Our Exciting Future Requires a New Economics

David GraeberAbout one conclusion we can feel especially confident: it will not happen within the framework of contemporary corporate capitalism — or any form of capitalism. To begin setting up domes on Mars, let alone to develop the means to figure out if there are alien civilizations to contact, we’re going to have to figure out a different economic system. Must the new system take the form of some massive new bureaucracy? Why do we assume it must? Only by breaking up existing bureaucratic structures can we begin. And if we’re going to invent robots that will do our laundry and tidy up the kitchen, then we’re going to have to make sure that whatever replaces capitalism is based on a far more egalitarian distribution of wealth and power — one that no longer contains either the super-rich or the desperately poor willing to do their housework. Only then will technology begin to be marshaled toward human needs. And this is the best reason to break free of the dead hand of the hedge fund managers and the CEOs — to free our fantasies from the screens in which such men have imprisoned them, to let our imaginations once again become a material force in human history.

—David Graeber
Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit

5 thoughts on “Our Exciting Future Requires a New Economics

  1. I understand what you say and why you say it. I have always agreed with people the new understanding of how big government can suck us dry and corporations acting almost the same as big government does.
    the only thing is that our new economy will come whether you like this one or a socialist or Marxist or other such.. once this system of monetary thievery since 1913.. I shall add, comes to a close, who knows what one world economy will arise. certainly not the one you want or think we should have. I stand by the constitution and we as an American free people need to stand by it and fight for our freedom from the tentacles of this force. it is not capitalism itself , its the ones who infiltrate us and use it to take from us. get it. thanks for listening. im just a regular guy in md who does work for diebold but I don’t service the voter machines. in fact we sold that business off. states complained too much of sw that crashed. it was not our software anyway in the machines. the state had their own image. lol ill shut up.

    • but socialism or any form of it will not work. socialistic economics has been tried by so many countries and peoples since the earliest times and has failed every time. its not the answer. there has to be value behind each unit of currency that someone earns for them selves. people need to be rewarded for their earnings. period. socialism does not offer that.

      • Perhaps you should read Graeber’s article. He isn’t talking about socialism. He’s an anarchist. Regardless, I find it amusing to be constantly told that socialism doesn’t work, without the slightest irony — as though capitalism works. I’m a practical guy. I’m not looking for a perfect system. I’m looking for a better system. I’m looking for a system like we had before 1975 when wages went up with productivity growth. I’m looking for a system where wealth increases are shared. Since 1975, the median male worker has seen his pay go down. I’d like to see what Milton Friedman would say about that. Our current system is not lifting all boats. We have a rigged system.

        And your complaint about the income tax is sub-mental. The first federal tax was a property tax based upon the amount of money the property would produce in a year. In other words, the first tax was an income tax. Or is 1913 supposed to refer to the Federal Reserve? You know, the Federal Reserve that has kept inflation low for the past 35 years?

        Also, your understanding of socialism comes right out of John Birch Society fliers. Consider actually reading Marx, and you might find that he isn’t talking about everyone making the same amount of money and he isn’t against profits or markets. It constantly amazes me that actual socialists understand the capitalist system really well and actual capitalists don’t have a clue what socialism is. (In general, they don’t have much of a clue as to what capitalism is either.)

        I’m sorry for the harsh tone, but you are just spewing nonsense — with an air of condescension as though you are learned, which you clearly are not. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me (not that you have a clue as to what I think), but what you’ve written is boilerplate conservative dogma designed to keep you from ever seeing that you are being robbed blind — not by the income tax or the Federal Reserve but by the power elite.

        Finally: if you don’t like the income tax and the Federal Reserve, just come out and say it. Don’t try to be clever by mentioning 1913. Yes, let us return to those great days on 1913 when people were murdered for trying to start unions! Yes, it’s been down hill the whole way. Those trips to the moon, rubbish! We need to go back to the glory days when state legislatures appointed whomever ponied up enough cash to be Senators. Those were the days!

      • Mark — What has been consistently looked at around here isn’t the virtues of communism but different ways to rethink our economic structure. Clearly communism was a disaster. It’s just that unregulated capitalism has been a fairly equivalent disaster. The things that made communism a fantastic mess and capitalism so successful had a lot more to do with the inherent wealth and poverty of the US and USSR than they had to do with one system being so much better than the other. That’s becoming clearer now as unregulated capitalist societies slide into one calamity after the next.

        As to the magic of the Constitution, it’s a good document, clearly ahead of its time in many ways. Jefferson and Franklin (not to mention people like Tom Paine who weren’t invited to contribute to it) thought it had serious holes, and were disturbed by the rise of corporate power (nothing then like it is today.) As Gore Vidal used to say when people in debates would accuse him of dismissing our nation’s origins, we are founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven’t seen them since. The people pimping unregulated capitalism as the solution to everything that ails us aren’t thinking all that hard.

        I doubt a “one world economy” would work. Different areas have different social histories and needs. What suggestions would you make four our economies and needs?

        • Wow, I should have you respond to all such comments. You are so much nicer! I was already in a bad mood, but the condescending tone coming from someone so clearly ignorant set me off. As the old saying goes, it ain’t what people don’t know; it’s what people think they know but don’t. I remember growing up believing all the “facts” about this country and watching in horror as they turned out to be myths.

          It is the conservative’s greatest weapon to say, “If you aren’t for unregulated capitalism, then you are for a command economy!” As Graeber pointed out in his article: (1) the USSR didn’t really have a Great Depression; and (2) it was the USSR’s collectivist space program that pushed the US to start its own remarkable collectivist space program, leading to the Apollo missions to the moon.

          But I can almost guarantee you that Mark won’t be back. He knows The Truth, and he just stopped by to help out the naive liberals. It still annoys me that he commented on a quotation and not something I actually wrote. I ran a database query last night: Frankly Curious now has over 5,000 articles on it. Roughly a novel’s worth of material is published every month. And Mark thinks he understands everything by reading one paragraph of a quotation from a rather long essay.

          Thanks for bringing my attention to the article, BTW! I actually have a response to it that I will eventually get around to writing.

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