david hogdsen fb share:
Mr Suzman is an anthropologist who has spent years studying the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert: a San people related to those who greeted Dias on the beach, some of whom maintain the hunting and gathering lifestyle that sustained them for 150 millennia. But “Affluence Without Abundance” is not simply a description of Bushman life. Mr Suzman deftly weaves his experiences and observations with lessons on human evolution, the history of human migration and the fate of African communities since the arrival of Europeans. The overarching aim of the book is more ambitious still: to challenge the reader’s ideas about both hunter-gatherer life and human nature.
Life spent hunting and gathering, while occasionally trying, was not a tale of constant toil and privation. Food could run short during droughts or annual lean periods, but reliance on a broad range of food sources typically afforded such tribes a reliable, well-balanced diet. Even around the arid Kalahari food is plentiful (at least when the tribes are not forced to share the land with farmers and ranchers)—so much so that the typical adult need work less than 20 hours per week.
Mr Suzman argues that the dramatic cultural shift resulting from the adoption of agriculture gave rise to impulses that people in modern rich countries, the heirs of farming societies, regard as naturally human—especially the insatiable desire to accumulate. Farming teaches people to accept inequality and to valorise work. But for the vast majority of human history there was little point in accumulating, since most of what was needed could easily be got from the surrounding environment. Nor was there anything heroic about work; spending time getting more food than one could eat was a foolish waste.
Mr Suzman also reckons, after years of studying the Bushmen, that
a world in which people work and worry less is possible.
Humanity spent many more thousands of years living that way than working its fingers to the bone, after all.
It is a nice idea. But Mr Suzman’s recounting of recent history makes clear that modern life is like riding a bicycle, in which stopping means toppling over. Having created countless problems by turning to agriculture, rich societies have little choice but to press on: working, striving and inventing, even as this progress creates more problems in need of solving.
there’s a way to leap to less work/worry
so started looking into James’ work and ordered his book from library..
Yet our collective appetite for work is undiminished.
if our working culture is an artifact of the economic problem, then perhaps we would do better to embrace automation as an opportunity to reimagine our relationship with work so that we may, as Keynes put it, “look forward to an age of leisure and abundance without dread.”
about book – affluence w/o abundance
They’ve been around an astonishingly long amount of time, and most likely lived in a similar manner for a period stretching back 70,000 years, possibly longer. This may give us pretty good insight into how homo sapiens lived for 95 or 98 percent of human history.
Looking back at how the most sustainable cultures in human history organize themselves might give us some idea of how to organize ourselves in the future.
It was only in looking at the Bushmen that I saw how our attitudes toward work are this kind of elementary particle to our society. Where does this come from? It obviously didn’t come from our lives as hunters and gatherers, who were content to work as little as possible.
There wasn’t this obsession with being busy
with full employment, with having enough for everyone to do all the time. It became clearer and clearer that this was a product of the agricultural revolution and what it forced on us, placing this premium on labor. And so many modern institutions and behaviors seem contingent on this. At the same time, a lot of these institutions are seemingly at odds with the way we’re able to live now. The agricultural revolution was sort of an accidental one, and once we developed it we became hostage to it. The population became hostage to its own growth, and this has shaped a huge amount of the economic and intellectual architecture of our modern culture. We’re still obsessed with growing, even when there’s not much room left to grow in.
I thought people might use it as a way to look at themselves from the perspective of a hunter-gatherer.
As it evolved, it became more about big ideas: the origin of money, our sense of equality, our sense of time, and how these all integrate to create quite a sophisticated coherent view of our world, and in some ways quite a critical view. It shifted from being a far more localized book, an intimate insight into their world, and more into something that looked in a bigger way at some of the things that shaped our world.
If we judge a civilization’s success by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen are the most successful society in human history. Their experience of modernity offers insight into many aspects of our lives, and clues as to how we might address some big sustainability questions for the future.
