Jared Diamond (historian) – Look inward, Nation

Personal crises and national crises have more than a few things in common. From Brexit to the partisan divide in America to Germany after World War II, Jared Diamond talks with host Jason Gots about how we get through them (or don't).

  • Nations that blame their problems on other nations (or particular groups) don't recover so well from crises.
  • The US is consuming at 32x the rate of most African countries. Even if Africa didn't exist, it would be unsustainable.
  • What Jared Diamond has learned about human nature from his neighborhood association.

Imagine yourself a German citizen the day after the end of World War II. Much of your city is bombed to ruins. A good part of the population is dead. The Nazi ideology that has dominated your nation for the past decade has been repudiated as definitively as Bambi in "Bambi Meets Godzilla". Basically, it's the end of the world.

Now consider Berlin today. It's the biggest economy in Europe. The center of the European Union. A progressive welfare state where the old racial and nationalist resentments have been reduced to fringe movements. Still disturbingly present, but by no means mainstream.

How do you get here from there? And could the pendulum ever swing back again?

This is the subject of Jared Diamond's new book, UPHEAVAL. In it, the geographer, historian and author of GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL looks to human crisis counseling for a model of how nations deal with crises both acute and gradual.

For Americans like myself, troubled in this historical moment by dreams of the late Roman Empire, its a refreshingly clear-eyed look at the many different ways these things can go.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Timothy Snyder on partisan politics

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