“How Did We Get Stuck?” David Wengrow on Imagining Alternatives To Our Current Systems
The Co-Author of The Dawn of Everything on Radio Open Source
Open Source is the world’s longest-running podcast. Christopher Lydon circles the big ideas in culture, the arts and politics with the smartest people in the world. It’s the kind of curious, critical, high-energy conversation we’re all missing nowadays.
Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a nasty war of survival, or some of both? Are we human beings good or evil, by the way? Pretty much the same, the world around, or many different varieties? An anthropologist (the late David Graeber) and an archaeologist (David Wengrow) walked into a bar, so to speak—into an endless chain of emails, in fact, and produced a bestseller, chock full of Stone Age history and modern science. Their book is titled The Dawn of Everything. A main argument is that we’ve been one free-wheeling, improvisational species for fifty thousand years. A main question might be: when and how did we get to feel so stuck in this 21st century?
From the episode:
David Wengrow: In the course of writing the book we moved…towards questions along the lines of, “How did we get stuck?” How did we arrive at a place psychologically, emotionally where we feel unable to imagine alternative ways of organizing ourselves, where it seems so difficult for people now? You know, there seems to be this pervasive sense of, “Well, the system we have is really the only one that’s viable in this very densely populated, technologically complex world that we live in. Maybe we can improve things here and there, but essentially this is it.”
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