This might be the most important book you read this decade Graeber asks what the phrase You have to pay your debts really means, and his answer involves a looping historical, anthropological, linguistic, and philosophical inquiry into the nature of currency, coinage, and capitalism.
As Graeber notes, the standard economic story of the development of coinage that bartering diverse goods potatoes for shoes for sheep for shovels was so inconvenient that people developed cash to beefficient, has no evidence of support Rather, indigenous societies tend to work on principles of mutual solidarity within the group Everybody is bound together in a complex web of minor debts and obligations, the cancellation of which is the same as the end of the relations I think of Goodreads stars as the following 1, shouldn t have been published 2, terrible 3, pretty good 4, really good 5, everyone should read this because it s eye opening, incredibly skillful, and or beautiful Debt is a five star book.
Graeber s history encompasses not just history, but anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, political science, economics, religious studies, and finance as he details the history and definition of debt The conclusions he draws are especially if you ve ever taken an economics class, or, like me, gotten a degree in the subject shocking and overwhelming It s not an easy book to read the subject is complex and the writing is muchchallenging than the average pop sci book this is not Freakonomics As well, the sheer sweep of th There Was Money, There Was Debt Every Economics Textbook Says The Same Thing Money Was Invented To Replace Onerous And Complicated Barter Systems To Relieve Ancient People From Having To Haul Their Goods To Market The Problem With This Version Of History There S Not A Shred Of Evidence To Support ItHere Anthropologist David Graeber Presents A Stunning Reversal Of Conventional Wisdom He Shows That For Than , Years, Since The Beginnings Of The First Agrarian Empires, Humans Have Used Elaborate Credit Systems To Buy And Sell Goods [ Pdf Debt: The First 5,000 Years · picu PDF ] by David Graeber · That Is, Long Before The Invention Of Coins Or Cash It Is In This Era, Graeber Argues, That We Also First Encounter A Society Divided Into Debtors And Creditors Graeber Shows That Arguments About Debt And Debt Forgiveness Have Been At The Center Of Political Debates From Italy To China, As Well As Sparking Innumerable Insurrections He Also Brilliantly Demonstrates That The Language Of The Ancient Works Of Law And Religion Words Like Guilt, Sin, And Redemption Derive In Large Part From Ancient Debates About Debt, And Shape Even Our Most Basic Ideas Of Right And Wrong We Are Still Fighting These Battles Today Without Knowing It Debt The First , Years Is A Fascinating Chronicle Of This Little Known History As Well As How It Has Defined Human History, And What It Means For The Credit Crisis Of The Present Day And The Future Of Our Economy Back to the Future of CreditDespite its title this book is really a deconstruction of the idea of money The economist s idea is that credit loans, cash advances etc arises in a well developed monetary or cash on the barrel head society which in turn had been an improvement on the previous system of barter Not so says Graeber and rather convincingly credit, orprecisely the ledger of who owes what to whom, is the most primitive form of commerce which is only supplemented by either barter or immediate monetary exchange when social conditions deteriorate sufficiently to make credit arrangements impossible Wars, revolutions, and various social upheavals are what cause the demand for cash, that is, the immediate settlement of commercial transactions Cash only becomes king when ther As a sociologist, I ve been despairing of late at the paucity of imagination and theoretical innovation in social science research Academics, perhaps because of the need to publish quickly and garner grant money, seem content to only add statistical validation to already established conclusions Or, a la David Harvey, to regurgitate Marx with minor variation, with a focus solely on the neoliberal period, and in US Eurocentric fashion Debt The First 5,000 Years redeems the social sciences Not easily reduced to a brief summary, the book asks the questions How has humanity from the ancient cities of Mesopotamia to the current day conceived of the idea of debt How has the construction of debt been inextricably bound to economic, religious, political, and historical realities And, finally, it asks a provocative Okay that s much better Thanks for all the reviews ì Debt: The First 5,000 Years Ý As it turns out, we don t all have to pay our debts Only some of us doDavid Graeber, Debt The First 5,000 YearsA fascinating exploration of debt, money, barter, and the credit systems used by man for thousands of years Sure it has biases and like Capital in the Twenty First Century is a bit too idealistic, but still wow an amazing read While most economic books are still battling over the binary capitalism socialism model, Graeber quietly flips both boats or if not flips, rocks both boats HARD I mean really, when was the last time my wife let me read to her about social and economic transactions Answer Never She has NEVER, EVER before let me read to her about money or debt or interest rates or the buying and selling of goods This was an early rule in our marriage It was practically a sacred cow, a promise made with a flesh debt We even broke bread sticks over it I still h



I haven t finished reading yet, and I will try to write asubstantive review of this book once I ve had time to wrap my head around the contents, but until such time has come, I would simply propose to consider this book the new answer to Douglas Adams s Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything If you ve ever wondered whether there is a connection between to name just a few things simple social obligations, the invention of money, slavery, taxation, coinage, the disappearance of honor societies, the possibility of extended wars, the rise and fall of the West Roman empire, the relative stability of the Chinese empires, the emergence of the great world religions, and the current financial crisis, you might be interested in rea Fantastic book To quote the words of Arundhati Roy The trouble is that once you see it, you can t unsee it And once you ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out There s no innocence Either way, you re accountable Thanks for helping me seeclearly the true contours of the life we live I guess I m accountable now.
I ve returned to this book five years later, and now I m struggling to find what I enjoyed so much in it the first time around I m even struggling to articulate what exactly Graeber s point is This is a sprawling, wide set book that seems almost incoherent, first setting up the strawman of intro economics textbooks discussing barter economics but barter wasn t so common The early economic history was and is still interesting, and now I m tempted to go read up on the early Mesopotamian period and debt tablets.
But after that just seems to be a vicious invective against the stories told in economics 101 textbooks as if all of physics dealt with frictionless objects in a vacuum Now it s just this event is bad , event had debt involved , therefore debt bad Then stories about currency devaluat

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