Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Education: Production vs Plunder

   
   
       
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378

    Education: Production vs Plunder



    EDITORIAL


    By Paul Rosenberg - April 04, 2015





    The Daily Bell is honored to present Paul Rosenberg's Production Versus Plunder as a weekly Saturday series. First, an introduction, from Paul ...


    I am greatly pleased to run Production Versus Plunder as a serial here at The Daily Bell. We'll post one section each week, running from beginning to end.


    Production Versus Plunder is a history book, but I'm sure it's unlike any history book you've ever read. And I'm sure of that because I tried for decades to find a general history that made sense to me, and never found one.


    I went to some of the best schools in my home town, got excellent test scores and, considering how much I hated school, secured some fairly decent grades. I was able to make sense of math, of science, and of more or less every subject but one: history. I was able to remember the dates and pass the tests, but it never made sense to me.


    I could understand how math worked. I could verify it, test it and use it. To use an old '60s phrase, I could grok it. It was the same with science: I might have to work at it, but once I did, I could understand how the various materials and forces interacted; it made sense.


    I could never get that from history. It was a jumble of disconnected facts and unsupported theories. I was able to ignore the problem once I left school, but it stayed in the back on my mind. For decades I read all sorts of history books (good ones, bad ones, crazy ones), trying to make sense of the subject. I spent a lot of time in museums. I absorbed a lot of data, but I still had no depth of understanding.


    Finally, in the autumn of 2008, I had my breakthrough. The pieces finally came together and this book was written, at white heat, over a three-week period.


    One thing I learned is that the history textbooks we received in school were political. They began with a mandate: That the past must be made to support the dominant cultural paradigm, or at least not make it look bad.


    And that is precisely the wrong way to do history.


    So, welcome to a history book that makes sense. Production Versus Plunder covers the civilizations of the West, from their earliest beginnings to the near future. I hope to revise it in 2016, to reflect new discoveries and my own increased knowledge, but there will be no change to the narrative: The story remains the same.


    Welcome aboard,

    Paul Rosenberg


    Production Versus Plunder:
    The Ancient War that Is Destroying the West

    Chapter One: What Is Man?


    What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. – Psalms 8:4-5


    It is an arrogance of modern man to think of himself as superior to his dim-witted and unimaginative ancestors. He is not. We are not. There have been no significant changes to the human species in 30,000 years, and perhaps not in 100,000 years. Our images of grunting cavemen are self-flattering nonsense. We are them; they were us.


    Yes, our current style of living is far more advanced than that of our distant ancestors, but only because they – slowly and with great struggle – were able to create our current mode of living on earth, and to pass it down successfully to us. Hundreds of generations of men and women labored and suffered to bring us to where we are now. It was not magic and it was not because we deserved it; it is only because of their benefaction. They lived in dark times, fighting toward whatever bits of light they could find – opposed by other men nearly the entire time – and they scratched through enough thorns, weeds and underbrush to bring humanity to where we find ourselves now. We have no right to insult them and to devalue them. It is cheap, and it is false.


    AN ANCIENT SUPERIORITY


    While we presently lead far more advanced lives than any of the ancients, there is one aspect of ancient existence that was superior to ours, and that is self-image. The core of this is captured in one of our older texts, the book of Genesis. A passage in the second chapter reads:


    The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but among them there was not found a helper suitable for him.


    This passage points out the most obvious conclusion of men who live in direct contact with nature: Human superiority.


    A great number of contemporary men, insulated from the world of nature, walk around with a highly-cultivated sense of inferiority and self-doubt. Our early ancestors did not bear these burdens; certainly not at the levels of modern, institutionalized man. Early man was immersed in nature, and there was absolutely nothing in nature that came remotely close to being his equal. Our ancestors knew for certain that they were superior to the animals. Nothing in the animal world could reason, could talk, could create. Some of them were friendly enough, some were useful and some were serious threats, but none was remotely man's equal.


    The acknowledgement of superiority is a long-lost human trait, at least for most of us, and when it does appear, it is generally in a corrupted form, featuring a sadistic thirst for domination. We will examine modern self-loathing in a latter chapter, but for now it is worth noting that this original form of acknowledged superiority seems to have been universal (living in daily contact with nature, it couldn't be avoided) and it seems not to have been destructive. In fact, it probably empowered a good deal of human progress.


