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Krister Löfgren

Anxiety and the Invention of Classes

1 min read

One implication of the neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky’s work is that human social and political systems that are highly fluid and dynamic generate more anxiety than systems that are static. Sapolsky points out that “for 99 percent of human history” society was “most probably strikingly unhierarchical” and therefore probably less psychologically stressful than in the modern era. For hundreds of thousands of years, the standard form of human social organization was the hunter-gatherer tribe—and such tribes were, judging from what we know of the bands of hunter-gatherers that still exist today, “remarkably egalitarian.” Sapolsky goes so far as to say that the invention of agriculture, a relatively recent development in the scope of human history, “was one of the great stupid moves of all times” because it allowed for the stockpiling of food and, for the first time in history, “the stratification of society and the invention of classes.


--My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, Scott Stossel