Tag Archives: Human History

A Debt Crisis…5,000 Years in the Making

 

DEBT by David Graeber

by David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Melville House, 2011)

Debt is all around us. Modern economies run on consumer debt; modern nation-states, on deficit financing; international relations turn on debt.  What’s more, for the last three years, we’ve faced a global debt crisis that’s hobbled the world economy and still threatens to send it crashing into ruins.  Yet no one ever stops to ask: how did this happen? What is debt, anyway? What does it even mean to say we “owe” someone something? How did it happen that, in almost all times and places in human history, “paying your debts” has been a synonym for morality, but money-lenders have been seen as the embodiment of evil? I first began asking myself these questions as an activist, during the “drop the debt” campaigns in the early 2000s. But it was only after the financial meltdown of September 2008

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