The anarchist intellectual had one final message for the post-pandemic world
David Graeber, anthropologist, anarchist, author, and leading light of the Occupy movement, died suddenly in Venice last September. His work in economic anthropology — particularly Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Bullshit Jobs (2018) — was startlingly original, and made him an intellectual superstar. “He was a real intellectual” wrote Nassim Nicholas Taleb when Graeber passed away, “not one fake cell in his brain, not one fake bone in his body.”
Now, Graeber’s last essay has been published in the American socialist monthly Jacobin. After the pandemic, he argues, we cannot go back to the way things were. When the crisis is “declared over… we will be able to return to our ‘nonessential jobs’. For many, this will be like waking from a dream.”
This time the window must stay open. Those who do the lion’s share of the work that keeps society functioning, who are “overtaxed, underpaid, and daily humiliated” must not “slip back into a reality where all this makes some sort of inexplicable sense”. What should happen instead?
Until the very end Graeber remained challenging and provocative; a fierce advocate of a better world to come. You can read the whole essay here.