American thinker and anthropologist has past away, aged 59. He was still professor at the London School of Economics. David Graeber has gone too soon.
Most of you probably have heard of Mr Graeber after he published the so-called essay Bullshit Jobs in Strike magazine, back in 2013. In short, he explained that our world was full of unnecessary jobs while some others were massively underrated. He couldn’t be more right during the pandemic, when most of us realized how crucial were nurses, for instance, and how superfluous were quite a lot of other categories… He told the truth before it arrived.
The initial essay became a well-known book in 2018, even if Graeber had already caught the public’s attention a few years before, when he published a major historical monograph in 2011: Debt: The First 5000 years.
But the scientist was way more than that. He was also a talented activist and played a large role after the last financial crisis, during the Occupy Wall Street movement (in 2011). He could have been compared with French philosopher and economist Frédéric Lordon who took a major part in the more recent political action Nuit Debout, which began in 2016.
Unlike other thinkers and researchers, Graeber often tried to use what we could call ‘plain English’ rather than jargon and elite vocabulary. After all, he was also an anarchist, and someone who actualized the idea of a possible revolution. He did quite well, in that particular matter. And he never sounded ridiculous or too idealistic. On the contrary, he based his analysis on a deeply-rooted intuition, with historical data.
Aside from his intellectual work, the writer and activist wanted to publicize some still burning topics. Like inequalities, social justice and capitalism itself as a contradictory system. With the rise of automation, artificial intelligence and new technologies, those public debates will become more and more necessary in the years to come.
The thinker acted as an avant-garde. He could become one of the most important voices in the near future.
Graeber was American but could easily have been European. Indeed, after he was fired from Yale in 2005, he took a break and then joined the prestigious LSE. But he seemed to have embraced a certain European style, in a way. He wrote in mainstream media and never missed an opportunity to offer his analysis to a broader audience.
While he had a unique voice, he tried to use his knowledge to bring some radical ideas to the democratic table, like Paul Krugman, Slavoj Žižek or even French philosopher Alain Badiou often practice.
They’re all radical and socially committed thinkers. They teach. They think. And they share to the public.
For all that, thank you, Mr David Rolfe Graeber. We will continue the fight. We will use your precious work.
Rest in peace.