    THE INPENETRABLE PAST


    For the last half-million years, our planet has experienced a string of at least four ice ages. In each of them, a huge portion of the earth has been covered with ice and snow and the rest of the planet was much colder than it is now. And, in each case, the surface of the earth has been radically changed, wiping out much or all evidence of human life before the ice came. Millennia of moving glaciers, runoff, winds, rock falls, and other geological changes would almost certainly erase most traces of what had been before. We simply don't know what happened before the end of the last ice age in any detail. We don't know what humans built and we know little of how they lived during the ice ages.


    It has been suggested1 that evolution and migrations through these four ice ages separated the races of men. This may well be true, but the theory has little support from evidence at the current time, and, given that glaciers, runoff and hundreds of millennia are not kind to artifacts, not much may be forthcoming.


    The surprising thing about the ice ages is that they were very, very long. Warm periods, such as the one we now live in, are the exception. Most of the time, earth is half-frozen2. Look at the following graph of temperatures and ice volume and consider that the world is in its current state only at the peaks on the graph. These warm peaks, called "interglacials" have generally lasted in the range of 10,000-12,000 years, meaning that we may be approaching the end of a warm period and closing in on a new – and very long – glacial period.


    The last ice age on earth ended at about 8000 B.C. In the years near that point, whatever humans that had survived the ice age began to spread out over the earth. We have little information on what these people did during the ice age. Since humans now and then are the same, we can carefully imagine ourselves in such a situation and guess how they would have behaved, but evidence is lacking.


    The traditional view of early man is that he lived, almost universally, as a hunter-gatherer, and while it is certain that many groups of humans lived that way (and some still do), that may not be a fair generalization. A portion of the idea's popularity may come from the fact that it is a simple explanation and because it fits with our self-flattering opinion that we are different and better than our distant ancestors. It may be that men lived as hunter-gatherers (foragers, in more scientific terminology) for a hundred thousand years before they learned agriculture, but we do not know that for sure – the ice age would have wiped out a lot of evidence.


    Nonetheless, we do find evidence of foragers previous to the end of the ice age and we don't find evidence of farming. So, we will stay with that model, given the caveat mentioned above.


    During the times of foraging, most humans organized themselves in small clan groups, probably in the range of 20-50 people per group. This was probably a highly-functional type of grouping, and may have some sort of instinctive base as well, since human minds are very comfortable keeping fifty individuals clearly in mind, along with all of their abilities, needs and personal traits.


    Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Inside the clan, decisions were generally made by informal consent, and clans cooperated with other friendly clans to form loose tribal associations. They also interacted violently with unfriendly clans. These were not mass wars as we know them, but they could be violent and deadly, generally being fought with stone axes, arrows and spears.


    THE MINDS OF THE FORAGERS


    The foragers thought the same thoughts we would think, if we were in the same situation they found themselves in, and if we found ourselves with the same small knowledge base they had. These people concerned themselves with the same things humans always have: How to escape fear, pain, and sorrow. How to increase security, pleasure, and joy. How to realize their dreams of something better. Beyond this, they needed to find some way to make peace with the hard areas of life:



    • Sickness and death
    • Existence itself
    • Shame
    • Fear
    • Helplessness



    These factors, and certainly others, led to the first philosophies and religions. Religion is, after all, just a type of philosophy that focuses on what philosophers call metaphysics3. So, because these folks did not have a great deal of knowledge, their philosophies would have included a lot of conjecture on things they couldn't explain. Having the faculty of imagination, they would have exercised it at some length, seeking clever answers to their questions. And, over time, the best and most entertaining of such imaginings turn into myths.


    These early religious myths tended to focus on imaginary beings and powers that lay behind nature. This could have begun in ways as 'modern' as saying "The principle of the sun, which we do not yet understand," rather than saying "the Sun God," but, the simplest ideas are the ones that tend to stick, and the Sun God would have quickly displaced more scientific explanations.


    HOW MANY?


    There were very few humans on the planet at the end of the last ice age, and the available areas for living were as large as they are now. This meant that any group of humans would be almost entirely isolated from all other groups. This made the transfer of information slow and uncommon.


    The US Census Bureau produces a report called Historical Estimates of World Population. According to this document, there were only about five million human beings on earth at the end of the last ice age. That is less than one-thousandth of the current world population, spread over the same area. (And the earth is mostly empty space even now.) Imagine every human being on the earth wiped out, save only those in the city of Baghdad, and then scattering these survivors all over the earth. That was precisely the condition at the end of the ice age. Humans were very few and widely scattered.


