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Cluster index: Alan Macfarlane

God and His absence in China.

By ALAN MACFARLANE. I WAS BROUGHT up in a Christian household in the West. My uncle was devout and I went to religious camps as a boy where we were encouraged to ask Jesus into our hearts. Jesus seemed unenthusiastic about coming at my call, nevertheless I never really questioned my Christian faith through the […]

Reflections on my first thirty years. Part III.

Alan Macfralane: ‘This was also a period when my teachers and  fellow doctoral students were being invigorated by new ideas of social and population history coming from France and by the archival revolution made possible by growing national wealth. it was a hopeful time, with a new engagement with international philanthropy and new experiments in cinema, drama, poetry, classical and ‘pop’ music.’

Reflections on my first thirty years. Part II.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘It is difficult to remember those pre-internet ages and to remember that until the 1960s a family such as ours did not even have a telephone in the house. Even when we moved to Cambridge in 1971 home phones were not commonplace and we did not have one in our fenland home until the 1980s.’

Reflections on my first thirty years. Part I.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘I first wrote down everything I thought I could remember about the period I was about to investigate. I then checked this against the diaries, letters and school reports. This has thrown some light on the way in which my memory works. It shows that, at least before I was ten, without supporting documentation almost everything would be irretrievable.’

The dreams and nightmares of four civilisations.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘The image of the ideal man takes us to the core of a civilisation’s aspirations and particularly its system of power. For, in the four examples I have chosen, we are looking at the rulers, the elite who preside over a civilisation and are meant, to a certain extent, to be exemplars for the other 95 percent of the population.’

The Survival Manual | Afterword.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘All that I can say is that through friendship, love, the kindness of strangers, combined with trying to develop my self-confidence and trying to be kind and generous to others I have enjoyed my life. Leading a modest life which does as little damage to others in the world as possible, I have been enormously fortunate to reach an age (seventy-four) and a degree of peace, as I sit in a beautiful English garden on this June day, looking at the birds and roses.’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 8.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘What is certain is that current structures are not working or preventing wars. We need to think of all alternatives. The one above, raising the level of government one level, may not appeal to all, and others will call for the reverse – in line with the general downward delegation recommended in this book. ‘

The Survival Manual | Chapter 7.

Alan Macfarlane; ‘in encouraging a wide education with new elements we should avoid the danger of throwing out much that was good in the old – language learning, basic numeracy and literary skills, encountering new and exciting disciplines and ideas. Nor should we ever forget that almost all of our education comes through people, most of them not our school teachers, but friends and family.’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 6.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘There must be situations where you become intolerant in order to preserve wider tolerance – intolerant of rape, murder, drug dealing, in order to preserve ‘our’ freedoms. Again the lines and interpretation shift in the sand when applied at the international level. Can we tolerate North Korea having a nuclear bomb, or the Islamic state wanting to establish sharia law and the caliphate? Can we tolerate the international arms or drug or human trafficking trades?’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 5.

Computers and Communications. THE 2016-2017 FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW serial. Serial Preface and Contents with Publication Schedule . By ALAN MACFARLANE. HUMAN BEINGS, LIKE other animals, shape their world through the ways in which they communicate. Humans receive about seventy percent of the information they derive from the external world through their eyes and the rest through […]

The Survival Manual | Chapter 4.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘When the market, law, or political system itself is highly inefficient, over-bureaucratic, or too weak or too strong, corruption may be the only way to get things done. Without the ‘informal’ or black economy, much of the world’s formal economy would collapse. Without the ‘connections’ which dominate in much of the world there would be very little activity.’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 3.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘If we do not think in a radical way as our world changes dramatically, we are just marching into an ever-narrowing valley which will finally trap us. We should think in new ways to fit a world of increasing expectations and technology, but also increasing leisure and information. China is already leading the way, though it has also partly caught the ‘hospitalisation’ disease. So it may be that once again, as with printing, compasses, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, let alone tea and rhubarb, we can learn from the Chinese.’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 2.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘How can children leave home to work for others and set up their own businesses or even buy a separate house if there is nothing to be done? If there are no jobs, they can only fall back on the one group who will probably feed and house them — their natal family. This is clearly happening on a large scale and means that for the first time in the Anglosphere, children are staying on at home into their late 20s and 30s.’

The Survival Manual | Chapter 1.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘Whether we can, in time, learn how to share and steward our resources, is not certain. It has been done in the past, particularly when it becomes obvious that by forgoing their narrow and short-term gains, humans will benefit, as will their children and children’s children. Casting your bread on the waters – eating less meat, economising on water and car journeys, seriously recycling, all these are small, personal, gestures, but they add up. They already make more sense to many who are increasingly aware that we live in a small, fragile, crowded, planet which is under huge pressure.’

The Survival Manual.

Alan Macfarlane: ‘In this small book I have identified eight challenges which seem particularly acute. In each essay I try to outline, usually through a preliminary historical overview, what I think the heart of the problem is. In other words, where we are now and what our choices are. I then make some suggestions of ways in which we may escape from any traps and tendencies.’