Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Paradigm)

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Paradigm)

David Graeber

Language: English

Pages: 102

ISBN: 0972819649

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Everywhere anarchism is on the upswing as a political philosophy—everywhere, that is, except the academy. Anarchists repeatedly appeal to anthropologists for ideas about how society might be reorganized on a more egalitarian, less alienating basis. Anthropologists, terrified of being accused of romanticism, respond with silence . . . . But what if they didn't?

This pamphlet ponders what that response would be, and explores the implications of linking anthropology to anarchism. Here, David Graeber invites readers to imagine this discipline that currently only exists in the realm of possibility: anarchist anthropology.

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itself: notably against the emergence of systematic forms of political or economic dominance. 2a) Institutionally, counterpower takes the form of what we would call institutions of direct democracy, consensus and mediation; that is, ways of publicly negotiating and controlling that inevitable internal tumult and transforming it into those social states (or if you like, forms of value) that society sees as the most desirable: conviviality, unanimity, fertility, prosperity, beauty, however it may

anarchist anthropology to begin with. 38 39 Blowing Up Walls As I remarked, an anarchist anthropology doesn’t really exist. There are only fragments. In the first part of this essay I tried to gather some of them, and to look for common themes; in this part I want to go further, and imagine a body of social theory that might exist at some time in the future. obvious objections Before being able to do so I really do need to address the usual objection to any project of this nature: that the

“developing world” seems to derive from the fact it’s the one example where both sorts of revolution did seem to coincide: a seizure of national power which then led to rapid industrialization. As a result almost every twentieth-century government in the global south determined to play economic catch-up with the industrial powers had also to claim to be a revolutionary regime.) If there is one logical error underlying all this, it rests on imagining that social or even technological change takes

46 a thought experiment, or, blowing up walls What I am proposing, essentially, is that we engage in a kind of thought experiment. What if, as a recent title put it, “we have never been modern”? What if there never was any fundamental break, and therefore, we are not living in a fundamentally different moral, social, or political universe than the Piaroa or Tiv or rural Malagasy? There are a million different ways to define “modernity.” According to some it mainly has to do with science and

define capi- 50 51 talism as its opponents prefer, as founded on the connection between a wage system and a principle of the never-ending pursuit of profit for its own sake. This in turn makes it possible to argue this was a strange perversion of normal commercial logic which happened to take hold in one, previously rather barbarous, corner of the world and encouraged the inhabitants to engage in what might otherwise have been considered unspeakable forms of behavior. Again, all this does not

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