I’m reading James C. Scott’s Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. It’s terrific.
One of his arguments is that the supposed “civilizational collapses” that dot the pre-state record weren’t collapses at all in many cases but, instead, rational responses to the horror of living in close proximity to other people’s germs.1
Needless to say, I agree.
1. He doesn’t actually say “the horror of living in close proximity to other people’s germs.” However, I’m pretty sure he would say that neither cruise ships nor tour buses comport with our ancestral hunter-gatherer DNA. ↩