Workers, Real Wages Have Barely Budged for Decades,” October 9, 2014. 22. Vincent P. Carosso, Investment Banking in America: A History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970). 23.


pages: 362 words: 83,464

The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Cyberspace today offers an expansive opportunity, much as the vast physical expanse of North America did for previous generations; the promise of a land stake was the great difference between America and other societies in prior centuries.81 Is ever greater technological consolidation inevitable? It is possible that as these firms move further from their entrepreneurial roots, many take on what anthropologist David Graeber describes as “a timid, bureaucratic spirit” that responds to the needs of investors and focuses on preserving already established business lines. Many observers, from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Joseph Schumpeter, agree that monopoly creation, rent seeking, and price fixing are the natural instincts of the monied classes rather than risk taking, hard work, and free enterprise.82 Over time, this yearning for oligarchy could also threaten a host of other large firms, in media and finance in particular, which have been subject to what one analyst calls the “super-sizing” of big business.

, p. 14; Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, “Google, Once Disdainful of Lobbying, Now a Master of Washington Influence,” Washington Post, April 12, 2014; Castells, The Information Age, p. 300. 79. Jigar Shah, “Social Media Won’t Drive a New Economy,” Stanford Social Innovation Review (blog), August 30, 2012, http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/social_media_wont_drive_a_new_economy. 80. Lanier, Who Owns the Future?, 8-13. 81. Polanyi, The Great Transformation, p. 249. 82. Lanier, Who Owns the Future?, pp. 8–13; David Graeber, “Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit,” Baffler, no. 19 (March 2012): 66–84; Nick Wingfield, “Worries That Microsoft Is Growing Too Tricky to Manage,” New York Times, September 9, 2013. 83. Murray, Coming Apart, p. 48. 84. “Has the Ideas Machine Broken Down?” Economist, January 12, 2013; Alexandra Petri, “Dear Google, about These Recent Changes to Gmail,” ComPost (blog), Washington Post, July 18, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2013/07/18/dear-google-about-these-recent-changes-to-gmail; Nick Mokey, “What Happened to You, Google?”


pages: 306 words: 82,765

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Brownian motion, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, David Graeber, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Thorp, equity premium, financial independence, information asymmetry, invisible hand, knowledge economy, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, mental accounting, microbiome, moral hazard, Murray Gell-Mann, offshore financial centre, p-value, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, Ralph Nader, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, survivorship bias, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, urban planning, Yogi Berra

The large cities in the pre-Christian ancient world, particularly in the Levant and Asia Minor, were full of fraternities and clubs, open and (often) secret societies—there was even such a thing as funeral clubs, where members shared the costs, and participated in the ceremonials, of funerals. Today’s Roma people (aka Gypsies) have tons of strict rules of behavior toward Gypsies, and others toward the unclean non-Gypsies called payos. And, as the anthropologist David Graeber has observed, even the investment bank Goldman Sachs, known for its aggressive cupidity, acts like a communist community from within, thanks to the partnership system of governance. So we exercise our ethical rules, but there is a limit—from scaling—beyond which the rules cease to apply. It is unfortunate, but the general kills the particular. The question we will reexamine later, after deeper discussion of complexity theory, is whether it is possible to be both ethical and universalist.

Acknowledgments Ralph Nader; Ron Paul; Will Murphy (editor, advisor, proofreader, syntax expert and specialist); Ben Greenberg (editor); Casiana Ionita (editor); Molly Turpin; Mika Kasuga; Evan Camfield; Barbara Fillon; Will Goodlad; Peter Tanous; Xamer ‘Bou Assaleh; Mark Baker (aka Guru Anaerobic); Armand d’Angour; Alexis Kirschbaum; Max Brockman; Russell Weinberger; Theodosius Mohsen Abdallah; David Boxenhorn; Marc Milanini; ETH participants in Zurich; Kevin Horgan; Paul Wehage; Baruch Gottesman, Gil Friend, Mark Champlain, Aaron Elliott, Rod Ripamonti, and Zlatan Hadzic (all on religion and sacrifice); David Graeber (Goldman Sachs); Neil Chriss; Amir-Reza Amini (automatic cars); Ektrit Kris Manushi (religion); Jazi Zilber (particularly Rav Safra); Farid Anvari (U.K. scandal); Robert Shaw (shipping and risk sharing); Daniel Hogendoorn (Cambyses); Eugene Callahan; Jon Elster, David Chambliss Johnson, Gur Huberman, Raphael Douady, Robert Shaw, Barkley Rosser, James Franklin, Marc Abrahams, Andreas Lind, and Elias Korosis (all on paper); John Durant; Zvika Afik; Robert Frey; Rami Zreik; Joe Audi; Guy Riviere; Matt Dubuque; Cesáreo González; Mark Spitznagel; Brandon Yarkin; Eric Briys; Joe Norman; Pascal Venier; Yaneer Bar-Yam; Thibault Lécuyer; Pierre Zalloua; Maximilian Hirner; Aaron Eliott; Jaffer Ali; Thomas Messina; Alexandru Panicci; Dan Coman; Nicholas Teague; Magued Iskander; Thibault Lécuyer; James Marsh; Arnie Schwarzvogel; Hayden Rei; John Mast-Finn; Rupert Read; Russell Roberts; Viktoria Martin; Ban Kanj Elsabeh; Vince Pomal; Graeme Michael Price; Karen Brennan; Jack Tohme; Marie-Christine Riachi; Jordan Thibodeau; Pietro Bonavita.


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How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester

asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, yield curve

Morgan’s financial concerns were so all-encompassing that when his bank was broken up by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, it turned into three different institutions, all of them very big: the bank J. P. Morgan and Co., the investment house Morgan Stanley, and the overseas investment bank Morgan Grenfell in London. jubilee A word with a number of meanings, but in his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, the anthropologist David Graeber advocates a global jubilee in the specific sense of a cancellation of all outstanding debt in the developing world. Keynes, John Maynard (1883–1946) One of the greatest minds ever to dedicate himself to the study of money—I put it like that because although many very clever people have spent most of their lives thinking about money, it’s noticeable that there haven’t been many geniuses attracted to the field, minds of the order of Mozart or Einstein or Shakespeare.

Notes 1Grayson Perry and Brian Eno, “How the Internet Has Taught Us We Are All Perverts,” New Statesman, 7 November 2013. 2Daniel, quoted in Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (New York: Norton, 2010), p. 206. 3You can read the original Fortune article at www.awjones.com/images/Fortune_-_The_Jones_Nobody_Keeps_Up_With.pdf. 4See http://www.awjones.com/historyofthefirm.html. 5Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms, trans. Patrick James Stirling (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1873) , p. 83. 6See David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Felix Martin’s Money: The Unauthorised Biography for more on this. 7John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975), p. 5. 8John Maynard Keynes, ”Alfred Marshall, 1842–1924,” Economic Journal 34, no. 135 (1924): 333. 9Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), p. 13. 10Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics (London: Macmillan, 1890), p. 32. 11Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), pp. 231–33. 12Ibid., pp. 231–32.


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The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K

Since the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession exposed almost a decade’s worth of Western growth as an illusion, a diverse cast of economists and political scientists and other figures on both the left and the right have begun to talk about stagnation and repetition and complacency and sclerosis as defining features of this Western age: Tyler Cowen and Robert Gordon, Thomas Piketty and Francis Fukuyama, David Graeber and Peter Thiel, and many others. This book is, in part, an attempt to synthesize their various perspectives into a compelling account of our situation. But it also weaves the social sciences together with observations on our intellectual climate, our popular culture, our religious moment, our technological pastimes, in the hopes of painting a fuller portrait of our decadence than you can get just looking at political science papers on institutional decay or an economic analysis of the declining rate of growth.

That image—a sci-fi writer using the small marvel of a flat-screen TV to watch a larger marvel recede into the past—is a compelling one for our era, which for all its digital wonders has lost the experience of awe-inspiring technological progress that prior modern generations came to take for granted. The technological sublime, unlike the natural or religious sort, does not renew itself in every generation. And though we are habituated to that reality, as Stephenson’s lament suggests, it is not at all what was expected fifty years ago. Here is David Graeber, writing in the very left-wing Baffler several years ago, making a version of this point: As someone who was eight years old at the time of the Apollo moon landing, I remember calculating that I would be thirty-nine in the magic year 2000 and wondering what the world would be like.… It seemed unlikely that I’d live to see all the things I was reading about in science fiction, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t see any of them


pages: 255 words: 92,719

All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work by Joanna Biggs

Anton Chekhov, bank run, banking crisis, call centre, Chelsea Manning, credit crunch, David Graeber, Desert Island Discs, Downton Abbey, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial independence, future of work, G4S, glass ceiling, industrial robot, job automation, land reform, low skilled workers, mittelstand, Northern Rock, payday loans, Right to Buy, Second Machine Age, six sigma, Steve Jobs, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, wages for housework, Wall-E

It seems that for each new generation coming into the workplace, the conditions get worse. On 5 January 2015, the first working day after Christmas, adverts appeared on underground trains, where adverts for Match.com normally are. In black type on canary yellow, there was a sentence – ‘It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working’ – which came from an article by David Graeber for Strike! magazine about ‘bullshit jobs’. Productive jobs, he argues, have been automated away and replaced by administrative ones which masquerade as service: HR, PR, financial services, ancillary industries like dog-washing and all-night pizza delivery. These are the bullshit jobs that are, you could add, very like T’s. It’s work that looks like work – it fills up a forty-hour week – but that feels pointless to the people doing it and which no one would miss if it disappeared.

Pret’s policy on migrant labour was reported on in the Evening Standard; my colleague Paul Myerscough first wrote about Pret’s use of emotional labour in the LRB of 3 January 2013, which was subsequently picked up by the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and the Independent. The Communication Workers’ Union’s campaign against Payment between Assignment contracts can be seen on their website. David Graeber’s article about ‘bullshit jobs’ is in the 17 August 2013 edition of Strike! Magazine. The FT reported Spad Jo Moore’s comments that 9/11 would be a ‘good day to bury bad news’ and my anthropology of a Spad is drawn from the figures and history in Special Advisers: Who They Are, What They Do and Why They Matter by Ben Yong and Robert Hazell (Hart, 2014) and the Telegraph recorded that Cameron had hung an Emin neon in Number 10 on 20 August 2011.


pages: 124 words: 30,520

Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics by Manuel Arriaga

banking crisis, business climate, David Graeber, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, Gunnar Myrdal, Occupy movement, principal–agent problem, Slavoj Žižek

In addition to the case of British Columbia, over the last decade, similar processes took place—with varying degrees of independence from the local political class—in Ontario, the Netherlands and Ireland. In all of these, the focus was strictly on electoral reform, but there is, of course, no reason to restrict the assembly’s mandate in that way. Notes [i] Paul Mason’s Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions offers a glimpse into this other reality. [ii] For the opposite argument, see David Graeber’s The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement. [iii] A good illustration of the different facets of this process can be found in George Clooney’s 2011 film The Ides of March. [iv] Admittedly, we all tend to reserve the word “ideology” for those ideas we disagree with. In this section, I will use it to refer to ideas that seem to fly in the face of most available evidence and, yet, are so strong that they seem largely unaffected by it.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, business cycle, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, liberal capitalism, mega-rich, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game

Through a trade-led process of economic expansion, non-industrial countries with subsistence economies and large indigenous populations must aim to become urbanized, consumer-driven, cosmopolitan manufacturing centers (according to this view): it is their right and destiny to do so. This set of assumptions was always questionable. Indeed, it has been attacked with some vigor by Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Martin Kohr, Jerry Mander, Doug Tompkins, Gustavo Esteva, Edward Goldsmith, Ivan Illich, Manfred Max-Neef, David Graeber, and other prominent development critics (sometimes also known as post-development–theorists).38 The critics of development claimed that the project of using loans and aid packages to fund huge infrastructure projects in poor nations, or to build factories there for multinational corporations, was at its core merely a continuation of colonialism by other means. Since two-thirds of the world’s nations were defined as “underdeveloped,” this meant that people in most countries needed to look outside of their own cultures for economic, agricultural, and educational models.

