Meet the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street

David GraeberDrake Bennett writes in Bloomberg Business:

David Graeber likes to say that he had three goals for the year: promote his book, learn to drive, and launch a worldwide revolution. The first is going well, the second has proven challenging, and the third is looking up.

Graeber is a 50-year-old anthropologist — among the brightest, some argue, of his generation — who made his name with innovative theories on exchange and value, exploring phenomena such as Iroquois wampum and the Kwakiutl potlatch. An American, he teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London. He’s also an anarchist and radical organizer, a veteran of many of the major left-wing demonstrations of the past decade: Quebec City and Genoa, the Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia and New York, the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, the London tuition protests earlier this year. This summer, Graeber was a key member of a small band of activists who quietly planned, then noisily carried out, the occupation of Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, providing the focal point for what has grown into an amorphous global movement known as Occupy Wall Street.

It would be wrong to call Graeber a leader of the protesters, since their insistently nonhierarchical philosophy makes such a concept heretical. Nor is he a spokesman, since they have refused thus far to outline specific demands. Even in Zuccotti Park, his name isn’t widely known. But he has been one of the group’s most articulate voices, able to frame the movement’s welter of hopes and grievances within a deeper critique of the historical moment …

More: Bloomberg Business

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  • dyvyzyo
  • Anonymous
  • 5by5

    So let me get this straight — Bloomberg News, owned by the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to evict the Wall Street protesters is now trying to define FOR THEM, who THEIR leader is?

    Wow. That’s priceless.

  • 5by5

    So let me get this straight — Bloomberg News, owned by the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to evict the Wall Street protesters is now trying to define FOR THEM, who THEIR leader is?

    Wow. That’s priceless.

  • 5by5

    So let me get this straight — Bloomberg News, owned by the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to evict the Wall Street protesters is now trying to define FOR THEM, who THEIR leader is?

    Wow. That’s priceless.

  • Simiantongue

    It’s a necessity almost like breathing for authoritarians. Their world
    is just not stable unless they can conceive of these situations through
    their ideological lens. Movements must have leaders. Leaders must answer
    to entrenched authority in order to seek redress. It’s more about
    legitimizing themselves as an authority, being the ones that must be parleyed with,
    than anything else.

    How it works is pretty simple. The parley, or conversation, is not only
    to convey the content and information but to negotiate power relationships.
    This is a fundamental part of human speech and interaction in fact, we do this all the
    time. This is the trade and craft that IS politics. People who
    become successful politicians are expert at manipulating power
    relationships through language, communication. Establishing the most beneficial stance for the politician in either a dominance, reciprocity or communality relationship with whomever they are parleying with.

    A definite first step to undercutting a movement would entail the
    establishment of someone that they can parley with. The worst possible
    situation would be that of an anarchist movement coming from OCW. An
    anarchist movement would not seek to legitimize the authority they would
    act of their own accord, circumventing the need to parley with authority, hence no nee for a leader. Say for
    instance some community needs a well, most movements would seek to
    parley with an established authority, someone is put forward from the movement who job it is to petition to have said authority provide the
    well. An anarchist movement would start to build the well themselves and
    dare the establishment to stop them. That basically makes any authority
    like politicians, corporations etc look flaccid and purposeless. This
    must be avoided. So the establishment will invent leaders if none are put forward by any movement to avoid this. As they have done here in Bloomberg Business. I don’t have to point out the conceit in this. This way when the parley starts and the parameters of so called
    “legitimate” conversation and action are laid out it’s all quite within
    establishment control the entire time.

    The second step. With leaders, who were invented
    for a movement, they and movement can be subverted to the establishment cause. This is done
    through celebrity, wealth etc. Basically it’s bribery and even
    extortion and blackmail if needed, blackmail is more rare as reward is a
    much more powerful and longer lasting tactic. It depends on whatever way they can get
    their claws into the leader. This is of course if the establishment finds it impossible to just relegate the movement to obscurity. This would be done by discrediting it in any way thy could. This may be as simple as police guiding drunks and the homeless and drug users to the area. Which I actually witnessed myself up here in Boston. Or it may be grasping at any straw like the anti-semitism garbage. We all know what anti-semitic movements look like, OWS is obviously not one. 