When a 200,000-Year-Old Culture Encountered the Modern Economy
1966 when a young Canadian anthropologist, Richard Lee, conducted a series of simple economic input-output analyses to get a better idea of how hard hunter-gatherers like Ju/’hoansi had to work to get by. Up until then, anthropologists, historians, and economists assumed that hunter-gatherers endured lives of unremitting hardship, and that it was only with the advent of agriculture that humanity began to gradually liberate itself from the tyranny of nature. The Ju/’hoansi were considered to be a particularly good example of how humans’ long-suffering ancestors lived. Not only were they isolated from modernity, but they also lived in as hostile an environment as it is possible to find.
To his surprise, Lee established that the Ju/’hoansi
not only managed to feed themselves better than many in the industrialized world, but that they did so on the basis of only around two hours foraging a day, and cheerfully spent the rest of their time on more leisurely pursuits such as napping, playing games, and making art.
On the strength of Lee’s findings and the growing weight of evidence from similar societies elsewhere, anthropologists started calling hunter-gatherers “the original affluent society” and turned the established narrative of social evolution on its head.
hard time reading article (same as first article on this page).. heavy with ads..?
3013 lecture on affluence and abundance
13 min – bushmen leave little footprint/monument.. so.. getting into genetics is huge
14 min – find bushmen have more genetic diversity than europe
26 min – h g’s are not nomads at all.. they are territorial.. in order to hunt.. have to know land intimately
28 min – rather gatherer/hunters.. hunting was more like 20%.. rather lived off wild plants
34 min – no big ceremony – for couples.. rather.. sharing the same fire..
44 min – he lives in the animal he’s chasing..
48 min – on insulting meat.. of killing big/unnecessary.. brings bad luck et al.. if someone shares too much.. got to debt.. ness.. anyone was too good a provider.. a leveling mech
51 min – hg econ – immediate return econ.. all kinds of problems for them.. integrating into current econ
52 min – environment able to provide us w needs when/how we need it
56 min – no way today we can behave like h g’s.. but we can learn.. that maybe producing things to end up throwing out.. et al..
reducing gap between our desires and needs.. by wanting less
from back cover of a w/o a:
recently James founded anthropos (greek for human) – a think tank that applies anthropological methods to solving contemporary social/econ problems..
Dr. James Suzman is an anthropologist and the author of Affluence Without Abundance: The disappearing world of the Bushmen published by Bloomsbury in 2017. He is the nephew of Janet Suzman and great nephew of Helen Suzman. He is based in Cambridge, UK.
Suzman was born in Johannesburg South Africa and educated at Michael house. He graduated with an MA(Hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of St Andrews in 1993. He was awarded a Ph.D in social anthropology from Edinburgh University in 1996.
Suzman was the first social anthropologist to work in Namibia’s eastern Omaheke among “Southern Ju/’hoansi” where he exposed the brutal marginalisation of San that had lost their lands to white cattle ranchers and pastoralist Herero.
In 1998 Suzman was appointed to lead the landmark study, The Regional Assessment of the Status of the San in Southern Africa. Based on an ACP/EU resolution.
Suzman later led an assessment by the Minority Rights Group International to assess how Namibia’s ethnic minorities had fared in the first ten years of Namibian Independence. The subsequent report was published in 2002. Emerging during period of political upheaval in Namibia, it led to calls for the better protection of ethnic minorities in Namibia. The Namibian Government rejected the report’s findings and the President, Sam Nujoma, accused Suzman of amplifying “ethnic tensions”.
In 2001, Suzman was awarded the Smuts Commonwealth Fellowship in African Studies at Cambridge University.
Suzman later established a program to establish opportunities for Hai//om San to benefit from tourism revenues in Etosha National Park. Suzman was also involved in the dispute that arose as a result of the illegal relocation of Gwi and Gana San from Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Suzman was highly critical of the Botswana Government’s actions and, later, Survival International’s campaign which he claimed undermined ongoing negotiations between the Botswana Government and a coalition of organisations supporting the evicted San. Survival International, in turn, criticised Suzman and members of the negotiating team lead by Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights of complicity with the Botswana Government.
In 2007, Suzman joined De Beers where as Global Head of Public Affairs he developed De Beers award-winning sustainability functions. He resigned in 2013.
