A vision of a better world


The following quotes are from the last chapter of David Graeber’s The Democracy Project, in which he outlines his vision of a future anarchist society.   The bipartisan establishment in Washington does not offer hope and change, but an argument that our present plight is the best that we can hope for.   Graeber and his friends show there are other alternatives to that thinking besides the reactionary right.


Since we are all unique individuals, it’s impossible to say which one of us is intrinsically better than any other, any more, for instance, than it wold be possible to say there are superior and inferior snowflakes.

If one is going to base egalitarian politics on that understanding, the logic would have to be: since there’s no basis for ranking such unique individuals on their merits, everyone deserves the same amount of those things that can be measured: an equal income, an equal amount of money, or an equal share of wealth.


We are already anarchists, or at least we act like anarchists, every time we come to understandings with one another that would not require physical threats as a means of enforcement.

It’s not a question of building up an entirely new society whole cloth.  It’s a question of building on what we are already doing, expanding the zones of freedom, until freedom becomes the ultimate organizing principle.


I’m sure that in practice any attempt to create a market economy without armies, police and prisons to back it up will end up looking nothing like capitalism very quickly.


There are many things in short supply in the world.  One thing of which we have a well-nigh unlimited supply is intelligent, creative people … … The problem is not a lack of imagination.  The problem is the stifling systems of debt and violence, created to ensure that these powers of imagination are not used—or are not used to create anything beyond financial derivatives, new weapons systems, or new Internet platforms for the filling out of forms.


… For the rest of us, having money, having an income, being free from debt, has come to mean having the power to pursue something other than money.  Certainly we all want to ensure that our loved ones are taken care of.  We all want to live in healthy and beautiful communities.  But beyond that, the things we wish to pursue are likely to be wildly different.  What if freedom were the ability to make up our minds about what it was we wished to pursue, with whom we wished to pursue it, and what sort of commitments we wish to make to them in the process?

Equality, then, would be simply a matter of guaranteeing equal access to those resources needed in the pursuit of an endless variety of forms of value.  Democracy in that case would simply be our capacity to come together as reasonable human beings and work out the resulting common problems—since problems there always will be—a capacity that can only truly be realized once the bureaucracies of coercion that hold existing structures of power together collapse of fade away.


Is such a vision possible?  I don’t know.  Or rather I don’t know to what degree it is possible.

The late Arthur C. Clarke said that the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to push a little bit into the impossible.

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