    As strange as it sounds these manufactured leaders are often times
    rewarded and heralded. Given positions of prestige, celebrity and/or
    wealth. Thereby putting them in a position where they have much to lose.
    Where their ’cause’ has much to lose. Remember the game is not about
    stopping dissenting behavior completely it’s about containing it, as we constrain
    dogs on leashes. A completely broken and abused dog does you no good. You need it to fulfill a purpose still.

    Establishing these parameters of a controlled movement means you may go this far in discussing dissent and no farther, if you do there
    will be consequences to you or your movement. In the overall game of
    power play these manufactured leaders are subverted to entrenched
    authority. Think what you like about these power players, they can be of
    less than average intelligence even, but they’ve been playing this game for millennia, the rote roles are very well worked out, many play this game very well
    and that’s why they are where they are. It’s about getting you to play by their house rules and the odds are very much in the houses favor.

    I’ll give you a for instance that jumps to mind how this is done in politics. A fairly non controversial, widely known example. Dennis
    Kucinich, is about as far left as left gets in establishment politics. Which is precisely
    what he is there for. He is allowed, tolerated, a little bit rewarded for being the
    official “far left” position. The measure of how the boundary of far
    left is defined in establishment politics, there are a few others to be sure, Sanders senator of
    Vermont for example. That far and no farther in left criticism will be tolerated, and that barely so. To go outside that
    boundary is to fall from establishment legitimacy.

    Kucinich was allowed to
    be the head of the Education and Labor Committee.
    Something that he feels he can do a lot of good with. Maybe he does. The
    point is that it’s used against him when needed. When it came time to
    stand for what he preached in single payer health reform or supporting
    Obama’s health care Kucinich was one of the last holdouts. There was
    much ado about meeting with Obama to convince Kucinich of his position. So
    what did they eventually use to bring Kucinich into line? Yes, they were
    going to take away his committee, the one he feels he does so much good
    with. He wasn’t getting a single payer option and if he stood against Obama he was also going to lose his committee. So he folded on the larger issue or else lose everything. This is the nature of deep politics. It works the
    same way with movements. A parley is established with manufactured
    leaders. They are heralded, praised, the establishment authority was for
    this movement all along in fact!. Something they value is given and
    that is used as a leash. Never forget they are lap dogs.

    It’s not until leaders are able to throw off ego, shun the promises of
    reward, walk the unimpeachable path that blackmail cannot touch, that they would be worth following. Seeing as how that is not humanly
    possible I follow no one. I trust the better judgement of direct action, rather than entrusting to those who are disconnected. Limited, reasoned and evidence based
    authority, that is ultimately self subverting. Blomberg Business can keep their false prophets. I’d be glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with David Graeber any day, he seems like a decent sort of person, but I wouldn’t stand behind him. I mean that in the most complimentary anarchistic way.

    • Simiantongue

      Oh look at my post again. It looks so nice when I write it out and this just box just mutilates it. It’s a little perturbing. Well at least my paragraphs are somewhat intact this time.

    • Quest

      Thank you for this

  • Simiantongue

    It’s a necessity almost like breathing for authoritarians. Their world
    is just not stable unless they can conceive of these situations through
    their ideological lens. Movements must have leaders. Leaders must answer
    to entrenched authority in order to seek redress. It’s more about
    legitimizing themselves as an authority, being the ones that must be parleyed with,
    than anything else.

    How it works is pretty simple. The parley, or conversation, is not only
    to convey the content and information but to negotiate power relationships.
    This is a fundamental part of human speech and interaction in fact, we do this all the
    time. This is the trade and craft that IS politics. People who
    become successful politicians are expert at manipulating power
    relationships through language, communication. Establishing the most beneficial stance for the politician in either a dominance, reciprocity or communality relationship with whomever they are parleying with.

