The Forward 50

David Graeber

David Graeber

Activism

As the Occupy Wall Street movement swept across the country in September, activist David Graeber became a public face for a resurgent leftism based on radical, direct-action protest.

Graeber, 50, describes himself as a “small-a anarchist,” meaning that he is interested in promoting anarchist principles without binding himself to a specific school of anarchist thought. Such principles have led the Occupy movement to early, unexpected successes in occupations across the nation. Graeber is the son of Jewish radicals, and his mother played a leading role in the famed musical “Pins and Needles,” which was sponsored by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in 1937.

Beyond his early and formative role in Occupy Wall Street (he claims to have coined the rallying cry, “We are the 99%”), Graeber is also a noted anthropologist whose ethnographic works on Madagascar and radical activism are renowned, if controversial. This year, he published “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” which explores the history of debt in a way that challenges deeply held beliefs about the nature of lending and money. For Graeber, the only way out of a society crushed by its own debt is a modern jubilee year, a period of systematic debt relief during which we wipe the slate clean. Though Occupy Wall Street has so far refused to make any demands about debt, or any other issue, Graeber’s impassioned call for a radical political renewal seems to have taken hold in the movement he helped to start.

Plus One

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, the Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.