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Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth Rationalizing Our Descent Into Civilization: We Once Had the Run of the Forest and the “Original Affluent Society”

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Out of Eden, Part Two — Agrarian Revolution … or Devolution? The Adoption of Agriculture Brought Drudgery for Humans … And So We Cast Ourselves Out of the Garden

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A Fall from Grace?

The Switch from Hunter-Gatherer to Horticultural Lifeways

Turning now from the individual, the microcosm, to that of society, the macrocosm, the obvious historical corollary to the Fall from Grace in Eden is the switch from the hunter-gatherer way of life to the horticultural. For most of our time on this planet, our species has lived as hunter-gatherers. But the switch to the harnessing of Nature and the less mobile agricultural way of life brought with it a correspondingly different worldview.

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We Once Had the Run of the Forest

There were specific economic factors that came into play here.  The hunter-gatherer culture has been called “the original affluent society” — with the amount of daily work required for survival being estimated at only four hours (Sahlins, 1972; Bird-David, 1992). 

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With the run of the forest, so to speak, and so much spare time for personal, creative, or playful pursuits, it is easy to imagine hunter-gatherers having more congenial attitudes toward each other.

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The Agrarian Revolution Brought Drudgery for Humans

With the beginnings of agriculture and the domestication of animals, the so-called “agrarian revolution,” repression and oppression begin to rear their ugly heads. (See The Great Reveal)

Being truly a “fall from grace,” agriculture, along with the seeming advantage of control of Nature, brings with it a significant increase in work time required — especially at certain seasonal times.

And Large Families, Child Labor

So here we have also the beginnings of large families (free labor) and child labor. Children are born into families where they feel themselves invisible and unspecial and are forced into drudgery at an early age. This is, of course, contrary to an individual child’s needs and desires; so authoritarian controls and a system of sanctions and punishments are required.

A painting by artist Michel Angelo Pacet

And Hierarchy in Society … a Master/Slave Pattern … Elites, Law, Punishment, and Out-Laws

This master/slave pattern is reflected also in the larger culture. With the onset of horticulture we have the beginnings of settled communities.  Whereas in nomadic groups it does not pay to own very much and hence an egalitarianism is the rule, in settled groups we have the gradual accumulation of wealth and property into the hands of a few. This brings in a hierarchical society and an elitism which, reflecting the situation of the family, requires control of the populace for the ends of the elite. Thus a system of dire sanctions and punishments is instituted. We have the beginnings of law . . . and hence of “out-laws” — that is, those who refuse or cannot abide by the wishes of the dominant group.

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And Conformity and Repression of the Self: Authoritarian Cultures Create Authoritarian Personalities. We Have the Beginnings of Religion.

The agrarian culture is, generally speaking, much less tolerant of individual differences, viewing them as potential threats to essentially ill-gotten wealth and power. Its economic system “requires” conformity and repression of individualistic impulses of all kinds. This cultural and familial situation is reflected in the psyches of those who pass for “normal” in that society.  Authoritarian cultures create authoritarian personalities. The members themselves are as equally repressive of their own “individualistic” impulses as the larger society is oppressive of such corresponding individuals and groups.

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We have the beginnings of religion. Whereas primal cultures look to personal experience of the numinous as a basis for establishing a relation to any Larger Reality beyond the self, hierarchical societies extend the effort to control the populace for the benefit of the elites into the private realm. Clerical authorities now mediate with the supernatural. Conformity and suppression of impulses is sought even in directing the very thoughts and consciousness of societal members.

Greek Orthodox ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew blesses believers during a Christmas mass in Aya Yorgi (St. George) church at Fener Greek orthodox patriarchate in Istanbul

There Was No War: Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth … Hiding Our True History, Our True Human Nature as It Rationalizes Civilization and Its Enforced Enslavement as a Boon

In support of this, I quote:

The entire period under discussion, from 3.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, was a peaceful period.  There are no remains of weapons used by humans against humans, no signs of groups of human beings being slaughtered. pigmeos-Mbuti-300x170 Thus the early forms of humanity, far from being savagely aggressive and cruel, were probably a gentle, humorous, peaceable folk, like many tribes living to this day in gentle climates. The picture previously offered of early societies — that of a patrilocal band of related males who exchanged women and treated them as commodities — is a patriarchal construct; such societies probably never existed. Most likely, early gatherer/hunters lived in fluid, flexible egalitarian groups. This is not to say that these people lacked aggressiveness and did not experience conflict. But they developed social skills for dealing with negative interaction; their education focused on personal relations, cooperation, their part in a larger whole.

