[Plura-list] David Graeber's "Pirate Enlightenment"

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Tue Jan 24 09:24:02 EST 2023

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2023/01/24/zana-malata/

Today's links

* David Graeber's "Pirate Enlightenment": The true, swashbuckling lives of matriarchs, anarchists, and pirates at the crossroads of the world.

* Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.

* This day in history: 2008, 2013, 2018

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading


🧌 David Graeber's "Pirate Enlightenment"

The untimely death of activist/anthropologist/author David Graeber in 2020 tore a hole in the future, depriving us of not just Graeber's presence, but of the books he had left to write - incisive, brilliant, hilarious followups to the likes of *Debt* and *Bullshit Jobs*:


And what books Graeber had left in him! Just weeks prior to his death, Graber finished *Dawn Of Everything*, his ten-year collaboration with David Wengrow. It's a nose-to-tail reconsideration of everything we know about the civilizations of prehistory, and what they tell us about the essential nature of humanity:


Today, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux publishes *Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia*, billed as Graeber's "final posthumous work" (more on this later).


It's a reworking of Graeber's anthropology doctoral research, studying the Zana-Malata people of Madagascar, the living descendants of the feminist, anarchist pirates who ruled the island in the early 18th century.

I read a prepublication draft of the book for a blurb, and I was *riveted*. In the early 18th century, the Zana-Malata people - a new culture created jointly by pirates from around the world and Malagasy - came to dominate the island. They brought with them the democratic practices of pirate ships (where captains were elected and served at the pleasure of their crews) and the matriarchal traditions of some Malagasy, creating a feminist, anarchist "Libertalia."

Graeber retrieves and orders the history of this Libertalia from oral tradition, primary source documents, and records from around the world. Taken together, it's a tale that is rollicking and romantic, but also hilarious and eminently satisfying.

For example, the pirates of Madagascar found it useful (and amusing) to trick visitors into thinking the island had "pirate kings." They created sham courts, where Zana-Malata, Malagasy and pirates put on elaborate cons for visitors where they all pretended to be subjects of a pirate monarch whose treasures were borrowed for the duration of the show.

These shams, in turn, spawned a popular English literature, with the liked of Defoe penning bestselling, fantastical accounts of the pirate kings and their improbable adventures. Back in Madagascar, the Zana-Malata laughed themselves silly at the credulous crowds on the other side of the world.

18th century Madagascar was a crossroads of sea-traders, religious apostates (radical Jews!), exiles and sea-bums of every description. Graeber describes how the Zana-Malata's egalitarian made them resilient and adaptable, able to meet aggression with force when needed, or to turn it away when possible.

Graeber tells this tale as skillfully as any 18th century romantic pirate novelist, but grounded in academic rigor and careful research. "Pirate Enlightenment" is a swashbuckling, anti-authoritarian thrill-ride through the true pirates of the Indian Ocean, and the legacy they left behind.

One note on that "final posthumous work" epithet. I'm told that Graeber left behind a *mountain* of unpublished work, in various degrees of done-ness, ranging from notebooks to unpublished articles. I'd be *very* surprised if this was the last work of Graeber's we see in print.


🧌 Hey look at this

* The Debt Ceiling Limit is Destructive, Duplicative, and Dumb https://stephaniekelton.substack.com/p/the-debt-ceiling-limit-is-destructive

* The third-party apps Twitter just killed made the site what it is today https://www.theverge.com/2023/1/22/23564460/twitter-third-party-apps-history-contributions

* Predictions Scorecard, 2023 January 01 – Rodney Brooks https://predictions-scorecard-2023-january-01/ (h/t /.)


🧌 This day in history

#15yrsago God Save Stan Lee tee https://memex.craphound.com/2008/01/24/god-save-stan-lee-tee/

#15yrsago FBI whistleblower tells librarians about discriminatory practices and bad procedure at the Bureau https://web.archive.org/web/20080127183738/http://alfocus.ala.org/videos/fbi-whistleblower-answers-questions

#10yrsago Tim Wu: “Escape From Tomorrow” doesn’t violate Disney’s copyright https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/its-a-mad-mad-mad-mad-disney-world

#5yrsago EU fines Qualcomm over $1 billion for anti-competitive iPhone deal https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_18_421

#5yrsago The NSA’s new “core values” statement no longer includes “honor,” “honesty” or “openness” https://theintercept.com/2018/01/24/nsa-core-values-honesty-deleted/

#5yrsago For 100 minutes, more than a million tuned into Sanders’ Medicare for All town hall https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/01/24/bernie-sanders-talks-universal-medicare-and-1-1-million-people-click-to-watch-him/

#5yrsago California’s lax usury laws means out-of-state loan sharks are charging desperate Californians 183% APRs https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-installment-loans-20180119-htmlstory.html

#5yrsago Florida state cop says he can’t remember why he bought mobile stalking app https://www.vice.com/en/article/gyweyy/florida-cop-bought-powerful-phone-malware-that-can-intercept-emails-and-whatsapp

#5yrsago Congressional Budget Office will (eventually) investigate the millions of fraudulent anti-Net Neutrality comments sent to the FCC https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/24/16926952/fcc-net-neutrality-false-identities-comments

#5yrsago TWANG! A one-dimensional dungeon-crawler that uses a springy doorstop as a controller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yf_VINmbTE

#5yrsago Despite the FCC, more than 750 predominantly conservative US communities have built their own publicly owned ISPs https://www.vice.com/en/article/a3np4a/new-municipal-broadband-map


🧌 Colophon

Currently writing:

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Yesterday's progress: 506 words (97570 words total)

* The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW

* A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

* The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. REVISIONS COMPLETE - AWAITING COPYEDIT

* Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION

* Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Social Quitting https://craphound.com/news/2023/01/22/social-quitting/

Upcoming appearances:

* Library Learning Experience/American Library Association (New Orleans), Jan 27-30

* Chokepoint Capitalism: Can It Be Defeated? (UCL Faculty of Laws), Feb 1

* Avid Reader (Brisbane), Feb 8

* Future of Arts, Culture & Technology, ACMI, (Melbourne), Feb 14

* State Library of NSW (Sydney), Feb 15

* ANU/Canberra Times Meet The Author (Canberra), Feb 16

* Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Forum (Canberra), Feb 17

* Antitrust, Regulation and the Political Economy (Brussels), Mar 2

Recent appearances:

* The Future of Business, Technology and Society (Six Pixels of Separation)

* The Way the Music Died (Canadaland Commons)

* The Majority Report with Sam Seder

Latest books:

* "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.

Upcoming books:

* Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023

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