Don’t Listen to Him: Inside the Paradox of Forecasting,” boston.com, posted January 9, 2011. 19. David Murphy, “Lucky Economists, Unlucky Scientists?” The Oil Drum, posted January 14, 2011, theoildrum.com/node/7343. Chapter One 1. See Marvin Harris and Orna Johnson, Cultural Anthropology (Boston: –Allyn & Bacon, 2006), pp. 98–107. See also Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, transl. I. Cunnison (New York: Norton, 2000), and David Graeber, Toward an Anthropology of Value (New York: Palgrave, 2001). 2. Elman R. Service, The Hunters (New York: Prentice Hall, 1966), pp. 14–21. 3. Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), p. 436. 4. This story is told at greater length in, for example, Jack Weatherford, The History of Money (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998). 5. Mark Anielski, “Fertile obfuscation: Making money whilst eroding living capital” (Pembina Institute, 2000); Michael Rowbathom, The Grip of Death: A Study of Modern Money, Debt Slavery, and Destructive Economics (New York: Jon Carpenter, 1998). 6.


pages: 422 words: 104,457

Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

AltaVista, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Graeber, Debian, Edward Snowden, Filter Bubble, Firefox, GnuPG, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market design, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, prediction markets, price discrimination, randomized controlled trial, RFID, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, security theater, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, Steven Levy, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

I didn’t want people having lunch with me to be suspected of passing information to a journalist. I didn’t want my purchases to peg me as a “high spender” so that I would never be offered discounts online. I didn’t want to be suspected of being an anarchist after exploring bitcoins. However, I did not expect or want immunity from criminal transactions. My desire for immunity from the consequences of commerce reminded me of the anthropologist David Graeber’s beautiful meditation on the meaning and moral implications of debt. In his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Graeber describes how there are debts that should never be paid, such as our debt to our parents or a debt for an unsolicited kindness. Only some debts can be settled with money. Those debts have certain characteristics, he says. They are debts between “potential equals” but “who are not currently in a state of equality” who use money to set matters straight.

Jim Bell posted on an Internet forum: Jim Bell, “Assassination Politics,” Google Groups posting, January 23, 1996, https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!search/assasination$20politics$20jim$20bell|sort:date/list.libernet/Mo2RIiViYDE/Pp7BMppVDBYJ. In 1997, IRS agents raided Bell’s home: Associated Press, “Bell Gets 11 Months in Prison, 3 Years Supervised Release, Fine,” December 12, 1997, http://cryptome.org/jdb/jimbell7.htm. They are debts between: David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Melville House, 2010), 120. 10. POCKET LITTER I had just arrived in the city: Julia Angwin, “Secret Orders Target Email,” Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203476804576613284007315072.html. About a year after our meeting: Ira Hunt, “The CIA’s ‘Grand Challenges’ with Big Data,” GigaOM Structure: Data Conference 2013, http://new.livestream.com/accounts/74987/events/1927733/videos/14306067.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, microservices, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

Their big fear is that, in order to keep fiat money alive, the state will nationalize the banks, write off the debts, seize control of the finance system and kill for ever the spirit of free enterprise. As we’ll see, it may come to that. But their reasoning contains a fundamental flaw: they don’t understand what money actually is. In the popular version of economics, money is just a convenient means of exchange, invented because in early societies swapping a handful of potatoes for a raccoon skin was too random. In fact, as the anthropologist David Graeber has shown, there is no evidence that early human societies used barter, or that money emerged from it.26 They used something much more powerful. They used trust. Money is created by states and always has been; it is not something that exists independently of governments. Money is always the ‘promise to pay’ by a government. Its value is not reliant on the intrinsic worth of a metal; it is a measure of people’s trust in the permanence of the state.

The advantages of working remain clear, but there are also advantages to be gained through not working: you can look after your kids, write poetry, go back to college, manage your chronic illness or peer-educate others like you. Under this system, there would be no stigma attached to not working. The labour market would be stacked in favour of the high-paying job and the high-paying employer. The universal basic income, then, is an antidote to what the anthropologist David Graeber calls ‘bullshit jobs’: the low-paid service jobs capitalism has managed to create over the past twenty-five years that pay little, demean the worker and probably don’t need to exist.10 But it’s only a transitional measure for the first stage of the postcapitalist project. The ultimate aim is to reduce to a minimum the hours it takes to produce what humanity needs. Once this happens, the tax base in the market sector of the economy would be too small to pay for the basic income.


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A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Though these endeavors may not resemble the activities on the factory floor of a hundred years ago, none of them are self-evidently roles that bring their bearers a profound sense of meaning or fulfillment. In the United States, almost 70 percent of workers are either “not engaged” in or “actively disengaged” from their work, while only 50 percent say they “get a sense of identity from their job.”32 In the UK, almost 40 percent of people think their work does not make a meaningful contribution to the world.33 In the words of the sociologist David Graeber, many people today find themselves trapped in “bullshit jobs.”34 Finally, even for those who are fortunate and privileged enough to find their jobs meaningful, it does not follow that they would want to work if they did not have to. Take the French. They attach more importance to their work than many other nationalities. Yet, at the same time, they wish to—and do—devote less time to it than people in most other countries.35 At times, I wonder whether the academics and commentators who write fearfully about a world with less work are just mistakenly projecting the personal enjoyment they take from their jobs onto the experience of everyone else.

Susskind and Susskind, Future of the Professions, p. 255. 32.  Gallup, “State of the American Workplace” (2017); Pew Research Center, “How Americans View Their Jobs,” 6 October 2016, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/10/06/3-how-americans-view-their-jobs/ (accessed 24 April 2018). 33.  Will Dahlgreen, “37% of British Workers Think Their Jobs Are Meaningless,” YouGov UK, 12 August 2015. 34.  David Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant,” STRIKE! magazine, August 2013. 35.  Pierre-Michel Menger calls this “the French Paradox.” He set it out in a presentation titled “What Is Work Worth (in France)?,” prepared for the “Work in the Future” symposium, 6 February 2018, organized by Robert Skidelsky. 36.  Keynes, Essays in Persuasion, p. 368. 37.  Leontief, “National Perspective,” p. 7. 38.  


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The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy by Stephanie Kelton

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, collective bargaining, COVID-19, Covid-19, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, discrete time, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, floating exchange rates, Food sovereignty, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, liquidity trap, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Mason jar, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Nixon shock, obamacare, open economy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, trade liberalization, urban planning, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, zero-sum game

Sometimes the textbooks recognize that the government can print money, but this method of financing is quickly dropped from the formal budget model on the grounds that printing money is inflationary, so the student is taught that governments must either finance their expenditures by collecting taxes or borrowing someone’s savings. 10. David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (New York: Melville House, 2011); L. Randall Wray, Understanding Modern Money: The Key to Full Employment and Price Stability (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006); and Stephanie A. Bell, John F. Henry, and L. Randall Wray, “A Chartalist Critique of John Locke’s Theory of Property, Accumulation, and Money: Or, Is It Moral to Trade Your Nuts for Gold?,” Review of Social Economy 62, no. 1 (2004): 51–65. 11. There is an enormous literature that traces the history of state-issued currencies. Interested readers should consult works by Christine Desan, Mathew Forstater, David Graeber, John Henry, Michael Hudson, and L. Randall Wray. 12. Buttonwood, “Monopoly Money,” Buttonwood’s notebook, The Economist, October 19, 2009, www.economist.com/buttonwoods-notebook/2009/10/19/monopoly-money. 13.


pages: 138 words: 40,525

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook by Extinction Rebellion

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, feminist movement, full employment, gig economy, global pandemic, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, mass immigration, Peter Thiel, place-making, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, Sam Altman, smart grid, supply-chain management, the scientific method, union organizing, urban sprawl, wealth creators

How much of the economic activity that you see around you could just go, overnight, and no one would honestly miss it, if this could happen without anyone going hungry or homeless as a consequence? Of course, that’s a huge if, especially when – as in the UK – rough sleeping and dependence on food banks have already been rising for years. Yet this is what a surrender looks like: it’s about how much of the organized activity of a society can be decommissioned, not by 2050 or 2030, or even 2025, but as soon as possible. The fact that David Graeber found out when he wrote about ‘bullshit jobs’ – that much of our activity shown up as GDP is widely recognized as pointless, including by those carrying it out – is beneficial. To negotiate a surrender, you need a credible threat – and this is where the movement that began in London in November 2018 might look again at its strange twin across the Channel. Clearly, Extinction Rebellion would not seek the edge of chaos which drew so much attention to the Gilets Jaunes.


pages: 457 words: 126,996

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

1960s counterculture, 4chan, Amazon Web Services, Bay Area Rapid Transit, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Debian, do-ocracy, East Village, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, George Santayana, hive mind, impulse control, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, low cost airline, mandatory minimum, Mohammed Bouazizi, Network effects, Occupy movement, pirate software, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Levy, WikiLeaks, zero day

Anonymous’s Trickster’s Trick: Defying Individual Celebrity through Collective Celebrity Fame-seeking pervades practically every sphere of American life today, from the mass media, which hires Hollywood celebrities as news anchors, to the micro-media platforms that afford endless opportunities for narcissism and self- inflation; from the halls of academia, where superstar professors command high salaries, to sports arenas, where players rake in obscene salaries. Fame-seeking behavior reinforces what anthropologist David Graeber, building on the seminal work of C. B. Macpherson, identifies as “possessive individualism,” defined as “those deeply internalized habits of thinking and feeling” whereby we view “everything around [us] primarily as actual or potential commercial property.”22 How did 4chan—one of the seediest zones of the Internet—hatch one of the most robust instantiations of a collectivist, anti-celebrity ethic, without its members even intending to?

