The myth of the barter


Graeber recently passed away and I allow myself to share with you one of his most popular (and controversial) passages.

While he found a gold mine debunking some historical inaccuracies of «the myth of the barter» as usually presented by armchair economists, ironically he still managed to get the underlying economic principle that eventually explained the (Mengerian) origin of money (very) very wrong. Right facts, wrong interpretation. 

May he rest in peace.

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What is Intelligence? Do You Know It When You See It?

It may seem odd, but let’s start our discussion of intelligence with the value of pi, the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. As you know, the value of pi is always the same: 3.14 … carried out to an infinite, non-repeating sequence of decimals. For our purpose here, it’s just a very long string of numbers in seemingly random order that is always the same. This string of numbers has been used as a simple test of memory. Some people can memorize a longer string of the pi sequence than others. And, a few people can memorize a very long string…

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Everything Is Obvious

Duncan Watts.jpgEvery day in New York City five million people ride the sub­ways. Starting from their homes throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, they pour themselves in through hundreds of stations, pack themselves into thousands of cars that barrel though the dark labyrinth of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s tunnel system, and then once again flood the platforms and stairwells—a subterranean river of humanity urgently seeking the nearest exit and the open air beyond. As anyone who has ever par­ticipated in this daily ritual can attest, the New York subway system is something between a miracle and nightmare, a Rube Goldberg contraption of machines, concrete, and people that in spite of innumerable breakdowns, inexplicable delays, and indecipherable public announcements, more or less gets ev­eryone where they’re going, but not without exacting a cer­tain amount of wear and tear on their psyche. Rush hour in particular verges on a citywide mosh pit— of tired workers, frazzled mothers, and shouting, shoving teenagers, all scrab­bling over finite increments of space, time, and oxygen. It’s not the kind of place you go in search of the milk of human kindness. It’s not the kind of place where you’d expect a per­fectly healthy, physically able young man to walk up to you and ask you for your seat.

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Esa Rectora de la que usted me habla

60 ans du Traité de Rome : au Collège de l'Europe, à Bruges, les ...Es difícil hacer que un hombre entienda algo cuando su salario depende de que no lo entienda. – Upton Sinclair

Tras casi dos años de penitencia y cierta reconversión profesional, he de confesar que escribir sobre el Colegio de Europa, y aún encima para defenderlo, no era precisamente algo que tenía en mente.

Pero cuando se presenta una buena ocasión, saben en la Promoción Simone Veil 2018 que siempre pueden contar conmigo en calidad de nota disonante, siempre (vale, de vez en cuando) dispuesto a bajar al lodazal europeo. Habemus Rectora.

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The Goodness Paradox

Richard W. Wrangham | Harvard Museums of Science & Culture…Lescarbot was only one of many who were impressed by the internal peacefulness of small-scale societies. By the end of the seventeenth century, according to Gilbert Chinard, “hundreds of voyagers had noted in passing the goodness of primitive peoples.” Their “goodness,” however, was applied only to people of the same society.  In 1929, the anthropologist Maurice Davie summarized a consensus understanding that remains true today: people were as good to members of their own society as they were harsh to others.

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