David Graeber on Debts, Money, Markets and Occupy Wall Street (1/2)


it’s s on the floor own it’s a pleasure to welcome to the
program doctor david gregory is a uh… teacher
at the university of london an anthropologist and author of debt the
first to five thousand years uh… welcome to the program dr but that’s about it uh… now i want to get you obviously
uh… and particularly on a day like today
with her herb uh… multiple direct actions going on uh…
involving occupy wall street in occupy other cities uh… west coast on the ports of course
in new york city and the seventeen arrested today uh… in following a protest of goldman
sachs in deborah feel properties and i wanna get new your perspective on this uh… please people on the firm were well
aware of your role in uh… in the uh… early organization of occupy wall street but of i’ve read your book it’s
fascinating and i really want to work to to get into that to start off um… okay let’s let’s just start with the what the concept of yet uh… because i think
that you know we all have a perception that we know what it is in particularly
in this country and i think probably perhaps more so uh… now across the
globe all have the service pacific notion of
that it’s a it’s a moral obligation and then but it’s also uh… to do with
financing weekly if things get inflated and um… i think uh… the most
important thing about your book is to really that it that’d attempts to on wind these strands
of this error braided notions uh… that together and debt they
explain to us what what particularly partly contrary to popular whatever yes it’s a promise you know if there is no greater moral
standard what’s more so than any other problems you might make we’re going to kill your type of promise
because it’s been made and personal accounts purple but has to say vilify protestantism makes you can’t
really pass i promise to someone else trash what what is it that makes i
thought gap app promise such transfer bulwark bombing
with a pocketbook and construct which seems to be contract
her feet conflict of math come by looks uh… on the one hand latka exactly quantify what’s required
on the other hand you have some sort of structure in place
june force people into going along with it in the camps that we weren’t united
money in the federally recognized that weary is more a product of relations are vital
to war quarterly and it is of what we usually think of a just peace
portrayed and so in other words uh… uh… we have a situation where we we although the concept that has indicted
or promise a you know i promised me to at five
o’clock yawn and and that’s not something that
you could uh… transfer to someone else has no value i can give you somebody elton
palestinian uh… and going to do this ridiculous you bought something comes up that policy at five o’clock in um… dot is a general strike trains are
running on something you know you can always renegotiate a promise gatsby quantity common personal because
they get when corrupted by mathematics alm there you can’t arm or the idea that you really ought not to do
so and that has tremendous attack because of the author of product that’s
measured in money um… at debt tend to get rid of this
totally different at the memorial lehigh ur that a promise
that you make to someone cuba or uh… commissar politician makes to the people
kadu leopard for i want to talk about that that sort of the moral ascendancy of a financial debt
even over one of uh… you know that uh… people make
arrangements with each other i mean people make promises all the time i
promise to uh… to uh… love you for the rest of your life and to be your
husband wife and we have divorces all the time um… and this product are
explicitly sacred art recruited thousands of people brad pitt and and so right now you know from in africa logical
perspective do we what which preceded him in what was the
impotence of this because in other words uh… you you talk about how in the book how
uh… uh… in like you said that debt uh… becomes
sort of like the of the nexus of math and political all felt violence in some way work what preceded with chin other words d it
was it with the idea of like were away six people who were on stuff would want to be able to enforce
it so we need to change debt into something that can be
calculated will really interesting question it’s
really a question of how does money come about we’re all
taught their story you know once upon a time there was barker technically sister
i think we ought to be twenty tickets for that travel event realistic and
inconvenient to have to have that money on contract activity enter politics can tell you the
truth not substitute we’ve never met fighters fighting anywhere in which everyday
transactions took platform all kind of becoming objects the whole order methods based on notebook icons that hold the spot created on bike
if you’ve got to be that we walk away a bigger trouble in the olympic village
somewhere they stick with your neighbors straight soaker valueclick second for that calumny that
that’s what happens um… and given the chickens right now
according to calm the studio at all in fact yours paper towel it’s great to have
good neighboring aircraft arm so you take them will come on take
the cow economy don’t even think about a group anti-o_j_ so if you have this is what the fuck defined in
ordinary excited about money everybody have sort of got everybody
elephant they’re not exactly quantified with a
reason to do so to the question is and how do you get from that to the point where you can
take twenty five an appeal equals five about which is what you get money you
sort of exact a measurement of death an airport seems to be became clear that
it happens exactly in situations where somebody is xa committed violent alm the some people get notified me cargo carpet while codes which code type
even site upmarket welcome the detailed list of like you know if
somebody diameter someone todd that’s twenty
seven heifers at somebody kabir two twenty year that certain to and so forth
and so on all that is not the kind of situation where