A good example of Nezvanova’s art can be found at http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-bold-0009/msg00073.html (last accessed May 21, 2014). 19. Lee Knuttila, “Users unknown: 4chan, anonymity and contingency,” First Monday, vol. 16, no. 10 (Oct. 2011). 20. “Internet Hate Machine” was a phrase used by a local Fox News program in Los Angeles in 2007 to describe Anonymous. The group promptly turned the phrase into a popular meme. 21. Phillips, “LOLing at tragedy.” 22. David Graeber, “Manners, Deference, and Private Property in Early Modern Europe,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 39 (October 1997): 694–728. 23. Christopher Kelty, Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008). Chapter 2. Project Chanology—I Came for the Lulz but Stayed for the Outrage 1. Anonymous, “The Story Behind the Tom Cruise Video Link,” Why We Protest, July 27, 2013, last accessed May 23, 2014, available at http://whyweprotest.net/community/threads/the-story-behind-the- tom-cruise-video-leak.93170/page-4. 2.


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Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, post-work, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

You have nothing to lose but your jobs!” But the euphoria soon fades, swept away by the swiftly sobering recognition that there is terribly little chance for a soft landing in any of this, for any one of us. Though we may debate the degree to which choice and conscious authorship are involved in it, it seems important to note that automation is a directional process whose initial stages we’ve already entered. In this respect David Graeber’s empty, signifier-shuffling “bullshit jobs” are a signal from the future. They’re not so much a return as an anticipation of the repressed: the surfacing in the present, and pricing into contemporary ways of doing and being, of the recognition that there simply won’t be enough meaningful work for anyone to do following the eclipse of human judgment. The UBI, as a rearguard action aimed at ensuring the continuity of business as usual, seems to be predicated on the survival of at least some higher-order executive jobs.

Burt, “Structural Holes and Good Ideas,” American Journal of Sociology, Volume110, Number 2, 2004, pp. 349–99. 43.David Bicknell, “Sloppy Human Error Still Prime Cause of Data Breaches,” Government Computing, June 2, 2016. 44.Mark Blunden, “Enfield Council Uses Robotic ‘Supercomputer’ Instead of Humans to Deliver Frontline Services,” Evening Standard, June 16, 2016. 45.Jun Hongo, “Fully Automated Lettuce Factory to Open in Japan,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2015. 46.Jim Tankersley, “Robots Are Hurting Middle Class Workers, and Education Won’t Solve the Problem, Larry Summers Says,” Washington Post, March 3, 2015. 47.Nick Dyer-Witheford, Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-technology Capitalism, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999; see also Lawrence H. Summers, “The Inequality Puzzle,” Democracy, Summer 2014 No. 33. 48.David Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” STRIKE!, August 17, 2013. 49.Walter Van Trier, “Who Framed ‘Social Dividend’?,” USBIG Discussion Paper No. 26, March 2002. basisinkomen.nl/wp-content/uploads/020223-Walter-VanTrier-8.pdf. See also John Danaher, “Libertarianism and the Basic Income (Part One),” Philosophical Disquisitions, December 17, 2013; Noah Gordon, “The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income,” Atlantic, August 2014. 50.Mike Alberti and Kevin C.


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The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, complexity theory, computer age, credit crunch, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, G4S, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, jitney, John Meriwether, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, Lao Tzu, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market design, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, reserve currency, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, Stuxnet, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, working-age population, yield curve

If one party wanted to trade wheat for nails, and the counterparty wanted wheat but had only rope to trade, the first party might accept the rope and go in search of someone with nails who wanted rope. In this telling, money was an efficient medium of exchange that solved the simultaneity problem because one could sell her wheat for money and then use the money to buy nails without having to barter the rope. But as author David Graeber points out, the history of barter is mostly a myth. Economists since Adam Smith have assumed that barter was the historical predecessor of money, but there is no empirical, archaeological, or other evidence for the existence of a widespread premoney barter economy. In fact, it appears that premoney economies were based largely on credit—the promise to return value in the future in exchange for value delivered today.

. : “The Rolling Student Loan Bailout,” Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323968704578652291680883634.html. “the test of a first-rate intelligence . . .”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up (1936; reprint New York: New Directions, 2009). The bitcoin phenomenon began in 2008 . . . : Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” November 1, 2008, http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf. the history of barter is mostly a myth: David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Melville House, 2011), pp. 21–41. “Sept. 11 was not a failure of intelligence or coordination . . .”: Thomas L. Friedman, “A Failure to Imagine,” New York Times, May 19, 2002, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/19/opinion/a-failure-to-imagine.html. Chapter 11: Maelstrom “The broad question is whether central banks . . .”: Arthur F. Burns, memorandum to President Gerald R.


A Paradise Built in Hell: Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit

Berlin Wall, Burning Man, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, David Graeber, different worldview, dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, illegal immigration, Loma Prieta earthquake, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, South of Market, San Francisco, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, War on Poverty, yellow journalism

The widespread disdain for revolution and utopia takes as its object lesson the Soviet-style attempts at coercive utopias, in which the original ideals of leveling and sharing go deeply awry, the achievement critiqued in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 and other dystopian novels. Many fail to notice that it is not the ideals, the ends, but the coercive and authoritarian means that poison paradise. There are utopias whose ideals pointedly include freedom from coercion and dispersal of power to the many. Most utopian visions nowadays include many worlds, many versions, rather than a coercive one true way. The anthropologist David Graeber writes, “Stalinists and their ilk did not kill because they dreamed great dreams—actually, Stalinists were famous for being rather short on imagination—but because they mistook their dreams for scientific certainties. This led them to feel they had a right to impose their visions through a machinery of violence.” There are plenty of failed revolutions and revolutions such as the French Revolution that lapse into bloodbaths—and yet when that revolution was over, France would never be dominated by an absolutist monarchy again; ordinary French people had more rights, and people around the world had an enlarged sense of the possible.

., Three Fearful Days: San Francisco Memoirs of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire (San Francisco: Londonborn Publications, 1998), 301. 16 “in cordial appreciation of her prompt”: Argonaut, May 21, 1927. 18 “A map of the world”: Oscar Wilde (quoting from Wilde’s “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”), in Robert V. Hine, California’s Utopian Colonies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 8. 19 “Stalinists and their ilk”: David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004), 11. 21 “The number of weather-related disasters has quadrupled over the past”: “Climate Alarm, 2007”: Oxfam Briefing Paper 108. Pauline Jacobson’s Joy 24 Mary Austen: “The Temblor,” in David Starr Jordan, ed., The California Earthquake of 1906 (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1907), 355. 24 H. C. Schmitt: Argonaut, May 8, 1926. 25 Thomas A.


Virtual Competition by Ariel Ezrachi, Maurice E. Stucke

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, cloud computing, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate governance, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, demand response, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, double helix, Downton Abbey, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental economics, Firefox, framing effect, Google Chrome, index arbitrage, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, light touch regulation, linked data, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market friction, Milgram experiment, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, prediction markets, price discrimination, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, turn-by-turn navigation, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, yield management

The problem is the combination of concentrated economic power, weakened limits on corporate political spending,72 and an amorphous legal standard, such as the Supreme Court’s “rule of reason” legal standard for most antitrust violations.73 The amorphous legal standard is attractive to economists, lobbyists, and antitrust counsel who “know” and “can work” with the agency to dissuade it from intervening in our three scenarios. Intellectual Capture Closely linked to economic power is the ability to foster intellectual and regulatory capture. As anthropology professor David Graeber observed, “if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.”74 Lobbying, discussed above, provides a central tool to shape opinions of governments and the public—to affect the public debate and our perception of right and wrong.75 Other means to capture the debate include the funding of articles, academic initiatives, and think tanks.76 Here one may harness the credibility of individuals and institutions to propagate certain ideas and create a pool of supportive media and writing that can cross-reference itself.

Ct. 2201, 2217 (2010) [quoting Board of Trade of Chicago v. United States, 246 U.S. 231, 238 (1918)]. The rule of reason also “varies in focus and detail depending on the nature of the agreement and market circumstances.” Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Guidelines for Collaborations among Competitors (2000) §1.2, at 4, http://www.ftc.gov/os/2000/04 /ftcdojguidelines.pdf. David Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” Strike! Magazine, August 17, 2013, http://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs. See generally, interview with Barry C. Lynn, senior fellow at New America Foundation, “What We Have Is Capture of the Regulators’ Minds, a Much More Sophisticated Form of Capture Than Putting Money in Their Pockets,” published in Pro-Market Blog, Stigler Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, https://promarket.org/what-we-have-is-capture-of-the -regulators-minds-a-much-more-sophisticated-form-of-capture-than -putting-money-in-their-pockets/.


pages: 172 words: 48,747

The View From Flyover Country: Dispatches From the Forgotten America by Sarah Kendzior

"side hustle", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American ideology, barriers to entry, clean water, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, George Santayana, glass ceiling, income inequality, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marshall McLuhan, Mohammed Bouazizi, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, payday loans, pink-collar, post-work, publish or perish, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, the medium is the message, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Upton Sinclair, urban decay, War on Poverty, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

Qualities that should be encouraged in society—like empathy and the willingness to stand up for others—are devalued when ordinary people are told that they literally cannot afford to care. “I think right-wing populists hate the ‘liberal elite’ more than economic elites because they’ve grabbed all the jobs where you get paid to do something that isn’t just for the money—the pursuit of art, or truth, or charity,” notes David Graeber, an anthropologist whose ideas helped shape the Occupy movement. “All they can do if they want to do something bigger than themselves and still get paid is join the army.” Fair and Just On the day the story of the alleged $22,000 UN internship broke, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman assured us that our world is fair and just. After proclaiming that the world is “tailored for the self-motivated” and the “boundaries are all gone,” he argued, “We’re entering a world that increasingly rewards individual aspiration and persistence and can measure precisely who is contributing and who is not.


pages: 182 words: 53,802

The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Banks by Ann Pettifor

Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, clean water, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mobile money, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Satyajit Das, savings glut, secular stagnation, The Chicago School, the market place, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail

In a monetary system, as explained in an earlier chapter, all money is based on a system of claims: assets and liabilities backed up by collateral, and on the exchange of these in social relationships that are vital to the economic sustainability of households and communities. All money is a claim on another – an obligation to be reciprocated – or a debt. And debt, not barter, has been a feature of community life since the dawn of time, as David Graeber explained in his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years.22 Adam Smith saw ‘the origins of language – hence of human thought – as lying in our propensity to “exchange one thing for another” in which he also saw the origins of the market. The urge to trade, to compare values, is the very thing that makes us intelligent beings, and different from other animals’, writes Graeber.23 The issue, therefore, is not the creation of a debt-free economy, but of one in which economic and other obligations can be freely and easily reciprocated to achieve the common purpose of stability, sustainability, justice and prosperity.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, anti-globalists, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Those credit cardholders who pay off their debts every month and imagine that they’re not paying interest are wrong: the retailers selling us stuff on our credit cards have to pay interest anyway and they pass it on to us in the price of the goods. The German economist Helmut Creutz calculated that in his country, 38% of the price of drinking-water is hidden interest, as is 77% of the rent on government-subsidised housing and 40% of the cost of a typical bundle of goods bought by a German household.37 But there’s a different and much older way of talking about interest on debt: as usury. As David Graeber shows in his remarkable book, Debt: The First 5000 Years, usury has been understood and resented for millennia, and is still condemned by some religions, for example Islam.38 The objections are not directed at lending and borrowing as such, but at lending at interest. This pre-modern term may sound anachronistic and negative, with its associations of exploitation and grinding oppression. Its condemnation by stern religious voices, often dismissed as ‘fundamentalist’, may not be appealing either, and we may be tempted to dismiss it as dogma backed by arbitrary, supposedly divine, authority.