    Aside from speech, which is not especially accurate over time, functional methods of transferring information barely existed – presuming that you found a group that you wanted to share information with. If you wanted information to last, you carved it into stone. So, not a lot of information was retained and shared.


    YEAR POPULATION (millions)


    10,000 BC.............................................. 5
    8,000 BC................................................ 5
    6,500 BC................................................ 7
    5,000 BC................................................ 8
    4,000 BC...............................................1 0
    3,000 BC...............................................1 4
    2,000 BC...............................................2 7
    1,000 BC...............................................5 0
    500 BC................................................ 100
    1 AD................................................ ....200
    200 AD................................................ 230
    400 AD................................................ 220
    600 AD................................................ 200
    800 AD................................................ 220
    1000 AD..............................................30 0
    1200 AD..............................................40 0
    1400 AD..............................................35 0
    1600 AD..............................................50 0
    1800 AD...........................................1,000
    2000 AD.......................................... 5,000+


    The result of this incredibly low population density was not only that information traveled slowly, but that groups of humans were generally unopposed by other human beings. This lead to development without much stress from the outside. Once a group of humans found a way of life that worked for them, they could develop it among themselves with very little exterior pressure. Bear in mind that the greatest obstacle for productive men has always been other men. That was much less the case at a time when there was almost no one else around. This allowed ideas to develop without what we might call "natural enemies."


    THE INVENTION OF COOPERATION & HARMONY


    It is not entirely natural for humans to get along. We tend, naturally, to favor those who are most closely related to us (with whom we share more DNA) and we have usually existed in conditions of scarcity, which has often-enough led to competition. Imagine two separate groups of foragers, attempting to gather food from the same forest: They would – based solely upon animal-level instincts – dispute whose food it was, which would lead to aggressive and perhaps violent behavior. This is common in our times and would have been no less in the past, at least where groups of humans pressed upon each other. In such conditions, human instincts are very similar to those of animals, and they push us to act as animals do – to defend, to attempt dominance, to show status, and so on.


    However, as we have said before, we are not merely animals, and we can override instinctive impulse with reason. Specifically, we can imagine better ways of handling problems, or remember how they were handled in the past – in ways that were superior to mere instinct, which leads to injury and death, possibly in great numbers4.


    Most importantly, we can override our instincts. We can control them.


    We have learned to recognize when impulses strike us and to restrain them before thoughtless actions are taken. We interrupt the instinct and introduce into that moment a command to take a better, more rational course of action. Our ancestors knew, just as we do, that envy, greed, fear, and impulsive actions can cause great harm. They learned to monitor their own thoughts with vigilance and to maintain harmony, against some of their instincts.


    Humans created cooperation and harmony – we were not born into it in some mythical past.


    This is the foundation of human progress and it began no later than the end of the last ice age, at about 8,000 B.C.


    Notes:



    1. See The Evolution of Civilizations, by Carroll Quigley, published by Liberty Tree.
    2. In the last ice age, what are now Indianapolis and St. Louis were covered with glaciers – the same as Greenland's current state. Even the areas where soil was exposed were much colder than they are now.
    3. Metaphysics asks, "What is the nature of existence?" and it tends to ask questions about what might exist beyond our sight and analysis.
    4. Killing unprotected humans is not a particularly difficult thing. In ancient times it was generally accomplished with a stone ax or with a mace. Any healthy, post-adolescent male can kill with a mace-blow to the head, and even a small ax wielded by a child could kill in the days before antiseptics.

    * * * * *

    To be continued ... Part 2


    You can get much more from Paul in his unique monthly newsletter, Free-Man's Perspective.
    py

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    By Paul Rosenberg - April 11, 2015




    Last week we introduced a new Saturday serial, Paul Rosenberg's Production Versus Plunder: The Ancient War that Is Destroying the West. Today, Part 2 ...


    THREE GROUPS FORM


    We have no good way of knowing how the few and scattered humans on earth migrated at the end of the ice age. We have only a limited and fuzzy idea of where they came from and how they moved. What can be deduced from the available information is that three general groups began to form in the greater Middle East – in the area from Arabia to the steppe of southwestern Asia. We know precious little about these groups, but we do know enough to understand their general characteristics. The figure below shows the general distribution of these groups. This particular distribution is from a later time, but it does show the general pattern we are discussing.


