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The problem of social inequality

Has man ever really lived with nature in freedom and equality, and then ended up in the links of modernity? This essay attempts nothing less than to add the first building blocks to a whole new understanding of history. 

The essay is written by David Graeber together with David Wengrow / Eurozine

Regarding the endless repetitions of Rousseau's innocent "state of nature" and the subsequent fallout: Has man really lived with nature in freedom and equality – and then with the emergence of the mother in links? The story we and the researchers have told about where we come from is, according to David Graeber and David Wengrow, erroneous and continues the idea that social inequality is inevitable. From the beginning, humans have experimented with different social alternatives. This essay attempts nothing less than to add the first building blocks to a whole new understanding of history.

1. In the beginning was the word

For hundreds of years we have told ourselves a simple story about the origins of social inequality: In most of human history, we lived in small, egalitarian groups of hunters and sankers. Then came agriculture, and with private property, and then cities and civilization grew as we know it today. Civilization brought about a lot of negative (wars, taxes, bureaucracy, patriarchy, slavery ...), but also enabled people to develop literature, science, philosophy and make most of our greatest discoveries.

Almost everyone knows this story in rough outline. Since at least Jean-Jacques Rousseau's time, it has guided how we imagine the form. . .

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David Graeber
Graeber was Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. (died Sept 2020)

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