David Graeber Quotes

Universe Mar 8, 2022

Almost all the work for this post was done by other people.

David Graeber himself, obviously, who said all these smart things.

But also the programmers who built the Ghost.org platform that I write on...

And the folks who turned his quotes into sweet graphics...

And everybody who helped Graeber spread his message...

Plus the hundreds of thousands {or millions?} of programmers who built the modern internet...

And the generations of scientists who's work the programmer's built upon...

And the families and servants and civil societies of those programmers and scientists, who facilitated their work.

And also those folks who layed the underwater cables, launched the satellites, mined the minerals and braided the cables that comprise the system that our data pings around on...

Plus all kinds of other folks who's contribution we can't quite see.

All I did was move some pixels around.

But I think (assume) Graeber would agree with me when I say that no one individual can really manage to take sole credit for anything.

Everything we humans do is a group effort. From sailing a boat across an ocean, to planting a farm, to growing a child. We work in a team. We build on each other's work. It makes no sense for a few to hog the credit and the rewards.

Our mission as a species is painfully clear. Reduces the suffering of our cousins across the globe, restore health to our ecosystems, learn to collaborate and share amongst ourselves and with other species.

This other thing we're doing is the agenda of a child.

Anyway, here's some David Graeber quotes, brought to you by a whole huge hell of a lot of people.

The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make and could just as easily make differently.
The Long Now

If you want to minimize the possibility of unexpected breakthroughs, tell people they will receive no resources at all unless they spend the bulk of their time competing against each there to convince you they know in advance what they are going to discover.

Consensus isn't just about agreement. It's about changing things around: You get a proposal, you work something out, people foresee problems, you do creative synthesis. At the end of it, you come up with something that everyone thinks is okay. Most people like it. and nobody hates it.

Capitalism, he noted, is not something imposed on us by some outside force. It only exists because every day we wake up and continue to produce it. If we woke up one morning and all collectively decided to produce something else, then we wouldn't have capitalism anymore.

David Graeber quote: Student loans are destroying the imagination of youth. If there's...

For every subtle and complicated question, there is a perfectly simple and straightforward answer, which is wrong.

It's hard to imagine a surer sign that one is dealing with an irrational economic system than the fact that the prospect of eliminating drudgery is considered to be a problem.

Karl Marx, who knew quite a bit about the human tendency to fall down and worship our own ...
Lib Quotes

As it turns out, we don't 'all' have to pay our debts. Only some of us do.

David Graeber Quote: "Debt is the most effective way to take a relation of violent subordination ...

Even in the Bible, the admonition in the Ten Commandments not to 'covet thy neighbor's wife' clearly referred not to lust in one's heart (adultery had already been covered in commandment number seven), but to the prospect of taking her as a debt-peon - in other words, as a servant to sweep one's yard and hang out the laundry. — David Graeber
Quotes Sayings

Efficency has come to mean vesting more and more power to managers, supervisors and presumed 'efficiency experts', so that actual producers have almost zero autonomy.

Since one cannot know a radically better world is not possible, are we not betraying everyone by insisting on continuing to justify, and reproduce, the mess we have today? And anyway, even if we're wrong, we might well get a lot closer.

Thanks capitalism!

I don't really want to turn this page into a sales vehicle, but them's the reality's of the market economy!!

Want to read David Graeber's books? Please click the titles below to use my affiliate links. This sends me a cut of the sale, and you'll be buying through Bookshop.org, which supports small independent bookstores, aka people. Everybody wins except the trees.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

The story of how 18th century powers began to push back against the criticism of their treatment of indigenous people by creating a story (plausible deniability) that thinks of early humans as brutish and childlike, and only modern industrial people as civilized. This story is false, and this book shows how much richer our history actually is.  

Bullshit Jobs

The story of how many modern jobs make little if any meaningful contribution to society. So what are they for?

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

A book about debt, and how central it has been to the development of our societies and psychology.

See more of Graeber's books here.