Sunday, September 06, 2020

Shock: David Graeber dead at 59yo; "We are the 99 percent" more relevant than ever

Shocking news: David Graeber dead at 59yo

This man helped invent the most important political slogan of the current era, "We are the 99 percent", arising out of the 2008 crash, which led to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

More: Vale David Graeber by Michael Hudson 

Earlier this year I bought both Debt and Bullshit Jobs. I've yet to finish both of these books, partly due to work commitments. But I do believe they will provide me with invaluable insights into the inner dynamics of the modern world.

Update (Sept 11, 2020):
I'm still at an early stage of trying to understand David Graeber's ideas. Stephen Wright's essay, The death of David Graeber may be more about Wright's views than Graebers. But he does link us to three essays by Graeber which I read and comment on below.

Essays by David Graeber:
What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun? (January 2014)
This speculative essay argues for more than "play is ok" or good for learning; that it may be deeply wired into the nature of matter

The Shock of Victory (2009)
Part one argues that nuclear power plants ought to be and were successfully opposed. I can't agree with that since I support nuclear power plants for their significant contribution to the decarbonisation of energy production. Part two describes the campaign against neoliberalism and claims it was successful despite the interruption by the 9/11 terrorist attack. Sadly, I wasn't involved in this so I should study Graeber's claims here more closely.

The Bully’s Pulpit (2015)
Where he outlines some surprising research about bullies and victims: (1) the overwhelming majority of bullying incidents take place in front of an audience (2) bullies do not suffer from low self-esteem (3) the ideal victim is one who fights back in some way but does so ineffectively. This reveals the deep structure of bullying: Bullying creates a moral drama in which the manner of the victim’s reaction to an act of aggression can be used as retrospective justification for the original act of aggression itself


Glen! said...

Bill,i'm not sure what to make of 'The Bully's Pulpit' I experienced quite a lengthy spell of bullying working in a major metropolitan hospital,but Graeber's article doesn't seem relevant to the growing prevalence of work place bullying that's become so prevalent the last 25+ years.

I'm not saying Graeber totally pathologises the problem, though there's a strong element of that approach. The social setting(s), the social hierarchies, seem to miss out in Graebers article. His work may/may not be applicable to the education area,but it seems to miss the mark re my experiences in the health field.

On P8 Graeber states, 'the overwhelming majority of bullying incidents take place in front of an audience.' My recollection is quite different as having rosters changed, job relocation, leave withheld, encouraging other staff make complaints about you, is more insidious, though your work colleagues become an audience to your suffering. It gives a warning about what can be done to an employee who challenges authority. You stand up to the bully,and yes things can/do get worse.

However I totally agree with the end of P 9,'the manner of the victim's reaction to an act of aggression can be used as retrospective justification for the original act of aggression itself'.

On P11 he nears conclusion stating''before we let adult males entirely off the hook'. Some males are bullies, no denying that, but bullying isn't the exclusive domain of A gender.The bully i'm alluding to, the Nursing Unit Manager was female. Bullying like aggression can take different forms, possibly dependent on the gender of the perpetrator. Male violence/aggression more overt,female usually covert.Both are very painful for the victims.

Bill i've not really learnt much of use from Graeber's article. It may be relevant in certain settings, in certain ways of understanding bullying but it misses a lot of important areas.


Bill Kerr said...

Graeber book review

New book: David Graeber rewrites history, is he right?