Spiegel & Grau
David Graeber is the former Yale assistant professor of anthropology who was let go from that institution, possibly for his anarchist political views. He currently teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics. His anthropological work has been highly praised by others in the field, and as a far-left spokesman, he appears congenial and nonthreatening while expressing his thoughts in accessible language. He probably best known as an author for his excellent book Debt: The First 5000 Years, which investigates the history of debt across time and cultures and provided part of the intellectual grounding for Occupy Wall Street.
In addition to Graeber's career as educator and author, he is also an activist and was a principle organizer for the Occupy Wall Street movement. This book, The Democracy Project, is Graeber's report on the initial stages of Occupy's formation, his own role in the movement, and his perspective on what occured in Liberty park during the fall of 2011. Much like he had in his earlier work, Direct Action: An Ethnography, Graeber combines his two roles in in this book, scholar and activist, to describe what worked about Occupy.
The purpose of Graeber's book is to report on Occupy at a time when everyone believes the movement to have died out. He repeats through his book that social movements take years, decades even, to achieve the changes they seek, leaving the reader with the thought that perhaps the Occupy movement that appears moribund at the time of reading was a dramatic phase of a longer-lasting movement. Besides describing the Occupy movement, Graeber also describes in this book a set of institutions: media, police, financial organizations, government, and outlines how they constitute power in American society and how Occupy constituted a response to that power. At a deeper level of analysis, Graeber discusses how these institutions prevent the practice of real democracy in American society and how the Occupy movement pointed towards such a practice. One chapter, How Change happens, is almost entirely dedicated to a description of how the kind of real democracy envisioned by the Occupy movement was practiced in real life when all of the institutions that make up the existing power structure were doing whatever they could to destroy it.