Memorial Carnival – eng

Intergalactic Memorial Carnival for DAVID GRAEBER

This is an invitation to come together across the world for a memorial carnival in the spirit of the one and only, David Graeber, who just left us so suddenly and unexpectedly. The invitation emerges from his wife Nika and a handful of his friends.

David would have been been uncomfortable with long eulogies in dark suits by a narrow circle of close friends. As someone who lived more for revolution and turning the world upside down than for personal recognition, a sad funeral focused just on the past and him, would have made David feel more awkward than alive. And now with the huge David shaped hole in our lives, there has been never been a better time to live his ideas rather than to just remember them. For David anarchism was “something you do” rather than an identity, and so in this pragmatic mischievous spirit, we have decided to organise a memorial carnival for David, one that will be about the future: a mysterious and playful future, one that over-brims with solidarity. A leitmotif of carnival is laughing in the face of death, it can be the most practical thing to do in horrific situations. As we all know, David liked to joke. In fact, his last words were a joke.

David was like a cat; he had many lives. When people met him, via twitter or even through reading his books or attending his talks, many instantly became his close friends, extended family and interlocutors. Amongst David’s friends were so many people that would never have met one another. Portobello Road’s patchwork of inhabitants, lone bloggers, university professors, migrants without papers, several generations of activists, artists, rock musicians and many young people—students, rebels, members of social movements. All of them felt that David was part of their lives and so many want to continue his work and stay close to him. It is as though he had 50,000 brothers and sisters and 200,000 best friends, and that’s why David’s memorial carnival will open up space everywhere for everyone of us who wants to continue to feel close to him.

He died in Venice, a city he often visited. David loved to dress up at any opportunity. He brought back venetian masks and costumes after every visit. Before it became a tourist commodity, the Venice Carnival constituted a political space of radical democracy. During Carnival there were no blacks, no whites, no old, no young, no beautiful, no ugly, no poor, no rich. Everyone was a mask.

Being a player in the anti-capitalist movements of the 90’s and noughties, he knew about the irresistible similarities between the experience of a carnival and an insurrection. Exactly 9 years ago today, on the 17th of September an invitation was responded to and a movement was born. The invitation simply said: ‘Occupy Wall Street – Bring a tent’. David was one of the tens of thousands who responded by organising and occupying, the rest is history. Today we invite you to organise a memorial carnival for David wherever you are on Sunday October the 11th.

Inspired by the principle of the open mike of Occupy movement, we ask you at some point during your carnival to open a space for folk to speak and share ideas together. These assemblies can be inspired by David’s life and words and how we can embody them in a future that begins now – “live as if you were already free” – David would say.

Whether you are alone at home and want to just read your favorite passage of his work, or an activist collective that wants to take over the streets with a mass assembly; whether you are a group of academics in a seminar room or fighters on the front line; whether you are in a squat or on an anthropological field trip, a protest camp or a museum, anywhere can host a memorial carnival. There is simple rule however: ‘bring a mask’(more carnival than covid style of course).

Plans are already underway for dozens of events including at Zuccotti Park NY, in Rojova, the zad, Korea, Austria, Berlin, London. If you are thinking of organising an event send an email telling us what and where, so we can post it online for people to participate. We will be organising an online streaming of the memorial carnivals and details of this will come later as well as ways to coordinate so many time zones.

For further information and updates see:


Yours in mourning and organising

Nika and friends.