Over at The New Inquiry, Aaron Bady has a long, but excellent review of David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years. I plan to acquire and then read this book, and hope it does what Graber set out to do:
If the heart of neoliberal doctrine is that a particular kind of economic reality is what must be and to which we must consign ourselves, then Graeber’s re-narration of how this economic reality was created – out of a dense field of historical alternatives which it subsequently tries to obscure and downplay – is an effort to make available, visible, and viable the intuitive morality of those alternatives, a standard by which we could judge what neoliberal orthodoxy sees as simple realism.It is imperative that more people in the United States recognize that the present iteration of the economy and nation-state are primarily (now, at the least) designed for and controlled by the ruling class. Most people are never exposed to the idea that other options truly exist (remember how virtually no one knows the actual definition of socialism). I endorse none, and am merely using as example a relatively old but at one time quite popular political/economic philosophy that propaganda turned into a punchline.
The word "troubling" scarcely describes the unreality that permeates thought in our culture. The drastic over-spending on empire and economic collapse brought about by massive criminal enterprise (Wall Street) leads to an "obvious" answer of Austerity Measures; government officials receive tens of millions in campaign funds and later land well-paying corporate jobs but in no way is this influence corrupting we are told; American armies invade countries--slaughtering civilians with all manner of high-explosives and burning metal--and then the spokesmen and their media stenographers call the people who oppose brutal American occupation of their countries terrorists or militants or insurgents.
Unreality pervades and it will eat our civilization (and all of us with it) if we let it.