agri surplus

adding page while reading Yanis Varoufakisto daughter about econ:


the production of agricultural surplus gave birth to the following marvels that changed humanity forever: writing, debt, money, states, bureaucracy, armies, clergy, technology and even the first form of biochemical war..t

writing, debt, money, bureaucracy, war



we know from archaeologists that the first forms of writing emerge in mesopotamia (where iraq and syria are now).. but what did they record? the quantity of grain each farmer had deposited in a shared granary.. such a system required some sort of receipt.. so that each individual could prove what quantity they had stored


ever since econ was invented, following the agri revolution 12 000 years ago, and the creation of the firstsurplus.. it was about credit.. virtual payments..


debt, money, faith, and state all go hand in hand. w/o debt there is no easy way to *manage agri surplus.. as debt appeared, money flourished. but for money to have value, an institution, the state, had to make it **trustworthy. when we talk about the economy, this is what we are talking about: the complex relations that emerge in a society w a ***surplus..t

so.. no *manage ness.. no debt..?

so.. no debt/money/measuring.. no need to make things **trustworthy.. rather..we trust us

so.. no ***surplus.. no energy loss..?

as we examine these relations, what also becomes clear is that a state could never have been born w/o surplus, since a state requires bureaucrats to manage public affairs, police to safeguard property rights, and rulers who.. for better or for worse.. demand a high standard fo living..  none of the above would be conceivable w/o a hefty surplus to sustain all these people w/o them having to work in the fields…. t..

nor could an organized army exist w/o a surplus.. and w/o an organized army the power of the ruler, and by extension the state, could not be imposed, and the society’s surplus would be more vulnerable to external threats..

bureaucracies and armies were made possible by agri surpluses..t.. which in turn created the need for bureaucracies and armies..  the same was true of the clergy…. surplus begat org’d religions…


there was tech before agri (fire, et al).. but agri surplus gave tech a gigantic boost by giving rise to new tech needs..  and by concentrating resources in hands of powerful few.. t

surplus also creates deadly bacteria/viruses (ie: tons of wheat piled in granaries surrounded by people and animals.. waste)… bodies had not evolved to cope with resulting diseases.. at first many died.. slowly.. people managed to adjust..became more resistant.. but not tribes/communities not yet develop agri.. so.. handshake was enough to wipe most of the tribespeople out..  .. in both australia nd america many more of the native populations dies from contact w bacteria/viruses carried by invading europeans than from cannonballs, bullets, and knives..  .. i some cases european raiders even engaged knowingly in biochem war.. ie: giving blankets knowingly seeded w smallpox virus..


first insight on how huge agri surplus was while reading James Suzman‘s affluence w/o abundance:


the story of southern africa’s bushmen encapsulates the history of modern homo sapiens from our species’ first emergence in sub saharan africa thru to the agricultural revolution and beyond. it is and incomplete story, one pieced together from fragments of archaeology, anthropology, and most recently genomics. taken together, these fragments offer a sense of how hunter gatherers came to exemplify elements of keynes’s utopia and how,

since the invention of agriculture,our destiny has been shaped by our preoccupation with solving the ‘economic problem’..t

the glue that holds these fragments together.. the ju/’hoansi of namibia.. meaning.. real people.. between 8 and 10 thousand alive today.. i focus mostly on them in the book.. best documented  of all bushman peoples.. and of all 20th cent foraging peoples..


by becoming farmers, our ancestors changed from foragers to producers and from hunters to makers, a process that ultimately paved the way for our transition from being the cleverest mammal to the most dominant species of any kind at any point in our planet’s history..t

agri was much more productive than h & g and enable populations to grow rapidly.. also created surpluses..

