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Historian 03/10/2020 (Tue) 17:18:29 No. 207
What are your opinions on this book? I'll keep mine to myself for now, I'm genuinely curious to see how it is viewed in leftist circles.
Interesting but oversimplified An ok holiday read
>>207 I remember in 9th and 10th grade history we would always read snippets of the book as our sources. Though it was interesting then.
Baby's first book in revisionism. But its an okay book but very over simplified and doesn't really go too much in depth. The author himself is a classic revisionist historian so keep that in mind.
More Marxist than Marx himself.
There was another thread that popped up about this, and it was fairly decent, so I will copy paste the replies here: --- There are many critiques of this book, it's very controversial, but good read non the less. I think you should read it and then read some critiques. There are often threads on /his/ about it /lit/ and /pol/ also love to hate it. You can find a bunch of reviews and critiques of it with a little bit of googling, so I recommend read it, think about it, and read some critiques. Here: https://www.marxist.com/a-review-of-jared-diamonds-guns-germs-and-steel.htm --- The author himself is not a Marxist, but from what I can gather, the book is a decent layman introduction to the concept of historical materialism and how it can be applied as a lens to assess the comparative development of civilizations. Unfortunately, some of the claims made by the author are backed by research that's more than a bit shoddy, and reactionary critics love to pick on the book for that reason, but it's pretty clear most of their ire stems from the fact that they are uncomfortable with having their racial essentialist worldview attacked so directly. --- I agree with other posts here. Think of the book as part of a dialectical process: Its a way to begin to think in materialist terms. While it is a little bit geographically determinist and a has liberal bias in favor of competition as a being a good driving force in society (toward the end of the book), it can help you start to consider that there are material conditions that at the very least provide a strict constraint on what can happen in human society. eg. you can't get metal weapons in an early agrarian society without easy access mineral deposits I recommend reading it alongside book like the selfish gene (Richard Dawkins) & Bad Samaritans (Ha-Joon Chang), as far as non-marxist authors go.
While I agree with the other posters here, I think that since no one else has posted about the problems with the book, I will do so briefly. I don't mean to dissuade anyone from reading it, and if memory serves most of the problems are concentrated towards the end: Ultiamtely Jared Diamond works within a liberal paradigm/discourse, and this paradigm is enamored with competition conceptually. Ultiamtely this stems from liberalism being wedded to capitalism historically and ideologically. Therefore, the book is rather myopic about imperialism and colonialism (which are logical consequences to coutnries competiting with one another, since being able to extract excess resources from a faraway third region that is colonized gives advantages in war, trade and domestic stability); That certain countries are poor because they have been plundered and continue to be plundered by others does not cross his mind all too much. Further, that the totalizing nature of competition under capitalism can actually result in constraints on economic development, including on technogical discovery and innovation are mostly passed over. And this is why the book is often accused of geographic determinism (though i nreality it isn't stricly); That is to say, in order to avoid outright racial or cultural chauvinism, he defaults to saying that the problem is the lack of liberal institutions in poor countries, and that this lack has near exclusive geographic determinants ultimately. This is the consequence of not having an understanding of capitalism and imperialism as systems with internal logics, combined of course to middle class first world apologia.
I think he's too determinist and doesn't focus enough on economics apart from technology trade. Like sure, Europe based on geography will be in a much better spot than Subsaharan Africa but if we're just going off technology, resources and geography, China would have "won".


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