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A Short History of Progress af Ronald Wright
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A Short History of Progress (udgave 2005)

af Ronald Wright

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,0122514,793 (3.91)14
"A Short History of Progress is nothing less than a concise history of the world since Neanderthal times, elegantly written, brilliantly conceived, and stunningly clear in its warning to us now. Wright shows how human beings have a way of walking into "progress traps," beginning with the worldwide slaughter of big game in the Stone Age. The same pattern of overconsumption then took a new from, as many of the world's most creative civilizations - Mesopotamia, the Maya, the Roman Empire - fell victim to their own success."--BOOK JACKET.… (mere)
Medlem:ditchdiggergirl
Titel:A Short History of Progress
Forfattere:Ronald Wright
Info:Da Capo Press (2005), Paperback, 224 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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A Short History of Progress af Ronald Wright

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Os primeiros capítulos están bastante aceptables, supoño que pola formación arqueolóxica do autor. Do resto véñenlle todas as críticas negativas que podes atopar por acó, algunhas con bastante fundamento. O feito de que as notas nesta edición estean na parte posterior é bastante molesto. Non é mal libro, porque é curtiño, pero logo de ler a Jared Diamond (Colapso, Armas, gérmenes y acero) é bastante prescindible. Hai que recoñecer, con todo, que non escribe mal. ( )
  MRMP | Jan 9, 2021 |
Os primeiros capítulos están bastante aceptables, supoño que pola formación arqueolóxica do autor. Do resto véñenlle todas as críticas negativas que podes atopar por acó, algunhas con bastante fundamento. O feito de que as notas nesta edición estean na parte posterior é bastante molesto. Non é mal libro, porque é curtiño, pero logo de ler a Jared Diamond (Colapso, Armas, gérmenes y acero) é bastante prescindible. Hai que recoñecer, con todo, que non escribe mal. ( )
  MRMP | Jan 9, 2021 |
Way back in 2004, Ronald Wright delivered five lectures for the Massey Lectures series. Together they took as their theme a short history of progress. With the framing device of Paul Gauguin’s questions — Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? — Wright examines civilizations of the past and identifies the factors that caused them to collapse, then highlights the parallels between those civilizations and our current one. The message: history is repeating itself, and the price will be catastrophic if we don’t do anything about it.

The edition I read was the 15th anniversary edition, with a new introduction by the author. The introduction notes that the situation has not improved in the intervening period; in fact, it’s become worse. We are continuing, as a society, to put off long-term solutions in favour of short-term convenience, and the window of opportunity to preserve some form of this society is closing rapidly. And the parallels with past civilizations are compelling, particularly those where wealth is concentrated at the top and the rich therefore have a vested interest in preserving the status quo.

The lectures overlap and repeat themselves to a degree; because the lectures are given as a series over several days, this repetition is likely intentional, in case a listener tunes in for the second and has missed the first lecture, for example. The repetition also reinforces the author’s key messages. For the text reader, the lectures are extensively (and visibly!) endnoted.

I would recommend this book in addition to more current ones about the environment and the state of the world. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 19, 2020 |
Ronald Wright is archeoloog van opleiding en dat is ook te merken aan de uitstekende hoofdstukken over de vroegste menselijke geschiedenis, met de laatste stand van de wetenschap (ca 2005). Maar daarna slaat hij helemaal op hol en volgt een ketting van rampen die de mensheid zijn overkomen, te beginnen bij de landbouwrevolutie, 10.000 jaar geleden. Wright stelt de vooruitgang die de mensheid heeft doorsparteld gelijk met een neerwaartse spiraal naar de ondergang. Zijn aanpak, - bestuderen wat de vroegere beschavingen verkeerd deden om er lessen uit te trekken voor onze belaagde wereld van vandaag -, is uiteraard een nobele doelstelling. En zeker bij de eerste cases (Paaseiland, Soemerië) doet hij dat nog met de nodige nuance, maar daarna (vooral vanaf het deel over het Maya-rijk) doet hij dat zo clichématig en tendentieus dat het ronduit pamflettair wordt (bijzonder vreemd vind ik zijn stelling dat de Amerikaanse kolonisten de democratische principes overnamen van de Cherokee-indianen). Wright zit opgesloten in een perfecte cirkelredenering: zijn premisse (“het huidige systeem is een zelfmoordmachine”) is meteen onvermijdelijk ook zijn conclusie; bovendien voegt hij daar op het einde erg populistische anti-kapitalistische retoriek aan toe. Ik ben absoluut een voorstander van een kritische kijk op de dingen, en ik deel voor 100% Wrights bekommernis om het voortbestaan van onze planeet, maar dit is zo van de pot gerukt oer-pessimisme, dat het niet meer mooi is. Dit boek is de perfectie illustratie van hoe doemdenken de hersencellen kan doen blokkeren en tot de meest aberrante conclusies kan leiden. ( )
  bookomaniac | Jan 14, 2016 |
Wright takes a long view of human history, starting from the Old Paleolithic. He presents a picture of escalating boom and bust cycles. Agriculture took off because the hunters got too good at hunting and killed off so much prey that farming was the only alternative left.