In 2013 Suzman and Jimmy Wales teamed up with Lily Cole to launch Impossible.com at the Cambridge Union. In the same year he was invited to deliver the 2nd Protimos Lecture at the Parliament Chamber of London’s Inner Temple
Suzman has published widely on San and other issues in academic journals, magazines and newspapers including the New York Times. His most recent book, Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen is due for release in the USA on 11 July 2017 and in the UK, New Zealand, Australia South Africa and elsewhere in September 2017.
james suzman (@anthrowittering) tweeted at 9:30 AM on Tue, Sep 05, 2017:
Stories and Change in the Kalahari. . . .my latest piece in Undark https://t.co/4nHa5TpD1s
WHAT I LEFT OUT is a recurring feature in which book authors are invited to share anecdotes and narratives that, for whatever reason, did not make it into their final manuscripts. In this installment, James Suzman shares a story that was left out of his new book, “Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen” (Bloomsbury).
reading Gabor’s scattered:
infants, particularly sensitive infants, intuit the diff between a parent’s real psychological states and her attempts to soothe and protect the infant by means of feigned emotional expressions.. it is much easier to fool al adult w forced emotion than a baby.. *the emotional sensory radar of the infant has not yet been scrambled.. it reads feelings clearly.. they cannot be hidden from the infant behind a screen of words, or camouflaged by well-meant but forced gestures..it is unfortunate but true that we grow far more stupid than that by the time we reach adulthood.
*why/when does this change..?
asking Gabor and James
any observations of this that you have seen ..?
not yet scrambled ness
james suzman (@anthrowittering) tweeted at 8:42 AM on Tue, Nov 21, 2017:
enca interview in SA. More blah blah. . . . https://t.co/vIbKH7iLmY
affluent not because have these insatiable desires that are easily met but because have few desires that were simply met.. so able to enjoy tons of leisure time.. and lead a quality of life far better than ours..
GeekWire (@geekwire) tweeted at 7:24 PM on Thu, Nov 23, 2017:
Trending: Lessons from the Bushmen: How this tech-free society could foreshadow our technological future https://t.co/MHvYkgudpG
from write up:
One, we’re not preconditioned to work as hard as we do, it’s a very recent cultural thing. Two, we know it’s actually pretty unhealthy, the amount of work we do. Not just individually, but in productive terms for our planet. .t..So maybe, instead of worrying about how to find stuff for other people to do and be productive, maybe we look at this as an opportunity to re-imagine our relationships with our workplaces, and look towards creating potentially a much more sustainable future.
4 min – status today.. messed up.. irony.. 150 000 yrs plus pretty successful.. now in last 200 yrs.. advent of colonialism/farming.. only 100 000 left.. unbelievably marginalized.. so time environ constraints crashing in on us.. the most sustainable society in our past is being consumed/destroyed by the one branch of humanity that developed a much less sustainable living..t
5 min – we’ve got to work out new ways of doing things.. we could do really when trying to shape our future.. and all this has to do of course w how we engage/use tech..we could do really well to try to understand better what made this society so extraordinary and enduring
6 min – technology is really about how we engage with the world around us.. it’s effectively the application of scientific knowledge.. or knowledge more broadly..
7 min – what made them affluent .. a term popularized in 1960s.. what made them affluent was actually.. up until 60s everybody believed hunter gatherers lived this kind of awful life..hardship.. starving.. the truth is.. nobody had really looked at hunter gatherer societies very carefully until then.. so in 1960.. richard e lee.. from toronto.. went to work w classic bushmen.. the group that i’ve been working w for last 25 yrs.. when he went there.. he thought.. i’m just going calculate how hard they have to work to make a living..