and w surpluses came hierarchies and systems of tribute and hierarchies  and tributes, in turn, nurtured an urge to gather more resources, to expand and conquer..t


they complained in particular how the bushmen’s tendency ‘to live in the moment’ was ill-suited to wage labor and farming in particular.. t

because almost every job on the farm was future-oriented and the rewards for labor were only ever harvested long after the hard work was done

fromm spontaneous law


surpluses were transformed into debt, wealth, and money, and, for those who controlled their distribution and circulation, power.


unlike in the resettlement camps, there is a sense of disquiet among ju/’hoansi in kanaan. for although kanaan may be marginal, it is not remote, and no one here ever falls prey to the illusion tha their hunger has anthying to do with a scarcity of food.

w/in walking distance.. nearly half a dozen shops w shelving that groans under the weight of food. et al..

this small-town environment is much more abundance than the bush ever was, but if you don’t have money, it is far from  provident. 

and the ju/’hoansi here wonder why it is that they must continue to live on the edge of starvation when there is so much food nearby..t

for the first time since the neolithic revolution we live in an era where more than enough food is produced for everyone on the planet to eat well.. so much that around 440 pounds of food per person currently alive ends up in landfills every year.. enough again to adequately nourish another 5 bn or so of us for a a year..

keynes viewed capitalism as an ugly means to an ultimately beneficial end.. he believe that w/o it *the ‘econ problem’ could never be solved..

to vinay – hoping to clean up capitalism.. if anyone can it would be him.. but *the problem we need to solve is not the econ problem.. we have to go deeper.. get to the energy of people that we’re missing..


Skoll Foundation (@SkollFoundation) tweeted at 6:15 AM – 27 Jun 2018 :
Seventy percent of Africans make their living from agriculture, but most smallholders still don’t have adequate food through the year. @myAgroFarms helps smallholders end the cycle of poverty. (


Joey Ayoub جووي أيوب (@joeyayoub) tweeted at 4:55 AM – 28 Jun 2018 :
“The world lost tree cover the size of Italy in 2017 as forests were cleared using fire to make way for farms from the Amazon to the Congo Basin, an independent forest monitoring network said on Wednesday.” (

Joey Ayoub جووي أيوب (@joeyayoub) tweeted at 5:04 AM – 28 Jun 2018 :
“Vast areas continue to be cleared for soy*, beef, palm oil and other globally traded commodities. Much of this clearing is illegal”.
* Most of the world’s soy crop is used to feed animals raised for slaughter, especially cattle. (


Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) tweeted at 6:06 AM – 2 Jul 2018 :
One key way industrial agriculture hides its own barbarism & savagery is by deceitfully self-branding as (what people perceive to be) the bucolic beauty of the family farm. But now they’re killing off family farms, leaving morally reprehensible factory farms as the only reality:


did agri start ineq

How the Agricultural Revolution made us inequal

The history of trading equality for food.

These egalitarian qualities were not present in early agricultural societies. The big advantage of agriculture over hunting and gathering is that it enables the production of food surpluses. But agriculture is fickle. When the weather is unfavorable, or plants become diseased, hunter-gatherers shift to another food source. This can’t be done in agricultural societies, which rely on a small selection of crops produced on large scales. For a relatively recent example, consider the Irish Potato Famine.

Not only are food surpluses necessary for agricultural societies to survive, they also become highly desirable to control. In fact, recent research shows that ancient societies that had greater food surpluses tended tohave higher levels of inequality.

Not only are food surpluses necessary for agricultural societies to survive, they also become highly desirable to control. In fact, recent research shows that ancient societies that had greater food surpluses tended tohave higher levels of inequality.

Because somebody had to have control over surplus food, it became necessary to divide society into roles that supported this hierarchy. The roles of an administrator, a servant, a priest, and a soldier were invented. The soldierwas especially important because agriculture was so unsustainable compared to hunting and gathering. The fickleness of agriculture ironically encouraged more migration into neighboring lands in search of more resources and warfare with neighboring groups. Capturing slaves was also important since farming was hard work, and more people were working in these new roles.