    A definite first step to undercutting a movement would entail the
    establishment of someone that they can parley with. The worst possible
    situation would be that of an anarchist movement coming from OCW. An
    anarchist movement would not seek to legitimize the authority they would
    act of their own accord, circumventing the need to parley with authority, hence no nee for a leader. Say for
    instance some community needs a well, most movements would seek to
    parley with an established authority, someone is put forward from the movement who job it is to petition to have said authority provide the
    well. An anarchist movement would start to build the well themselves and
    dare the establishment to stop them. That basically makes any authority
    like politicians, corporations etc look flaccid and purposeless. This
    must be avoided. So the establishment will invent leaders if none are put forward by any movement to avoid this. As they have done here in Bloomberg Business. I don’t have to point out the conceit in this. This way when the parley starts and the parameters of so called
    “legitimate” conversation and action are laid out it’s all quite within
    establishment control the entire time.

    The second step. With leaders, who were invented
    for a movement, they and movement can be subverted to the establishment cause. This is done
    through celebrity, wealth etc. Basically it’s bribery and even
    extortion and blackmail if needed, blackmail is more rare as reward is a
    much more powerful and longer lasting tactic. It depends on whatever way they can get
    their claws into the leader. This is of course if the establishment finds it impossible to just relegate the movement to obscurity. This would be done by discrediting it in any way thy could. This may be as simple as police guiding drunks and the homeless and drug users to the area. Which I actually witnessed myself up here in Boston. Or it may be grasping at any straw like the anti-semitism garbage. We all know what anti-semitic movements look like, OWS is obviously not one. 

    As strange as it sounds these manufactured leaders are often times
    rewarded and heralded. Given positions of prestige, celebrity and/or
    wealth. Thereby putting them in a position where they have much to lose.
    Where their ’cause’ has much to lose. Remember the game is not about
    stopping dissenting behavior completely it’s about containing it, as we constrain
    dogs on leashes. A completely broken and abused dog does you no good. You need it to fulfill a purpose still.

    Establishing these parameters of a controlled movement means you may go this far in discussing dissent and no farther, if you do there
    will be consequences to you or your movement. In the overall game of
    power play these manufactured leaders are subverted to entrenched
    authority. Think what you like about these power players, they can be of
    less than average intelligence even, but they’ve been playing this game for millennia, the rote roles are very well worked out, many play this game very well
    and that’s why they are where they are. It’s about getting you to play by their house rules and the odds are very much in the houses favor.

    I’ll give you a for instance that jumps to mind how this is done in politics. A fairly non controversial, widely known example. Dennis
    Kucinich, is about as far left as left gets in establishment politics. Which is precisely
    what he is there for. He is allowed, tolerated, a little bit rewarded for being the
    official “far left” position. The measure of how the boundary of far
    left is defined in establishment politics, there are a few others to be sure, Sanders senator of
    Vermont for example. That far and no farther in left criticism will be tolerated, and that barely so. To go outside that
    boundary is to fall from establishment legitimacy.

    Kucinich was allowed to
    be the head of the Education and Labor Committee.
    Something that he feels he can do a lot of good with. Maybe he does. The
    point is that it’s used against him when needed. When it came time to
    stand for what he preached in single payer health reform or supporting
    Obama’s health care Kucinich was one of the last holdouts. There was
    much ado about meeting with Obama to convince Kucinich of his position. So
    what did they eventually use to bring Kucinich into line? Yes, they were
    going to take away his committee, the one he feels he does so much good
    with. He wasn’t getting a single payer option and if he stood against Obama he was also going to lose his committee. So he folded on the larger issue or else lose everything. This is the nature of deep politics. It works the
    same way with movements. A parley is established with manufactured
    leaders. They are heralded, praised, the establishment authority was for
    this movement all along in fact!. Something they value is given and
    that is used as a leash. Never forget they are lap dogs.

    It’s not until leaders are able to throw off ego, shun the promises of
    reward, walk the unimpeachable path that blackmail cannot touch, that they would be worth following. Seeing as how that is not humanly
    possible I follow no one. I trust the better judgement of direct action, rather than entrusting to those who are disconnected. Limited, reasoned and evidence based
    authority, that is ultimately self subverting. Blomberg Business can keep their false prophets. I’d be glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with David Graeber any day, he seems like a decent sort of person, but I wouldn’t stand behind him. I mean that in the most complimentary anarchistic way.

  • Simiantongue

    Oh look at my post again. It looks so nice when I write it out and this just box just mutilates it. It’s a little perturbing. Well at least my paragraphs are somewhat intact this time.

  • Quest

    Thank you for this

21
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