David Graeber

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Person.png David Graeber   Unwelcome GuestsRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(academic, activist, anarchist, COVID-19/Premature death?)
David Graeber.jpg
BornDavid Rolfe Graeber
Died2 September 2020 (Age 59)
Venice, Italy
Cause of death
"necrotic pancreatitis"
Alma materPhillips Academy, State University of New York at Purchase, University of Chicago
SpouseNika Dubrovsky
Victim ofpremature death
Interests • anthropology
• money
• bureaucracy
• debt
Anarchist anthropologist who played a leading role in the Occupy movement. Died suddenly in 2020.

David Rolfe Graeber was an anarchist anthropologist and activist. He was a prominent academic (whose rehiring Yale turned down in 2007 - defying a petition of almost 5000 signatories). His last employer was Goldsmiths, University of London. He was often credited for coming up with the slogan “We Are the 99 Percent,”[1][2][3][4] but declined to accept full credit.[5]


David Graeber was the son of self-taught working-class intellectuals. He won a Fulbright fellowship and completed a Ph.D. on magic, slavery, and politics in Madagascar.


David Graeber had a long history of activism including a role in protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002, membership in the IWW. He was one of the organizers of the Occupy Wall St. protests.[6]


Graeber died suddenly from necrotic pancreatitis[7], that was initially not judged to be serious, on September 2, 2020, while on vacation with his wife and friends in Venice.[8]

His wife, Dubrovsky (married in 2019), attributed the pancreatitis to COVID-19, saying they both had strange symptoms for months beforehand, and she said there was a connection between COVID-19 and pancreatitis.[9]


He has published various non-fiction books, including a highly impressive theory of money and debt, entitled Debt, The First 5000 Years, which was read on Unwelcome Guests.[10]


A Document by David Graeber

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:The Centre Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’Article13 January 2020"Antisemitism"
Boris Johnson
Jeremy Corbyn
Alastair Campbell
Dominic Cummings
2019 General Election
At the 'Brexit Election' of 2019, the anti-Semitism accusations weakened Labour immensely. But it was the – ultimately successful – campaign by the 'Centrists' to force Jeremy Corbyn to reverse his position on Brexit that really ensured their party’s electoral disaster.


Quotes by David Graeber

Bureaucracy“are not themselves forms of stupidity so much as they are ways of organizing stupidity — of managing relationships that are already characterized by extremely unequal structures of imagination, which exist because of the existence of structural violence. This is why even if a bureaucracy is created for entirely benevolent reasons, it will still produce absurdities.”The Utopia of Rules
Police“If you think about it, this is a really ingenious trick. Because when most of us think about police, we do not think of them as enforcing regulations. We think of them as fighting crime, and when think of “crime,” the kind of crime have in our minds is violent crime. Even though, in fact, what police mostly do is exactly the opposite: they bring the threat of force to bear on situations that would otherwise have nothing to do with it... most violent crime does not end up involving the police... Why are we so confused about what police really do? The obvious reason is that in the popular culture of the last fifty years or so, police have become almost obsessive objects of imaginative identification in popular culture. It has come to the point that it’s not at all unusual for a citizen in a contemporary industrialized democracy to spend several hours a day reading books, watching movies, or viewing TV shows that invite them to look at the world from a police point of view, and to vicariously participate in their exploits. And these imaginary police do, indeed, spend almost all of their time fighting violent crime, or dealing with its consequences.”
Social change“Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom — that the current economic and political system is the only possible one — the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone's blueprint?”