In 1972, Stone Age Economics, by anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, appeared.

It came out in France in 1976 under the title Stone Age, Age of Plenty. The aim of the author is to deconstruct what he considers to be conventional wisdom about the disadvantages of primitive societies and the advantages of industrial civilization. He threw stones in a still pond by showing that the hunter-gatherers had a life full of abundance and less painful than the settled peoples did.

We learn indeed that they worked only a few hours a day and were better nourished than the human beings who succeeded the Neolithic Revolution, agriculture, and the rise of more sedentary lives. The work had a resounding effect. According to left-wing anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber, Sahlins’s work had a decisive influence on the emergence of ecological, decreasing, and primitivist movements in the 1970s.1 The conclusion of this story is a priori confusing and poses a real question: why the heck have human beings settled down, since this has led them to work more to earn less? Are humans as rational as they claim?

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