For loan oft loses both itself and friend’ (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3, 75–77). Even to offer or accept an interest-free loan might be seen as introducing an unwanted, if temporary, dependence and asymmetry into what would otherwise be seen as properly a relationship of equality and generosity. For this reason, people may prefer to borrow impersonally from a bank and pay interest, rather than borrow from a friend at zero interest. 54 David Graeber’s term for this asymmetry is ‘the logic of hierarchy’ (Graeber, 2011). Gift relationships, where ‘debts’ are not precisely quantified or ever cleared but alternately reciprocated at intervals by each person, thus maintaining the relationship, are the norm in human history. One of the most distinctive, indeed exceptional, features of modern societies is that so many relationships between people are contractual, and hence can be terminated with the meeting of agreed mutual obligations: you did this for me, I paid you the agreed amount, that’s the end of our relationship. 55 This contradiction is a secular version of the Old Testament ‘Deuteronomic ruling’, which caused consternation among theologians and divided Christians for centuries: ‘Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury’, Deuteronomy 23: 20.


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Money: 5,000 Years of Debt and Power by Michel Aglietta

bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, energy transition, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, German hyperinflation, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, margin call, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shock, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, secular stagnation, seigniorage, shareholder value, special drawing rights, special economic zone, stochastic process, the payments system, the scientific method, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus

The great transformation of human societies, in the leap from the logic of the sacred to the logic of equivalence, arises as we become more distant from the sacred (Figure 2.1). This process represents the autonomisation of the political and of civil society. Its material basis is the building of cities, from Sumer onwards; it achieves its formal representation through the invention of writing and numbers. According to David Graeber, a movement of concentrated human settlement in Mesopotamia after 2500 BC gave rise to slavery, the foundation of the market.8 Since its origin, the market has oozed violence. Slavery is the ultimate violence. Indeed, slavery strips human relations of all ethics. As Marx shows, wage labour was not so different in this regard, when it lacked the social rights later established in reaction to the violence of the market.

, in L’Homme, no. 162, April–June 2002, pp. 242–54. 3 Marcel Maus, ‘Essai sur le don: Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques’, Année sociologique (1923–24), republished in Marcel Mauss, Sociologie et anthropologie, Paris: PUF, 1973. 4 Annette Weiner, Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. 5 This anthropological controversy is examined by Jean-Pierre Warnier, ‘Alliance, filiation et inaliénabilité: le débat sur le don à la lumière de l’anthropologie de la parenté’, Sociétés politiques comparées, no. 11, January 2009. 6 Thomas R. Trautman, Lewis Henry Morgan and the Invention of Kinship, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. 7 Stéphane Breton, ‘Monnaie et économies des personnes’, introduction to special issue of L’Homme, no. 162, ‘Question de monnaie’, April–June 2002. 8 David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Brooklyn: Melville House, 2011. 9 On this point, see the contribution by Jean Andreau, ‘Cens, évaluation et monnaie dans l’Antiquité romaine’, in Aglietta and Orléan (eds), La monnaie souveraine, pp. 213–50. Part II: The Historical Trajectories of Money 1 Frank Hahn, Money and Inflation, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982. 2 See the introduction to Philippe Beaujard, Laurent Berger and Philippe Norel (eds), Histoire globale, mondialisations et capitalisme, Paris: La Découverte, 2009. 3 Théret (ed.), La monnaie dévoilée par ses crises. 4 Fernand Braudel, La dynamique du capitalisme, Paris: Arthaud, 1985. 3.


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The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction by Jamie Woodcock, Mark Graham

Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, global value chain, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, Lyft, mass immigration, means of production, Network effects, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, planetary scale, precariat, rent-seeking, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

This, despite the fact they still described Deliveroo as a ‘shit job’, made it comparatively better than the conditions in high-pressure call centres (Woodcock, 2017). Similarly, another worker explained that they ‘wanted to work outside and with a bicycle, because it’s my passion working with a bicycle’. For younger workers, the gig economy offers the potential – and it is important to stress that this is a potential, as we discuss further later in the book – for different ways of working. This is particularly important considering the rise of what David Graeber (2018) has called ‘bullshit jobs’, forms of work that appear to be meaningless busywork. The desire to escape from these kinds of jobs provides a ready supply of labour power to be put to work in new ways. In low- and middle-income countries, even relatively highskilled workers have tended to be quite constrained by the boundaries of their local labour markets. With most cities in the Global South characterized by high unemployment rates and a lack of opportunities, it is not surprising that many workers in those places have jumped at the chance to find jobs in the gig economy.


pages: 236 words: 62,158

Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle by Jamie Woodcock

4chan, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, anti-work, augmented reality, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Boris Johnson, Build a better mousetrap, butterfly effect, call centre, collective bargaining, Columbine, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, David Graeber, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, game design, gig economy, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global value chain, Hacker Ethic, Howard Zinn, John Conway, Kickstarter, Landlord’s Game, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Minecraft, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Oculus Rift, pink-collar, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, union organizing, unpaid internship, V2 rocket

Although, amusingly, it later dived as investors realized the company itself would not profit that much from the game, given it was developed by Niantic (and draws on data from Google, who also incubated the company). Presumably, investors had not checked this in advance. There is also evidence that the refusal of work in relation to videogames is going beyond work avoidance in the workplace. David Graeber has observed that many people in the Global North are now working what they call “bullshit jobs.”36 As Jane McGonigal has explained: “Games provide a sense of waking in the morning with one goal: I’m trying to improve this skill, teammates are counting on me, and my online community is relying on me. There is a routine and daily progress that does a good job at replacing traditional work.”37 There is now evidence that in the US, a segment of young men are dropping out of the labor force to play videogames.


pages: 254 words: 61,387

This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler

basic income, big-box store, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial independence, gender pay gap, global supply chain, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Nash: game theory, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, medical bankruptcy, new economy, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, white flight

Bentoism Elizabeth Anderson, Value in Ethics and Economics Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality How Ideas Work Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind John Higgs, The KLF: Chaos, Magic, and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds John Higgs, Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Daniel Rodgers, Age of Fracture J. Z. Young, Doubt and Certainty in Science: A Biologist’s Reflections on the Brain Economics Rutger Bregman, Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Updated and Expanded) Annie Lowrey, Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World Mariana Mazzucato, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths Mariana Mazzucato, The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages Thomas Picketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century E.


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China's Disruptors: How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Other Companies Are Changing the Rules of Business by Edward Tse

3D printing, Airbnb, Airbus A320, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, bilateral investment treaty, business process, capital controls, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, experimental economics, global supply chain, global value chain, high net worth, industrial robot, Joseph Schumpeter, Lyft, money market fund, offshore financial centre, Pearl River Delta, reshoring, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, trade route, wealth creators, working-age population

“Alibaba was founded with a simple mission”: See Jack Ma, “Jack Ma on Taking Back China’s Blue Skies,” HBR Blog Network, November 11, 2013, available at http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/jack-ma-on-taking-back-chinas-blue-skies/ (accessed September 1, 2014). “revolutionized how Chinese people live, learn, work and play”: See Jack Ma, “Jack Ma on Taking Back China’s Blue Skies,” HBR Blog Network, November 11, 2013, available at http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/jack-ma-on-taking-back-chinas-blue-skies/ (accessed September 1, 2014). a centuries-long rejection of free-market economics: For a discussion of this rejection, see David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (New York: Melville House, 2011), pages 259–260. Chapter 2: Wide Open that target was raised to 60 million: See Josh Horwitz, “Xiaomi Is Well on Track to Sell 60 Million Smartphones in 2014,” TechInAsia.com, October 8, 2014, at https://www.techinasia.com/xiaomi-is-well-on-track-to-sell-60-million-smartphones-in-2014/ (accessed November 5, 2014). its valuation up to $40–$50 billion: See Bloomberg News, “Xiaomi Said to Seek Funding at About $50 Billion Valuation,” November 4, 2014, available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-03/xiaomi-said-to-seek-funding-at-valuation-of-about-50-billion.html (accessed November 5, 2014).


Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy by Philippe van Parijs, Yannick Vanderborght

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, diversified portfolio, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, open borders, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, selection bias, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, universal basic income, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor

For example, the real hourly wage of middle-Â�aged men in the United States nearly doubled in real terms from about $8 in 1975 to about $16 in 2013 (see http://Â�blogs╉.Â�f t╉.Â�com╉ /Â�ftdata╉/Â�2014╉/Â�07╉/Â�04╉/Â�wages╉-Â�over╉-Â�the╉-Â�long╉-Â�r un). Suppose the marginal tax rate on this category of workers was 25 Â�percent in 1975. Their marginal net wage was therefore $6. This marginal net wage (and hence, supposedly, the material incentive to work) could be preserved in 2013 while raising the marginal tax rate to 62.5 Â�percent! 49. Cole 1949: 147. 50. Townsend 1968: 108. More provocatively, David Graeber (2014a) makes the same point as follows: “I always talk about prisons, where Â�people are fed, clothed, they’ve Â� got shelter; they could just sit around all day. But actually, they use work as a way of rewarding them. You know, if you Â�don’t behave yourself, we Â�won’t let you work in the prison laundry. I mean Â�people want to work. Nobody just wants to sit around, it’s boring.” In his fascinating “essay in utopian politico-Â�economic theory,” Joseph Carens (1981) goes further: even the idea of a 100 Â�percent tax on Â�labor income is not intrinsically inconsistent with economic efficiency.

Our point about the relevance of Â�unionized workers being comparatively privileged holds whatÂ�ever the direction of the causal link that explains the correlation between Â�unionization and pay level. 30. Keynes 1930b/1981: 13. 31. As Andy Stern (2016: 147) puts it: “The Â�people Â�running Â�unions, unfortunately, have not been creative enough, to date, in responding to the challenges of a changing economy, as evidenced in their slow response to Uber, Airbnb, and other disruptive ventures, and in the difficulties unions Â� have faced while trying to orÂ�gaÂ�nize freelancers.” 32. In David Graeber’s (2014b) forceful formulation: “I’m thinking of a Â�labor movement, but one very difÂ�ferÂ�ent than the kind Â�we’ve already seen. A Â�labor movement that manages to fiÂ�nally ditch all traces of the ideology that says that work is a value in itself, but rather redefines Â�labor as caring for other Â�people.” 33. Stern 2016: 222. 34. Stern 2016: 200. 302 NO TES TO PAGES 180–184 35. Stern 2016: 201.


