dawn of everything (book)
and then later this:
Don’t get #TheDawnOfEverything wrong – there’s nothing in it about going back to ancient life-ways to solve our problems. Not a single line. It’s really about demolishing all the wrong stories about “what we can’t do” so we can see where we are now, today with the blinkers off.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/davidwengrow/status/1537037333903642625
hari rat park law et al
and then later this:
“The better the society, the less law there will be.”
– a friend just sent me this commentary (which I’d otherwise missed) on #TheDawnOfEverything by Peter d’Errico, a professor of legal studies with a focus on Indigenous rights. Sharing here:
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/davidwengrow/status/1581291695060025345
The book’s contribution is to help us understand why we are having a difficult time figuring a way out of the mess. The reason, they say, is that our thinking is trapped by belief in the story that modern corporate state society is the end state of human evolution, the inevitable result of “progress” from “barbarism” to “civilization.” The obstacle to thinking of alternatives to the current organization of society is a belief that there is no alternative to this organization. .t
The authors suggest that our “future now hinges on our capacity to create something different” ..t
The better the society, the less law there will be.
notes/quotes (actually reading the hardcopy):
‘my brain feels bruised with numb surprise’ dg.. t
‘rain riding suddenly out of the air, battering the bare walls of the sun.. rain.. rain on dry ground’ dw.. t
1 – farewell to humanity’s childhood – or why this is not a book about the origins of ineq
small good, agri bad, .. we have no idea..t
the only laws are those we make up ourselves.. t
foundational (hobbesian assumption).. people bad.. need to be controlled
debating ineq allows one to tinker w the numbers, argue about gini coeff’s and thresholds of dysfunction, readjust tax regimes or social welfare mechs, even shock the public w figures showing just how bad things have become.. but w/o addressing factors people actually object to .. we are supposed to believe the inevitable effect of ineq.. and ineq the inevitable result of living in any large/complex/urban tech sophisticated society.. t
[so weird.. normally i’d be done with the book by now.. but it’s like i don’t want to read it because i don’t want to be done reading it.. reading like a page a day.. crazy ness]
what ultimately matters i s whether we can rediscover the freedoms that make us human in the first place..t
huge.. let’s do that.. let’s focus on that.. let’s org around that..
that was focus of my/our deep dive
what if we treat people, form the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such..t
some brief ie’s of why received understandings of the broad sweep of human history are mostly wrong (or the eternal return of jean jacques rousseau)
it’s *hard to argue w the numbers, but as any statistician will tell you.. stats (after pinker tales/graphs section et al) are only as good as the premises on which they are bases.. has ‘western civ’ really made life better for everyone? this ultimately comes down to the question of **how to measure human happiness.. which is a notoriously difficult thing to do.. ***only dependable way.. give them a choice, then watch what they actually do..
*this is fitting w whole takes a lot of work thinking.. ie: hard for whales in sea world to argue w numbers.. but legit free people wouldn’t even spend energy arguing.. to them any form of m\a\p would be irrelevant s
**rather.. why don’t we stop measuring things.. (graeber violence/quantification law et al)
***but we’ve not given a legit choice of freedom.. so still non legit data.. hari rat park law et al.. we
colonial history of n/s america is full of accounts of settlers, captured or adopted by indigenous societies, being five the choice of where they wished to stay and almost invariably choosing to stay w the latter.. this even applied to abducted children.. choosing adopted kind for protection over bio parents
again.. yeah.. good reaffirmation of indigenous societies being closer to legit free people.. but we haven’t yet give people (all of us) the option of a true ie: rat park.. meaning.. a space 8b souls already crave.. so.. we’re still perpetuating tragedy of the non common
how the conventional narrative of human history is not only wrong, but quite needlessly dull
long hrs of monotonous, repretitive, conceptually empty activity..
same song.. rinse repeat
all such authors are really saying is that they themselves cannot personally imagine any other way that precious objects might move about.. t
or imagine a world where that whole idea (objects being moved about) might be irrelevant
would legit free people even trade things? or ie: just leave things.. trading assumes ownership.. leaving assumes interconnectedness
the course of human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume..t
this book is also something else (besides trying to lay down foundations for a anew world history): a quest to discover the right questions.. for about a decade now..we.. that is the two authors of this book.. have been engaged in a prolonged convo w each other about exactly these questions..(what should be biggest question we should be asking about history.. how do we characterize what has been lost.. is it really lost.. what does it imply about possibilities for social change today..
same time frame for me.. but prolonged convo about what legit free people are like .. what they need to be set/stay free.. and how 8b people can get there
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people
2 – wicked liberty – the indigenous critique and the myth of progress
in which we show how critiques of eurocentrism can backfire, and end up turning aboriginal thinkers into ‘sock-puppets’
on rousseau and essay contest.. ‘what is origin of ineq’
on – remarkably arrogant assumptions.. ie: intellectual history being said to be from individuals writing great books and thinking great thoughts.. exclusively w reference to each other.. powerful and monolithic body of ideas that no one else could possibly have any meaningful influence on it.. but (doe) showing it was more european intellectuals being exposed to civs of china and india but to whole plethora of previously unimagined social, scientific, and political ideas.. aka the enlightenment
on the indigenous critique.. revealing possibilities for human emancipation that, once disclosed, could hardly be ignored..
that’s how i felt from findings.. couldn’t unsee
ideas expressed in that critique came to be perceived as such a menace to the fabric of european society that an entire body of theory was called into being, specifically to refute them..
theory – that freedoms are lost when societies grow bigger and more complex.. was invented largely for purpose of neutralizing the threat of the indigenous critique..
hierarchy from beginning (adam outranked eve).. ‘equality’ and ‘ineq’ only from early 17th cent
on questions what rights people ‘naturally’ have.. simply by being human
hobbes, locke could skip past biblical narratives everyone used to start with and begin instead with: what might humans have been like in a state of nature, when all they had was their humanity.. they concluded that original state was that of freedom and equality
on state of nature ness allowing political philosophers after 17th cent to imagine people w/o the trappings of civ as something other than degenerate savages as a kind of humanity ‘in the raw’ and this in turn allowed them to ask a host of new question about what it means to be human.. what if no govt… would have marriage? would be gregarious?.. would have religion?.. et al..
none of it, however, explains why they came almost universally to assume that human beings, innocent of civilization, would ever exist in such a state
explanation: we’ve not yet been/existed outside of sea world
in which we consider what the inhabitants of new france made of their european invaders, esp in matters of generosity, sociability, material wealth, crime, punishment and liberty
what seemed to irritate biard the most was that the mi’kmaq would constantly assert that they were, as a result ‘richer’ than the french.. the french had more material possessions, the mi’kmaq conceded: but they had other, greater assets: ease, comfort and time..
in which we show how europeans learned from (native) americans about he connection between reasoned debate, personal freedoms and the refusal of arbitrary power
equality here is a direct extension of freedom; indeed, is its expression.. it also has almost nothing in common w the more familiar (eurasian) notion of ‘equality before the law’ which is ultimately equality before the sovereign – that is once again, equality in common subjugation.. americans, by contrast were equal insofar as they were equally free to obey or disobey orders as they saw fit.. the democratic governance of he wendat and five nation of the haudenosauneed, which so impressed later european readers, was an expression fo the same principle: if no compulsion was allowed, then obviously such social coherence as did exist had to be create thru reasoned debate, persuasive arguments and the establishment of social consensus..
so… no one has ever been free to obey/disobey.. it’s all about voluntary compliance et al.. the whole notion of obedience has nothing to do with freedom
on debate being connected w the rejection of arbitrary authority
oi – just binds you up with it.. still under it if spending time on it (debating/refusing/defending et al)
however, there’s another way to use the word ‘communism’: not as a property regime, but in the original sense of ‘from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs’
have\need et al
insofar as we can speak of communism, it existed not in opposition to but in support of individual freedom
in which we intro the wendat philosopher/statesman kandiaronk, and explain how his views on human nature and society took on new life in the salons of enlightenment europe including an aide on the concept of ‘schismogenesis’)
in order to understand how the indigenous critique – that consistent moral/intellectual assault on european society, widely voiced by native american observers from 17th cent onwards – evolved, and its full impact on european thinking, we first need to understand something about the role of two mean: loahontan an kandiaronk
on kandiaronk being courageous warrior, brilliant orator and unusually skilful politician..
so.. a whale
power over possessions could be directly translated into power over other human beings
kandiaronk: ‘you have observed that we lack judges.. we never bring lawsuits against one another.. we made a decision neither to accept/make use of money.. the reason: we are determined not to have laws.. because our ancestors have been able to live contentedly w/o them
kandiaronk: ‘to imagine one can live in the country of money and preserve one’s soul is like imagining one could preserve one’s life at the bottom of a lake.. money is the father of .. all the world’s worst behaviors.. tell me we are not right in refusing to touch/look at silver..’ for europeans in 1703 this was heady stuff
but not deep enough.. otherwise he wouldn’t orate, warrior, et al
in the end.. far happier.. (kandiaronk had a point, as we’ve seen in the last ch; settlers adopted into indigenous societies almost never wanted to go back)
kondiaronk: ‘.. a man motivated by interest cannot be a man of reason’
if so.. do we want reason? if interest is legit itch-in-the-soul.. i think much more humane
interest: noun – the state of wanting to know or learn about something or someone. verb – excite the curiosity or attention of (someone).
