The Dawn of everything
Rousseau's inequality theory states that homo sapiens lived in hunter gatherer small egalitarian bands until agriculture ruined this "innocence" and caused the rise of inequality, war and politics( policy/polite/ police ==> Greek's polis=city), while the Hobbesian's view of things is that even when hunter gatherer were small bands, the alpha male narrative and the power dynamic ruled, and the advent of agriculture didn't actually disrupt things. Both views contradict with the facts: homo sapiens had been performing a lot of social experiments and they were egalitarian before and after agriculture. In fact if anything , Agriculture can be looked at as one of the many such social experiments. Instead of lamenting these 2 views, it would be better if we looked at humans as entities capable of reinventing themselves and self creating. Jared diamond and fukyuamas' statements about egalitarian small bands turned tribes(chiefdoms) turned emperor+ bureaucracies+ factions fighting over resources, are biases dressed up as facts. There shouldn't necessarily be equality only in small tribes or conflict only in larger ones.
In Better angels of our nature, pinker attributes the decline of violence and the progress of societies to the rise of western civilization with its ideals of democracy, equality, and freedom. Pinker, concluding that people turning from tribes fraught with conflicts to modernized humans was thanks to the state, is cherry picked, anecdotal, and contradicts scientific evidence. When given the choice, most people preferred living in tribes over returning to civilization because of warmth, connection, care, and freedom. If equality existed anywhere, it was in those tribes. Our lack of imagination is what's hindering us from imagining why the seemingly dull boring life of the indigenous might be more interesting. Take for example ancient traveller with adornments across continents. Why? Our tendency to simplify things and fit them into stereotypes would be to say markets are universal, but the fact is that it's not trade nor barter that made them moving stuff over long distances, but rather, other reasons like visions realization, women bets, and adventure... etc
The Great man theory: the inclination of intellectuals to trace back great ideas to one man: Rousseau( inequality) Karl Mark's ideas, Shakespeare( English language). In fact, these ideas should only be looked at as part of a larger conversation that was going on at the time and the "great man" was just one who made a significant contribution. The Shakespearean vocabulary was actually common at the time; equally true for debates about inequality in Europe.
Historians focus on the west being the ultimate source of ideas. Great thinkers of the enlightenment are claimed to be the explicit product of the west. This is wrong. Europe derived their ideas of the state and Enlightenment from the indigenous people they conquered ( Spanish invasion). The debates on inequality started in the 18th century after the invasion of the old world. The naturalists were curious as to what natural man lived like. When Europeans visited the Americas, they were amazed by the liberty they found to be the norm for the indigenous. No laws, no governor, no beggars. Meanwhile in European salons, conversations were being had about whether equality is actually needed.
The new world( the Americas) were a bunch of free people following whatever they fancied of the chiefs' suggestions, no pressure. They had what was called a primitive communism which supports individuals as opposed to figures of authorities. Europeans were shocked by the reasoned debates the indigenous displayed about freedom( no talks about equality then). Subsequently, Europeans started thinking about how to integrate the American ideals of individual liberty while Americans were beginning learning of the Europeans. Then and there, Equality talks began. The writings and exchanges of Kandiraonk(a wendat) and Lahontan( a French) would end up shaping the western gaze into itself. Kandrionk's critiques of the European culture included private property, bowing before the rich, and religion. Kendrick was praising the wendat's way of life and inviting the Europeans to adopt it for long term happiness. La Fontaine would retort that it's not possible to forgo money and laws. Society would then collapse. The two kept Reinforcing their views, and it was through these exchange that equality was first brought up.
(Schismogenesis: the exaggeration of differences to stand as far apart from party with whose views one disagrees, was rampant.)
Social evolution was one of the counter arguments to the indigenous Americans' critiques. The reason that there are rich and poor is because the evolution of society from farmers to civilization made things get increasingly more complex and differences in abilities and labour became correspondingly more accentuated. Equality was considered an inferior concept because it meant that everyone was equally poor. Conversations were starting to evolve from talks about freedom to talks about equality.
We tend to look at ancient people as innocent and stupid, the primordial soup of history. But this view is wrong. The ancients had goals and systems of their own. Equality/egalitarian as preached by the French had been a generic dubious term and its meanings were confusing. Did ancient people lack imagination or had more imagination than what we give them credit for( Equality in the sense of not needing judges, priests, and kings as opposed to being equal before the state).
The mitochondrial eve myth which had prevailed in society states that there was one human from which everyone originated( that was in Africa). Today's humans are more similar than prehistoric humans. Prehistory humans were not in one place, they were physically different( diverse) and were separated by deserts and oceans. Modern humans first appeared in Africa and then spread into Eurasia and met species like Neanderthal with whom they interbred.
The sapiens paradox( why thousands of years had elapsed before evidence of culture was found) is a mirage. The accumulating evidence we have that culture effervescence started happening around 45000 B.C for mysterious reasons( a genetic mutation? no) is no longer believed to be true. All the evidence was found in Europe( a rich country). And when sapiens came to Europe and met the neanderthals, reasons like the harsh weather conditions sapiens were not accustomed to and the population explosion that ensued thereafter might make it look as if there was a sudden cultural effervescence. But the evidence suggests that signs of complex thought dates way further back than 50,0000BC.
The solution to the Hobbesian vs the Rouseanian arguments would be that our genetic nature is hobbesian but our politics is Rouseaonan: we have the ability to choose the state of things but the reason thousands of years had elapsed before we created culture is that we didn't choose to step out of egalitarian simple societies and into the hierarchical, more complex worlds(!???). How did we find movements, grand burials, and social stratification signs that date back to the ice age long before farming ever existed? How is this possible?.
Our tendency to lump primitive people into bands of apes, however much differences they seemed to exhibit need some revision. Ancient societies were changing seasonally from bands to tribes to state. There was no linear evolutionary ascension. It's more nuanced than that. Old societies experimented with various different social arrangements. Sapiens have always been sophisticated in thought and they were as confused as us by the nature of being and the existential. They were always performing experiments_Even before agriculture and after the ice age, complex monuments represent a clear evidence of the architectural sophistication of the ancients.