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RdBirthFly_copyA group life centered on child care and sharing could not survive in a highly aggressive environment.  Intense aggressiveness would have destroyed the species. And among present-day gatherer/hunters, whose customs vary from extreme male dominance to more or less equal but segregated male/female to integrated egalitarian societies, one factor is universal: all live by sharing. A degree of aggressiveness is culturally induced: where it is not valued, it is not strong. This “advance” was left to Homo sapiens and that glory, civilization.  (French, 1985, p. 39)

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Upon which Skibbins (1991) elaborates,

As [Marilyn] French documents in her book Beyond Power, the first three and a half million years of our existence on this planet as hominids and the first 85,000 years walking on this planet as homo sapiens, we lived without war. There are no cave paintings of war. Replace that inaccurate bear killing bundle of testosterone which Wilber paints, with the images of the tribe in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy.  Research in anthropology and paleontology reveal that we were a gentle, nomadic, primarily vegetarian people. For 95 percent of our lives on our planet both genders shared their love of children, their loyalty to hearth and tribe, and their deep sense of connection with each other and with the earth mother who gave them life.

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Aggression, domination, subjugation, isolation, depersonalization, sowing wild oats and clinging to powerful others are the products of the last 5,000 years.  They reflect the gradual domination of a worldview obsessed with an addiction to power and control.  This pollution has so warped our capacity to love that we believe the differences Wilber describes to be inherent.  Actually they are a symptom of a recent aberration in our history, a disease which we may be nearing the end of. . . .  (Skibbins, 1991)

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So at a certain point some of us began the agricultural attempt to harness the natural order for our benefit. The hunter-gatherer and the agricultural lifestyles correspondingly reflect two radically divergent ways of viewing oneself and the world — two separate attitudes, two different consciousnesses, if you will.

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The Original Affluent Society

In the agricultural worldview, people are separated from nature and seek to control it. By contrast, the hunter-gatherer sees in nature a great provider who asks only that one relate harmoniously to it and act in harmony with it. Marshall Sahlins (1972), in the famous anthropological essay titled “The Original Affluent Society,” first published in 1968, which did a lot to expose Western ethnocentric biases in evaluating these early cultures, wrote “a pristine affluence colors their economic arrangements, a trust in the abundance of nature’s resources rather than despair at the inadequacy of human means” (p. 29). But see, also, Colin Turnbull’s (1961) classic, The Forest People, for further help in freeing oneself from the burden of our limiting Western heritage concerning the basic “darkness” of human nature.

Mbuti boys wear grass skirts during their circumcision ceremony.

Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust in Relation to the Natural World

From these newer perspectives it is easier to see how, since Nature is seen as beneficent, this dependence on it is not viewed as a problem. Still, it does imply a strong element of basic trust; whereas the agrarian culture seeks to control the natural and economic forces upon which it is dependent and implies basic mistrust.

We Opted for “The Struggle” Over Easy Living

And So We Cast Ourselves Out of the Garden

The relationship for the agricultural society, thus, is one of fear, struggle, attempt to control nature, and to propitiate and appease God — in a word, separation, analogous to the physical separation at birth of the newborn from the mother.

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Notice that at the outset, in The Bible, immediately after being thrown out of Eden, people are agricultural:

And Adam knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.  And she again bare his brother Abel.  And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  (Genesis, 4:1-2)

We Ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil = We Split Life Into a Duality of Pleasure and Pain, Seeking to Possess One and Avoid the Other … at Great Cost, for We Turned Life Into Great Effort

We, of course, did not really start out keeping sheep and tilling the ground.  So in Genesis the entire period of a hundred-thousand years … or three-million years, if you include our hominid existence … of hunter-gatherer culture is subsumed under the time in Eden. But then, speaking metaphorically, we ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We no longer trusted “God” … Nature, Divine Providence, the All That Is … and instead attempted ourselves to gain power over nature by the separation of life into a duality of good and evil and pleasure and pain — struggling to avoid one and possess the other.

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In doing this we began our agricultural lifestyle, and so we were thrust out of The Garden.

Since this did not happen for that 95 to 99 percent of our previous existence, what changed? What was that “apple”?

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I contend it was birth pain. And this is what we address next.

