Technology

Okay, so you have grown up in this society that is ruled by mother culture’s values, and lived your whole life in it. How did you see the invisible questions and rules that Mother Culture tells you day after day, week after week, year after year, to write down in your books? What caused you to see these messages that are repeated so often that no one knows they’re there anymore?

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.

I am currently researching the evolution of various hunter gathers to the point of sedentarisation, where agriculture becomes the predominant method of subsistence. I was wondering if you knew of any hunter gatherer groups that have evolved past the “leaver” philosophy into an agrarian culture and then did a complete 180 back into their indigenous lifestyle. Also, do you think the recent whaling situation of the Makah people in the Northwest coast is representative of this move “backwards” or is it more likely these people are generating a pseudo-hunter-gatherer society?

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.

The USDA is going to license a patent to Monsanto for genetically altering plants so that they cannot reproduce. This may well result in the bulk of our food supply relying on plants which cannot reproduce naturally. This is by far the most blatant, and frightening, manifestation of “locking up the food supply” to coerce behavior. With this development it seems time just grew allot shorter for us to come up with solutions to our current way of doing things. Do you (or does anyone) have any ideas as to how we can fight these kinds of developments? How do we come up with a more sustainable way of living if the very foundation of nature is so radically altered by geneticists such that our food supply itself is no longer self-sustaining? This scares the hell out of me, and I’m really short of bright ideas at the moment.

I just read your speech Technology & the Other War. I’m still confused over your meaning of “natural” and “unnatural.” You’re saying that buildings and airplanes are just as natural as a bird’s nest and a beaver cutting down a tree for a dam. Correct? Does this mean that pollution from airplanes is natural as well? It seems that the pollution that we’re pouring into the world is making the world very uninhabitable very quickly. Is this natural?

Yes, but how are the strategies proposed in Beyond Civilization supposed to eliminate pollution, overpopulation, crime, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty, police brutality, political corruption, racism, child abuse, violence against women, homophobia, pornography, violence in film and music, exploitation of the elderly, date rape, judicial malfeasance, insider trading, road rage, and media bias?