watched this earlier today, very good but hardly a ‘vs.’ given that they don’t disagree once during the whole hour and a half.
‘If French thinkers have dominated theoretical developments in the Anglophone humanities since the mid 1970s, it is primarily because of the powerfully ‘post-philosophical’ coding of the philosophical aspects of their work - post-philosophical, that is, in a delicately dialectical sense, whereby…
I’ve got this before. At one point I wrote something for New Left Review, a theory piece that they actually commissioned from me. It’s very ironic because they then rejected it before allowing me to respond to the criticisms, but the major criticism was—they couldn’t quite say it, they came very close—“You’re Anglophone. You’re writing in English. People who write in French, German, and Italian can propose theories; people who write in English can comment on those theories. You can’t just make up a theory of alienation. That’s absurd.” So there are these codes like that.
Pretty sure also that Godard could never have been English; 100% of his dialogue is such that I probs only like it because it’s in French and I’m actually getting it through reading subtitles, slipping it automatically into a more ‘literary’ register.
DG: […] In the same way that the “ought” trumps all other values, debt trumps all other “oughts.” And I argue in the book that one reason why medieval theologians, whether Christian or Muslim, seemed so inherently suspicious about usury is because it creates a moral imperative that tends to trump all others. They recognized a potentially dangerous rival when they saw one, a moral system that would completely overwhelm their own if it was allowed full rein.
- via Unemployed Negativity
[…] This story, which can be traced back at least as far as Aristotle, begins with an economy based on barter, but, as anyone who has brought their cow to the market and came back with magic beans can tell you, barter is incredibly inconvenient. Money, the story claims, then comes into existence to solve the shortcomings of barter, the difficulty of bringing objects to the market, and the time spent waiting for someone who had what you wanted and wanted what you had. Most importantly, money is an affair of equals, grounded only on convenience and interest. This is why this story is so popular with Adam Smith and contemporary economic textbooks.
Graeber argues that there is one thing wrong with this story: it never happened. He uses a great deal of archeological and anthropological evidence to argue that this smooth transition from barter to money never took place. All of this historical evidence is based on one simple problem: barter presupposes a kind of sociality of people who are entirely disconnected, without bonds, but not engaged in direct conflict. Marx would say that it presuppose bourgeois subjects, subjects connected only by self-interest. What Graeber argues is that history, or rather anthropology, has documented all sorts of ways in which goods circulate, but this circulation is usually one in which bonds of all sorts, friendships and debts, circulate as well.
Graeber gives more credit (I actually don’t know if I intended that pun or not) to a different account of money, primordial debt theory, which argues that money emerged from the taxes, from the state’s need to generate money. This theory begins with a fundamental asymmetry, not an equivalence, an asymmetry that is often founded on religion, on the sense of debt owed to the world. (Readers of Deleuze and Guattari will recognize a great deal of this emphasis on the primordial debt running through Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus).
As Graeber summarizes this dichotomy of these two viewpoints as follows:
“This is a great trap of the twentieth century: on one side is the logic of the market, where we like to imagine that we all start out as individuals who don’t owe each other anything. On the other is the logic of the state, where we all begin with a debt we can never truly pay. We are constantly told that they are opposites, and that between them they contain the only real human possibilities. But it’s a false dichotomy. States created markets. Markets require states. Neither could continue to exist without the other, at least, in anything like the forms we would recognize today.”
What these two accounts illustrate is that debt is always a combination of equality and hierarchy. The false dichotomy of the account of the origins of money presents them as alternatives, but that misses the fact that they are always intertwined in debt. To quote Graeber again: “Debt is a very specific thing, and it arises from very specific situations. It first requires a relationship between two people who do not consider each other fundamentally different sorts of being, who at least potential equals, who are equals in those ways that are really important, and who are not currently in a state of equality—but for whom there is some way to set matters straight.” […]