A New History of Humanity

“The Dawn of Everything”: David Wengrow & the Late David Graeber

How ‘The Dawn of Everything’ rewrites 40,000 years of human history

Like Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” or Jared Diamond’s “Gun, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies,” Graeber and Wengrow look at archeological and anthropological evidence to make a sweeping case about the nature of humanity and historical development. Their 705-page book touches on everything from consensus decision-making in Buddhist monasteries 2,000 years ago in South Asia to the negative assessments of the culture of European settlers in the pre-Enlightenment era made by the Native American Wendat confederacy of Lake Ontario.

The last 30,000 to 40,000 years, the authors argue, people have tactically alternated among small and large social setups. Some social systems featured ruling elites, operating stiffs and enslaved human beings. Others emphasized decentralized, collective selection making. Some were run by means of guys, others through women. The massive question — -one the authors can’t but answer —- is why, after tens of heaps of years of social flexibility, many human beings today can’t conceive of how society might efficiently be reorganized.

David Graeber and David Wengrow, entitled The Myth of the Stupid Savage: Rousseau’s Ghost and the Future of Political Anthropology.
– presented at the University of Amsterdam in May 2019.