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Continue with Birth Pain Causes a Feverish Human Mind, Struggling Against Nature and the Divine, Which We Call “Intelligence”: Out of Eden, Part Three — Birth, “Intelligence,” and Culture

Return to Is Birth the Beginning of Consciousness, as We Assume, or Is It the Forgetting of Innate Divine Awareness: Out of Eden, Part One, Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting?

For an Overview and Links to Other Parts of This Work-in-Progress, Go to Prodigal Human: The Descent of Man

Falls from Grace: The Devolution and Revolution of Consciousness – Michael’s latest book – is now available in print and e-book formats.

at http://www.amazon.com/Falls-Grace-Devolution-Revolution-Consciousness/dp/1499297998/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1400787010&sr=1-3 

Planetmates: The Great Reveal  is also available in print and e-book format.  at https://www.createspace.com/4691119

and at Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/Planetmates-Great-Reveal-Return-Grace/dp/1496083326/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399084684&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+adzema

To purchase any of Michael Adzema’s books, available in print and e-book formats, go to Michael Adzema’s books at Amazon.

To purchase a signed copy of any of my books, email me at sillymickel@gmail.com … Discount for blog subscribers.

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Why Humans Are the Sorriest of Species … Apocalyptic Foretellings Hidden in Myths of Eden, Prometheus, Pandora, Icarus, Cain and Abel: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 11

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Kaleidoscope of Postmodern Life, Part Eleven: Prometheus, Meat-Eating, Pandora, Eden, the Apple, the Fall, Cain, Abel, and When and Why Human Life Became All About Work

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Meat-Eating and Apocalypse…First Falls and Last

rn-27f5After writing the previous section on fire, meat, Prometheus, and Icarus, and in subsequent research into the Prometheus myth, I found there is far more connection in the myth to the eating of meat than I realized. bgrn1476lAlso, the myth’s elements underscore the idea in the previous article that in stealing fire/ eating meat, we set off the developments that would lead to our apocalyptic prognosis today. Further, it is clear that the Prometheus myth is the Greek analogue to the Judaic myth of Eden and the Fall, which supports my thinking that the apple in the Garden of Eden represents meat—meat eating…hunting…killing of planetmates.

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The Greek Fall from Grace—Prometheus

Prometheus’s Meat Trick

early-humans-278x225In the Prometheus myth, the fire stealing started with a trick that Prometheus played on Zeus. Prometheus—midway between gods and men, a Titan—gave the god two offerings from which Zeus was to choose. He gave meat and bones. Zeus chose the bones, supposedly because it was packaged more attractively. This is said to be the basis for why humans eat meat, according to ancient understandings.

Zeus—Not Amused

promethesfghshdusBut when Zeus realized the dutrust3trick, he was pissed … understandably. He hid fire from humans in retribution. Subsequently, Prometheus stole the fire and gave it to mankind. But this angered Zeus even more. So, this time to take revenge, he sent the first woman, Pandora, to live with men.

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Ha Ha … Very Funny, Zeus. Thanks a Lot for the Pandora

Sophia_Gnostic_Humanity-HealingPandora literally means “all gifts.” So it is that Pandora represents all the blessings that come with human advancement, represented by harnessing fire. But Pandora, as we all know, brings all troubles as well.1_sc00e4388f She carries a jar that, opened, releases all “evils, harsh pain and troublesome diseases which give men death.”

Pandora shuts the jar but it is too late, and many of the evils had already escaped. Interestingly, what remains in the closed jar along with the rest of the evils is hope. This is a theme that I return to again and again in this book and the subsequent one, The Great Reveal, in discussing what we need to do about our dire situation: That is, turn and face it, delve deeper into it and not turn away, for therein lies our only real hope.

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Eden – the Biblical Fall – Life Becomes Endless Work and Struggle

Hunter-Gatherer Egalitarianism by Christopher Boehmfred_flintstoneBut notice the parallels with the myth of Eden. In the Biblical rendering, the eating of the apple—which I say represents eating meat—results in the end of easy existence and that from then on humans survive only through “the sweat of one’s brow.”

The Original “Leisure Society”

first_peopleSure enough, the end of the nomadic and knowledge.originalvegetarian existence of early humans—called the first “affluent society” because it required only three hours a day of work to garner what was needed for survival—occurs with the introduction of hunting, then agriculture, then husbandry. [The Great Reveal and Footnote 1]

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Strenuous Living, Slavery to Survival

And in the Bible, we notice that immediately after Eden, the “second generation” of humans is seen working strenuously to survive as represented by Cain and Able, who were one a tiller of the soil and the other a herder of animals.

