Secret History

Over the years I’ve stumbled across many works which have persuaded me that the conventional wisdom is frequently wrong, often in a pernicious and malevolent way. Following is a list of writings which argue that things are not as they have been portrayed by the accepted authorities, a sort of “secret history” of the universe.

Paganism and the Professions, by Robert Briimlow (16 page PDF). Makes the case that jobs are not vocations, and the church is wrong to bless them as such.

Rethinking Service, by Samuel Wells (essay). Makes the case that Christian service is not about solving problems but about being with those experiencing them.

The Great Transformation, by Karl Polanyi (book). Argues that the modern state came into existence because the modern market economy needed it “to push changes in social structure and human nature that allowed for a competitive capitalist economy. For Polanyi, these changes implied the destruction of the basic social order that had reigned due to pre-modern human nature and that had existed throughout all earlier history.” (Wikipedia)

Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin, by Gray Brechin. Beyond my ability to describe, but it is Secret History at its finest–Brechin recounts several important periods in northern California history, each one astonishing in its implications. I was especially affected by his account of American westward expansion across the Pacific, with a matter-of-fact racism/imperialism that is breathtaking.

Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History, by Ted Steinberg.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, by David Graeber

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