each do what the picture out though or personal p worldly toward a compromise
because that’s what another like you know i interdiction papers at the scene
fluoride uh… intractable where they might not
have had for c_f_ substitute something else so in fact that’s where money tends
to hurt his way of measuring that’s pretty well for bible for compensation fine and got back usr grout work so i’m sorry sir just i wanna make this clear because you
know we have this perception of like you know this debt this poll notion of debt society and uh… the
people getting into debt is a somewhat recent phenomenon that is destroying a
new somehow all other some type of moral
connotations about creating deco shouldn’t be in that captain but but in fact even proceeded the notion of money absolutely not i mean i sort of having some kind of
moral obligation elite somebody something uh… goes way back debuted in the
country actually figure out how much and that
you can pay it off and drink a lot of his ideas it’s considered bfl terms of morality
it’s only right that everybody sort of each other something for example as to whether african societies uh…
many african societies or you may be willing to work albeit with considered long perhaps have talked about souvenirs
saying like well nobody really wouldn’t need each other wants to have anything
to do teach other to somebody gives you a president like a sitting back there onto something
a little bit more valuable or a little bit less valuable knew what they gave
you because from exactly the same
dismantling c syntactic you and then you also in the development of money you also
discussed sort of the the uh… the uh… uh… the precedent of essentially of money being a a function of war warranted in fact that day uh… that that kick that continues uh… the circulation of money that
um… among the dietl white installing this
that dynamic of taxes and military and how in some ways the
government lost always be in debt for money to have
any value yes what break-up this was a long story
but but but basically opportunities credit system look water pipe a personal
credit system so you can cancel it ups periodically experienced to open on and
intrigued amy eddings today are them quinn come much later eloquent come basically two p soldiers
because or small it’s all good people most likely to be
carrying our little paper to loot gold and silver that they break up textile
people you’d least like to extend credit to because they are heavily armed and
cover just passing through uh… but kingstown ok political
particles overly stamper patrolman giving salters an f_a_a_ okay everybody
recognized anyone back again it doesn’t make any sense it’s a little
bit of certain naturally mapi described by strike and kids would do that so why do men taxes go up you’ve been goldenthal promoters
behavior suede basically employer off your entire population feuding salters
which was a big problem picnic how to get yep yep fifty thousand people
i think it’s good to be thompson money cash markets markets operate on
points tender her around where are we talked about to
be a ministry and he got there be to be part of military operations army scott gets laid paper plates in the
mind of the bride liking rickles over the case stamp it gets holders so quick
and so on okay so you have a backup alm that connections between money and war it wasn’t some of that runs throughout history
that never like to believe talk about to have a story that they’re supposed to be
approached help because nobody concentric uh… they had taken well you know
there’s this old fuel keychains and they were violently armed and and then we have the merchants in
emergencies where money comes from an errand you know that’s the domain of
three contractors into free markets either oppose principles market for
cystic if you look at what do we have tickets
reno markets can be created by states in order to
people are mixed and returns to work in the case of modern money actually it’s paper
money but it was created but first example of a really a sixteen
ninety four but a merchant england let money to the came to fight a war and soldiers and he said okay you can take that money
i owe you and wendy back other people uh… pick the debt basically a lender
to people uh… in the form of paper money which
is what pretoria triplets became debt to the merchants circulated to other people called back to you
because i don’t know bill says i’ve promised to pay the
bearer ten pounds of as basically became work we never pay back to that there would be no money let me just ask
you if you guys commitments up here because this is mean this is very tense
stuff i think i just wanted to ask for a walk slowly over a lot of my sister is
it’s it’s fascinating uh… and so which is to be clear the
the and the bankers woodlawn making money and the gang would essentially give them
i’ll use which became cash money and exactly the king would say to the
bankers lending us money out and so and then the
people would have these little i’ll use from the uh… from the uh… the came
here to bring and um… this is how they would exchange it and some people would
send that back to the king ultimately in the form of taxes uh… backplate latch electric system
works because became contain low introductory meeting
in the jewel what do you get threatening all you can cancel it if you heard after
the caped his taxes and and and really but at the end of the
detainees sorta holding someone of the back again’ away uh… because if they were to pay off or
someone is the bag keeps a sort of moving around but as someone who is that
how it all off it would make it would essentially
paul though that i would say and so that’s why he has a government
weenie a certain amount of debt yes precisely and in fact we were a little
bit uh… couple times in american history harder jackson under clinton uh… missus andrew jackson tried to pay off the u_s_
step the revolutionary war death everybody’s complaining about it it was
a sort of moral or we shouldn’t do that you know we got rid of that he got rid
of the central bank you know created this type financial
