Mon. dialog re> rkm’s new book


Richard Moore

From: "Charlene Sherman-Ragatz"
To: <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 09:50:30 -0400

Dear Richard,

I've never written to you before, but I just wanted to say how much I admire
your work and appreciate what you do.  You have a style of writing that
makes what could be confusing, convoluted issues clear and comprehensible.
Thanks for being a point of illumination in a dark world.


Dear Charlene,

I appreciate your comments very much.  It's not so much that I need
praise, although all of us need a bit of that from time to time so that
our ego doesn't drag us down. The more important thing is to know that
the work I'm doing is worthwhile - that's fuel to a writer.


From: "Rex Barger" 
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Comments on your Intro & Chapt. 1
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 15:20:36 -0400

I am sorry I didn't get around to reading your Intro. until
today.  It wasn't until after I read your Chapt.1 that I discovered I had
missed the Intro.  I enjoyed them both.  It feels to me like you are on the
right track (but that may be because your approach is so similar to mine:
seeking diverse viewpoints & staying open to revising mine).  I have no
suggestions for the Intro primarily because it seems to me to a very
personal (& inspiring) statement.  But for Chapt. 1 I'd like to suggest a
slightly different perspective.

You seem to be buying into a fairly prevalent assumption that our genes
'control' our behavior.  I see them as creating our potential for a wide
variety of behaviors, including the self-destructive behaviors that result
from arrogance (which allows us to consider short-term objectives more
important than the 'big picture' which must always consider both long-term &
wide-spread consequences).  As I read your evolution, I think I spotted the
arising of arrogance as the trigger for the paradigm shift to 'dominion
over'.  The early inability to travel far & wide quickly probably obscured
the important awareness that we really are all interconnected & that
everything we do to others 'comes home to roost' eventually.  I call
'arrogance' our 'only' enemy because it allows us to overlook our
interconnectedness & our shortsightedness.  It is the 'over-ride switch'
that is still getting us into trouble.  [A lot of the 'stuff' I have on my
website deals with this.  I hope you have a chance to check it out.]

Keep up the good work.  I'm a zgt fan of yours!

Rex Barger, Hamlton, Ontario


Dear Rex,

Thanks for your comments. It's always useful to hear from someone else
who is seeking to figure things out.

I'm a bit surprised that you perceive me as thinking that genes control
our behavior. I pointed out that the incredible diversity of human
cultures indicates that the effect of inheritance has only limited
impact. I fully agree that our genes create the "potential for a wide
variety of behaviors". I'm not sure how more plain I could make that in
the book, but I'll try. But it is also important to acknowledge that we
do have a genetic inheritance and that it does have some consequences.
And I think it's important to find out whatever we can about that
genetic inheritance.

I'm not sure what your point is about "arising of arrogance".  Doesn't
arrogance toward nature amount to the same thing as assuming dominion
over nature?

Also, I can't go along with you very far as regards your perspective on
interconnectedness. The relationship among neighboring tribes was
typically a territorial one. Tribes defended their territory, and they
didn't usually venture onto another's territory except as a band of
warriors intent on stealing horses, wives, or some such.  This was a
healthy thing. Just as with other predator species, territoriality was
critical to economic survival.  Interconnectedness is not about the lion
laying down with the lamb. That is not how nature works.  The Hindu
symbol for life is a serpent swallowing its own tail. This symbolizes
"life eating life" - the food chain.  

In the case of the Sioux Nation of plains Indians, they eventually
evolved beyond warring territoriality - but  only as regards other
tribes in the same Nation. This change was in relatively recent times,
and they still know the name of the individual leader who brought the
Nation together into a spirit of dialog and cooperation. Their model of
inter-tribe cooperation is one that I will be referring to later in my
book. It represents a breakthrough in human social relations.

thanks again,

Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 19:29:38 GMT
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: rkm's new book: Introduction
From: Jan Dunbrack


For over a decade I have been asking a very simple question to a wide
variety of educated folk and have yet to come up with an adequate
answer.  What is most curious is none of the individuals had ever pondered
this question on their own.  Moreover, no book or person has done so
and, to me, one can not begin to fathom how things got to be how they
are (your first section) without some thinking about this issue:

      In the world of minting money who gets it for free??  In other words,
      how is the money laundered?  This money that costs pennies to make when
      compared to the multitude to spend.

