This was a big loss, both intellectually and personally, for me and many, many others.
On the personal front, one pleasure of being prominent in any field is that you get to meet others in that field who would otherwise be your heroes: they become your contemporaries instead. And, if you like them and the feeling is mutual, they become your friends.
David was one of those for me--along with Michael Hudson, Ann Pettifor, Ross Ashcroft, Alan Kirman, Bill White, and a handful of others: someone whose intellectual work had influenced me before I met them, and who were, in my own field, famous before I met them (others, like Yanis Varoufakis and Stephanie Kelton, became famous after I met them).
I met David in London after I took up the Head of School position there at Kingston University in 2014. I can't remember our first meeting--it may have been to have dinner with Ann Pettifor.
But I can remember many others after that, including the one that forms the thumbnail for this event, a conference that Yanis Varoufakis was supposed to speak at but couldn't. I suggested to Yanis that I should copy his sartorial style of a leather jacket with my shirt hanging out, and he shot back "Do it! Make it into a meme". I asked David to join me in it for solidarity, not knowing--as I know now from Nika--that dressing up, especially in masks, was one of David's favourite pasttimes.
I got to see David many times while in London, especially after he and Nika got together, and before I decamped to Amsterdam (and now Bangkok).
He was someone I just took for granted that I'd keep on interacting with. And now he is gone.Intellectually, David's Debt: the first 5000 years did more to dispel the myth that money evolved out of barter than anyone else's work, including my own (though Money: the unauthorised biography by Felix Martin deserves a special mention as well).
I don't yet have anything special planned, but I want a space to acknowledge, celebrate and mourn David. Since that can't be done in public in most parts of the world because of Covid, and because I'm in a country where it would be safe (Thailand), but I don't speak the language, I'm going with an online virtual event.There's just one requirement: wear a mask. This preferably shouldn't be an anti-Covid mask, but if that's all you have, that will do. Nika explains why here https://carnival.davidgraeber.industries/masks/, where in part she quotes one of David's works:
"We will remain faceless because we refuse the spectacle of celebrity, because we are everyone, because the carnival beckons, because the world is upside down, because we are everywhere. By wearing masks, we show that who we are is not as important as what we want, and what we want is everything for everyone."
That is so David. He was a celebrity by accident, and at heart a humble guy who was not in the least "up himself", which made spending time with him an easy-going pleasure. So prepare to get a bit typsy as well: David was moderate in his pleasures, but he did enjoy an occasional Scotch or wine.
The time is 6pm in Bangkok. where I now reside, 9pm in Sydney, 12pm in London, and a not so fabulous 7am in New York. With an event that has a worldwide audience, somewhere had to draw the short straw, and since there will probably be some physical get-togethers for David in his birthplace of New York City--especially at Zuccotti Park, the home of Occupy Wall Street, in which David played such a significant part--I gave the short straw to New York.
I will open with my own reflections on David as both an intellectual and a human being. From there, I'm not sure where it will go.
One possibility, which I'd like to get some feedback on, is that I will use my Minsky software to show how to model monetary dynamics: I'll build a basic monetary model in Minsky using its Godley Tables.
Then, for me at least, it will be Tequila Sunset time (Tequila and Coke Zero), and an "open mic" for people to talk about David, evolution, anthropology, and the sort of economics we could have if empathic and imaginative people like David set the tone, rather than the boring monotone economists with their barter myth, from Adam Smith on, that David so rightly ridiculed in his works.
Finally, this is largely intended for my Patrons, but the event is open, so I'm happy to have you copy this to anyone you think might be interested in attending.
I haven't done one of these before, and I'm not sure how to run it. You should receive an email with a link to the Livestream at its scheduled starting time. Click on that link and join me in celebrating David.