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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.


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.


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.


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.'


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:

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.


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]