Tagged: David Graeber

Clock strikes ten

The shift from humourless intersectionality to ironic, lifestyle feminism is welcome. Thank you, Ms Dunham.

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In the wake of the Greece debacle (for Mr Tsipras and the demagogue Varoufakis), talk of the final days of capitalism is sure to ensue. It’s worth remembering that the end of capitalism was just around the corner. In 1848. The final crisis of capitalism never quite happened. Hence, in its place there arose the “crisis of crisis theory” (Claus Offe). Anyone recall the “falling rate of profit”?

Capitalism is always innovativing, which Marx recognised. Methods of procuring profit are revolutionised constantly; whatever does not work, is abandoned. What Marx failed to recognise was the role that the state would play in extending the shelf life of capitalism well beyond his worst fears. The state is not merely the “executive committee” of the bourgeoisie in its struggle against the working class; it is also an engine of capitalist expansion. Most importantly, the state makes the ethereal, invisible hand quite visible to investors.

The term “postcapitalism” is a fudge on the fact that it’s still capitalism (or “late capitalism” as per Adorno). Mr Graeber is, at best, a theorist of the “last crisis,” not the “next crisis” and certainly not the “final crisis,” which never arrives anyway. My advice: don’t waste time enrolling in Potlatch Economics 101.

Before they make me run

Mr Piketty is a significant improvement over recent heroes of the bookish left, eclipsing the likes of Negri, Hardt, and Graeber.

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Patrioten gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes: looks like 1990-92 all over again. At that time, the targets were refugees from the Balkans. It was not safe for a “foreigner” to travel in the former DDR lands. Halle and Dresden were dangerous.

The DDR had pockets that were never fully de-Nazified. Traditions of xenophobia and revanchism were nursed over the decades in secret, breaking out into the streets after the Wende. in the early 1990s, Vietnamese and Angola workers were attacked in broad daylight throughout the former East Lander. Buildings housing asylum seekers from the Balkans War were torched. Helmut Kohl pandered to the tiny following of neo-Nazi Parties by blaming foreigners for high levels of unemployment in the post-reunification East.

Pegida is the political inheritor such Rechtsextremismus, which has always played the victim card — “stab in the backism” — to the hilt. It is better financed and more media savvy than its competitors on the right.

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There is no “culture” that is not always already multicultural. The idea that cultures exist in some pristine state, hermetically sealed off from “external influences,” is risible.

Occupy Wall Street redux: politics of the spectacle

21 October 2011

In The Guardian David Graeber has extolled the Occupy movement. However, it is worth noting that public demonstrations still seem to have an effect in nations where civil society is restricted or non-existent (see the “Arab Spring”) and in France (in the form of the general strike), but this political style is pretty much exhausted in the USA, almost to the point of becoming a cliche. The declining significance of street protests is made worse when organizers (if any exist) promise more than they can deliver. Occupy Wall Street… until what happens? The closing of the DJIA? What Graeber purports to be one of the signs of the fall of the American Empire, the tribal drumbeats echoing through the canyons of lower Manhattan, is a spectacle; meanwhile, for criminal banksters and feral traders (like the USB thug Kweku Adoboli) it’s business as usual.

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The anarchist vision apparent in Graeber’s commentary (“This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged”) is no substitute for a real political theory of how the widespread change its author envisions might be actualized. Hardt and Negri suffice for the sound bite imagination of well-meaning demonstrators; the rest of us can still hope for something more profound.