so curiosity?.. but what we need is not reactionary interest/curiosity.. but rather gut .. first thing in the morning.. interest
reason: noun – the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic. verb – think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.
back in 1930’s, the anthro gregory bateson coined th term ‘schismogenesis’ to describe people’s tendency to define themselves against one another.. ie: even taking extreme positions they would never embrace under ordinary circumstances, just to show how much they completley reject the other’s points
in ‘national character’ can really be said to exist, it can only be a result of such schismogenetic processes: english people trying ot become as little as possible like french, et al.. if nothing else.. they will all definitely exaggerate their diff’s in arguing w one another..
kandiaronk’s focus on money is typical of such situations.. almost invariably frame their own traditions, as marshal sahlins puts it by opposition to the white man’s ‘living in the way of money’
if it were only true.. way of money = any form of m\a\p..
in which we explain the demiurgic powers of a r j turgot, and how he turned the indigenous critique of eurpean civilization on its head, laying the basis for most modern views of social evolution (or: how an argument about ‘freedom’ became one about ‘equality)
notes on from this section on indigenous critique page
how jean jacques rousseau, having won one prestigious essay competition, then lost another (coming in over the permitted word length), but finally wen ton to conquer the whole of human history
rousseau agrees in essence w kandiaronk’s view that civilized europeans were by and large atrocious creatures.. and he agrees that property is the root of the problem.. to americans like kandiaronk, there was no contradiction between individual liberty and communism..
in which we consider relationships between the indigenous critique, the myth of progress and the brith of the left
as we’ve noted.. for most of european history intellectuals seem to have been the only class of people who weren’t capable of imagining that other worlds might be brought into being.. t
the racist denigration of the savage, and naive celebration fo savage innocence are always treated as two sides of same imperialist coin.. .. what need to be investigated instead.. might better be called the ‘myth of the myth of the noble savage’..
myth of myth of whales et al
the phrase ‘noble savage’ was in fact popularized a century or so after rousseau, as a term of ridicule and abuse.. called for extermination of inferior peoples
beyond the ‘myth of the stupid savage’ (why all these things matter so much for our project in this book)
myth of tragedy and lord et al
many have remarked that to those on the receiving end, being told you are an inferior breed and that therefore anything you say can be ignored and being told you are an innocent child of nature or the embodiment of ancient wisdom, and that therefore everything you say must be treated as ineffably profound are almost equally annoying.. both attitudes appear designed to prevent any meaningful convo..t
back in 60s.. pierre castres suggested that precisely the opp was case.. what if the sort of people we like to imagine as simple/innocent are free of rules, govt, Bs, ruling classes and the like, not because they are lacking in imagination, but because they’re actually more imaginative than we are.. we find it difficult to picture what a truly free society would be like.. t
this is black science of people/whales law..
if there is really a toxic element in his (rousseau) legacy, it is this: not his promulgation of the image of the ‘noble savage’.. which he didn’t really do, but his promulgation of what we might call the ‘myth of the stupid savage’.. into a conceptual space where their judgments no longer seemed threatening.. this the work we are trying to undo..
judge\ment ness et al
(on egal societies).. it’s never entirely clear exactly what the term is supposed to refer to..
let’s try equity – as – everyone getting a go everyday
‘egal’ people are thosw w/o princes, judges, overseers or hereditary priest, and usually w/o cities or writing or preferably even farming.. they are societies of equals only in the sense that all the most obvious tokens of ineq are missing
we will be trying to write a diff kind of history, which will also require a diff understanding of ‘civilization’
if we’re still writing/understanding it.. not legit diff..
quite on the contrary: *in order to understand our current predicament as a species, it is **absolutely crucial to understand how these things first came about.. t.. however, we would also insist that in order to do so .. we should reject the impulse to treat our distant ancestors as some sort of primordial human soup.. people of prehistoric times.. ***varied considerably..
*perhaps we don’t need to understand it.. just need a legit alt
so that **this becomes irrelevant s and no longer a time/energy suck
***like discrimination as equity et al
and we’re missing it
and even when they (ideas of equality) do appear, they rarely apply to everyone..t
on spartan citizens.. spent most of lives practising for war
aka: sea world.. where we have no idea what legit free people are like
this is not, then, a book about the origins of ineq.. but it aims to answer many of the same questions in a diff way.. there is no doubt something has gone terribly wrong with the world..
to understand.. we should trace the problem back to what first made possible the emergence of kings, priests, overseers, and judges..
any form of people telling other people what to do
we need to approach the evidence of the human past w fresh eyes
ie: imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. imagine all the time/energy that would free up.. if we could just trust us as legit free people..
3 – unfreezing the ice age – in and out of chains: the protean possibilities of human politics
it’s difficult to resist the temptation to fill in the gaps, to claim we know more than we really do.. when scientist do this the results often bear a suspicious resemblance to those very biblical narrative modern science is supposed to have cast aside
perhaps the only thing we an say w real certainty is that, in terms of ancestry, we are all africans..
perhaps we can’t say anything w certainty
in other words, there is no ‘original’ form of human society.. searching for one can only be a matter of myth making.. but such insights can only ever be partial because there was no garden of eden, and a single eve never existed..
1\ we don’t know anything for sure.. (81) 2\ there could have been (garden-enough ness) but again.. we know nothing for sure
why the ‘sapient paradox’ is a red herring; as soon as we were human, we started doing human things
sapient paradox: It introduces the fresh argument, sometimes called the “sapient paradox,” that some of the complex behaviors now associated with humans took a long time to develop even after the emergence in Africa of humans who were fully modern in the anatomical and genetic senses.
red herring: intended to be misleading/distracting
why even very sophisticated researchers till find ways to cling to the idea that social ineq has an ‘origin’
in this they make common cause w evolutionary psychologists who insist that dominance behaviour is hardwired in our genes, so much so that the moment society goes beyond tiny bands, it must necessarily take the form of some ruling over others
while *bullying behaviour might well be instinctual, counter bullying is not. it’s a wll thought out strategy and forager societies who engage in it display what boehm calls ‘actuarial intelligence’.. that’s to say, **they understand what their society might look like if they did thing differently:
**i don’t think even foraging h g’s grok that.. at least not that diff.. not as if all were legit free ie: *
this, he concludes is the essence of politics: the ability to *reflect consciously on diff directions one’s society could take, and to make explicit arguments why it should take on path rather than another.. in this sense aristotle was right when he described human beings as ‘political animals’ since this is precisely **what other primates never do, at least not to our knowledge..
*either have any of us.. toward a legit other way to date **we have no idea.. since we’ve disconnected our connectedness our natural communications.. if having an idea is something legit free-people/interconnectedness would do/be-about
this is a brilliant and important argument.. but like so many authors.. boehm seems strangely reluctant to consider its full implications.. let’s do so now
argument ness is also a distraction.. keeps us occupied in tragedy of the non common et al
in which we observe how grand monuments, princely burials and other unexpected features of ice age societies have upended our assumptions of what hunter gatherers are like, and consider what it might mean to say there was ‘social stratification’ some 30 000 yrs ago
to me.. and why the argument/history ness/research ness/graeber model law ness is keeping us from us.. (and what i’m hoping the main point of book is).. is that anything we distinguish any group/label of people with.. is still not going deep enough to the essence of human ness.. there is no one thing/type.. there is the possibilities of everything.. but to me.. only if we org around legit needs.. otherwise we’ll keep having some form of people telling other people what to do
the pendulum has swung so far away form the old notion of egal bands that some archaeologists now argue that thousands of years before the origins of farming, human societies were already divided along lines of status, class and inherited power.. as we’ll see, this is highly unlikley, bu the evidence is real enough..
creation of remarkable buildings implies strictly coordinated activity on a really large scale.. even more so if multiple enclosures were constructed simultaneously according to an overall plan.. but larger question remains: who made them..
larger question.. can we just legit imagine a nother way and give it a try.. rather than speculating about who made what.. when.. and how.. when again.. we’re basing all this on observing (which i don’t think we’d even be obsessed/interested in if we were all legit free) whales in sea world
(on construction of buildings subject to many alterations over time et al).. but what has mostly intrigued scholars of diff disciplines so far is something else; the apparent proof they offer that ‘hunter gatherer societies had evolved institutions to support major public works, projects, and monumental constructions and thus had a complex social hierarchy prior to their adoption of farming’.. again, matters are not so simple because *these two phenomena – hierarchy and measure of time – were closely interwoven..
obviously the ice age produce nothing on scale of pyramids/colosseum.. but by standards of their day, the kind of structures we’ve been describing can only have been considered public works, involving sophisticate design and the coord of labour on an *impressive scale
some have responded by completely abandoning the idea of an egal golden age concluding instead that this must have been a society dominated by powerful leaders, even dynasties.. and therefore that self aggrandizement and coercive power have always been the enduring forces behind *human social evolution.. but this doesn’t really work either
nothing does as long as we’re in *sea world..
hari rat park law et al
to understand why the early record of human social life is patterned in this *strange, staccato fashion we first have to do away w some lingering preconceptions about ‘primitive’ mentalities.