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promethesfgsgfusThat not bad enough, but then after Cain slew Abel, like a second fall from grace God added an even greater load of hard work. Cain was told that to punish him, the earth that had soaked up the blood he’d spilled would resist aiding him in producing his crops and he and those who came after him would have strenuous work in eking sustenance from Fire Birdher and a hard life in simply surviving.

As an aside, notice how whenever we talk about the deepest structures of our mind—and myths provide a glimpse into that—we see the perinatal gestalt. For the Earth here—the placenta—is no longer rich, nourishing, and helpful but, as is the case for the prenate in the late stages of gestation, is impoverished of oxygen and nutrients and less vital, less supportive of one’s continued living.

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Promethean Fall – Defiance is Punished by Hard Work, Like in Eden

2005-RachelStone-PrometheusAnd the Prometheus myth also has this same sequence as in Eden and the Fall of a defiance of the ways of Nature and God followed by a punishment and suffering, but also by strenuous work as being the lot of humans from then on. For as Hesiod relates the myth, Zeus did more than take fire from humans in revenge for being tricked out of the meat that Prometheus first deprived him of (and for that you can read that humans article-2114122-1223540D000005DC-635_634x410took from God/Nature the determination of life and death, which in our deciding to kill planetmates, we most assuredly did, see next post), but Zeus also took from humans “the means of life.”

And the consequences of this are similar to being cast out of Eden. For if fire AncestralPuebloans_Anasazihad not been stolen…meat not eaten by humans…humans not adopted hunting, horticulture, husbandry, NativeAmericanDancersas Hesiod puts it, “you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working; soon would you put away your rudder over the smoke, and the fields worked by ox and sturdy mule would run to waste.”

Continue with Deep Thoughts on The Fall – On Sacrifice, Dominion Over Death, Meat, and Murder … Beginning Our Apocalypse: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 12

Return to Sorry, Billy Joel, But We Did Start the Fire: Why Humans Are So Big on Burning…And Its Apocalyptic Prognosis For Us Today: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 10

Footnote

1. Excerpted from “From Hunting and Gathering to Sowing and Reaping

Cultural evolution can be defined as the process of developing the tools and skills to deal with certain challenges. Therefore challenges present the key stimulus for any kind of development. The challenge to survive as a hunter/gatherers is not inconsiderable – and early humans met the challenge for hundreds of thousands of years, without depleting their natural environment. Agriculture was invented about 10000 years ago and many of the environmental crisis we face today are directly related to this paradigm shift, from the destruction of the world’s forests in order to grow crops, to the depletion of land due to monocultural plantations, to salination and a thousand other woes.

Nomadic hunters and gatherersEarly humans were nomads. They roamed within a certain range. Trespassing into another group’s range could result in conflict. However, due to population limits, each group’s range was quite extensive. It is often assumed that finding food must have been incredibly challenging and time consuming, yet, research has demonstrated that in favourable habitats only an average of 3h per day are needed to collect food, plus some more time for preparation. Anyone who has ever even partially lived on foraged foods knows that nature supplies plentifully – each thing in its season. It is also a popular idea to imagine that people were moving around constantly, only remaining in one place for a matter of days. But there is no reason to assume such restlessness. It seems far more likely that people would move from campground to campground in accordance with the seasons, in tune with the things they would find in each place. And it seems reasonable to assume that they would remain in each place long enough to gather and process for transport whatever gifts Mother Nature had offered. Only in areas that are particularly hostile, such as deserts or the circumpolar regions, would frequent moving be necessary since food supplies are less abundant.

(At the 1966 ‘Man the Hunter’ conference, Marshall Sahlins presented a paper entitled, “Notes on the Original Affluent Society,” in which he challenged the popular view of hunter-gatherers living lives “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” as Thomas Hobbes had put it in 1651. According to Sahlins, ethnographic data indicated that hunter-gatherers worked far fewer hours and enjoyed more leisure than typical members of industrial society, and they still ate well. Their “affluence” came from the idea that they are satisfied with very little in the material sense. This, he said, constituted a Zen economy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter-gatherer)

More at “From Hunting and Gathering to Sowing and Reaping” at http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/food/civilization.php

Continue with Deep Thoughts on The Fall – On Sacrifice, Dominion Over Death, Meat, and Murder … Beginning Our Apocalypse: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 12

Return to Sorry, Billy Joel, But We Did Start the Fire: Why Humans Are So Big on Burning…And Its Apocalyptic Prognosis For Us Today: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 10

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