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A critical review of David Graeber's Debt

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georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
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Jun 18 2012 09:36
RedHughs wrote:
Hey David,

Is there any way you could put the book online?

I know it's not that expensive but these days where many of us have little, uh, money.

I imagine he can't this things are normally decided by the publishing company not the author.

Seeing as we are throwing around Marx quotes:

Quote:
A writer is a productive worker not only because he produces ideas but also because he enriches the publisher of his books, in other words because he works for a capitalist.

That said I know that there is a pdf floating around the net if you look hard enough.

alb
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Jun 18 2012 10:16
georgestapleton wrote:
Seeing as we are throwing around Marx quotes:

How about this one from the chapter in Capital on "The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist":

Quote:
The great part that the public debt and the fiscal system corresponding to it, has played in the capitalisation of wealth and the expropriation of the masses, has led many writers, like Cobbett, Doubleday and others, to see in this, incorrectly, the fundamental cause of the misery of the modern peoples.
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georgestapleton
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Jun 18 2012 14:52

I like that. But I don't see how its relevant. If you are insinuating that it applies to Graeber I think you are completely mistaken. If you are just saying look, Marx critiques Osborne, Draghi and the Wall St Journal, I like it.

Wozzeck
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Sep 3 2012 15:28

I am very interested. When are you planning to start the reading group?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 4 2012 11:46

Ingo Stültze has put up an addendum to his critique (in English) here.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 4 2012 14:43

(long post warning)

Ingo Stültze wrote:
That does not mean Graeber’s book should be put aside. Quite the opposite. It means critically appropriating Graeber for a left debate concerning debt and capitalism. When the bourgeoisie discusses Graeber’s book, it has different questions than the left, which wants to abolish bourgeois rule. However, a critical appropriation also means arguing with and about Graeber’s book, concerning what »rule« means and what the rule of the capitalist mode of production means. It is precisely the specificity of capitalist rule and its forms that makes resistance and enlightenment so difficult. Understanding this domination is a precondition for criticizing it, and this is not accomplished by references to the long history of the human community.

I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts here, so this post is kinda working through them out loud. I think I basically agree with Stültze's critique (about the importance of the specifically capitalist forms of domination), but think it's somehow missing the point, or at least missing something important. If Debt is taken at face value as a history of the concept, then Stültze's right to point out that Graeber's periodisation minimises/misses the novelty of capitalist social relations, where (probably) for the first time class exploitation and formal freedom are not mutually exclusive. This obviously has implications for a post-capitalist future, and the struggle against capitalism (since if we don't understand what capitalism is, we could end up reproducing it in a modified form).

That's all good, but I think there's another way to read Debt, not as a history, but as a manifesto. Now on the face of it this might seem odd, as the only real demand, for a debt jubillee, is pretty tame (remember Jubilee 2000?), and the vast majority of the book is concerned with historical, anthropological material. But I'm thinking of Kathi Weeks' discussion of the manifesto as a form of utopian writing in her book 'the problem with work' (chapter 1's here, though the discussion of utopian literary forms is in a later chapter). Iirc Weeks argues that what's most important about a manifesto isn't so much the specific contents of its demands, but its 'performative' aspect, the way in which it articulates a subjectivity which it therefore helps call into being.

So from this perspective, the enduring contribution of The Communist Manifesto wouldn't be the quickly-forgotten and superseded 10-point programme, but its narrative of a rising proletarian spectre uniting to overthrow the capitalist order and instantiate an earthly paradise. This didn't just reflect the workers movements of 1848, but helped shape and define the ones which subsequently emerged, informing the self-understanding of millions of proletarians since. So Weeks argues manifestos don't just reflect movements, they actively shape them (or even create them, though I wouldn't go that far myself).

With that in mind, reading Debt as a manifesto becomes inseperable from Occupy Wall Street and its off-shoots. No doubt many of the unexpectedly high sales are finding the way into the hands of participants and sympathisers of this movement (such as it is), giving people a narrative, a shared conceptual framework, and thereby helping shape their self-conceptions. In this reading, the emphasis on the debtor-creditor relation is a strategic ploy to chime with the widespread anti-finance sentiments in OWS (and the wider working class). This is the hook on which Graeber smuggles 'communism' back into US political discourse - and not as a foreign threat, but the very foundation of society - all societies, everywhere, ever.

