Photo of David Graeber

In memory of David Graeber, 1961 – 2020

The following article was first published in ‘Sofia’ magazine. Sofia is the magazine of the Sea of Faith Network (UK) and is published quarterly. You can find out more about the magazine, and see some articles and excerpts from it, on the Sea of Faith Network website.

The article is written in memory of David Graeber who sadly died in September 2020. David Graeber was, in my view, a modern day prophet.

Photo credit: ANDREJ GRUBAČIĆ

Revisiting ‘Debt: The first 5,000 years’ by David Graeber.

I first read ‘Debt’ when I was starting university in 2011. The timing of the book’s publication couldn’t have been more apposite. The Coalition government was swinging the axe on benefits and public services, the Occupy movement were camped in the City, and the impact of austerity in Greece was in the news. The pandemic prompted me to revisit this book for three reasons.

Firstly, government spending on the pandemic response has reopened the public debate about national debt. Back in 2010 the media reported on this using a household analogy: the UK had overspent and run up a vast debt, which needed to be urgently repaid. In my first economics class, the Professor pointed out that this household analogy was ‘bunkum’, as was the supposed UK debt crisis, saying, ‘most households can’t issue their own currency.’ I worry that in the aftermath of the pandemic, the government will ignore the painful lessons of the past decade.

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