Grappling with Graeber – Alternatives to “Kamikaze Capitalism” (revised)

Remember what the Dormouse said, “Feed Your Head, Feed Your Head”.

This combines and continues my previous post on anthropologist and activist David Graeber’s essays “Revolutions in Reverse”.

Anthropologist and activist, David Graeber wrote 6 essays between 2004 and 2010 and they are now compiled under the title “Revolutions in Reverse”.  We here in the United States have been told there is no alternative to markets and capitalism, but in these essays he comes up with some observations about how to go about re-imagining lives that have meaning and purpose. His idea of freedom lies somewhere in the region between Somalia and Pandora.  He was there at the beginning of Occupy Wall Street and his ideas have taken root in many Occupies.  What follows are some of those ideas that beat new neural paths in my brain and repaved some old ones.

In the UK, Thatcher embraced the Milton Friedman version of neo-liberalism (basically remodeled feudalism) as the only viable social governing system.  Here American presidents from Carter on declared that there was no alternative to Friedman Rubinomics.  But there are alternatives and they are out there but Graeber says we have been trained not to see them.

There are alternatives , but first we must free ourselves from the boxes of the mind that we have been shoved into by using our imaginations to think of possibilities outside those boxes. Quite literally, of course, most Americans actually work in small boxes called cubicles and aspire to larger boxes with a door and windows called offices.  (Other boxes include “voting booths, television screens, and hospitals.” “They are the very machinery of alienation”).   Yes, it is always ultimately about freedom.  And not the freedom of choice that neo-liberalism has foisted on us.  Too many choices “in the absence of any larger moral structures through which to make them meaningful” just makes us nuts.  These choices are meaningless.  Our lives then seem meaningless.  And that makes us angry and drives us literally crazy.  Continue reading