• The Democracy Project

  • A History, a Crisis, a Movement
  • By: David Graeber
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (253 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A bold rethinking of the most powerful political idea in the world - democracy - as seen through the lens of the most transformative political movements of our time and the story of how radical democracy can yet transform America.

Democracy has been the American religion since before the Revolution - from New England town halls to the multicultural democracy of Atlantic pirate ships. But can our current political system, one that seems responsive only to the wealthiest among us and leaves most Americans feeling disengaged, voiceless, and disenfranchised, really be called democratic? And if the tools of our democracy are not working to solve the rising crises we face, how can we - average citizens - make change happen?

David Graeber, one of the most influential scholars and activists of his generation, takes listeners on a journey through the idea of democracy, provocatively reorienting our understanding of pivotal historical moments, and extracts their lessons for today - from the birth of Athenian democracy and the founding of the United States of America to the global revolutions of the 20th century and the rise of a new generation of activists. Underlying it all is a bracing argument that in the face of increasingly concentrated wealth and power in this country, a reenergized, reconceived democracy - one based on consensus, equality, and broad participation - can yet provide us with the just, free, and fair society we want.

The Democracy Project tells the story of the resilience of the democratic spirit and the adaptability of the democratic idea. It offers a fresh take on vital history and an impassioned argument that radical democracy is, more than ever, our best hope.

©2013 David Graeber (P)2013 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Democracy Project

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Must-read: such insight, an awakening!

What did you love best about The Democracy Project?

This is one of the handful of gems that make you think in profoundly-different ways.

I heard excellent reviews of Mr. Graeber's book "Debt: the First 5000 Years", but I thought I'd like a more general book to start with and this was perfect.

Explores our assumptions of "democracy", and how Corporate and Government bureaucracy are top-down hierarchies which are quite simply contrary to real democracy.

I've often assumed "anarchism" was somehow extreme or unrealistic, but this book made a very compelling case for how horizontal decision-making is desirable and even practical, featuring numerous real-life examples along with common sense analogies.

This book also tackles the morality of debt and the morality of work head-on, most relevant and fascinating!

What did you like best about this story?

Only special books manage to shake one from one's stupor, or present clear explanations for those nagging ideas that were never understood. This is a lot to ask for, but this book delivers!

Also recommended is Matt Taibbi's book "Griftopia"

Which scene was your favorite?

On top of everything, this book is surprisingly uplifting. Revolutions and revolutionary ideas do indeed cascade into society and our collective consciousness, often seemingly against all odds.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

These book connected so many dots and opened up a new world of ideas and possibilities. For a non-fiction, that is the highest accolade.

6 people found this helpful

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there's a something magic about this book.

I loved the book, but if I had to recap it, it would be hard. The book moves between history and the events of OWS and sums up some thoughts of possible future. I would love an entire book just going through the future of an anarchy world.

2 people found this helpful

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Broken Promises

David Graeber was an unapologetic anarchist. No, he wasn't in favor of social and political chaos as those who misunderstand anarchy may assume. He believed, based on numerous examples throughout thousands of years of human history, that societies can thrive without the coercive forces provided by an all-powerful government. "Impossible," you say. Read this book along with his other writings and you, too, will realize why we have yet to achieve the freedom that so-called democratic governments promise.

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Another masterpiece by Graeber!

A rational analysis of human society and its true values. Exposing the cynical and absurd infrastructure and history of the current governing system which we all know deep within is not how we want to live.

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This should be more famous

I loved the story of Occupy, which I really had known next to nothing about when it happened, and also the story of democracy, which follows. He is a terrific explainer of things; I never had to rewind because something was too convoluted or dense. Well, I had to rewind once, because I couldn't tell if the reader was saying really or rarely. Also, it's official, I'm an anarchist now. Small a.

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Optimistic Anarchism

I enjoyed this book immensely. Graeber and his occupy comrades putting the frighteners on the powers that be. General Assemblies, consensus, and all the jazz hands stuff. Great! But, I get the feeling that David Graeber was left disappointed as the waves Occupy set rippling, appeared to him, to peter out.

My view is different. People identified the problem, and those they saw to blame, and collectively, loudly and definitively bought the fight to them.

This Gandhian fight may not have changed much on Wall St. But they were warned, the message was sent, "if YOU are indeed too big to fail, and yet do, and destroy all WE value, our common wealth, YOU WILL be held responsible by us!" I doubt next time they'll contain the rage.


I was pleased to hear Amartya Sen's name mentioned. His ideas on human and community development have influenced my life and outlook.

Vale comrade. Thanks for your work words, and wisdom.

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Democracy Distilled

Graeber smashes vast society-spanning topics into relatable snippets that make you think about... well, everything! Amazing, 10/10

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Not as good as Debt

Didn't finish. Mainly it's because I couldn't help thinking about how the occupy movement ultimately had very little effect on much of anything. However, if you need some tips on how to organize your social/political movement, it might be helpful.

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Excellent

In depth but approachable and extremely interesting book. Must read. Covers the broad concepts and big questions you find yourself asking in the currently political climate.

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the graeb does it again

real Shaq and Kobe vibes here. peak performance, dude is killing the game right now