Skip to comments.Do hunter-gatherers have it right?
Posted on 05/24/2009 2:54:08 PM PDT by decimon
Listening to Tom Standage talking about his new book, An Edible History of Humanity this morning I was reminded of a paper written by the anthropologist and author Jared Diamond in the late 1980's.
Diamond described agriculture as, "the worst mistake in the history of the human race".
Farming was, he argued, a catastrophe from which we have never quite recovered. With agriculture came "the social and sexual inequality, disease and despotism, that curse our existence".
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
Puperflect paleo ping.
I guess in a way he’s right, ‘cause if we stayed hunter-gatherer, this idiot wouldn’t be around.
God. To be stupid, yet paid well. Although, looking at Obama and Geithner, it does appear entirely possible.
Hunting and gathering is fine for a small society with lots of room to hunt and gather in. It helps if you don’t mind living on the edge of starvation as well.
If the billions of people on the planet today were to try it, cannibalism would become commonplace inside of a year as flora and fauna was wiped out on a scale never before seen.
Yep, farming has been a real disaster. LOL
Well this is weird ....
A hunter-gatherer economy is utterly incapable of supporting an advanced civilization. The very system of writing by which Jared promotes his ideas would never be developed without the surplus provided by agriculture. The most advanced economy possible without agriculture is that of our own NW coast. And there only because of uniquely favorable climate and other circumstances.
The article doesn’t mention the true reason agriculturists took over. Farming can support something like 500 to 1000 or more times the population. Any tribe that refused to adopt it was quickly overrun by their newly more numerous neighbors.
Migratory Hunter-Gatherer’s require Wi-Fi.
I’m still hard lined.
Well . . Mr. Standage could off himself and thereby help his cause . . . .
If mankind had not started farming, how could they have gotten a sufficient supply of the “necessaries” to make a sufficient supply of beer?
when man invented the first crops, the first liberals invented altruism and redistributionism
“With agriculture came “the social and sexual inequality, disease and despotism, that curse our existence”.
This is what the ‘social justice’ world view does to people... It distorts history in an effort to change the future.
Agriculture created a situation where technological innovation paid off and it laid the groundwork for the free market system. Excess production could be traded or sold. It also created a lot more free time, time used to advance social development... precisly the effect he thinks it DIDN’T have but SHOULD have had.
He’s a smart man made into an idiot by a leftist world view, where ALL things are political.
With lefto-enviro-schmucks you always have to read between the lines.
He doesn’t really mean we’d all be better off living like Paiutes eating cockroaches on the desert floor.
What he really means is, shut down 90% of all productive capacity in the Western World and put him and his friends in charge so that most of us can live like slaves and he and his friends can rule the roost.
When lefto-enviro-schmucks say they yearn for the hunter-gather lifestyle, what they really mean is they want a global Zimbabwe with them in charge.
Beat me to it. No agriculture, no beer. Case closed.
This is the type of person who thinks that Earth would be a wonderful place if there were no humans on it. But like Henry David Thoreau, who adored nature, he only adored it during the day. At night, he wanted the warm security of a cabin, with a hearty meal of good tasting food prepared by a cook, and a soft bed to sleep on.
I would hazard to guess that the author lives in a congested city, in a small, overpriced luxury apartment, and the only time he experienced real nature was as an asthmatic 14 year old, sent by his parents to “Camp Broken Rubber”, as it would translate from the pseudo-Indian name. Where camp counselors would play the guitar while everyone sang Where Have All The Flowers Gone and eat spaghetti every night.
In other words, his idea of Hell on Earth would be to have to live for a week on Ted Nugent’s ranch. Because after living to this drivel, Ted would probably reenact any number of variations of “The Most Dangerous Game”, in which his guest would have an hour to make himself scarce before Ted went after him with a compound bow.
What you say is clearly true. However, don't you on occasions lean back and think, "Hmmm, a life of hunting and fishing, no yard to mow, no job to work at, just hunting and fishing . . . "
Farming allowed a larger population. Farmers had more descendants, creating a Darwinian advantage for the farmers. That is why farming spread.
I could do it. But I get to be the priest. I need hot showers, I want to surf the net during work hours, and fresh brewed coffee half a dozen times a day. Just want to make that clear before we get too far into it.
But yeah, hunter gatherer. Sounds great.
Which means that in a Darwinian context, the farmers became adapted better, more fit and survived.