He discusses Easter Island and Sumer, that collapsed to effective extinction, Mayan and Roman civilization that left peripheral groups to survive though to today, and Egypt and China that have survived for millennia. He doesn't go deeply into our situation today, with peak oil, climate change, etc. He shows us a pattern that repeats with variations through history. Our present situation fits the general pattern well enough. But which variation? Can we steer ourselves at least away from the track of extinction? Unlike the cases of Easter Island and Sumer, our culture is global. If our culture goes extinct, will any humans survive?

Wright doesn't give us much of an idea about how to steer, either. Sure, switch from short term thinking to long term thinking. That sounds like a very good direction in which to steer, but it doesn't touch the how.

My own idea these days is to promote diversity in thinking. Culture may well evolve by an evolutionary mechanism. But evolution requires diversity. It's not just that we need to figure out how to cultivate long term vision, but just what sort of crystal ball might prove sufficiently accurate is another space we need to explore. Science itself seems to get more and more blindered, e.g. as reseach gets more expensive and funding sources more scarce.

I've been reading for many years by now folks like Archdruid John Michael Greer, Dmitri Orlov, Morris Berman, John Michael Greer, etc. So I didn't need to be sold on the idea that we are marching out over thinning ice. Still, I found Wright's anthropological perspective to be usefully illuminating. ( )
3 stem kukulaj | Dec 28, 2015 |
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...a brief, trenchant essay.
tilføjet af GYKM | RedigerMontreal Gazette, Bryan Demchinsky (Jan 15, 2005)
 
What really needs some psychological excavation is Ronald Wright's mind, which carries a set of inflated, emotionally based moralistic assumptions derived from the structure of his primitive ignorance about markets and economics.
tilføjet af GYKM | RedigerNational Post, Peter Foster (Dec 1, 2004)
 
...an elegant and learned discussion
tilføjet af GYKM | RedigerMaclean's, Brian Bethune (Nov 22, 2004)
 
... the most important use of printed word and post-consumer recycled fibres I have seen since Jérôme Deshusses's Délivrez Prométhée, 25 years ago.... You feel you've read volumes, though, not just because of the density of Wright's thoughts, but due to the crushing weight of the burden they carry. In prose that is balefully evocative and irreducibly precise...
 
...remarkably gifted wordsmith whose talent makes turgid facts not only digestible, but also generates a hunger for more... A Short History of Progress is an important, well-crafted book, however, I can't promise that it will change your life.
tilføjet af GYKM | RedigerSkeptic, Diane Barlee
 

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Long ago ...
No one tore the ground with ploughshares
or parcelled out the land
or swept the sea with dipping oars --
the shore was the world's end.
Clever human nature, victim of your inventions,
disastrously creative,
why cordon cities with towered walls?
Why arm for war?

-- Ovid, Amores, Book 3
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For my mother,
Shirley Phyllis Wright
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The French painter and writer Paul Gauguin -- by most accounts mad, bad, and dangerous to know -- suffered acutely from cosmological vertigo induced by the work of Darwin and other Victorian scientists.
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"A Short History of Progress is nothing less than a concise history of the world since Neanderthal times, elegantly written, brilliantly conceived, and stunningly clear in its warning to us now. Wright shows how human beings have a way of walking into "progress traps," beginning with the worldwide slaughter of big game in the Stone Age. The same pattern of overconsumption then took a new from, as many of the world's most creative civilizations - Mesopotamia, the Maya, the Roman Empire - fell victim to their own success."--BOOK JACKET.

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