Thursday, April 17, 2008

Human History in 60 Seconds

Got 60 seconds?

For the harried business person who says, "I would read more, if only I had the time," here is a remarkable lecture in its entirety by Alan Charles Kors, George H. Walker Endowed Term Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

He covers all of human history in just 60 seconds. Notice his emphasis on trade. Business really is one of the great stories of history.

* First, tribes: tough life.
* The defaults beyond the intimate tribe were violence, aversion to difference, and slavery. Superstition: everywhere.
* Culture overcomes them partially.
* Rainfall agriculture, which allows loners.
* Irrigation agriculture, which favors community.
* Division of labor plus exchange in trade bring mutual cooperation, even outside the tribe.
* The impulse is always there, though: "Kill or enslave the outsider."
* Gradual science from Athens' compact with reason.
* Division of labor, trade, the mastery of knowledge, plus time brought surplus, sometimes a peaceful extended order and, rules diversely evolved and, the cooperation of strangers - always warring against the fierce defaults of tribalism, violence, and ignorance.
* No one who teaches you knows what will happen.

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