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On Human Egalitarianism
11-29-2012, 07:28 AM, (This post was last modified: 11-29-2012, 07:30 AM by macfadden.)
#1
On Human Egalitarianism
Human beings as naturally egalitarian is the great fallacy that all the pipe dreams of anarchy are founded upon, the truth is that what appears to be egalitarian behavior is in fact consciously employed machiavellian counter-dominance strategy.


Quote:On Human Egalitarianism:
An Evolutionary Product
of Machiavellian Status
Escalation?
DAVID ERDAL AND ANDREW WHITEN
School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews

If dominance patterns were indeed balanced by counterdominant tactics rather than being eliminated, then there would still be a psychological potential to create dominance hierarchies, given triggering circumstances which rendered the counterdominant tendencies inoperative or ineffective. It is plausible that the concentrated resource conditions created by herding and agriculture
provided exactly such triggering circumstances (Testart I987, Johnson and Earle I987). This model fits the timescales required: first, an extended process of biologically driven evolution (>I million years) which led to the expansion of the human brain and the evolution of egalitarian behaviour and viligant sharing, and second, a relatively
sudden change of social behaviour (ca. I2,OOO years B.P.) driven by an unchanged psychology meeting circumstances entirely different from those in which it evolved. This led to the creation of hierarchies because the counterdominant tendencies were disabled by the new environment. Such hierarchies are not merely reborn ape hierarchies but uniquely human in both their behavioural detail and their cultural recognition.

In common with humans, chimpanzees display tactics such as alliance formation and deception through which dominant individuals can be socially manipulated despite their inherent power (de Waal I982, I992). The "Machiavellian intelligence" expressed in such tactics (Whiten and Byrne I988) would thus likely have characterised the human-chimpanzee common ancestor.

If the subsequent rapid evolutionary expansion of the hominid brain was associated with greater Machiavellian intelligence (Dunbar I993), an escalation would have been set up between the capacities of group members to manipulate the dominants and the ability of dominant individuals to counter such skills. Indeed, such a spiral might have played a causal role in the encephalisation which took place. Given such an evolutionary escalation, eventually the maintenance of direct
dominance would have become prohibitively costly in time and/or energy. Under these circumstances there would have been a fitness advantage to the strategy of "vigilant sharing" or "playing fair"-of resisting dominance by others but not attempting to achieve dominance oneself. This would have produced in each individual
a complex set of competing motivations-including tendencies both to dominate and not to dominate, both to defer and to resist domination, both to share and to be opportunistically selfish, all according to circumstance.

Such a psychology of balancing, contradictory tendencies would have created multiple choices for each individual in any specific social situation. This in itself would have given each individual great behavioural flexibility. It could also have given an adaptive advantage to what we experience as considerable conscious, intentional choice. If there are multiple, competing, contradictory psychological tendencies, then the ability to hold the options in mind and measure them against important aspects of the situation would provide a particularly important function for conscious deliberation.

This model stands Boehm's on its head. Egalitarian behaviour patterns evolved because with the development of self-control individuals became so clever at not losing out to dominant individuals that vigilant sharing became possible, and this was the most effective economic strategy in the circumstances in which H. sapiens evolved. As a result of the complex set of internally contradictory behavioural tendencies which were entailed, conceptual inputs to decision making became particularly crucial elements of human psychology. The extent to which conscious intention is the master rather than the servant of our inherited behaviour patterns is not clear, but at minimum conscious deliberation seems to have some effect in expanding the options for our behaviour.

Subsequent hierarchies were built in response to new economic circumstances with wholly different incentive structures, in which the counterdominant tendencies became disabled and ineffective except on the sporadic basis documented by Boehm.
http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/current/readings/erdal.pdf


It is also a fact that the peaceful egalitarian nature of hunter gatherer society has been deliberately and grossly over exaggerated by politically motivated propagandists in the guise of anthropologists.

Quote:Dr. David Deming has an interesting essay on the logical flaws in modern environmentalism that are rooted in a meme known as “The Noble Savage”.

Excerpt (with my bolded quote) below:

All of this would be of academic interest only, were it not the case that the modern environmental movement and many of our public policies are based implicitly on the myth of the Noble Savage. The fountainhead of modern environmentalism is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The first sentence in Silent Spring invoked the Noble Savage by claiming

“there was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.”

But the town Carson described did not exist, and her polemic, Silent Spring, introduced us to environmental alarmism based on junk science. As the years passed, Rachel Carson was elevated to sainthood and the template laid for endless spasms of hysterical fear-mongering, from the population bomb, to nuclear winter, the Alar scare, and global warming.

Human beings have not, can not, and never will live in harmony with nature. Our prosperity and health depend on technology driven by energy. We exercise our intelligence to command nature, and were admonished by Francis Bacon to exercise our dominion with “sound reason and true religion.” When we are told that our primary energy source, oil, is “making us sick,” or that we are “addicted” to oil, these are only the latest examples of otherwise rational persons descending into gibberish after swooning to the lure of the Noble Savage. This ignorant exultation of the primitive can only lead us back to the Stone Age.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/14/quote-of-the-week-the-noble-savage/

Quote:The Noble Savage

by David Deming

The late Joseph Campbell maintained that civilizations are not based on science, but on myth. "Aspiration," Campbell explained, "is the motivator, builder, and transformer of civilization." Our technological society has been built on Francis Bacon's myth of the New Atlantis. Bacon was the first person to unambiguously and explicitly advocate the practical application of scientific knowledge to human needs. "The true and lawful goal of the sciences," he explained, "is that human life be endowed with new discoveries and powers." Writing in the early seventeenth century, Francis Bacon predicted lasers, genetic engineering, airplanes, and submarines.

Competing with Bacon's vision of a society based on science is the older and more persistent fable of the Noble Savage. The Noble Savage is not a person, but an idea. It is cultural primitivism, the belief of people living in complex and evolved societies that the simple and primitive life is better. The Noble Savage is the myth that man can live in harmony with nature, that technology is destructive, and that we would all be happier in a more primitive state.

Before Jesus Christ lived, the Noble Savage was known to the Hebrews as the Garden of Eden. The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 700 BC) called it the Golden Age. In the lost Golden Age, people lived in harmony with nature. There was no disease, pain, work, or conflict. Everyone lived in perfect peace. Insects didn't bite you. There were no extremes of temperature, and you could wander naked through the fields. If you happened to be hungry, all you had to do to satisfy your craving was reach up and pick a sumptuous ripe fruit off a nearby tree.

In all the ages of the world, otherwise intelligent and learned persons have swooned to cultural primitivism. In the sixteenth century, French writer Michel de Montaigne described native Americans as so morally pure they had no words in their languages for lying, treachery, avarice, and envy. Montaigne portrayed the primitive life as so idyllic that American Indians did not have to work but could spend the whole day dancing.

When captain James Cook and other European explorers first encountered the native people of Polynesia in the late eighteenth century, they romanticized the primitive and ignorant state as a happier one, free of cares and anxieties. It was better, one European wrote, to be simple-minded and ignorant. "We must admit," he explained, "that the child is happier than the man, and that we are losers by the perfection of our nature, the increase of our knowledge, and the enlargement of our views."

The quintessential exposition of the Noble Savage myth is found in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book Discourse on Inequality (1755). Rousseau argued that what appeared to be human progress was in fact decay. The best condition for human beings to live in was the "pure state of nature" in which savages existed. When men lived as hunters and gatherers, they were "free, healthy, honest and happy." The downfall of man occurred when people started to live in cities, acquire private property, and practice agriculture and metallurgy. The acquisition of private property resulted in inequality, aroused the vice of envy, and led to perpetual conflict and unceasing warfare. According to Rousseau, civilization itself was the scourge of humanity. Rousseau went so far as to make the astonishing claim that the source of all human misery was what he termed our "faculty of improvement," or the use of our minds to improve the human condition.

Rousseau sent a copy of his book to Voltaire. In a letter acknowledging receipt of the work, Voltaire made a pithy and devastating criticism. "I have received, monsieur, your new book against the human race. I thank you for it...no one has ever employed so much intellect in the attempt to prove us beasts. A desire seizes us to walk on four paws when we read your work. Nevertheless, as it is more than sixty years since I lost the habit, I feel, unfortunately, that it is impossible for me to resume it."

Voltaire's insight was immediate and inerrant: opposition to technology is opposition to the human race itself. Man lives by technology. The human race has never existed in a state of harmony with nature. Since Rousseau wrote, more than two hundred and fifty years of archeological and ethnographic research have shown that the imaginative conceptions associated with the Noble Savage are completely wrong. Before the advent of civilization people endured disease, violence, hunger, and profound poverty.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, the common notion was that humans are the only animal that conducts warfare. But research over the past few decades has shown that this is false. In Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson documented observations of chimpanzees in their natural habitat engaging in systematic planned violence. Humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor about four to six million years ago. The fact that chimpanzees make war suggests that our human ancestors also did. The roots of human violence thus lay deep in time.

