"Creative action, one might say, is at any level encompassed within a larger system of action in which it ecomes socially meaningful - that is, in which it takes on social value. All creative actions is to some degree revolutionary; but to be revolutionary to any significant degree, it must change that larger structure in which it is embedded. At which point one can no longer imagine one is simply working on objects, but must recognize that one is also working on people. And that system of acion and meaning is, of course, always encompassed by another. We are dealing with a continuum. This does not mean that revolutionary social change with something of the same creative, intentional quality as the architect's is not possible; it does mean that it is a lot harder to get a handle on, because it proceeds through a far more subtle, collective media." p. 249
"What I want to focus on here is the peculiar role of objects in situations of historical agency - in particular those which, like money, serve as the medium for bringing into being the very thing they represent. ... The larger social reality does not yet exist. All that is real, in effect, is the actor's capacity to create it. In situations like this objects really do, in a sense, bring into being what they represent. They become pivots, as it were, between imagination and reality." p. 251
"Universal ideas are not ideas that everyone on in the world has, that's just false positivism; universal ideas are ones that everyone in the world would be capable of understanding; universal moral standards are not ones on which everyone in the world agrees-but ones that, through a capacity for moral reasoning and experience of forms of moral practice that we already do share, we would be able to work out together and agree to (and probably will have to on some level if we are all to survive in the world), and so on.
Graeber has a very calming, seductive, fire-side chat, professorial, competent, male, and old-fashioned sort of voice - almost like that of the academic don of an earlier age. It kept reminding me of neatly constructed, old fashioned academic arguing, with rhetorical moves that echoed very much like Sahlins' "The Use and Abuse of Biology" did. Took me a while to figure out that the Sahlins' echo was hardly coincidence, given Graeber's admiration of him. Also took me a while to notice the effect that Graeber's authorial voice was having on me, that is, I found myself in a listening mode rather than a querying one. And while that's fine for a first read-through, and as inclined as I am to agree with many of his points anyway, it was a little annoying to realize how close I came to succumbing to the twinkle-eyed, politically radical, male professor without much of a fight. hrrmm...