Likewise, where the capitalist political spectrum is arrayed from a left who favours a redistributive state and regulated market (perhaps with some nationalisation) to a right who favour a strong liberal/propertarian state and the extension of the market, Graeber offers an historical narrative which presents market and state as two sides of the same coin, inviting the formulation of a politics which rejects both/favours neither. Now I can only speculate as to Graeber's intent (and as literary critics would have it, intent is far from the final word on a text), but it seems to me that precisely because of the specific forms of credit and debt in contemporary capitalism, the simple, intuitive demand for a jubilee (or the moves towards a debt strike/co-ordinated default) has something of the character of a Trotskyist 'transitional demand' - at once intuitive and popular and impossible and (pre-)revolutionary.

Look what havoc the financial crisis of 2007-8 wrought on global capitalism. What turmoil would result from millions of students, homeowners and so on refusing to repay their debts? While on the face of it Graeber insists jubilee has historically been the restoration of the status quo ante, I suspect he knows full well the implications of deliberate mass defaults would be far more systemic under contemporary capitalist conditions, inevitably challenging property relations ('this house isn't mine because I pay my mortgage, but because housing is my and everyone's right!' / 'this factory may be idle as the owner's insolvent, but we can take it over to provide a living for ourselves' [think Zanon...] and so on). In other words, precisely because specifically capitalist forms of credit (pace Stültze) are so bound up with the normal functioning of the economy and private property, Graeber's 'innocent' advocacy of something which was essentially conservative in 2000 BCE Sumeria or wherever, something so seemingly harmless it can be well recieved by the bourgeois press, carries a more subversive potential under specifically capitalist conditions (though this isn't spelled out in the book, as it would flag up the smuggling operation).

Now none of this means we should be uncritical, of course (and I'd have criticisms of the above reading too). But I think criticism of a manifesto needs a slightly different emphasis to critique of a historical account. To critique the latter, both factual disputes (does he cherry pick facts? are there counter-examples? does he over-simplify complex relations? etc) and theoretical critiques (are his concepts adequate to the task? this is the kind of critique Stültze makes) are important. This, if you like, is bread and butter academic discourse. I don't mean that to be dismissive as I'm a stickler for rigorous scholarship. But it's somewhat different to critiquing a manifesto. As a manifesto serves to shape a collective subjectivity, critique needs to be aimed at influencing that subject-formation, i.e. influencing the actually existing movements which the manifesto shapes. So the question is, what conversations does Debt open up?

It seems to me these include contesting the content for an anti-statist, anti-market politics which is left largely blank in Debt; what is at stake in defining communism in terms of human co-operation and mutual aid? What is lost in so doing? Does downplaying the significance of free wage labour mean downplaying class politics? How does a focus on the debtor-creditor relation map onto class struggles and class formation? Does it encourage class collaboration and/or class conflict? What are the potentials and limits for debt-based class struggles (like the student debt default people are talking about, or 'occupy homes' type stuff)?

I'll leave my thoughts on these questions for another time (this is long enough). And I do think it's possible that Debt is simultaneously an historical account and a manifesto (and maybe other things too), and this polyphony is possible independent of authorial intent. And thus I think Stültze's response is simultaneously valid as a critique of Debt-as-history while missing something with regard to Debt-as-manifesto. And I think his critique of the former can inform the latter; after all what's at stake isn't mere scholasticism but the implications for the struggle against capitalism and for something else. But I think an historical text and critque thereof draws its force from rigorous scholorship and theoretical precision, while a manifesto draws its force from its rhetorical, even aesthetic nature. Consequently, a critique, however convincing, rooted solely in the former will fail to have any impact on those motivated by the latter. So while I agree with the critique, and the need to critically engage with Debt, I think it will be lost on those for whom Debt appeals as a manifesto, unless the real-world implications are drawn out (something Stültze only hints at, imho).

Spikymike
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Sep 4 2012 16:48

So JK....

Just picking up on one of the lines in your random thoughts above...

Active debt default as one strategy in the class struggle and a means of further deepening the economic crisis of the capitalist system and it's possible collapse? A prelude to the emmergence of a new communist movement? A cross-over with the scenario painted by our Nihilist-communist comrades?

