occupation—transformation

The Occupy Wall $treet Sign
During the upcoming winter term it is me who has to deliver the ‘Introduction to social and cultural anthropology’ lecture (anthro 101) at my institute—I guess as a starter for the session on economic anthropology I will use the 12 September entry Why? posted at OccupyWallStreet:

Contemporary society is commodified society, where the economic transaction has become the dominant way of relating to the culture and artifacts of human civilization, over and above all other means of understanding, with any exceptions being considered merely a temporary holdout as the market swiftly works on ways to monetize those few things which stubbornly remain untouched. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this current setup is that it has long ago co-opted the very means of survival within itself, making our existence not an inherent right endowed to us by the simple fact of our humanity but a matter of how much we’re all worth—the mere act of being alive has a price tag. Some pay it easily. Others pay for it with their submission. Others still can’t pay it at all. Regardless, though, like cars, TVs and barrels of oil, our lives are commodities to be bought and sold on the open market amid the culture of ruthlessness and desperation that has arisen to accommodate it. This is the natural consequence of a society built around entities whose purpose it is to always, always minimize costs and maximize profits. It is the philosophy of growth for the sake of growth, the same ideology that drives a cancer cell. An economy in a steady state is not healthy. It needs to expand, constantly, perpetually. [...]

Why I want to do that? Well, mainly because of The Great Transformation (Polanyi 1944).
UPDATE: Savage Minds carries an entry on anthropology and Occupy Walls Street, linking to comments and such by anthropologists.

POLANYI, KARL. 1944. The great transformation. New York: Rinehart.
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  • anthronaut Sunday, 16th October 2011 at 11:03

    Oh, I would love to come and debate this.

    • zephyrin_xirdal Sunday, 16th October 2011 at 12:39

      Well, dunno if there will be much time for debate, as it’s the ‘Einführungsvorlesung’… and you know how autocratic I can be at times. Anyway, according to my plan the session on economic anthropology will take place at 10 to 12 AM on 09 January 2012 in lecture hall BU101 in the Oettingenstr. 67 ;-)

  • anthronaut Sunday, 16th October 2011 at 13:40

    True :-D. I see what I can do, but if I can’t make it to the lecture I propose we discuss this over a pint of beer sometimes this winter. I’ll be done with the MA on tuesday and I’ll certainly drop by Munich not before too long. Will let you know.

    • zephyrin_xirdal Sunday, 16th October 2011 at 14:45

      Did you just confirm me being autocratic? Oh, you … prepare yourself for some psychological cruelties after the second beer.

      • anthronaut Monday, 17th October 2011 at 07:32

        I did confirm but I must add that I don’t especially reject autocrats in all situations. Lectures ideally are shows and showmasters can’t me democratic.

        As for the alcohol-combined psychological cruelty: I do prefer not to be Voight-Kampff’ed this time.

        Klandestino: Thanks for the hint! Will have a look at both.

  • klandestino Sunday, 16th October 2011 at 19:59

    Hi guys,
    if I may put my two cents in…
    Regarding some theories about nation, economy, politics and institutions
    Mancur Olson popped into my head ;)
    “The Logic of Collective Action” and “The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities” in combination.
    Very interesting, regarding the economic problems we’re facing nowadays.

    Maybe antronaut and me should meet especially for this special lecture to build the “Einführungsveranstaltungsguerrilla” against the Autocrat zeph…Just kiddin’ ;) As far as I remember, there wasn’t much time to debate, so…
    But hey, nice intro to Eco Anthro! Sounds interesting (Polanyi) and it’s not the standard literature! So thumbsup.