October 23, 2014


“If In Wage Labor One Gives One’s Life, One’s Life Should Be Guaranteed.” David Graeber

”Mauss was not trying to describe how the logic of the marketplace, with its strict distinctions between persons and things, interest and altruism, freedom and obligation, had become the common sense of modern societies. Above all, he was trying to explain the degree to which it had failed to do so: to explain why so many people- and particularly so many of the less powerful and privileged members of society- founds its logic morally repugnant.”

pp 162

“Mauss was trying to understand … why it was that social insurance legislation, “inspired by the principle that the worker gives his life and labor partly to the community, and partly to his bosses” (1925[1965:65]), and therefor deserved more than a weekly wage, seemed right.
His answer…was that a relation of wage labor was a miserable and impoverished form of contract.
In wage labor the worker does give of the totality of himself, he “gives his life and his labor,” but the cash he receives in return has nothing of the same total quality about it. If one gives one’s life, one’s life should be guaranteed.”


Graeber, David: Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value.
Palgrave, New York: 2001

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