Jim talks with Michael R.J. Bonner about the ideas in his book In Defense of Civilization: How Our Past Can Renew Our Present. They discuss the meaning of civilization, Gobekli Tepe, why technological change didn’t bring about civilization, how civilization produces clarity, beauty, and order, why civilization is preferable to the alternatives, the limits of cities, the dynamics of collapse, Francis Fukuyama’s end of history idea, revivals, how interconnectivity leads to fragility, the Bronze Age collapse, the collapse of Rome, cultural pluralism & academic freedom in the 9th century, the paradoxical outcome of the Renaissance, the rediscovery of Aristotle, combining Enlightenment clarity with medieval expansiveness, the evils of postmodernism, the dark side of Romanticism, the basis of religious belief, public ritual vs religious belief, futurism, the limits of skepticism, wokism as a religion, the need for grand narratives, a common humanity, and much more.
- Episode Transcript
- In Defense of Civilization: How Our Past Can Renew Our Present, by Michael R.J. Bonner
- Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James C. Scott
- JRS EP 190 – Peter Turchin on Cliodynamics and End Times
- The Fourth Turning Is Here: What the Seasons of History Tell Us About How and When This Crisis Will End, by Neil Howe
- JRS Currents 100: Sara Walker and Lee Cronin on Time as an Object
- The Collapse of Complex Societies, by Joseph A. Tainter
- JRS EP 106 – Michael Strevens on the Irrational History of Science
Dr Michael Bonner is a Canadian communications and public-policy expert with more than a decade of service in federal and provincial government. He is a historian of ancient Iran, holds a doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford, and is a contributing editor to The Dorchester Review. His new book In Defense of Civilization: How Our Past Can Renew Our Present was published by the Sutherland House in April of 2023.