A short history of progress is a work by Canadian
writer and anthropologist Ronald Wright. In this book, he raised questions by
the glittering myth of progress.
This book first answers the question of
where we came from. We come from the tree, the cave and the prairie in Africa.
We walked all ways, from upright our bodies, lost stone tools, to remote
control of nuclear weapons, travelling in space. Three million years later, we
have been making progress along the road. However, for the history, through the
careful study of Mr. Wright, we also found many pitfalls on the road to
Society presents a situation where the poor
are poorer and the rich are richer. Progress has resulted in the concentration
of wealth and power. The fruits of progress have not been equitable
distributed. Compared to the rich, the poor can only rely on the labor force to
obtain social resources, and even through the social education channels, they
still cannot compare favorable with the descendants of the rich who receive
excellent family education from a young age. Regardless of the process of
society to the point, the rich top countries, always accounted for the best
Humans have claimed nature. Since the
Neolithic era, the only way to upward growth is to obtain more resources.
Whether the over-exploitation of oil or the excessive emission of exhaust
gases, people ask for the resources from the nature and send rubbish to nature.
Natural resources will be exhausted, like the real estate in the instant
Since the invent of the technology, people
who are unable to fly and without strongholds dominate the earth. The
technology is addictive, self-reproduction and the main anti-passenger. From
the moment of the development of the atomic bomb, technological progress is no
longer just a good thing. The problems caused by technology must be solved by
further technology. There is no way to stop the machine chariot.
These pitfalls and improvements are very closely
associated with each other. They are all hiding at the end of the road to
progress and cannot be evaded. All human history and civilization chariots have
been brought in, almost without exception. The author said that those monuments
like stone statue in desert and jungle, pyramids, palaces and so on, are not
only the great civilization, are actually progressive “tombstone.”
Perhaps influenced by optimism or
passionate about the future of mankind, I am still caution about the ideas put
forward in this book. After all, we have to live now, but also to move on and
look forward to the future. However, in the process of the development of
civilization, we must pay attention to some questions raised in “A
Short History of Progress”: Why the great progress has been made in
the materialization of human society, the spiritual civilization has not
achieved the same growth? Whether human can minimize the harm to society when
they develop a variety of technologies, and tools? Why the effect of
implementation is greatly reduced while so-called sustainable development is
indeed impressive? The various questions
raised in the book are a tribute to utilitarian and fanatics. It is also a good
wake-up call to rational people.
The Chinese are very particular about the
doctrine of the mean, which are not biased, not easy to describe and everything
is appropriate. In the “A Short History of Progress”, we also see the author’s
pursuit of this moderation. For those who excessively pursue the interests, the
author criticized this “unforeseen ” approach without any comment. For the
hunting of primitive humans, if you are hungry, you can kill a mammoth, or two.
However, if you kill the whole group mammoths, and let the meat rotting under
the cliff. It was too cruel of you. You are also too wasteful. The development
of civilization has indeed brought about many problems. However, the root
causes are still the nature of human selfishness: greed and self-interest.
Desire is endless. The fulfillment of
desires will not lead to satisfaction, but it will prompt the emergence of more
desired. We are in the desire to promote progress. However, all this so-called “progress”
should lead us to where?
Urbanization, the advent of the state, the
complication of society… We embarked on the developed civilization. Human
society is more prosperous and more vulnerable, losing its natural stability
When we are lingering for the glory of
annihilation, we may not think that we are just another Mayan reincarnation
after Liangzhu. When we marveled at numerous paleontology, we might not think
the lazy of dinosaurs flowing in our bloods.
Chinese people are not suitable for reading
this book. This is not only because China has the largest and most faitful
progressive believers (which are wired but true), but also because we are a
developing country and development is our absolute principle.