Well, you know, sorta

We could live in societies of equals, this story goes, when we were few, our lives and needs simple. In this view, small means egalitarian, in balance with each other and with nature. Big means complex, which involves hierarchy, exploitation and the competitive extraction of the Earth’s resources. Now, as the human population approaches eight billion, we are left to draw the obvious dismal conclusions. There is no sense fighting the inevitable. Between entrenched neoliberalism and the pressures of our grow-or-die economy, what hope do we really have of making progress?

But as it turns out, nothing about this familiar conception of human history is actually true.

A society in which 80% of the women reproduced but only 40% of the men did – the usual estimation of those Edenic origins – is not exactly egalitarian in any useful sense now, is it?

15 thoughts on “Well, you know, sorta”

  1. “when we were few, our lives and needs simple. In this view, small means egalitarian, in balance with each other and with nature. ”

    Weird view of history. That’d be the time when the chief of the tribe & his cronies got first pick of everything & the rest got whatever they left. If there was anything left. When no one gave a fuck about nature apart from nature was trying to kill them

    “…and needs simple” No Matey. The needs were manifold. It’s the abilities to satisfy them were simple

  2. Hierarchy was the first thing. And not just with humans but many kinds of animals for millions of years. Rhoda often wonders how humans could get used to owning nothing (and be happy) when the concept of property goes down at least to the insect kingdom.

  3. Two blokes sitting around a fire in a cave a few thousand years ago: “I just don’t get it. Here we are, living a totally natural life, fresh air, plenty of exercise, clean water, free range food yet nobody lives past thirty”.

  4. Stig, the Thinking Hominid's Neanderthal

    Funny man from longnose tribe say funny thing.

    Others – those we call Indigenous peoples, First Nations – are already far ahead of us, because, against the odds of colonial appropriation, genocide and pandemics of the past, they followed different paths into the future, maintaining systems of land management based on caretaking, not ownership or extraction, forms of democracy in which participation means checking, not flaunting, one’s ego.

    He say alcoholic rapists good.

    Not spiteful freedoms, taught to us by ancient slave-holders (legalistic freedoms conjured from the plight of another’s captivity and suffering; freedoms that make of us winners and losers, survivors and victims).

    He say Stig ancestors bad people.

    But instead, freedoms underpinned by care and mutual aid, long familiar to those in the global south who avoided the worst traps we’ve laid for ourselves and whose fate is now tied to our own

    He say cannibal bone-nose tribe good people.

    the freedom to move away, to escape one’s surroundings, knowing you will be welcomed at the point of destination; to disobey arbitrary commands, knowing you will not be ostracised, but heard and debated

    He say anyone wander into Stig tribe village, hunt in Stig tribe lands, no obey Stig tribe elders.

  5. Rambling greenfreak cockrot. The front end of a fist should be punishment enough for the commie windbag.

    You can be sure the middle class marxist cunt will have his needs abundantly taken care of while he decrees poverty-is-a-good-thing for the rest of us.

  6. He’s obviously never read Napoleon Chagnon. I can’t remember if it was in his book but one sentence I remember reading stood out (paraphrasing):

    “Imagine you meet a man on a path, and the likelihood is he will kill you, so you have to try to kill him first, or a man comes to your door, you can’t invite him in because he will try to rape your wife.”

    That is tribal existence, and not that different in England centuries ago too.

  7. There were Red Indian tribes where at a potlatch the Big Man might show off his wealth by killing some of his slaves. Whether the assembled multitude then ate the poor buggers I don’t know. But it’s a big continent – no doubt cannibalism existed somewhere on it. As it presumably did at some date in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Probably not on Antarctica though.

  8. @Tractor Gent,

    I suppose that if the encounter is with a woman and you are male, then it’s your turn to do the raping. If it is woman on woman, then they’ll probably want to discuss hair, nails, make-up and shoes – whatever they are.

  9. @Mr Ecks

    You can be sure the middle class marxist cunt believes he will have his needs abundantly taken care of while he decrees poverty-is-a-good-thing for the rest of us.

    FTFY. The revolution always eats its own: it’s the only good thing about it.

  10. Prof Wengrow should go and live with a hunter-gatherer tribe for a year. Then, in the unlikely event he survives, he can come back and tell us what a wonderful experience it was.

  11. “not that different in England centuries ago too.”
    Reading a short book about Anglo-Saxon society i was quite struck about the extent of the rules that revolved around the payment of weregeld- the amount you have to pay someone’s rellies when you kill them.

  12. Witchie: there’s another passage in Chagnon’s book where after raiding another village to steal a woman, the first thing they do after getting away is to gang-rape the woman before taking her back to their own village where she becomes a sort of communal slave before someone claims her for his own.

    Life and times in the Brazilian jungle..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *