Debt: The First 5000 years

I'm reading Debt the First 5000 years by David Graeber rn and I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts.
He claims that for many periods of human history, commerce was done primarily among most people through informal credit arrangements, medieval europe being one example.
If you were buy drinks at your local pub for example, you would work up a tab, which could be represented by a tally, some form of IOU, etc, and then later you would find a way to "pay" the bartender through gifts, favors, etc.
IOU's also circulated in communities as a form of currency, the value based on the trust that you would return the favor if the IOU was brought to you.
The bartender in most cases would not go to the courts to enforce the debt if it was not paid, but if you did not pay back the bartender or did so in a way deemed inadequate, your reputation with the community could be ruined and would ruin relationships necessary for every day life.

During the age of discovery, the inflation of the prices of precious metals, as well as the insistence that taxes be paid in coinage that was not in wide enough circulation for everyday transactions until the mid 19th century, led to peasants having to sell off their possessions to acquire coins to pay taxes.
In England, the extremely punitive judicial system increasingly intruded on every day life, and began to be used arbitrarily to enforce the former informal credit arrangements.
Government enforcement of debts led to debters' prisons swelling in numbers.

Both of these things led to the break down of the old credit systems, and the break down of the independent rural peasantry.

Very roughly summarized, and I'm not really well read on Medieval Europe, but I'm interested in other people's thoughts on this theory and the book if you've read it.

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  1. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    This book turned me into an Anarchist when he concisely explained that states emerged to pay off large standing armies and he completely BTFO libertarians by pointing out that no stateless society with markets ever emerged in of history.
    Markets only emerge AFTER states are formed, and they take on the role of enforcing the markets.
    Capitalism could literally not exist without a state.
    His example with traditional Malagasy gift economies getting violently displaced by a market economy during European colonization is fascinating.
    They literally got the Malagasy to become willing wageslaves by first addicting them to finished products like tobacco or booze so they'd submit to working for wages to then spend on their vices.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      How taxation evolved from tribute imposed on peoples conquered by early states was quite fascinating to me.
      In Madagascar like you mentioned, the French imposed a tribute they framed as a "debt" they had to pay essentially for the cost of being civilized, which had to be paid in french coinage.
      How would they get these coins? By exchanging goods with French soldiers or merchants in return for coins, which they could also then use to buy the finished products you mentioned.

      It's fricking bizarre imo.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        It makes sense, early farming societies could raise bigger armies and states emerged to administer payments by extracting tribute from conquered peoples.
        He shows his Anglo education when he regurgitates Black Legend propaganda that Spanish colonization was more brutal than English colonization, with the added twist that he says conquistadors were motivated by needing to pay back their creditors back in Spain for the cost of the expedition.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          He shows it even more when he portrays muslim civilization as relatively benign and european colonialism as the single most terrible thing to ever have happened. Very very biased.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            that's a mischaracterization.
            he doesn't call medieval Muslim societies benign, he says that the peculiar relationship of Islamic institutions to the market, similarly to what was happening in Medieval Europe with the Church, led to usury being banned and there being free trade, while at the same time slavery continued to exist.
            And he doesn't call European Colonialism the "single most terrible thing to exist", he criticizes it by comparing its flaws to Axial age societies which saw a periodic debt crisises that threatened the existence of a free peasantry and the formation of slave societies through widespread warfare and destruction.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            here are some quotes from the book:
            >The [african] slave trade, of course, represented violence on an entirely different scale. We are speaking here of destruction of genocidal proportions, in world-historic terms, comparable only to events like the destruction of New World civilizations or the Holocaust.
            >Not only was the Far West an unusually violent place by world standards, the Catholic Church was extraordinarily intolerant. It's hard to find many Medievalö Chinese, Indian, or Islamic parallels, for example, to the burning of "witches" or the massacre of heretics.
            >The african slave trade was, as I mentioned, an unprecedented catastrophe
            >Any number of civilizations have probably been in the position to wreak havoc on the scale that the European powers did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but almost none actually did so.
            You are free to find me some equally disparaging quotes about any non european civilizations from that book, I assure you they dont exist.
            I dont think the arab slave trade gets mentioned at all, and I dont think muslim slavery is ever mentioned without noting how it wasnt as bad as european slavery. Also I'm pretty sure asian atrocities are completely glossed over.
            I'd be happy to be proven wrong though!

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            here are some quotes from the book:
            >The [african] slave trade, of course, represented violence on an entirely different scale. We are speaking here of destruction of genocidal proportions, in world-historic terms, comparable only to events like the destruction of New World civilizations or the Holocaust.
            >Not only was the Far West an unusually violent place by world standards, the Catholic Church was extraordinarily intolerant. It's hard to find many Medievalö Chinese, Indian, or Islamic parallels, for example, to the burning of "witches" or the massacre of heretics.
            >The african slave trade was, as I mentioned, an unprecedented catastrophe
            >Any number of civilizations have probably been in the position to wreak havoc on the scale that the European powers did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but almost none actually did so.
            You are free to find me some equally disparaging quotes about any non european civilizations from that book, I assure you they dont exist.
            I dont think the arab slave trade gets mentioned at all, and I dont think muslim slavery is ever mentioned without noting how it wasnt as bad as european slavery. Also I'm pretty sure asian atrocities are completely glossed over.
            I'd be happy to be proven wrong though!

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Where was he wrong though?
            As far as saying he "glosses" over other atrocities by non-europeans, he's critical of all the Axial age empires, saying that they all engaged in widespread warfare, destruction of cities and cultures, and a prolific slave trade.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            He seems to ignore alot of what was going on with the Islamic "gunpowder empires" and Asia in that time period.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            That would be a complete tangent to the book, but Graeber does cover Medieval China and Islamic world in the book.
            And he does talk about how Chinese monetary policy was a huge driver in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, because the Chinese had a huge demand for silver, and Spanish silver mines became massively successful as a result. If China had primarily used paper money and credit as they had a few centuries prior, there would not have been a market for that much American silver.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            how would it be a tangent, he actually talks about those civilizations, he just doesnt feel the need to paint them as uniquely evil as he does with the europeans

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            If you think the point of the book is to say europeans are uniquely evil, then you just haven't read the book.
            Graeber is calling usury backed up by the sword a unique evil.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            The arab slave trade being basically equal in scope and brutality to the atlantic slave trade and despite this not getting mentioned in a similar fashion?
            Its hard to find parallels to the burning of witches and heretics in islam, who still practice it to this day?
            I'd say those are pretty wrong, just like the rest of the quotes that are dishonest and/or historically illiterate.
            Whats even more cringe is that none of these things would even refute the core thesis of his book, but he just that he cant help himself but constantly self flagellate due to the inherent bias of the intellectual tradition he comes from.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Dude you just don't know about what you're talking about. Islamic societies did also have a prolific slave trade. Graeber talks about this.
            However it did not reach an a near industrial scale like the Atlantic slave trade because the Islamic societies did not allow usury.
            Slave ships in the Atlantic were funded on loans taken at interest, and African merchants trading them slaves often gave up relatives as hostages that were held as an insurance against the merchants not being able to keep up their end of the bargain and deliver X slaves.

            This meant if your slave ship fails to be profitable, you're in financial ruin, and the bank still makes a profit.
            If the African merchant fails to secure slaves, his family would be taken off and sold in the Americans instead. The slave ships still get their slaves regardless.

            These created extremely perverse incentives that led to increasing brutality, while ensuring the business of loaning money to slavers would be incredibly lucrative.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Yeah dude, caravans with thousands of camels were all owned by small worker owned businesses, no loans or profit motives involved here! xD
            You really think the perverse thing is the form the bean counting takes and not the people dying on the atlantic/sahara crossing? Why even harp on how uniquely evil it is when the only unique thing about it is the accounting?
            >Graeber talks about this.
            Really, why dont you just post some quotes then? I posted some already, why dont you do the same and we can actually discuss them.

            If you think the point of the book is to say europeans are uniquely evil, then you just haven't read the book.
            Graeber is calling usury backed up by the sword a unique evil.

            >If you think the point of the book is to say europeans are uniquely evil, then you just haven't read the book.
            If you think thats what I think then you havent read my posts. Very lazy straw man.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >However it did not reach an a near industrial scale like the Atlantic slave trade
            lol you should actually look up all the trade routes involved in the arab slave trade and the total number of slaves sold
            bet you'll be surprised at what you find!

