History of Violence

Why is it that when we study history, so much of it is recounting a succession of rulers and wars: that is, political history? As a liberal, I believe the state is predominantly an agent of violence. And wars are obviously violent. So looked at that way, the common conception of history seems to be a history of violence. What is more important to the mass of humanity is not so much which cast of thugs has managed to put them under a yoke in any given period: but what they themselves have managed to achieve in spite of them. So a truer history of humanity, I think would focus more on cultural, economic and technological history.

Geography too has politics as its default subject. When we think of a “map of the world”, we automatically think of a multi-colored display of nation-states and their capitals. What is seen as most important is not the land itself or the nature of the people who populate it, but rather how it is chopped up by our overlords, and which city each cabal of overlords chooses to set up shop.

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