Male chimps conduct raids with the intent of catching a lone male from another group. If the odds in their favor are greater than three-to-one, they will attack and kill or maim him. The attacks are vicious and merciless, "marked by a gratuitous cruelty." The preferred procedure is for two chimps to hold a victim on the ground while a third pummels and bites the prey until he is dead or mortally wounded. The aggressors enjoy the violence. After the attack has concluded they exhibit their exuberance by branch-waving, screaming, hooting, and drumming.

Eliminating male rivals bestows a reproductive advantage on the members of the attacking group. Chimpanzee behavior is calculated and organized, not incidental, and reveals a high degree of intelligence. Chimpanzees have been known to rape their own sisters. Other human relatives also share a disposition to violence. Rape is commonplace among orangutans, and about one-seventh of gorilla babies perish from infanticide.

Before the advent of human civilization, conflict between bands of hunter-gatherers was universal and intense. In his book Constant Battles, Harvard archeologist Steven A. Leblanc documented that "warfare in the past was pervasive and deadly." Cannibalism and infanticide were also common. Ethnographic studies of hunter-gatherer groups surviving in remote areas of the world during the twentieth century have found that about twenty-five percent of adult males perish in war. LeBlanc concluded "the common notion of humankind's blissful past, populated with noble savages living in a pristine and peaceful world, is held by those who do not understand our past and who have failed to see the course of human history for what it is."

Before the Industrial Revolution, disease and poverty were endemic, even in the most advanced societies. Infectious diseases, including typhus, smallpox, and malaria, were rampant. Intestinal worms and dysentery were common among all classes of people. In eighteenth century Europe, half of all children died before their tenth birthday. Life expectancy at birth was only about twenty-five years, virtually unchanged from the days of the Roman Empire. Filth and dirt were everywhere. In 1741, Samuel Johnson gave a speech in Parliament where he complained that the streets of London were "obstructed by mountains of filth."

Neither did pre-industrial civilizations live in a state of ecological harmony with their environment. Their exploitation of nature was often destructive. The Mediterranean islands colonized by the ancient Greeks were transformed into barren rock by overgrazing and deforestation. The Bay of Troy, described in Homer's Iliad, has been filled in by sediment eroded from hillsides destabilized by unsustainable agricultural practices.

Before Europeans arrive, American Indians managed the land aggressively by burning it. And they likely hunted several animals to extinction. The disappearance of the Pleistocene Megafauna in the Americas coincides with the expansion of human settlement about 10,000 years before present. The long list of animals hunted to extinction by American Indians include dire wolves, giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, giant beavers, mastodons, and mammoths.

Even the conception of primitive societies as egalitarian is flawed. In Sick Societies, anthropologist Robert Edgerton documented that all human societies make distinctions based on "sex, age, and ability." Groups also tend to treat people differently based on distinctions of "wealth, power, or kinship." It should not be surprising, for example, to find that the chief of a tribe will advance his own interests "at the expense of lower-status people."

All of this would be of academic interest only, were it not the case that the modern environmental movement and many of our public policies are based implicitly on the myth of the Noble Savage. The fountainhead of modern environmentalism is Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The first sentence in Silent Spring invoked the Noble Savage by claiming "there was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." But the town Carson described did not exist, and her polemic, Silent Spring, introduced us to environmental alarmism based on junk science. As the years passed, Rachel Carson was elevated to sainthood and the template laid for endless spasms of hysterical fear-mongering, from the population bomb, to nuclear winter, the Alar scare, and global warming.

Human beings have not, can not, and never will live in harmony with nature. Our prosperity and health depend on technology driven by energy. We exercise our intelligence to command nature, and were admonished by Francis Bacon to exercise our dominion with "sound reason and true religion." When we are told that our primary energy source, oil, is "making us sick," or that we are "addicted" to oil, these are only the latest examples of otherwise rational persons descending into gibberish after swooning to the lure of the Noble Savage. This ignorant exultation of the primitive can only lead us back to the Stone Age.

February 14, 2012

http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/x519236724/Noble-Savage-myth-covers-up-truth

Original 1988 broadcast of "Song of the Forest" - based on the musical, Yanomamo by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon. Performed by the choir and musicians of St. Augustine's R.C. High School, Billington and narrated by STING



The children's choir failed to sing(in their cherubic voices) about the 30% homicide rate for males among the Yanomami, or the fact that the Yanomami are nomadic because they regularly over hunt and over fish their territories, they don't live in balance with nature, they exploit nature as much as possible just like everybody else.





Quote:Is Avatar radical environmental propaganda?
This is no Dances with Wolves set in outer space. (If you recall Kevin Costner never points a gun at another American soldier). With Chacon, Avatar becomes radical environmental propaganda — as if Patrick Henry joined Earth First! two centuries into the future.

Try to imagine a major Hollywood blockbuster in which a U.S. Army pilot hijacks a Marine Corps Blackhawk helicopter to shoot down fellow U.S. choppers in order to protect indigenous people fighting to save their rain forest from U.S. oil interests.

Don’t think that could happen? Think again. It just did.

Quote:"Avatar" as green propaganda on steroids (organic steroids!)
https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/rec.arts.movies.current-films/swrEhT-W4fs
Andrew Bolt
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 09:36am

MOST people will date the death of the great global warming scare not
from the Copenhagen fiasco -
boring! - but from Avatar.

It won't be the world's most expensive warmist conference but the
world's most expensive movie that
will stick in most memories as the precise point at which the green
faith started to shrivel from
sheer stupidity.

Avatar, in fact, is the warmist dream filmed in 3D. Staring through
your glasses at James Cameron's
spectacular $400 million creation, you can finally see where this
global warming cult was going.

And you can see, too, everything that will now slowly pull it back to
earth.

December 2009. Note it down. The beginning of the end, even as Avatar
becomes possibly the
biggest-grossing film in history.

Cameron, whose last colossal hit was Titanic, has created a virtual
new planet called Pandora, on
which humans 150 years from now have formed a small settlement.

They are there to mine a mineral so rare that it's called Unobtainium
(groan), of which the
greatest deposit sits right under the great sacred tree of the
planet's dominant species, humanoid
blue aliens called Na'vi.

If Tim Flannery, Al Gore and all the other Copenhagen delegates could
at least agree to design a
new kind of people, they'd wind up with something much like these 3m-
tall gracelings.

The Na'vi live in trees, at one with nature. They worship Mother Earth
and, like Gaians today, talk
meaningfully of "a network of energy that flows through all living
things". They drink water that's
pooled in giant leaves, and chant around a tree that whispers of their
ancestors.

They are also unusually non-sexist for a forest tribe, with the women
just as free as men to hunt
and choose their spouse. Naturally, like the most fashionable of
Hollywood stars, they are also
neo-Buddhist reincarnationists, who believe "all energy is borrowed
and some day you have to give
it back".

And, of course, the Na'vi reject all technology that's more advanced
than a bow and arrow, for "the
wealth of the world is all around us".

Sent to talk dollars and sense into these blue New Agers and move them
out of the way of the
bulldozers is a former Marine, Jake Sully (played by Australian Sam
Worthington), who drives the
body of a Na'vi avatar to better gain their trust.

(WARNING: Spoiler alert! Don't read on if you plan to see the movie.)

But meeting such perfect beings, living such low-emission green lives,
Sully realises instead how
vile his own species is.

Humans, he angrily declares, have already wrecked their own planet
through their greed.

"There is no green" on their "dying world" because "they have killed
their mother". Now we
land-raping humans plan to wreck Pandora, too, with our "shock-and-
awe" bombings, our war on
"terror" and our genocidal plans to destroy the Na'vi and steal their
lands.

So complete is Cameron's disgust with humans - and so convinced he is
that his audience shares it -
that he's made film history: he's created the first mass-market movie
about a war between aliens
and humans in which we're actually meant to barrack for the aliens.

(WARNING: Second spoiler alert!)

In fact, so vomitous are humans that Sully, the hero, not only chooses
to fight on the side of the
aliens but to actually become an alien, too. He rejects not just
humans but his own humanity.

All of this preaching comes straight from what's left of Cameron's
heart after five marriages and a
professional reputation of on-set meanness.

Avatar, he's said, tackles "our impact on the natural environment,
wherever we go strip mining and
putting up shopping malls", and it warns "we're going to find out the
hard way if we don't wise up
and start seeking a life that's in balance with the natural cycle on
life on earth".

Mind you, most of this will be just wallpaper to the film's real
audience, which won't be greenies
in Rasta beanies or wearing save-the-whale T-shirts made in Guatemala.

No, scoffing their popcorn as they wait impatiently for the inevitable
big-bang shoot-'em-up after
a fairground tour of some cool new planet will be the usual bag-laden
crowd from the
Christmas-choked megaplex - the kind of bug-eyed folk who thrill most
to what Cameron claims to
condemn, from the hi-tech to the militaristic.

Still, you can hardly blame them if they don't buy the message that
Cameron's selling, since he
doesn't really buy it himself.

