The World Transformation Movement (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 21:18 (28 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.


I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist. The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community. This tells us as well that greed in general was recognized as bad for the community, and that we also acknowledge that while we DO have tendencies that can lead towards murder, we have other tendencies that lead us to keep the peace. For a rather odd but powerful example, in pre-state mesoamerican culture, combat between tribes was ritualized to the point where killing on the battlefield simply wasn't the custom. Why is that? Yes, the religions were bloody and winners were as likely as losers to be sacrificed to the Gods, but that's besides the point: Why the tendency to develop a nonviolent replacement for warfare? As a final point to just ponder: While everyone agrees that a society *could* exist where all members were *solely* devoted to short-term self-interest, why have we not actually seen this happen? If it *could* happen and it doesn't, this suggests something "more kind" about our natures and this leads me to conclude on the surface that I don't buy the typical answer of the necessity of a state to maintain law and order. I'm not buying Leviathan at face value.

The suggestion I believe is made in "Against the Grain" is that the evidence will show that more technically advanced societies historically enslave or conquer (or both) less "advanced" rivals, and that the history of states in general isn't necessarily one where the pursuit of liberty was the romantic goal. In other words, the Siege of Melos, which I've brought up here before is a more typical example in history in regards to the history of states.

As I noted earlier the America natives were stone age until recently, but the six tribes of the Iroquois nation cooperated while other tribes had fierce battles. Certainly learned cooperation where it existed, and fierce worriers for the sake of warfare in the more western tribes.


Complete thread:

 RSS Feed of thread

powered by my little forum