Debt: The First 5,000 Years | Left Wing Books

FREE SHIPPING IN NORTH AMERICA ON ORDERS OF $50 OR MORE!

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Author: 
Format: 
Size: 
560 pages
ISBN: 
9781612194196
Publisher: 
Year: 
2014
Price: $22.21 (USD)

Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

Winner of the Bateson Book Prize awarded by the Society for Cultural Anthropology

What People Are Saying

“One of the year’s most influential books. Graeber situates the emergence of credit within the rise of class society, the destruction of societies based on ‘webs of mutual commitment’ and the constantly implied threat of physical violence that lies behind all social relations based on money.” —Paul Mason, The Guardian