Here's Cameron condemning consumerism by spending almost half a
billion dollars on a mass-market
movie for the Christmas season complete with tie-in burger deals from
McDonald's and Avatar toys
from Mattel.

Here's Cameron damning our love of technology by using the most
advanced cinematographic technology
to create his new green world.

In fact, here's Cameron urging his audience to scorn material
possessions and get close to nature,
only to himself retire each night to the splendid comfort of his
Malibu mansion.

Not even his own creations live up to the philosophy he has them
preach.

For all their talk of the connectedness of nature, the Na'vi still
kill animals for food - although
not before saying how sorry they are, of course, since we live in an
age in which seeming sorry
excuses every selfishness.

Likewise, despite all their lectures on not exploiting nature, the
Na'vi still come out top dog in
the food chain.

Even when they physically become at one with wild pterodactyls, by
hooking up to them through some
USB in their hair braid, they manage to convince their flying reptiles
to act like their private
jets.

Isn't this against the rules? I mean, in this caring and at-one-with-
nature world, shouldn't a
plugged-in pterodactyl just once in a while get to direct its human
passenger instead - by either
telling it to take a flying jump or to at least act like lunch?

In all of this, Avatar captures precisely - and to the point of satire
- the creed of the
Copenhagen faithful.

Rewind what you've seen from those Copenhagen planet-savers in the
past two weeks.

There were the apocalyptic warnings of how we were killing the planet.
There were the standing
ovations the delegates gave last week to Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez's furious denunciations
of capitalism, consumerism and the US military.

There was Bolivian President Evo Morales' cry for a simpler life:
"It's changing economic policies,
ending luxury, consumerism ... living better is to exploit human
beings."

There were great crowds of activists such as Australia's Professor
Clive Hamilton, who, like
Avatar's
Jake Sully, sermonises on the need to embrace "Gaian earth in its
ecological, cybernetic way,
infused with some notion of mind or soul or chi".

And there was the romanticising of the primitive by the demonstrators
outside dressed as ferals and
wild bears, as they banged tribal drums or chanted "Ommm" to Mother
Earth.

Of course the Cameron-style have-it-both-ways hypocrites were there,
too, luxuriating in the very
lifestyles they condemned.

Take Prince Charles, who flew in his private RAF jet to Copenhagen to
deliver a lecture on how our
careless use of resources had pushed the planet "to the brink".

And then had his pilot fly him home to his palace.

But, yes, you are right. How can I say this great green faith is now
toppling into the pit of
ridicule, when Avatar seems sure to do colossal business? Won't a
whole generation of the
slack-jawed just catch this new green faith from the men in the blue
costumes?

That's a risk. But having the green faith made so alien and such
fodder for the entertainment of
the candybar crowds will rob it of all sanctimony and cool.

Would a Cate Blanchett really be flattered to now be likened to a
naked Na'vi, running from a pack
of wild dogs in a dark forest?

Would an Al Gore really like to have millions of filmgoers see in 3D
where his off-this-planet
faith would lead them - up a tree, and without even a paddle?

No, we can now see their green world, and can see, too, it's time to
come home.



Quote:Peter Gelderloos
The Rise of Hierarchy
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-the-rise-of-hierarchy

In charting the origin of social hierarchies and control systems, many radical theorists take a materialist stance, and attribute authoritarian behavior to surpluses resulting from agricultural production and other aspects of the civilization process. The fact that some non-agricultural, hunter-gatherer societies developed hierarchical social structures offers a critical contradiction to the materialist view, and presents the key to understanding the origin of hierarchy. Anarchists, whether we wish to abolish all the cultural artifacts of Western civilization as inherently oppressive or to retain certain aspects of civilization, would do well to learn the partial extent to which civilization and hierarchy are concomitant.

Civilization being understood etymologically and culturally as the subjection of human beings to a centralized or common power “to keep them all in awe” in the words of Hobbes, or make citizens out of them, to refer to the Latin, we can turn to hunter-gatherer peoples as a clear example of stateless society. The two major forms of hierarchy evidenced in some hunter-gatherer societies are patriarchy and gerontocracy. Several hunter-gatherer groups are nascent patriarchies. For instance, among the Aché of the Amazonian forests, the sexual division of labor is stark, and men enjoy greater influence in decision-making. The Aranda of central Australia also give greater political influence to men within the group. Additionally, ownership of communal land, which is the source of identity for each band, is traced through the patriline (father to son).

Gerontocracy, age-based hierarchy dominated by elders, is particularly developed among the Aranda, politically, socially, and spiritually. Generally speaking, Aranda children are not active participants in the affairs of the group, whereas elder males are accorded positions of leadership, and the Aranda religion is based on ancestor worship (Lee and Daly, 1999).

The Mbuti of the Ituri forest of central Africa provide an excellent contrast in demonstrating how non-hierarchical a society can be (the Hadza of the Tanzanian grasslands also practice egalitarian social organization, though there is less literature available on them). Though the Mbuti practice some sexual division of labor, the division is not strict, and often manifests as different functions in the same activity, with women and men working together, to care for children or gather food. The Mbuti minimize gender, and except for distinguishing between mothers and fathers use non-gendered familial labels (e.g. sibling, instead of sister) and pronouns. The Mbuti traditionally form exclusive and even lifelong partnerships for raising children, but Mbuti “marriage” does not prohibit extra-marital sex or love.

One of the most important Mbuti rituals might be termed “gender-fuck” by North American anti-oppression activists. It starts as a game of tug-of-war, with the men on one side and the women on the other. But as soon as one side starts to win, a member of the winning side switches teams, and pretends to be a member of the opposite sex, to restore the balance. By the end of the game, everyone has changed their gender multiple times, and they all fall down laughing, having exorcised gender tensions (Turnbull, 1983).

The Mbuti are also an age-equal society. They provide a field of autonomy and a role of importance to each of the five recognized age groups: infants, children, youth, adults, and elderly. Each age group holds a voluntarily recognized power over the others, and it is the healthy symbiosis of the different groups that makes for a well functioning Mbuti band. The youth, for instance, are regarded as defenders of justice, and it is their function to call out problems or conflicts within the group. The adults, though they have substantial influence as the providers of sustenance, are also criticized as being the main sources of akami, “noise” or conflict, within the group. The role of the elderly is to reconcile conflicts.

Though the embryonic forms of patriarchy and gerontocracy exhibited by some hunter-gatherer groups are harmless compared to hierarchical dynamics in accumulation-based civilizations, the combination of the two systems is a critical milestone in the rise of hierarchical social organization. That historical combination, which almost certainly predates the development of agriculture, marks the first dynamic hierarchies. The permanent division between men and women is bolstered by the aged hierarchy, which bestows privilege over time, in return for cooperation with the hierarchical system. An elite minority, male elders, hold disproportionate influence and the beginnings of political power. Meanwhile, the promise of eventual inclusion into the elite encourages younger males to cooperate with the hierarchy. Females, too, are more likely to cooperate with their own disempowerment; even though they will never ascend to an elite role, they can still win an elevated status as they grow older by participating with the hierarchy.

It seems gerontocracy also makes possible a rudimentary form of policing in stateless society. The age grades that the Mbuti use in a libertarian way become tools for political authority in many West African societies, such as the Ibo (stateless horticulturalists), that subordinate young people to old people. Youth, instead of being autonomous defenders of justice, play a policing function by enforcing the will of the age group above them, thus turning the diffuse sanctions (collectively held enforcement mechanisms) characteristic of anarchy into something closer to the centrally controlled sanctions of the state (Barclay, 1982). This becomes possible in a culture where older people are seen as legitimate leaders and younger people seek to win their favor. Within this context, the concept of lineage becomes increasingly important. The segmentary lineages of many stateless West African tribes appear to open an effective path for the development of government. The “Big Man” leadership evidenced in many simple patriarchies, forager or horticultural, is too unstable to permanently institutionalize political power (an aggressive, strong, or capable man invites competition and resentment, loses these qualities with age, and cannot pass them on to any chosen successor). But segmentary lineages in which each grouping — the family, the sub-clan, the clan — is headed by a leader, the father of the lineage (a concept that requires only patrilineality and gerontocracy), political control over a large population begins to be centralized by a pecking order of leaders, from minor to major; leadership becomes hereditary; and prestigious lineages that have won leadership of the larger structures (clans or the tribe) take on an innate leadership quality: a superiority is believed to run in their blood.

The question remains, why did some human groups develop these forms of hierarchy, while others did not? Patriarchy is often attributed to men winning influence from their role as warriors or providers. But many hunter-gatherer and horticultural groups did not practice warfare, and there is no clear delineation of peaceful political strategies always being practiced by the gender-equal or malineal groups. Neither is there a correlation between men’s role as providers and their role as patriarchs. Patriarchy was as developed or more developed in societies where women provided most of the food, for instance the Aranda, than among groups like the Aché, where men provided roughly 80% of the diet.

