Category: Work

Affluence without Abundance

The Economist reviews a new book: Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen, by James Suzman.

The book is more than an ethno-biography of the Bushmen, it explores an alternative view of life and a possible path for human development. As the Economist puts it:

Farming teaches people to accept inequality and to valorise work. But for the vast majority of human history there was little point in accumulating, since most of what was needed could easily be got from the surrounding environment. Nor was there anything heroic about work; spending time getting more food than one could eat was a foolish waste.

it also concludes:

Having created countless problems by turning to agriculture, rich societies have little choice but to press on: working, striving and inventing, even as this progress creates more problems in need of solving.

It definitely sounds worth a read.

It reminds me, in its description of the pre-agricultural life, of Richard Donkin’s excellent book The History of Work.