Think Big, Graeber's History of Humanity!

David Graeber didn’t live to see the fruits of his decade-long labor: the anthropologist, anarchist and Occupy Wall Street kickstarter died suddenly last year. It fell to his co-author, the archaeologist David Wengrow, to finish their collaborative tour-de-force and get it out into a world right when the world needs it most.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, is a wholesale rewriting of the way we humans evolved and organized ourselves. To Graeber’s sweeping historical eye there’s nothing inevitable or “natural” about the unbridled free-market economy that we moderns ultimately decided is the horse to bet on. On the contrary, it’s an ugly distortion of the idea that arguably works best: a flatter, co-operative system where decisions are made collectively, and inequality is kept in check.

I have particular respect for books like this that attempt to blow things apart on a meta-level. Only the most brilliant, daring (and maybe foolhardy) attempt them. But these are the kind of coyote howls we need in the planetary endgame. Because systemic boldness like this has magic in it. A clearly articulated vision of revolutionary change can move people who are out of gas and out of hope. It’s the only thing that can.

I don’t know Wengrow, but Graeber was our great ally in launching Occupy Wall Street. From Vancouver we watched him mobilize and inspire the activists on the ground in New York. OWS couldn’t have happened without him.

Likewise, The Dawn of Everything, for all its 700-page heft and gravitas, finally delivers a simple message too: Think big! “We are going to change the course of human history,” said Graeber, “starting with the past.”

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