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            17 million in 1400 years for the Arab Slave trade vs 11 million in 300 for the transatlantic Trade.Wow! Europeans sure are efficient at hauling nigs whenever they go.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            17 million doesnt include the berber and ottoman slave trade by the way.
            So were in agreement that they are absolutely conparable in scope then?

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >markets = capitalism
      no

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      How taxation evolved from tribute imposed on peoples conquered by early states was quite fascinating to me.
      In Madagascar like you mentioned, the French imposed a tribute they framed as a "debt" they had to pay essentially for the cost of being civilized, which had to be paid in french coinage.
      How would they get these coins? By exchanging goods with French soldiers or merchants in return for coins, which they could also then use to buy the finished products you mentioned.

      It's fricking bizarre imo.

      You might want to give James Scott's "Moral Economy of the Pesant" a read too for similar analysis on Indochina.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I'm planning to read Against the Grain and Seeing Like State from the same author

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      There are so many strange, moronic loaded statements in this post that its difficult to take it seriously.
      The conception of a "Stateless society" is a bit oxymoronic. You can't have a society without a state. You can't have a state without a society. They're both tautological. Its also a strange argument - a solution in search of a problem. There are no logical arguments as to why anyone would want to abolish society or a state.
      Modern states provide things people typically want infrastructure, healthcare, protection from natural disasters or violence. These are things 99% of people living in society want besides psychopaths, luddites and the mentally ill.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        You're using a different definition of state than Graeber or anarchists generally. Graeber is referring to a sovereign which has a monopoly of violence. Hunter-gatherer societies do not have this.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >Hunter-gatherer societies do not have this.
          Violence was a consistent part of these societies so I don't see how this argument rings true.
          https://news.tulane.edu/pr/new-study-reveals-long-history-violence-ancient-hunter-gatherer-societies

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            I didn't say there was a lack of violence, I said there's not a monopoly of violence by one person or institution.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Market Anarchists seething

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >Capitalism could literally not exist without a state.
      That should be painfully obvious without reading the book. Capitalism emerged alongside strong centralized states.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Normalgays don't know that, they're taught the state and the market have an adversarial relationship rather than being intrinsically linked.
        Libertarians in particular haven't gotten the memo and believe you can have markets with a weak/no state even though there is not a single stateless market society in the historical record.
        If markets arise naturally like libertarians say, there should be ample evidence of market societies with state societies being the anomaly, but no society exists.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Is it the book where he tells the story of Apple and tells more lies than there are words in his story? The same book where he made up the lie that the Federal Reserve was a private company with zero government oversight that all the Occupy Wall Street morons kept parroting back in the day? The same book where he explains how money came to be and gets every single detail wrong while asserting all scholars agree with him?

    Yeah, stop listening to people who "have a bias in reality." You could end up like pic related.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Is this the rarest IQfy gay of all, the Federal Reserve defender?

  3. 1 month ago
    Sage

    David Graeber is dead so there's no need to pretend anymore that anything he wrote was of any value, ever

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      This. He was a great propaganda writer, but there's so much bullshit in wverything he wrote that its impossible to untangle what's real.

      There was certainly some informal borrowing between ancient people, but also money and bartering.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      This. He was a great propaganda writer, but there's so much bullshit in wverything he wrote that its impossible to untangle what's real.

      There was certainly some informal borrowing between ancient people, but also money and bartering.

      hang yourselves /misc/trannies

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >your reputation with the community could be ruined and would ruin relationships necessary for every day life
    sounds cool I wish it was like that still.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Have you ever heard of something called a credit score

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I don't know but the thing about IOUs sounds very plausible to me since I've never heard anything about common coin/money usage in peasant villages, outside of fantasy games. I've often figured medieval villages functionally worked like anarchist communes considering their relationship with central government like the king or local duke must have been pretty limited, what with it been a day or two walk into the rural territory that has nothing of immediate value and they being self sufficient food wise.

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Graeber is an anti-White israeli communist who pulls things out of his ass.

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >No debt enforcement
    Sounds neat
    >Except crippling ostracism if you're in debt to a person who feels like shitting on your reputation
    Wow this sucks

    Seriously, how is ostracism a more humane method than debt collection agencies?

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >Both of these things led to the break down of the old credit systems, and the break down of the independent rural peasantry.
    Good

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