David Graeber: Bureaucracy allows capitalism to get rid of it endlessly

When presenting his latest book in France: Bureaucracy, the author multiplies the interviews
that have the gift of questioning us by the level of imprecision and confusion of the analysis presented. Hence
our responses on a few points that we have selected.

Extract from the interview given to Libération on 16 October 2015

Let’s stop with the idea that there is only one way to technically run a company. As an
anthropologist, I have observed that there are hundreds of other economic models. People
say, “It used to be.” But why were there hundreds of ways to organize the economy in the past and
only one way today with IT? Wasn’t technology supposed to give us more options? There are plenty of things to invent to build an economy that maximizes individual freedom. It is not yet clear which model will emerge. The story doesn’t happen with someone coming in with a ready-made plan. ”

Bureaucracy, David Graeber

Graeber is moving forward, making the link between “dumb jobs” and bureaucracy. In his analysis, he lacks the distinction between power systems and network organizations.

Bureaucracy is the central element in the subjugation of the people organized by the leaders of the system. When a spiritual movement that uses the first human source of knowledge in a networked organization, is transformed by the will of a minority into a system of religious and theocratic power, the starting point is the drafting of dogmas, ready-made truths that the faithful must respect without questioning themselves if possible.

Then the theocracy will personalize its discourse and regulate the whole life of the faithful: clothing, food, work and rest, sexuality, couples and children. The same was true with the methodical bureaucracy of the Holocaust to bring about industrialized genocide in the death camps. The same is true of the capitalist economic power system, which develops conformity and, if possible, voluntary submission to its world government of the richest, the Anglo-Saxon financial oligarchy, knowing that for them there is no alternative.


Technology itself does not automatically give us more options. A computer specialist will ask you to present him with several decision options and he will see which one is best suited to a computerizable process that is convenient for the user and without programming errors. The starting point of a human organization remains the principle of subsidiarity and the elaboration of the optimal solution and then the alliance of opposites that adapts this optimal solution to local particularities.

This way of organizing a society from the local level and without bureaucracy comes to us from Egypt and ancient Greece, the Greek scholars having been trained on the banks of the Nile. It is not a question of coming up with a ready-made plan but of restoring the principles of life of the most flourishing civilizations.

The poet writes: “If the echo of their voice fades, we will perish” Paul Eluard.

I looked at JP Morgan, the world’s largest bank and sixth largest
company, according to Forbes. I was amazed to learn that 70% of their revenue comes
from fees and penalties applied to customers…/… If you think about it, the profits of the largest
capitalist companies are made possible by utopian rules that are impossible to comply with.
Everyone has to be able to balance their books and comply with bank rules, but they know very well that most customers are unable to do so. This is how their bureaucratic “utopia” allows them to become endlessly rich.” …/…
“We live in a false economic model where jobs promote function without
worrying about what they produce, and often it is nothing at all. I had written an article about the
phenomenon of “crap jobs”, those jobs that produce nothing. The subject is obviously taboo.”

Bureaucracy, David Graeber

Utopia stems precisely from the impossibility of regulating everything. Graeber as an anthropologist should remember Malinowski who, not knowing how to see behind the magic used in the Trobriand Islands, the use of the first human source of knowledge, the individual initiatory and spiritual approach, preferred to stick to the second source of knowledge, the intellectual source to found functionalism which then drifted into structuralism.

Magic then corresponds to a social function and no longer to an individual source of spiritual knowledge. We have shown how these intellectual theories, with the initial use of casuistics, have chosen particular situations to derive general models. Bureaucracy is based on utopias, and power systems function only on mythical values, ideals that will never be put into practice throughout a society.

The poet chose: rather than the republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity, he defends the human values of love and peace, as the Moso have lived them for at least two millennia and many other early peoples, not forgetting ancient Egypt for several millennia as well.


What does David Graeber stand for and can he clarify what non-utopia is?

People are perfectly capable of making reasonable decisions as long as they believe they can
do so, but there is constant propaganda telling them otherwise. I’m working with an archeologist right now on the origin of the social inequality that would come from the complexification of societies, from the
scaling up of cities. This is all wrong. The original large-scale societies, as in Mesopotamia, were egalitarian. While there are large cities that operate on an egalitarian system, it is very difficult to find an egalitarian family. Inequality comes from the bottom up. Scale doesn’t mean anything, the problem is small scale.

Bureaucracy, David Graeber

David Graeber’s conclusion is that we do not use the frame of reference of organizations in networks of life to oppose systems of power in the analysis. Leaders of power systems divide and rule, and the richer they become, the more they develop social inequalities
so that tyrants can govern without opposition that is harmful to their personal interests. This, too, is a millenium-long story, with many quotes:


It is also in a tyrant’s interest to keep his people poor, so that they are so busy with
their daily tasks that they don’t have time for rebellion.

Aristotle


The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not as dangerous as the apathy of
citizens in a democracy,

Montesquieu (1689-1755)


The world is dangerous to live not because of those who do evil but because of those
who watch and let go.

