Dunbar’s Number: Human Intimacy and the Future of Democracy (#SIZEDOESMATTER)

  The anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed in the 1990s, in light of studies of primate and human kinship societies, that the number of sustained personal relationships most people can entertain is around 150—the so-called “Dunbar’s Number.” One can recognize a… Continue Reading

The End of the Republic and the Coming of the Neo-Kinship World (FEATURE)

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States signals a revolution in American politics. For the first time in American history an oligarch has succeeded in buying his way directly into the highest office in the land.… Continue Reading

The First Populist Republic

Few Americans are aware that Vermont, the fourteenth state admitted to the Union in 1791, was not a colony like the others; it was a preexisting independent republic spontaneously created by its residents who rejected the authority of neighboring colonies, particularly New York, which had the strongest claim to its territory. In its fourteen years of formal independence, beginning in 1777, it very nearly fulfilled the textbook image of a society created voluntarily by free persons living in the state of nature—a favorite motif of seventeeth and eighteenth century social-contract political philosophers. In the United States, Texas, California, and Hawaii also enjoyed periods as independent republics, but Vermont’s example reflects a greater equality of persons and resources. In the case of Vermont, in the face of a trend toward oligarchy in America—evident even in the eighteenth century—an egalitarian democratic community for a time found almost complete realization. Continue Reading

Money and Liberty

The U.S. monetary system has been a scandal for a long time; whether it can continue much longer without intolerable social, political, and ecological consequences is an open question. Yet most Americans don’t have a clue about it. “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system,” Henry Ford said, “for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” Continue Reading