The Scent of Money

Excerpt from Chapter 10 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Initially, when the first versions of money were created, people didn’t have this sort of trust, so it was necessary to define as “money” things that had real intrinsic value. History’s first known money— Sumerian barley money—is a good example. It appeared in Sumer around 3000 BC, at the same time and place, and under the same circumstances, in which writing appeared.

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The Capitalist Creed

Excerpt from Chapter 16 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

That’s why many cultures concluded that making bundles of money was sinful. As Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). If the pie is static, and I have a big part of it, then I must have taken somebody else’ slice. The rich were obliged to do penance for their evil deeds by giving some of their surplus wealth to charity.

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A Permanent Revolution

Excerpt from Chapter 18 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

In Africa, things are far less rosy. But even there, most conflicts are civil wars and coups. Since African states won their independence in the 1960s and 1970s, very few countries have invaded one another in the hope of conquest.

There have been periods of relative calm before, as for example in Europe between 1871 and 1914, and they always ended badly. But this time it is different. For real peace is not the mere absence of war. Real peace is the implausibility of war. There has never been real peace in the world. Between 1871 and 1914, a European war remained a plausible eventuality, and the expectation of war dominated the thinking of armies, politicians, and ordinary citizens alike.

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