Collapse: Revisiting the Adam and Eve Myth

A very interesting book review about how previous civilisations fared. Maybe we could learn a bit from that when we compare it with where humankind is at at present. 🙂

The Most Revolutionary Act

short history of progress

A Short History of Progress

by Ronald Wright (2004 Caroll and Graf)

Book Review

The theme of A Short History of Progress is social collapse. In it, Canadian historical archeologist Ronald Wright summarizes humankind’s biological and cultural evolution, as well as tracing the role of ecological destruction in the collapse of the some of the most significant civilizations (Sumer, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Easter Island and the Mayan civilization). Exhaustively researched, the book advances the theory that many of colossal blunders made by modern leaders are very old mistakes made by earlier civilizations. Wright starts with the mystery of the agricultural revolution that occurred around 10,000 BC, when Homo sapiens ceased to rely on hunting and berry-picking and began growing their own food. Twelve thousand years ago, the global population was still small enough that there was more than ample wild food to feed…

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6 thoughts on “Collapse: Revisiting the Adam and Eve Myth

    1. Hallo liebe Gislinde,
      bei uns ist es immer noch recht kalt. Der Flugzeugabsturz über der Ukraine ist eine schreckliche Sache und beschäftigt uns sehr viel. Kaum zu fassen wie so etwas geschehen kann.
      Hab weiterhin recht schöne Sommertage, liebe Gislinde.
      Liebe Grüsse von mir, Uta. 🙂

  1. Stuart, I find this whole book review of yours most interesting, really very much so every bit of it. I just want to limit myself here to refer to the concluding passage of your book review. Who would not be concerned about these things like growing scarcity of energy, water and fertile soil? All this on top of potentially catastrophic climate change!

    You say according to Wright

    “Homo sapiens hasn’t evolved culturally or intellectually since our ancestors failed to confront resource scarcity in a way conducive to their survival.

    If anything, given mass extinctions, potentially catastrophic climate change, and a growing scarcity of energy, water and fertile soil, we seem to be repeating the old maladaptive pattern. As examples, Wright cites the idiotic war on terrorism, which has ironic parallels with the chronic warfare the Sumerians launched 4,000 years ago. He also cites the rise of the New Right and the folly of trying to address resource scarcity by consolidating wealth and power in the hands of a tiny elite.”

    I find it ironic indeed that we do not seem to be able to learn from history. I think all founders of religions all over the world tried their utmost to show people the way into the right direction. Alas, not with very much lasting success all around.

    I wonder whether one main reason could be that mankind is usually only concerned about the survival of their own little group they happen to live in. Peace overall on earth, this is the ardent wish of concerned people. Unfortunately the people who love fighting and war often have no desire to listen to peace makers.

    Catastrophic changes seem to be the rule. I wonder whether even with atomic bombs and weapons of mass destruction there is still a small chance that some pockets of mankind can survive a major disaster?

    1. I feel strongly that our failure to learn from history doesn’t stem from human nature but from class society and inequality – where humankind continues to be ruled by a tiny elite who act in their own interests, instead of the interests of society as a whole. Unfortunately the basic inequality from these class divisions is massively accentuated under capitalism, which makes the inequality far worse. Moreover as the ruling elite gets smaller and smaller, they get more and more insecure and greedy and their decisions become more and more harmful to the welfare of society.

      This comes across loud and clear in Wright’s book.

      Another book I highly recommend (for its analysis of how capitalism stifles human creativity and progress) is The Coming Struggle for Power by John Strachey (1933). I think it may be out of print, but they have a number of used copies on Amazon.

      I’ve done a review over on Amazon, and am thinking of reposting it on my blog:

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