*kind of like.. everything in spontaneous ness.. but not enough.. not letting go enough to legit see that.. (too focused on the strange staccato ness of sea world).. so again.. we spend our days perpetuate ing tragedy of the non common
in which we dispose of lingering assumptions that ‘primitive folk were somehow incapable of conscious reflection, and draw attention to the historical importance of eccentricity
on harari choosing chimps rather than other humans to compare humans to – sapient paradox: 1\ decided to live like moneys or 2\ could org selves in variety of ways but only ever chose one way
(on temp consciousness).. overwhelming majority of our time on autopilot.. when capable of self awareness.. usually for very brief periods of time: the window of consciousness.. on avg 7 seconds.. however.. gerat exception to this when we’re talking to someone else.. in cvono.. can hold thoughts and reflecr for hours on end.. human thought is inherently dialogic..
well.. this is what whales in sea world are like.. perhaps part of our cope\ing ness.. we have no idea what legit humans are like.. and/or if holding something that long is humane/desirable/danceable.. et al.. ie: thinking not yet scrambled ness et al
to victorian intellectual, the notion of people self consciously imagining a social order more to their liking and then trying to bring it into being was simply not applicable before the modern age.. and most divided as to whether it would even be a good idea in own time
either way.. whalespeak.. based off non legit data/assumptions
kandiaronk’s wendat nation saw their society as a confederation created by conscious agreement; agreements open to continual renegotiation
not legit free enough.. need: curiosity over decision making/agreement et al
nowadays no reputable scholar would make such claims: everyone at least pays lip service to the psychic unity of mankind
they are still caught in same turgo like evolutionary straitjacket, their place in history defined by their mode of subsistence…
what struck him about primitive societies was their tolerance of eccentricity.. logical extension of that same rejection of coercion..
there is every reason to believe that skeptics and non conformists exist in every human society; what varies is how others react to them..
it’s often people who are just slightly odd who become leaders; the truly odd can become spiritual figures, but, even more, they can and often do serve as a kind of reserve of potential talent and insight that can be called on in the event of a crisis or unprecedented turn of affairs.. t
crazywise (doc) et al
we need a means to undo our hierarchical listening.. so we can hear that insight.. always.. (it’s already in all of us)
as a result.. a person who might otherwise have spent his life as something analogous to the village idiot would suddenly be found to have remarkable powers of foresight and persuasion; even to be capable of inspiring new social movements among the youth or co ordinating elders across nuerland to put aside their differences and mobilize around some common goal; even, sometimes, to propose entirely diff visions of what nuer society might be like
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people
what claude levi strauss learned from the nambikwara about the role of chiefs, and seasonal variations of social life
strauss is one of few mid 20th cent anthros to take seriously the idea that early humans were our *intellectual equals.. hence his famous argument in the savage mind
for strauss.. what was esp instructive about the nambikwara.. for all they were averse to competition (had little wealth to compete over anyway).. they did appoint chiefs to lead them.. the very simplicity of the resulting arrangement he felt.. might expose ‘some basic functions’ of political life that ‘remain hidden in more complex elab systems of govt’..
what impressed strauss above all was heir political maturity.. it was the chiefs’ skill in directing small bands of foragers
but in doing so they were effectively moving back and forth, each year, between what evolutionary anthros insist on thinking of as totally diff stages of social development: from hunters and foragers to farmers and back again.. flexibility and adaptability
so yeah to flexibility of graeber/wengrow back & forth law et al.. but i’m thinking adaptability ness is what is keeping us from us.. from legit freedom.. keeping us stuck.. perpetuating tragedy of the non common.. and part of that adaptability mindset comes from our obsession with observing/analyzing/intellecting
colin turnbull’s the forest people.. assumed that foragers rep’d a separate stage of social development.. ‘live in small groups.. move around a lot‘.. reject any social distinction other than age/gender, resole conflicts by fission rather than arbitration or violence.. the fact that these african societies were in some cases at least.. refugee populations living in places no one else wanted..t
m of care – dec 6 – reading ch 5 – but maybe matthew was referring to this.. ‘so very unrepresentative’
in which we return to prehistory, and consider evidence for both ‘extreme individuals’ and seasonal variation of social life in the ice age and beyond
the corpse and the clothed corpse even more so.. clearly something unusual and inherently strange
yeah.. all of dying.. (and of course living) so messed up
concerning ‘buffalo police’ (in which we rediscover the role of seasonality in human social and political life)
to a large extent, he (mauss) concluded intuit lived the way they did because they felt that’s how humans out to live
socrates supposed to law et al
(on seasonal shifts of ways to live.. summer one way winter another).. literally becoming someone else depending on the time of year
and again.. taking that to the limit: the it is me ness
exposes deeper silliness of the initial assumption: that societies must necessarily progress thru a series of evolutionary stages to begin with.. t.. you can’t speak of an evolution from band to tribe to chiefdom to state if your starting points are groups that move fluidly between them as a matter of habit
yeah.. huge point.. (again.. even deeper though.. to everyday itch-in-the-soul ness)
most professional anthros nowadays have come to recognize that these *categories are hopelessly inadequate.. but the main effect of this acknowledgment had just been to cause them to change the subject or suggest that perhaps we shouldn’t really be thinking about the broad sweep of human history at all any more.. nobody has yet proposed an **alt.. t
*not just inadequate.. cancerous.. ie: marsh label law et al
why the real question is not ‘what are the origins of social ineq?’ but ‘how did we get stuck?’
clastres argued that chiefs found themselves in situation because they weren’t the only ones who were mature and insightful *political actors; **almost everyone was
issue with whatever *political actors means.. sounds like deep whalespeak
in other words, there is *no single pattern.. t.. what all this confirms is that searching for ‘the origins of social ineq’ really is asking the wrong question.. maybe the real question **‘how did we get stuck’
if we started out playing games, at what point did we forget that we were playing?
i’d say from the get go.. seconds in.. we’ve been in sea world
will be tackling such question in chapters to come.. for the moment.. main thing to stress is that this flexibility and *potential for political self consciousness, was never entirely lost.. mauss point out much the same thing.. **seasonality is still with us.. even if it is a pale contracted shadwo of its former self
**almaas holes law.. so i’d say essence is still with us
some have gone so far as to argue that what we call ‘social structure’ only really exists during rituals: think here of families that only exist as a physical group during marriages and funerals.. during which times question of rank and priority have to be worked out by who sits at which table, who speaks first, first slice of cake et al..
marriage\ing et al
ie: of rituals et al.. (that take up tons of our time/energy) are red flags we’re doing it/life wrong
so there’s another school of thought which says that rituals are really exactly the opposite.. the really powerful ritual moments are those of collective chaos, effervescence, liminality or creative play, out of which new social forms can come into the world
what’s really important about such festivals is that they kept the old spark of political self consciousness alive.. they allowed people to imagine that other arrangements are feasible, even for society as a whole.. since it was always possible to fantasize about carnival bursting its seams and becoming the new reality
yes.. this is good.. but to me still whalespeak..
medieval peasants often found it much easier than medieval intellectuals to imagine a society of equals.. now perhaps we being to understand why
perhaps all these questions blind us to what really makes us humans in the first place, which is our capacity .. as moral and social beings.. to negotiate between such alts..t
whoa.. negotiating between alts.. ? i don’t see that as what makes us human.. or rather.. i don’t see that as the essence of human being ness.. i don’t think it has anything to do with negotiating.. it has to do with dancing
so to me.. this thinking is huge to that same blinding ness.. oi
perhaps we are doomed always to be *arguing about such things.. but certainly it is more interesting to start skin other questions as well.. the time has come to stop the **swinging pendulum that has fixated (us)
*i don’t think legit free people would entertain this
**same song ness
we do not have to choose any more between an egal or hierarchical start to the human story
no more spinach or rock ness
be this as it may, it’s becoming increasing clear that the earliest known evidence of human social life resembles carnival parade of political forms, far more than it does the drab abstraction of evolutionary theory..
why, after millennia of constructing and disassembling forms of hierarchy.. did homo sapiens.. supposedly the wisest of apes.. allow permanent and intractable systems of ineq to take root.. was this really a *consequence of adopting agri? settling down in permanent villages
4 – free people, the origin of cultures, and the advent of private property (not necessarily in that order)
in short.. they remind us that human beings are far more interesting than (other)human beings are sometimes inclined to imagine..t
in which we describe how the overall course of human history has meant that most people live their lives on an ever smaller scale as populations get larger
if we *survey what happens over time, the scale on which social relation operate doesn’t get bigger and bigger; it actually gets smaller and smaller
we might ask why all this has happened. what are the *mechs that cause human beings to spend so much effort trying to demo that they are diff from their neighbors..t important question.. will consider it in more detail in following chapter
in which we ask what, precisely is equalized in ‘egal’ societies
we are back to something not entirely diff from ‘origins of social ineq’ problem.. but by now we can at least focus a little more sharply on *what the problem really is
ineq is a slippery slope.. not entirely clear what egal society should even mean.. t
exactly.. we have no idea what legit free people are like.. black science of people/whales law
let’s try equity as in everyone getting a go every day
as a first approx we can speak of egal society if .. t
1\ *most people ought to be same in important way.. t
2\ that ideal can be *largely achieved in practice..t
it can *totally happen for all .. if we org around legit needs (of #1)
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people
egal society are those where everyone (or *almost everyone) agrees
legit agreeing ness (that deep) is invisible to whales.. mostly because they’re/we’re trying to see/naming the colour et al
and again on the *part\ial ness..