On the contrary, patriarchy seems to be a possible result among any human group (contemporary activists should take note) that does not specifically organize to prevent patriarchy. Gender distinctions are an obvious axis for conflict within human groups, and overcoming conflict must be a constant activity in any society. The development of patriarchy is not inevitable, or natural, it is simply convenient — for those who wish to gain social power, and take the easy way out of dealing with group problems.

Social practices and institutions to prevent or resist the development of patriarchy have been manifold. They range from gender-leveling rituals like those practiced by the Mbuti, to the ritualized collective action, including all-night insult sessions and possible property destruction, practiced by Igbo women against male culprits who have violated a woman’s rights or infringed on the women’s sphere of economic activity (Van Allen, 1972).

Stages of patriarchal development described by Gerda Lerner (1986) include removing women from the divine, most pronounced in the monotheists’ development of a single male God; creating the cultural myth that women are spiritually or mentally incomplete, as in Aristotelian philosophy; and authoring laws or social mores that govern women’s sexuality, as in Hammurabi’s code.

I would add that the first and most important stage of patriarchy is the conceptualization of rigid gender identities. Riane Eisler (1987) and a number of other liberal feminists, in a sincere attempt to liberate an anti-patriarchal history, have resurrected a number of Mediterranean societies dominated by female fertility symbology and marked by less stark class and gender divisions, as evidence of a pre-patriarchal past. Unfortunately, their scholarship still leaves us with an essentialized gender binary in which women’s source of social power is their ability to make babies. In fact, male cooptation of female fertility symbols was a common stage of development in many patriarchal societies. From the Anasazi to the Minoans, male priests recently in charge of religious structures, used, and even wore, yonic symbols as a mark of their power (Donald and Hurcombe, 2000). This occurred in tandem with agriculturalists’ cooptation of the fertility of “Mother Earth.”

One of the earliest known forms of resistance to essentialized notions of gender was artwork, among hunter-gatherers as well as horticulturalists and early agriculturalists. Dating back thousands of years, San rock-art, as well as paintings and figurines from all across the world, frequently contained androgynous figures, encouraging a fluidity to the concept of gender by blurring the distinction or presenting figures that simultaneously exhibited exaggerated female and male characteristics (and often, also the characteristics of other animals). Eisler herself, inhibited by an essentially patriarchal lens, misrepresents her own research, neglecting to mention that the majority of Neolithic figurines in her samples are not female, but androgynous.

Agriculture and civilization did not create hierarchy in human groups, nor did hierarchy lead to the creation of civilization, as evidenced by the existence of egalitarian horticultural and agricultural societies. Rather, hierarchy is a result of a people’s social strategies, but agriculture and other technological progressions allow nascent hierarchies to become much more complex, authoritarian, and violent. Even worse, the military advantages that inhere in agriculture — such as higher population density, disease resistance from living with animals in sedentary communities, and metal tools — allow civilization’s more developed hierarchies to be spread by expanding nations and conquering armies.

To increase our understanding, it would be helpful to know how agriculture developed. It is important to realize that the development of agriculture was not inevitable or universal. Although the vast majority of societies today sustain themselves through some form of agriculture, agriculture’s preeminence is largely a result of population expansion and military dominance by agricultural societies. Perhaps as few as five societies independently developed agriculture in all of human history (in the Middle East, China, sub-Saharan Africa, the Yucatan, and the Andes). This is not to say that agriculture is an unlikely invention; many hunter-gatherer groups demonstrate a knowledge of agriculture but choose not to practice it. Offsetting its military advantages, agriculture was accompanied by a marked decline in human health, which has been sufficiently described elsewhere. Agriculture was often an unpopular invention, spreading through much of Europe less than a mile each year (Diamond, 1992).

In the best-studied example, the Middle East, agriculture developed earliest in the highlands of the Levant, east of the Mediterranean. The process appears to have begun 12,500 years ago, when climatic changes at the end of the Ice Age led to a significant increase of wild-growing cereals and nuts. Natufian hunter-gatherers in the region practiced a simple forager strategy, meaning they gathered and hunted a wide range of plant and animal foods, without specialization, for a diverse diet. After the explosion of cereal and nut populations, the Natufians adopted a complex forager strategy, specializing in the high-energy, easy to gather grains and nuts (Henry, 1989). Accordingly, they went from being nomadic to semi-sedentary, with more permanent dwellings where food could be stored, and seasonal abundances could be exploited. It was a simple matter of economics: they had the opportunity to get by with less effort, so they took it.

However, complex foragers are rare compared to simple foragers, because the complex forager strategy is less adaptive. Complex foragers are more dependent on a small range of foods, and thus vulnerable to the vagaries of climate and other natural changes, and also more sedentary, thus unable to spread out their ecological impact. 10,000 years ago, the climate changed again, and the territory of cereal and nut populations began shrinking. The complex foragers were faced with a choice: adapt to changes in the environment by reverting to a simple forager strategy, or artificially preserve the abundance of their key foods by saving and planting the seeds. Some groups did choose to become simple foragers again, while others developed horticulture and agriculture.

These early farmers were afforded new opportunities. In sedentary communities, they could more easily domesticate animals, develop larger and more complex tools, and create permanent dwellings and property. They could domesticate and manage crop species by storing and replanting seeds with favorable characteristics. They could develop irrigation to grow and harvest beyond the capacities of the local climate. They could store food for times when their staple crops were not in season, cutting out their need to forage. They could use their surpluses to support artisans and others who would not take part in farming. They could raid the stores of neighboring communities in times of scarcity, creating warfare as we know it.

The critical choices of these early agriculturalists, which have affected all of human history since then, would have been profoundly influenced by the social strategies practiced by each particular group. In all likelihood, some of the bands and communities involved in the early development of horticulture and agriculture were egalitarian, like the Mbuti, and others probably practiced patriarchy, or gerontocracy, or both. Patriarchal groups, living in monogamous households, would have been more likely to develop notions of individual property. Gerontocratic groups, by discouraging the role of youth in challenging the status quo, would have been more likely to tolerate and traditionalize social iniquity. Groups with an elite of elder males would have been more likely to develop economic disparities, because the majority in such groups were doing more work and enjoying poorer health than their forager or horticultural ancestors, but those with decision-making authority, the elite, were enjoying the fruits of the surplus.

Though the hierarchies that were in existence before the development of agriculture were insubstantial, and even the groups with dynamic hierarchies, like the Aranda, still exhibit a culture of anti-authoritarianism, these choices took place over centuries, and no one at that time would have known the disastrous consequences of choosing slightly more authoritarian, capitalistic, or warlike strategies. However, over time the massive military advantages that accrued to societies practicing more complex forms of agriculture (having weapons, soldiers, twice the population of your neighbors) meant that just one community pursuing an aggressive strategy could force its neighbors into a sort of arms race, by presenting them with the choice of developing their technologies to stay competitive, fleeing the area, or being overrun, and killed or turned into slaves.

Communities already led by an elite, who would lose the least and benefit the most from warfare and increased production, were certainly more likely to try and out-compete or dominate their neighbors. It was certainly no contradiction for a community to practice horticulture or agriculture and still retain a culture of consensus, communalism, and ecocentrism, but such communities would not have participated in the arms race, and they would have been conquered, allowing for the ascendancy of the culture of domination and accumulation, and the proliferation of the arms race. That is what has been happening ever since.

The meaning of this history for anti-authoritarians today is that domination- and accumulation-based civilizations spread not because of any freely chosen assurances of material improvement, but because of the military advantages, and the imperative to dominate, hardwired into such civilizations. Though it was easy for domination-based civilizations to subjugate surrounding societies, another historical survey could clearly show that these civilizations are quite vulnerable to the internal tension that arises from the antagonism the subjects reasonably develop towards the power structures that dominate them. Recent history shows clearly enough that the military advantages inherent in domination-based civilization do not apply to internal rebellions (provided the rebels have a minimum access to broad support and technologies in the range of firearms and explosives). Whatever occurs after the fall of Authority, a broad cultural remembrance of the dangers of allowing oppressive hierarchies to take root can help prevent a recurrence of the mistakes made by human groups 10,000 years ago, at a time when they could not know the full ramifications of their actions. Oppressive hierarchies are not inherent to any material modes of existence human beings would choose to inhabit (as distinguished from modes that were forcefully implemented from the top, as appears universally to be the case with Western-style industrialism). Rather, oppressive hierarchies allow technologies to become oppressive, and technologies define the range of complexity which those hierarchies can develop. The hierarchies themselves, which foster their own reproduction (in part through the development of technologies that are implicitly oppressive), fall within the range of possible human behavior, but can be prevented when understood as a threat to human freedom and wellbeing. The questions of what to do with this understanding in the present day — which technologies can be kept, which can be reformed, and which must be discarded, as well as the question of how these new material modes (most likely different modes for different bioregions) will interact with our efforts to prevent hierarchy — remain to be explored and answered.
Works Cited

Barclay, Harold, People Without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy. London: Kahn and Averill, 1982.

Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.

