Civilization can be viewed as linear progress. First we were apes that learnt to walk, use tools and ultimately conquered the world. We established rights and reduced violence. We advanced our understanding of the universe through science. We used technology to further improve our living condition. The best culture won: liberal democracy. The end of history.

But civilization goes hand in hand with exploitation. It is the ruling elite that can extract production surpluses gained thanks to technology. This can be seen as a necessary evil as this centralized production surplus is used to serve the greater good. Or it can be mismanaged and lost to corruption.

In the palace economy, local rulers would extract the agricultural surplus to fund their army. This would enable them to defend their people from nomads. Is it better to be a peasant laboring under the orders and taxes of your chief, or is it better to be a free nomad? In both cases it is a tough life for the common man.

Civilization won. Agricultural surpluses funded armies, infrastructure and industry. Industry funded science and education. Science started the internet.

What are we doing with the internet surplus?