How did the world come to be as it is now?
We seem to be in a very dangerous situation:
The world is divided into roughly 224 entities that we are raised to call ‘countries.’
The entities called ‘governments’ of these ‘countries’ devote almost unimaginable amounts of wealth to organized mass murder events called ‘wars.’ They build weapons that are so complicated they boggle the mind and so destructive that we can’t even comprehend what would happen if they were used. To the people who do the fighting, these ‘wars’ are basically organized orgies of mass murder and destruction under the most miserable conditions imaginable. To the people who organize them, they are more like sports competitions. Each country is a ‘team’ that is competing for prizes. These prizes don’t really make any sense and none of them have any potential to move the human race toward a better future.
We are on a dangerous path.
How did we get onto it?
To start, we may want to find the beginning. Where is it? If we use verifiable scientific evidence, how far back can we trace events? In other words, when, exactly, did the path that we are now on start? What does science and evidence tell us about how we got onto it? Once we got onto this path, what set of events or decisions pushed us along this path until we got where we are now?
The conventional field we call ‘history’ doesn’t seem to be able to help us understand these things. This field seems to leave out everything important, and focus on little details. It tells us the names of the wars between the entities called ‘countries,’ the dates of key battles, the prizes won by the side that claimed victory, and the names of the people who were elevated to power by the war. But they don’t tell us what ‘countries’ are, how they came to exist, when they came to exist (they didn’t always exist), or why they were created. There must have been something that happened in the past that caused these entities to come to exist. It would be hard to understand the activities called ‘wars between countries’ without first knowing what countries are and why they are in conflict.
To understand something, you need to start at the beginning.
We don’t start by teaching children calculus and then teach them how to write numbes. We don’t teach grammar until children understand the alphabet. If we want to understand history, we need to start with basics.
Conventional histories, like the ones we were spoon fed in elementary school, don’t provide any help answering these questions. Many people who have analyzed these stories about things we were told happened in the past have claimed that it is wrong to even call this collection of stories ‘histories.’ For example, Socrates goes over the things children were taught in his day in the schools all children were reqired to attend. (He goes over this issue in detail in the dialogue Politika—πολιτείες—which is available in the references section of the PossibleSocieties.com website.) He claimed that most of these stories are basically made up nonsense designed to prepare and desensitize people to the realities of the defective systems into which they were born so that they won’t resist (very much) when they are forced to turn themselves into cannon fodder or cogs in the machinery that makes the war machine operate.
More than 2,300 years after Socrates was put to death (for corrupting youth with his dangerous stories that better societies were possible), George Orwell went over the same matters. If you read his most famous book on the topic, 1984, and then read Socrates ideas, I am sure you will be surprised to find out how little had changed in this immense period of time. Orwell found claimed that history was intentionally ‘altered’ to create the illusion that the system around them was sound, that they people who ran it knew what they were doing and that conditions of life were constantly improving due to their diligent efforts.
Many other references tell the same story from different perspectives. Socrates dealt mostly with issues related to the differences in the societies of the ‘east’ (which starts in Turkey, spitting distance from the closest Greek island) and those of the ‘west’) Orwell dealt with the same issue some 2,300 years later. (If you want something even more recent, I suggest ‘An introduction to geopolitics by Alexander Dugin, available in the references section of the PossibleSocieties.com website’) James W. Loewen’s book ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me’ deals with American history and shows that the standard books used in school totally misinform children and create an appearance that doesn’t match reality at all.
Conventional histories at all levels start with the preconceptions of children. Material written for adults must conform to the things they were taught in school or it won’t be accepted. (The war movies have to show the side that the history books depict as good the same way, or people will label them propaganda.) After all is said and done, we really have no idea what evens led to the conditions we see around us. We don’t have any idea how we got where we were.
We need a different kind of history.
We need a history that explains how we got onto the path through time we are now on.
Why is this important?
We are on a very dangerous path through time.
If we want to understand where we are now, and where we might go from here, we have to understand what is behind us. We have to understand how we started. We have to understand the different choices that were available to our ancient ancestors and the forces that pushed them to make the choices they made. If we can understand what would have happened had they made other choices, we can understand that the path we are on is not the only path possible.
