The four types of states

The celebrated anthropologist Clifford Geertz has half-jokingly suggested that all states can be parceled into four types: pluralist, in which the state is seen by its people as having moral legitimacy; populist, in which government is viewed as an expression of the people’s will; “great beast,” in which the rulers’ power depends on using force to keep the populace cowed; and “great fraud,” in which the elite uses smoke and mirrors to convince the people of its inherent authority. Every state is a mix of all of these elements…

Charles Mann, describing the pre-Columbian states in North and South America, in his excellent book, 1491

“You can’t improve on nature…”

Nineteen hundred and three will bring great advances in surgery, in the study of bacteria, in the knowledge of the cause and prevention of disease. Medicine is played out. Every new discovery of bacteria shows us all the more convincingly that we have been wrong and that the million tons of stuff we have taken was all useless. The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease…. Surgery, diet, antiseptics — these three are the vital things of the future in preserving the health of humanity. There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of diseases as now, and all their discoveries are tending to the simple truth — that you can’t improve on nature.

– Thomas Edison, 1903

HT: @jdelbarton