Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:32 AM
BridgeTheGap (3,612 posts)
David Graeber: Global Justice Activist - OWS
A veteran of the 2000s global justice movement, David Graeber has said that he sees his role in Occupy Wall Street as a kind of “generational bridge.” Having faced down tear gas, undercover cops, and procedural tedium for more than a decade, Graeber’s hard-won lessons have had much to offer a new generation of activists and Occupiers. What’s more, Graeber has meticulously recorded those lessons in books like Direct Action, which captured the movement from an anthropological lens, even as it read like an insider’s manifesto. The global justice movement, he argued here and elsewhere, is as much about creating new forms of democracy as opposing corporate power.
And since the Occupations began, Graeber has lost none of his dedication or diligence. In a movement that explicitly eschews leaders, he quickly became one—at least to the outside world. By the end of 2011, Rolling Stone credited him with the “we are the 99 percent” slogan, while Businessweek dubbed him Occupy’s founding “Anti-Leader.” Graeber himself has shrugged off accolades like these, but it’s hard not to see them as in some ways well-deserved. It was only a few dozen activists who responded to Adbusters’ call for a “Wall Street occupation,” at a New York planning meeting in August 2011. But it was an even smaller handful of them, including Graeber, who persuaded the others to adopt a horizontal general assembly approach, modeled on movements like the Spanish Indignados. Since then, he has contributed a herculean enthusiasm to the movement, and its international offshoots—facilitating meetings, planning actions, spreading the word in pamphlets, books, and talks—all while holding down a teaching gig at Goldsmiths at the University of London.
But David Graeber brings far more to the table than energy or experience in activism. His marathon history of debt, which appeared just a few months before Zuccotti Park began to make headlines, has much to say about the conditions that sparked Occupy. At a time when asking “Great Questions” has seemed to go out of fashion, as Graeber says in his intro, Debt: the First 5,000 Years does just that, seeking to explain debt’s immense moral power, and the social inequality it preserves. Debt, he argues, is basically a “perversion of a promise,” appearing only when violence and math attempt to enforce a personal commitment—or when powerful people seek to control others. For Millennials shackled with enormous student debt and Occupiers facing a downsized economy, it’s easy to see why the argument caught on.
Read more: http://www.utne.com/politics/david-graeber-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx#ixzz2DiEyzbUm
7 replies, 1452 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
David Graeber: Global Justice Activist - OWS (Original post)
Response to tama (Reply #3)
Sat Dec 1, 2012, 02:34 PM
limpyhobbler (8,244 posts)
6. It's hard to quantify, more of just a feeling.
Maybe because he is blunt or honest about what he thinks. He expresses "radical" views in front of a very non-radical mainstream audience, and I think that incongruity sometimes makes people a little uneasy, or laugh uncomfortably.
He also seems kind of sickly and pale and has kind of weird mannerisms. It seems like his brain is just constantly working and he can't make it stop.
I've sometimes thought he might be mildly autistic. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Don't get me wrong, I think he's great. I'm a big fan. Actually I would like to learn more of his views.
Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #6)
Sat Dec 1, 2012, 06:19 PM
tama (9,137 posts)
7. About that "incongruity"
I don't find it weird but can see why others with more social conformist background can feel that way. He is highly appreciated academic anthropologist (kicked out of tenure because of his political activism by hierarchic bureaucrats) and fluent communicator, and his political ideology of social anarchism is all about communicating and connecting freely with other people. Bookish academics tend to be sickly and pale and think all the time, and no doubt healthy manual labor in community garden would do them lot of good.