Donald, Moira, and Linda Hurcombe, eds., Representations of Gender from Prehistory to Present. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000

Eisler, Riane, The Chalice and the Blade. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1995.

Henry, Donald O., From Foraging to Agriculture. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1989.

Lee, Richard B., and Richard Daly, ed., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Lerner, Gerda, The Creation of Patriarchy. New York : Oxford University Press, 1986.

Turnbull, Colin M., “The Mbuti Pygmies. Change and Adaption.” Philadelphia: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1983.

Van Allen, Judith. “Sitting On a Man.” Canadian Journal of African Studies. Vol. ii, 1972. 211–219.
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:26 AM,
#2
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Wow, that's a lot of information.

About the anthropological opinions you've quoted, I'm not an anthropologist and don't know by heart what schools of thought are involved in the current debate. I'm asking just this: an example of a hunter-gatherer society not significantly influenced by civilization that in times of hardship start preying on each other, or archeological evidence that such a society was doing it at some point.

Something about the "Noble Savage": Godesky, The Noble Savage and
Godesky, The Savages Are Truly Noble.

As far as I know the Yanamamo are horticulturalists, not foragers.

About the egalitarianism part: Godesky, Thesis 7: Humans Are Best Adapted To Band Life.

The hierarchical signs in hunter-gatherer societies are a bit of a stretch. Firstly they come from groups which are in contact with more hierarchical societies, like horticulturalists. Second, the consequences of the existence of those hierarchies (if they truly are that) are benign. Thirdly, I'm not encouraging people to live like those African tribes. I don't even think it's possible since we don't share their culture. We could replace ours with theirs or create a new and better one. There are lessons to be learned from them, of course.

About the Avatar, I don't give a shit. For me it's just entertainment for a young age audience. Of course there might be some propaganda in it, like in any communication between humans. Humans are subjective so they'll push their worldview, unconsciously at least. But let's not forget the huge revenue it created for it's producers. I would say that's motive enough.
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:51 AM, (This post was last modified: 11-29-2012, 09:06 AM by macfadden.)
#3
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Cemetery 117

Endemic warfare

Slavery among Native Americans in the United States

Slavery among the indigenous peoples of the Americas

Quote:Noble or savage?
The era of the hunter-gatherer was not the social and environmental Eden that some suggest

HUMAN beings have spent most of their time on the planet as hunter-gatherers. From at least 85,000 years ago to the birth of agriculture around 73,000 years later, they combined hunted meat with gathered veg. Some people, such as those on North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Sea, still do. The Sentinelese are the only hunter-gatherers who still resist contact with the outside world. Fine-looking specimens—strong, slim, fit, black and stark naked except for a small plant-fibre belt round the waist—they are the very model of the noble savage. Genetics suggests that indigenous Andaman islanders have been isolated since the very first expansion out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago.

About 12,000 years ago people embarked on an experiment called agriculture and some say that they, and their planet, have never recovered. Farming brought a population explosion, protein and vitamin deficiency, new diseases and deforestation. Human height actually shrank by nearly six inches after the first adoption of crops in the Near East. So was agriculture “the worst mistake in the history of the human race”, as Jared Diamond, evolutionary biologist and professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, once called it?

Take a snapshot of the old world 15,000 years ago. Except for bits of Siberia, it was full of a new and clever kind of people who had originated in Africa and had colonised first their own continent, then Asia, Australia and Europe, and were on the brink of populating the Americas. They had spear throwers, boats, needles, adzes, nets. They painted pictures, decorated their bodies and believed in spirits. They traded foods, shells, raw materials and ideas. They sang songs, told stories and prepared herbal medicines.

They were “hunter-gatherers”. On the whole the men hunted and the women gathered: a sexual division of labour is still universal among non-farming people and was probably not shared by their Homo erectus predecessors. This enabled them to eat both meat and veg, a clever trick because it combines quality with reliability.

Why change? In the late 1970s Mark Cohen, an archaeologist, first suggested that agriculture was born of desperation, rather than inspiration. Evidence from the Fertile Crescent seems to support him. Rising human population density, combined perhaps with a cooling, drying climate, left the Natufian hunter-gatherers of the region short of acorns, gazelles and wild grass seeds. Somebody started trying to preserve and enhance a field of chickpeas or wheat-grass and soon planting, weeding, reaping and threshing were born.

Quite independently, people took the same step in at least six other parts of the world over the next few thousand years: the Yangzi valley, the central valley of New Guinea, Mexico, the Andes, West Africa and the Amazon basin. And it seems that Eden came to an end. Not only had hunter-gatherers enjoyed plenty of protein, not much fat and ample vitamins in their diet, but it also seems they did not have to work very hard. The Hadza of Tanzania “work” about 14 hours a week, the !Kung of Botswana not much more.

The first farmers were less healthy than the hunter-gatherers had been in their heyday. Aside from their shorter stature, they had more skeletal wear and tear from the hard work, their teeth rotted more, they were short of protein and vitamins and they caught diseases from domesticated animals: measles from cattle, flu from ducks, plague from rats and worms from using their own excrement as fertiliser.

They also got a bad attack of inequality for the first time. Hunter-gatherers' dependence on sharing each other's hunting and gathering luck makes them remarkably egalitarian. A successful farmer, however, can afford to buy the labour of others, and that makes him more successful still, until eventually—especially in an irrigated river valley, where he controls the water—he can become an emperor imposing his despotic whim upon subjects. Friedrich Engels was probably right to identify agriculture with a loss of political innocence.

Agriculture also stands accused of exacerbating sexual inequality. In many peasant farming communities, men make women do much of the hard work. Among hunter-gathering folk, men usually bring fewer calories than women, and have a tiresome tendency to prefer catching big and infrequent prey so they can show off, rather than small and frequent catches that do not rot before they are eaten. But the men do at least contribute.

Recently, though, anthropologists have subtly revised the view that the invention of agriculture was a fall from grace. They have found the serpent in hunter-gatherer Eden, the savage in the noble savage. Maybe it was not an 80,000-year camping holiday after all.

In 2006 two Indian fishermen, in a drunken sleep aboard their little boat, drifted over the reef and fetched up on the shore of North Sentinel Island. They were promptly killed by the inhabitants. Their bodies are still there: the helicopter that went to collect them was driven away by a hail of arrows and spears. The Sentinelese do not welcome trespassers. Only very occasionally have they been lured down to the beach of their tiny island home by gifts of coconuts and only once or twice have they taken these gifts without sending a shower of arrows in return.

Several archaeologists and anthropologists now argue that violence was much more pervasive in hunter-gatherer society than in more recent eras. From the
!Kung in the Kalahari to the Inuit in the Arctic and the aborigines in Australia, two-thirds of modern hunter-gatherers are in a state of almost constant tribal warfare, and nearly 90% go to war at least once a year. War is a big word for dawn raids, skirmishes and lots of posturing, but death rates are high—usually around 25-30% of adult males die from homicide. The warfare death rate of 0.5% of the population per year that Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois calculates as typical of hunter-gatherer societies would equate to 2 billion people dying during the 20th century.

At first, anthropologists were inclined to think this a modern pathology. But it is increasingly looking as if it is the natural state. Richard Wrangham of Harvard University says that chimpanzees and human beings are the only animals in which males engage in co-operative and systematic homicidal raids. The death rate is similar in the two species. Steven LeBlanc, also of Harvard, says Rousseauian wishful thinking has led academics to overlook evidence of constant violence.

Not so many women as men die in warfare, it is true. But that is because they are often the object of the fighting. To be abducted as a sexual prize was almost certainly a common female fate in hunter-gatherer society. Forget the Garden of Eden; think Mad Max.

Constant warfare was necessary to keep population density down to one person per square mile. Farmers can live at 100 times that density. Hunter-gatherers may have been so lithe and healthy because the weak were dead. The invention of agriculture and the advent of settled society merely swapped high mortality for high morbidity, allowing people some relief from chronic warfare so they could at least grind out an existence, rather than being ground out of existence altogether.

Notice a close parallel with the industrial revolution. When rural peasants swapped their hovels for the textile mills of Lancashire, did it feel like an improvement? The Dickensian view is that factories replaced a rural idyll with urban misery, poverty, pollution and illness. Factories were indeed miserable and the urban poor were overworked and underfed. But they had flocked to take the jobs in factories often to get away from the cold, muddy, starving rural hell of their birth.

Eighteenth-century rural England was a place where people starved each spring as the winter stores ran out, where in bad years and poor districts long hours of agricultural labour—if it could be got—barely paid enough to keep body and soul together, and a place where the “putting-out” system of textile manufacture at home drove workers harder for lower pay than even the factories would. (Ask Zambians today why they take ill-paid jobs in Chinese-managed mines, or Vietnamese why they sew shirts in multinational-owned factories.) The industrial revolution caused a population explosion because it enabled more babies to survive—malnourished, perhaps, but at least alive.