    When discussing these groups, it is important to repeat what we have previously mentioned: That there were very few of them, that they were widely scattered, and that there was very little interaction. These groups were in radically different geographic areas and almost certainly had migrated from different places. In all likelihood they were completely ignorant of each other for some time.


    Following the end of the ice age1, there were several thousand years of quiet time: Not many humans and precious little interaction between them. During such times, groups of humans tend to build specific characteristics. We tend to call these groups-with-characteristics "societies" or "cultures."




    Over time, three early groups developed their own cultures – cultures that informed their ways not only of daily life, but of looking at the world. More importantly, over time – and this was thousands of years – manner of living guides the development of human character. Indeed, the historic nature/nurture arguments2 are moot in such a case – both nature and nurture are operating. Specific types of nurture become normal within the group and are passed down from generation to generation. And, since the group is more or less isolated and closed, the gene pool is refined and passed down as a fairly consistent set of genes. These groups formed slowly and there were multiple generations' worth of time.3With both isolation and time, groups of humans, such as these first three, produce distinct societal structures, including structures of cooperation and/or rulership, and of gods and worship.


    These three groups are of two primary types: Farmers and nomads. Again, over time, different styles of living teach different lessons to men. In particular, farming leads to a cooperative model of thinking and living, while nomadic hunting and herding lead to a warfare and domination model of living and thinking.


    Farmers learn to rely upon their neighbors. They help build each other's barns, share tools, lend their expertise for repairing their neighbor's equipment, and so on. They also respect each other's property lines. So, in farming, there are long histories of mutual help and respect for property.


    Herdsmen, on the other hand, tend to mistrust their neighbors and to hide information from them. When the nomadic herdsman finds good grazing land, he does not share that knowledge with another herdsman. If one finds a hidden water hole, he does not disclose the location. So, the overall balance is much more toward not helping a neighbor. Similarly, property is less respected in nomadic cultures. And, of course, they developed different methods of warfare.


    But, beneath all the details there are two different sets of assumptions regarding the world and human existence. The farmers developed what economists now call a positive-sumview of existence and the nomads developed more of what we call a zero-sumunderstanding of existence.


    Briefly, a zero-sum assumption is that there is a fixed pool of any specific good and that in order for you to have more, someone else has to accept less. This is the essence of the common slogan, "there are only so many pieces of pie." If you want an extra slice, someone else has to accept one less. A positive-sum assumption, on the other hand, assumes that the pool of assets can be expanded. In other words, if there are not enough slices of pie for your liking, you can make a new pie for yourself.


    The important thing about zero-sum and positive-sum assumptions is that they form a mental pattern, an analysis program in our brains. This is one of the human software routines we discussed earlier. Positive- or zero-sum routines form in human minds and – if not analyzed and adjusted – color wide areas of thought. This affects all sorts of opinions and judgments. People take these basic views of the world as givens: things they don't need to waste time examining; things that are considered to be known. This built great differences in the thoughts of the farmers and the nomads.4



    Young nomads were instructed to take, from a world of limited resources.


    Young farmers were instructed to use the world intelligently and to create food.


    These early farmers, for the first time we know of, discovered a post-parasitic way of living on earth. They did not feed off of what already existed, as do parasites. Instead, they became actors in cooperation with the earth, and made it produce food for them.


    Of course, animal husbandry does ride the line between the parasitic and the creative, but it never fully crosses it. The farmers did cross it, firmly and permanently.


    THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN NOMADS


    The northern nomads lived in the flatlands above the Black and Caspian Seas, in what are now southwestern Russia, Ukraine, and western Kazakhstan. They tended to be taller and with longer rather than rounder heads. They were pastoral, war-like, patriarchal, and worshiped sky gods.


    The southern nomads lived in the flatlands of Arabia. They tended to be slight-boned, had long heads, were pastoral, war-like, patriarchic, and worshipped storm gods.


    It is difficult for modern westerners to understand the structure and incentives of such societies. Most westerners expect cooperation in life. Most of the time, the storekeeper does not try to cheat us, we don't steal metal exposed on the sides of buildings, and so on. In short, we expect people to "play nice" because of the programming in their brains, not because they are forced to do so. We complain bitterly about the stupid criminals that do arise.


    This assumption of cooperation did not exist in these groups of nomads. They were not the same as us in their assumptions regarding life upon earth. We Westerners derive (more or less) from farmers who presumed cooperation and creativity. These nomads assumed dominance and scarcity.


