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8

ziq wrote

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.”

This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.”

5

RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

Also, I should point out that when it comes to various indigenous groups, very few qualified as nomadic. Most of them, the extent of their wandering, was that they had a winter home and a summer home that they traveled between. Others would stay in a place until the land was used up, move away to a new patch of land, returning to the original a few generations later after the land has had time to repair.

Whatever the circumstances, in the wake of a collapse, what will emerge, are different kinds of living, not just one, because the One-Size-Fits-All approach we've been using, doesn't fit anyone. Different areas have different needs. We've only been able to pretend otherwise for so long, thanks to oil, that we can ignore the reality of the land, but once the last of that is used up, people in Phoenix, Arizona will be forced to discover that they are, in fact, living in a desert, and a person living in a desert, simply can't expect to have the same kind of living (houses, food, etc.) as someone living in, say, Kalamazoo.

5

ziq wrote

That's gonna be a rude awakening. I doubt even 1% of them would stay in the desert without AC and imported food / water.

2

Random_Revolutionary wrote (edited )

Is this the kind of life you want?

Not trying to mock you btw, just curious.

3

ziq wrote

I don't live in a fantasy.

I'm also a lifelong vegan.

3

Fossidarity wrote

Lifelong? That's really impressive, you must be lucky to be raised vegan.

4

ziq wrote (edited )

Not really, I was 7 when I made the decision to refuse to eat meat, shortly after realizing what meat was, and it took a few more years to stop eating dairy and eggs. But I'm in my 30s so I have little memory of not being veg. When my mother was pregnant with me she couldn't eat animal products without throwing up, so I like to think I've always being built to be vegan.

5

edmund_the_destroyer wrote (edited )

The whole article was fascinating, thanks for posting it. One side note:

The web of food sources that the hunting-and-gathering Ju/’hoansi use is, exactly as Scott argues for Neolithic people, a complex one, with a wide range of animal protein, including porcupines, kudu, wildebeests, and elephants, and a hundred and twenty-five edible plant species, with different seasonal cycles, ecological niches, and responses to weather fluctuations.

(emphasis mine)

I have a local acquaintance that makes a serious hobby (edit: maybe hobby is the wrong word) out of eating edible wild plants. He is a vegan and only buys food during the coldest winter months. He laments the starvation and hunger problems so many Americans face when he says bountiful food is available within a few miles for most people most of the year if you know what to look for. However, he was careful to warn me you need to be absolutely certain you are correctly identifying the edible species because there are countless ways to kill yourself. He's got a library of books on the subject.

I bought "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" on his recommendation but I admit, I've never put it into practice.

2

jorgesumle wrote

I think this was already posted on f/anticiv or f/anarcho_primitivism

5

ziq wrote (edited )

Yes. But it's very relevant to this forum too since it explains the origin of statism.

there is a crucial, direct link between the cultivation of cereal crops and the birth of the first states. It’s not that cereal grains were humankind’s only staples; it’s just that they were the only ones that encouraged the formation of states. “History records no cassava states, no sago, yam, taro, plantain, breadfruit or sweet potato states,” he writes. What was so special about grains? The answer will make sense to anyone who has ever filled out a Form 1040: grain, unlike other crops, is easy to tax. Some crops (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava) are buried and so can be hidden from the tax collector, and, even if discovered, they must be dug up individually and laboriously. Other crops (notably, legumes) ripen at different intervals, or yield harvests throughout a growing season rather than along a fixed trajectory of unripe to ripe—in other words, the taxman can’t come once and get his proper due. Only grains are, in Scott’s words, “visible, divisible, assessable, storable, transportable, and ‘rationable.’ ” Other crops have some of these advantages, but only cereal grains have them all, and so grain became “the main food starch, the unit of taxation in kind, and the basis for a hegemonic agrarian calendar.” The taxman can come, assess the fields, set a level of tax, then come back and make sure he’s got his share of the harvest.

It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, ministrator), and an élite presiding over them. Because the new states required huge amounts of manual work to irrigate the cereal crops, they also required forms of forced labor, including slavery; because the easiest way to find slaves was to capture them, the states had a new propensity for waging war. Some of the earliest images in human history, from the first Mesopotamian states, are of slaves being marched along in neck shackles. Add this to the frequent epidemics and the general ill health of early settled communities and it is not hard to see why the latest consensus is that the Neolithic Revolution was a disaster for most of the people who lived through it.

4

Cheeks wrote

Not only that, but also another shining example that egalitarian societies, not only are a large chunk of our historical record, but do in fact work.

6

ziq wrote

A lot of anarchists put their fingers in their ears the moment civilization is called into question, and it means they'll never really understand how the state aquired and maintains its power or how egalitarianism is kept at bay.

5

Cheeks wrote

I'm not a primitivist by any means, but I agree with you. The science is there, anthropology suggests and often proves a lot of anarchist 'theories.'.

Even Emma Goldman quoted(some other dead theorist that escapes me right now) and I am paraphrasing, 'the true founder of civilization is the person who enclosed a piece of land and found others stupid enough to believe them.'

3

RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

As always, it depends on how you define civilization. If you define it as "a group of people with shared beliefs about the world/standard of living," then nearly every group of people, including indigenous tribes, qualifies.

But that definition has long been unfavorable to many, due to long-standing racist, classist, sexist, institutionalized prejudices. Hence why when so many talk about civilization, people invariably envision what we have now, defined in this link: http://qr.ae/TUTZoR

So many are like, "But art and music!" whenever the concept of civilization is criticized, but humans were creating both art and music before civilization, and we'll keep doing it afterwards. We are wired to be creative and will do so with whatever is available to us.

2

Cheeks wrote (edited )

As far as art and music is concerned, we are entirely on the same page.

As far as defining civilization, in academia and science, there are general characteristics required of a society in order to be considered as such. Urban development(Perato's urban theory usually), imposed social stratification, supremacy(not just of the white variety), expansion, farming for the primary supply of food, the domestication of not only humans but animals and other organisms. And that is just a few.

Whenever I read articles that immediately want and try to redefine 'civilization' I find that they are only doing so because it helps them better display their idea which is usually ill~informed and short sighted.

[edited for clarity]

2

ziq wrote (edited )

Downvoters, I will comment every time you mash that button and drive this post higher.