panic out so they have to go back to the dedicate sinking under clinton is running budget
surpluses every single year also for to uh…
seems like static gradually to get rid of the u_s_ staff in fact it now turns out that everybody
collect depicted projections discovered that you’ll get there was no
doubt economy would collapse even people like
alan greenspan um… if a woman we have to have it at a
certain he couldn’t it made it because you know that would be a surplus became
the interpretation that money is factually government that it’s necessary so she said only can have a budget surplus because if there’s too much money floating
around uh… the cover for refusing to buy
something so there’s gonna start buying up bumble economy you’re going to be in
congress uh… that live in blocking but in fact
what do you think you know if there’s no government at there’s no money that’s
what many years mature circulating government-backed and uh… in some ways one of the uh… unicef jumping four dc one oh uh… the fear is that people talk about of what do you make of the the fears
that people talk about that uh… we have too much uh… we have too
much debt as a government that we must uh… uh… the number one crisis we have is
the deficit that the idea of uh… borrowing of the government being this
far in debt is uh… slowing down the economy and its extracted this money
from the private markets write up a lot of and that we had to
true basket you know there’s government dept circulating routing x but don’t have to produce all the money
itself that the other secret members of the bag make money their grab it does not believe make
enough money prompt the problem with that his
personal backwards arm hit there was you know no deficit at all it would be
much greater capacity to much set attempt to establish that what you can
create too much money floating around that create inflation uh… last i checked the inflation rate
in the u_s_ within our problem the reason for that in turn speak or the
inflation only partially stripped kicking in went when you got full
employment and are big problem isn’t that huge unemployed soap it’s distancing from any kind of
classical economic terms now of course people in power can by economists and create economic schools which will say that whatever
they want to do is write and that’s what’s going on here much more serious
economists even good practices non-toxic now the idea that the dead of our big
problem replaced time we have nearly ten percent unemployment assistance saini what’s going on i think it again the
moral color and you can always den morality issue is the same thing you
can always appealed p so there have been covering more all
along with it or the government to spend preparing to act and to protect our children it had nothing to do it with the economy
actually works now let’s talk about this idea which
also sounds fascinating in your book and and because i have the many
arguments with the economic libertarians about this the idea that the government
is interfering in the market and what we want is afoot all as fully free market as possible
envisioning this and this you know getting back to that market that exists
in nature uh… before a government archives interrupted but in fact ever existed absolutely got to market the way they think of it anyway have been historically created by
governments usually at the side effect of military operations and um… occasionally need to get period in
history in which market sort of float free of governments to a certain
greek upon their be pretty unusual circle
tower and start looking at st louis different from the climate
libertarians are speaking about arm the greatest example i given the welcome
irony of the contract which is is on the people of all are the celtic under the carpet it didn’t have a free
market ideology into some to create the creator of the free market which would be our we’d be on the claims
making them idiotic in its history they did it by critics civil court and the government we have nothing to do
regulating economic affairs so that uh… and also by eliminating for the court’s baylon danny taking of
interest at all and tom and not only and arguably when you do
that you really just creating a different government i mean you’re creating a theocratic
structure that is just isn’t pinching up on the market as would be a government
from from from that perspective you could take that argument i mean the
difference between those courtroom government courts will become impotent they couldn’t actually bom note horatio other than by destroying
your credit rating however in a place where you know there was no enforcement other
in the courts of contracts door reputation with everything so you
couldn’t do business logic you’ve got a reputation of being an honorable person
who paid deaths uh… it so far there was reasonable
however they are the result of that riddled with that there was no but put
you in jail opment at that the i’d very idea of economic starts
looking very very different uh… becomes a matter of personal honor
and trust reputation rather than profit galloping no sir extremely competitive do you have a copy
of about firm also went away because as i was put it up you know you can’t have cutthroat
competition when there’s nobody stop you from actually cut again to others
throughout right uh… so that that notion of um… we’re
gonna protect your factory now we’re gonna sit here and then almost as if you
know uh… that what we’re seeing in the courts
uh… the west coast this country right now uh… in that situation you wouldn’t
have a uh… army literally of uh… police in riot gear with clubs and so-called non retirement doesn’t uh… and that baghdad intern affects
believe it you can treat your workers now i so let’s move was off asst stuff in the implications
of of all of this of course is that and how did we get to the point where all of these things
because we’re told i mean you you also put a line on all of this notion of the
market ixus ting uh… a separate from the state but also movies or t_v_ and in the uh… the
