“For the moment, at least, most capitalists are no longer even thinking about capitalism’s long-term viability. It is terrifying, to be sure, to understand that one is facing a potentially suicidal enemy.” — David Graeber
What Graeber gets at here seems essential for understanding what’s going on now: the repression, austerity, and intentional devalorization that have constituted capital’s response to the crises. What’s happening now can’t be ascribed to rot, decay, stupidity, or lack of leadership, all of which assume eternal modes of recovery, and extant but unobtained logics to accompany them. The New Deal was a historical event, not a blueprint. Capital today seems bent on suicide, and no amount of proof of its intellectual and moral defects will cure it of its death-wish. It has to be fought, not shown its errors. Antagonism, not therapy.
Graeber’s wish to “snap the productivist bargain” is a political program that expresses this desire to maintain the antagonism, not dissolve it into newer deals. I don’t share his imperative to “expose … pernicious illusions” about money — since illusions are an inextricable part of the money relation — but I agree that refusing productivism sharpens the conflict and recognizes a largely unacknowledged fact: bargains will only ever benefit a very small portion of the world, while surrendering the rest of it to a strengthened market.