Active debt default by the workers taking over piecemeal the means of production and distribution against the background of economic crisis and in the process of rising class struggle and experimentation with different co-operative structures?

Active debt default as part of the process of communisation?

Mass debt default by capitalists and workers an inevitable part of a deepening crisis of capital - doesn't need advocacy as such.

A combination of the above as a description of what could happen in practice seems to make some sort of sense but is not what you have argued elswhere?

Are you saying any or all of these are implicit in your 'manifesto' reading of David's book?

Am I picking up this thread in the argument correctly or getting a bit carried away in my own thoughts?

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 4 2012 17:39
Spikymike wrote:
A combination of the above as a description of what could happen in practice seems to make some sort of sense but is not what you have argued elswhere?

Are you saying any or all of these are implicit in your 'manifesto' reading of David's book?

Well, something I said in my initial thoughts/reactions to the book was the call for a jubilee was a policy proposal for the ruling class, as opposed to a tactic of struggle for us (something like a 'debt strike', whatever that would look like). So I think the implicit call of Debt is for something like that, forms of deliberate collective action around the debtor-creditor relation. Apparently, "there’s a growing call in OWS for a debt strike". Given Graeber's conception of direct action as 'acting like you're already free'; acting like you're already free of debt (i.e. non-payment) seems like a pretty logical corollary to Debt's call for jubilee, and imho a likely conclusion for anyone of an OWS activist persuasion who reads it.

Now sure, plenty of private defaults are happening anyway because people can't afford to pay. The question is what happens when/if that becomes a conscious and collective refusal, when it stops being a series of private acts and becomes something public. Could it be a weapon of class struggle? I honestly don't know, but the dynamics might be something like the Poll Tax, where the non-payment by those who simply couldn't afford it catalysed a growing campaign of conscious, political refusal. There seem to be signs in Occupy of something like this, with the talk of non-payment of student debts and the 'Occupy homes' stuff resisting foreclosure evictions. But tbh, I've not followed Occupy too closely, I'm not best placed to say if the more 'communistic' tendency's winning out, or even if this stuff's happening on a significant scale.

Basically i'm saying Debt might be 'wrong' from the kind of perspective Stueltze argues, but at the same time the identity of debtor still seems to have political resonance which could lead in all sorts of directions (which can be contested, which is what I think critiques need to grapple with). So the things above are the more communistic potentials (perhaps), leading to a challenging of property rights, but the debtor identity could also be used to justify alliances with the indebted petit-bourgeoisie or buy-to-let landlords. I think that's probably up for grabs, and so a critical engagement with Debt needs not just the theoretical critique, but also practical critique, looking at the possibilities for debt-based class struggles (i.e. if current forms of credit/debt are historically specific to capitalism, can they be contested in ways which threaten capitalism?).

I guess what I'm saying is, is it possible that mass struggle during this crisis is going to take relatively novel forms* compared to previous crises (such as co-ordinated defaults/'debt strikes')? A lot of effort's gone into neutering industrial action in the UK/US (policed by the unions), but might that just displace class antagonism into other areas? Could debt be one? I'm not making any solid predictions here, just suggesting that the resonance of 'Debt' might both prefigure and partly inspire struggles along those lines.

* Graeber would say far from novel, debt's the oldest and most consistent trigger of revolt. but this is where the Marxist critique comes in. Class struggle under capitalism is normally understood in terms of strikes and riots as opposed to defaults, and a mass default movement would be pretty new afaik, though maybe a mortgage strike is the natural successor to rent strikes.

Reginald J. Tro...
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Sep 4 2012 18:29

Surely mass defaulting of debt would merely contribute to the destruction of capital value, which although deepening the crisis would just set the preconditions necessary for a new boom period? By moving the arena of struggle to focus on finance rather than production, the capital relation itself would go unchallenged, meaning that such actions, without being part of a wider class struggle, would be devoid of any particularly Communist content.

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Sep 4 2012 18:46

Bear in mind there's a degree of devil's advocacy here; my own practice is heavily skewed towards 'traditional' workplace organising and landlord-tenant disputes. That said, capitalist social relations aren't just reproduced at the point of production, but across society. While the workplace is a more or less constant site of potential class conflict, numerous other sites can be so, so if the conditions are favourable, in principle struggles like those over reproductive labour, or the environment, or education could erupt and disrupt the reproduction of capitalist social relations.

