Summary of “Why inequality bothers people more than poverty”

Most remarkably, his research revealed that the Ju/’hoansi managed this on the basis of little more than 15 hours’ work per week.
More than any other food, meat was capable of making the Ju/’hoansi forget their customary good manners, so it required extra diligence in distribution.
Ironically, how envy functioned in societies such as the Ju/’hoansi suggests that, even if Smith’s hidden hand does not apply particularly well to late capitalism, his belief that the sum of individual self-interests can ensure the fairest distribution of the ‘necessaries of life’ was right, albeit in small-scale band societies.
Highlighting the explicit role of envy in Ju/’hoansi life risks giving the impression of a society of reluctant egalitarians constantly sniping at one another – an impression that any Ju/’hoansi will tell you is a far cry from the cheerful banter and mutual affection that characterises day-to-day life.
While, to be sure, the Ju/’hoansi do not reward people for being egalitarian, they are conscious of the positive emotional and social dividends that sharing, cooperation and harmony bring.
Unsurprisingly, envy still accounts for most conflict among the Ju/’hoansi in contemporary Nyae-Nyae where inequality is greater than ever before, because some have jobs or access to resources such as pensions that are denied to others.
With many Ju/’hoansi now dependent on the cash economy with its attendant employment hierarchies and management systems, many Ju/’hoansi are reluctant to take management roles or assume responsibilities that require making and imposing their decisions or authority on others.
If envy played a constructive role in small-scale band societies such as the Ju/’hoansi, it is harder to establish whether it has a similarly beneficial purpose in more complex, hierarchical societies.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why ‘Bushman banter’ was crucial to hunter-gatherers’ evolutionary success”

In the 1960s, the Ju/’hoansi “Bushmen” of the Kalahari desert became famous for turning established views of social evolution on their head. But their contribution to our understanding of the human story is far more important than simply making us rethink our past.
The speed of the Ju/’hoansi’s transformation from an isolated group of hunter-gatherers to a marginalised minority in a rapidly developing nation state is without parallel in modern history.
Among the most important is the realisation that apparently selfish traits such as envy – through which we express our discontent with inequality – was a useful evolutionary characteristic for building the social cohesion that enabled hunter-gatherers such as the Ju/’haonsi to thrive for as long as they did.
Ju/’hoansi still make use of well over 150 different plant species, and have the knowledge to hunt and trap pretty much any animal they choose to.
For the Ju/’hoansi, that fundamental axiom of modern economics, “The problem of scarcity”, simply did not apply.
How did a society like the Ju/’hoansi with no formalised leaders maintain this egalitarianism? Their answer is unequivocal: it was not born of the ideological dogmatism we associate with 20th-century Marxism, or the starry-eyed idealism of New Age “Communalism”.
As much as the Ju/’hoansi’s fierce egalitarianism served them well for so long, it poses a challenge now.
Many Ju/’hoansi are reluctant to take management roles or assume responsibilities that require making and imposing their decisions or authority on others.

The orginal article.