“Adam Smith created a vision of an imaginary world. Men like Smith are idealists. Maybe even utopians. To understand the history of capitalism however we have to begin by realizing that the picture we have in our heads of workers who dutifully punch the clock at 8:00 a.m. and receive regular remuneration every Friday on the basis of a temporary contract, that either party is free to break off at any time, began as a utopian vision. It was only gradually put into effect even in England and North America, and has never at any point been the main way of organizing production for the market. Ever. Anywhere. He created the vision of an imaginary world almost entirely free of debt and credit and therefore free of guilt and sin. A world where men and women were free to simply calculate their interests in full knowledge that everything had been prearranged by God to ensure that it will serve the greater good. Such imaginary constructs are of course what scientists referred to as models and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with them. Actually, I think a fair case can be made that we cannot think without them. The problem with such models, at least it always seems to happen when we model something called the market, is that once created we have a tendency to treat them as objective realities or even fall down before them and start worshiping them as gods.”

David GraeberDavid Graeber

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

George OrwellGeorge Orwell

“The biggest challenge facing the great teachers and communicators of history is not to teach history itself, nor even the lessons of history, but why history matters. How to ignite the first spark of the will o’the wisp, the Jack o’lantern, the ignis fatuus [foolish fire] beloved of poets, which lights up one source of history and then another, zigzagging across the marsh, connecting and linking and writing bright words across the dark face of the present. There’s no phrase I can come up that will encapsulate in a winning sound-bite why history matters. We know that history matters, we know that it is thrilling, absorbing, fascinating, delightful and infuriating, that it is life.”

Stephen FryStephen Fry

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”

Aldous HuxleyAldous Huxley