Returning to hunter-gatherers, Mr LeBlanc argues (in his book “Constant Battles”) that all was not well in ecological terms, either. Homo sapiens wrought havoc on many ecosystems as Homo erectus had not. There is no longer much doubt that people were the cause of the extinction of the megafauna in North America 11,000 years ago and Australia 30,000 years before that. The mammoths and giant kangaroos never stood a chance against co-ordinated ambush with stone-tipped spears and relentless pursuit by endurance runners.

This was also true in Eurasia. The earliest of the great cave painters, working at Chauvet in southern France, 32,000 years ago, was obsessed with rhinoceroses. A later artist, working at Lascaux 15,000 years later, depicted mostly bison, bulls and horses—rhinoceroses must have been driven close to extinction by then. At first, modern human beings around the Mediterranean relied almost entirely on large mammals for meat. They ate small game only if it was slow moving—tortoises and limpets were popular. Then, gradually and inexorably, starting in the Middle East, they switched their attention to smaller animals, and especially to warm-blooded, fast-breeding species, such as rabbits, hares, partridges and smaller gazelles. The archaeological record tells this same story at sites in Israel, Turkey and Italy.

The reason for this shift, say Mary Stiner and Steven Kuhn of the University of Arizona, was that human population densities were growing too high for the slower-reproducing prey such as tortoises, horses and rhinos. Only the fast-breeding rabbits, hares and partridges, and for a while gazelles, could cope with such hunting pressure. This trend accelerated about 15,000 years ago as large game and tortoises disappeared from the Mediterranean diet altogether—driven to the brink of extinction by human predation.

In times of prey scarcity, Homo erectus, like other predators, had simply suffered local extinction; these new people could innovate their way out of trouble—they could shift their niche. In response to demographic pressure, they developed better weapons which enabled them to catch smaller, faster prey, which in turn enabled them to survive at high densities, though at the expense of extinguishing many larger and slower-breeding prey. Under this theory, the atlatl or spear-throwing stick was invented 18,000 years ago as a response to a Malthusian crisis, not just because it seemed like a good idea.

What's more, the famously “affluent society” of hunter-gatherers, with plenty of time to gossip by the fire between hunts and gathers, turns out to be a bit of a myth, or at least an artefact of modern life. The measurements of time spent getting food by the !Kung omitted food-processing time and travel time, partly because the anthropologists gave their subjects lifts in their vehicles and lent them metal knives to process food.

Agriculture was presumably just another response to demographic pressure. A new threat of starvation—probably during the millennium-long dry, cold “snap” known as the Younger Dryas about 13,000 years ago—prompted some hunter-gatherers in the Levant to turn much more vegetarian. Soon collecting wild grass seeds evolved into planting and reaping crops, which reduced people's intake of proteins and vitamins, but brought ample calories, survival and fertility.

The fact that something similar happened six more times in human history over the next few thousand years—in Asia, New Guinea, at least three places in the Americas and one in Africa—supports the notion of invention as a response to demographic pressure. In each case the early farmers, though they might be short, sick and subjugated, could at least survive and breed, enabling them eventually to overwhelm the remaining hunter-gatherers of their respective continents.

It is irrelevant to ask whether we would have been better off to stay as hunter-gatherers. Being a niche-shifting species, we could not help moving on. Willingly or not, humanity had embarked 50,000 years ago on the road called “progress” with constant change in habits driven by invention mothered by necessity. Even 40,000 years ago, technology and lifestyle were in a state of continuous change, especially in western Eurasia. By 34,000 years ago people were making bone points for spears, and by 26,000 years ago they were making needles. Harpoons and other fishing tackle appear at 18,000 years ago, as do bone spear throwers, or atlatls. String was almost certainly in use then—how do you catch rabbits except in nets and snares?

Nor was this virtuosity confined to practicalities. A horse, carved from mammoth-ivory and worn smooth by being used as a pendant, dates from 32,000 years ago in Germany. By the time of Sungir, an open-air settlement from 28,000 years ago at a spot near the city of Vladimir, north-east of Moscow, people were being buried with thousands of laboriously carved ivory beads and even little wheel-shaped bone ornaments.

Incessant innovation is a characteristic of human beings. Agriculture, the domestication of animals and plants, must be seen in the context of this progressive change. It was just another step: hunter-gatherers may have been using fire to encourage the growth of root plants in southern Africa 80,000 years ago. At 15,000 years ago people first domesticated another species—the wolf (though it was probably the wolves that took the initiative). After 12,000 years ago came crops. The internet and the mobile phone were in some vague sense almost predestined 50,000 years ago to appear eventually.

There is a modern moral in this story. We have been creating ecological crises for ourselves and our habitats for tens of thousands of years. We have been solving them, too. Pessimists will point out that each solution only brings us face to face with the next crisis, optimists that no crisis has proved insoluble yet. Just as we rebounded from the extinction of the megafauna and became even more numerous by eating first rabbits then grass seeds, so in the early 20th century we faced starvation for lack of fertiliser when the population was a billion people, but can now look forward with confidence to feeding 10 billion on less land using synthetic nitrogen, genetically high-yield crops and tractors. When we eventually reverse the build-up in carbon dioxide, there will be another issue waiting for us.

09:24 - Violence in Prehistoric and Primitive Societies


Reply
11-29-2012, 05:44 PM,
#4
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
All this is evidence of violence. I didn't say that hunter-gatherers were pacifists. Some of the evidence points to societies which were focused on horticulture or subsistence farming. All this is discussed in the previous links I've posted earlier.
Reply
11-29-2012, 07:43 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-29-2012, 07:45 PM by macfadden.)
#5
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
So you concede that hunter gatherer societies did engage in outgroup dominance, well then, that's that for your 'egalitarian by nature' nonsense, there's nothing egalitarian about endemic warfare, revenge killings, the abduction and rape of women, murdering children, cannibalism, or human sacrifice. I find it amusing that you would expect anyone to believe that a "naturally egalitarian" species would engage in behavior this savage and that this svagery was exclusively reserved for outgroups and never exhibited toward any members of the ingroup. GET REAL.


The propaganda you're shilling has been thoroughly debunked.
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:04 PM,
#6
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
(11-29-2012, 07:43 PM)macfadden Wrote: So you concede that hunter gatherer societies did engage in outgroup dominance, well then, that's that for your 'egalitarian by nature' nonsense, there's nothing egalitarian about endemic warfare, revenge killings, the abduction and rape of women, murdering children, cannibalism, or human sacrifice. I find it amusing that you would expect anyone to believe that a "naturally egalitarian" species would engage in behavior this savage and that this svagery was exclusively reserved for outgroups and never exhibited toward any members of the ingroup. GET REAL.


The propaganda you're shilling has been thoroughly debunked.

No, I don't "concede that hunter gatherer societies did engage in outgroup dominance". Your "proofs" about "endemic warfare, revenge killings, the abduction and rape of women, murdering children, cannibalism, or human sacrifice" refer to at most horticultural people. Take a look here about Cemetery 117: http://history.eserver.org/neolithic-war.txt. Neolithic, get it?

"The propaganda that I'm shilling has been thoroughly debunked" by morons. About shilling, how many threads have I've started on this forum about my beliefs, and how many have you? Transhumanism?
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:35 PM,
#7
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
(11-29-2012, 08:04 PM)fujiinn Wrote: About shilling, how many threads have I've started on this forum about my beliefs, and how many have you? Transhumanism?

Where have I endorsed transhumanism? I have not endorsed transhumanism, I do not support transhumanism. Providing information on a subject is not an endorsement.


You are such an obvious little buffoon with your peak oil, and the "inevitable collapse of civilization" "let's all go live like savages" "the savages were noble and egalitarian". You're a joke and the crap you're promoting has been repeatedly proven to be elitist propaganda to advance a push to establish global neo-feudalism.
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:43 PM,
#8
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
(11-29-2012, 08:35 PM)macfadden Wrote:
(11-29-2012, 08:04 PM)fujiinn Wrote: About shilling, how many threads have I've started on this forum about my beliefs, and how many have you? Transhumanism?

Where have I endorsed transhumanism? I have not endorsed transhumanism, I do not support transhumanism. Providing information on a subject is not an endorsement.


You are such an obvious little buffoon with your peak oil, and the "inevitable collapse of civilization" "let's all go live like savages" "the savages were noble and egalitarian". You're a joke and the crap you're promoting has been repeatedly proven to be elitist propaganda to advance a push to establish global neo-feudalism.

Come now, don't get butthurt. It's no shame in having no arguments. You could simply accept that you're a tool.
Reply
11-29-2012, 08:57 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-29-2012, 09:32 PM by macfadden.)
#9
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
The fact is that social dominance hierarchies are ubiquitous among all primate species, it's rather difficult to believe that given our common descent homo sapiens are somehow uniquely egalitarian, and in light of the past 8,000 years of human history, I would say it is quite impossible for a rational honest person to earnestly assert any such nonsense.


