Difference between relative and chronometric absolute dating techniques
’), all without addressing any of the factors that people actually object to about such ‘unequal’ social arrangements: for instance, that some manage to turn their wealth into power over others; or that other people end up being told their needs are not important, and their lives have no intrinsic worth.
The latter, we are supposed to believe, is just the inevitable effect of inequality, and inequality, the inevitable result of living in any large, complex, urban, technologically sophisticated society.
Mainstream social science now seems mobilized to reinforce this sense of hopelessness.
Almost on a monthly basis we are confronted with publications trying to project the current obsession with property distribution back into the Stone Age, setting us on a false quest for ‘egalitarian societies’ defined in such a way that they could not possibly exist outside some tiny band of foragers (and possibly, not even then).
In fact, it’s not obvious what doing so would even mean, since people are not all the same and nobody would particularly want them to be.
‘Inequality’ is a way of framing social problems appropriate to technocratic reformers, the kind of people who assume from the outset that any real vision of social transformation has long since been taken off the political table.
One can imagine overthrowing capitalism or breaking the power of the state, but it’s very difficult to imagine eliminating ‘inequality’.
If resources become scarce, or social tensions arise, they respond by moving on, and going someplace else.
Life for these early humans – we can think of it as humanity’s childhood – is full of dangers, but also possibilities.
This is important because the narrative also defines our sense of political possibility.
Most see civilization, hence inequality, as a tragic necessity.
It goes something a little like this: As the curtain goes up on human history – say, roughly two hundred thousand years ago, with the appearance of anatomically modern – we find our species living in small and mobile bands ranging from twenty to forty individuals.