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Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Thales of Miletus, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

For more on the history of money, a plug here for Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order (London: Allen Lane, 2011), by my colleague Philip Coggan. 2. Vincent Bignon, “Cigarette Money and Black-Market Prices During the 1948 German Miracle” (EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris West–Nanterre la Défense, 2009). 3. For a retelling of the history of credit and money, see David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn: Melville House, 2011). 4. K. V. Nagarajan, “The Code of Hammurabi: An Economic Interpretation,” International Journal of Business and Social Science (May 2011). 5. See, for example, Hal Hershfield et al., “Increasing Saving Behaviour Through Age-Progressed Renderings of the Future Self,” Journal of Marketing Research (2011). 6. Ron Harris, “The Institutional Dynamics of Early Modern Eurasian Trade: The Commenda and the Corporation,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 71, no. 3 (2009). 7.


pages: 297 words: 84,009

Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero by Tyler Cowen

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, employer provided health coverage, experimental economics, Filter Bubble, financial innovation, financial intermediation, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, mobile money, money market fund, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, offshore financial centre, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, ultimatum game, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

There’s a natural tendency to find something wrong whenever rich people are being paid a lot of money and have a lot of status, but on the whole our CEOs are providing good value for the money they earn. 4. IS WORK FUN? Yes, running a business is rewarding for the CEO, but what about the workers? Worker exploitation is one of the oldest charges levied at capitalism, and it persists through the current day. For instance, in a recent Times Literary Supplement review of books about work, Joe Moran summed it up bluntly: “These books are about the misery.” David Graeber, in his recent highly popular book, says it all in the title: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Jeffrey Pfeffer, from the Stanford School of Business, calls his latest book Dying for a Paycheck, even though there is established evidence that unemployment is worse for your health than working.1 I’d like to suggest that productive work is one of the most fulfilling sides of our lives. For the most part, it makes us happier, better adjusted, and better connected to the social world.


pages: 307 words: 82,680

A Pelican Introduction: Basic Income by Guy Standing

bank run, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, labour market flexibility, land value tax, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, universal basic income, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working poor, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Shifting to ‘reproductive’ work such as caring for relatives or work in the community could be expected to have beneficial environmental effects, because it would mean a shift to resource-conserving activities away from resource-depleting ones. Shorter working hours in jobs are correlated with smaller ecological footprints.33 And basic income would allow people to reject or spend less time on what David Graeber calls ‘bullshit’ jobs that they find hateful or meaningless.34 As mentioned in Chapter 2, basic income would also make it easier for governments to impose carbon taxes and other environmental measures designed to curb pollution and mitigate climate change, by compensating people for the extra costs of the goods and services affected or for livelihoods lost or disrupted. Some supporters of the ‘degrowth’ movement see basic income as an integral part of an economic reordering alongside other policies to promote ‘prosperity without growth’, at least in the way it is conventionally measured.35 By making income less dependent on employment, basic income would encourage people to question the drive for jobs at any cost and encourage a rethink on the relationship between jobs, production and consumption.


pages: 336 words: 83,903

The Refusal of Work: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work by David Frayne

anti-work, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, clockwatching, David Graeber, deindustrialization, deskilling, future of work, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, moral panic, new economy, post-work, profit motive, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, unpaid internship, working poor, young professional

For want of being able to make free-time produce private profit, capitalism has historically reacted by snatching back the time saved by productivity gains to create additional forms of work that are often unproductive, environmentally destructive, and push the realm of commercial activities more deeply into intimate life (see Bowring, 1999). One of the things that is troubling from Gorz’s perspective is the sheer pointlessness of many modern forms of employment. Huge proportions of the labour market are devoted to the production, marketing and distribution of consumer goods with superficial differences, limited functions, and short life spans. In his polemic against the rise of ‘bullshit jobs’, David Graeber also points to the unprecedented expansion of sectors such as corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. On top of this, we can consider the huge numbers of people whose role is to provide administrative, technical or security support for these industries, as well those thousands of jobs in the service industries – from dog-washers to home cleaners and 24-hour pizza deliverymen – which only exist because the workers who pay for them are so hellishly busy working (Graeber, 2013).


pages: 275 words: 84,980

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money That We Understand to Money That Understands Us (Perspectives) by David Birch

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, business cycle, capital controls, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, creative destruction, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, double entry bookkeeping, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, index card, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, large denomination, M-Pesa, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, Northern Rock, Pingit, prediction markets, price stability, QR code, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, social graph, special drawing rights, technoutopianism, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, wage slave, Washington Consensus, wikimedia commons

The cacao beans must have worked well as money: they were observed still being used as ‘small-change’ money in Central American markets in the mid 1850s. And, as the final confirmation that they were real money, they were counterfeited: fraudsters would extract the chocolate from inside the beans and replace it with mud of an equivalent weight! Debt What did these currencies, from barley to gold and from cocoa to sterling, measure? David Graeber makes a case for a simple answer: debt (Graeber 2011b). He observes that the difficulty in the ‘chartalist’ position (from the Latin charta, or token) is to establish why people would continue to trust a token, rather than a commodity, as society develops and points out that the chartalist version of currency (see the later discussion about the Irish bank strike) means providing sufficient token claims against different commodities, whether those are cocoa beans, sea shells, copper axes or anything else.


pages: 353 words: 81,436

Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Wolfgang Streeck

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, banking crisis, basic income, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial repression, fixed income, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, means of production, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Occupy movement, open borders, open economy, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, profit maximization, risk tolerance, shareholder value, too big to fail, union organizing, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

In any case, what was at stake then was nothing in comparison with what is taking place today, more than forty years later, in the Europe-wide transition to an economically disempowered post-democracy. The first and most important point to be made by a movement against the annexation of democracy by the finance markets is that legitimacy is not on the side of the money factories: after all, why should the promissory notes they produce be allowed to eat up the lives of ordinary people? Here David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years has done invaluable preliminary work. The idea that it is only right and proper for all debtors to pay off what they owe is a myth that serves to moralize global finance markets under cover of the morality of everyday life – and to make opposition to their demands appear immoral. The fact is that, unlike private individuals, governments are able unilaterally to impose debt rescheduling on their creditors or even to suspend payments altogether: this flows directly from their sovereignty.


pages: 320 words: 86,372

Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself by Peter Fleming

1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, post-work, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, social intelligence, The Chicago School, transaction costs, wealth creators, working poor

There is nothing functional about many of the jobs we do, strangely enough even those that are certainly worthwhile to humanity (e.g. surgeons, scientists, train drivers, artists, etc.). This may sound controversial. But when jobs are cast within the bureaucratic and commercialized sphere of hyper-capitalist relations, even brain surgeons sometimes wonder what their worth is, especially when forced to cut costs, meet targets and generate process efficiencies in those public healthcare services that still remain in the West. This is where David Graeber’s (2013) otherwise insightful notion of ‘bullshit jobs’ is problematic. He suggests that there are wide swathes of occupations that are not really necessary since they do not really add anything to the public good (e.g. management consultants, derivative traders, etc.). The problem is, however, that this is the very worldview that informs the neoliberal gaze. All jobs are regarded as bullshit, even the ones that you and I are wholly dependent upon: the local midwife, the public-sector train driver.


pages: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, circulation of elites, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kenneth Arrow, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, mass incarceration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, Vilfredo Pareto, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

There were no representatives, no officials, and few of the mechanisms of “organization” that Robert Michels identified as sliding naturally toward the empowerment of the few over the many. The commitment to this process was so total it was done even at the cost of efficiency. Meetings took a very long time; decisions could not be made quickly and efficiently. But that’s the whole idea. “You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature,” David Graeber, a radical anthropologist who’s been active in planning Occupy Wall Street since its inception, told the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. The occupiers, Graeber said, wanted to “create a body that could act as a model of genuine, direct democracy to contrapose to the corrupt charade presented to us as ‘democracy’ by the U.S. government.” If we are going to find our way out of the present crisis, we will need more of this kind of political imagination.


pages: 287 words: 82,576

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, assortative mating, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, business climate, business cycle, circulation of elites, clean water, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, East Village, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, Google Glasses, Hyman Minsky, Hyperloop, income inequality, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, purchasing power parity, Richard Florida, security theater, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South China Sea, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, working-age population, World Values Survey

But just think of the reorientation in terms of cultural and emotional significance: It will be the cars controlling us rather than vice versa. The driver of the American car used to drive an entire economy, but now the driver will be passive, and what will the culture become? This new orientation would have seemed deeply strange to our ancestors, but we are trying to talk ourselves into seeing this obsession with digitalized information as normal. Anthropologist David Graeber expressed the point nicely when referring to his attempt to watch one of the Star Wars installments: Recalling all those clumsy effects typical of fifties sci-fi films, the tin spaceships being pulled along by almost-invisible strings, I kept thinking about how impressed a 1950s audience would have been if they’d known what we could do by now—only to immediately realize, “actually, no. They wouldn’t be impressed at all, would they?


pages: 349 words: 86,224

Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott

agricultural Revolution, clean water, David Graeber, demographic dividend, demographic transition, deskilling, facts on the ground, invention of writing, joint-stock company, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, means of production, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route

Fuller, Andrea Seri, Tate Paulette, Robert Mc. Adams, Michael Dietler, Gordon Hillman, Karl Jacoby, Helen Leach, Peter Perdue, Christopher Beckwith, Cyprian Broodbank, Owen Lattimore, Thomas Barfield, Ian Hodder, Richard Manning, K. Sivaramakrishnan, Edward Friedman, Douglas Storm, James Prosek, Aniket Aga, Sarah Osterhoudt, Padriac Kenney, Gardiner Bovingdon, Timothy Pechora, Stuart Schwartz, Anna Tsing, David Graeber, Magnus Fiskesjo, Victor Lieberman, Wang Haicheng, Helen Siu, Bennet Bronson, Alex Lichtenstein, Cathy Shufro, Jeffrey Isaac, and Adam T. Smith. I am particularly grateful to Joe Manning, who, I found, anticipated a good part of my argument about cereal grains and states and whose intellectual large-spiritedness extended to allowing me to poach his title, Against the Grain, as the first element of my own.


pages: 263 words: 80,594

Stolen: How to Save the World From Financialisation by Grace Blakeley

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, full employment, G4S, gender pay gap, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land value tax, light touch regulation, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transfer pricing, universal basic income, Winter of Discontent, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

James Meadway has put up with me asking obscure questions about Marxist theory at all hours of the morning and has generally been my mentor (even if he would hate to be described as such). Special thanks go to James, Costas Lapavitsas (whose work has inspired so much of my thinking), Michael Jacobs and George Eaton, who read the book in its early form and provided comments. I would also like to thank Leo Panitch, Joe Guinan, Sarah McKinley, Christine Berry, Alfredo Saad-Filho, Ann Pettifor, David Graeber, Michael Hudson, Steve Keen, Adam Tooze, Laurie MacFarlane, David Rowland, Sahil Dutta, Fran Boait, Richard Kozul-Wright, Mark Seddon, Scott Lavery, Jeremy Green, Ewan McGinety, Nicholas Shaxson, John Christensen, Michal Rozworski, Leigh Phillips, Miriam Brett, Zack Exley, Waleed Shahid, David Adler, Sarah Jaffe, Hilary Wainwright, Will Stronge, Cat Hobbes, Ronan Burtenshaw, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Laura Pidcock, Richard Burgeon, Jon Trickett, and Dan Carden — all of whom have offered me help and advice, or influenced my thinking.


pages: 725 words: 221,514

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, colonial rule, commoditize, corporate governance, David Graeber, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, double entry bookkeeping, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, informal economy, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, oil shock, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit motive, reserve currency, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, sexual politics, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor, zero-sum game