What I'm saying is maybe the conditions are there for a widespread movement around debt (if you look at the various student movements contesting higher fees, this is arguably happening already, with varying degrees of success, what with students lacking in structural power). So for example, what if homeowners, instead of privately defaulting as they fell behind, started to collectively refuse to repay mortgages (e.g. demanding a write-off of X% of debt, or as the insurrectionists would prefer, demanding nothing). Extending home ownership was a major part of capital's attack on the class composition of 68-79, but potentially it could be the basis of a counter-attack in what would amount to a rent strike for home-owners (together with collective anti-eviction efforts etc).

Now I think there's numerous obstacles to this happening in practice, and I'm not about to drop what I'm doing and go door-knocking for the next 6 months to build support for a mass default, but I don't think such struggles should necessarily be ruled out in principle.

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Sep 4 2012 20:39
Joseph Kay wrote:
That said, capitalist social relations aren't just reproduced at the point of production, but across society. While the workplace is a more or less constant site of potential class conflict, numerous other sites can be so, so if the conditions are favourable, in principle struggles like those over reproductive labour, or the environment, or education could erupt and disrupt the reproduction of capitalist social relations.

I'm currently reading David Harvey's "Rebel Cities" (which I find rather meh) in it Harvey is emphasizing that capitalist social relations are not only produced on the production side and that increasingly workers are being heavily exploited through various financial instruments and exploitation of value produced off the clock.

Perhaps this is worth considering in relation to how many large former industrial companies have shifted towards financial products (same goes for supermarkets I guess)

To consider the "money side" an important site of class struggle does seem logical considering the changes in capital. What must be crucial is to develop forms of struggle in this field that avoid individualistic lifestyle choices. Collective debt refusal could fit the bill?

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Sep 13 2012 18:12

Here's an example of the politics of debt taking a reformist, 99%ism type form: "[we want] the development of socially productive forms of credit. For now, refusing to honor immoral debts may be the only way to save our democracy". I think this is the probable outcome of focusing on debtor-creditor relations without class analysis, unfortunately, and it seems to be explicitly borne of weakness, "Few young people will grow up to be unionized workers, but many will be debtors."

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Sep 14 2012 08:50

And here's Graeber making the case for debt-based struggles and 'demanding the impossible'. A slightly curious argument that "the financial industry actively discourages us from scrutinizing the actual social relations on which its wealth is based", which then concludes it's based on usury, more or less, which would seem to be the kind of truncated critique of social relations he warns against. It does seem like a sort of transitional demand - a means to mobilise people for something 'reasonable' whilst shifting the debate from reforming the system to questioning it. The lingering problem seems to be that all the historical revolts against debt Graeber cites were about restoring the status quo ante, as opposed to changing fundamental social relations.

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Sep 14 2012 15:09

Operations Manual

And this manual seems to advocate class struggle within the language of 'debt resistance', e.g. "Every dollar we take from a fraudulent subprime mortgage speculator, every dollar we withhold from the collection agency is a tiny piece of ourown lives and freedom that we can give back to our communities, to those we love and we respect. These are acts of debt resistance, which come in many other forms as well: fighting for free education and healthcare, defending a foreclosed home, demanding higher wages and providing mutual aid."

david graeber
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Sep 25 2012 15:08

Yes, I was part of a collective of about 25 people that put together the Operations Manual. I think the first sentence quoted was originally mine. The second was someone else. But we all worked on it together and edited each other's words, and we all wanted the document to be very much a vehicle for class struggle, both explaining the situation in class terms and providing practical tools for debt resistors.

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jura
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Oct 14 2012 08:59

Another critical review of Graeber's debt in Jacobin that I just stumbled upon: Debt: The First 500 Pages. (On an unrelated note, I really like the design.)

duskflesh
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Oct 14 2012 18:08

I don't understand why people here at libcom are looking for a critique of david graber, especially since his views are very much consistent with kropotkin.....

