Here’s My Opinion; What’s Yours?

Is it possible that human culture evolves as do biological life-forms? It is well-known that some life-forms actually do overtake other life-forms so that there is an imbalance in a particular eco-system to the short-term favor of the aggressive life-form. So, isn”t human culture, which is, in a very real sense, our tribal “nest” also prone to these same short-term imbalances?

In Jared Diamond’s excellent book Guns, Germs, and Steel, he addresses the question of the origins of agriculture at some length and concludes that food production developed independently in at least seven places – the Fertile Crescent, two different areas in China, New Guinea, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and the Eastern present-day U.S. – and possibly as many as eleven. Furthermore, in at least five of those places agriculture could have been characterized as “totalitarian” – prompting large alterations to landscapes, supporting of a large social hierarchy, and yielding aggressive expansion into lands inhabited by non-agriculturalists (either killing or converting them). Diamond also points out that the areas that did not develop intensive food production were the areas where it was not possible to do so given the existing local wild edibles. He also argues that many of the regions that “received” agriculture from elsewhere did so through trade, not necessarily through expansion of existing Taker societies. So yes, the actual course of events turns out to be much more mottled and complex than the theory. My question is, doesn’t all this somewhat undermine your basic notion that the rise of intensive agriculture took place in just one or two small locations and then expanded everywhere else through population growth and conquest? Doesn’t it strongly imply that the momentum of people more or less everywhere was towards food production? If Mr. Diamond is to be believed, the number of societies that willingly gave up Leaver lifestyles for Taker ones is far, far greater than the number for whom it went the other way around.

What about the medical field… The animal kingdom generally does not have any type of medicine man or witch doctor etc. to take care of the sick and injured. This seems to help ensure that only the strong survive. The sick and diseased don’t go on to infect others. Should we not care for the sick and diseased? They are a drain on our system and us. One might imagine us battling the Ebola virus while it kills out the Alawa, whereas a lion would merely be left to die.