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Thread: Was Civilization Just a Big Mistake?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightSwimmer View Post
    One thing is for certain. Had we kept our old ways and avoided modernization, there would be far fewer of us today. I suppose one could consider that either a blessing or a curse.
    As a measure of biological success, its nearly definitive.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    Considering our live span was about 20 years back then and that its over 80 now I'd say cultivation has worked out in our favor.
    You're exaggerating on both ends.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    Primitive man lived difficult, brutish, and short lives.
    As Hobbes put it in Leviathan:

    "In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    I wouldn't call civilization a mistake. It naturally evolved. But our bodies evolved for one way of life - hunter/gathering - and has problems dealing with the agrarian lives we lead now. I recently read "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" and the author made a persuasive argument about the ways cultivating grains has not been so good for us. We're too dependent on cultivated food. For a long time, just after we became farmers, we were dependent on one food, essentially. And when there was a crop failure everyone went hungry. Agrarian societies had a less nutritious diet for centuries. Whereas, hunter/gatherers (it should be gatherer/hunters because we were always more dependent on plant foods than meat) relied on a wide variety of foods and would just move on if the food supply dwindled and ate with the seasons. Farming brought on widespread disease because of stored grains that rodents would live in. The labor associated with farming has not been good for human backs. And on and on.



    Was Civilization Just a Big Mistake? ? Mother Jones

    And I agree that the development of farming wasn't motivated by the lust for power, but it is an outcome. And it can be said that that power has led to lots of war. We didn't have war before we became agrarian societies. We always see ourselves as so much more civilized than our hunter/gatherer ancestors. But I don't really think that's true. We are more violent and experience more stress day to day than they did. The violence is caused by the need for land and the need for land is caused by farming. I'm not saying they were better genetically. They were the same as us. I'm saying that we've put ourselves into a position where we trigger our own violence. And we cause our own stress.

    I will have to read the book they're talking about, though. It's one of my favorite topics.

    Also, i recommend Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel". Very enlightening. Here'a the documentary if you don't want to read the book.

    That quote is a terrific mischaracterization of Diamond's book. The main point of "Guns, germs, steel" is that western civilization has dominated other world cultures, and has been so much more productive and creative, because of the fortuitous presence of domesticable plants and animals in the fertile crescent and adjacent latitudes which allowed excess food production and hence specialization and higher levels of social organization, leading to innovations that hunter gatherers would never have the free time to develop since they were spending their entire day merely surviving. As for the Mother Jones article about "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", it sounds like a typical bunch of socialist crap. Yeah, we'd all be better off living like our ancestors did 60,000 years ago. Sure.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otto Throttle View Post
    That quote is a terrific mischaracterization of Diamond's book. The main point of "Guns, germs, steel" is that western civilization has dominated other world cultures, and has been so much more productive and creative, because of the fortuitous presence of domesticable plants and animals in the fertile crescent and adjacent latitudes which allowed excess food production and hence specialization and higher levels of social organization, leading to innovations that hunter gatherers would never have the free time to develop since they were spending their entire day merely surviving. As for the Mother Jones article about "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", it sounds like a typical bunch of socialist crap. Yeah, we'd all be better off living like our ancestors did 60,000 years ago. Sure.
    I did NOT say we'd all be better off if we'd remained hunter/gatherers. I stated that I think we could learn from the effects of the transition from that to farming. And it hasn't all been perfect. There are problems associated with with our way of life. While I don't have a desire to be a hunter/gatherer, I think it wasn't as horrible a life as modern humans imagine it to have been. In reality, hunter/gatherers spent less time working than farmers which gave them the time to develop farming. As a matter of fact, modern humans work more than they did. We have less time time for innovations.

    As to Diamond's point, the people who haven't developed as advanced societies in fact are NOT hunter/gatherers. They're trying to farm land and animals that aren't particularly easy to grow on land that isn't particularly hospitable to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Otto Throttle View Post
    That quote is a terrific mischaracterization of Diamond's book. The main point of "Guns, germs, steel" is that western civilization has dominated other world cultures, and has been so much more productive and creative, because of the fortuitous presence of domesticable plants and animals in the fertile crescent and adjacent latitudes which allowed excess food production and hence specialization and higher levels of social organization, leading to innovations that hunter gatherers would never have the free time to develop since they were spending their entire day merely surviving. As for the Mother Jones article about "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", it sounds like a typical bunch of socialist crap. Yeah, we'd all be better off living like our ancestors did 60,000 years ago. Sure.
    It's the business of academics to raise such questions and study them, even advocate for them. But for such views to prevail, they have to convince the majority--even the vast majority--that they make more sense than other views. The proliferation of our species at the top of the food chain, dominating every continent on the earth tends to render this view less than optimum.

