May 3, 2023Liked by David Hugh-Jones

You seem to be aware of this (e.g. the Scheidel critique), but there is a special issue of Cliodynamics on The Dawn of Everything -->https://escholarship.org/uc/irows_cliodynamics/0/0

Found some interesting points in Michael E. Smith's commentary.

I found the tDoE interesting, but felt the case the Davids made was fairly weak. Their vision for the power of choice and play in organizing populations didn't rigorously address issues with scaling or scarcity. Also, the perspective seems to operate free of any conception of path dependency and the resilience of contemporary arrangements.

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Thank you for the pointer!

I thought it was a really bold and interesting book – I kind of expect lots of its hypotheses to fall apart under scrutiny, but in some sense that is a compliment.

Path dependency cuts two ways. If history is very path dependent, that can give more role to choice in the moments where the path is determined. Similarly, if societies mostly follow the lead of a few elites, then those few can have large effects.

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I agree on your point about path dependency. I just think a lot of their complaints about being "stuck," which seemed to refer to the Fukuyaman dominance of Western liberal democracy/capitalism is not something that is walked backed for a variety of reason but mostly because it'd make life objectively worse.

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