Debt peons, unite! - Page 3

Author David Graeber talks about capitalism, solidarity, and the war on the imagination

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David Graeber: "Some members of the ruling class actually talk to me and even ask for my advice."
PHOTO BY ADAM PEERS

DG: That's one of the most pernicious things about the current debt regime in America. Being young is supposed to be a place where you can let your imagination run free and explore your sense of possibility. That's what college used to be. In a sense, those students who are just out of college, I always call them post-students, they're the kind of people who are activists, the kind of people who are thinking okay I'll start a band, maybe I'll be an artist. That's where everything comes out of in a generation, where everything new and exciting emerges. What could be more stupid than taking all those people and turning them into debt peons? ... I think of it like horror movies — what is it that's so scary about monsters? It's that they turn you into them, right? Vampires, werewolves. But you don't get to be like the really cool super count vampire, you get to be a pathetic minion vampire, where you're in debt for the rest of eternity, as a flunkie. In a way, that's what's scary about debt. It forces you to think like a capitalist, you have to think about money and profit all the time. But it's even worse, because you're a capitalist with no capital. It like totally destroys your ability to think of anything but money, and you don't even have any money.

SFBG: Another thing we're seeing increasingly is austerity measures and public sector spending cuts. What's the root cause of these rollbacks, and what do you see as the most appropriate response from economic justice activists?

DG: I am in the peculiar situation at the moment that some members of the ruling class actually talk to me and even ask for my advice. Which, you know they're in trouble if they're talking to me, right? Part of the reason for that is that these guys are on a completely self-destructive course. I live in the UK most of the time. They're going into a triple debt recession because of these austerity programs. Now what are you going to make of it? It has nothing to do with economics.

SFBG: So why is it happening?

DG: It's moral. It's political, and moral. Neoliberalism is not basically an economic ideology. It's about politics ... Always prioritize the political advantage over the economic advantage. Breaking unions, getting rid of job security, making people work more and more hours — that's not economically efficient ... So what does it do? Well, it's the best thing you could possibly do if you want to depoliticize workers ... The classic justifications for capitalism are harder and harder to maintain. ... So what excuse do they have left? They can say, well, it's the only thing that's possible. Basically all they can do is hammer away at our imagination. The only alternative is this, or North Korea. And the amazing thing is that the only war they've won, is the war against the imagination.

 

Comments

Interviewee David Graeber says he resides in UK most of the time and that austerity, understood, Neoliberalism, forces “Whitehall” to “prioritize the political advantage.” This, in contrast to the US Congress, which prioritizes the “economic advantage.”

Economics, relational arts and not pure science, are social tools that prescribe methods to achieve orderly investment, productivity, trade, staffing, maintenance and distribution in a complex human systems comprised of a particular political capital. Since globalized neoliberalism falls outside the pale of “a political capital” not only is it not 'an economic ideology” it is an aberration mentored by the late Friedrich Hayak (then called classical liberalism) and Milton Friedman (neoliberalism). The human world should hope that this monster self-destructs soon or becomes able to abort it.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 01, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

Gobbledygook much?

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

while post modernism is a good way to look at the world?

Posted by Matlock on May. 06, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

Wow, did Graeber pay you to make that comment ? He points out how ridiculous the "only alternatives" arguments are, so you offer us neo-liberalism and post modernism as the only alternatives.

Posted by kyoung on May. 07, 2013 @ 10:12 am

@Matlock: I only intend to admonish others of what I believe is the destructive nature of neoliberal capitalism that began as a callous social experiment and venture in the 1980s destroying the lives of many in developing countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Poland etc.) that were types of social democracies. Infiltration, subversion, (I know this word is suspect in our 21st Century, but it is relevant), co-optation, economic shocks, expropriation of land resources via 1) government realignment, 2) privatization and 3) deregulation, to over-simplify, yielded financial bounty to rent-seeking capitalists at the expense of mass devastation to others. A more recent example might be the corn ethanol trade-offs in Guatemala that cause hardship to many who rely on corn as a daily staple as ethanol is grown on valuable land and exported for profits and growth expectations—not development ad infinitum.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Occupy had it's 15 minutes of fame, and then fizzled out as soon as winter arrived.

No stamina, today's revolutionaries.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 6:05 am

troll barrier

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 6:08 am

Really I think most people want to make money, enough to live on, retire and not to worry about being homeless. We have a drive to work, we have a drive to get better not everyone wants to be on welfare, food stamps or live in substandard housing.

We aren't producing jobs that are really honest work, you can't even afford a home in the bay area, starting a business here is a joke. The property taxes won't kill you, it is what you pay for and then pay taxes on the sale price. 1.3 million dollars for a 900 square foot home, the only people that can afford that are the educated class.

