Thoughts on Graeber's Direct Action: An Ethnography (part I)

I find Graeber's thoughts on ideology and government regulations interesting. Although he doesn't mention Libertarians (aka: anarcho-capitalists) he does touch on a fundamental contradiction in so-called Libertarian thought. The Libertarians and the Tea Party movement insist that the government is an institution that undermines the rights of individuals. Anarchists would agree. However, Libertarians and "Teabaggers" don't recognize the fact that in order for private property to exist there must be a state to protect it. This important contradiction is made evident by Durkheim's critique of Spencer. Graeber writes, "Spencer's predictions were in no way borne out by the empirical evidence. In fact, he found that as free contractual arrangements increased in number, states actually became much larger: there had to be an endless elaboration of new legislation and administrative mechanisms to monitor and enforce them all..." (Graeber 2009:282). He writes that these laws effectively undermine the anarchists' philosophy of "creating a new society in the shell of the old." Non-profits corporations are required to operate on hierarchical principles. Property cannot be owned by a collective unless a corporation is established. Thus, the state enforces individualistic, hierarchical structure with the threat of violence. I will say more on violence in a future post.

Graeber, David.
2009. Direct Action: An Ethnography. Oakland: AK Press.

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