Welcome to the machine: Why this place was called davidgraeber.INDUSTRIES?

Letter from a member of davidgraeber.industries maintenance staff

It has come to my attention that this institution's name inspires controversy: davidgraeber.industries.

Perhaps it reminds people of industrial capitalism. Little hands crushed in demonic gears churning out units of "content."

Let us assure you, this is no normal industrial undertaking. This factory charges no money & gives everything away. And its name was enthusiastically chosen by our neurotic workaholic himself: David Graeber. (From a page of search results I sent him.)

When he saw “davidgraeber.industries,” he immediately knew it was the right choice. As did I, when he told me. So I didn’t think to question it. Now I must attempt to explain our intuitions, unable to ask David.

Let’s first clear our minds with a little mental exercise. David advocated “charitable interpretations”: If something looks bad, perhaps you can add something to make it look good. And if you want David-level imagination (after all, your mind is no less valuable than his!), this is good practice: turn bad things into good by imaginatively adding something.

So what are some charitable ways to interpret “industries”?

Well, if you imagine yourself as David, having busted your ass for decades writing books & occupying things—under hilariously hostile & lonely conditions—you might be forgiven for being a little pleased at the fleet of ideas you helped assemble. Though you recommend against it, you personally can’t help but be industrious as hell.

And in a slightly different world, couldn’t “industry” mainly just build tools for human liberation? Free us from drudgery & amplify our imaginations? Unlike this world, where “industry” is a Rube Goldberg contraption that burns our planet. (And may transform Earth to be more like Venus.)

After all, David saw possibilities. Which means he often experienced possible worlds—and likely experienced this world as a dull shadow of them.

Consider his favourite book circa 2005: Stanisław Lem’s “The Cyberiad.” (A collection of bite-sized short stories.) It doesn’t depict emotionless factories—but rather conscious & creative machines understandably annoyed by their obnoxious STEM Lord creators.

Or maybe we could scroll through his beloved Codex Seraphinianus (with a warm cocoa?) to imagine what “industry” could mean.

By the way, there’s a seperate-but-related-question: why did we make this website in the first place? There’s an odd story behind it. But that story can wait for another day.