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Desc:Debt: The First 5,000 Years is one of the most important books on economics written in a century.
Category:Educational, News & Politics
Tags:economics, Debt, Liberty, David Graeber
Submitted:baleen
Date:05/27/12
Views:1743
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Comment count is 42
THA SUGAH RAIN
Barf. Seriously sad that people blindly buy into this dribble.
baleen
You've never said anything intelligent on this website, you understand that, right? You don't actually know things. You're kind of the dribble of poetv.com. Cum dribble, rather.

hughmanatee
Stars for the clever cover design. Very much looking forward to the sequel.

jangbones
"drivel", not "dribble"

I just wanted you to know that baleen was mocking you on two levels, not just one, because I know you aren't bright enough to pick up on that without assistance from your intellectual superiors

baleen
5 stars to offset the tard who seems to know more than one of the most respected anthropologists in the world.
the_slurb
sorry to do this to you

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2010/11/hold_the_science_says_ant hropo.html

baleen
Do what exactly, force me to delete a few characters to make an irrelevant blog post load in Chrome?

memedumpster
I think anthropology has collected enough data to be a statistical science, and that it says a LOT about our own culture that anthropologists have lost their self-esteem in the face of social pressures to be unscientific. I recently read that they found a flute from 40,000 years ago, pushing back the date of our creativity. Surely that's interesting to some real science somewhere.

Oh yeah, seems like a neat book, I like this kind of history.

baleen
It's an amazing book that challenges fundamental notions of markets. People that think Adam Smith is an inviolable God are peeing themselves.

paranex
Six stars for David Graeber, -1 because this video is tl; dw.

The thing that's interesting about the book is that Graeber basically surveys tons and tons of different economies that economic theorists have mostly ignored; the conclusion being that economists' assumptions about economic behavior are intrinsically flawed. Here's a pretty good article he wrote that gets more in depth than this video:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/david-graeber-on-the-in vention-of-money-%E2%80%93-notes-on-sex-adventure-monomaniacal-soc iopathy-and-the-true-function-of-economics.html

baleen
Most people probably won't read the book, but they can always spend an hour with a kind of aspie guy and learn some new things about the history of money.

Naked Capitalism is a good econ blog. I sometimes wish I had the time to sit around reading this stuff all day.

the_slurb
Well I frankly don't have confidence in the statistics. It involves making large assumptions about incredibly complicated problems. It feels a little too much like coming up with a conclusion, then supporting it by subjectively focusing and ignoring facts.

color me unsurprised when someone with anarchist leanings comes up with a history about the perils of money.

give a neocon the same sets of facts, and they will give you the exact opposite answer.

not saying I agree or disagree. i just don't find it convincing.

memedumpster
There ARE perils to money, it wouldn't matter if Dick Cheney said it if it's the truth.

the_slurb
Well, this is where we disagree.

There is the truth that you and I believe in, then there is the Truth that doesn't care what we believe in. Sometimes those things are in line, sometimes they aren't.

All I am trying to say is that I don't find this type of reasoning a convincing objective method of aligning the two.

I don't care who is doing the talking, its too damn easy to twist the facts to suit your beliefs.

baleen
I certainly look forward to an Austrian or "neocon" rebuttal of the book... so far I have been unimpressed. Over at the Mises Institute the rebuttal was followed with an apology by the writer for not understanding what he was talking about. As Graeber says in the above link, it doesn't matter what the facts are, something had been written which "disproves everything he wrote in the book," written by a guy who hadn't even read the book, and that's all the Austrian turnkey economists and their fans really need in order to continue living in a fantasy world.

Maybe somebody will come along with a better rebuttal than Professor Murphy in the Naked Capitalism link above. You can remain unconvinced, but every once and a while a Black Swan of a book comes around (no pun intended) that blows shit up and becomes a classic.

baleen
Then again slurb, really what your saying is, "Well, that's just your OPINION, man!" So, dunno. Write something critical or find someone who has in your place.

the_slurb
Well you've got me. I'm trying my best to emulate the Dude.

But at the end of the day, I just don't find this convincing. Again, I don't want to be mistaken as a free-market conservative nut job. Im not. In fact I tend to want to agree, so we aren't arguing over whats being said.

I just know that my desire to agree results from my biased personal experience.

Its a nice story, but at the end of the day thats all i think it is.

kinda a nihilistic perspective, i know, but it helps me not get all worked up about these things

Architeuthis Tux
I haven't read the book yet -- no time for recreational reading at the moment -- but I am so far seeing no arguments against it which rise above the level of tautology. Most fall into the category of 'big book make doubts in head! Scared now! Where's my blanket? BLANKET! CRY!'

Don't worry Slurb. I know the kids at school say that anarchists have pointy horns and molotovs, that they break cars and buildings and ruin everything, but it's not true. They won't get you. Hush now. It's okay.

Modern Angel
Oh look, it's someone being postmodern and dumb. You're right dude. Both sides just do wacky things with facts! Nobody can actually say!

This dumb country and your shitty face deserve everything they get.

the_slurb
all im trying to say is the word of 'the most respected anthropologists' is not gospel.

but perhaps i need to buy this big ol' book, full of big ol' words, to put on my big ol' bookshelf so i can hang out in cafes and lament about how only I understand the world

baleen
Or maybe you could just buy a book to read because you're filled with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a love of history? Is that weird or something?

the_slurb
because not all paths lead to knowledge.

memedumpster
You can either...