8 min – found that actually w abled body adults.. looking after children and elderly.. they didn’t have to work more than 15-17 hrs a week.. at same time.. at the time.. 60s.. were better nourished than most westerners were
so here’s this remnant (because live in really tough neighborhood) society.. working 15-17 hrs .. having tons of leisure time.. time hanging out w kids.. et al..playing games, telling stories, living life, falling in love and out of love. There was a lot of that happening. And they were doing so with very little effort. They had few wants, that were very easily and simply met. And because they had these kind of technologies and skills that enabled them to make a good living out of this difficult environment, they succeeded phenomenally well. . t.. And this is why they endured so long.
today: mech to facil cure ios city
an organic sustainable.. they were ..very anti-hierarchical
14 min – we’re very conditioned.. to.. that we work to create our future.. i think what we can take from hg societies.. is that 1\ when we live in a very abundant world.. we needn’t hold ourselves completely hostage to the future all the time… 2\ we have to accept this idea.. esp in america that as humans we are born to work.. that is what defines us.. ie: what do you do.. we spend more time w our work colleagues than we do w our families.. (everything) framed in the space of work.. everyone talking about work.. we have to accept this truth.. that..we’re not predestined to work.. and that for most of human history.. they were purposive.. but
we don’t have to conflate purposiveness w work.. this idea of labor for some kind of delayed reward..t
16 min – if we can sort of take that leap.. and embrace the fact that we live in this era of extraordinary abundance.. and we don’t have to work that hard.. then perhaps we can actually start addressing some of these big questions about sustainability in a much more productive way than we ever have
interviewer: one of things you write about is that bushmen have been pulled into this cash society..and that’s one of the things that has been a problem for them in trying to sustain their way of life.. can the future you’re describing exist in a capitalistic econ..?
i don’t know if it can.. i think we’re living at an extraordinary inflection point in history.. and i think we’ve got to look at it in a slightly longer term.. we tend to think in terms of.. say inflection point.. what like ..this year’s or last year’s.. i think the inflection pt could have begun w ie: the industrial revolution.. i don’t really know.. but things are changing.. in a way that.. simply the old ways of doing things are now redundant. . ie: electoral chaos; old narratives such as socialism vs capitalism;.. but we realize that a lot of what we see as a strange bolt of behavior.. people are looking for something new.. we’re all aware old systems aren’t working..
i think we’re at a time that old doesn’t work and requires a real active imagination to start developing a new set of principles for our future.. we have to radically reimagine the system..t
18 min – requires a complete paradigm shift.. look at all pieces that are around.. get some broad principles of what we need to survive.. ie: we need to eat; need to make wild spaces in nature.. need to have purposiveness.. sense of freedom and self.. we take those principles and think.. how can we org them in a new way..
to have a society that doesn’t over use resources.. does require a level of egalitarianism.. i think (it) was fundamental to the success of these societies.. ie: bushmen.. people associate egalitarianism w communism.. disillusion of self.. hg societies had no rulers.. they were the absolute ie of the.. individualistic society.. no laws/rulers.. no institutions of leadership.. but what naturally emerged out of that process.. adam smith’s hidden hand.. actually working.. because it doesn’t work in our society.. it worked for them..
what emerged out of a whole bunch of self-interested people.. jealously guarding their own interest.. was a society which was hugely cooperative and fiercely egalitarian..t
trust us.. 100% of us
that was the result of people expressing their self-interest.. so .. it epitomized this absolute freedom of the american dreamer..
but in a far more profound way than we tend to think ie: freedom to make tons of cash and so on.. the net result was a society that was incredibly self-conscious.. empathetic in understanding how their behavior looked to others the whole time.. so they self-policed.. or others do..ie: kill a big giraffe.. people give you a hard time.. this idea of leveling behavior.. a way to cool young men’s hearts..t
your own song ness
so they don’t start thinking they’re too big for themselves.. and it happens w anybody.. creates very self-aware egalitarian society
21 min – interviewer: is it possible in this world to get back to an egalitarian society.. that seems like a big stretch.. like there’d have to be some giant forcing function that would send us back there.. and not willingly
well – it might well be the case.. and it might be that climate change could force something on us.. massive flu virus.. i tend to be a little more optimistic about these things.. i actually think.. and again i think we’re being pretty quick.. esp over last yr.. us presidential election.. we’re very early on in how we direct one another in sm platforms.. we haven’t yet developed the culture..
