Erstellt am: 1. 6. 2012 - 14:00 Uhr
Organising the 99 per cent
David Graeber was born into a "radical working class family" and from a young age regarded himself as an anarchist but without really acting as one. What he found on his occasional "forays into politics" didn’t impress him very much. That all changed in 1999 when he was teaching at Yale and saw a newspaper headline "Martial Law Declared in Seattle." Seattle was where the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference was being held, and where the authorities took drastic steps in response to demonstrations by tens of thousands of protesters. This was the moment when David Graeber realised that "the social movement which I had always wished existed, had actually materialised during the period when I wasn’t paying attention … I was so impressed by what I saw that I’ve been doing it ever since".
Saturday, 12-13: Reality Check Special: Inside Occupy
"Ever since" includes, for example, the protests against the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001 and against the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, as well as the 2010 student protests in the United Kingdom - and most recently the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. David recounts how in the very early days he heard that a "general assembly" had been called and went to see what was going on. What he found was that a "local coalition, dominated by Marxists" had set up a stage with megaphones and were delivering speeches, rather than holding a general assembly. (Graeber describes the Marxists as "verticals" as opposed to the "horizontals" or anarchists, who prefer to organise by consensus rather than from the top down). He quickly realised that many others in the crowd shared his disappointment and he describes how "we thought to ourselves - why don’t we actually have a general assembly? So we started tapping people on the shoulder and by the time the whole thing was over, everybody had abandoned the rally and formed a circle and we decided to operate by consensus. And that’s how it all began." Within weeks a new global protest movement had grown from that small beginning.
By profession, David Graeber is an anthropologist. He is Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College in London. He is also the author of several books, including "Debt: The First 5000 Years." In this he analyses the function of debt and explores an alternative history of money and markets which challenges the conventional wisdom. It’s a work which has been connected to the Occupy movement. His latest publication, titled "Inside Occupy," is his account of the events and the evolution of the movement and has just been published in German.
David Graeber talking about his beginnings, his experiences with Occupy, and his views on how protest movements have developed.
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