mindforgedmanacles wrote

Can you elaborate here?

Absolutely, sorry for not providing more detail on what I was implying. As has been stated in other replies, places like Çatalhöyük might have only initially been inhabited for small parts of the year, putting less continual ecological strain on the landbase of those who lived there. Also, an urban area comprised of hundreds of bolos could potentially even out the strain on a specific area, even if the populations were sedentary. This is just me speaking in hypotheticals, of course.

Your points on sustainability are interesting, but I think my use of the word might not have been precise, since I said "sustainably ungoverned" because we know it's possible for a city to be temporarily ungoverned, and I wanted to ask specifically about the possibility of a long-term ungovernability.

Aye once again my apologies, I guess to ponder on the possibility of long-term ungovernability, perhaps ritual might play into it? It's questionable as to whether or not some sort of temporary "fluid" hierarchies (like what Graeber and Wengrow described in the Inuit) would be avoidable, but rituals, festivals, narratives and more could all urge people to cast out domination whenever it would attempt to rear its Leviathanic head.

I think of what Perlman talked about with the Potawatomi and their rituals to cast out Wiiske (a trickster deity who brought the double-edged sword of useful technologies and their potential for great ruin), or the ways that different "uncivilized" peoples use satire and mockery to keep those with pretenses to rule in check. That being said, all of these peoples mentioned lived (or continue to live) in societies with no more than several thousand people, and so in a context where the vast majority of people you interact with are strangers? I try not to buy into biological essentialism for most things, but Dunbar's Number really does seem to have a lot going for it.

Sorry if that didn't really answer anything you didn't already know of.


mindforgedmanacles wrote (edited )

I couldn't think of one that could be ecologically sustained at a large size, let alone one that could be ungoverned.

John Michael Greer suggested quite a few years ago that pre-colonial Shanghai had as many as 1.5 million people that were sustained by intensive rice agriculture from immediately-surrounding regions, and Tenochtitlan likely had at least 200,000 people sustained by its chinampas. These examples might not bode well for the future, being that both of these cities were governed by states and existed on a planet with its biosphere remaining relatively intact, in the relatively benign climatic conditions of the Holocene.

All of this being said, if humans even manage to survive the next few hundreds of thousands of years of climatic chaos I feel like new cities will be where whatever states manage to persist, or for new ones to arise. Perhaps Graeber and Wengrow will be proven correct, and some of these cities will manage to throw off the shackles of domination. Unless cultural tendencies keep these urban forms within the carrying capacities of their landbase, they will send tendrils out to hinterlands and attempt to dominate their neighbours to sustain their artifice. It's a tale as old as civilization.

So like, all my self-indulgent rambling aside... I'd say that maybe it could work on a scale with no more than a few thousand people, depending on if they've managed to find some exceptionally fertile river valley or are doing to their landbase what many indigenous peoples of the Amazon did to their soil (making terra preta, and the like). But at a scale of millions? You need global trade and vast systems of exploitation to keep the thing running for a single day, let alone a single lifetime.


mindforgedmanacles wrote

Reply to by !deleted34351

I'd be celebrating this if sperm and egg counts weren't also dropping in most animals. Less humans in the future is probably an ecologically good thing, but not so much if it entails the rest of our cousins.


mindforgedmanacles wrote

Reply to by !deleted38258

A Bowie knife look-alike that belonged to my grandfather. It was made somewhere in Germany in the 1910s, and (if the stories he told me were true) might have been used in street combat sometime during World War One.