obvious problem here.. *diff societies have diff systems of value
*only in sea world.. there are only 2 needs/values/essence if we go deep enough.. to get to that essence all of our souls crave
there’s only one way out of this dilemma: to create some sort of universal, objective standards by which to measure equality
one of main reasons people today write as if foragers can be assumed to live egal bands.. because it’s also assumed that w/o productive assets (land, livestock) and stockpiles surpluses (grain, wool, dairy, etc) made possible for farming, there as no real material basis for anyone to lord it over anyone else..
one of things that sets *us apart from non human animals is that animals produce only and exactly what they need; *humans invariably produce more.. *we are creatures of excess..t
*whales.. not us.. not legit free people
woodburn adds a twist: the real defining feature of such societies is precisely the lack of any material surplus.. truly egal societies for woodburn are those w immediate return econ.. rather than delayed return econ.. (get ‘needs’ in future) .. such investments (in delayed return) he argues, inevitably lead to ongoing ties that can become the basis for *some individuals to exercise power over others.. ie: stockpiles, long term projects
yeah.. need to let go of any form of people telling other people what to do
makes me think of marshmallow experiment.. our obsession with the ability to delay/wait.. and about our not being free enough to grok what we legit want/need (all cameras on us as we sit at a table in a room.. being offered spinach or rock et al.. so many thoughts here)
woodburn’s immediate return h g’s understand precisely where the chains of captivity loom and org much of their lives to keep away from them.. this might sound like the basis of something hopeful or optimistic.. actually, it’s anything but.. it suggests again that any equality worth the name is essentially impossible for all but the very simplest foragers.. what kind of future might we then have in store?.. t
yeah.. until today.. where we can 1\ org the chaos of 2\ legit free people.. has to be both at once..
few anthros are happy w ‘egal societies’ but it lingers because no one has suggested a compelling alt..t
what matters to montagnais-naskapi women.. not equal status w men.. but that they can live lives w/o male interference.. in other words.. what we would refer to as ‘freedom’
aka: missing pieces
most people today believe they live in free societies.. but freedoms are largely formal freedoms
so not free.. and so chained more than ever (because thinking we’re free is keeping us in sea world)
on man in marriage system had right to claim paternity over woman’s children but also acquired exclusive sexual access.. which in turn meant right to interfere w wife’s affairs in other respects as well..
nika & silvia on divorce et al..
1\ freedom to abandon one’s community .. to shift back and forth (to move)
2\ freedom to disobey authorities w/o consequence.. aversion to being told what to do
any form of people telling other people what to do
on victorian era.. claims .. everyone would enjoy an existence of leisure and affluence.. and where we wouldn’t have to spend most of our waking lives running about at someone else’s orders
that (bs jobs accepted as common sense) is what made marshall sahlins’s 1968 essay ‘the original affluent society’ such an epochal event.. and why we must now consider both its implications/limitations..
in which we discuss marshall sahlins’s ‘original affluent society’ and reflect on what can happen when even very insightful people write about prehistory in the absence of actual evidence
sahlins’s 4 stages of human political development: bands, tribes, chiefdoms, states
may 1968 insurrection.. sahlins and clastres participants.. heated matters: nature/refusal/elimiantion of work
sahlins insisted people in earlier ages not poorer.. in fact.. lived lives of great material abundance..
affluence w/o abundance et al
true, a forager might seem extremely poor by our standards.. but to apply our standards was obviously ridiculous..
abundance is not an absolute measure.. it refers to a situation where one has easy access to everything *one feels one needs to live a happy comfortable life.. t
huge problem.. we have no idea what we need..
only what we think we need in sea world
the fact that h g’s only seem to have spent 2-4 hrs a day doing ‘work’ was itself proof of how easy their needs were to satisfy..t
huge – easy for 8b.. if we org around legit needs
what stands test of time less well is image most readers take away from sahlins’s essay: of happy go lucky h g’s spending most of time lounging ..et al..
one reason (for incorrect history) was simply the availability of data..
it was tempting to imagine that in these populations.. one might catch a glimpse of human society in something like its original state
nah.. nothing to date.. all data/research/history/glimpses from sea world
on foragers able to feed everyone and still have 3-5 days a week to play.. and that they knew agri.. just didn’t see any reason they should plant/harvest.. ‘why should we plant.. when ther eare so many mongogo nuts in the world.. ‘ .. sahlins: ‘rejected the neolithic revolution in order to keep their leisure’
sahlins surmised.. when settled and accepted agri did so at terrible cost.. poverty, disease, war, slavery.. all fueled by endless competition .. w one deft move sahlins’s ‘original affluent society’ used the results of time allocation studies to pull the rug from under the traditional story of human civ.. he brushes aside rousseau’s version of the fall.. and too that consequences of stockpiling/property chained us.. and takes us straight back to the garden of eden.. punishment of original sin.. infinity of our new desires
according to sahlins.. biblical story didn’t happen just once.. every tech breakthru causes to fall further..
there was no truly ‘original’ state of affairs.. anyone who insists one exist is by defn trading in myths (sahlins at least was fairly honest about this).. humans had 10s of 1000s of yrs to experiment w diff ways of life.. long before agri .. might do better to look at the overall direction of change.. so to understand how it bears on our question: how humans came largely to lose the flexibility and freedom that seems once to have characterized our social arrangements.. and ended up stuck in permanent relation of dominance and subord
in which we show how new discoveries concerning ancient h g ‘s in n america and japan are turning social evolution on its head
louisiana.. poverty point.. showing someone had to convey knowledge of geometric and math techniques for making accurate spatial measurements and related forms of labour org over very long distances.. if so.. seems also shared other forms of knowledge.. creating little cities.. which hosted rich and influential intellectual life.. very few people have heard of it..
typically call prehistory ‘archaic’.. as period ‘before anything particularly important was happening’.. so when ie: poverty points appear.. almost something of an archaeological embarrassment
on louisiana, japan and europe.. bearing witness to vibrant and complex history.. some begin to talk awkwardly of ‘new archaic’.. and unsuspected era of ‘monuments w/o kings’.. but truth is still know precious little.. what we do know is that this *changes forever the nature of the convo about social evolution in the americas, japan, europe and most other places.. ie: clearly foragers didn’t shuffle backstage waiting for farmers to reopen history..
but not enough
scholars and professional researchers have to actually make a considerable effort to remain so ignorant.. intellectual acrobatics required
how the myth that foragers live in a state of infantile simplicity is kept alive today (or, informal fallacies)
basis for dispossession (of land): weren’t really working.. rather.. ‘destroyed like savage beasts’.. the stereotype of the carefree, lazy native.. pretext for the use of B terror to force local people into work: everything from enslavement to tax regimes, corvée (unpaid) labour and debt peonage.. this ‘agri argument’ makes no sense, even on its own terms
we should nonetheless recognize that the econ base of at least some foraging societies was capable of supporting anything from priestly castes to royal courts w standing armies
whalespeak comparisons/assumptions.. sucking our energies.. ie: showing past/history is wrong.. ok.. but what we need most is a legit alt
in which we dispose of one particularly silly argument that foragers who settle in territories that lend themselves well to foraging are somehow unusual
usually what’s meant by ‘atypical’ are the remote corners of tropical forests or desert margins.. which is assume to be where h g ‘s really ought to be living, since that is where most of them live today.. weird .. but a lot of very erious people make it.. anyone still living h g ness.. almost certinal living on land no one else wanted..
m of care – dec 6 and matthew’s point.. on being very unrep of h g ‘s.. and to me.. ie of how all data is that way.. so we have no idea what legit free people are like.. even looking at h g’s in/out of unwanted lands..
in which we finally return to the question of property, and inquire as to its relation to the sacred
what have we learned so far: 1\ myth that agri sent everything askew 2\ some societies smart enough to build royal courts and standing armies 3\ sacred places tell us about origins of private property
again to woodburn’s insight w immediate return h g ‘s.. striking exception to rule: no adult should ever presume to give direct orders to another and individuals should not lay private claim to property.. various forms of ritual and intellectual property.. woodburn observed.. are generally protected by secrecy, deception, and threat of violence
these sacred items.. what we would today refer to as ‘private’ property.. in such societies turns out to be a profound formal similarity between notion of private property and the notion of the sacred.. both are, essentially, structures of exclusion..t placed on a pedestal.. property means prevent anyone in entire world from entering.. ‘possessive individualism’
sometime these attitudes coexist, as in amazonia, where the paradigm for ownership (or ‘mastery’) involves capturing wild animals and then adopting them as pets; that is precisely the point where violent appropriation of the natural world turns into nurture or ‘taking care‘.. t
such ownership always carries a double meaning of domination and care..
in roman law 3 basic rights relating to possession: 1\ to use 2\ to enjoy 3\ to damage/destroy.. if only first two that’s usufruct and not considered true possession under the law.. the defining feature of true legal property is that one has option of not taking care of it or even destroying it..
on weight of duty conveyed thru terror torture and mutilation via strehlow’s observations: ‘1-2 months after circumcision.. initiation or sub incision.. physical operations designed to make him worthy of a man’s estate.. learned to obey commands of old men implicitly.. t.. his newly found blind obedience stands in striking contrast to the unbridled insolence and general unruliness of temper which characterized his behaviour in the days of his childhood.. t.. native children are usually spoiled by their parents.. mothers gratify every whim of their offspring and fathers don’t both about any disciplinary measures.. the deliberate cruelty.. is carefully calculated to punish insolent and lawless boys for their past impudence and to train them into obedient, dutiful ‘citizens’ who will obey their elders w/o a murmur, and be fit heir to the ancient sacred tradition of their clan‘
oh my.. oh my..
it is only w/in such context that exclusive (sacred) forms of property exist, strict and top down hierarchies are enforced, and where orders given are dutifully obeyed
the pertinent question to ask is not so much when this happened, as how it eventually came to order so many other aspects of human affairs..