© 2011 David Graeber First Melville House Printing: May 2011 Melville House Publishing 145 Plymouth Street Brooklyn, New York 11201 mhpbooks.com The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Graeber, David. Debt : the first 5,000 years / David Graeber. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. eISBN: 978-1-61219-098-3 1. Debt–History. 2. Money–History. 3. Financial crises–History. I. Title. HG3701.G73 2010 332–dc22 2010044508 v3.1 CONTENTS Cover Title Page Copyright 1 On The Experience of Moral Confusion 2 The Myth of Barter 3 Primordial Debts 4 Cruelty and Redemption 5 A Brief Treatise on the Moral Grounds of Economic Relations 6 Games with Sex and Death 7 Honor and Degradation, or, On the Foundations of Contemporary Civilization 8 Credit Versus Bullion, And the Cycles of History 9 The Axial Age (800 BC-600 AD) 10 The Middle Ages (600 AD-1450 AD) 11 Age of the Great Capitalist Empires (1450–1971) 12 (1971-The Beginning of Something Yet to Be Determined) Notes Bibliography Chapter One ON THE EXPERIENCE OF MORAL CONFUSION debt • noun 1 a sum of money owed. 2 the state of owing money. 3 a feeling of gratitude for a favour or service.


pages: 669 words: 210,153

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, post-work, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

You need to be clear with yourself about what you are afraid of, why you are afraid, and whether you care enough to dance with that fear because it will never go away.” Just Kids by Patti Smith: “This is the single best audiobook ever recorded by Patti Smith. It is not going to change the way you do business, but it might change the way you live. It’s about love and loss and art.” Debt by David Graeber: “I recommend it in audio because David is sometimes repetitive and a little elliptical but in audio it’s all okay because you can just listen to it again.” TIM: “Which of these, going from Zig to Pema and onward down to debt with David, which of these do you think I should start with, or which one would you suggest I start with?” SETH: “For me, if you are feeling stuck, it’s all about The War of Art and The Art of Possibility.

Harris), Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Little Drummer’s Girl; The Russia House; The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (John le Carré), The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis), The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande), all of Lee Child’s books Godin, Seth: Makers; Little Brother (Cory Doctorow), Understanding Comics (Scott McCloud), Snow Crash; The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson), Dune (Frank Herbert), Pattern Recognition (William Gibson) AUDIOBOOKS: The Recorded Works (Pema Chödrön), Debt (David Graeber), Just Kids (Patti Smith), The Art of Possibility (Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander), Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale (Zig Ziglar), The War of Art (Steven Pressfield) Goldberg, Evan: Love You Forever (Robert Munsch), Watchmen; V for Vendetta (Alan Moore), Preacher (Garth Ennis), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) Goodman, Marc: One Police Plaza (William Caunitz), The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss), The Singularity Is Near (Ray Kurzweil), Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Nick Bostrom) Hamilton, Laird: The Bible, Natural Born Heroes (Christopher McDougall), Lord of the Rings (J.R.R.


pages: 339 words: 94,769

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI by John Brockman

AI winter, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, David Graeber, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, finite state, friendly AI, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Laplace demon, Loebner Prize, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, Picturephone, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telemarketer, telerobotics, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, zero-sum game

The love of money as a possession—as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life—will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease. Sadly, Keynes’s predictions did not come true. Although productivity did indeed increase, the system—possibly inherent in a market economy—did not result in humans working much shorter hours. Rather, what happened is what the anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber describes as the growth of “bullshit jobs.”* While jobs that produce essentials like food, shelter, and goods have been largely automated away, we have seen an enormous expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration (as opposed to actual teaching, research, and the practice of medicine), “human resources,” and public relations, not to mention new industries like financial services and telemarketing and ancillary industries in the so-called gig economy that serve those who are too busy doing all that additional work.


pages: 375 words: 88,306

The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan

additive manufacturing, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, distributed ledger, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, job-hopping, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, megacity, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, peer-to-peer rental, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ross Ulbricht, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Zipcar

In “Stone Age Economics,” Marshall Sahlins provides an interesting and insightful description of economic exchange as a cultural phenomenon, characterizing different forms of economic exchange during the Stone Age, and making the somewhat counterintuitive claim that these were the original affluent societies. Although some of his claims have been disputed by subsequent research, that claim itself is less important and interesting than the descriptions of models of exchange. Readers interested in a deeper history of exchange (and money) should also read David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (Brooklyn: Melville House, 2011). 9. I discuss a small fraction of the history of trust in economic exchange in greater detail in chapter 6. 10. I focus on the United States because, to my knowledge, its historical economic data on employment is most extensive. In Stanley Lebergott, Manpower in Economic Growth (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), see his table A-4. I exclude nonpaid family workers, incorporated zero-employee businesses, and domestic workers from the charts.


pages: 537 words: 99,778

Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement by Amy Lang, Daniel Lang/levitsky

activist lawyer, Bay Area Rapid Transit, bonus culture, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, different worldview, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Kibera, late capitalism, mass incarceration, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Port of Oakland, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, the medium is the message, too big to fail, trade liberalization, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor

Nobody went to Zuccotti Park, or their local affiliate park, because of a shrewd political calculation. Occupy Wall Street wasn’t the best tactic available to reach a political goal. The Occupy movement succeeded because several thousand people decided, for their own personal emotional reasons, that they really wanted to be one of those guys. I’m not alone in this analysis. Two fairly important thinkers, anthropologist David Graeber and author Daniel Quinn, came to this conclusion independently and wrote about it online. Occupy Wall Street wasn’t a political formation, it was an affiliation narrative, a metastory that structured the world so that people who associated themselves with it – identified with its protagonists, to be literary about things – were part of a great and just collective, with noble aims and brave methods.


pages: 379 words: 99,340

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium by Martin Gurri

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Ayatollah Khomeini, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, business cycle, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, dark matter, David Graeber, death of newspapers, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, job-hopping, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, Port of Oakland, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, too big to fail, traveling salesman, University of East Anglia, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, young professional

” [62] Naama Cohen-Friedman, “Social Activists: The Revolution Is Here,” Ynetnews.com, July 30, 2011, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4102107,00.html. [63] Fromer, “Generation Aleph.” [64] Herb Keinon, “Trajtenberg Oversees First Meeting of ‘Rothschild Team,’” Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2011, http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Trajtenberg-oversees-first-meeting-of-Rothschild-Team. [65] Image by Rafimich,Wikipedia Commons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daphne_Leef_ %D7%93%D7%A4%D7%A0%D7%99_%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%A3.jpg. [66] David Graeber, “Occupy Wall Street’s Anarchist Roots,” Al Jazeera in English, November 30, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/2011112872835904508.html; Nathan Schneider, “Thank You, Anarchists,” The Nation, December 19, 2011, http://www.thenation.com/article/165240/ thank-you-anarchists# ; “Translating Anarchy: Interview with Mark Bray, OWS Organizer and Author of the New Book Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street,” OccupyWallStreet, September 12, 2013, http://occupywallst.org/article/translating-anarchy-occupy-wall-street/


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

See Quentin Hardy and Vindu Goel, “Drones Beaming Web Access Art in the Stars for Facebook,” New York Times, March 26, 2015, http://nyti.ms/1GpPOXh. 52.  See http://chatroulette.com/ if you must. 53.  I particularly like the premise considered in Charles Stross's novel Rule 34 (New York: Ace Books, 2011), that “the singularity” is born from the accumulation of global e-mail spam becoming sentient. 54.  See Cory Doctorow's novelization of gold farmers’ plight and struggle in For the Win (New York: Tor, 2010). 55.  David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years (New York: Melville Publishing, 2011) revived popular interest in debt as primary in the social ontology of money. See also Marcel Mauss's The Gift (originally published in 1925), which remains a reference for the anthropology of finance, Marcel Mauss and E. E. Evans-Pritchard. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (New York: Norton, 1967). 56. 

In describing the stress and precariousness of work in Amazon fulfillment centers it may be that less human labor is more humane, but as Amazon (and really all the major Cloud platforms) absorbs, centralizes, and consolidates production labor into tighter strata of proprietary commerce-logistics algorithms, the future of work is made that much more uncertain, and along with it, the real economic power of their workers to also be their customer-Users. 20.  For example, Ian Berry, “Monsanto to Buy Planting Technology Company,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304707604577422162132896528. 21.  Sleep Dealer, directed by Alex Rivera (Vaya Entertainment, 2008). 22.  From a private Facebook post by Christopher Head. 23.  For example, on the North American Free Trade Agreement, David Graeber writes: “Hardly surprising: if it were not possible to effectively imprison the majority of people in the world in impoverished enclaves, there would be no incentive for Nike or The Gap to move production there to begin with. Given a free movement of people, the whole neoliberal project would collapse. This is another thing to bear in mind when people talk about the decline of ‘sovereignty’ in the contemporary world: the main achievement of the nation-state in the last century has been the establishment of a uniform grid of heavily policed barriers across the world.


pages: 363 words: 107,817

Modernising Money: Why Our Monetary System Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed by Andrew Jackson (economist), Ben Dyson (economist)

bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, land reform, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies

As a result, even after the 2007-2008 financial crisis, Nobel Prize1 winning economists have been known to make statements such as “I’m all for including the banking sector in stories where it’s relevant; but why is it so crucial to a story about debt and leverage?” (Krugman, 2012). The historical reality The problem with the idea that money emerged ‘spontaneously’ from barter is that, in the words of anthropologist David Graeber, “there’s no evidence that it ever happened, and an enormous amount of evidence suggesting that it did not”. (2011, p. 29)2 As Graeber explains, the historical and anthropological evidence indicates that before the existence of money people did not engage in barter trades with each other. Rather, goods were freely given with the caveat that the person receiving them would have to return the favour at some point.


pages: 518 words: 107,836

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy) by Benjamin Peters

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technoutopianism, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine

For more on the historical designator new media, see Benjamin Peters, “And Lead Us Not into Thinking the New Is New: A Bibliographic Case for New Media History,” New Media and Society 11 (1–2) (2009): 13–30. 25. Aleksandr Ya. Khinchin, “Teoria prosteishego potoka” (Mathematical Methods of the Theory of Mass Service; more literally, Simple Stream Theory), Trudy Matematicheskogo Instituta Steklov. 49 (1955): 3–122. 26. János Kornai, The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); David Graeber, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years (New York: Melville House, 2011), 94. 27. The field of institutional economics offers pragmatic approaches to observed irrationalities in individual and group actions. A few standard references in the literature include Thorsten Veblen’s heterodox position in “Why Is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 12 (1898): 373–393; Thomas C.


pages: 387 words: 112,868

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper

4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, buy and hold, capital controls, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, life extension, litecoin, lone genius, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, QR code, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Startup school, stealth mode startup, the payments system, transaction costs, tulip mania, WikiLeaks

Wences began by purchasing a growing stockpile of Bitcoins from Mt. Gox in early 2012 and joined in the conversation on the forums and chat channels. When he wasn’t playing with Bitcoin, he devoured several books on the history of money, most significantly Debt: The First 5,000 Years, a cult favorite in the Occupy Wall Street movement and in certain transgressive corners of Wall Street. The book, by anthropologist David Graeber, argued that historians and economists have wrongly assumed that money grew out of barter. In fact, Graeber argued, and Wences came to believe, barter was never common and money was actually an evolution of credit—a way of tracking what people owed to each other. People used to just keep a mental tally of what they owed each other, but money provided a way to expand the system more broadly among people who didn’t know each other.