My speculation is that the minted money is not only "free" but earmarked
as a loan so that the benefactors not only get the principle but hard
earned interest as well!!!!!  What a scam!!!!!!  It was curious that
when the new money was put in circulation that, to my knowledge anyway,
there was never any accounting of the numbers of denominations with the
new faces put into circulation or how etc.  And it is always
tremendously hilarious when the gods in power pronounce that inflation
is nebulous when we all know that it takes so much more to purchase
anything since the gold standard was removed and "bogus" money hit the

Anyway, would love to get your take on this, just one of many such
questions/comments I have stored up in this reality of mine.  I have
tried writing etc. (Transcending Reality on title) yet (smile) always
end in a complexity meant to stymie us all intentionally, I do believe.

Your friend,
Jan Dunbrack 


Dear Jan,

I think the mechanism is rather clear, and you've got your finger close
to it. Think about what happens when you (or some corporation) takes out
a loan from a bank. The bank grants the loan, puts the money in your
account - but is not required to have enough reserves to cover their
outstanding loans. In other words, when a bank loans money it is
creating money out of nothing. The part about printing currency is a
detail. That doesn't really create money, it just gives us tokens to
exchange for the money already put in existence by loans. Boudewijn
Wegerif write a lot about this, and his website is:


From: "ecopilgrim " 
To: <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 14:03:23 -0700


Would like your permission to fwd this to several lists which are
participating in dialogue at a very deep level and from which one or two
might respond with comment after review. The lists are:  awpd,
consiliencep, fixgov, gatherthewomen, and gotocode pink. In addition I
have a personal e-list of about 30 concerned people. 

Overall I feel it is very well written and congratulate you on
undertaking such a detailed venture. There are a couple comments, but I
would like to review it again and then make them.  

One of the things that I can honestly tell you is that some of my
reviewers will heartily disagree with you on the evolution of
civilization and will insist that you must begin with Atlantis and the
Annanuki as the only valid beginning point. I have been astounded at how
many women I've encountered on women only lists who ascribe to this view
of history; however, they feel intimidated by the overwhelmingly male
point of view being published and tend to keep their feelings to

Also, do you have an outline of chapters you could publish for us? I'm
curious as to whether you are expanding on some of the historical points
made in Chapter One in additional chapters.

Peace, love and light



Dear Eco,

I encourage people to forward my material - that's what it's for. I've
updated my signature to make that clear.

I look forward to your feedback after you've reviewed the material

I'll include something about Atlantis in the next draft. The point is
that even if civilization started a few thousand years earlier than
13,000 years ago, that would still be negligible on the bio-evolutionary
time scale.

I don't have an outline - writing the book is an adventure in creative 


From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 13:15:30 -0700
Organization: Institute  for Cultural Ecology

I did my Master in archeology on this and will reply as soon as time permits.


Brian - thanks. I'm really glad to see so much feedback coming in - rkm

      > Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 11:02:15 +0100 (BST)
      From: ROBERT WARD 
      To: •••@••.•••
       A few thoughts FWTW.

Dear Robert,

Very nice to hear from you. You are clearly well-informed on these
matters and you bring up many useful points. I'm going to respond to
your contribution in a different format than usual - as a point-by
point, back-and-forth dialog. This is how I respond to private
correspondence, and it provides an illustration of how my learning quest
has typically progressed.
      rkm "We know quite a bit about how these pre-agricultural human bands
        lived from archeological evidence and from observations of surviving
        hunter-gatherer societies as they have come into contact with
      I wonder if we know as much as we think. Pre-agricultural societies
      don't leave much in the way of remains and usually nothing at all in the
      way of records. Our knowledge of them depends an awful lot on our
      preconceptions of how we think they behaved, which is not necessarily
      the same thing. As you say, we rely on observations of modern
      hunter-gatherer societies to guide us. But we mustn't forget that just as
      agricultural and technological societies have evolved over time,
      "hunter-gatherer" societies will also have evolved. It doesn't seem
      quite safe to assume that, human nature being what it is, human society,
      however technology dependent remains static over long periods of time.
      Environmental and population pressures (for instance) will require
      adaptive change to lifestyle and location. 

Certainly it is necessary to avoid referring to our preconceptions when
trying to figure out the nature of pre-agricultural societies. If I was
guilty of that in my material, then please point out where. If I wasn't
so guilty,  then I'm afraid your point is somewhat irrelevant to our
current discussion.