5 – many seasons ago – why canadian foragers kept slaves and their californian neighbours didn’t; or, the problem w ‘modes of production’
m of care – nov 13 – was on ch 5
in which we firs consider the question of cultural differentiation
back to ch 4 on – what is it that causes humans to spend so much effort trying to demo they’re diff from neighbors.. assumed to be and effect of language..
those who share same language are presumed, all other things being equal, also to share same customs, sensibilities and traditions of fam life..
glottochronology: how distinct languages diverge form a common source.. if cultural diff’s largely correspond to what happens in language, then distinct human cultures would have to be produce of similar process of gradual drift
arguably.. the ver idea that the world is divided into such homogeneous units, each w its own history, is largely a product of the modern nation state
in this ch we want to explore what actually did drive processes of cultural subdivision .. crucial to understanding how human freedoms, once taken for granted, eventually came to be lost
makes sense.. but (to me) never really had legit freedom.. always in sea world.. because from the get go (garden or whenever) maté trump law law took effect and along with not realizing brown belonging law.. so that led to missing pieces.. making all other data/research ness/history ness et al.. irrelevant s.. (to me).. like data from whales in sea world
where we consider the wildly inadequate, sometimes offensive but occasionally suggestive ways in which the question of ‘culture areas’ has been broached before
why are the people of ca so similar to one another and so diff from neighbouring people of canadian coast
mauss: traveled a great deal.. so borrowing and refusal
mauss: ‘societies live by borrowing from each other, but they define themselves rather by the refusal of borrowing than by its acceptance’
naming the colour is a killer
maus concluded: it is precisely in comparing selves w neighbours that people come to think of selves as distinct groups
in which we apply mauss’s insight to the pacific coast and consider why walter goldschmidt’s description of aboriginal californians as ‘protestant foragers’, while in may way s absurd, still has something to tell us
schismogenesis describes how societies in contact end up w common system of diff’s.. each society performs mirror image of other.. becomes indispensable alter ego.. ie: of what one should never wish to be
where we make a case for schismogenesis between ‘protestant foragers’ and ‘fisher kinds’
how do we explain the diff’s between these two culture areas?.. these are fundamental questions about the nature of *society.. theorist have been **batting them about for centuries and probably will for centuries to come
concerning the nature of slavery and ‘modes of production’ more generally
it’s fiendishly difficult to ‘find slavery’ in the archeological record, unaided by written records..
to me.. always existed.. via any form of m\a\p
let’s define slavery itself.. what makes a slave diff form a serf, a peon, captive or inmate is their lack of social ties.. in legal terms at least, a slave has no fam/kin/community; they can make no promise and forge no ongoing connections w other human beings..
globally slaves have so often been the product of military aggression.. seen one way, a slave raider is stealing the years of caring labour another society invested to create a work-capable human being
recall amazonian ideas of ownership.. appropriate something from nature.. then this violence is transformed into a relation of caring, as you maintain and tend what is captured.. in short.. domesticated..
main purpose to which slaves were put was caring for children.. grooming a leisure class.. producing kinds of people: nobles, princesses, warriors, commoner, servants, and so on.. double edged ness of these caring relationships.. trapped in role of ‘caring for others’.. a non person whose work is largely directed towards enabling those other to becomes persons, warriors, princesses, ‘human being’ of a particularly valued/special kind
if we want to understand the origins of violent domination in human societies, this is precisely where we need to look.. mere acts of violence are passing.. acts of violence transformed into caring relations have a tendency to endure.. t
in which we consider ‘the story of the wogies’ an indigenous cautionary tale about eh danger of trying to get rich quick by enslaving others (and indulge ourselves in an aside on ‘guns, germs and steel’)
in which we ask: would you rather fish, or gather acorns?
little point in raiding a store of raw acorns.. so no real incentive to develop org’d ways of defending stores .. fishing (‘needed defending).. so fishing places warlike because they didn’t have option of relying on a war-proof staple food
certainly an elegant theory.. clever.. just doesn’t match up to historical reality
oi.. which.. to me.. is just data from sea world.. so not reality of what legit free people would be like.. so to me.. makes sense.. if in an undisturbed ecosystem.. would need to war, defense, et al.. kind of graeber stop at enough law et al
in which we turn to the cultivation of diff in the pacific ‘shatter zone’
if we accept that what we call ‘society’ refers to the mutual creation of human beings, and that ‘value’ refers to the most conscious aspect of that process, then it really is hard to see the nw coasts and california as anything but opposites’
environ determinists have an unfortunate tendency to treat humans as little more than automata, living out some economists’ fantasy of ration calc..
to be fair, they don’t deny that human beings are quirky and imaginative creatures.. they just seem to reason that , in the long run, this fact *makes very little diff
*in sea world
still.. if one treats the arbitrariness of linguistic diffs as the foundation of all social theory… result is just as mech determinist as environ determinism.. ‘language speaks us’..
idiosyncratic jargon could free us
in other words, both approaches presume that we are already effectively stuck.. this is why we ourselves place so much emphasis on the notion of self determination
perhaps marx put it best: w e make our own history but not under condition of our own choosing
true in sea world
historical events by defn happen only once, and there’s no real way to know if they ‘might’ have turned out otherwise
to me.. all moot (because all history ness in sea world).. only if legit free.. then will we have .. all the ways.. but to do that we need to org around legit needs.. so we can get back/to fittingness first
since this book is mainly about freedom, it seem appropriate to se tthe dial a bit furthe to the left.. and to explore the possibility that human beings have more collective say over their own destiny that we ordinarily assume..
‘complexity’ as reflected in the coord of labour or elab ritual systems.. need not mean domination
domination begins at home
slavery finds its origins in war.. but everywhere we encounter it slavery is also, at first, a domestic institution.. hierarchy and property may derive form notions of the sacred, but the most brutal forms of exploitation have their origins in the most intimate of social relations: as perversions of nurture, love and caring.. t
finally.. all this suggests that historically speaking hierarchy and equality tend to emerge together, as complements to one another
we might refer to it as ‘ineq from below’.. domination first appears on the most intimate, domestic level.. self consciously egal politics emerge to prevent such relations from extending beyond those small worlds into the public sphere (which often comes.. exclusive for adult men)
nika & silvia on divorce et al
6 – gardens of adonis – the revolution that never happened: how neolithic peoples avoided agri
m of care – dec 6 was on ch 6
let us turn then to the origins of farming
platonic prejudices, and how they cloud our ideas about the invention of farming
gardens of adonis.. a sort of festive speed farming which produced no food.. offered a convenient smile for all things precocious but ultimately sterile.. in dog days of summer when nothing can grow.. women of ancient athens fashioned these little gardens in baskets and pots.. carried to flat roofs and left to wilt in sun..
like our ritual of giving (dead) flowers?
began rooftop rites.. nowadays scholars see as subversion of patriarchal values..
rojava’s third way et al
was farming from beginning about producing more food? most scholars assume so.. but maybe farming began as a more playful/subversive (self indulgent) kinds of process.. or as side effect of ie: desire to settle
in which we discuss how catalhoyuk, the world’s oldest town, got a new history
had macabre (depicting death) sense of interior design.. magical house where ‘walls became the world all around’
generations of archaes have wanted to see catalhoyuk as a monument to the ‘origins of farming’..
their cattle it turns our were not domestic.. et al
in which we enter something of an academic no go zone, and discuss the possibility of neolithic matriarchies
otto gross .. (fav student of freud), an anarchist .. developed theory that superego was patriarchy and needed to e destroyed to unleash the benevolent matriarchal collective unconscious.. which he saw as the hidden but sill living residue of the neolithic
yeah .. kinda that.. non binary ness.. but neolithic isn’t where legit unleashing will come from
degree of erasure has been extraordinary.. belief in primitive matriarchy is treated as a kind of intellectual offence.. written out of history
this has created a situation where scholars find it difficult to speculate as to how hierarchy and exploitation came to take root in the domestic sphere.. unless they go rousseau route and say settled farmers auto’d power of men over wives/children
old victorian story about goddess worshipping farmers/invaders was actually true
not about man vs woman.. focus wastes our energies.. which is what happens in ie: refusal ness.. refuse patri for matri matters little if still in sea world
gimbutas’s (one of women scorned/ignored) arguments involved myth making of a sort.. which explains wholesale takedown of her work by academic community.. but when male scholars engage in similar.. they not only go unchallenged but often win prestigious literary/honorary ness.. it was near universal vilification.. dismissive contempt.. after decades of virtual silence.. people are suddenly talking about such issues
again.. nika & silvia on divorce et al
so what about other half of gimbutas’s argument.. that early neolithic societies were relatively free of ranks and hierarchies?