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

Capitalists can be taught that interest, but whether they will condescend to learn the lesson is up to them.31 Power, after all, is the ability to refuse to learn.32 As we have seen in the current crisis, such ability may require no more than being big enough for one’s demise to be a threat to the community at large. Coming to the end of my comment, I would also like to put in a word for not entirely abandoning concepts like socialism or even communism.33 As to the latter, David Graeber in his book on the anthropology of debt (Debt: The First 5,000 Years) has succinctly pointed out the generically communist foundations of economic life, even in advanced capitalism. Concerning socialism, to me the concept is indispensable for connoting the counterpart of – posses sive-consumerist – individualism, reminding us against the grain of today’s ‘cult of the individual’ that, once again citing Marx, man is the only animal that can individualize only in a society.34 What other concept is there in any case for the more communal, more other-regarding and more collectively responsible way of life that we today seem to need more urgently than ever, a life with much less licence to externalize the costs of private pleasure-seeking to the rest of the world?


pages: 573 words: 115,489

Prosperity Without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow by Tim Jackson

"Robert Solow", bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, bonus culture, Boris Johnson, business cycle, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Graeber, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, financial deregulation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hans Rosling, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, peak oil, peer-to-peer lending, Philip Mirowski, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, secular stagnation, short selling, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, universal basic income, Works Progress Administration, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

By 2015, the sovereign debt of Greece stood at almost 200 per cent of GDP.11 The labyrinth of debt12 None of this entirely explains the crisis. Debt is not always unsavoury. There is clearly some logic to the claim that the rich economies in particular are (even now) living in a ‘debt-fuelled’ consumerism and we’ll explore that logic later in this book (Chapter 6). But debt is a social institution with a very long pedigree, as anthropologist David Graeber demonstrates unequivocally in Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. Debt provided the most primitive means of exchange. Money itself evolved from debt-based exchange.13 Lending and borrowing money is certainly an intrinsic feature of the modern economy. A properly functioning financial system plays a vital role in ‘smoothing’ both our income and our spending patterns over time. We save for retirement, for instance, on the understanding that our earnings potential is higher through our middle years than it will be towards the end.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

To the ears of many a financier, at this early stage “money” had not been born yet, only accounting. That kind of money can be called “past-oriented money.” The accounting, past-oriented, concept of money is concrete, which makes it cognitively natural. It is easier to think about a concrete number of sheep than about something abstract like statistics predicting the prospects of bundled derivatives.* *Anthropologist David Graeber, in his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Chelsea House, 2010), proposes that debt is as old as civilization. However, simple debts are still representations of past events, rather than anticipations of future growth in value; the latter is what we call “finance.” Modern future-oriented concepts of money only make sense in a universe that is pregnant with possibility. In the ancient world, when money and numbers were born as one, no one seems to have expected the world to embark on a project of inexorable improvement.


pages: 492 words: 118,882

The Blockchain Alternative: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Theory by Kariappa Bheemaiah

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, balance sheet recession, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business cycle, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, cellular automata, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, constrained optimization, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, deskilling, Diane Coyle, discrete time, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, inventory management, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nikolai Kondratiev, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, precariat, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, QR code, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Real Time Gross Settlement, rent control, rent-seeking, Satoshi Nakamoto, Satyajit Das, savings glut, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, supply-chain management, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Great Moderation, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Washington Consensus

Although it would be impossible to thank them all, I would like to thank the most influential authors to whom I owe a great intellectual debt. These include Lord Adair Turner, W. Brain Arthur, Doyne Farmer, Andreas Antonopoulos, Satyajit Das, Joyce Appleby, Yanis Varoufakis, Patrick O’Sullivan, Nigel Allington, Mark Esposito, Sitabhra Sinha, Thomas Sowell, Niall Ferguson, Andy Stern, Alan Kirman, Neel Kashkari, Danny Dorling, David Graeber, Amir Sufi, Atif Mian, Vitalik Buterin, Andy Haldane, Gillian Tett, Martin Sandbu, Robert Reich, Kenneth Rogoff, Paul Beaudry, Michael Kumhof, Diane Coyle, Ben Dyson, Dirk Helbing, Guy Michaels, David Autor, Richard Gendal Brown, Tim Swanson, David Andolfatto, Paul Pfleiderer, Zoltan Pozsar, Frank Levy, Richard Murnane, César Hidalgo, and Robin Hanson, among others. An equal measure of thanks also needs to be given to all the academics and researchers whom I had the chance to meet via the Institute of New Economic Thinking.


pages: 504 words: 126,835

The Innovation Illusion: How So Little Is Created by So Many Working So Hard by Fredrik Erixon, Bjorn Weigel

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, American ideology, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, BRICs, Burning Man, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, fear of failure, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, index fund, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Martin Wolf, mass affluent, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pensions crisis, Peter Thiel, Potemkin village, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technological singularity, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, University of East Anglia, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

Much of the recent literature on corporate governance, business development, and strategy that we have read has felt like a copy of the original thought derived from the works of Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, Henry Minzberg, Philip Kotler, and Igor Ansoff. There are several thinkers today that can be put in the same category. If you get bored by all those who just repeat the conventional wisdom about the economy and how it evolves, pick any work from these economic thinkers and you will immediately be reinvigorated: David Autor, Tyler Cowen, Deirdre McCloskey, Malcolm Gladwell, David Graeber, Deepak Lal, Joel Mokyr, Matt Ridley, Richard Sennett, Robert Solow, Lawrence Summers, Peter Thiel, and Martin Wolf. Their works have contributed to our thinking for this book. Likewise, there are many successful investors and entrepreneurs whose thinking about innovation and business creation have inspired us. Innovation happens through entrepreneurship and it is impossible to grasp innovation without understanding the business motivations behind it.


pages: 578 words: 131,346

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Airbnb, Anton Chekhov, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Broken windows theory, call centre, David Graeber, Donald Trump, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Hans Rosling, invention of writing, invisible hand, knowledge economy, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, placebo effect, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, universal basic income, World Values Survey

., pp. 90–93. 37Quoted in Lizzie Wade, ‘Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital’, Science (21 June 2018). 38Quoted in Richard Lee, ‘What Hunters Do for a Living, or, How to Make Out on Scarce Resources’, Man the Hunter (Chicago, 1968), p. 33. 39James C. Scott, Against the Grain, pp. 66–7. 40Turchin, Ultrasociety, pp. 174–5. 41Scott, Against the Grain, pp. 27–9. 42For an extensive historical overview, see David Graeber, Debt. The First 5,000 Years (London, 2011). 43Scott, Against the Grain, pp. 139–49. 44Ibid., p. 162. 45Owen Lattimore, ‘The Frontier in History’, in Studies in Frontier History: Collected Papers, 1928–1958 (London, 1962), pp. 469–91. 46Quoted in Bruce E. Johansen, Forgotten Founders (Ipswich, 1982), Chapter 5. 47James W. Loeven, Lies My Teacher Told Me. Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2005), pp. 101–2. 48Quoted in Junger, Tribe, pp. 10–11. 49Ibid., pp. 14–15. 50Iconic in this genre is Edward Gibbon’s book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776).


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

Airbnb, Akira Okazaki, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, British Empire, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Costa Concordia, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental economics, Ferguson, Missouri, fundamental attribution error, Georg Cantor, George Akerlof, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Hans Rosling, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, immigration reform, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Harrison: Longitude, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, lake wobegon effect, land reform, liberation theology, lone genius, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, North Sea oil, Occupy movement, open economy, out of africa, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pax Mongolica, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Philip Mirowski, pink-collar, plutocrats, Plutocrats, positional goods, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, refrigerator car, rent control, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, spinning jenny, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, the rule of 72, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, union organizing, very high income, wage slave, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yogi Berra

Each of the hundred-odd quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary illustrating the noun and the verb date from after 1541, but during the sixteenth century most of the commercial uses of the word show hostility toward it. An act of 34–35 Henry VIII (that is, 1542) noted that “sundry persons consume the substance obtained by credit of other men.” Shame on them (the scolding has lasted down to populist assaults on credit, such as the anthropologist David Graeber’s book in 2011, and the Syriza Party in Greece in 2015). But by 1691 Locke is using neutral, businesslike language: credit is merely “the expectation of money within some limited time.” Roger Holmes has pointed me to Felicity Heal and Clive Holmes, The Gentry in England and Wales, 1500–1700 (1994).12 He well summarizes their evidence: They point to the change in funerary monuments (“marmorialized gentlemen”) from those of the sixteenth to those of the later seventeenth century.

(One can reflect that cheating can characterize nontrading life with people, too, even if wholly “integrative”—family life and tribal life, for example, of which the Hebrew Bible also gives many nasty examples—but the subject here is indignation about the trading life.) The prophet Amos (fl. 750 BCE), for example: Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, . . . skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales.13 So always. The anticapitalist anarchistic anthropologist David Graeber, an Occupy maven, spends 534 pages in Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011) grumbling that “arguments about who really owes what to whom have played a central role in shaping our basic vocabulary of right and wrong.”14 His sole intellectual tool is Amos-like indignation against sellers and bosses and owners and creditors. He does not notice that the poor buyers and employees and renters and debtors also gain from such transactions, which after all are undertaken by mutual consent.


pages: 503 words: 131,064

Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together by Bruce Schneier

airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, commoditize, corporate governance, crack epidemic, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, desegregation, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Hofstadter, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, hydraulic fracturing, impulse control, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, iterative process, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Julian Assange, longitudinal study, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, patent troll, phenotype, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, security theater, shareholder value, slashdot, statistical model, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, traffic fines, transaction costs, ultimatum game, UNCLOS, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y2K, zero-sum game

Wilson (1975), Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Harvard University Press. Edward O. Wilson (1978), On Human Nature, Harvard University Press. genetic science is flawed Anne Innis Dagg (2004), “Love of Shopping” Is Not a Gene: Problems with Darwinian Psychology, Black Rose Books. Douglass North Douglass C. North (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance, Cambridge University Press, 54. no money would David Graeber (2011), Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Melville House. Terrence Deacon Terrence W. Deacon (1997), The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Human Brain, W.W. Norton & Co., 384–401. far more philandering Simon C. Griffith, Ian P. Owens, and Katherine A. Thuman (2002), “Extra Pair Paternity in Birds: A Review of Interspecific Variation and Adaptive Function,” Molecular Ecology, 11:2195–212.


pages: 447 words: 141,811

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Atahualpa, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, David Graeber, Edmond Halley, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, glass ceiling, global village, greed is good, income per capita, invention of gunpowder, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, out of africa, personalized medicine, Ponzi scheme, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, urban planning, zero-sum game

