From: Peggy Conroy
Did you see the National Geographic profile of the Hadza hunter-gatherer society in northern Tanzania? Great people, they don’t need that god stuff or agriculture resulting in stratification or nasty stuff the rest of the world contends with like war, They are more like the animals I’d rather spend time with.Of course they are being trashed by “civilization” just like the Tibetans, etc. How long till humanity evolutes itself out of business?
West Chazy, NY
It seems to be the same story with every hunter-gatherer society. It’s a miracle that there are some left after 6,000 years of continuous assault.
From: “TK Wilson”
Something you’ve failed to touch on (no pun intended) are our exagerated sexual characteristics, as a species. It has to have some signifigance in our social evolution. The difference between Bonobos and other Chimps comes to mind.
Interesting. I guess our ancestors were somewhere in between Bonobos and other chimps. We’ve got characteristics from both sides.
From: “Madeline Bruce”
With this, you have forced me into a position where I am unable to refute you. It is wondeful. Thank you for this. I haven’t read the whole think yet – time to stretch my legs – but I am reading it carefully and my mind is buzzing away in response. The breadth and depth of your knowledge is breathtaking. – Madeline Bruce, Nanaimo, B. C. Canada.
I’m not sure why you’d be seeking to refute me, but I take your comment as encouragement that the article gets the message across. I’m very glad to see your mind ‘buzzing away’. That’s what we all need, to be rethinking our assumptions.
From: david moore
i think one big dividing line between people is whether or not you think that there is badness/greed/evil within some people (that cannot be constrained by “shunning”), or that such negative characteristics are really rare.
if these bad things are reasonably common in the “herd” (1-2%?), and we are wired to notice differences/changes (that is how all of our senses work), then it’s hard to picture quite as an idyllic “garden” as one might dream of as having been our “natural state”. did no one ever notice/covet another’s wife? child? fur? pretty stone ? cut of meat? were there no disputes/ envy/jealousies that ended up being settled by strength/violence, or the threat thereof?
maybe the “bad ones” in ancient societies were cast out or shunned, so that they did not poison the group – ie maybe they were there, but never able to dominate – until societies became bigger and more complex, ie population density allowing badness to escape detection and/or elimination. once socities became permissive of this badness, then it’s easy to see how the ones most willing to do bad things to others could come to dominate. add to that portable armies, and viola, here we are today.
I see your mind is buzzing as well. It’s so refreshing when someone shares their thinking process.
Societies have never been idyllic in the sense of the lion laying down with the lamb, or no one ever being aggressive or violent. There have always been crimes of passion, acts of cruelty, etc. People, as individuals, have not changed a bit in their psychology in over 100,000 years.
The important thing is how a culture deals with the various human tendencies. Shunning and expulsion are extreme measures, a last resort, and seldom necessary in a harmonious culture. Much more important is how children are raised, what lessons they are taught, and how they are taught.
There’s a very interesting little book that talks about this, Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Powers. I sent a copy to Mom that you might want to borrow. The book relates the various tales that were (are?) told to Aboriginal children, to help them see the pitfalls of aggression, greed, etc. And rather than demanding that children share with others, for example, the mother meekly begs the child to share some his food with her, to bring out his inherent sense of empathy. Rather than trying to force the child to be a certain way, the effort is made to encourage the development of socially desirable behaviors.
When societies get bigger and more complex, the opportunity for ‘power over others’ certainly does arise. But it is not inevitable. That is why Riane Eisler’s, The Chalice and the Blade, is so important. There were civilizations in Europe, with cities and specialization, that went for thousands of years without warfare. Archeologists have found cities that stood for 5,000 years without being destroyed, whereas in Mesopotamia cities were regularly destroyed and rebuilt due to repeated invasions and wars.
I’ll be saying more about this in my next chapter, The story of hierarchy.
Another book that is important here is Daniel Quinn’s, The Story of B. He deals extensively with the distinction between the kind of violence that existed in primordial societies and the kind that exists in our modern societies. He says, we were as dangerous as hyenas. That is, we did what we needed to do as a society to survive, but we didn’t engage in wanton destruction.
From: j fadiman
This is just fucking brilliant. !!! Thank you
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