    The nomad existence was based upon a plunder model, placed on top of a clan model. At the base was the family clan. In these small groupings, there would have been a good deal of sharing and cooperative decision-making, but the final and large decisions would have been made by the senior male. For these clan groups to join together and form a larger group, a central dominator was always required.


    What these people saw as "normal" was a dominator in charge, with a structure below him. Each clan, of course, would have a protected place within that structure, along with certain privileges and allowances.


    The rigidity of these structures led to hatreds that could endure for centuries. When an outside group forcibly alters one of these societal hierarchies, the occupants live with tilted floors, so to speak, until the structure is righted.


    The rigidity of this structure derives from the fact that it is a collection of clans, and the clans nearly always remain for centuries. Added to this, clans tend to constantly compare themselves with the other clans, and oppose any changes in status between them5. Because of these status-conscious and enduring bonds, the structure is not permitted to modify. Thus, the inconvenience and the humiliation of altered hierarchy endures.


    Nikolay N. Kradin, in his paper, Nomadism, Evolution and World-Systems: Pastoral Societies in Theories of Historical Development, explains that the nomadic empire is organized on the military-hierarchical principle, and survives by exploiting the nearby territories. He goes on to say:


    The most interesting and novel feature of the steppe empires was their dual structure. From outside they appeared to be despotic aggressive state-like societies because they were formed to extract surplus product from outside the steppe. But from within, the nomadic empires remained based on the tribal relations without the establishment of taxation and exploitation.


    So, this structure is based upon clan relations at the base, and upon plunder in the overall. This is more or less as one would imagine it to develop, given enough information.


    James DeMeo argues6, with much evidence, that physiological damage due to drought and starvation contributed to or caused a variety of cultural and character traits among the southern groups of nomads. DeMeo finds that the root cause was the spreading of deserts (and subsequent starvation, devaluing and mal-treatment of children) at approximately 4000 B.C.


    THE CENTRAL FARMERS


    The central farmers tended to be shorter, stocky, with round heads, short hair, no beards, and worshipped a fertility goddess. This group lived in the highland area of what is traditionally Armenia, extending into the Lake Van area of what is now eastern Turkey7. Settlements at several locations in the Alznik province of Armenia date to 10,000 B.C., before the ice age had fully ended8.


    The most likely structure of their "society" would have been a decentralized farming structure, similar to later farming groups that functioned beyond the edges of state control, such as in the early American colonies. (No state had ever existed at this early time.) The natural clan group certainly would have formed some sort of base for these people, but since farming scatters and moves people across landscapes, this clan structure would have been dispersed9, reducing the strength and effects of the clan.


    It seems that these farming groups kept an older forager tradition to gather in much larger groups for a few weeks every year. At these gatherings, they would conduct ceremonies and festivals, make marriage arrangements and trade goods. A standing monolith and building, dated to approximately 8,000 B.C. at Nevali Cori in western Armenia, was probably one of these ancient meeting places. It was located only three kilometers from the southern bank of the Euphrates River, a convenient meeting place.


    These gatherings would have been very much like the religious camp meetings of strict sects such as Methodists in the 18th and 19th centuries or of various Pentecostal groups in more recent times. Obviously the pretext for such modern gatherings differs from ancient tribal meetings, but many aspects, such as ceremonies and marriage arrangements, would have been almost the same. Again, these people were the same as us, only with less information. We should expect their behavior to resemble that of modern people.


    MALE AND FEMALE GODS


    As mentioned earlier, these early humans had a very limited amount of knowledge of science and the forces that shaped the natural world in which they lived. But, they did have powerful minds and creative imaginations. So, they tried to imagine what made the world work, just as we would in the same situation. Over centuries, ideas such as these tend to shape themselves into forms that are easily repeated. This is no less a problem in our time than it was at the end of the ice age.


    For example: Our common story of Adam and Eve's fall from paradise is supposedly based upon the Bible. But the ubiquitous form of this story – eating an apple – is nowhere to be found in the Bible; no apple is ever mentioned. Yet the story is repeated endlessly, merely because it is easy to draw and because "everyone else" seems to do it. Precisely the same thing happened to the myths of the ancients.


    The gods of the ancients tell us a great deal about the central assumptions they made about the world. The nomads, as mentioned above, saw the world as a place of scarcity and struggle against other men. They developed war gods and patriarchal structures.


