Graeber, Berry

December 13, 2011

…I guess we were what’s sometimes described as working class aristocracy – book-lovers, engaged in an artisanal kind of skilled labour – but we never had money. I found this background was a great impediment, especially in grad school, because it meant while I usually knew far more about, say, the Oresteia than the bourgeois students, I was completely lacking in professional manners.

Orwell, too.

Then “Discipline and Hope,” with this gem:

“The peculiarity of our condition would appear to be that the implementation of any truth would ruin the economy.” (pgs. 115-16)

From Berry’s second essay collection, A Continuous Harmony. This lecture appeared in 1971, and it still describes too well right now, from his distrust of the distended political middle to his appeal to Jeffersonian ideals. These contrast greatly with the process exemplified in Graeber’s work. Berry again:

The entire social vision, as I understand it, goes something like this: Man is born into a fallen world, doomed to eat bread in the sweat of his face. But there is an economic redemption. He should go to college and get an education– that is, he should acquire the “right” certificates and meet the “right” people. An education of this sort should enable him to get a “good” job– that is, short hours of work that is either easy or prestigious for a lot of money. Thus he is saved from the damnation of drudgery, and is presumably well on the way to proving the accuracy of his early suspicion that he is really a superior person.

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