Showing posts from January, 2023

Inequality and Designated Victims

Hunter-Gatherer societies tend to be egalitarian.  Civilizations and agricultural societies generally, tend to be hierarchical.  Why so? One possibility is that the greater productivity and fertility of agricultural societies means that they are always bumping up against the Malthusian bound, the maximum population the land and technology can support.  Peter Turchin has explored this idea in his books, including War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires . He documents how Europe has suffered a repetitive cycle of depopulating wars, followed by peace and a rapid expansion of population until individual farmers have been forced to ever smaller farms or more marginal farmland until the society has become broadly impoverished, at which point widespread wars break out as adventurers and the desperate seek more land at the expense of others. These wars depopulate both losers and winners. Of course the other horsemen of the apocalypse who also do their part. But I want to focus on a