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14+ teosta 3,770 jäsentä 60 arvostelua 5 Favorited

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James C. Scott is Sterling Professor of Political Science and codirector of the Agrarian Studies Program at Vale University. His previous books include Domination and the Arts of Resistance, Seeing Like a State, and The Art of Not Being Governed.
Image credit: Drawing of James C. Scott by Karen Eliot.

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Readings in Planning Theory (1996) — Avustaja, eräät painokset85 kappaletta

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Calling this book a history of the earliest states stretches the term "history" too far. The author isn't a historian and his purpose is not to present new historical research. But he is an original political thinker, as his previous book "Seeing like a state" attests, and I assume he has familiarized himself with a lot of historical research before writing this book. What he actually does is that he applies his anti-state views to the study of history by turning the table on traditional historical narratives.

The first few chapters of the book discuss how agriculture, ecology, war and slavery on the one hand facilitated early state formation, but on the other hand were so precarious that the balance could (and did) often turn to state disintegration as well. There was no linear development from hunting and gathering to agriculture and state formation, but complex back-and forth oscillation with lots of human traffic going in all directions for several millenia. These points are well taken.

The later chapters were in my opinion more interesting. The author argues that the historical record contains a state-centered bias because (p.214) "the self-documenting court center offered convenient one-stop shopping for historians and archaeologists". This bias should not lead us to think that early states offered a better life to its citizens than smaller communities, or that the "collapse" of a state necessarily had, in the long term, negative consequences. The population just dispersed, and they did not leave a written record. Our traditional power- and text-centered historical sequences of "civilization" (Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Maya...) are quite myopic. Most of humanity lived in less powerful societies without written state records.

I think the book could have been structured a bit better, and the argument in the later chapters could have been extended in more detail almost up to modern history (as the author does very briefly at the end). But the title of this book is appropriate and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to think about human history from a different perspective.
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thcson | 17 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 19, 2024 |
This is a fascinating book on the perils of "high modernist" aspirations. The book focuses on the processes that lead to failures in megaprojects.

Many of us have an instinctive knee-jerk reaction to large-scale projects. Yet it's hard to put into words why. At the outset, it sometimes just seems like blind resistance to change. Scott not only provides an explanation for understanding these reactions, but also a framework for thinking about when those reactions are actually justified and when they might be overreactions.

High modernists come in all shapes and sizes. They range from autocrats to revolutionaries, bureaucrats to visionaries, socialists to capitalists. What unites them are their top-down visions that seek to reorganize life, production, or work.

High modernism is a form of tyranny of "experts" over others, symptomized by:

-Top-down visions with little interest, or appreciation of the local context or stakeholders.
-Over-rationalization and standardization leading to ignoring, rejecting, and wiping out local knowledge.
-The consequences of failed high modernist projects range from catastrophic to wasteful.

Going through diverse cases, the book also paints an interesting historical backdrop to trending topics in society, politics, and business. I.e. Systems thinking, user-centered design, and business anthropology all aim to better understand and integrate local knowledge into solutions big and small. Therefore it's also a book on the mistakes that have brought us to this point.
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tourmikes | 22 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 3, 2024 |
Please read it before extolling city-planning genius of Le Corbusier et al. Because otherwise to listen to you is akin listening to someone praising living in communal paradise under omniscient gaze of comrade Stalin.
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Den85 | 22 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 3, 2024 |
Recommandé par Nicolas Casaux qui a fait le si Web :
Qui est aussi sur les podcasts Floraison et sur médium.com
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jmv55 | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 3, 2023 |



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