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To reduce the world history of Gini coefficients

Another example of history writing.

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

Let's take a closer look at Ian Morris' book Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values ​​Evolve. Here Morris attempts to put archaeological, historical and anthropological findings into dialogue with the work of economists, such as Thomas Piketty's theories of the causes of inequality in the modern world or Sir Tony Atkinson's more practical Inequeality: What can be Done?.

The "deep time" of human history, Morris announces, has something important to tell us about these issues – but only if we establish a uniform method of inequality that can be applied across the historical span. He does this by translating the "values" of the Ice Age hunter-gatherer societies and the Neolithic farmers into concepts used by today's economists, and then applying these to confirm Gini coefficients or formal inequality rankings.  Morris has an entirely materialistic perspective. He separates human history into the three big F's from the book's title, depending on how humans produce heat. All societies, he argues, have an "optimal" level of social inequality linked to society's dominant method of energy recovery.

Morris gives us actual figures, quantified prehistoric income in US dollars pegged to 1990 currency levels, in an article for The New York Times in 2015. He also assumes that the hunters and gatherers who lived in the last ice age. . .

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

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