A Brief History of Politics?


inspired by a new blog:  A Platform for Politics and Culture

Speech evolved from homo erectus‘s point and grunt for catching game in a team. It’s presented as a series of steps explained in a talk by Wittgenstein, transcribed in The Brown Book, appended here. Thus creatures and things could be given names. Then speech developed concepts like adjectives, grouping like with like; and verbs, used to mean actions. So far, this was all communicated in the moment, the here and now. These made it possible for a lone hunter to tell the story of how, where and when, he killed his prey.

Over many thousands of years, stories were made up, for instruction and entertainment. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey,  India’s Mahabharata. It’s understood that they were recited and elaborated by storytellers over perhaps hundreds of years before he invention of writing   Gilgamesh inscribed on a rock is the first piece of literary writing so far discovered. I believe all these epics embedded political messages, long before politics as we know it today. They were about kings and their power of both subject and enemy.  They named legendary military leaders, brave warriors, Gods and sirens. They were about death and conquest.

More important from our perspective is the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer. Wild grains were cultivated as crops for making bread and brewing beer. Wild animals were domesticated and fenced in against straying. Supply of fresh water was needed. In today’s terms these were the natural resources needed for healthy survival.

Farmers in a certain region lived peaceably with one another. Plentiful food encouraged populations to expand until more land was needed to feed them.

At this point they chose a leader to defend their territory often defined by mountains, canyons and rivers; and to attack other territories which they saw as richer or weaker than theirs.

  • All these elements still exist today. But politics has become immensely complex:
  • Natural resources are no longer plentiful. Some of them need to be abandoned in favour of  others that do not pollute and threaten the planet
  • the world-wide sharing of information via this Web which brings you these words facilitates crime, terrorism, various kinds of assault on the person
  • and what we now know as misinformation and fact check failure: a combination of fraud libel, slander, propaganda and intentional mistakes

Have crime, war and politics increasingly coalesced  through the power of language? Or was it ever thus?


1 thought on “A Brief History of Politics?”

  1. I guess there’s basic instincts too that play a role.
    Crime, war and politics, may have been vital for our species’ survival. Yes, politics too. But i am generally a naive, so never mind.


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