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""The Dawn of Everything" Stretches its Evidence, ..." Topic


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26 Mar 2023 5:21 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0125 Mar 2023 8:38 p.m. PST

…But Makes Bold Arguments about Human Social Life


"The title of The Dawn of Everything announces the book's grand ambition: to challenge the established narrative of civilization as progress in material comforts and power (for some) and decline (of the others) into greater deprivation and unfreedom. The authors contend that the developments and decisions that led to a world-wide system of mostly hierarchical and authoritarian states need not be considered inevitable, nor the result unavoidable. Through a remarkably wide-ranging synthesis of the last thirty years of work on the Neolithic Age and the transition to agriculture and urban life, Graeber and Wengrow seek to open our political imaginations to recognize other ways of caring for the common good, some of which, they contend, have been realized in the past, and survived for many hundreds of years. They succeed in decoupling urban life from farming, and then cite cases of cities that appear to have been organized along horizontal, egalitarian lines. In doing so, they accomplish part of their goal. However, like other writers of provocative works, in pressing their case to the utmost, Graeber and Wengrow at times strain the evidence, and in castigating the writers of speculative history, they often seem to forget that they are writing speculative history also.

Graeber and Wengrow follow the method of paying attention to groups that have largely been silent or invisible in history because they did not have writing, or did not construct large stone monuments—those who lived in darkness in the interregnum between empires. Providing a more detailed and accurate portrait of such people, not considering them simply as underdeveloped barbarians or savages, can lead to a fuller history of humanity, a history not solely based on a single line of cultural evolution, through which all societies must proceed in a fixed set of stages…"


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Armand

Grelber26 Mar 2023 9:08 a.m. PST

+Interesting article. Mulling over how to turn some of these ideas into a game.

Grelber

Tango0126 Mar 2023 3:14 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it…

Armand

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