David Graeber

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pages: 284 words: 92,387

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

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Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, 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

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anti-communist, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, David Graeber, declining real wages, full employment, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, late 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

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.


pages: 252 words: 80,636

Bureaucracy by David Graeber

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3D printing, 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, late capitalism, means of production, music of the spheres, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, Parkinson's law, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, price mechanism, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, union organizing, urban planning

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: 357 words: 95,986

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

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, 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, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, 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, post scarcity, 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, 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

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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, 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

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autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, 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, 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 Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, 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, 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 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.


pages: 457 words: 128,838

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

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3D printing, Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, 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 blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, Internet of things, inventory management, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, 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, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, 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.


pages: 357 words: 110,017

Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin

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bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, 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 Rogoff, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Scientific racism, 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.”


pages: 515 words: 132,295

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

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3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, bank run, Basel III, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, 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, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour mobility, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, 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, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, 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

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.


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

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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, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, 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, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, payday loans, 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, 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: 372 words: 107,587

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

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, 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, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, 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, post-oil, 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, working poor

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.


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

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AltaVista, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, 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, Julian Assange, market bubble, market design, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, 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, 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

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, 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, Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, 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, payday loans, 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, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, wages for housework, 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.


pages: 261 words: 86,905

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

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asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, 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, 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, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, 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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Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics by Manuel Arriaga

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banking crisis, business climate, David Graeber, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, 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: 457 words: 126,996

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

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1960s counterculture, 4chan, Amazon Web Services, Bay Area Rapid Transit, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Debian, East Village, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, hive mind, impulse control, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, 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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Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, 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, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, 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, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War

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

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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, 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, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, jitney, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour mobility, 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: 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, 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.


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, 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, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late 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 Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, 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?

More on this below. 11For an elegant ‘microfoundation’ of a theory of capitalism as a social action system see a recent paper by Jens Beckert, on capitalism’s ‘four C’s’: credit, commodity, competition, creativity. 12For proof see my Re-Forming Capitalism, in particular Ch. 17, pp. 230ff. 13Avner Greif, Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006; Avner Greif and David A. Laitin, ‘A Theory of Endogenous Institutional Change’, American Political Science Review, vol. 98, no. 4, 2004, pp. 633–652. 14Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, pp. 873ff. 15David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Brooklyn, New York: Melville House 2011. 16Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 3, London: Penguin 1981 [1894], Chs. 2 and 13. 17For example: ‘We have no intention whatever of maintaining such a foolish and doctrinaire thesis as … that capitalism as an economic system is a creation of the Reformation…,’ in view of ‘the tremendous confusion of interdependent influences between the material basis, the forms of social and political organization, and the ideas current in the time …’ (Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 91).


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

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, 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, 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, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, 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 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, 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: 353 words: 81,436

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

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banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial repression, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, means of production, moral hazard, 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: 725 words: 221,514

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

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Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, colonial rule, corporate governance, David Graeber, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, double entry bookkeeping, financial innovation, 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, payday loans, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit motive, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor

© 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.


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

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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, 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, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, 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, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, 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, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, 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.


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

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Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, 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, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, post scarcity, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, 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

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.


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

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Bay Area Rapid Transit, bonus culture, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Kibera, late capitalism, Naomi Klein, 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: 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)

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bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, 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, 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

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, 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, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, 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: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, 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, 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: 320 words: 86,372

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

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1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, corporate social responsibility, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, The Chicago School, transaction costs, 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: 375 words: 88,306

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

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, distributed ledger, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, job-hopping, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Lyft, megacity, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, 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, 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, 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: 503 words: 131,064

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

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airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, 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, 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

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: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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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, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, 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, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, 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

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: 387 words: 112,868

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

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4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, 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, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, 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: 475 words: 149,310

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

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, conceptual framework, 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, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, late capitalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, 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

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agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Graeber, feminist movement, garden city movement, hive mind, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Naomi Klein, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, 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: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, 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, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, 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, Wave and Pay, 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.