Let's walk through signs of distress caused by our style of life, and
you can make a judgment as to whether our culture of
totalitarian-agriculture really is 'better' than the 'primitive'
lifestyle you're so afraid of.
Let's be clear on what we're discussing; when we talk about our culture,
we're talking about they lifestyle of turning all the worlds food into
human food. This is the driving force behind the problems i'm about to
present, and it needs to be recognized that our style of agriculture is
not the ONLY type of agriculture possible, it is not exclusively
agriculture or no agriculture, there are plenty of types of lifestyles
that can exist in the world and in fact the more diverse the sorts of
cultures we have, the healthier things will probably be... but this is
a digression, only to be kept in the back of your head.
so where do we start? Where do we see our first signs of distress?
Let's go with 5000 - 3000 b.c.e
We began our style of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, from the 3
million years to the beginning of this era our population increased at
a very slow rate, ending around 10 million individuals. 3 million years
of growth, only 10 million people... we certainly wern't over running
but at the creation of this new culture, this new way of growing food,
in massive amounts of excess, our population begins to grow faster. we
start to feel a bit crowded. people are beginning to feel overworked,
over farmed lands are becoming less productive, and the result is that
there are more people, with less resources. This is a recipe for fighting.
What we get at this stage is a political framework for war. The
producers in society don't fight each other for resources, but they
need someone to organize a way to secure the necessary resources. the
result is a growth of War-lords, kings, emperors, people to command
armies. Now recall, the other cultures out there, who do not have a
great surplus of food. They do not have this sort of military
organization, they do not have the resources to have a standing army.
obviously this might seem like a good thing at first, it's giving
people a means to secure the stuff they need to live. It's providing
stimulation for technological advances, soldiers need better weapons,
better armor, why would it be bad to learn how to forge metal? But
let's wait and see.
Move along to 3000 - 1400 b.c.e
our population has doubled in 1600 years, there are now 100 million
people. Our culture has been expanding, going east into asia, west into
we're entering the bronze age, a new age of warfare; compared to the
previous era, even bigger armies, with even bigger imperial wealth to
to measure the stresses being brought on to our culture, we see an
increase in crime. Now, don't let this confuse you. We've always have
misbehavior, we've always had unpleasant, disruptive behavior,
but at this point we've created a segregation that didn't exist in tribal cultures.
To elaborate, let us compare situations and their resolution between
tribal culture and our culture. In our culture, it may be annoying
when someone constantly interrupts you while you're talking, but it is
not a crime. You cannot send this person to prison simply for
interrupting you-- you must handle the situation yourself however you
handle annoying people. However if this person enters your property and
refuses to leave, you can call the police and have them taken to jail.
(obviously this is being put into a more modern explanation, but the
principle is the same, there is a machinery of the state which allows
you to have someone arrested, put to trial, and possibly receive
consequences. in our culture there are unpleasant behaviors, and there
are crimes, the latter evoking the state. The only difference is the
two is what is defined by the state. In the tribal culture, there is
no state machinery to evoke, thus the interrupter and the murderer are
handled the same way. Crimes in one culture don't exist because they're
not recognized as a separate category of human behavior.
I hope you're still with me, back to our culture, and what's going
on... In this era, we've got more war, and now we've got crime... This
is also the early beginnings of literacy, if we're going to be creating
all these laws, we need to be able to write them down. So we're writing
down, defining behaviors, their punishments, and in a sense creating crime.
1400 - 0 b.c.e.
1400 years pass and we've doubled our population again, 200 million
people, 95 % are of our culture. We have a great time for military and
political expansion; Hammurabi taking over all of Mesopotamia,
Sesostris III of egypt taking Palestine and syria, Tiglath Pileser I
from Assyria extends rule to the shores of the Mediterranean, this is
the time of Nebuchadnezzar and two centuries later Alexander the Great.
It is also a time of much civil revolt and assassination. Peloponnesian War; Spartan, Achaean
and Arcadian revolt against Macedonian rule. Philip of Macedon
assasinated, as was Darius II of Persia... The list is long and not
really worth the time to make.
But we're also introduced to a new stress on our culture, With the
obvious use of currency comes counterfeiting, coinage debasement,
inflation, all which is too prevalent today. Famine begins to become a
regular feature of life across the 'civilized' world. 429 b.c.e.
two-thirds of the athens population dies of famine.
Slavery becomes a huge international business and continues to this
day. In the middle of the fifth century it's estimated that every
third or fourth person in Athens was a slave. In 146 b.c.e. when
carthage fell to rome 50,000 of the survives were sold as slaves. 132
b.c.e 70,000 roman slaves rebel and 20,000 were crucified. -- This is
just the beginning of rome's slave problems.
