Reply To: Suggestions of how discussions might be framed

  • zachary baker

    September 7, 2023 at 7:10 pm

    I have read about half of “the dawn of everything”, prompted by our interesting exchange of ideas of earlier on this summer. Thank you, whoever suggested it! From his vacuous comment I suspect Chomsky didn’t bother, frankly.

    It is an odd but worthwhile read, although I am longing to get back to “the matter with things”. But for quality of thinking and turn pf phrase. Nobody constructs paragraphs like Iain anymore. I tend to read fiction alongside non-fiction but fold smaller non-fiction works into larger ones. anyway. The main take away so far for me, which has caused some controversy in casual discussion at garden parties this summer is that “the origin of inequality” as a research question leads inevitably to a sense that the concept of “equality” itself is just inadequate to express the complexity of human difference and thus tends to reduce political debate to platitudes and sophistry. This is perhaps more my own interpretation of what “the dawn of everything” intimates than what graeber and pal actually are saying. It has got me into some considerable trouble in woke south london. The notion that equality is a concept unfit for purpose when applied to humanity is regarded as decidedly uncouth. My more robust (too technical for the garden party) defense is based on the fact that equality models primarily a mathematical relationship, as opposed to a relationship between individual life forms. Where the relata are fundamentally unquantifiable (people), equality, or lack there of, is irrelevant. You cannot balance the equation between me and him, let alone them and them, or him and her. People make for unbalancebale equations. Obviously we can talk about sovereignty and equality before the law or the king, of whatever. These days though, there is no recourse to any embodiment of sovereignty at all, so i am inclined to think it is also not relevant.

    Beyond this, they also suggest, very interestingly, that the idea of an agricultural revolution is bullshit. They point to much evidenc suggesting that great civilisations even rejected the enclosure of land, in order to protect crops as grain was not worth the hassle. I love this and think they are probably right. ALso, tyhey totally trash Yuval Noah Harare for being the superficial, anthumanist dickwad that he clearly is, which I also appreciated.

    All the best, z