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Khawaga
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Oct 14 2012 18:56

critique doesn't mean "negative"

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Cooked
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Oct 14 2012 19:55
Khawaga wrote:
critique doesn't mean "negative"

My reading of "critical review" is that it is negative, but perhaps my english failing me. The words critique and critical have some scope but a review would always be a critique? At least if it's any good.

radicalgraffiti
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Oct 14 2012 20:06
duskflesh wrote:
I don't understand why people here at libcom are looking for a critique of david graber, especially since his views are very much consistent with kropotkin.....

its vary important to examine and criticise things we agree with and believe to be true. Its a basic part of the scientific method, and although we cant be as scientific about society and culture as we can the movements of planets for example, that doesn't mean we can just abandon critic and accept what ever ideas sound nice, or match well with what we already think.

Basically without criticism and analysis we'd never progress at all.

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 14 2012 20:13

I think there's different uses of 'critical'. Worst case, people are looking for critiques of Debt so they can opine about it without having to actually do the critical thought, or even read it themselves. I once had a lecturer go on about a book it turned out he'd only read reviews of, but I'd read, so it definitely happens. I guess this sort of desire to posture as more radical than everything without having to engage could be called 'uncritical criticism'. Libcom's no stranger to it, sure.

But there's plenty of good reasons to want to read critiques too. Different people will bring different perspectives, knowledge and experience to a text, and reading their take can help you spot problems you might not have seen on your own, make you consider things from a different angle, add additional info which changes your impression of the text etc. I.e., reading others' critiques can help you in your own critical reading, posing questions about a text to which you can form your own answers.

Edit: also, what radicalgraffiti said.

david graeber
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Oct 14 2012 23:08

Hi all,

Just to weigh in, since by total random chance I checked libcom and noticed the conversation was still happening, I very much appreciate intelligent critique. (This is ironically one reason I seem to have acquired the reputation in some circles as reacting with hostility to criticism - I so appreciate good criticism, such as Joseph Kay for instance has been known to provide - that I'm often deeply annoyed when I get misreadings and cheap shots instead.) The Debt book, for example, is in many ways an experiment. I wrote it knowing I was leaving a lot of loose ends and possibly false or overstated conclusions. I also threw out what I thought were some intentional challenges to Marxist theory that I think could quite possibly be successfully answered from within the Marxist paradigm, but not without critical thought.

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Oct 15 2012 07:00
duskflesh wrote:
I don't understand why people here at libcom are looking for a critique of david graber, especially since his views are very much consistent with kropotkin.....

If there's a valid criticism of anything "we" believe, should we avoid it simply because of "our" beliefs? (FWIW I couldn't care less about Kropotkin.)

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Oct 15 2012 08:06

Fwiw, drawing out the similarities between the notion of 'baseline communism' and Kropotkin's mutual aid is part of having a critical reading of Debt. As long as it doesn't stop at 'Kropotkin's on team anarchy, so's Graeber, so this is good'! tongue

I think there definitely is a strong echo there, probably consciously so (though there's no evolutionary argument made in Debt), in terms of free cooperation being the basis of all societies, and potentially being the basis for a free communist society (though this latter point is left implicit in Debt). A critical reading might ask, what's gained by thinking of communism this way? How does it change our understanding of capitalism? What is lost by this? Does 'baseline communism' need to be supplemented by 'full communism'? and so on grin

duskflesh
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Oct 15 2012 17:20

This thread was clearly not set up as an attempt by the people at libcom to critically analyze David Graber's debt, but rather marxists at libcom trying to dismiss Graber

I have not yet read debt yet, but I’m familiar with it's conclusions and some of his other writings and have seen a few videos of his speeches. From what I see he has directly taken ideas from Kropotkin, his “communism as the requirement for capitalism” speech is taken from Kropotkin(trying to show how anarchist-communism is already developing in the capitalist society in things like libraries and ferry rides, but in capitalism one pays money instead of contributing labor to have access to such forms, also mutual aid is what makes society and the economy possible)(edit:the post before me has already pointed this out)

Debt goes against both neo-classical and Marxist economics, Kropotkin also criticizes both for being unscientific and projecting their conclusions onto the data rather than drawing their conclusions from the data. “Debt” seems to show how historically both Neo-classical and Marxist economics are very wrong, this can also be found in Karl Polanyi (I also consider to be consistent with Kropotkin). Perhaps Kropotkin might disagree with Graber's definition of money, but Graber's understanding of money solves some economical issues regarding efficient measurement of resources in communism. I have seen Graber state that his analysis has some room for a Kropotkin's ideal of a “ money-less”/ “ wage-less” economy.