Up to this point we've seen the fairly brutal signs of trouble with our
style of culture. Now we get to throw in a whole new sign. It is at
this point where religion enters the picture. This obviously is not the
beginning of religion, however it is the beginning of a new concept in
religion. This is the beginning of the idea where something is
fundamentally wrong with human nature, that somehow we need SALVATION. As
was said, religion is not new, but the idea of salvation is. Earlier
religions had as talismanic gods, representing particular parts of
human life. Now we see the rise of Judaism, Brahmanism, Hinduism
Shintoism, and Buddhism, all with the fundamental question about the
meaning of our lives. There begins a void that economic success and
civil esteem can not fill. We get stories about the innate flaws of
human nature. This is truly revolutionary
Moving on to 0 - 1200 c.e.
1200 years, and another doubling of our population, 400 million humans at the end of the period.
War, plauge, famine, political corruption, unrest, crime economic
instability are all becoming fixtures in our way of life. In the east,
the talismantic religions have been replaced by religions of salvation, in the west the transition is still taking place.
What to note in the development of the salvation religions that
dominate this day, is that they all emphasize the independence of each
person's salvation. your failure to find salvation is a failure whether
others succeed or not, and conversely if you find salvation, you do not
depend on anyone else for this success. Quite literally, if you find
salvation, nothing else in the universe matters.
Do you notice the speed at which our population is doubling? only 500
years and we reach 800 million with virtually 99% being a part of our
In this time we have Bubonic plague, Mongol Horde, the Inquisition. The
first mad house, and the first debtor's prisons are opened in London.
There are worker's revolts all over the place; in 1381 England is
thrown into anarchy by Wat Tyler's rebellion.
In the middle of the 14th century, black death comes and goes for 200
years, taking tens of thousands with each outbreak. Two years alone in
the 17th century it kills a million people in northern Italy. In
reaction to this, the Jews get scape-goated, and Pope Paul III walls
them off from the rest of Rome, essentially creating the first ghetto.
I mentioned famine, millions die in japan in 1232, germany and italy
1258, england in 1294 and 1555, All of western euorpe in 1315, Lisbon
in 1569 ... there are more but i don't need to list them.
Syphilis and typhus appear in Europe, Ergotism (fungal food poisoning)
kills thousands in germany, Smallpox, typhus and diphthria epidemics
carry of thousands. A result of this disease? Inquisitors develop the
idea of witchcraft to explain. Torture and killings are rampant.
Do we need to mention the explosion of the slave trade, with millions
of africans being transported to the 'new world' ? It shouldn't
surprise you that Thomas Hobbes, in 1651, described the life of man as
"Solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short" Blaise Pascal notes "All
men naturally hate one another."
Yet despite this, Christianity has become the first global salvationist religion, with folowers in asia, and the new world.
These are all reactions to the overcrowding created by our culture. Too
many people, competing for too few resources, eating rotten food,
drinking fouled water, watching their families starve, and fall to
only 200 years, and we're at one and a half billion people.
the diseases of the previous period have wiped all but a few indiginous
cultures off the face of the earth -- to be fair, 60 million europeans
will die of small pox in the 18th century alone; tens of millions die
of cholera epidemics. Is the point clear yet?
Cities are unbearably crowded. millions live in slums, crime is
rampant, crime punishment follows. Mental illness flourishes, ecconomic
instability remains high-- the 1789 french revolution is a direct
result of this.
this is the period of the industrial revolution, perhaps the time we
tend to think of as the begining of our problems (though i hope this is
obviously not the case now). Yes it brings luxuries to few, but
consider the masses of women and children exploited, working for meager
wadges. The time of the sweatshop.
We see the intentional extermination of wildlife in this era; the wild
boar and wolf gone from europe. In our own country, the bison are
systematically cleared away to make room for the trans-continental
down to 60 years, and we share the planent with 3 billion people.
we have the first global ecconomic crash in 1929 -- is this not a sign of trouble with our culture?
Two cataclysmic world wars, wiping out 65 million people on battlefields -- the total number of people living in the world at the golden age of classical greece.
i do not think things are not going well
1960 - 2000
40 years, 6 billion people
add in the last 9 years we're at 6.7 billion
add in more wars fought, and people dead, famines, droughts, species going exticnt, epidemics of disease -- instead of plauge we have HIV/AIDS (not that plauge is gone completely, it's still around).
Things are not good right now, for the majority of people. You're pretending that the sucess of our culture outweighs the costs. You're forgetting that a lot of the problems we're solving, are problems we've created. We don't need to live the way we do, but we don't remeber a time when we didn't live this way... we have the fundamental belief that we came from the garden of eden, and were made with original sin, that we were made to rule the world and that the world was made to rule us.
I hope you apreicate the time i spent writing this all out. It all comes from Daniel Quinn, in his book the story of B I assume if you care enough to check the details, you'll find them to be true enough. Personally I don't hold the vast amount of knowledge contained above, but I trust Quinn enough to realize the point: We live at war with the world, and it's not going well. I guess it all depends on your definition of sucessful, but i think this stands as a point that things could be very very different.
In New York they wants me_And I'm gonna be there_Van-city's calling
And I'm gonna be there_In T-Dot, they wants me_And I'm gonna be there, spreading the vibes_All over the world
K A R M A