nah.. would be just that if women (or whoever you are) is in charge.. the domination then becomes invisible..
gynarchy or gynaecocracy describes the political rule of women.. the world matriarchy means something diff.. ie: patri refers to authority.. matri might refer to equiv (which doesn’t necessarily imply dominance in a violent or exclusionary sense) where women hold a preponderance of overall day to day power.. ie: was run by council of women.. whose members controlled stockpiles of whatever..
in which we consider what life in the world’s most famous neolithic town might have actually been like
art of catalhoyuk appear to show that the female form was a special focus of ritual attention.. interest in female elders
so if ritual ness.. already dominance ness.. none of this would be in undisturbed ecosystem
murals depicting stages of life, initiary trials..
ie’s of sea world
no evidence for central authority.. each house had *storage, *rituals, ..unclear what social rules and habits were responsible for maintaining the autonomy of household.. seems *rules were *learned mainly w/in house.. not just thru ceremonies but also micro routines of cooking, cleaning.. et al.
which are *evidence of authority.. any form of m\a\p
inhabitants of these neolithic houses show no sign of being divided into ranks.. residents of catalhoyuk placed great value on *routine
oi.. storage, rituals, rules, learn/teaching .. and routine.. – all signs of rank/hierarchy.. structural violence that keeps us from non hierarchical listening.. which keeps us from us.. from fittingness.. which is key (brown belonging law) to an undisturbed ecosystem
how the seasonality of social life in early farming communities might have worked
only something like *5% of neolithic catalhoyuk has been excavated.. a reminder of how **little we really know.. that we have to think about ***what is missing form the archae record.. t
perhaps.. *5% of sea world.. so **much littler (like nothing.. no legit data to date) which means ***everything about legit free people is missing
the distinction is important.. not just eco but historical, political, because how we picture its practical realities has direct implication for how we view the social consequences of neolithic farming
and to me.. none of this is important (rather distracting) to actually trying a nother way to live (i get why people do this.. (short findings restate et al).. but spending our time studying history ness just to convince people to wake up.. unsettles me.. thinking like graeber model law et al
on breaking apart the fertile crescent
on why some didn’t adopt domestic cattle/pigs.. one has to assume.. cultural refusal
diffs can’t easily be expressed in terms of modes of subsistence or habitation.. some suggest shcismogenesis
on slow wheat, and pop theories of how we became farmers
deeper into process of domestication.. in crops, domestication is what happens when plants under cultivation *lose features that allow them to reproduce in the wild.. among the most important is the facility to disperse seed **w/o human assistance.. t
in domestic varieties, these aids to survival are lost.. a genetic mutation takes place, *switching off the mechanism for spontaneous seed dispersal turning wheat from hardy survivor into hopeless dependent..t
on harari et al and wheat manipulating/domesticating people rather than vice versa
we already know how this one goes.. (para): humans good, lured by surplus of leisure.. ruin harmonious state of nature.. become slaves
wild varieties grow there today, giving researchers a chance to make direct *observations about how those plant behave.. armed w such knowledge.. they can examine.. compare domestications.. **w actual process and see how they match up
*oi.. our obsession w observing in order to know is blinding us
**not actual process.. still in sea world.. so makes no diff .. all same song
all it would have taken then, is for humans to follow the cues provided by the crops themselves..
if crops hadn’t already been hampered with.. but right idea.. all it would take is for us to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
as people intensified the harvesting of wold grasses for straw.. they also produce one of the key conditions for some of these grasses to lose their natural mechs..
on answers lying in weeds
why neolithic farming took so long to evolve, and did not, as rousseau imagined, involve the enclosure of fixed fields
refers to work done by humans to improve the life chances of *favoured crops.. need not lead to domestication
3000 yrs far too long for agri revolution or even some kind of transitional state on road to farming.. was .. foragers moving in/out of cultivation
cultivating domestic cereals as the ‘affluent’ foragers knew well, is enormously hard work
flood retreat farming is a distinctly lackadaisical way to raise crops. the work of soil *prep is given over to nature. seasonal flooding does the **work..refreshing the soil.. makes little sense to set up ***boundary stones when ground itself is ****shifting underneath you.. flexible systems of field *****reallocation..t
huge.. to letting go of *prep.. **supposed to’s of work (solving other people’s/nature’s problems/needs.. messes with the dance).. ***borders.. ****antifragility and hard won order.. and our need to get back/to a natural daily/whatever re\set
on woman, the scientist
on book of genesis being about hatred of woman.. even weak.. punishment is to bear children and by ruled by husband.. (to women’s intell coming from connection to ie: gardening)
agri: production of food.. domestication: domination over the unruly/wild nature
what if we shifted emphasis away from agri and domestication to say botany or even gardening.. at once we find ourselves *closer to the realities of neolithic eco which seem little concerned w taming wild nature et al
on botanists.. separate out into competing classes.. preferred to grow sided by side.. found ways of ‘persuading‘ nature to do labor for likelihood of securing a favourable outcomes.. their *lab was the real world of plants/animals whose innate tendencies they exploited thru close observation and experimentation..
resonating w school structures.. structural violence et al.. forms of people telling other people what to do.. *huge.. thru observe/experiment.. what we need is more hiding ness.. because fittingness is essential to the dance
part of difficulty w *studying sci innovation in prehistory is that we have to imagine a world w/o labs; or rather w labs potentially everywhere and anywhere
the *answer here lies precisely in its ‘concreteness’
rather the *death
on flood retreat farming.. becoming *intimate w properties of soils.. carefully **observing .. clay also used to ***model relationships.. making ****geometric tokens that precursors later math notation.. et al
to farm or not to farm: it’s all in your head (where we return to gobekli tepe)
on semantic snares and metaphysical mirages
aka: sea world
all this raises an obvious question: if adoption of farming actually set humanity.. or **some small part of it.. on course *away from violent domination (referred to 2 pages earlier in hunting as domination), **what went wrong:
7 – the ecology of freedom – how farming first hopped, stumbled and bluffed its way around the world
fertile crescent of middle east is unusual precisely because *we know so much about what happened there
on some issues of terminology when discussing the movement of domestic crops and animals around the globe
to begin with, domestic plants/animals could not ‘spread’ beyond their original ecological limits w/o significant effort on the part of their human planters/keepers.. eco assault brought diseases et al (256).. t
why agri did not develop sooner
on holocene age being a ‘clean sheet’ for humanity.. ice receded, flora and fauna.. spread to new vistas.. created conditions for the origins of agri.. golden age for foragers.. so farmers setting up shop in forager paradise
on eco imperialism vs bookchin’s eco of freedom: human societies move freely in /out of framing.. fluid eco arrangements.. biodiversity .. not bio power.. initial key to growth
in which we consider a neolithic cautionary tale: the grisly and surprising fate of central europe’s first farmers
like saying no stupid savage and no phases of historical development.. so too to a person’s lifespan.. ie: not yet scrambled ness et al..
some very diff places where neolithic farming found tis feet
on the cases of amazonia and the possibilities of ‘play farming’
european, african, oceanic, diff… but in common: serious commitment to farming.. fully domesticated.. reliant on human intervention for survival.. no longer able to reproduce unassisted in wild..
elab and unpredictable subsistence routines are an excellent deterrent against the colonial state: an eco of freedom in the literal sense.. difficult to tax/monitor a group that refuses to stay in one location, obtaining its livelihood w/o making long term commitments to fixed resources.. t
huge to graeber unpredictability/surprise law.. ie: if we set people free first.. antifragility sets in .. so that us & them.. protection.. refusal.. fighting.. all the energy sucks we keep perpetuating.. become irrelevants..
but why does it all matter? (a quick reprise on the dangers of teleological reasoning)
can’t just jump from begin of story to end and then assume you know what happened in middle..
farming often started out as an econ of deprivation.. only invented when there was nothing else to be done.. where wild resources were thinnest on the ground..
largest communities concentrated around lakes, rivers, coastlands.. where many of world’s first cities arouse.. and to which we now turn to find out what living in large/densely populated settlements really did (and did not) imply for the development of human societies
and again.. warped perspective to begin with
8 – imaginary cities – eurasia’s first urbanites .. in mesopotamia.. the indus valley, ukraine and china.. and how they built cities w/o kings
cities begin in the mind
there is always a fundamental distinction between way one relates to friends, fam, neighbor, people we know directly.. and to empires, nations, .. phenoms that exist most of time in our heads.. much of social theory can be seen as an attempt to square these two dimensions of our experience
standard textbook version of human history: we’re designed to work in small teams.. large agglomerations of people treated as unnatural.. .. so require elab scaffolding to make larger communities work ie: urban planners, social workers, tax auditors and police.. et al.. evidence no longer suggests anything of the sort
actually even deeper.. not designed to work.. so if any form of m\a\p involved (aka: sea world).. that ginormous\small ness doesn’t dance and we have myth of tragedy and lord.. but if we let go of any form of m\a\p.. they (ginormous\small ) dance the same dance
we need to ask how we got things so extraordinarily wrong to begin with
in which we first take on the notorious issue of ‘scale’
on the other hand, it occasionally turns out that things which seem like simple commons sense are, in fact, not.. ie: for long time considered almost universal common sense that women make poor soldiers.. women smaller et al
drives me crazy when ie’s are based on war, money, et al.. just seems so obvious (to me) it’s not humane.. so ie ing with it seems silly
there is an obvious objection to evolutionary models which assume our strongest social ties are based on close bio kinship: many humans just don’t like their fams.. for present day h g’s and anybody else.. move away et al
it’s precisely this capacity to shift between scales that most obviously separates human social cognition from that of other primates..
