The original one percent

Unequal access to income and wealth preceded the formation of the state and contributed to its development. Yet once established, governmental institutions in turn exacerbated existing inequalities and created new ones. Premodern states generated unprecedented opportunities for the accumulation and concentration of material resources in the hands of the few, both by providing a measure of protection for commercial activity and by opening up new sources of personal gain for those most closely associated with the exercise of political power.

Walter Scheidel | Department of Classics

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The origin and character of the State

One finds an astonishing degree of agreement among scholars that the state and violence are intimately related.

Gerard Casey Colour.jpg

…One finds an astonishing degree of agreement among scholars that the state and violence are intimately related. If you were to ask David Hume how the state originated he would say that ‘Almost all the governments which exist at present, or of which there remains any record in story, have been founded originally in usurpation or conquest or both, without any pretense of a fair consent or voluntary subjection of the people.’

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Racial Terminology and Confusion

WALTER WILLIAMS: The true plight of black Americans (column) | Free |

…without a doubt, part of the confusion in understanding racial issues lies in the imprecise and ambiguous language used by scholars and laymen alike in discussing race. Words can, and usually do, have more than one meaning, and therefore can be used ambiguously. In analytical usage, not only is it necessary to separate the connotative from the literal content of words, but precise and operationally useful distinctions and definitions also must be made.

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The myth of the barter


Graeber recently passed away and I allow myself to share with you one of his most popular (and controversial) passages.

While he found a gold mine debunking some historical inaccuracies of «the myth of the barter» as usually presented by armchair economists, ironically he still managed to get the underlying economic principle that eventually explained the (Mengerian) origin of money (very) very wrong. Right facts, wrong interpretation. 

May he rest in peace.

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What is Intelligence? Do You Know It When You See It?

It may seem odd, but let’s start our discussion of intelligence with the value of pi, the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. As you know, the value of pi is always the same: 3.14 … carried out to an infinite, non-repeating sequence of decimals. For our purpose here, it’s just a very long string of numbers in seemingly random order that is always the same. This string of numbers has been used as a simple test of memory. Some people can memorize a longer string of the pi sequence than others. And, a few people can memorize a very long string…

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