We’ve been human for maybe 300,000 years. For most of that time our ancestors hunted and gathered in small groups. You might think that means they didn’t practice politics since they didn’t have governments with three branches and giant domed buildings on hills with highly-paid lobbyists trying to influence them.
If you understand politics to mean group decision-making in general, they were likely more political in that in hunter-gatherers today, most people are involved in most group decisions. Since they have less hierarchy, people with higher status can’t simply order people with lower status around. If I want to influence you, I have to listen, understand, and practice social and emotional skills people in nations don’t.
In the past 10,000 years, we have formed larger political bodies and institutions. Reading The Dawn of Everything taught me the countless diversity of political structures that humans have created over thousands of years in innumerable situations based on innumerable histories, communities, goals, and so on.
So why do Americans seem to see capitalism, socialism, and communism as the only options? Why do we think if you’re not one of those three, you must be one of the other two? Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is only about 250 years old, less than one-thousandth the age of humanity. They’re more economic systems than political.
How did we get so myopic? Why can’t we see past this sliver of options?
What happened to our creativity? Where is our diversity of thought?
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