Sunday, March 5, 2017

Civilizational mojo

This is a long established argument but it has popped up again this week. The claim is that modern civilization was jump started with alcohol (improved survivability among populations dealing with disease carrying water) and coffee.

See Civilization Was Built on Coffee and Alcohol by Chelsea Follett.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug worldwide. Alcohol gave civilization its start, and it certainly helped the species drown its sorrows during the grinding poverty of much of human history. But it was caffeine that gave us the Enlightenment and helped us achieve prosperity.
It is an argument also made in Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power by Niall Ferguson. Ferguson adds sugar and tobacco to the list of ingredients for civilizational mojo.

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