Debt David Graeber’s Debt is one of the best books I have read in my life.

It is a thorough historical and anthropological investigation into the nature of money and, nomen omen, debt. Across about 400 pages Graeber analyzes all aspects of these: moral, economical and philosophical. He lays out a fresh and somewhat bold view that challenges classical economic theories, namely that debt has been the true essence of human economies for at least 5000 years now, and provides lots of compelling evidence to support this claim. His original analysis is very thought-provoking, and makes the reader wonder about the very foundations of our society, global economy, and certain aspects of human nature (like greed and love).

To a reader unfamiliar with economics and anthropology (such as myself), Graeber’s book is also an eye-opener when it comes to explaining how the world works, and even more, how it has been working for the last couple of thousands of years. The author is a true erudite in how he manages to show numerous connections between religion, economy, history and human nature. And through last chapters, where he relates his historical presentation to present day and the financial crisis of 2007–2008, it is also a bit scary to read (again, to a poorly educated person such as myself) about how global economy ‘works’.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in economics and history of money and markets, but also to those who’d like to read about the history of the world from a different perspective.

Published by Piotr Kaźmierczak

I like jazz and cycling.

2 replies on ““Debt””

  1. Mind-expanding, no? My favourite insight was the suggestion that a tax payable only in official coinage is a solution to the problem of provisioning a standing army.

    The next question that arises for me, after reading this, is *what do we do about it?* If you come across anything insightful, I’d love to hear it.

    1. My favorite parts were where he explained that barter *never* really existed, and the final one about what actually happened in 1971.

      Graeber himself admits that he doesn’t offer any solution to his grim analysis of capitalism, but I suppose the next great idea and a revolution in world economy will come from ‘somewhere in the internet’. I think the whole free-software movement and things like Wikipedia, blogs and user-generated content in general are areas where traditional rules of capitalism (especially the way he describes it) are somewhat bent.

      But that’s just me with my naïve ideas and little understanding of how things work. If I find a smart book about it, I’ll let you know:)

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