Evolutionäre Universalitäten

In der aktuellen Ausgabe des Journal of Economic Literature reviewt Samuel Bowles The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity von David Graeber und David Wengrow. Eine spannende Passage daraus:

Some social institutions—private property, markets, states, worship of supernatural beings, social ranking, and sharing the necessities of life among non-kin, for example—have emerged independently and been ubiquitous over long periods of the human experience. Others—polyandry or central economic planning, for example—have been of passing importance, and generally have occupied limited ecological niches. Talcott Parsons termed the former evolutionary universals, by which he meant those ways of ordering society that crop up, persist, and are adopted with sufficient frequency in a variety of circumstances to suggest their general evolutionary viability (Parsons 1964). He offered the convergent evolution of vision in many species as a biological analogy; another would be flight. For society, Parsons identified (among others) money, markets, bureaucracy, social stratification, and liberal democracy as a set of modern social arrangements toward which independent societal trajectories would tend (he predicted the demise of Communist Party rule and central planning in the Soviet Union.) Friedrich Hayek referred to the nexus of markets and private property—his “extended order”—in a similar vein (Hayek 1988).

Über 5.000 Jahre vergingen, in denen es schon Landwirtschaft aber noch keine Aristokratien, ständigen Armeen und Schuldknechtschaft gab.

Graeber and Wengrow similarly overlook plausible and empirically supported hypotheses concerning a period they rightly call out for greater scholarly attention, the “five thousand years in which cereal domestication did not lead to the emergence of pampered aristocracies, standing armies and debt peonage” (p. 523) and the eventual development of heightened levels of inequality among Neolithic farmers. To begin, they do entertain an interesting ecological hypothesis to the effect that early Neolithic growing conditions—farming seasonally flooded land along the Nile and in parts of Mesopotamia—“did not lend themselves to the development of private property” (p. 235) and this might have limited wealth inequality.

Warum sind schlussendlich starke soziale Hierarchien entstanden?

  • Weil Bauern ihre Ernte lagern können. Das können Jäger & Sammler nicht. Essen wurde nicht mehr nur geteilt, sondern privat gelagert und akkumuliert.
  • Durch Landwirtschaft stieg die Produktivität von einem Stück Land enorm. Das erhöhte den Anreiz, dieses Stück Land gegenüber anderen abzugrenzen und mit Gewalt zu verteidigen.
  • Durch den Pflug stieg die Produktivität von Land (= Kapital) gegenüber Arbeit. Der wertvollste Input für mehr Einkommen – Land = Kapital – konnte nun akkumuliert und über Generationen vererbt werden. Reine Arbeitskraft kann man nicht vererben.

Mit dem Effekt:

These three transformations—storage, private property in land, and a labor-saving innovation—appear to have provided an economic environment in which what the archaeologist Ian Hodder called the “aggressively egalitarian community” eventually gave way to extraordinary levels of wealth inequality in the Bronze Age in western Eurasia (Hodder 2014, p. 1).