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David Graeber Quotes

David Graeber Quote: “Debt is the most effective way to take a relation of violent subordination and make the victims feel that it’s their fault.”
David Graeber Quote: “Direct action is, ultimately, the defiant insistence on acting as if one is already free.”
David Graeber Quote: “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.”
David Graeber Quote: “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.”
David Graeber Quote: “It’s a difficult business, creating a new, alternative civilization.”
David Graeber Quote: “In places without clocks, time is measured by actions rather than action being measured by time.”
David Graeber Quote: “We have become a civilization based on work – not even “productive work” but work as an end and meaning in itself.”
David Graeber Quote: “What is debt anyway? A debt is just the perversion of a promise. It is a promise corrupted by both math and violence.”
David Graeber Quote: “Anarchism and anthropology go well together because anthropologists know that a society without a state is possible because so many exist.”
David Graeber Quote: “There seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.”
David Graeber Quote: “Just as the invention of new forms of industrial automation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had the paradoxical effect of turning more and more of the world’s population into full-time industrial workers, so has all the software designed to save us from administrative responsibilities in recent decades ultimately turned us all into part or full-time administrators.”
David Graeber Quote: “As Max Weber long ago pointed out, once one sets up a genuinely effective bureaucracy, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.”
David Graeber Quote: “For every subtle and complicated question, there is a perfectly simple and straightforward answer, which is wrong. –.”
David Graeber Quote: “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: “What ultimately lies behind the appeal of bureaucracy is fear of play.”
David Graeber Quote: “Young people in Europe and North America in particular, but increasingly throughout the world, are being psychologically prepared for useless jobs, trained in how to pretend to work, and then by various means shepherded into jobs that almost nobody really believes serve any meaningful purpose.”
David Graeber Quote: “Police are bureaucrats with weapons.”
David Graeber Quote: “As it turns out, we don’t “all” have to pay our debts. Only some of us do.”
David Graeber Quote: “All rich countries now employ legions of functionaries whose primary function is to make poor people feel bad about themselves.”
David Graeber Quote: “Women everywhere are always expected to continually imagine what one situation or another would look like from a male point of view. Men are almost never expected to do the same for women. So deeply internalized is this pattern of behavior that many men react to any suggestion that they might do otherwise as if it were itself an act of violence.”
David Graeber Quote: “If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt – above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong.”
David Graeber Quote: “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 other to convince you they know in advance what they are going to discover.”
David Graeber Quote: “A human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist.”
David Graeber Quote: “If no one had an army, armies would not be needed. But the same can be said of most lobbyists, PR specialists, telemarketers, and corporate lawyers. Also, like literal goons, they have a largely negative impact on society. I think almost anyone would concur that, were all telemarketers to disappear, the world would be a better place.”
David Graeber Quote: “It’s legitimate for the police to use violence because they are enforcing the law; the law is legitimate because it’s rooted in the constitution; the constitution is legitimate because it comes from the people; the people created the constitution by acts of illegal violence. The obvious question, then: How does one tell the difference between “the people” and a mere rampaging mob?”
David Graeber Quote: “Revolutionary constituencies always involve a tacit alliance between the least alienated and the most oppressed.”
David Graeber Quote: “Freedom has to be in tension with something, or it’s just randomness.”
David Graeber Quote: “In the largest scheme of things, just as no one has the right to tell us our true value, no one has the right to tell us what we truly owe.”
David Graeber Quote: “Bureaucracies, I’ve suggested, 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.”
David Graeber Quote: “In American prisons, which are extraordinarily violent places, the most vicious form of punishment is simply to lock a person in an empty room for years with absolutely nothing to do. This emptying of any possibility of communication or meaning is the real essence of what violence really is or does.”
David Graeber Quote: “After all, as we’re constantly reminded, the Internet has unleashed all sorts of creative vision and collaborative ingenuity. What it has really brought about is a kind of bizarre inversion of ends and means, where creativity is marshaled to the service of administration rather than the other way around.”
David Graeber Quote: “If you look at history, there seems to be a regular pattern: the country with the most powerful military also happens to be the one with the world trade currency. That gives them an enormous economic advantage, which causes goods to flow into their country.”
David Graeber Quote: “If I’m not constantly being met by challenges that I am overcoming, how do I know that I’m capable?”
David Graeber Quote: “There was a time when academia was society’s refuge for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical. No longer. It is now the domain of professional self-marketers. As for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical: it would seem society now has no place for them at all.”
David Graeber Quote: “States created markets. Markets require states. Neither could continue without the other, at least, in anything like the forms we would recognize today.”
David Graeber Quote: “The definitive anthropological work on barter, by Caroline Humphrey, of Cambridge, could not be more definitive in its conclusions: “No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money; all available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing.”
David Graeber Quote: “I am using the term “box tickers” to refer to employees who exist only or primarily to allow an organization to be able to claim it is doing something that, in fact, it is not doing.”
David Graeber Quote: “What “the public,” “the workforce,” “the electorate,” “consumers,” and “the population” all have in common is that they are brought into being by institutionalized frames of action that are inherently bureaucratic, and therefore, profoundly alienating.”
David Graeber Quote: “Managerialism has become the pretext for creating a new covert form of feudalism, where wealth and position are allocated not on economic but political grounds.”
David Graeber Quote: “Then you ask: what, within this cosmos, is the opposite of a vampire? The answer is obvious. The opposite of a vampire is a werewolf.”
David Graeber Quote: “The result often leaves those forced to deal with bureaucratic administration with the impression that they are dealing with people who have for some arbitrary reason decided to put on a set of glasses that only allows them to see only 2 percent of what’s in front of them.”
David Graeber Quote: “The reasons why anthropologists haven’t been able to come up with a simple, compelling story for the origins of money is because there’s no reason to believe there could be one. Money was no more ever “invented” than music or mathematics or jewelry. What we call “money” isn’t a “thing” at all; it’s a way of comparing things mathematically, as proportions: of saying one of X is equivalent to six of Y. As such it is probably as old as human thought.”
David Graeber Quote: “After all, we do owe everything we are to others. This is simply true. The language we speak and even think in, our habits and opinions, the kind of food we like to eat, the knowledge that makes our lights switch on and toilets flush, even the style in which we carry out our gestures of defiance and rebellion against social conventions – all of this we learned from other people, most of them long dead.”
David Graeber Quote: “The war against the imagination is the only one the capitalists have actually managed to win.”
David Graeber Quote: “The Iron Law of Liberalism states that any market reform, any government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will have the ultimate effect of increasing the total number of regulations, the total amount of paperwork, and the total number of bureaucrats the government employs.”
David Graeber Quote: “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.”
David Graeber Quote: “I think if the general exodus that seems to be going on occurs it’s going to be a disaster,.”
David Graeber Quote: “It’s not just that some people get to break the rules – it’s that loyalty to the organization is to some degree measured by one’s willingness to pretend this isn’t happening.”
David Graeber Quote: “Who was the first man to look at a house full of objects and immediately assess them only in terms of what he could get for them in the market? Surely, he can only have been a thief.”
David Graeber Quote: “We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt.”
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