posts tagged: anarchism
David Graeber has spent the last decade challenging the line drawn between scholar and activist. While many academics fancy themselves “radicals,” the anthropologist professor has been an active participant in anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups and organizing. Graeber has used his skill-set as an anthropologist to compile ethnographic data—far away from the classroom and campus, to be sure—regarding the contemporary anarchist movement in North America; the results were published in 2009 as Direct Action: An Ethnography. David Graeber is the author of several books, including Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology and, most recently, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Graeber currently teaches social anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Below, Graeber discusses his latest book, the concept of debt in detail, and how his involvement in the anarchist movement sparked his interest in the history of debt.
Alex Bradshaw: Your latest book, Debt: The First 5000 Years, explores the origins of debt. What were some of the implications for communities and individuals when debt became a significant factor in people’s lives?
Human Rights as a concept of universal freedoms and securities to which every homo sapiens is entitled, regardless of biological, economic, or political prerequisites, stands at odds with the core characteristics of the capitalist system. Perhaps the most exemplary illustration can be witnessed in the treatment of healthcare systems. The contrasts between the capitalist model as seen in the United States and the humanist model viewed through the diligently anti-capitalist Chiapas are stark; If Chiapas is a living, entangled, and inclusive representation of the possibilities for health, then the US system is its morbid, segregated, and discriminatory counterpart. The commodification of healthcare creates death, not the “right to life, liberty and security of person” proposed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.