barter and then the uh… trough adam smith sort of uh…
mythology eview put all this to rest and at the end of the book and before we
get there also we also just tell us about the wizard of oz uh… but i do you haven’t heard this
before it was fascinating and and i you know uh… making i can’t wait to sit
down my daughter watched movie again but but tell us in the wizard of oz as a
metaphor and um… to the extent that it was a
half-trillion meant in this country want nobody is able to prove
conclusively but it’s good says suggested in and it seems that even
by the time to put on the planet with her daughter to the nineteen oh one year
after the book came out that people thought that was a little bit about omp differently about pride when it’s a big
political struggles was overt matrixmohali weather they had a gold standard and a lot of the problem it was causing
answer of technicalities which was causing debt crises uh… to affect
farmers looting foreclosed on and farmers were trying to when the populist
candidate with the cold but medela phillips cooker
over standard through a lot of silver mines cropping up time would make for a
cheaper body policies until we want to be expelled monetary policy deep book appears to be a giant metaphor for the william jennings bryan armed
populace overcame if you know what do you get you cats um… human dorothea name suspiciously similar computer rodel
dorothy fields or uh… who took part of the spartan la family that swept away by or cuidado just-concluded you know transported to
lead a cause rosie which of course worker out onto government yellow brick road which
applied gold bars right arm port canaveral industry uh… and you lay out his it’s they tended to be flipper that
movie the shoulders flippers there are only escape and along the way she needs person it’s a scarecrow the scarecrow actually represents farmers who have no
branches are located that that contract forgetting for close up and he took in
what’s known advocate astral proletariat about your heart if you would act in
solidarity with the farmers have tried to get berkes political book populist candidate beneath the cowardly lion or the
political clout to a bureaucratic they can’t pick up to the east coast and west
coast bankers who are affected wicked witch of the east and west and you get the idea so political the entire things together monetary
alexa in what is that what we learned when
uh… the wizard of oz does what do we learn when the wizard of oz
is exposed at them odd at the home of the system is sizzling plan at all smoke and mirrors um… it’s not treated by ordinary sort
of funny leaves um… and the federal reserve units at that
time but you know the local equivalents at all kind of a scammer that make up
money and and and he believed in fact you talk about this uh… money has gone sort of back and
forth uh… from being that and maybe it’s
always that no matter between did everything being virtual credit money in
commodity money without explain the difference in that and if there really
is any um… meaningful difference in terms of
you know uh… in indian intrinsic value of money uh… of missus intellectually burt one
of the great discovery political point book at its onto some degree inspired by that photo thank you
card group of cold drinks uh… defect all two sides of the calling i would
like it isn’t that money is always to thinks
it’s always both lifting a commodity and it’s also promise of social relationship economist no there’s no consensus among
economists which one is primary which was money doing it i’ll wendy ironies of economics for that
need to know what kind of attitude they describe a little bit possible that
money they’ll let you know what money you know
there’s no consensus what i found it a couple years back and
forth over the course of history so any connection to pay me a it we’ll
credit market created invented much greater or sold and practical unique scale accurate up
to measure out the tiny pieces of silver that would have been required to buy aka
hammer their pictures dot com chicken or
something like that social ever all everyday kind that’s interrupt credit uh… chevy pickup to craigslist of his work compounded interest rates long before
the existence of the point now then starting at six hundred and
china india and the eight p_m_ eastern and training and
pretty much continuity uh… close to that people embed code which seems to be
a military painstaking soldiers of the respect and interest bank again in the middle
ages empires collapse arm the claims go away anybody credit
system obscurity checks cheques in arabic word actually in in middle east
farm you know the status of the turned the
paper money and try not to believe in tally sticks in europe theatrical money again sleeping
virtually disappeared big empires crumble uh… m universal money and it’s a that virtual
money loses the units that were developed by
the physical money just return to tradition yes exactly in europe it orally copulating
example about burrito later people reverts barker nonsense um… again nobody was paid on t_v_
twenty-two contract out what they were doing with your using money they
couldn’t physically have best so everybody who’s using roman currency
even though the there wasn’t any other country actually around there figure it
out there making comebacks and currently paying three lending standards are
calculating interest you know that became technically illegal um… killed so they were determined pair lieutenant at the same thing with carter
charlemagne he issued money and that money that’s almost completely
disappeared immediately uh… piece related left britain long
however for like another six hundred years bouts with people you know if that’s
where consoling person pants come from bob carroll indian money the people that you called it the
military might local team to create their own currently
sometimes a little reinterpret limited purposes mostly people are using credit but all the credit contents were
calculated in this money but no longer test st

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