    I've seen the argument that because surplus leads to inequality, our production of surplus is the problem. That seems risible to me, but it's still an idea in the maelstrom of ideas people think.

    It's like dogs arguing over whether it was a good idea for their wolf-like ancestors to seek domestication among humans. After all, wolves are much more free. They don't have to fawn over humans and beg for their suppers or do work for us. On the other hand, there are billions of dogs in the world and many fewer wolves, so who was smarter?

  7. #17
    Master political analyst Dittohead not!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    I did NOT say we'd all be better off if we'd remained hunter/gatherers. I stated that I think we could learn from the effects of the transition from that to farming. And it hasn't all been perfect. There are problems associated with with our way of life. While I don't have a desire to be a hunter/gatherer, I think it wasn't as horrible a life as modern humans imagine it to have been. In reality, hunter/gatherers spent less time working than farmers which gave them the time to develop farming. As a matter of fact, modern humans work more than they did. We have less time time for innovations.

    As to Diamond's point, the people who haven't developed as advanced societies in fact are NOT hunter/gatherers. They're trying to farm land and animals that aren't particularly easy to grow on land that isn't particularly hospitable to it.
    True, life of a peasant farmer before the machine age was nothing to envy. The lives of farm workers doing jobs that machines can't yet do are pretty difficult as well, but still not as difficult as those of the hunter gatherers. And now, machines are increasingly freeing man from drudgery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    True, life of a peasant farmer before the machine age was nothing to envy. The lives of farm workers doing jobs that machines can't yet do are pretty difficult as well, but still not as difficult as those of the hunter gatherers. And now, machines are increasingly freeing man from drudgery.
    And income.

    The English-speaking world once faced a different industrial revolution that created a population explosion as young people married earlier, not needing to wait in order to save up to buy land. That resulted in tons of extra people in Britain, often with nothing to do. The "solutions" to this problem were brutal and involved lots of scenarios in which people died or were killed. What will happen when this industrial revolution makes large portions of our population essentially useless? Will it be a basic minimum income along with family planning? Or will we go with "war"? There are no colonies to send them to, so that's out....

    How about opiate hotels with unlimited supplies of drugs but no Narcon? Just drag out the overdoses to make room for more hopeless people looking for a few months of ecstacy?
    Last edited by Rasselas; 24th November 2017 at 07:25 AM.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    And income.

    The English-speaking world once faced a different industrial revolution that created a population explosion as young people married earlier, not needing to wait in order to save up to buy land. That resulted in tons of extra people in Britain, often with nothing to do. The "solutions" to this problem were brutal and involved lots of scenarios in which people died or were killed. What will happen when this industrial revolution makes large portions of our population essentially useless? Will it be a basic minimum income along with family planning? Or will we go with "war"? There are no colonies to send them to, so that's out....

    How about opiate hotels with unlimited supplies of drugs but no Narcon? Just drag out the overdoses to make room for more hopeless people looking for a few months of ecstacy?
    Well, I think climate change may reduce the population and take care of the problem of a lack jobs. Just after the Black Plague ended, life for the average person improved considerably because of the reduced population and lack of workers. That meant it was an employee's market and they demand better wages and working conditions. And it lead to the Renaissance.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    Well, I think climate change may reduce the population and take care of the problem of a lack jobs. Just after the Black Plague ended, life for the average person improved considerably because of the reduced population and lack of workers. That meant it was an employee's market and they demand better wages and working conditions. And it lead to the Renaissance.
    Except that the response to peasant revolts was brutal and fairly quick. The "it lead to the Renaissance" claim is a little dubious, IMO. May have been a contributing factor because of economic displacement leading to the efficacy of banks. Not sure it was a causal facto, though.

    The problem with THIS revolution is that while the Black Plague killed about half of Europe, the displacement of THIS industrial revolution may reduce the useful human population in developed countries by 90%.

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