Nov 25, 2009

Guns, Germs and Steel

[Excerpt] by Jared Diamond courtesy of CC

Don't words such as 'civilization' and phrases such as 'rise of civilization' convey the false impression that civilization is good, tribal hunter-gatherers are miserable, and history for the past 13,000 years has involved progress toward greater human happiness? In fact, I do not assume that industrialized states are 'better' than hunter-gatherer tribes, or that the abandonment of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle for iron-based statehood represents 'progress' or that it has led to an increase in human happiness.

My own impression, from having divided my life between United States and New Guinea villages, is that the so-called blessings of civilization are mixed. For example, compared with hunter-gatherers, citizens of modern industrialized states enjoy better medical care, lower risk of death by homicide, and a longer life span, but receive much less social support from friendships and extended families.

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