to shift between everything.. the dance..
foragers may sometimes exist in small groups, but they do not .. an probably have not ever.. lived in small scale societies..
cities are tangible things.. elements of physical infra remain fixed over years; but people are constantly moving in/out of them.. never stable.. in human terms.. .. yet cities have a life that transcends this.. because they often think/act as people who *belong..
marsh label law et al
claude fischer: ‘most city dwellers lead sensible, circumscribed lives.. rarely go down town.. ‘
same way we treat starvation.. ie: afraid of it.. afraid of messiness of other people.. safety addiction et al
first city dwellers did not always leave a harsh footprint on environ or on each other
same is true today.. part of the problem.. the ie we need to try is something for all of us.. the part\ial ness keeps balancing out negative.. and so we perpetuate tragedy of the non common.. humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..
what evidence does exist is robust enough, not just to upend the conventional narrative but to open our eyes to possibilities we would otherwise never have considered
what we need to do .. in a sense.. is close our eyes.. and quit trying to find things to mimics.. we need to trust that 8b people know all they need to know/do/be right now.. if we just get them into rat park.. so they can give it a legit go
in which we set the scene broadly for a world of cities, and speculate as to why they first arose
people who lived in cities often came from far away..
what makes the city strange.. at least to us.. is largely what isn’t there
this raises on obvious question: why did so many end up living in the same place to begin with
sounds like survival.. ie: ‘people who lived in cities often came from far away’ ?.. no other option.. or at least they could get too fast enough
hard to find a single story..
on ‘mega sites’ and how archaeological findings in ukraine are overturning conventional wisdom on the origins of cities
ursula le guin’s ‘the ones who walk away from omelas’.. city w/o kings, wars, slaves, secret police.. we have a tendency le guin notes to write off such a community as ‘simple’.. but in fact these citizens of omelas were ‘not simple folk, no dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians.. they were not less complex than us..’.. the trouble is just that ‘we have had a habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid’.. t
huge.. ursula le guin
but the point remains: why do we assume that people who have figured out a way for a large pop to govern/support itself w/o temples, palaces and military fortification.. that is.. w/o over displays of arrogance, self abasement and cruelty.. are somehow less complex than those who have not?.. why would we hesitate to dignify such a place w the name of city?
they retained a social identity
sounds like saying that’s a good point?.. but marsh label law et al..
it was play farming on a grand scale.. an urban populous supporting itself thru small scale cultivation and herding , combined w an extraordinary array of wold food.. this way of life was by no means simple..
from one dwelling to next.. constant innovation/playfulness… each fam unit invented its own slight variations.. as if every household was an artists’ collective which invented its own unique aesthetic style
iwan baan ness et al
(describing alt societies).. reciprocity.. obligations.. tasks.. commitment.. we begin to get a sense of the complexities involved
not complexities .. red flags
*w/o any need of centralized control or admin.. they rely on math principles such as rotation, replacement, alternation.. members can be continually taken into account.. ensuring relations of equality are preserved over the long term.. w an almost complete **absence of internal conflict
on mestopotamia, and ‘not so primitive’ democracy
on meso was never land of kings..
on something carnival (about early meso cities).. occasions when moral order of city spun on its axis.. and distinctions between citizens dissolve away..
in which we describe how (written) history and probably (oral) epic too, began: w big councils in the cities and small kingdoms in the hills
skimming (ie’s are still whalespeak et al)
all these culture were aristocracies, w/o any centralized authority or principle of sovereignty .. instead of single centre, we find numerous heroic figures
still sea world
in which we consider whether the indus civ was an ie of caste before kingship
wider question we posed at start of this chapter: is there a causal relationship between scale an ineq in human societies
the varna system is about as ‘uneq’ as any social system can possibly be, yet where one ranks w/in it has less to do w how many material goods one can pile up or lay claim to than w one’s relation to certain (polluting) substances..
scholars tend to demand clear and irrefutable evidence for the existence of democratic institutions of any sort.. it’s striking how they never demand comparably rigorous proof for top down structures of authority
we all do that.. gray research law et al.. why we need to let go of research ness.. intellect ness.. and just set up the conditions for 8b people to be legit free (hari rat park law.. findings.. et al)
concerning an apparent case of ‘urban revolution’ in chinese prehistory
on everyone same in important sense.. or alternatively.. everyone so utterly diff can’t compare
what we are saying.. archeo evidence shows.. goes against conventional evolutionary assumptions about the effect of scale on human society
highly mobile societies who played so much havoc
but we know this is not what happed at all..
mantra of book
most likely involving a significan degree ofviolence
any violence.. any form of m\a\p
increasing the number of people living in one place may vastly increases the range of social possibilities, but *in no sense does it predetermine which of the possibilities will ultimately be realized..
we can no longer doubt that these existed
in sea world.. so ?
9 – hiding in plain sight – the indigenous origins of social housing and democracy in the americas
m of care – feb 3 – on ch 9
what we propose to do in this ch.. bring to surface neglected strand of social history: one of urban republics, large scale projects of social *welfare, and indigenous form of *democracy
in which we first consider an ie of stranger-kings in the maya lowlands, and their affiliation w teotihuacan
(no answer to .. is teo a monarchy or not et al.. an no reason why there ought to be – 336))
how the people of teotihuacan turned their backs on monument building and human sacrifice and instead embarked on a remarkable project o social housing
teo’s can chose diff path.. seems to have gone off on remarkable tangent.. instead of building palaces and elite quarters, embarked on remarkable project of urban renewal.. supplying high quality apts for nearly all city’s pop.. regardless of wealth or status (few were deprived – 343)
what held teo’s together if not hereditary elite or govt class?.. more likely possibility.. authority distributed.. ie: delegation of govt to neighbourhood councils.. (must have been tensions.. later came apart at seems.. was it a social blip or legit distinct legacy of teo? – 345)
on case of tlaxcala, an indigenous republic that resisted the aztec empire then came to join forced w spanish invader, and how its fateful decision emerged from democratic deliberations in an urban parliament (as opposed to the dazzling effects fo european tech on ‘indian minds’)
worth emphasizing again .. we are dealing here w what is, by most estimations, one of the pivotal episodes of modern world history: events leading to spanish conquest of aztec empire.. and a blueprint for subsequent european conquests throughout the americas
in next ch.. turn back and consider this term ‘the state’.. what precisely is a state.. does it really mark and entirely new phase of human history? is the term even useful any more?
10 – why the state has no origin – the humble beginnings of sovereignty, bureaucracy and politics
longest ch.. almost 100 pgs
the quest for the ‘origins of the state’ is almost as long standing and hotly contested a s the pursuit of the ‘origins of social ineq’
on this (rudolf von ihering’s – first attempt) defn.. a govt is a ‘state’ if it lays claim to a certain stretch of land and insist that, w/in its borders, it is the only institution whose agents can kill people, beat them up, cut off parts of body or lock them in cages; or as von ihering emphasized, that can decide who else has the right to do so on its behalf..
marxist offered one (defn): states make their first appearance in history to protect the power of an emerging ruling class.. officially to protect property rights.. to preserve their advantage.. but.. how to define exploitation..
(another defn).. basically all it says is that since states are complicated, any complicated social arrangement must therefore be a state..
actually almost all these ‘classic ‘ theoretical formulations of last century started off from exactly this assumptions: that any large and complex society necessarily required a state.. the real bone of contention was why?
among small ‘heroic’ societies of surrounding foothill, which were averse to very principle of admin and as a result.. don’t seem to quality as ‘states’ either
are there not more interesting/important questions we could be asking?
yeah.. what are conditions for 8b legit free people (ie: short findings restate)
in which we lay out a theory concerning the three elementary forms of domination, and begin to explore its implications for human history
3 freedoms: 1\ to move 2\ to disobey 3\ to reorg
3 dominations: 1\ control of violence 2\ control of info (B) 3\ individual charisma (democracy) (365)
property: legal right to keep anyone else off it.. landed property is not actual soil et al.. it is a legal understanding.. maintained by subtle mis of morality and threat of violence.. state’s monopoly of violence w/in a territory
3 principles of domination become basis for institutions seen as foundational to modern state
on B and secrecy and surveillance
just as access to violence, info and charisma defines the very possibilities of social domination, so the modern state is defined
structural violence et al
on aztecs, in ca and maya (and then also spaniards)
in which we offer a digression on ‘the shape of time’ and specifically how metaphors of growth and decay intro unnoticed political biases into our view of history
w hindsight, it’s easy to se just how much these chronological schemes reflect their authors’ political concerns
on politics as sport: the olmec case
in some parts of the americas, competitive sports served as a sub for war
chavin de huantar – an ’empire’ built on images?
on sovereignty w/o ‘the state’
how caring labour, ritual killing and ‘tiny bubbles’ all came together in the origins of ancient egypt
when sovereignty first expands to become the general organizing principle of a society, it is by turning violence into kinship.. or to put another way.. a ritual designed to produce kinship becomes a method of producing kingship
perhaps this is what a state actually is: a combo of exception violence and the creation of a complex social machine, all ostensibly devoted to acts of care and devotion.. paradox.. caring labour is very opposite of mechanical labour.. it is about recognizing… what’s needed to provide what they (people) *require to flourish..