A.) Read the book knowing that you have an understanding of rational thinking and can discern truth from falsehood through deductive and inductive reasoning.

B.) Condemn it for its source because a logical fallacy is easier than logical consistency.

You don't gain knowledge by running from it.

the_slurb
reason is only as strong as its basic assumptions.

i by no means run from it, i just demand more rigor.

and when i don't have it I don't call you a 'tard' for disagreeing with me

Modern Angel
No, I call you a tard because you're a fucking tard. This Philosophy 101 postmodernism shit has CRIPPLED the fucking political discourse in this country. It's fucking lazy. You are fucking lazy. It has nothing to do with the merits of the book and everything to do with your arguments about the merits of the book. A book, note, you haven't bothered to read. So shut the fuck up.

the_slurb
oh my apologies, I hadn't realized we had gotten it figured it all out

wishing something to be true doesnt make it true. no matter how badly you want it

anyone who gets too worked up about politics is a douche

THA SUGAH RAIN
Keep chasing that rainbow, baleen. I'm sure that socialist revolution is just around the bend! Blowhards have been predicting it for generations and now we even have sit-ins where people fight the establishment by blogging from parks.
Modern Angel
Shut the fuck up

baleen
The only blowhard around here is you, as your statements are biased, unsubstantiated by understanding, and you blow (my dick) hard, for no apparent reason. I don't really know who you are or care really. Please go away.

Baldr
In SUGAH's defense, when you're as stupid as he is, it can be really hard to figure out you're picking a fight with someone far above your cognitive weight class.

THA SUGAH RAIN
Actually all I did was rate and comment on a video (I didn't even see who submitted it). The intellectual giant that is baleen acted like a toddler, took it personally, and responded with insults. I guess because I disagree with the person in the video. If only I possessed his enormous intellect so that I too could act like the world revolves around me and anything anyone says that upsets my narrow world view must be a moron. Oh and dick jokes, I'd be able to reply to any comment about anything with dick jokes - the surest sign of mental superiority.
baleen
I am sorry about the penis humor ,THA SUGAH RAIN. I will not use any more penis humor or be mean to you when you one star things without watching them, THA SUGAH RAIN.

Kandalor
Unsurprising but still disappointing are those who would paint Graeber's argument as broadly empowering to existing movements in anarchism or communism. It is actually an astute historical critique of the foundations of many naive anarchist and communist concepts which would appeal to the idea that beneath capitalism we have some naturally egalitarian means of equivalent exchange, be that real heartfelt communication or the direct and local exchange of commodities in craft-based economies.

Kandalor
Oh god, please don't think that I am agreeing with you (based on what you've said here, at least).

I'm saying Graeber demonstrates how all markets, primitive, kind, advanced, exploitative, whatever are all human inventions and hierarchical, never naturally given or evenly bestowed.

Greaber's attack on the myth of primitive debt is largely an elaboration of Marx's argument about the myth of primitive accumulation (the idea that some people saved and others squandered in antiquity, so any equalities we have today are just the inheritances of their immoral behaviors and not built into the ongoing workings of the system). While Marx focuses on the capital holders accumulating the spaces and means of production through expropriation, Graeber draws out how capital holders exceeded the limits of these existing spaces by accumulating debt, which is to take ownership of, well, the future basically.

baleen
5 phantom stars for Sugah Rain agreeing with that comment. I just laughed for real.

Graeber is also not soft on Marx, because Marx got a lot of his understanding of history wrong, and based a lot of his understanding on Adam Smith, just like everyone else.

What so enrages the Austrians about Graeber's work is that he suggests that debt is simply part of life and the natural way of things, and its currency that's the elephant in the room, being a byproduct of military aggression. He ends the book with the only policy suggestion in the entire thing, and that's that we should declare a jubilee. I can't say I disagree with him based on the power of his arguments and his grasp of history. It's just a really fun and challenging read.

Architeuthis Tux
5 Real stars for Kalandor bringing analysis to this whole dogpile!

It's really refreshing to see someone grapple with the actual contents of the book instead of the version that they've imagined.

baleen
Ouch!

Architeuthis Tux
That was not a ding on you, Baleen. I'm referring to not just Sugah Rain and Slurb, but also the Maxist critiques I've seen. There's something about Graeber's book that makes a certain class of lefty get all kneejerky and defensive.

Kandalor
Baleen makes a good point that I was sloppy about in my statement. A certain kind of debt is natural by Graeber's view (as in the way you owe your parents for having you or your community for putting up with your inane bullshit) and it is quantifiable debt (what you owe a bank, for instance) that strips debt of that ongoing spirit of mutual care while maintaining the sense of its mythical foundations and endowing it with the balance-sheet mindset and the expectation of repayment that comes with those cold, hard numbers, a calculation backed up with violence in many forms throughout history.

Graeber makes a lot of people upset. Grand narrative approaches to history have a way of doing that. And while we should be suspect of any topic-led approach that purports to so much, by god Debt is a damn convincing book.

Kandalor
If he says something different in this video, apologies. I've just read the book.
PegLegPete
Really interesting after reading his Naked Capitalism article and reading some Amazon reviews. I'm going to buy the book.
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