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"The Case against Civilisation"

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Joined: 06/11/2011
"The Case against Civilisation"

Here's a fascinating article I came across which is full of all sorts of insights that would be relevant to the socialist case:



Sympo's picture
Joined: 26/06/2016

I didn't read it that thoroughly but I probably will some time later. The part about "insulting the meat" was interesting (which commie doesn't love reading about the San people?).

The idea that cereals lead to the formation of states was also pretty interesting. Though I can't say I have the knowledge to agree or disagree with this.

Hud955's picture
Joined: 20/10/2011

This is a view you will hear expressed by many anthropologists, Sympo.   Anthropologists have traditionally studied hunter gatherer societies.  For them the neolithic revolution was a disaster.  Interestingly archaeologists will tell you the opposite.  It was agrarian communities, they will point out, that eventually gave us art and culture and writing etc.  But archaeologists earn their living by studying material culture, and hunter gatherers didn't leave much of that for them to study.  In academia, which position you take generally depends on how you make your bread and butter.  James Scott is an anarchist so has his own particular angle on this as well.

"Insulting the meat" is a commonplace practice among immediate return hunter gatherers, but is just part of a much larger body of social practices designed to asert the authority of the group over that of the individual.  By this means no individual can claim status, and egalitarianism is maintained.  That's not to say that individuals don't attempt to claim status in these groups.  They do.  Particularly young males, and they are generally dealt with very swiftly.  Boastful men are generally not well regarded by women, and in many groups it falls to the women to control their behaviour by the use of humour and public ribbing.  It is often the women who maintain the egalitarian balance, at least in Africa. South Asian hunter gatherers have different structures and use different methods but the outcomes are the same.  Good article.

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