(I wrote this on 11/18/2004)
Yesterday afternoon I browsed an atlas of world history that's been on my shelf for a while. I've long been fascinated with maps and history. Zooming through the entire history of humankind in one day ... left me feeling like "history" is mostly a narrative about the dominant abstractions of competing economic and technological elites. It seems that history begins with the ability of the laboring class to produce surplus goods, and that history is about the continuing scramble by ambitious leaders to appropriate and expliot the surplus production of the laboring classes in service of the leaders' egos.
I guess all that makes me sound like a Marxist. Not that Marxism made things any better, in general, than before. The theories and (especially) the ideals of Marxism (itself a surplus product) turned into additional tools for ambitious leaders to appropriate and exploit. Ditto for the theories and ideals of capitalism, and any other political/religious theories.
Meanwhile, for most of us, history is simply how we live our lives, growing up in a family, finding work & love & play, then forming our own families, usually while creating profits for and paying taxes to people more ambitious than ourselves.
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