We may be able to understand that we have choices.
We can continue down this path if we want, and take it until we hit the dead end that we can all see ahead.
But there are many different paths that the human race can take into the future. Perhaps, if we knew more about the ‘landscape’ behind us on this path, and the sets of forces and decisions that put us where we are now, we could see that there are paths that could have been taken that would have led to a far better world. Perhaps, if we know these other paths were possible, we could figure out a set of steps that we might take, starting right now, that will cause our path through time to veer away from the cliff we see ahead and move some other direction. Once we have gotten to the point where we know there are other directions (we would have been living differently now if our ancestors had made other decisions) we can look at our future from a new perspective. We no longer have to spend our time crying about the terrible situation our ancestors have left us in and praying to a superbeing to fix it all for us. We can identify the paths available to us, find path that we (referring here to the human race, acting collectively) want to take into the future. We don’t have to be victims of the past. If we understand it, we can take the best of what people in the past have offered and put it together.
All this depends on understanding history.
This book is an attempt to make a start at putting together the information needed to create a sound and reasonable understanding of the past that we can use to move toward a better future.
I emphasize ‘start’ because such a project will have to be ongoing. History is very long. We will see that it is much longer and more varied than conventional histories would have you believe. Many attempts have been made to alter the perception that people in the future will have about events in the past. Entire eras have been ‘disappeared’ (to use Orwell’s term), with elaborate attempts made to wipe out all evidence these eras ever happened. We have new tools that we can use to reconstruct the historical events (discussed in the section below). We can use these tools to create a kind of outline that will give us a framework that we can start to hang actual events on. But this framework will only be tentative because new techniques developed to analyze evidence will help us get a better picture of the past as time goes on.
It would be nice if we had a machine which would allow us to go back and see what actually happened. But we don’t and it is unlikely we will ever have exact information about disputed events. All we can do, therefore, is put together the best picture we can with the information available to us. Then we can accept this in the same way that scientists accept the things they call ‘theories.’ The evidence we have so far tells us that this is what happened. Later, we may find evidence that may require us to revise the theories. But, at any given time, we are limited by the evidence we have. (If we wait until we have all evidence and nothing has to be guessed at all before we try to understand history, we will never even start.)
I hope that I can convince you to accept this history in the spirit in which it was offered. It is not intended to contradict or argue with conventional views, even though it reveals many matters which conflict with these views. It is an attempt to make a start at creating an understanding of the way the human race came to be where we are now, so that people (hopefully as many people as possible) can understand what options we have for the future.
In recent years, new scientific tools have come to exist that we can use to look at the past from a different perspective. We can reconstruct history in much the same way that forensic criminologists now reconstruct crimes based on evidence left behind.
Until very recently, people could only guess about the ages of artifacts. These new techniques are showing us that, often, the original guesses were off by millions of years. The first such truly scientific dating technique, called carbon 14 dating, goes back only about 70 years. For most of this time, conventional historians refused to accept these dates, because they were so far off of the commonly accepted dates and couldn’t be confirmed. Now, scientists are finding a great many new techniques that use different processes. (It is possible to determine the age of rocks by the amount of sunlight has fallen on them since they were formed.) Each of these new techniques adds more evidence to the first scientific tools discovered, because they the dates they give all agree.
Just a few decades ago, there were no such things as ‘gene sequencers.’ Even a decade ago, the sequencers could only process tiny snippets of DNA and we knew nothing about the functions of individual genes. (The first total human genome was published in April of 2020. Before that, we only had pieces.)
Now, factories churn out gene sequencers by the millions. (The PCR test used to detect Covid is built on gene sequencing; the same sequencing machines used to detect Covid can be used to determine when a sample matches any RNA or DNA sequence we want to detect.) These machines are so common that high school students can take classes where they sequence their own DNA. They can determine the exact coding differences between themselves and people around the world, to see where their ancestors came from. They can then look up the codes of neanderthals and denisovans (these are links in the chain from apes to humans) to determine how they, personally, differ from the proto-humans and which mixes of proto-human DNA they have in their own DNA.