A. Einstein


The only thing that allows evil to triumph is the inaction of good men

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)


Indifference, inaction, submission and passivity with its most serious behavior: to say yes against its will is the result of aggressive and manipulative enterprises by leaders of power systems. In the life networks, local people’s assemblies are active and implement optimal solutions. The use of the first source of knowledge, the spiritual source, discards all reference to good and evil, too vague an intellectual distinction to speak of the powers of the higher world and of the double world. On the initiatory path that responds to his reasons for living, the human being learns to live without fear and without reproach. An anthropologist who can listen to and understand the cultures of the first peoples about the mysteries of life as well as listen to poets on all continents, should also arrive at this level of clear-sighted awareness about our beneficial and constructive ways of living together our human condition on planet Earth, which is particularly unstable among the universes of life energy.

“Again, Graeber takes the opposite view of the dominant discourse: In his view, less than the hypertrophy of the state, it is the infinite extension of the economic field that explains the existence of accountants, lawyers, certifiers, auditors, appraisers… “It takes a thousand times more paperwork to maintain a market economy than the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV”, he writes. ”

This historical reference is right, the nuance is obvious: Louis XIV wanted to impose royal absolutism in France and had to fight the threat of other monarchies as well as that of internal movements that refused this tyrannical pretension, mainly the hostility of Protestants whose practice of Christian social justice ran up against aristocracy and monarchy. The market economy is a utopian and false doctrine that serves as the foundation for globalization, the new form of political and economic colonialism that leads to the world government of the richest 1% in
present-day humanity.


Let us accept the measure enunciated by David Graeber: a thousand times more paperwork and millions of useless bureaucratic jobs. Bureaucracy automation is in progress, what are we going to do without any unnecessary jobs at all? We must take care of the poorest and most destitute people on Earth, the migrants pushed to our homes by their wars and financial crises. And then?
Do they know how to establish the human relationship between love that overrides our human condition and the cyclical shift of the earth’s axis that destroys life?

This mystery of the Apocalypse passed on to Denderah to those who came out alive from their highest initial ordeal is certainly taboo to the leaders of our economic and theocratic systems of power, yet every day scientific discoveries and the use of computer technologies attest to its living reality and without paperwork fed by chimerical utopias through the power madness of a few silly moneys and materialist conquests.
In this mystery, there is the endless rebirth of life and precisely it does not disappear but takes over power while minorities use the power confiscated from the peoples to condemn them to ignorance and poverty. And this is normal, very normal, because these leaders use only rational, intellectual knowledge with the myths, ideals and utopias necessary for their claim of domination.


And it is just as obvious that whoever comes to destroy these myths, these ideals, these utopias, these phony jobs and this enslaving bureaucracy, first uses the first human source of knowledge and its complementarity with the second in a global knowledge capable of marrying cultures, the hundreds, the thousands of human cultures where they live to meet our reasons for living free, without fear and without blame. In order to defend our reasons for living and our humanist values in our citizen networks of living, our first source of knowledge pushes us to say NO to the misdeeds and injustices of the leaders of the systems of power. Then without fear and reproach, we form our resistance battalions and drive the tyrants out of our cities. Always try to do the same with only the second source of knowledge, with your reasoning and even your most elaborate intellectual ideas?

You will certainly remain thoughtful on your desk in front of so much emptiness in your professional career. You would have wanted to be an artist, to find in you the child psychic already so ingenious to use his two brains and his connection to life after human life, the child poet who pushes the limits of his imagination to feel the surreality and the consciousness of the seer, the one who sees that the paperwork and the bureaucratic rules knock you out of stressful work while your masters get endlessly rich.

Yet Alfred de Musset recognized this after the events of the revolution of 1789, the Napoleonic Empire, the restoration of the monarchy:

“But all power on earth dies when the abuse is too great. There is no power that goes beyond its limits. ”.

Alfred de Musset


Beyond that he dies not because a historical law so decides but because an active minority with the use of our two sources of knowledge drives out tyrants. But it needs to know how to use the principles that make organizations into networks of life. Those who do not know the distinction between market and non-market economy, public and private, state, enterprise and bureaucracy and the theft of the work of all for the benefit of a tiny minority of the rich. Those that make use of the complementarity of our two sources of knowledge, of the three forms of ownership, the complementarity between subsidiarity and the alliance of opposites and this is more than enough without adding unnecessary paperwork. It’s about time David Graeber knew it, too… there’s plenty to be angry about among the outraged.


Unless David Graeber doesn’t stop along the way and has attended JP Morgan a little and seen how it was indebting its clients to make a fortune, he goes to the Morgan family’s property on Jekill Island, remembers the days of late November 1910 and understands that the fact
that generates the power of financiers is the capture, the theft, the hold up on the creation of money. David could then also dissect and activate on the return of the full currency to the citizens and their elected representatives, on the end of the money debt. Nevertheless, the reintroduction of full currency,
if technically banking is not a problem, leads to the disconnection of the bureaucracy, the end of the subjugation of citizens to the power of the Anglo-Saxon financial oligarchy, the elimination of phony jobs, etc.


This is a change in culture, the abandonment of the capitalist economic power system to reestablish our networks of citizens. A former teacher at Yale, David knows Milgram’s experience of putting citizens into the right state to carry out orders
contrary to their conscience far beyond mere conformism or voluntary submission.


He knows, as we do, the role of the right degree of anxiety to maintain among populations in sustaining this submission. He should know how to create a countervailing power capable of eliminating a despotic and unwanted power. A full currency is earned with boldness, determination and transparency. Money is a link, a link between generations, it is not enough to change the link, it is still necessary to take care of all that it links and this is the most important: the work of producing and distributing the wealth produced by human beings within the framework of humanist values, at least these are the ones we want to put at the heart of the functioning of our societies.

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