Reflections on "Revolutions in Reverse"


"Revolutions in reverse" by anarchist anthropoligist David Graeber

Graeber is keen on living as though the revolution has happened, and his writing feels like it is immediately practical. Certainly he's writing from lived experience of anarchist organizations. The description is familiar enough from the free software world. Melbourne's local hackerspace is also run on anarchist lines, I assume this is the default. It's recently acquired a veneer of democracy to interface to the government as a non-profit -- Graeber makes a note of how the government forces organizations to be organized along certain lines, with a story of the tribulations of an anarchist group trying to operate a car, the ontological difficulty of this bewildering both the group and the government.

Asymmetry of imagination. Power and money allow one to avoid getting inside the heads of people working for you. Conversely those dependant on the powerful spend a lot of effort thinking about that person, and maintaining the bubble in which they operate. See poor Richard Lionheart, locked up for a king's ransom. Some rich idiot on a blood-stained adventure, we were fools to care. Contrast anarchist leader Linus Torvalds.

Theater. There's a scene where the anarchists are picketing a powerplant, and simultaneously the workers are on strike demanding the right to retire at a reasonable age. The anarchists attempt to meet with the workers, but are stopped by the police. Evidently this is a form of giant live action role-playing game, it sounds like everyone was having fun. I was surprised that Graeber, usually so good at stepping outside such frames, had not thought to try calling the workers on his phone.