.: Harvard University Press, 1995). 113–2.9.131–3. 10 The Scent of Money 1 Francisco López de Gómara, Historia de la Conquista de Mexico, vol. 1, ed. D. Joaquin Ramirez Cabanes (Mexico City: Editorial Pedro Robredo, 1943), 106. 2 Andrew M. Watson, ‘Back to Gold – and Silver’, Economic History Review 20:1 (1967), 11–12; Jasim Alubudi, Repertorio Bibliográfico del Islam (Madrid: Vision Libros, 2003), 194. 3 Watson, ‘Back to Gold – and Silver’, 17–18. 4 David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2011). 5 Glyn Davies, A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1994), 15. 6 Szymon Laks, Music of Another World, trans. Chester A. Kisiel (Evanston, Ill.: North-western University Press, 1989), 88–9. The Auschwitz ‘market’ was restricted to certain classes of prisoners and conditions changed dramatically across time. 7 Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008), 4. 8 For information on barley money I have relied on an unpublished PhD thesis: Refael Benvenisti, ‘Economic Institutions of Ancient Assyrian Trade in the Twentieth to Eighteenth Centuries BC’ (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, unpublished PhD thesis, 2011).


pages: 554 words: 158,687

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All by Costas Lapavitsas

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, full employment, global value chain, global village, High speed trading, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market bubble, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, oil shock, open economy, pensions crisis, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Simon Kuznets, special drawing rights, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, union organizing, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Arthur, for whom Hegel-type dialectics entirely replace monetary theory and economics (‘Money and Exchange’, Capital and Class 30:3, 2006); for a telling response see Thomas Sekine, ‘Arthur on Money and Exchange’, Capital and Class 33:3, 2009. 15 Discussion in this section draws heavily on Costas Lapavitsas, Social Foundations of Markets, Money and Credit, London: Routledge, 2003, ch. 3. 16 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, ed. Edwin Cannan E, London: Methuen, 1904, vol. 1, ch. 5. 17 This point is often missed by anthropologists, sociologists and other social scientists who discuss the origin of money and criticize ‘economic theory’ for relating money to direct exchange. Thus, David Graeber makes a typically withering attack on Smith for assuming a ‘primitive’ society and an imaginary state of barter out of which money presumably emerges (Debt: The First 5000 Years, New York: Melville House, 2011, ch. 2). There is, of course, little doubt that Smith’s image of barter among ‘primitives’ is fallacious and a product of its time. However, engaging in the abstraction of barter, even if crudely, is hardly the main problem with Smith’s analysis, particularly as this abstraction allowed him to capture the economic difficulties of direct exchange in exemplary fashion.


pages: 475 words: 149,310

Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

affirmative action, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, David Graeber, Defenestration of Prague, deskilling, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, global village, Howard Rheingold, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, land tenure, late capitalism, liberation theology, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, Paul Samuelson, post-work, private military company, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Richard Stallman, Slavoj Žižek, The Chicago School, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, transaction costs, union organizing, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus

(London: Pluto, 1998), 81-103. 105 The style of Subcomandante Marcos’s writings—at once playful and militant—is the best example of how the Zapatistas make irony into a political strategy. See Subcomandante Marcos, Our Word Is Our Weapon (New York: Seven Stories, 2001). 106 See John Halloway, Change the World Without Taking Power (London: Pluto, 2002). 107 On identity politics, see Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), especially 156-91. 108 On the resurgence of anarchist groups, see David Graeber, “For a New Anarchism,” New Left Review, 2nd ser., no. 13 (January-February 2002): 61-73. 109 Here we should also add the various forms of electronic resistance and hacker movements that strive to make common the enormous resources controlled in electronic networks and thwart the new, sophisticated forms of control that use cybernetic technologies. These movements too are based in a desire for freedom and a conception of the enormous wealth and the powerful new forms of collaboration and communication that networks make possible.


pages: 1,327 words: 360,897

Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, anti-globalists, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Graeber, different worldview, do-ocracy, feminist movement, garden city movement, hive mind, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, liberation theology, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Naomi Klein, open borders, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, the market place, union organizing, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

., Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: The Radical Thought of Elisée Reclus (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004) 61 Clark, ‘Municipal Dreams: A Social Ecological Critique of Bookchin’s Politics’, Social Ecology after Bookchin, ed. Andrew Light (New York: Guilford Press, 1998) 62 See Clark, ‘Bridging the Unbridgeable Chasm: On Bookchin’s Critique of the Anarchist Tradition’, forthcoming in Perspectives on Anarchist Theory 63 See David Graeber, ‘The New Anarchists’, New Left Review, 13 (January-February, 2002). See also his Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004) 64 See Benjamin Franks, Rebel Alliances: The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms (Edinburgh: AK Press, 2006); Zerzan, Running on Emptiness, op. cit., p. 162 65 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans.

It’s also very clear that those in power in this country like it that way. Here’s a book that shows us why. It demonstrates not only that another world is possible, but that it already exists, has existed, and shows an endless potential to burst through the artificial walls and divisions that currently imprison us. An exquisite contribution to the literature of human freedom, and coming not a moment too soon.” —DAVID GRAEBER, author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology and Direct Action: An Ethnography Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us of the idea that “my country is the world.”


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

As we grew richer, he argued, we would work less and spend more time doing more self-fulfilling things. Yet most people find fulfillment and meaning in their work, whereas time-use studies show that the unskilled, who have seen their prospects in the labor market deteriorate, spend much of their time in front of the television, despite many studies showing that there is a negative correlation between television consumption and individual well-being.35 Contrary to the anthropologist David Graeber’s witty essay on “bullshit jobs,” in which he claims that most people spend their working lives doing work they perceive to be meaningless, large-scale survey evidence shows the exact opposite.36 And a wide range of studies across many countries and periods of time has consistently shown that people who work are happier than those who do not.37 As Ian Goldin puts it, “Individuals gain not only income, but meaning, status, skills, networks and friendships through work.


Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics by Robert Skidelsky

anti-globalists, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, constrained optimization, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, law of one price, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, market clearing, market friction, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, value at risk, Washington Consensus, yield curve, zero-sum game

C r e di tor s a n d De btor s There has always been a tension between the convenience of having a fixed, unchangeable yardstick of value and the desire of creditors and debtors to have a money which suits their own interests. This is the 27 H i s t ory of E c onom ic T houg h t class-struggle theory of money. In the industrial age, the conflict between capitalists and workers overlapped the older conflict between creditors and debtors without ever replacing it. To historical sociologists like David Graeber, much of the history of the world can be interpreted in terms of the struggle between creditors and debtors. Whatever the loan or wage contract says, there is always a risk in an uncertain world that promises will be devalued or revalued; hence the intensity of the conflict to control the value of the promises.10 The state has only a limited incentive to guarantee the value of money. The reason is that it can always produce the money necessary to defray its expenses, either by debasing the coinage when money is metal or by printing more of it when it is paper.


Termites of the State: Why Complexity Leads to Inequality by Vito Tanzi

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Andrew Keen, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, clean water, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, experimental economics, financial repression, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, means of production, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, urban planning, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

It is not surprising that the aforementioned developments have inevitably led to pressures from some quarters to create more and better rules and to monitor more closely the behavior of individuals and enterprises. They have also created more demands for enterprises to provide essential information to the government and to the citizens on the products and the services that they sell. These requirements inevitably lead the enterprises and some individuals to object that they are being overregulated, and that these demands are unreasonable and costly. However, as the anthropologist David Graeber put it in a recent book, perhaps with some exaggeration, public and private bureaucracies have become largely indistinguishable, and it is an illusion to believe that the rules that are created apply, or apply equally, to everyone (see Graeber, 2015). The rules often end up benefiting some (often those with more money) over others. The degree to which the governments should apply regulations, and whether they can do it in an efficient, objective, and equitable way, has become a progressively more contentious issue in the modern world.


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Veblen good, Wave and Pay, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Debt is a two-sided relationship, and as we shall see, there is an intriguing bifurcation within the contemporary literature, between European (largely Franco-German) scholars, who tend to view all money as a token of debt (derived from one’s debts to society), and Anglo-American scholars, who regard all money as a form of credit, i.e., an obligation from society to the individual. So if money is a form of debt—a claim upon society, perhaps—to whom and by whom is this debt payable? Is debt-free money, and even a debt-free monetary system, a worthwhile goal or simply a theoretical error? DEBT’S UNTOLD STORY In his magisterial history of the subject, Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011), David Graeber begins by positing a fundamental distinction between old-style credit and interest-bearing credit. Debt is a fundamental feature of all human relations; it is foundational to most of the obligations that social life ordinarily involves. This is old-style credit: in English, for example, “thank you” derives from a phrasal verb meaning “I will remember what you did for me.” The key question for understanding the relationship between debt and money is how such moral obligations turned into interest-bearing debts.


pages: 772 words: 203,182

What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . And What Other Countries Got Right by George R. Tyler

8-hour work day, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Black Swan, blood diamonds, blue-collar work, Bolshevik threat, bonus culture, British Empire, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, lake wobegon effect, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, pirate software, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

CHAPTER 12 1 Louis Uchitelle, “Fed Fears Wage Spiral That Is Little in Evidence,” New York Times, Aug. 1, 2008. 2 David Frum, “The Vanishing Republican Voters,” New York Times, Aug. 5, 2008. 3 Larry M. Bartels, Unequal Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 296–97. 4 See Timothy H. Parsons, The Rule of Empires, 36. 5 Peter G. Peterson, “The Morning After.” 6 George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty (1981; out of print), and David Graeber, Debt (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2011), 377–78. 7 Albert Hunt, “Reagan Offers Lesson for Obama on Tax,” Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 10, 2011. 8 Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang, “Tax Policy Feeds Gap Between Rich, Poor,” Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2011. 9 Bruce Bartlett, “The Fiscal Legacy of George W. Bush,” Economix, New York Times, June 12, 2012. 10 Thomas L. Hungerford, “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945,” Congressional Research Service, Washington, Sept. 14, 2012, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/news/business/0915taxesandeconomy.pdf. 11 James B.


pages: 684 words: 212,486

Hunger: The Oldest Problem by Martin Caparros

Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, carbon footprint, commoditize, David Graeber, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, income inequality, index fund, invention of agriculture, Jeff Bezos, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, Slavoj Žižek, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the market place, Tobin tax, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%

Then, when everything explodes, they can send them a bag of grain. Then there are the worst-case scenarios: that they will organize and rebel. They are, obviously, a bother: Dead weight. (The disposable ones also have their own “soft” version: the millions and millions who do perfectly useless jobs, defined as those jobs whose disappearance would only affect the same structure where that work is carried out. David Graeber, professor at the London School of Economics, says, “It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working.”14 Employees—an infinite number of employees—in all kinds of service companies, employees of state bureaucracies, all kind of managers, lawyers, public relations people, salesmen, receptionists, secretaries, journalists, and so many others of us who are there so that nobody realizes that we don’t have any real place in the chain of production, that if we all occupied a real place we could all work just ten or fifteen hours a day, that we are really as disposable as the peasants in Bihar—except in some countries where things are a little more complicated.