Joey Ayoub إبن بالدوين (@joeyayoub) tweeted at 4:44 AM – 11 Oct 2018 :
So much of Made in Italy food products advertised as coming from some utopic land with some ‘authentic’ smiling farmer are in fact made by slave laborers deprived of the most basic human rights. (


Barefoot College (@BarefootCollege) tweeted at 7:01 AM – 12 Oct 2018 :
“It is only the soil that can make us free.”
This community in Burkina Faso thrives from its ecological farming. This documentary trailer is a preview into the inspiring world of Slow Food and resistance to corporate agribusiness.
#culturesofresistance (


from Jason Hickel‘s the divide:


unfortunately it is not likely degrowth will happen as quickly as we need it to. social change can be slow.. that said.. we might have a way out.. and it has to do w soil


soil is 2nd biggest reservoir of carbon on planet.. next to oceans.. it holds 4x carbon than all the plants and trees in the world..  but human activities… ie: deforestation and industrial farming.. are degrading our soils at breakneck speed.. killing the organic materials they contain..

scientists and farmers are pointing out that we can regenerate degraded soils (now 40%) by switching from intensive industrial farming to more ecological methods..  not just organic fertiliser, but also no tillage, composting and crop rotation.. regenerative farming may be our best shot at actually cooling the planet..  and produce higher yields  over long term.. by enhancing soil fertility and improving resilience against drought and flooding..  so may be our best bet for food security too.. it requires remembering some of the ancient wisdom that got our species thru the last 200 000 years.. on this point we have much to learn from people on the periphery of the world system – the ones our govt have so long referred to as ‘underdeveloped..

so.. like india farmers.. and ladakh farmers.. before we schooled them.. w agri surplus?

holmgren indigenous law


sumak kawsay: an indigenous quechua term that translates as ‘living in harmony and balance’.. calls us to recognise that we are interconnected..  part of a whole, that our well bein is inextricable from that of our ecosystems

ie: schmachtenberger meta law.. all the way to meadows undisturbed ecosystem


in india.. ‘ecological swaraj’..

manish et al

in middle east.. mtns of n iraq and in rojava .. experiment w similar ideas


once people begin to reject the single story of development, the future is fertile and rich w possibility.. we need only have thee courage to invent it

invent it.. as we (all of us) go.. ie: rev of everyday life

a nother way book


from David Bollier‘s think like a commoner

1- the rediscovery of the commons


during the green rev in 60s and 70s.. govts and foundations in the west made a big push to intro large scale commercial rice and wheat production in so called developing countries. this helped mitigate hunger in the short term, but also intro’d crops alien to many indian ecosystems.. and that require harmful/expensive pesticides.. also more vulnerable to drought and volatile market prices.. widely blamed for an epidemic of 200 000 farmer suicides over the past decade

farmer suicides

the women of erakulapally discovered the traditional crops are far more ecologically suited to semi arid landscape .. but to recover the old biodiverse ways of farming.. the women had to ask their mothers and grandmothers to search for dozens of old nearly forgotten seeds.. eventually, in attics and family safe boxes, they found enough seeds to do a planting, and finally, after many additional rounds of cultivation, revive their traditional ‘mixed crop’ agri..  planting 6 or7 diff seeds in same field which act as a kind of ‘eco insurance’..  no matter if there is too much or too little rain.. or too early/late.. some of the seeds will grow.. families will have enough to eat no matter the weather.. .. no need to buy expensive genetically modified seeds or synthetic pesticides and fertilizers

agri surplus


the recovery of traditional agri did not come thru ‘tech transfer’ or govt sponsored agri research . it came thru a do it yourself process of recovering the ‘people’s knowledge’ and deliberately encouraging social collab and seed sharing..

already in us.. holmgren indigenous law

‘our seeds our knowledge’.. every seed is a capsule of their knowledge.. no one is allowed to by or sell seeds; they can only be shared, borrowed or traded

seed freedom ness



creatures of place

suicide.. rahul‘s paper on farmer suicides