Yes, hunter-gatherer societies evolved and changed over time,
particularly when they migrated, and I'll include something explicit
about that in the next draft, due to your feedback.  But despite such
changes, and despite the great diversity in such societies which I
did note, I still stand by my characterization of those elements which
seem, based on the evidence, to be common to all such societies.  That
evidence has been found all over the globe in surviving indigenous
societies, and there is much useful archeological evidence despite the
impermanence of early dwelling structures. I've found the writings of
Joseph Campbell and Jared Diamond particularly useful in this regard,
along with more traditional anthropological material, such as Peter 
Farb's, "Man's Rise [sic] to Civilization".

      Think (for instance) of Polynesian societies, which tend to be thought
      of as being "close to nature" and "noble savage" type cultures - when in
      fact they were highly complex, highly variable, and exploited available
      technology to a remarkable degree. The other point I would make about
      observing a modern hunter-gatherer society is that at the point they
      make contact with other societies it is often because they are under
      significant stress themselves - think for instance of native tribes in
      the Amazon basin.

Complexity, variability, and exploitation of technology did characterize
pre-agricultural societies, and again you've prompted me to update my
draft. But I never denied that they had those characteristics, and this
point doesn't affect the conclusions I reached.

It is important not to confuse hunter-gatherer societies with
agricultural societies, such as the Incas, Aztecs, and the Polynesians. 
Those societies were agricultural and they exhibited the same sort of
developments that I attributed to the experiences in the Fertile
Crescent and China.  The wars between the Hawaiian chiefs were pretty
much the same as early wars in the Middle East.

It is definitely possible to reach wrong conclusions by studying
indigenous societies after they have been warped by  contact with civilization. 
That would be like deducing animal behavior from studying animals in a
zoo. The sources I have used have been careful to avoid drawing such
conclusions. There have been plenty of case studies where the tribes
were still following their traditions from before contact.

      rkm> "They were based on small, autonomous, territorial, politically
        egalitarian, sustainable, self-sufficient groups - and they had
        elaborate cultural rules and strong beliefs about the world and their
        place in it."
      Again, possibly need to be cautious about the implications of this.
      Hunter-gatherer (and early agrarian) societies were certainly very more
      self-sufficient than modern urban man, but that doesn't mean they didn't
      have complex societies and interactions with other groups. The Ituri and
      Twa people of central Africa for instance have ostensibly simple cultures
      but actually maintain a close interdependency with neighbouring agrarian

Complexity I've already responded to. I don't know of any societies
anytime in history that have been "simple".  Your point about
interdependence is a good one and thanks for the reference to specific
tribes.  I will take out "self-sufficient". That is a substantive change,
thanks. I did know that, but got sloppy!

      I wonder how far also it is safe to describe them as "politically
      egalitarian". The word "politically" itself is awkward; it derives of
      course from the Greek "polis", a city. So even to think of or describe a
      pre-urban, pre-"civilisation" society (by which I mean simply a society
      that does not live in cities or permanent settled communities) in
      "political" terms immediately introduces preconceptions which may be

One needs to be careful with etymology. Just because a word started out
with a certain meaning does not imply that its meaning hasn't generalized
over time - in fact that is what usually happens with words. And in the case
of "polis", I imagine that comes from the more primitive "poly" (many).
A city is a place with "many" people.  In that sense, we can see
politics as being the way "many" people deal with their collective
issues, city or not. Nonetheless, you are right that use of the word
requires qualification. Thanks.

      "Egalitarian" likewise - I wonder whether a hunter-gatherer society
      would regard all its members as being "equal" in terms of social status;
      surely this would depend on factors such as ability and experience. The
      ace hunter (I suspect) would be listened to more than the klutz of the
      tribe. That's the way in fact hierarchical structures develop.

Again, thanks for pointing out a needed clarification. Egalitarian does
not mean "everyone equal", rather it refers to a lack of authority
structures. In indigenous societies people gained respect from their
deeds and their wisdom rather than because they managed to grab on to a
position of power and authority. Contrary to their portrayal in
Hollywood movies, Native American chiefs did not have authority. They
could not order tribe members to do anything. This changed somewhat
after the invasion of the Europeans, because the Indians were forced to
emulate some the European models in order to defend themselves. It was
a major shift when all the Lakotas empowered Sitting Bull to be their military
leader.  That was a bit like when Hannibal caused the Romans to give up
their Triumvarite in order to fight him more effectively.

