Skip to main content

Three Great Videos

"The mark of an intelligent and educated man is one who does not really accept the idea of "work". That is to say; he does not accept the process of doing chores every day, that aren't in the least bit interesting to him, just in order to go on living." - Alan Watts
From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today.  Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.

Considered for a Pulitzer Prize for his recent book 1177 BC, Dr. Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics and Anthropology and the current Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at The George Washington University. He is a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright scholar, an NEH Public Scholar, and an award-winning teacher and author. He has degrees in archaeology and ancient history from Dartmouth, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania; in May 2015, he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree (honoris causa) from Muhlenberg College.  Dr. Cline is an active field archaeologist with 30 seasons of excavation and survey experience.

The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.

DEBT: The First 5,000 Years

While the "national debt" has been the concern du jour of many economists, commentators and politicians, little attention is ever paid to the historical significance of debt.

For thousands of years, the struggle between rich and poor has largely taken the form of conflicts between creditors and debtors—of arguments about the rights and wrongs of interest payments, debt peonage, amnesty, repossession, restitution, the sequestering of sheep, the seizing of vineyards, and the selling of debtors' children into slavery. By the same token, for the past five thousand years, popular insurrections have begun the same way: with the ritual destruction of debt records—tablets, papyri, ledgers; whatever form they might have taken in any particular time and place.

Enter anthropologist David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years (July, ISBN 978-1-933633-86-2), which uses these struggles to show that the history of debt is also a history of morality and culture.

In the throes of the recent economic crisis, with the very defining institutions of capitalism crumbling, surveys showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans felt that the country's banks should not be rescued—whatever the economic consequences—but that ordinary citizens stuck with bad mortgages should be bailed out. The notion of morality as a matter of paying one's debts runs deeper in the United States than in almost any other country.

Beginning with a sharp critique of economics (which since Adam Smith has erroneously argued that all human economies evolved out of barter), Graeber carefully shows that everything from the ancient work of law and religion to human notions like "guilt," "sin," and "redemption," are deeply influenced by ancients debates about credit and debt.

It is no accident that debt continues to fuel political debate, from the crippling debt crises that have gripped Greece and Ireland, to our own debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling. Debt, an incredibly captivating narrative spanning 5,000 years, puts these crises into their full context and illuminates one of the thorniest subjects in all of history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Graeber teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People, and Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire.

This talk was hosted by Boris Debic on behalf of the Authors@Google program.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paddehoa og plassen min

Kjære plassen min, kvalt du vart, lik ei paddehoe alle paddehannane kasta seg over i dammen om våren.
Dei ville alle bu ved dine grøne enger, då dei tykte det her var so vent og fredeleg. Men dei vørde deg ikkje, og no er du kvalt til daude.
Herr Fossemøllens augnestein stend utan låven sin, her gjeng ikkje lenger dyr og beitar i dine grøne enger. Berre grasklipparar beitar her no.
Dei elska deg til daude, og med deg i grava di tok du den rike
grendearven din.
No stend vi ribba attende.

Venter metankatastrofen oss?

I dag inneholder atmosfæren 5 gigatonn metan. Et estimat anslår at rundt 50 gigatonn metan kan være i ferd med å frigis i Arktis, dvs. en tidobling. Flere tusen gigatonn ligger lagret i den arktiske permafrosten, i den Øst-Sibirske arktiske havhylla alene ligger det 500 - 5000 gigatonn metan.

Metan er ved frigjøring mer enn 150 ganger sterkere som klimagass enn CO2, etter 20 år 86 ganger sterkere i gjennomsnitt, og etter 100 år 23 ganger sterkere. Dette fordi den blir til H2O og CO2.

Mennesket er et produkt av ilden, dette ser nå ut til å bli vår bane. Imens er det søndagsåpne butikker som debatteres, selvsagt en uting og et pådriv for konsumerismen, men allikevel et bevis på menneskets korte tidshorisont.

"Geoengineering" kan ikke hjelpe oss, det er langt mer fornuftig å lagre karbon i jordsmonnet. Det er 5-6 ganger mer karbon i jorda enn i atmosfæren og vegetasjonen sammenlagt. Her kan biokull (terra preta) spille en viktig rolle.

Biokull kan bli i jorda i flere hundre tu…

Den djupe grenda

Underleg er det å vera i fedregrenda, og frykte at den djupe grenda bakom skal ta det siste andedraget. Då har vi berre att den grunne grenda, som er ein illusjon frå Amerika.
I den grunne grenda har plassmålaren vorte ein kulissemålar, for kulisseplassar, lik fototapet med sponplatar bakom.
I den djupe grenda syng ein songane åt fedrane sine. Ein vyrder og aktar dei gamle plassane, lik levande historiemåleri i landskapet. Måla med kraftfulle penslar, av autonomi, krinslaup og retrovasjon.
I den grunne grenda har dei gamle plassane vorte villaparkar. Ein dyrkar ikkje permakultur, men får alle behov dekte utanifrå, gjennom røyr, kablar, bilar og pumpehus.
I den djupe grenda rår stilla, og elden bakom, frå dei som gjekk føre, brenn sterk og klår. Viss denne elden sloknar, rår berre den grunne grenda, og då kjem kulden snikande.