I personally am not a fan of Graber's embracing of “neo-anarchism”/”lifestyle anarchism” as well as his support for lifestyle political projects. “Neo-anarchism” is only local to north American and has its genealogy in American popular culture and not historical anarchism, while it might be popular in punk circles it has no potential as a mass movement reaching all walks of life and all sorts of people. I would not call “Neo-anarchism” the current historical manifestation of anarchism. I would also like it is he would try to associate him self with Kropotkin's anarchist-communism writings rather than his purely scientific writings.

That is my two cents

I might add that I think Graber will probably be remembered as a major anarchist theorist by future generations, in the same way Bookchin was.....so he better start growing a HUGE beard!!!!!!

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 15 2012 09:31

I think most Marxists on libcom also think 'Marxist economics' is wrong!

LBird
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Oct 15 2012 09:46
duskflesh wrote:
Debt goes against both neo-classical and Marxist economics, Kropotkin also criticizes both for being unscientific and projecting their conclusions onto the data rather than drawing their conclusions from the data.

The scientific method shows that 'data' is selected according to pre-existing theory.

'Conclusions' can't be simple 'drawn from data', because what is to be counted as 'data' is an initial stage of the method.

'Data' is an endless morass of undifferentiated information which would swamp any scientific enquiry.

Refusing to accept this as 'the scientific method' simply means that the enquirer does the preliminary 'selection stage' unwittingly, basing their 'selection of data' on unexamined assumptions, those that 'society' has already taught them. Thus, it is a conservative method, which deals with the world as 'obvious' and 'apparent': the notorious 'real world' that must be lived in, without the intrusion of 'ideology'.

Angelus Novus
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Oct 15 2012 10:34
duskflesh wrote:
This thread was clearly not set up as an attempt by the people at libcom to critically analyze David Graber's debt, but rather marxists at libcom trying to dismiss Graber

Have you actually read the two pieces by Ingo Stützle? They're actually a very sympathetic, but nonetheless critical engagement with Graeber.

And FWIW, I'm not even sure if Ingo would call himself a "Marxist", though obviously I don't want to speak for him on that.

duskflesh
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Oct 15 2012 17:19
LBird wrote:
duskflesh wrote:
Debt goes against both neo-classical and Marxist economics, Kropotkin also criticizes both for being unscientific and projecting their conclusions onto the data rather than drawing their conclusions from the data.

The scientific method shows that 'data' is selected according to pre-existing theory.

'Conclusions' can't be simple 'drawn from data', because what is to be counted as 'data' is an initial stage of the method.

'Data' is an endless morass of undifferentiated information which would swamp any scientific enquiry.

Refusing to accept this as 'the scientific method' simply means that the enquirer does the preliminary 'selection stage' unwittingly, basing their 'selection of data' on unexamined assumptions, those that 'society' has already taught them. Thus, it is a conservative method, which deals with the world as 'obvious' and 'apparent': the notorious 'real world' that must be lived in, without the intrusion of 'ideology'.

You still don’t get it, even if we admit that economics is bases on selecting what we consider to be relevant data from all other happenings (like flies landing of desks or how many people rubbed their eyes in a year) neo-classical/Marxist economics still dose not base their theories on discovering patterns from the data rather applying their a-priori assumptions to the data. They will reject data when it contradicts their assumptions. Both the facts that an economic theory is based on and the economic theory itself are already both in the realm of intentional experience (using the terms of phenomenology), they don’t have the relationship of unintended sensation and intentionality as some economics might imply.
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/science/scienceI...
afaq also has a section on this

LBird
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Oct 15 2012 18:42

duskflesh, surely 'if we admit that economics is bases on selecting what we consider to be relevant data' contradicts 'base their theories on discovering patterns from the data'?

Either 'selection is imposed on data' or 'patterns emerge from unselected data'.

In fact, the scientific method is the former.

duskflesh wrote:
They will reject data when it contradicts their assumptions.

Yes, once again, this is the scientific method.

And when it comes to 'phenomenology', I thought that this was a Communist site, not a liberal one.

duskflesh wrote:
...discovering patterns from the data rather applying their a-priori assumptions to the data.

And 'phenomenology' doesn't have 'a-priori assumptions'? I think a closer look just might reveal some, comrade.