According to Walter Scheidel in The Great Leveler, the only ways to equalize the distribution of wealth effectively have involved violence on a massive scale: famine, war, state collapse, revolution. But how did things get so inequal in the first place? Today on MindMatters we discuss the first chapter of Scheidel's book, which provides an overview of the history of inequality. From chimps and hunter-gatherers to the first farmers and the emergence of classes of elites, there has always been - and arguably always will be - inequality. But certain circumstances and practices have made things perhaps more extreme than they need to be. Especially since the advent of agriculture and the possibility of surplus production, elite classes of thieves and thugs (otherwise known as governments) have greatly exacerbated wealth inequality, and created new means accruing even more wealth and power to themselves. Join us today as we begin our discussion of inequality: is it good or bad, or both? And if it's inescapable, what can be done about its negative consequences?

Running Time: 01:15:12

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