    "Patriarchal" is a term much abused in modern times, as if to imply that there is something evil in maleness itself. But the issue is not maleness per se, but dominance and submission. The problem arises when instincts for expansion are mixed with an ignorance of a creative principle. In such cases, the strongest one – almost always a male – "improves" himself by taking from others. So, "patriarchy" was the personification given to the central principle, being the easiest way to repeat it10.


    The farmers, on the other hand, developed female gods and cooperative cultures. Again, this is not because there is some inherently superior value in being female, but because of the creative principle – the opposite of scarcity. Female gods were developed because the female embodies creation and productivity: Her body literally brings forth new human beings.


    For reasons that we will explain later, modern gods tend to be of the dominator type. For this reason, female gods are seen by some moderns as a dominator with a female face. This is not what female gods were to the earliest farmers. The female god was not a dominator, she was a catalyst – not striking from above, but working with. They were magic embodiments of the creative/productive principle.


    Inanna may have been the first goddess (she was most certainly among the first) and the name itself indicates that it may have originated in the pre-Sumerian language of the Armenian farmers. She was, as mentioned above, the personification of the creative principle. Accordingly, her male consort was characterized as the force in the grain and as her priestly lover.


    We will close this chapter with some passages from Inanna's myth-poetry. In them you will notice the glorification of creation and production in many forms: The production of the female body, the production of the grain in the fields and the production of the herds. You will note the erotic aspects as well, which are odd and even troubling to many modern people, but were entirely sensible and laudable to the most-ancient farmers. After all, they were fundamental to the magical process of creation. Sex made them partners with the gods. It was glorious, not shameful.


    Last night as I, the Queen of Heaven, was shining bright,
    As I was shining bright and dancing,
    Singing praises at the coming of the night.

    He met me - He met me!
    My lord Dumuzi met me.
    He put his hand into my hand.
    He pressed his neck close against mine.
    My High Priest is ready for the holy loins.
    My lord Dumuzi is ready for the holy loins.
    The plants and herbs in his field are ripe.

    O Dumuzi! Your fullness is my delight!
    I bathed for the Shepherd Dumuzi,
    I perfumed my sides with ointment,
    I coated my mouth with sweet-smelling amber,
    I painted my eyes with kohl.

    He shaped my loins with his fair hands,
    The Shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk,
    He stroked my pubic hair,
    He watered my womb.
    He laid his hands on my holy vulva,
    He smoothed my black boat with cream,
    He quickened my narrow boat with milk,
    He caressed me on the bed.

    Now I will caress my high priest on the bed,
    I will caress the faithful shepherd Dumuzi,
    I will caress his loins,
    I will decree a sweet fate for him.

    As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,
    As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,
    Under his reign let there be vegetation,
    Under his reign let there be rich grain.

    The King went with lifted head to the holy loins.
    He went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna.
    He went to the Queen with lifted head.
    He opened wide his arms to the Holy Priestess of Heaven ...

    Notes:


    1I am discussing the ice age as if it ended quickly at 8000 B.C., which is not true; the ice receded for several thousand years, then stopped receding at about 10,000 years before the present time. So, there is a certain amount of simplification built into this discourse.


    2The argument as to whether human character is the result of heredity (nature) or experience (nurture). In actuality, it is both, with a third factor added: Previous choices. The major choices humans make have enduring effects both within and upon them, which are encoded into their characters to one extent or another.


    3There is also a strong possibility that these groups had been separate and isolated from each other well back into the ice age, which means that they could have developed separately many times longer than humans have developed in all the years since the ice age. However, this is all conjecture – we simply do not know.


    4Again, I am simplifying. There were certainly individuals in each group that differed from the descriptions I am attaching to them. Furthermore, such characteristics among groups of humans are constantly varying and competing. So, while I firmly believe what I write here is accurate, it is only a general statement and certainly varied greatly among individuals and between sub-groups.


    5Again, this status consciousness is related to a zero-sum understanding of life. If what one wants is scarce, it must be grasped firmly, and re-taken if ever removed. A human with a positive-sum view of life might rather mourn the loss briefly, then go out to replace it.


    6In his book, Saharasia


    7Interestingly, this is the same area that Genesis points to as the landing-place of Noah's Ark.


    8Some of the more important finds were made in about 1980 by the archaeologist Hans Georg Gebel.


    9As we will examine in the next chapter, these farmers had not yet invented crop rotation, and were required to abandon their fields every several years and move to the next fertile area.


