Poetry. Art. Other things that catch my eye.
One way to read this is a book about a mother’s love. Some say Wise Brown was making an allegory to God. This week I used Runaway Bunny in my state-building lecture.
States for most of history have been unrelenting, coercive, and all-consuming. If you think of states as merely benign or civilizing, you will fail to understand the shape of society. You can try to run away, but you will come home. Here’s a carrot for your trouble.
If you do not agree with me, or have your doubts, your reading assignment is Jim Scott’s anarchist history of Southeast Asia. Or the runner up, Eugen Weber on turning peasants into Frenchman. From Scott’s book:
At a time when the state seems pervasive and inescapable, it is easy to forget that for much of history, living within or outside the state… was a choice…
Much, if not most, of the population of the early states was unfree; they were subjects under duress.
…it was very common for state subjects to run away. Living with the state meant, virtually by definition, taxes, conscription, corvee labor, and, for most, a condition of servitude
When these burdens because overwhelming, subjects moved with alacrity to the periphery or to another state.
…Note that this account of the periphery is sharply at odds with the official story most civilizations tell about themselves.
According to that tale, a backward, naïve, and perhaps barbaric people are gradually incorporated into an advanced, superior, and more prosperous society and culture."