Recent developments in the study of human prehistory hold clues about our times, our world, and ourselves.
The role and success of governance and institutions in facing and meeting the challenges of the past unlock a treasure trove of information that just may guide us toward better futures.
In Teaching History for the Common Good, Keith C. Barton and Linda S. Levstik recognize that the past can be used “in a variety of ways, and for a variety of purposes.” One of these is to use history’s “potential to prepare students for participation in a pluralist democracy.”
To understand racism and misogyny — or any kind of thing-ness — and the violence entrained in these ideas, you must understand the history of the Middle Ages, what we pejoratively label the Dark Ages and what Matthew Gabriele and David Perry have renamed The Bright Ages.
As it was in the beginning… farmers need protection from those who have taken privileges, not protection by the military might of those privileged marauders. The least we could do is get the story straight.
But for the merchants who were the primary promoters, financiers and often warriors on the English side, it was an economic war — if they had read von Clausewitz, they might have said that their war was business conducted by other means.
Heather Cox Richardson addresses the question of What Could Possibly Go Right? with a political focus in her conversation with host Vicki Robin.
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history – the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors – following one of the major wars between Plains Indians and settlers. In this documentary, originally produced for This American Life, John goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.
Not everyone is sure that today’s industrialized, globalized societies will be around long enough to define a new geological epoch. Perhaps we are just a flash in the pan – an event – rather than a long, enduring epoch.
Others debate the utility of picking a single thin line in Earth’s geological record to mark the start of human impacts in the geological record. Maybe the Anthropocene began at different times in different parts of the world.
There were a few of us who said something much less popular. We predicted that the grand technological breakthroughs were not going to happen, and the grand social awakenings were not going to happen, and the grand apocalyptic catastrophes were not going to happen. .. We predicted instead that demand destruction and an assortment of temporary gimmicks would keep things rolling on ….
Rhodes tells an engaging tale of energy transitions over some 500 years. Yet the limitations in his field of view become critical in the book’s concluding chapter, when he reveals which particular axe he is especially eager to grind.
The difficulty, I think, is that the conditions in which it’s feasible to build plausible ‘bottom-up’ anarchist-communist societies are unusual, and their chances of longevity are slight – either because they’re annihilated by the stronger forces of the centralised state (as happened with the Paris Commune), or because they succumb to the internal contradictions of their own somewhat hidden power dynamics. Still, Ross’s analysis raises a lot of interesting questions concerning the course that a free, egalitarian peasant society of the future might take.