Responses to Further Misrepresentations of Kliman’s Critique of Graeberism

Dola and Kliman reply to “El Pelón’s” charges and straw-man arguments

Editors’ Note: The following is a set of replies to “Kliman contra Graeber… et contra Kliman,” posted by the anonymous and pseudonymous “El Pelón” on his blog. The main topic discussed is Andrew Kliman’s “The Make-Believe World of David Graeber,” which was published in With Sober Senses in April. Dola’s initial comment, originally posted on that blog, is first. It is followed by a second comment that Dola posted in reply to El Pelón, and finally by Kliman’s heretofore unpublished response. Spelling errors have been corrected. Kliman explains why he has not posted his response on El Pelón’s blog as follows: “After reading his response to Dola, which was ad hominem and which ‘get[s] the record for not addressing a single point or question,’ as Dola put it, it became clear to me that the author is not discussing the issues in good faith and does not intend to do so.”

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A Reply to Critics of “The Make-Believe World of David Graeber”

Andrew Kliman

A number of people, including David Graeber, have claimed that my article, “The Make-Believe World of David Graeber,” misrepresented him. Most of them have just leveled charges that they didn’t even try to substantiate. Others have mischaracterized what I wrote or have made irrelevant points. The only response to my critique of Graeber that’s worth responding to was posted by “Nate” on May 18 as a comment below the article. It’s a serious piece. My reply thus takes the form of a reply to him, but I hope that it will address the concerns of the other critics as well.

Before getting into that, let me just say that there seem to be a lot of people out there who should read more carefully than they do, especially when they publicly criticize what they think they’ve read. They should avoid claims that an author wrote something when that something is just their own sense of what he or she was getting at. And they should make a lot more distinctions than they seem to make.

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The Make-Believe World of David Graeber

[The version of the article below, posted on April 15 and further corrected on May 12, corrects minor typos in the version originally posted and restores italics it omitted.]

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The Make-Believe World of David Graeber:

Reflections on the Ideology Underlying the Failed Occupation of Zuccotti Park

Andrew Kliman, April 11, 2012

pre•fig•u•ra•tion n.
1. The act of representing, suggesting, or imagining in advance.
2. Something that prefigures; a foreshadowing.

make–be•lieve adj.
Imaginary, pretended.

The following is not a commentary on, much less a condemnation of, the Occupy movement––which I support. It is a critique of key facets of the ideology of David Graeber. These facets of his ideology have informed the politics of some of the movement, most notably that of the leadership of New York’s Occupy Wall Street, and they were the theoretical foundation underlying the occupation of Zuccotti Park. In contrast, the greatest strength of the Occupy movement is the fact that tens of thousands of people have brought to parts of it their own hopes and aspirations, and a somewhat greater degree of realism. Read More