They can keep going back this way through their own evolutionary ancestors (apes, for example) and trace their heritage. They don’t have to take anyone’s word that they are genetically related to lower animals: They can take a sample of their own DNA and then one for their pet dog or cat (or from a fly they catch in the lab or from a flower or bacteria) and determine how closely related they are to these other beings.
MRI scanners are brand-new tools that help us understand how the human brain works. College students can have access to these machines. They can study the places in their own brains where various thoughts reside. Using real-time magnetic images, they can track single neural discharges and map each tiny bit of electrical activity to the various parts of the mind that are affected when they think certain thoughts. They can chart and map the brain components responsible for speech, for understanding words, for solving puzzles, for facial recognition, and for sexual desire. They can then study the brain differences between different animals, including their own evolutionary ancestors.
We now have tools to answer questions that, for most of history, people believed would never and could never be understood. People thought that we would never know how and when the world came to exist, how and when life came to this world, how and when humans came to this world, and what, exactly, made humans unique in the animal kingdom. Now, we can collect data in objective ways, apply scientific tests to the data, and work out the answers to all of these questions.
The internet gives us fantastic new tools we can use to reconstruct more recent events. People all around the world are taking machines to personal archives and collections of books, letters, journals, and records to scan the contents onto the internet. Computers can digitize all this and set up databases that are searchable in microseconds to find any combination of words, letters, or symbols (even in cuneiform documents from 3500BC) that is present in any of the documents. This allows cross referencing that was never before possible.
Computer programs are helping us to decipher messages in ‘dead’ languages (written languages of the ancient past that are no longer in use) all over the world. I saw an ad for an phone app that researchers in Turkey can use when they dig up cuneiform tablets: they take a picture of the tablet with their phone; the app digitizes it, then translates it into any modern language desired, and makes the text available instantly. Many of these documents have been buried for more than 6,000 years.
When people put these reconstructions of history against the standard versions, they almost always find that the standard versions are little more than nonsense. The things they say happened did not happen. The conventional history books do not discuss the important things that actually did happen. We don’t have to rely on opinions about these events from sources that we know are biased (the winners write history; they want it to read in ways that turn them into heroes and the losers into villains). We can figure out what actually happened.
Why Does This Matter?
Why do we care about history?
If we only think of history books as decorations on shelves, we don’t care; it doesn’t matter what the words say as long as the bindings are pretty and impress the people who see the bindings and assume that the owners read them and actually know things.
But if we want to learn from history, the existing situation is very dangerous.
If we want to use history as a tool to help us solve very real problems, we absolutely need objective information. The nonsense presented in politicized histories isn’t going to help us understand anything important about our world.
This book presents a new kind of history.
We are on a path through time.
This book attempts to go over the way we got onto this path and the track we have followed since we got on it. It focuses on how the important institutions and structures that shape the realities of existence for humans today. It is basically a reconstruction of the important events that led to these structures based on forensic analysis.
This book is an attempt to help you see the achievements of the human race from a new perspective.
You will see that the human race is an incredibly capable group of beings.
You will also see that the limited histories we were raised with distort our perception of these abilities and make us appear to be less capable than we really are.
You will see that human history is actually much, much longer than the conventional histories claim. (In order to make it appear that a certain race and culture is responsible for everything, history has to start at the point that race and culture first gained dominance, and then somehow convince people that there was no history before that.) You will see that our actual history is far richer and more varied than the conventional histories claim. True human beings—people who may not have had the appropriate skin color or belief system to be included in histories written by the groups that ultimately conquered, but are clearly members of the genus ‘homo sapiens’ with all of the associated capabilities—have done much, much more than we have been led to believe.
We have accomplished more.
This means we are capable of more.
I believe that we can use history as a tool to help us understand the present and the future. If we understand how we got where we are now, we will understand exactly where we are. We will understand what we have to work with to make the world a better place.
That is what this book is about.