I would like to write about the bullshitization of academic life: that is, the degree to which those involved in teaching and academic management spend more and more of their time involved in tasks which they secretly — or not so secretly — believe to be entirely pointless.
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America is a country made possible by hucksterism and carnival buncombe. It is the birthplace of both modern PR and advertising, the first place on earth to apply techniques of commercial marketing to politics, and a country where, for at least thirty years, the economy has been driven by the engine of finance—that is, by the magical creation of wealth through financial securities and derivatives.
Politicians are by definition dishonest. All politicians lie. But many observers of American politics agree that over the last few years, there has been something of a qualitative change in the magnitude of political dishonesty.
I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.
Answering today’s OFF-SET questions is David Graeber, who teaches anthropology at Gold- smiths College, University of London. He is the author of “Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value,” “Lost People,” and “Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire.”
In late 2011, around the time of Occupy Wall Street, he for some reason known only to himself, decided to go gunning for me despite my never having met him or interacted with him in my life. He started with outright personal slander that had nothing to do with my work (or anything else I could figure out) until my publishers encouraged me to point out that false personal aspersions were actionable
If The Great Transformation will be remembered for anything a century from now, it will be as the definitive rejoinder to the great liberal myth. This is, of course, the assumption that there is something natural about what Polanyi called “self-regulating markets”, that they arise of their own accord as long as state interference doesn’t prevent them.