I am reading through – once again – all of the material I have from Igor D’iakonoff, the great Soviet-era scholar of the ancient Near East. I don’t agree with all of what he writes, but some significant structural proposals are part of my Sacred Economy book. And he has some real gems, such as this one on the nature of the ruling class (not without a utopian touch):

This does not mean that a society releases the best organizers, the most profound thinkers, and the most outstanding artists from production work. It is not those who are best capable of utilizing the surplus of produce in the most rational way who acquire it. It is, rather, those who are in a position to do so: individuals who possess resources of sheer physical strength or who have the daring or the armed or the ideological power; it is they who appropriate the organizational power. Most of these individuals exploit the labor of others without thereby benefiting society as a whole. (Early Antiquity, p. 35)

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