Wyclif’s Dust: Western Cultures from the Printing Press to the Present reinterprets the history of the West, from the invention of the printing press to the present day.
Western nations suffer from severe social problems, rising populism and declining trust. These problems did not come from nowhere: they have roots in the dramatic cultural changes of the late twentieth century. To understand them, we must rethink our own history. The West did not just develop good institutions and economic growth: it also created a uniquely powerful culture. By reanalysing the rise of the West through a cultural prism, using ideas from the new science of cultural evolution, Wyclif’s Dust shows where modern liberalism went wrong, and how to repair it.
Along the way, you’ll learn why you can tell your kids anything and be believed; which U2 song Bono described as “just a load of vowel sounds ganging up on a great man”; what the Ancient Egyptian Onomasticon of Amenope taught its readers; how the Swedes learned to read; just how drunk people were in 17th-century Shropshire; why Frederick of Prussia thought of himself as “God’s administrator”; how Charles James Fox dived into a bowl of cream; why Baron von Haynau was chased down a London high street by draymen; how many seconds it should take you to open or close a file drawer; the unprintable things the Wolf Man wanted to do to Sigmund Freud; why modern Norwegians “don’t like to get fish goo in their hair”; why social media is a BUMMER; and what happened to the unused confetti from Hilary Clinton’s election night in 2016.
Using ideas from the new science of cultural evolution, Wyclif’s Dust takes you on a journey from our shared past, through our conflict-ridden present, to our future.
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