22 min – sm is like dumping people into a space where there are no established rules yet.. people are trying to find out constitutes manners and so on..
interesting hg lived in open.. interesting that digital media leaves tracks.. in dessert.. everyone leaves tracks… everything done in public.. so developing these egalitarian norms came about from this living life in public.. much as we do now
true.. but also true that the tracks we are leaving aren’t really us
23 min – i think we’re going to end up having a very high conscious regulating force and i think.. give it 10 yrs.. let us develop those norms..
24 min – interviewer: how do you look at privacy concerns
privacy is a big issue.. diff in how we engage in one another and how others might capitalize on info they gather.. in hg .. no big brother..
25 min – i think if you had ie: big media platforms broken up as utilities.. so don’t have that kind of power .. *you end up w an internet which truly is multi modal.. and that.. individual people looking at one another.. then we might get that kind of change.. but at the moment i feel.. ie: alexa chiming in..
so i think there are genuine concerns.. but i also think that as we move into the space.. we have a really weird thing of cultural space that we haven’t got to grips with yet.. we’ve got half the world oversharing.. trying to create mythologies around life.. ie: instagram everyone’s life is perfect.. so seems to be a kind of concealment going on as well..
26 min – we spend so much of our time engaging on these platforms.. it’s like.. who owns public space..
28 min – fate at moment (of bushmen) looks pretty grim.. ie: of relationship of hg and agriculturalists.. traditionally.. agri treat hg terribly.. as subhuman.. ironic take on whole thing.. and.. they’re beginning to adapt to our world.. now whole squad of camps in cities.. a whole lot of .. mean eyed kids.. living like urban poor in any rapidly developing shanty.. no ed/tools/engagement.. so i’m not making a case for nostalgia.. how to shape a future that works for them..
30 min – this is a bigger thing.. when we talk about ai/automation.. we tend to worry about how it’s going to hollow out high employment.. and tend to ignore 3rd world where actually there isn’t the space to craft that middle class.. because automation has kind of leap frogged.. tech has hollowed at that space (for work) before it even started..
32 min – it wasn’t a poverty thing.. it was an inequality thing.. when everyone’s poor together.. they actually get on pretty well.. it’s when people see gaping ineq.. that’s when they have an issue.. ineq we respond to viscerally.. and i think that might be one of the big drivers.. as you said.. maybe takes a big event to shift us into.. i’ve got a feeling this entrenched ineq.. that might actually be the driver.. that might make us rethink things.. t..when got 70% dirt poor and 30% rolling in things.. kind of hard for people to sustain things..
equity: everyone getting a go everyday..
let’s facil that..
“It is worth recognising that our current social, political & economic models are not an inevitable consequence of human nature, but a product of our (recent) history.”
… Not to mention our current educational models, which replicate those hierarchies.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/938175388139667456
Most people regard hierarchy in human societies as inevitable, a natural part of who we are. Yet this belief contradicts much of the 200,000-year history of Homo sapiens.
In fact, our ancestors have for the most part been “fiercely egalitarian”, intolerant of any form of inequality.
hunter-gatherers considered their environments to be eternally provident, and only ever worked to meet their immediate needs. They never sought to create surpluses nor over-exploited any key resources. Confidence in the sustainability of their environments was unyielding.
Where hunter-gatherers saw themselves simply as part of an inherently productive environment, farmers regarded their environment as something to manipulate, tame and control.
This principle that hard work is a virtue, and its corollary that individual wealth is a reflection of merit, is perhaps the most obvious of the agricultural revolution’s many social, economic and cultural legacies.
the ability to both generate and control the distribution of surpluses became a path to power and influence. This laid the foundations for all the key elements of our contemporary economies, and cemented our preoccupation with growth, productivity and trade.
the greater the surpluses a society produced, the greater the levels of inequality in that society.
our current social, political and economic models are not an inevitable consequence of human nature, but a product of our (recent) history. That knowledge could free us to be more imaginative in changing the way we relate to our environments, and one another. . t .. Having spent 95% of Homo sapiens’ history hunting and gathering, there is surely a little of the hunter-gatherer psyche left in all of us.
