The Strange Case of David Graeber by David Barrows

David Graeber was considered one of the world's leading anthropologists. His recent publication, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, co-written with archaeologist David Wengrow, was published posthumously in 2021. It provides a reinterpretation of established anthropological theory. An organizer and intellectual leader of the activist left on both sides of the Atlantic, he is credited with helping launch the Occupy Wall Street Movement and coin its slogan, “We are the 99 percent.”
He was an assistant professor at Yale University from 1998 to 2005, when the university controversially decided not to renew his contract before he was eligible for tenure. Unable to secure another position in the United States, he entered an "academic exile" in England. With respect to his tenure and subsequent ostracization, Yale University’s endowment was $42.3 billion as of June 2021. Donations come from wealthy alumni, many of whom work on Wall Street. Yale receives no contributions from the anarchist community.
According to Graeber and Wengrow, for “the vast majority of human social experience”, we enjoyed “three primordial freedoms”:
1. The freedom to move,
2. The freedom to disobey
3. The freedom to create or transform social relationships.
Early human societies were not without inequalities, but they lacked the structures of domination that go with hierarchical government. Humankind lived in peaceful anarchy. Graeber and Wengrow contest Rousseau’s story at several points. Humans did not spend most of their history in small bands; agriculture was not an irreversible phase in social evolution, and the first cities were at times strongly egalitarian. Early human beings experimented with many different patterns of societal organizations. Contrary to Rousseau, there was no “original form” of society.
Based upon his intellectual and action-oriented approach to the concept of "Freedom" one would expect that Graeber would have been welcomed by both the "Left" and the "Right". However, he was shunned by both.
For our purposes, I define the “Left” as:
1. Supporters of the welfare state in all its manifestations
2. Supporters of government intervention to ameliorate perceived issues that arise from a market-oriented economy and human nature: Environment, health and safety, working conditions, social issues such as racism and sexual orientation, etc.
3. Belief that big government is inherently friendly
However, the Left has less interest in individual freedom. The Left is interested in collectivism exemplified by "Big Government". Regulations must apply equally and to everyone. There are few, if any, exemptions. Grabber’s position on anarchy does not fit the "Lefts” intellectual framework.
I Define the “Right” as:
1. Belief in the primacy of the market system
2. Believe that big government is inherently unfriendly to individual rights
3. Believe in property rights
4. Public Safety and Security
5. Individual initiative
6. Freedom
However, the Right is unhappy with anarchy. Anarchy is not viewed as Freedom. Property rights must be maintained. Collectivization and Big Government must be implemented to ensure national defense, international borders are guarded and law and order are maintained. The Right is not pleased with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
1. “How Fear Makes Us Human”
The New Statesman: November 4, 2021
By John Gray
2. Wikipedia
3. “Human History Gets a Rewrite”
The Atlantic: October 18, 2021
By William Deresiewicz