A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
Yes, anthropocentric, of course. Silly me.
As a historian, the past fascinates me. Yes, I believe much of it used to be better. I'm not yet 40, but I can remember a time when things I valued in the country I live in were, in my view, better than they are now. 100 years ago, many things were better. Other things were worse. it's tricky.
I'm currently deep in the Anglo-Saxon age, for a book I'm doing. The warrior romantic within me would much rather have lived in those times, harsh though they were. But that's projection, to some degree. I can never know what it was like to experience that. I have spent time with hunter gatherers in today's world. An amazing life: hard, but deeply connected to the land, to their tribe, to their ancestors. An incredible thing, and in many ways much better than the atomised consumer desert that we have created. But I can't get there: the barriers are huge. I have to be here, now, much as I dislike much of it.
I suppose what we can do is look at some aspects of some pasts that we think were good, ask where they went and then ask if we can get them back. That usually, in my view, takes us via the problem of capitalism to the problem of industrialism itself. I don't know what to do about this. The trouble is - most people think it's great. They'd rather sit round a telly than a fire. Until we can't make tellies anymore, I don't know how to change that.
Succinctly: I spend a lot of my time thinking about how things used to be better in many ways. Write books about it too, and how to bring some of them back. I think small victories are possible. But the Machine is the problem ...