The Utopia of rules On technology, stupidity, and the secret joys of bureaucracy

David Graeber

Book - 2015

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

302/Graeber
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 302/Graeber Checked In
Subjects
Published
Brooklyn, NY : Melville House Publishing [2015]
Language
English
Physical Description
261 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 229-261).
ISBN
9781612193748
1612193749
9781612193755
1612193757
Main Author
David Graeber (author)
  • Introduction, The iron law of liberalism and the era of total bureaucratization
  • Dead zones of the imagination, An essay on structural stupidity
  • Of flying cars and the declining rate of profit
  • The utopia of rules, or why we really love bureaucracy after all
  • Appendix, On Batman and the problem of constituent power.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This essay collection from anthropologist Graeber is an utterly fascinating study of bureaucracy's role in modern life. He grounds readers first in the institution's history and then in the corporatization of contemporary discourse, showing that bureaucracy is merely a substitute for state-sponsored violence. He highlights how, as countries are modernized, bureaucracies ostensibly displace the old elite, but in reality merely reemploy and rebrand them while seeking to justify their own existence. Finally, Graeber demonstrates how corporatization is killing innovation. His book argues that, despite all these failings, bureaucracy is intensely appealing to the human brain because it places structures, rituals, and rules over systems that can otherwise seem meaningless. As an example of its insidious appeal, Graeber points to how pop culture constantly positions characters functioning within bureaucracies as rebels, even as those characters continue to tacitly justify the institutions they seemingly rebel against (see: every cop show ever). Readers familiar with Graeber's work will know the caliber of discourse he brings to the table: not all of his thoughts are unique, but they are wonderfully presented and wholly accessible. This is a rare treat that will amuse as easily as it unsettles, as readers struggle to reframe their own perceptions and open their eyes to Graeber's insights. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

This essay collection from anthropologist Graeber is an utterly fascinating study of bureaucracy's role in modern life. He grounds readers first in the institution's history and then in the corporatization of contemporary discourse, showing that bureaucracy is merely a substitute for state-sponsored violence. He highlights how, as countries are modernized, bureaucracies ostensibly displace the old elite, but in reality merely reemploy and rebrand them while seeking to justify their own existence. Finally, Graeber demonstrates how corporatization is killing innovation. His book argues that, despite all these failings, bureaucracy is intensely appealing to the human brain because it places structures, rituals, and rules over systems that can otherwise seem meaningless. As an example of its insidious appeal, Graeber points to how pop culture constantly positions characters functioning within bureaucracies as rebels, even as those characters continue to tacitly justify the institutions they seemingly rebel against (see: every cop show ever). Readers familiar with Graeber's work will know the caliber of discourse he brings to the table: not all of his thoughts are unique, but they are wonderfully presented and wholly accessible. This is a rare treat that will amuse as easily as it unsettles, as readers struggle to reframe their own perceptions and open their eyes to Graeber's insights. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A follow up to Debt: The First 5,000 Years presents a tour through ancient and modern history to trace the evolution of bureaucracy while assessing the efficiencies and casualties of its practices in the modern world. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Presents a tour through ancient and modern history to trace the evolution of bureaucracy while assessing the efficiencies and casualties of its practices in the modern world.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This is a collection of related essays by David Graeber analyzing the rise of bureaucratization, its effects and meanings. In the introduction, "The Iron Law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization," author Graeber explains that deregulation really leads to more regulation for the purpose of more profits made by the corporations. This appears, in large part, as people having to fill out more and more forms. In the first chapter, "Dead Zones of the Imagination," he discusses how bureaucracies stifle imagination and blind people to the power structure enforcing the bureaucracy. Chapter 2, "Of Flying Cars And The Declining Rate Of Profit," suggests that the promises of technology such as flying cars and robots that talk have not happened because capitalist leaders saw those things as empowering the working class. Chapter 3, "The Utopia of Rules, or Why We Really Love Bureaucracy After All," argues, along with the stubbornness of bureaucracy once established, and its partial usefulness, for the utopian vision behind the bureaucracy. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the author of the international bestseller Debt: The First 5,000 Years comes a revelatory account of the way bureaucracy rules our lives   Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?   To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber—one of our most important and provocative thinkers—traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy.   Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx, and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible.   An essential book for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us—and the better, freer world we should, perhaps, begin to imagine for ourselves.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

From the author of the international bestseller Debt: The First 5,000 Years comes a revelatory account of the way bureaucracy rules our lives   Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?   To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber—one of our most important and provocative thinkers—traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy.   Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx, and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible.   An essential book for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us—and the better, freer world we should, perhaps, begin to imagine for ourselves.