I am for national healthcare, for SSI, for food programs, senior programs, for helping people out, job training, taxes breaks to bring work, real WORK. Not what the Repubs are pushing, for open space, clean air and water. The stock market, the smart middle class investors, the working poor to get ahead in life. Rewards for honest work, good citizens, good family units, even if the family unit is a same sex couple with no kids.

Posted by Garrett on May. 07, 2013 @ 11:13 am

because every home for sale gets quickly sold, and each vacant rental gets filled.

What you are really saying is that YOU cannot afford the average Bay Area home and, while that might be true, that is your problem and not ours.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 11:43 am

The problem is systemic and promoted by those who are of a similar mind-set that your comment suggests. Countries are built by those deceived by it and there are many of us who are the "unsung heroes," such as Garrett.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 9:04 am

The simple fact is that lots of people can afford SF homes. If that were not the case, many of them would be vacant and probably no more would be being built. Neither of those are true, ergo, SF homes are affordable. Just not be you.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:06 am

1. "Lots of people can afford SF homes,"
2. Guest can afford an SF home,
3. Guest is "lots of people."

My best attempt at "refutation." I'm not a rhetorician, but this is a syllogism.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

Hardly any, right?

So obviously they are affordable, because people afford them.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

There are many vacancies, but most are not affordable. I think it relevant to note that the stats are provided by the industry and industry speculators, meaning that the industry can manipulate the numbers as they choose.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

It's typically reckoned to be about 1%. Can you show otherwise? Or are you just blowing hot air?

Every home around where i live is clearly occupied. Meaning that lots of people can afford SF, even if you cannot.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

Looking out your window into your upper middle class neighborhood is a ridiculous method for determining vacancies.

Here's an article I found in less than 60 seconds in a web search, which shows that there are an outrageous 30,000 home vacancies in San Francisco; this according to the U.S. Census.

http://blog.sfgate.com/ontheblock/2011/03/30/why-so-many-vacant-homes-in...

It is unacceptable that speculators are holding tens of thousands of units off the market in order to drive up housing prices by artificially limiting supply, and thereby pricing hundreds of thousands of middle and lower class San Franciscans out of an affordable place to live.

It is unacceptable that only 'lots of people' can afford a home in San Francisco. Everyone, should be able to afford their own home.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 6:26 am

responding to it for fear of being discovered.

Many of the homes held vacant in SF are because of rent control. Owners would rather leave a home empty than risk tangling with tenants who may never leave and who may prove impossible to evict.

So it is progressive policies that lead to vacant homes.

There is no evidence that anyone leaves a place vacant for years just to enjoy the price inflation. More likel they just parcel the place up as TIC's and sell them.

Vacancy rate is extremely low in Sf nonetheless. Places like Houston have vacancy rates of 10% to 20%. Not here, not a chance.

Posted by anon on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 7:00 am

troll barrier

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into nonsensical, petty, mean spirited, irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 7:28 am

In a city with at least 300,000 homes, that is about 3% - perfectly acceptable.

Perhaps a more significant figure is the estimated 40,000 illegal units in SF that are used as a home. If all illegal units were demolished and every currently vacant unit was filled, the housing situation would be much worse.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 8:37 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 9:12 am

The census number seems much too high. There are certainly no vacant residential buildings near me (94114) although there are a few commercial units.

Posted by anon on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 9:32 am

which are created under the current schema.

So many professions are based on scamming value from others or the environment; getting away with theft as opposed to actually creating value.

Examples of this are in much of the insurance industry, securities traders, advertising, energy sectors. Most of this "work" represents a net cost to human society and rates below that of telephone psychics in its import.

Humanity needs to figure out how to have a functional planned economy because the current situation has us spiraling down the drain.

The dramatic upsurge in the suicide rate among baby boomers in this country is a testament to how disfunctional our economy is. Even this reported rate is far below the true rate since most cases are not included in the statistics, but it's currently at 3 in 10,000 for boomer men each year and exceeds deaths from car accidents for the population at large for the first time ever.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/health/suicide-rate-rises-sharply-in-u...

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:21 am

Either adopt and accept it, or become doomed to irrelevance.

And luckily for the rest of us, these new jobs pay better.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:04 am

Enjoy your wealth while you can. An unexpected game-changer is forthcoming.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

And if you could foretell the future, you'd be rich, and you're not.

Any savvy market participant can make money out of down markets, so why fear them?

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

Markets are manipulated and insider trading is (intended). One would realize more profit by playing a one-hand game of Blackjack than risking a lifetime of wages in Wall Street's ponzi.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

Evidently you do not, and so deem it a lottery, when in fact it is laregly predictable, but only by a few.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

@Guest: You underestimate the complexity of human contingencies on which that casino, Wall Street operates. I hope your glibness does not cause you ruin.

Posted by Awayneramsey on May. 09, 2013 @ 9:16 am

Seems you merely fear them, because you do not.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 9:53 am

troll barrier

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

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Please substantiate this claim.

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