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
UK/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

Bullshit job“One might imagine that leaving millions of well-educated young men and women without any real work responsibilities but with access to the internet — which is, potentially, at least, a repository of almost all human knowledge and cultural achievement — might spark some sort of Renaissance. Nothing remotely along these lines has taken place. Instead, the situation has sparked an efflorescence of social media (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter): basically, of forms of electronic media that lend themselves to being produced and consumed while pretending to do something else. I am convinced this is the primary reason for the rise of social media, especially when one considers it in the light not just of the rise of bullshit jobs but also of the increasing bullshitization of real jobs.”Bullshit Jobs
Bullshit job“No doubt bullshit jobs have long been with us; but recent years have seen an enormous proliferation of such pointless forms of employment, accompanied by an ever-increasing bullshitization of real jobs — and despite a popular misconception that all this is somehow tied to the rise of the service sector, this proliferation appears to have everything to do with the growing importance of finance.”Bullshit Jobs
Bullshit job“From roughly 1945 to 1975, there was what is sometimes referred to as a “Keynesian bargain” between workers, employers, and government — and part of the tacit understanding was that increases in worker productivity would indeed be matched by increases in worker compensation. ...this was exactly what happened. In the 1970s, the two began to part ways, with compensation remaining largely flat, and productivity taking off like a rocket”Bullshit Jobs
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
Division of labour“Over the course of the last several thousand years there have been untold thousands of human groups that might be referred to as “societies,” and the overwhelming majority of them managed to figure out ways to distribute those tasks that needed to be done to keep them alive in the style to which they were accustomed in such a fashion that most everyone had some way to contribute, and no one had to spend the majority of their waking hours performing tasks they would rather not be doing, in the way that people do today.”
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?”
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