Your other massive blunder is in equating hierarchy with authoritarianism, a group need not be hierarchical to establish authoritarian norms or enforce those norms by imposing sanctions on transgressors. A group does not need a hierarchy to levee taxes or exact tribute from its members. An absence of hierarchy does not imply that a group is tolerant, egalitarian, or enlightened, nor does it imply a functioning anarchy where everyone is free to do what they please.

Quote:Steven A. LeBlanc is an American archaeologist and director of collections at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University's Peabody Museum.

He is the author a number of books about Southwest archeology and prehistoric warfare. His books have run counter to the widespread notion of peaceful preliterate cultures.

[Image: constant-battles-why-we-fight-katherine-...er-art.jpg]

Do not read this book if you are wedded to the idea that we humans once lived in harmony with our natural environment. LeBlanc argues that we were slaughtering each other over scarce resources long before the invention of agriculture or the advent of complex societies. Although not the first to pooh-pooh the idea of the peaceful, noble savage, he is one of the first to do so using prehistoric archaeological evidence.


The author argues that overpopulation, followed by resource depletion and warfare, was more than just common; it was inevitable. Given the option to do so, people eventually went after their neighbor's resources.

LeBlanc points out that there is a strong tendency for researchers to whitewash their archaeological findings. I have to agree with him. Years ago, when I first read of the bronze age iceman mummy discovered in the Alps, the researchers had suggested that he was probably a peaceful sheepherder who had been caught in an unexpected blizzard. The polished bronze ax found in his possession was too soft to cut down trees. It must have had religious or ritual significance. That was all before they found the arrow in the iceman's back. In addition, his knife has the blood of four other individuals on it. He also has defensive wounds on his arms. LeBlanc sees the iceman's bronze artifact for what it really is-a deadly battle-ax. Considering how rare prehistoric human remains are, I am astounded that so many of them show signs of violent death at the hands of other humans. This is exactly the point LeBlanc is making.

This very well researched book destroys the extreme environmentalist fable that a peaceful noble primitive existence occurred before industrialization destroyed it. The author demonstrates that without the modern scientific and technological resources environmental despoilation, at least eventually, occurred. This degraded environment along with sustained population growth led to the primitive warfare that was per capita more deadly than modern warfare. Primitive life was not some disneyfied tale of harmony with nature, love, and peace, but nasty, brutal, and often short.

This book should be read by all. It is a real eco myth buster. The book is one of the best anecdotes for modern primitivism.


From the above reviews of LeBlanc's "Constant Battles," we can clearly see that the "noble savage" interpretation of pre-history engenders strong emotional responses, more in the vein of current TV political shows where name calling is the norm and less in the vein of academic discourse where there should be an appeal to facts and clear reasoning. In fact, in approaching this subject, it might be best to try and put both emotions and political views, if not aside, at least in the background.

LeBlanc is quite clear in stating his own academic history with this topic, the need for this and other studies on the topic, his methodology and his copious citations from peer reviewed scholarship. In addition, he points out that a very large portion of previous scholarship on early human societies assumed a great deal about the pacifist nature of these societies in the face of often clear but nearly universally overlooked evidence as to the bellicose nature of humans and our simian relatives, the chimpanzees.

To these ends, then, LeBlanc provides readers with an amply researched and argued thesis about the ubiquitous nature of warfare among human societies that is often triggered by a given group exceeding their own territory's "carrying capacity." In fact, this thesis is one that is echoed by Jared Diamond in his "Collapse" where Diamond provides clear cut evidence that much contemporary war is caused by environmental distress squeezing out carrying capacity.

Btw, one reviewer refers to the "Human Resource Area Files" when its proper title is, in fact, the "Human Relations Area Files." You know, lads, if you are going to muster evidence, at least get the names of your witnesses correct and do not lie by saying that LeBlanc ignores peer reviewed literature when he actually cites it throughout this useful volume. I, as a professor who teaches early art and culture, find this book a refreshing addition to my course material. But, then again, I would expect this from LeBlanc, who has a Ph.D. in Archeology and is currently at Harvard.

Steven LeBlanc of Harvard makes a great case against the popular mythology that pre-historical man somehow lived at peace with his environment while simultaneously using only what he needed to live and no more; that is, without overusing the resources of his surrounding environment. He cites his vast experience as an archeologist to show that man has always been at war with other men, and has always "trashed" the environment. The myth has heretofore been that man only became warlike with the rise of capitalism which is supposed to have made men exploitative toward other men while concommitantly making him a despoiler of the environment in pursuit of greater profits; profits being a dirty word. BTW, anyone reading "Genome" by Ridley would be disabused of these notion immediately. However.........

If you're an anti-politically-correctness guy like myself, you'll howl with laughter at these ridiculous theories of those in archeology who are slaves to funding at the government trough where these theories of history predominate; to purposely push a political agenda advocating international one-world socialism. This book should be required as a grouping of books to be studied along with "Genome", "no bone unturned" by Benedict, "the skeptical environmentalist" by Lomborg, "Bias" by Bernard Goldberg, and countless others which handily refute the distortions fomented on unsuspecting students by teachers with a far-left neo-communist agenda.
Reply
11-30-2012, 07:47 AM,
#10
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
(11-29-2012, 08:57 PM)macfadden Wrote: The fact is that social dominance hierarchies are ubiquitous among all primate species, it's rather difficult to believe that given our common descent homo sapiens are somehow uniquely egalitarian, and in light of the past 8,000 years of human history, I would say it is quite impossible for a rational honest person to earnestly assert any such nonsense.
[...]

Were you abused by your family? Did you parents dominate you? Gorillas live like a polygamous family. The "alpha" male is the head of the family and has specific duties to perform. He's not living off his family. How about Bonobos?

(11-29-2012, 08:57 PM)macfadden Wrote: [...]
Your other massive blunder is in equating hierarchy with authoritarianism, a group need not be hierarchical to establish authoritarian norms or enforce those norms by imposing sanctions on transgressors. A group does not need a hierarchy to levee taxes or exact tribute from its members. An absence of hierarchy does not imply that a group is tolerant, egalitarian, or enlightened, nor does it imply a functioning anarchy where everyone is free to do what they please.

That's true, a group doesn't need a hierarchy to levee taxes or tribute from it's members. The question is, how exactly are they going to get those taxes and what keeps the tax base immobile to be exploited in the first place? Hunter-gatherer real-life examples are always appreciated. Otherwise this is just theoretical.

(11-29-2012, 08:57 PM)macfadden Wrote: [Image: constant-battles-why-we-fight-katherine-...er-art.jpg]

I don't have access to this book. What evidence is LeBlanc presenting to support hunter-gatherer warfare?
Reply
11-30-2012, 06:05 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-30-2012, 06:41 PM by macfadden.)
#11
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Quote:
Quote:The fact is that social dominance hierarchies are ubiquitous among all primate species, it's rather difficult to believe that given our common descent homo sapiens are somehow uniquely egalitarian, and in light of the past 8,000 years of human history, I would say it is quite impossible for a rational honest person to earnestly assert any such nonsense.

Were you abused by your family? Did you parents dominate you? Gorillas live like a polygamous family. The "alpha" male is the head of the family and has specific duties to perform. He's not living off his family.



There is definitely violence and social dominance among gorillas, what in the hell are you talking about?

Quote:How about Bonobos?

Lulz, "How about Bonobos?" lulzy lulzy lulz, you really don't know anything about anthropology or primatology beyond the pop trivia, do you?

Quote:De Waal has warned of the danger of romanticizing bonobos: "All animals are competitive by nature and cooperative only under specific circumstances" and that "when first writing about their behaviour, I spoke of 'sex for peace' precisely because bonobos had plenty of conflicts. There would obviously be no need for peacemaking if they lived in perfect harmony."

Quote:
Quote:Your other massive blunder is in equating hierarchy with authoritarianism, a group need not be hierarchical to establish authoritarian norms or enforce those norms by imposing sanctions on transgressors. A group does not need a hierarchy to levee taxes or exact tribute from its members. An absence of hierarchy does not imply that a group is tolerant, egalitarian, or enlightened, nor does it imply a functioning anarchy where everyone is free to do what they please.


That's true, a group doesn't need a hierarchy to levee taxes or tribute from it's members. The question is, how exactly are they going to get those taxes and what keeps the tax base immobile to be exploited in the first place?


So you're hot blooded and slow witted, a very common combination to be found among the "forrest people", you'd make a fine savage. The answer is, the group can extort taxes from the individual because the individual needs the group for his/her survival far more than the group needs any particular individual. Now it is not called taxation in hunter gatherer society, it is termed 'sharing' or 'gifting', but make no mistake, the 'sharing' is obligatory and any member that fails to share, and share generously(the tax rate among hunter gatherers is astronomical), is made a pariah and either ostracized or exiled, this would mean almost certain death for the individual. The power to extort is based on the threat of expulsion from the collective.

It does not matter that the group is mobile or immobile, the individual is wholly dependent on the group for his sustenance and security, the power of the group over the individual is exercised through snubbing, shunning, and ultimately exile.