      rkm> "At the same time, the human species is characterized by a unique
        cultural flexibility, triggered entirely by environmental factors. An
        infant can be moved from one culture to any other and it will fully
      Humans are highly adaptable to be sure, but I wonder whether it
      is unique to our species? Chimpanzees and dolphin (also highly
      intelligent mammals) have also been demonstrated to have culture. Their
      ability to be trained and interact socially with human cultures well
      outside their "natural" state also demonstrates a very high degree of
      adaptability. A more telling (IMO) factor is human ability to record and
      pass on experience reliably, so that not only do individuals learn from
      their own experiences, they are able to pass it on not only to their
      immediate listeners but to others possibly widely separated in time and
      space. (Much of the tragedy of human history is our
      inability/unwillingness to do this!) Coupled with this, and an extension
      of it, is human ability to do "what if" analyses and extrapolations on
      our experiences.

Interesting stuff, but it was not my intention to characterize what was
unique about humans in comparison to other animals. Indeed, I can
substitute "amazing cultural flexibility" for "unique cultural
flexibility" with no affect on the rest of the presentation. I could
argue that humans are unique in the degree of flexibility, but I won't
bother since it's irrelevant to my theses.

      rkm> "The spark that ignited the Agricultural Revolution was not
        technological - it was not about a new agricultural invention."
      Depends rather what you mean by "technological". The birth of
      agriculture 8,000 years ago or so was driven by the discovery that if
      you planted seeds and looked after them they would grow, saving you the
      bother of going to look for food. To do that effectively needed tools of
      some sort - even if it was only a pointed stick to make holes in the
      ground. That in turn led to the growth of specialisation - you got
      individuals who were good at knowing what seeds to plant where, when and
      how, others who were good at making and improving pointed sticks and so
      forth ... the rest is History.

Whoa!  You're expressing exactly the pre-Quinn view that I was arguing
against.  If you're going to do that, please provide some evidence!  Do
you really think no one knew about seeds before the agricultural
revolution?  Think about it... they gather grains and bring them back to
camp to eat. Some spill on the ground. Next spring plants come up. Of
course people put 2 and 2 together. Similarly dogs were domesticated
long before the agricultural revolution. The revolution came when
cultures decided to exploit that kind of knowledge in a systematic way.
Once they did that, it took no great breakthrough to decide to use
sticks to plant seeds. Even chimps use tools of that sophistication.

      What may be termed the second great Agricultural Revolution in the 18th
      century, that in turn fueled and was fueled by, the Industrial
      Revolution in the 19th century was very much technology dependent. It
      was driven by the discovery that machines could do the work of
      labourers. Look at the history of the Enclosure Movement in England in
      the 16th and 17th centuries, and the development of industrialised
      agriculture in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Of course. Once exploitation became the paradigm, then the rest of
history was a matter of technology and exploitation fueling one another.
The point I'm concerned about is the origin of the exploitation

        rkm> "Once people adopted the dominion myth" 
      True that obsession with status and authority is the bane of our
      society. But in fact people are usually quite content for someone else
      to take charge - and be blamed when it goes pear-shaped. Don't forget
      that part of the "Adam and Eve" myth cycle was linked to the concept of
      human sacrifice and the expulsion of the fertility god ("Adam") into the
      wilderness. Similar themes appear in other mythologies.

I'm not sure what your point is here.

OK, now let's review this dialog, because it's typical of hundreds of
dialogs I've been involved in. At one level, we appear to be bickering
over minor points in typical academic-debate style, and we both tend to
show off little bits of knowledge whenever we can, sometimes straying
off the main discussion. At another level, these minor points are
important - on them hangs pivotal parts of our perspectives. And it's
fun to duel via trivia!

On the one hand, I've attempted to refute nearly every point you made,
as regards my main theses. On the  other hand you've prompted me to make
some seven clarifications to my presentation, and you brought up one
substantive point, about the interdependence of some neighboring tribes.
So for me this has been very useful, though mostly in my presentation,
which is in some sense just as important as the main content.

The question now is whether or not we have more to learn from one
another. It would be easy to fall into an attack-defend mode where we
keep repeating ourselves. That wouldn't be useful to share with the list
and neither of us would be likely to gain anything other than a
refinement of our rhetorical skills. Further learning can happen only if
one or both of us begins to question his own hypotheses and assumptions.
So far, you haven't said anything that leads me to do that, and I
wouldn't be surprised if that situation is mutual. In any case, I look 
forward to your future comments.

best regards,


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
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