Elfdart's Reviews > A Short History of Progress

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright
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's review
Jul 13, 2010

it was amazing

this was an interesting book discussing the possibility of collapse. wright makes a point that there is a tendency for something to bring itself to an end, whether this is intentional or not. there is the extinction aspect, sometimes a species or group of people just can’t cope with a change and they die out, like the sabre toothed tiger, as wright discusses. sabre toothed tigers survive on big game, thats why they need those big teeth to rip into the huge animals, but those teeth get in the way if they were hunting say a rabbit, so as big game died out so did they. but the other kind of extinction, the one more relevant to us today, us being the leading countries with the power to carry out wright’s fears, is very much intentional. an example from wright explaining this is the easter islanders… there were a few but i like this one best because it makes it more real for me as i live in suburbia. the easter islanders cut down all the trees on their island and because of that went extinct. that sounds kind of ridiculous to us, but we’re doing the exact same things today. wright calls these progress traps and examples would be farming and neuclear weapons. we have become so dependent on farming and use that solely to produce food that if the climate were to change we’d be in something of a pickle.. and i’d assume you can guess how neuclear weapons would hinder the progress of the human species. wright brings our attention to our possible demise by our own hand. a decent quote is "the most compelling reason for reforming our system is that the system is in no one’s interest. It is a suicide machine".
it’s not so much a history book as it is a call to attention. it uses history to explain the theories it proposes, because history is all we have, but it is not an all encompassing guide to the progress of humanity throughout time. i thought it was a pretty good book, readable.

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Quotes Elfdart Liked

Ronald Wright
“the most compelling reason for reforming our system is that the system is in no one's interest. It is a suicide machine.”
Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress

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