This form of taxation is a counterdominance strategy that was highly successful for ensuring group cohesion and thus ultimately survival, but survival was all that was ensured. All strategies have a cost benefit ratio and this particular strategy had the benefit of making survival under harsh conditions possible, but it had the cost of repressing individuality to the point of severely retarding social and technological evolution for a couple hundred thousand years as well as maintaining an extremely repressive collectivist tyranny of the many over the one. This dynamic largely accounts for much of the arrested development and cultural stagnation of the savage.







Quote:Hunter-gatherer real-life examples are always appreciated. Otherwise this is just theoretical.

It's the peaceful egalitarian primitive anarchist hunter gatherer that is highly theoretical(preposterously fanciful more like). Social dominance hierarchies among humans is a bit more than conjecture, fool. Have you ever met a human? Lulz.


You have been provided sufficient proof, you just prefer to obtusely ignore it or dismiss it with trivial objections in order to keep your lame argument going.
Reply
11-30-2012, 06:41 PM,
#12
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Lulz is your trademark. There's not point in debating you since you're not in for a debate but an ego masturbation. Enjoy yourself!
Reply
11-30-2012, 06:56 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-30-2012, 06:57 PM by macfadden.)
#13
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Lulz is your trademark, you're a lulz factory ;D.
Reply
11-30-2012, 09:07 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-30-2012, 09:08 PM by macfadden.)
#14
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
The Bonobo is often held up by the egalitarian fantasists and touted as a prime example of a peaceful primate species which naturally lacks aggression and lives communally without hierarchy, perpetually engaging in free love while enjoying the halcyon bliss of primitive anarchy. Unfortunately this is complete bunk and commonsense should inform that this is pure delusion indulged in by anarchists and encouraged(if not created) by elitists with ulterior motives.

Quote:Bonobos have violent streak, study says

SYDNEY: Unlike the male-dominated society of the chimpanzee, bonobo society – in which females enjoy a higher social status than males – has a 'make-love-not-war' kind of image, but this may be all wrong new observations suggest.

The bonobo (Pan paniscus) formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee, lives only in the lowland forest south of Africa's river Congo, and, along with the chimp is our closest living relative.

Bonobos are perhaps best known for their promiscuity: sexual acts both within and between the sexes are a common means of greeting, resolving conflicts, or reconciling after conflicts.

Male dominance and bonding

While chimpanzee males frequently band together to hunt and kill monkeys, the more peaceful bonobos were believed to restrict what meat they do eat to forest antelopes, squirrels, and rodents.

But a study published this week in the U.S. journal Current Biology now offers the first direct evidence of wild bonobos hunting and eating the young of other primate species.

"These findings are particularly relevant for the discussion about male dominance and bonding, aggression and hunting – a domain that was thought to separate chimpanzees and bonobos," said study co-author Gottfried Hohmann of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig Germany.

In chimpanzees, male-dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption, said Hohmann. "By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos."

Finger of blame

However, his team's observations now suggest that these violent behaviours may also exist in ape societies that are not dominated by males.

The researchers made the discovery that the free-loving primates hunt and kill other primates while they were studying a bonobo population living in Salonga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Although the team had prior anecdotal evidence for monkey hunting by bonobos, it came from indirect studies of faeces samples; one of which contained the digit of a black mangabey. Yet, in the absence of direct observation, it was not entirely clear whether the bonobos had hunted the mangabey themselves or had taken it from another predator.
http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2253/bonobos-have-violent-streak-too-study-says
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12-03-2012, 07:41 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-03-2012, 09:37 PM by macfadden.)
#15
RE: On Human Egalitarianism
Quote:The "original affluent society" is a theory postulating that hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society. This theory was first articulated by Marshall Sahlins at a symposium entitled "Man the Hunter" held in Chicago in 1966. The significance of the theory stems from its role in shifting anthropological thought away from seeing hunter-gatherer societies as primitive, to seeing them as practitioners of a refined mode of subsistence.

"The food quest is so successful that half the time the people do not know what to do with themselves". Hunter-gatherers also experience "affluence without abundance" as they simply meet their required ends and do not require surplus nor material possessions (as these would be a hindrance to their nomadic lifestyle). The lack of surplus also demonstrates that they trust their environment will continuously provide for them. By foraging only for their immediate needs among plentiful resources, hunter-gatherers are able to increase the amount of leisure time available to them. Thus, despite living in what western society deems to be material poverty, hunter-gatherer societies work less than people practicing other modes of subsistence while still providing for all their needs, and therefore increase their amount of leisure time. These are the reasons the original affluent society is that of the hunter-gatherer.


Quote:What's more, the famously “affluent society” of hunter-gatherers, with plenty of time to gossip by the fire between hunts and gathers, turns out to be a bit of a myth, or at least an artefact of modern life. The measurements of time spent getting food by the !Kung omitted food-processing time and travel time, partly because the anthropologists gave their subjects lifts in their vehicles and lent them metal knives to process food.

Quote:"Work time" and "leisure time"

Sahlins' argument partly relies on studies undertaken by McCarthy and McArthur in Arnhem Land, and by Richard Lee among the !Kung. These studies show that hunter-gatherers need only work about fifteen to twenty hours a week in order to survive and may devote the rest of their time to leisure. Lee did not include food preparation time in his study, arguing that "work" should be defined as the time spent gathering enough food for sustenance. When total time spent on food acquisition, processing, and cooking was added together, the estimate per week was 44.5 hours for men and 40.1 hours for women


Quote:THE DARKER SIDE OF THE "ORIGINAL AFFLUENT SOCIETY"

David Kaplan
Anthropology Department, Brandeis University, Walthum, MA 02254-9110

Hunter gatherers emerged from the "Man the Hunter" conference in 1966 as the "original affluent society." The main features of this thesis now seem to be widely accepted by anthropologists, despite the strong reservations expressed by certain specialists in foraging societies concerning the data advanced to support the claim. This essay brings together a portion of the data and argumentation in the literature that raise a number of questions about hunter-gatherer affluence. Three topics are addressed: How "hard" do foragers work? How well-fed are members of foraging societies? And what do we mean by "work," "leisure, " and "affluence" in the context of foraging societies? Finally, this essay offers some thoughts about why, given the reservations and critical observations expressed by anthropologists who work with foragers, the thesis seems to have been enthusiastically embraced by most anthropologists
http://www.unm.edu/~jar/v56n3.html#a2

David Kaplan. Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Brandeis University

Quote:!Kung nutritional status and the original "affluent society"--a new analysis.
Bogin B.
Source

Centre for Global Health & Human Development, School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, United Kingdom. b.a.bogin@lboro.ac.uk
Abstract

The theme of the 2011 meetings of the German Anthropological Society, "Biological and Cultural Markers of Environmental Pressure", provides the entree to revisit one of Anthropology's most enduring canons - hunters and gathers are well-nourished and healthy. The Dobe !Kung foragers of the Kalahari Desert often serve as a model of hunter-gatherer adaptation for both extant and Paleolithic humans. A re-analysis of food intake, energy expenditure, and demographic data collected in the 1960s for the Dobe !Kung finds that their biocultural indicators of nutritional status and health were, at best, precarious and, at worst, indicative of a society in danger of extinction.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21957642

"The [European notion of the] true Noble Savage arises from a combination of disillusion about the here and now with illusion about the there and then." Hoxie Neale Fairchild



Quote:Idealization of primitive societies

Wolfi Landstreicher has criticized the "ascetic morality of sacrifice or of a mystical disintegration into a supposedly unalienated oneness with Nature,"[48] which appears in anarcho-primitivism and deep ecology. Jason McQuinn has criticized what he sees an ideological tendency in anarcho-primitivism when he says that "for most primitivists an idealized, hypostatized vision of primal societies tends to irresistibly displace the essential centrality of critical self-theory, whatever their occasional protestations to the contrary. The locus of critique quickly moves from the critical self-understanding of the social and natural world to the adoption of a preconceived ideal against which that world (and one's own life) is measured, an archetypally ideological stance. This nearly irresistible susceptibility to idealization is primitivism's greatest weakness."[49] On the other hand Ted Kaczynski in an article called "The Truth About Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarchoprimitivism"[50] said that "It seems obvious, for example, that the politically-correct portrayal of hunter-gatherers is motivated in part by an impulse to construct an image of a pure and innocent world existing at the dawn of time, analogous to the Garden of Eden, but the basis of this impulse is not clear to me...They can’t deny altogether the existence of violence among hunter-gatherers, since the evidence for it is incontrovertible...Since Zerzan has read widely about hunter-gatherer societies, and the Australian Aborigines are among the best-known hunter-gatherers, I find it very difficult to believe that he has never come across any accounts of the Australians’ mistreatment of women. Yet he never mentions such accounts-not even for the purpose of refuting them...But this time it should be sufficiently clear to the reader that what the anarchoprimitivists (and many anthropologists) are up to has nothing to do with a rational search for the truth about primitive cultures. Instead, they have been developing a myth.
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