18 min – notre dame: conditions for child development that h g societies provided for children.. which are the are optimal conditions for development.. and no longer present for kids..t
study led by Darcia Narvaez
Universal income as transitional step to a new way of organising things- i don’t mention it here but its there . https://t.co/uEUKK1jRjx via @QuartzAtWork
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/anthrowittering/status/941756131696893952
our drive to work is not an intrinsic part of who we are.
The most compelling thing about this research was that it suggested that “economic problem” was not, “the primary problem of the human race from the beginnings of time”..t
We are now so well fed by the one percent of us who still work in agriculture that we throw almost as much food into landfill every year as we consume. And with most of the rest of us working in the ever more amorphous services sector most of the work we do is aimed at keeping wheels of commerce rolling rather than ensuring that our essential needs are met..t
This would be fine if we had no reason to worry that our continued preoccupation with keeping everybody endlessly productive risks cannibalizing our—and many other—species future..t
Yet most strategies proposed for dealing with problems like climate change and biodiversity loss aim to find more sustainable ways for us to continue to produce and consume as much as we do. .t.. Likewise, most proposals to manage automation’s impact focus mainly on how to find new work for those nudged out by robots and AI.
This is of course far easier said than done. If the hunter-gatherer model is anything to go by, then coming to grips with systemic inequality will be a precondition for having a society in which people have few wants easily met..t Recognizing that automation represents as important an inflection point in the history of work and reshape our futures is a good place to start.
if one thing gives me great hope for our future its our species’ almost transcendent ability to adapt in its own interests. its the leitmotif of Homo sapiens evolution https://t.co/9Zh6bYaeNs
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/anthrowittering/status/941756580357341185
asking james while reading scale: why did hunter gatherers transition to sedentary communities
mainly they were forced to be expanding neolithic communities. Those that did it organically did so because of rapid climate change.
commenced with the beginning of farming..As the Natufians had become dependent on wild cereals in their diet, and a sedentary way of life had begun among them, the climatic changes associated with the Younger Dryas are thought to have forced people to develop farming.
Hunting and gathering was humanity’s first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history. Following the invention of agriculture, hunter-gatherers who did not change have been displaced or conquered by farming or pastoralist groups in most parts of the world.
forced by who..? i thought in the beginning of humanity.. everyone was h\g
that section in the book on “new times”
https://redefineschool.com/affluence-wo-abundance/.. starting p 193
so.. very beginning of transitions.. like he said – climate.. and i’m guessing.. population increase..
james suzman (@anthrowittering) tweeted at 8:48 AM on Fri, Mar 30, 2018:
All this entails, somewhat ironically, will be lots of work on my part to persuade people that maybe we should all work a whole lot less. https://t.co/P7kxdIgcgh
This book is a tour de force’ – @AdamMGrant
James Suzman, anthropologist and author of Affluence Without Abundance, is back with a groundbreaking history of work.
Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time by @anthrowittering is coming this September https://t.co/nUdvBdPNpEhttps://t.co/b2CgBSyZb2
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/BloomsburyBooks/status/1290237232939335680
Economic crises that kick off huge Govt subsidies for us to stuff our chops with KFC suggests to me that we have reached a point of such material affluence that we ought to slow the F*ck down and just share stuff better. #EatOutToHelpOut
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/anthrowittering/status/1290333349194670080
Fantastic article by @anthrowittering. He will be delving deeper into how we work at the upcoming #FTWeekendFestival, September 3-5. Book your tickets here: https://t.co/koVDo2Rq6D https://t.co/RhoGZw9DQT
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/ftlive/status/1299270529128554497
2nd link is to article.. about being wired for hard work
One thing I wish I’d added to the article was about the fallacy of competition in survival of the fittest. Co-operation is just as important if not more so. Same in business. Why otherwise would we have so many anti-trust laws to enforce competition!
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/anthrowittering/status/1299271589062639617