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When Thieves Retire

Francis Gooding: Pirate Enlightenment, 30 March 2023

Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia 
by David Graeber.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 61140 1
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... recorded by the French-Mauritian chronicler Nicolas Mayeur in 1806 and reproduced in the late David Graeber’s Pirate Enlightenment, called for gun flints, lead balls, gunpowder and river water to be mixed in an upturned shield with the point of a knife, the draught then taken with ginger soaked in the blood of the oath-takers. Mayeur, a retired ...

Forgive us our debts

Benjamin Kunkel: The History of Debt, 10 May 2012

Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order 
by Philip Coggan.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, December 2011, 978 1 84614 510 0
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Debt: The First 5000 Years 
by David Graeber.
Melville House, 534 pp., £21.99, July 2011, 978 1 933633 86 2
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... writer Philip Coggan, and in Debt: The First 5000 Years by the anthropologist and activist David Graeber, which situates the same stretch of modern history within the vast tidal shifts, across five millennia of Eurasian history, between monetary regimes founded on precious metals and those based on ‘virtual credit money’. In August 1971, Nixon ...

On Wall Street

Astra Taylor, 25 October 2012

... the many small groups that filled the square. Movement veterans like the anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and Marina Sitrin, the author of a book about horizontal organising methods used in Argentina, conversed with twenty-somethings freshly radicalised by disappointment in the president they helped to elect. Not long after the police massed at the ...

At the British Museum

Julian Bell: ‘The World of Stonehenge’, 23 June 2022

... the preference of the present curators, implicitly siding with the sanguine rethink of the era by David Graeber and David Wengrow in The Dawn of Everything.*) Those two pictures need not in fact contradict each other. But what pressures prompted the initiative? For a century British archaeology, proceeding shard by ...


David Runciman: Occupy, 25 October 2012

The Occupy Handbook 
edited by Janet Byrne.
Back Bay, 535 pp., $15.99, April 2012, 978 0 316 22021 7
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... left. But Rolling Stone magazine identified the originator of ‘We are the 99 per cent’ as David Graeber, the anthropologist and activist, who first spotted its potential as an organising tool.* You can see why people might want to lay claim to ‘We are the 99 per cent’: it’s a brilliant slogan and an increasingly successful brand, doing its ...

Good New Idea

John Lanchester: Universal Basic Income, 18 July 2019

... for a great range of thinkers, including Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams in Inventing the Future, David Graeber in Bullshit Jobs, Paul Mason in Post-Capitalism, Rutger Breman in Utopia for Realists, and Peter Barnes in With Liberty and Dividends for All. UBI is definitely having a moment.Guy Standing is a long-standing member of BIEN, the Basic Income ...

My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

... glimpse the present horizon. In Bullshit Jobs (2019), the anthropologist and anarchist organiser David Graeber retells a Lem parable, with his own commentary:Space voyager Ijon Tichy describes a visit to a planet inhabited by a species to which the author gives the rather unsubtle name of Phools. At the time of his arrival the Phools were experiencing a ...

A Day’s Work

Joanna Biggs: Reports from the Workplace, 9 April 2015

... making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working’ – from an article by David Graeber for Strike! magazine about ‘bullshit jobs’. Productive jobs, he argues, have been automated away and replaced by administrative ones which masquerade as service: HR, PR, financial services, ancillary industries like dog-washing and ...

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