Debt is the most effective way to take a relation of violent subordination and make the victims feel that it’s their fault. Colonial regimes did this all the time; they would charge people for the cost of their own conquest, via taxes. However, using debt in this way also has a notorious tendency to rebound, because the subtle thing about debt relations is that, on a certain level, they are premised on equality—we are both equal parties to a contract. This both makes the sting of inequality worse, because it implies you should be equal to your creditor but you somehow messed up, but also, makes it possible to start saying ‘wait a minute, who owes what to who here?’ But of course once you do that, you have accepted the idea that debt really is the essence of morality. You’ve accepted the masters’ language.
Nice interview with David Graeber (who I interviewed on RSB back in 2007) over on the impressive website of The White Review.

Readers Comments

  1. "They would charge people for the cost of their own conquest."


    A perfect quote for the fees by corporations.

  2. The Sanity Inspector Thursday 05 January 2012

    You know, I don't believe in conspiracies, so much. But filling the unemployment rolls with thousands of Left-indoctrinated young people, with massive debts and degrees in worthless subjects, would be a socially disruptive move worthy of Alinsky himself. If it wasn't done on purpose, it certainly is playing to the hard Left's hand of cards anyway. Actually, I rather like the picture of a first-rate trim carpenter ending up with the nice house, nice vehicles, great family, and wonderful vacations, while the pseudo-discipline major spends his career paying off debt as the hipster-in-residence at the retro-vinyl record store. Someone needs to bring the young people back down to the brass tacks of life, and it isn't going to be the college admissions office.

Leave a Comment

If you have not posted a comment on RSB before, it will need to be approved by the Managing Editor. Once you have an approved comment, you are safe to post further comments. We have also introduced a captcha code to prevent spam.




Enter the code shown here:   [captcha]

Note: If you cannot read the numbers in the above image, reload the page to generate a new one.