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DEBT

David Graeber

Subtitle: The First 5,-000 Years, Melville House Publishing, Brooklyn NY., 2011, 534 pgs., index, bibliography, notes

 
 

Reviewer comment: Dr. Deidre McCloskey provides an excellent summary of Dr. Graeber's thought on page 432-3 of Bourgeois Equality. She complains that - "He is 'grumbling that 'arguments about who really owes what to whom have played a central role in shaping our basic vocabulary of right and wrong. His sole intellectual tool is Amos-like indignation against sellers and bosses and owners and creditors. He does not notice that the poor buyers and employees and renters and debtors also gain from such transactions, which after-all are under taken by mutual consent. And on the matter of loans Graeber does not notice the obvious economic logic that if we forthwith cancel all debts, as he repeatedly advises, no creditor will ever lend again." All possibly true analysis. But Graeber does provide useful information about the real nature of money, currency and credit. He is especially strong in his discussions of primitive and ancient societies, not surprising since he is an anthropologist. He is possibly almost an anarchist, at least in his views on government, again not totally wrong.
As for debt cancelation, I belive he is focused on the ancient use of a 'jubilee' year, in which debts were canceled. We are reading more advocacy for that recently

 
 

Introduction

 
 

Chapter 1 - On the Experience of Moral Confusion

 
 

Chapter 2 - The Myth of Barter

 
 

Chapter 3 - Primordial Debts

 
 

Chapter 4 - Cruelty and Redemption

 
 

Chapter 5 - A Brief Treatise on the Moral Grounds of Economic Relations

 
 

Chapter 6 - Games with Sex and Death

 
 

Chapter 7 - Honor and Degradation, or, On the Foundations of Contemporary Civilization

 
 

Chapter 8 - Credit Versus Bullion, And the Cycles of History

 
 

Chapter 9 - The Axial Age (800 BC - 600 AD)

 
 

Chapter 10 - The Middle Ages (600 AD - 1450 AD)

 
 

Chapter 11 - Age of the Great Capitalist Empires (1450 - 1970)

 
 

Chapter 12 - (1971 - The Beginning of Something yet to Be Determined)

 

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