David Graeber on radio 4

July 2024 Forums General discussion David Graeber on radio 4

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  • #83623
    Dave B
    Participant

     

     

    David Graeber is running a series on radio 4 that is fairly interesting.

     

    In the last episode he managed to slot in something like;

     

    ‘not the communism like you had in Russia etc but the one about from each according to his ability and to each according to his need’.

     

    Which must be a collectors item for the BBC.

     

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054zdp6/episodes/guide

     

     

    In the last episode he managed to slot in something like;

     

    ‘not the communism like you had in Russia etc but the one about from each according to his ability and to each according to his need’.

     

    Which must be a collectors item for the BBC.

     

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054zdp6/episodes/guide

    #110103
    Dave B
    Participant

      it is in eposode 2 about 5 minutes in http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054420y

    #110104
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I heard that episode too. He did strongly make the point we do that at work and in the family "communism" prevails. The trouble is he doesn't think society as a whole could operate on this basis.

    #110105
    robbo203
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    I heard that episode too. He did strongly make the point we do that at work and in the family "communism" prevails. The trouble is he doesn't think society as a whole could operate on this basis.

     This question of  the "scalability"  of communistic relationships seems to be often enough mentioned by those skeptical of the possibility of full communism in our sense – including professional anthropologists like Graeber. How did Graeber go about justifying his skepticism in this instance , Adam? I suppose to some extent it is rooted in the anthropological approach to forms of reciprocity.  There is a useful explanation of this here http://anthro.palomar.edu/economy/econ_3.htm I have always envisaged communism or socialism to be a system of "generalised reciprocity" – or as the article puts it  "gift giving without the expectation of an immediate return"  – as opposed to balanced reciprocity of negative reciprocity..  After all, the voluntaristic nature of work in communism means in a sense that it is a kind of "gift" that we give to society without the expectation  of a return (we dont receive any payment for our work) and in full awareness of the fact that we all depend on each other and benefit from the labour contributions of millions of anonymous others in a world in which production is a globalized and socialised phenomenon.  Voluntary work hangs togther with the idea of free access to the collective fruits of our labour. You cant have one withour the other.I suspect anthropologists, like Graeber, studying small scale face-to-face societies and observing  that the pattern of reciprocity within such societies tends to sometimes differ from that which develops between such societies – trade for instance occurs on the margins of such societies and not internally amongst the individuals constituting such societies – infer from this that when  you are interacting with outsiders or strangers from another society , such individuals cannot really be trusted and that consequently, the nature of your interactions with them must necessarily be different. In other words more impersonal and based on explicit rules of engagement – market trade.  Of course even this is slightlly misleading because trade in this sense did not occur on individual one-to-one basis but rather between groups. But even in small scale societies it doesn't necessarily have to be like this.   According to Richerson et al for instance:The !Kung and the desert people of the Australian interior had elaborate institutions to link people together beyond the bounds of normal kinship. The !Kung, according to Polly Wiessner, used a gift exchange system to cultivate friendships with people in distant bands.Women exchanged fancy beadwork and men arrows. The Central Australians had elaborate “section” systems of extended kinship that classified marriage with all but a few women as incestuous. Men might have travel hundreds of kilometers to find an eligible mate. According to Aram Yengoyan and Wiessner the effect of these institutions was to ensure that every family had friends and inlaws scattered everywhere.When subsistence or political problems occurred, people could seek aid from any of a number of kin or friends in a number of different environments (Peter J. Richerson, Monique Borgerhoff  Mulder, and Bryan J. Vila, 1996. Principles of Human Ecology. Pearson      Custom Publishing, Part II, ch 3).    Whereas a gift economy unites people and cements social relationships, a market economy atomises people and places them in position where they confront each other with antagonistic interests as buyers and sellers In any event, this is quite an important subject – this question of the "scalability" of a communist or socialist society – and it would be good to see more attention being focused on it in order to be able to answer the skepticism of people like Graeber….. 

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