The problem in Saudi Arabia is between the ultra conservative herders of the desert and the settled ag dependent cities. The same is true in Afghanistan
I’ll defer to C.O. I’m sure he can properly explain why the BBC author is wrong is much fewer words than I can. :-)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The Stone Age Economics of the Left: Who Would Jesus Bail Out?
Thanks decimon.With agriculture came "the social and sexual inequality, disease and despotism, that curse our existence".IOW, its sufficient to say that the writer of that is stupid.
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Come now. Agriculture did not cause sexual inequality.
It may have done this in aggregate. However, most examinations of hunter-gatherer societies show that they only need about two to three hours a day to get their daily sustenance. Kind of like lions, from what I understand.
Not if I have to make the line, make the hook, make the pole, and make everything I need to make those things....
And that is just the fishing.
We’d be spending all our time surviving, protecting what we had, watching our backs for someone that is bigger and stronger than us, or in roving bands. Life would be much, much worse in many, many ways.
11. At 09:16am on 20 May 2009, yarbles1234 wrote:
Surely the reason agriculture spread is because agricultural societies can support an army.
...and the demise of agriculture will be because agricultural societies can support excess Liberal academics.
As to With agriculture came "the social and sexual inequality, disease and despotism, that curse our existence," I was under the impression that The Noble Savage had had a stake driven through its heart decades ago.
You’re absolutely right. The point he’s trying to make is that agriculture is a compromise. Quality of life was sacrificed for the sheer power of numbers.
Advanced civilization comes much much later (Thousands of years). Until very recently most people have been serfs, and have had a very poor quality of life.
Another point that he does not make, but I believe to be true, is that we would all be healthier if we ate a hunter gatherer diet. Meat, vegetables, fruits, NO grains.
Yes, it would be a healthier diet,, but if you were growing your own food, you would get enough exercise that you could afford to eat a lot more carbs.
Speaking as a Farmer here,,, this guy is nuts. He has no idea how difficult it is to grow enough food to feed a family for an entire year. Certainly, it can be done,, but it would be a pretty boring diet.
I prefer to specialize in a few crops, and depend on other farmers to grow the other things I feed my family.Somebody needs to hide this guy's STUPID PILLS before he writes his next book.
All of these conditions are present in some hunter-gatherer cultures.
None of these conditions are present in every agricultural culture.
In short, agriculture did not cause any "curse of our existence." It's a ridiculous article.
One of the comments in the article was “Humanity is a virus, someday Earth will find a cure”. And deadb0y was serious about it.
This pseudoscientist referenced in the article blames nearly all of societies ills on agriculture. He just needs to add racism, sexism, and homophobia to complete the list. Definitely an ivory tower academic with no exposure to the outside world, and would say that we on this board have “sheltered lives” for disagreeing with him to boot.
That hardly seems to be the theme of his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
I get your drift but I believe it's inaccurate at the present time.
There is very little agriculture in SA, for obvious reasons. Even the few remaining herders aren't dependent on their animals for survival. They herd in Toyota pickups and SUVs provided by government subsidies.
In reality, every single person in SA is utterly dependent on exported oil. If the country were ever shut off from the outside, the vast majority would quickly die.
You are correct historically speaking. Up until the oil bonanza there was constant conflict between the settled and nomadic populations.
Right now in Oz there is a lot of argument over whether Australia should impose their egalitarian standards on the aborigines, in whose culture women have no say.
Actual observed hunter-gatherer cultures have generally had well-defined sex roles, with the women in much the inferior position.
The theory that ancient unobserved societies had total sexual equality tells us a great deal more about the fantasies of the "historians" than it does about the life of ancient people.
This is really silly. Less than 1/3 of the world's population is engaged in agriculture, and a good percentage of those operate well above subsistence level.
Yeah, who immediately cut down the rain forest and caused global warming! :-)
In his book Connections, James Burke traces agriculture as such to the invention of irrigation rather than depending on seasonal floods. This led to individuals being able to produce more than they and their families could consume so they began to barter with others for the surplus. This led to numbers, mathematics and accounting. And so it went until here we are today with one progressive step leading to another and not always linear or expected.
It is an interesting book.
Of course if liberals, or progressives if they prefer, had their way we could trace our problems back to procreation. Without that none of our ills would exist. It is a biological fact that if your parents never had children you probably won't either.