06. A history of the study of history (and why it matters)

06. A history of the study of history (and why it matters)

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“I can prove to you historically that private property didn’t always exist! And the fact that it didn’t at a certain point exist means that it’s also possible for it not to exist now. That’s exactly the point.”

—big mike

Listen: iTunes, Spotify, Mixcloud | Transcript

In this episode:

00:00 Recap: why is history important? What can historical failures teach us that historical successes can’t? How can an attention to that failure foster a feeling of solidarity, of humility? How, despite everything, can history be a source of hope?

09:27 How did history as a discipline form? What does this have to do with the division of the social sciences in the middle of the 19th century?

15:07 How does the figure of the statesman—as opposed to the politician—allow us to conceptualize a total vision for a new world, as opposed to individual solutions? How does the fragmentation of the disciplines prevent us from having vision in our day to day lives?

24:22 How did the current discipline of economics derive from the formerly integrated notion of political economy? What does that have to do with the concurrent rise of capitalism and nation-states, and the consolidation of state power? What does this teach us about how the production of knowledge is always shaped by power structures?

33:23 What are the historical conditions we’re in now, in terms of the relationship between wealth (economic) and state (political) power, versus the middle of the 19th century? How does this relationship illuminate for us a conflict between the market and democracy?

42:39 What might the discipline we need look like? Where might it lead us? How would it allow us to think about our fundamental problem, which is our relationship to nature?

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