Thursday, October 11, 2007

Worst Mistake in History of Human Race

By Jared Diamond
University of California at Los Angeles Medical School

preface (by little old me):

i have been interested in the fundamental claims (if not the concrete solutions) of Anarcho-Primitivism for some time, and unsurprisingly, every time i bring up these ideas, there is only resistance -- nothing but knee-jerk dismissal of anything resembling the Noble Savage (stanley kubrick you listenin?). but consider the opposite: humans have ALWAYS lived the way we do now, with slavery and systematic oppression and heirarchy and power and subjugation and exploitation, even under drastically different conditions such as small population and abundance of resources, for millions of years.

is that believable if you really think about it?

agriculture (and with it the myriad of new forms which we call civilization) started roughly 10,000 years ago, in response to, as a necessity created by a drastic diminishing of natural vegetation -- a result of the last ice-age. there is ample evidence that prior to that, earth was exponentially more lush and abundant a place compared to the earth that we know.

but whether an egalitarian paradise existed for 4 million years prior to the advent of language/power/civilization is not necessarily the main point; even though a reasonably good case for this has been made many times (the ancient myths and religions of all cultures on earth, for instance). the important thing is that these claims allow us to open up to the idea that the way we live today may not be the only way, that it may prove to be a very recent development.

the important thing is to realize that what we believe today about ourselves and our history is tainted by civilisation itself, its ideology, and its agendas -- and that it may not be nearly as rational or factual as we think.

the story of our violent and competitive ancesters is dominant in our art and culture, but this representation of our past in the image of our present may be completely false. the way we look at the world and ourselves, it may be a very limited view, which excludes multiple other ways of perceiving and understanding, which are all just as valid, if not much more valid.

what i am interested in is NOT bemoaning how the world sucks today in comparisson to some edenic, prehistoric perfection, NOR am i advocating a return to gathering and hunting - a "natural" way of life (whatever the fuck that means); what i AM suggesting, however, is that the only way to envision a better future is to strip away the lies and illusions that we have been living under - the myths perpetrated by civilization - and to realize that human potential is much wider and bigger than our culture would have us believe, and that maybe we haven't ALWAYS lived the lonely dog-eat-dog way we do now. only when we break from these limited and limiting traps which define us can we possibly find another way of existing.

if we deny that there are other ways of life, if we refuse to accept the possibility that we once were different, if we do not believe that our specie is CAPABLE of living peacefully, gracefully, then what better future can there be?

i do not necessarily agree with everything in the following, and it does not nearly cover all of the important points and issues that I'm interested in; but in the face of all the ridicule, mockery, flat-out denial and complete refusal to consider, i find much consolation and vindication in this piece by the world reknowned historian, biologist, and archaeologist. it actually is not necessarily the best out there on this subject, but it is more than sympathetic to many of the basic ideas of Anarcho-Primitivism. my main reason for choosing it over others is because people are less likely to knee-jerk dismiss Jarred Diamond than someone like John Zerzan, whose work makes up a much more radical stance and all-encompassing world view. but while many consider Zerzan to be missing a few marbles, i consider him to be the dictionary definition of sane sobriety, and whole heartedly recommend his books (some of which are published by a division of Columbia University Press).

so, without further ado:

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race


Chris said...

Sweet article and interesting blog entry. Burn down the farms!

Karl Eklund said...

As I said in a later message that was written earlier, the gathering-hunting society structured on mutual conformity only works in groups around a dozen. When we invented agriculture we took the workaround of inventing popular religion to provide a structure that would allow more farmers and more surplus. Unfortunately that produced an unstable infrastructure. In 1500 we started the system of using technology and war to give upward mobility to the lower middle class, but we had to stop in 1950 because there were too many females and people of color to waste resources at the rate of the establishment of Western Civilization. So we have to let Western Civilization go through a decline and fall and restart civilization afterward. See for more detail

zhao said...

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