*we have no idea .. what we need is to get out of sea world in order to get back/to legit needs
caring labor et al..
in which we reflect on the differences between what are usually called ‘early states’ from china to mesoamerica
so do early states have any common features: all deployed spectacular violence; all depended on patriarchal org of household; stood on division into classes..
more on 3 forms of domination – all present to diff degrees.. just that 2 crystallized into institutional force
in which we reconsider the egyptian case in light of our 3 elementary principles of domination, and also revisit the problem of ‘dark ages’
when talking absence of charisma.. certainly not speaking about an absence of individual personalities.. ability of monarchy to mobilize sentiments of caring nature and abstract terror at same time.. in monarchy .. children are crucial because of lineage
whenever state politics broke down.. heroic politics returned.. ‘i am the hero w/o equal’
in which we go in search of the real origins of B and find them on wha appears to be a surprisingly small scale
on dunbar ness large societies need ‘chiefs to direct and police to ensure rules kept.. this not being true.. ie: turns out farmers are perfectly capable of coordinating very complicated systems..
archaeo suggests first systems of specialized admin control actually emerged .. in very small communities
of course danger of such accounting procedures is that they can be turned into other purposes
over course of book.. 3 freedoms.. also note word free derives from germanic ‘friend’ since unlike free people, slaves cannot have friends because they cannot make commitments or promises.. the freedom to make promises is about the most basic and minimal element of our 3rd freedom..
oh my.. promise and commitment as good?
how can *freedom to make promises/commitments and thus build relationships .. be turned into its very opposite, ie: slavery.. as money is to promises.. B is to care..
i don’t see *promises/commitments building relationships (outside of sea world)
in which armed w new knowledge, we rethink some basic premises of social evolution
our present situation regularly leads people to make ‘scientific’ assumption about how we go here (planet covered by states) that have almost nothing to do w the *actual data
philip abrams ‘the state is not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. it is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is’
if anything is clear by now it’s this.. where we once assume ‘civilization’ and ‘state’ to be conjoined .. that came down to us as historical pkg.. what history now demos is that these terms actually refer to complex amalgams of elements which have entirely diff origins and which are currently in the process of drifting apart.. seen this way, to rethink the basic premises o social evolution is to rethink the very idea of politics itself
again.. we just needs to get out of sea world.. we’re not us.. until we’re out.. so all speculation/anal/history is non legit for free people and for an alt way for legit free people to live
coda(concluding passage): on civilization, empty walls and histories still to be written
latin civilis.. refers to qualities of political wisdom and mutual aid that permit societies to org selves. thru *voluntary coalition.. if mutual aid, social coop, civic activism, hospitality or **simply caring for others are the kind of things that really go to make civs.. then true history of civ is only just starting to be written
most important findings of modern archaes are these vibrant and far flung networks of kinship and commerce.. as we’ve been showing.. moral communities.. w/o permanent kings, Bs or standing armies they fostered the growth of mathematical and calendrical knowledge..
oi.. sounds like trying to get school credit for an outside of school project.. of math and men et al.. we need to let go of any form of m\a\p.. which includes anyone gazing back at our past actions as whales in sea world for findings
a moment’s reflection shows that women, their work/concerns/innovations are at the core of this more accurate understanding of civilization
again.. makes no diff if all still in sea world.. ie: women are just doing the same thing in diff form.. (still leading, priesting, counciling et al – 438) .. all forms of people telling other people what to do.. doesn’t matter if it’s male or female.. we need to let go
women and their concerns reamined at the core of things
not deep enough.. 8b legit free people have to be at the core .. new everyday.. we can get there.. via non hierarchical listening
women regularly depicted at a lager scale than men, a sign of political superiority in the visual traditions ..
3 principles in which power can expand: sovereignty (violence), admin (B), and competitive politics (democracy)
more than almost any other form of human activity, painting on walls is something people in virtually any cultural setting seem inclined to do
as evidence accumulates.. for large settlement and impressive structure in perviously unsuspected locations.. we’d be wise to *resist projecting some image of the modern nation state on to their bare surface, and **consider what other kinds of social possibilities.. ***they might attest to
need: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
11 – full circle – on the historical foundation of the indigenous critique
in which we consider james c scott’s arguments about the last 5 000 yrs and ask whether current global arrangements were in fact.. inevitable..
most puzzling aspects of living in history.. impossible to predict course of future events.. yet once events have happened.. it’s difficult to know what it would even man to say something else ‘could’ have happened..
although archaes use language of ‘bands’.. ‘tribes’.. ‘chiefdoms’ and ‘ states’
in which we ask how much of n america came to have a single uniform clan system.. and consider the role of the ‘hopewell interaction sphere’
in which we tell the story of cahokia which looks like it ought to be the first ‘state’ in america
on how the collapse of the mississippian world and rejection of its legacy opened the way to new forms of indigenous politics around the time of the european invasion
how the osage come to embody the principle of constitution, later to be celebrated in montesquieu’s the spirit of the laws
in which we return to iroquoia, and consider the political philosophies likely to have been familiar to kandiaronk in his youth
simply not true that if one falls into the trap of ‘state formation’ there’s no getting out
12 – conclusion – the dawn of everything
this book began w an appeal to ask better questions.. we started out by observing that to inquire after the origins of ineq necessarily means creating a myth, a fall from grace.. the only other theory on offer to date.. assume there were no origins of ineq.. because human naturally thuggish and our beginning s were miserable, violent.. civ and progress as redemptive..
why is it well meaning attempts to fix society’s problems so often end up making things worse
why couldn’t we imagine a more rational social order than then legitlate it into existence?
because all these visions/imaginings were still in sea world
social sci has been largely a study of the ways in which human beings are not free: determined by forces outside our control.. any account that appears to show humans shaping own.. written off as illusionary.. waiting for scientific explanation (previous page said sci’s only study what’s predictable)
on tech making little diff to internal org
one of most striking patterns we found.. felt most like genuine breakthru.. how that zone of ritual plaay has also acted as a site of social experimentation.. like an encyclopedia of social possibilities
on the beginnings of going wrong.. when people quit going back and forth.. losing that freedom to imagine and enact other forms of social existence..
3 freedoms (move away, disobey, shape new realities) have gradually receded to point where a majority of people living today can barely comprehend what it might be like to live in a social order d based on them.. how did it happen.. how did we get stuck? and just how stuck are we really?
hari rat park law et al
play kings cease to be play kinds precisely when they start killing people..
while humans have always been capable of physically attacking one another (difficult to find ie’s of societies where no one ever attacks anyone else, under any circumstance).. there’ no actual reason to assume that war has always existed.. technically, war refers not just to org’d violence but to a kind of contest between two clearly demarcated sides
on the contrary, it’s almost invariable necessary to employ some combo of ritual, drugs, and psych techniques to convince people, even adolescent males, to kill and injure each other in such systematic yet indiscriminate ways
on the one hand, freedom and liberty were private affairs; on the other, private life was marked by absolute power of the patriarch over conquered people who were considered his private property..
public torture in 17th cent europe created searing unforgettable spectacles of pain/suffering in order to convey the message that a system in which husbands could brutalize wives, and parents beat children, was ultimately a form of love
oh my.. steiner care to oppression law et al
it seems to us that this connection.. or better perhaps.. confusions.. between care and domination is utterly critical to the larger question of how we lost the ability freely to recreate ourselves by recreating our relation w one another.. it is critical that is.. to understanding how we got stuck and why these days we can hardly envisage our own past or future as anything other than a transition from smaller to larger cages.. t
huge huge huge
does this newly establishes nexus between external violence and internal care.. between the most impersonal and the most intimate of human relations.. mark the point where everything begins to get confused?.. how we got stuck?.. now did relationships based on violence and domination come to be normalized?
frank steiner.. shorter version of his doctoral work.. focuses on what he calls ‘pre servile institutions’.. it (his own life story) can be read as a history of how refugees such as himself were first welcomed, treated as almost sacred beings, then gradually degraded and exploited, again much like the some working in the temple factories
steiner presented an alt route.. perhaps he suggested.. it all goes back to charity.. ie: orphans, widows.. relevant to origins of patriarchy.. .. connection between external (largely male) violence and the transformation of women’s status in the home..
we are optimists.. we like to think it will not take that long
we know now we are in the presence of myths.. t
part\ial ness .. keeping us from us
8 – imaginary cities: 2\ the cog basis of dunbar’s number is inferred form comparative studies of non human primates, which suggest a correlation between neocortex size and group size in various species of monkey and apes.. the significance of those findings for primate studies is not in question here.. only whether they can be extended in any simple or direct way to our own species..
notes copied from book to 527
Wow .. in what is possibly his first public comment on #TheDawnOfEverything, Steven Pinker – who presents himself as a champion of scientific values and rational debate – goes straight for the personal and political. https://t.co/AHPkiELijH
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/davidwengrow/status/1546144293806563329