They spent huge swathes explaining exactly what was assumed to be true and by whom, and what is still assumed by certain people/fields etc. And if the article isn't enough go read the comments section where the two authors (who are at the top of their field*) answer questions and critiques.
Going by many comments here it would seem many have skimmed the article because it's too long and have come away with their own constructed reality of what it is even saying in the first place based being reactionary to certain statements without bothering to take in the context of what surrounds them. Similarly the comments section of the article consists of the authors re-iterating what they've already said.
Yes it is nuanced, which is why it requires a close reading.
David Graeber is easily one of best anthropological theorist of his generation from anywhere in the world. People who dismiss this because 'evidence' should wait for the book--a good chunk of which will be nothing but citations. This is not some generalized Joe Rogan friendly pop science or pop history (see: Pinker and Harari).
I wouldn't be surprised if this also has something to do with the fact that (as the article points out) the outdated view got baked into the foundations of a lot of progressive political ideologies, and archaeologists simply don't want to poke that hornets' nest.
It has some interesting facts, but also some essential errors. Rousseau did not say the original state of nature was people living in small bands, but rather entirely independently. Anthropologists have never said that the original foraging bands were independent,but were always parts of tribes. And they have for a long time held that foraging tribes in areas with a high concentration of food resources, such as the American Pacific North-West, were sedentary.
Perhaps most important is that foraging tribes, due to population pressures, engage in regular violent conflict over land. With the coming of agriculture such conflict intensifies, and eventually leads to highly inequal militaristic civilizations.
But they took 50(!) screens of text to say it, while presenting what should have been said in one-fifth of the words...
This related to the larger point that it is a misnomer that authoritarianism emerges only in larger groups, agriculture/ civilizations, etc, and that actually egalitarianism is not some default mode for small groups.
One of the biggest points, for example, was that ‘civilization’ does not come as a package. The world’s first cities did not just emerge in a handful of locations, together with systems of centralised government and bureaucratic control. That it no longer makes any sense to use phrases like ‘the agricultural revolution’ when dealing with processes of such inordinate length and complexity.
Another point made early on was about the assumptions about the probability of achieving emancipation from more authoritarian modes organization. The likelihood we’ll all just place ourselves in some form of voluntary servitude. The myth that our innate drive for freedom somehow leads us, time andtagain, on a ‘spontaneous march to inequality’.
That the attempt to form ‘big picture’ narratives has been a source of much of the bullshit (pop history, pop science, drawing on outdated economic theory, and outdated archeology, cherry-picking sources--basically anyone Joe Rogan has on his podcast!).
Their summary alone was about 8 large paragraphs long.
The thesis rests on this assumption, but I kind of doubt that people base their political beliefs on how early agricultural societies ordered themselves.
"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."
"Don't be snarky."
That's the sort of substantive point we're looking for in the first place!