    10And, so that the female half of humanity takes their fair share of blame, we should add that females tended to reward such behavior by seeking a strong male. Scarcity tends to create poor characteristics in all humans.
    py

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    By Paul Rosenberg - April 18, 2015




    Modern people are so deeply trained in the belief that dominant overlordship is the way of humanity that they no longer believe anything else is even possible. But coercive rule has not always been; it was created at a specific historical period.


    This passage covers, briefly, some of the details before coercion was institutionalized.


    Continued from last week...


    Chapter Two: Civilization Created & Overrun

    Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Throughout this book, we will generally address specific cultures, to some extent reinforcing the idea that cultures are the natural order of humanity. We will do this because the mass of humanity has indeed organized itself in this way and because it is far more convenient for our purpose of analysis. Nonetheless, it is important to be clear about the fact that culture is not simply a good or preferable thing – culture is also limitation.


    Once people conceive of themselves as "an Armenian," as "a Jew," or any other flavor of cultural identity, they introduce a specific pattern into their minds and accept it as "Me." That is an inherently limiting thing. We humans are massively adaptable and creative beings; to limit ourselves to being "Armenian," Jewish," "Irish," "Brazilian" or whatever is a stupid thing to do – it limits our thought processes and our creative output as beings.


    Culture, per se, is not a good thing. It has value only to the extent that it is the least impractical thing among the other options at hand.


    So, for the rest of this book, we will address culture as a given, but it is important to understand that it is not something that is noble, pure and sacred. Culture is actually a transgression against a fully whole, healthy human being. Granted, there have never been many humans who we could justly characterize as healthy and whole, but were they to emerge, culture would be a formidable barrier to them, and they would find crossing it a struggle. They would justly condemn it as a false god.


    FROM ARMENIA TO SUMER


    As mentioned in the last chapter, the first group of truly productive human beings on earth were, as far as we know, gardeners that emerged from the last ice age and appeared in the area of what is now Armenia. They tended to be short, stocky, with round heads, short hair and no beards, and embraced a fertility goddess.


    Because they had no knowledge of crop rotation, they were forced to move from one area to the next every several years, after they had depleted the soil in their fields. This would have seemed normal and sensible to them, as it would have matched other aspects of nature, such as women being fertile for only a limited number of years. It is thus no surprise that they accepted soil losing its fertility as fact. As a result, crop rotation would not have been sought and indeed was not discovered for a long, long time.


    This, however, was not considered especially problematic, since there was no shortage of land. The earth was all but empty; if you wanted new land, you could simply take any piece you wanted.


    The map above shows some of the earliest settlements of these people, as they slowly moved away from Armenia, seeking fertile new fields. Note that they followed the Tigris River into what was much later called Sumer (or, mistakenly, Sumeria), an area often referred to as Mesopotamia and currently contained within the state of Iraq.


    BECOMING STATIONARY


    As these farmers moved slowly across the face of the earth, they happened upon places where they could become stationary and not have to move every few years. These were in the river valleys of the old world that flooded every year. (Properly termed alluvials or flood plains.) The group of farmers we are following found such a place in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The valley flooded every year and a new layer of topsoil was deposited. Irrigation ditches could be built to extend this flood effect over a large additional area. This allowed the farmers to stay in one place, build permanent houses, and avoid the strains of moving every few years.


    Carroll Quigley, in his The Evolution of Civilizations, explains this as follows:


    At the risk of considerable oversimplification, we might say that these earliest agriculturalists appeared in the hilly terrain of western Asia, probably not far from Armenia, about nine thousand years ago. Because they knew nothing about replenishing the fertility of the soil, they practiced "shifting cultivation," moving to new fields when yields declined in their old fields. In consequence, they expanded steadily, reaching Denmark and Britain in the west and China in the east before 2000 B.C., that is to say, within five thousand years. In the course of this movement they found, in various alluvial valleys, sites adapted to permanent large-scale settlement because, in such valleys, the annual flood replenished the fertility of the soil by depositing a layer of fertile sediment; and, accordingly, the need for "shifting cultivation" ended and the possibility of permanent, eventually urban settlement was offered. This possibility was realized in four alluvial valleys of the Old World, in Mesopotamia during the sixth millennium B.C., in the valley of the Nile shortly afterward, in the valley of the Indus river early in the fourth millennium B.C., and in the Huang Ho Valley of China late in the third millennium B.C.


    Life in these Pre-Sumerian settlements followed a routine based upon the rivers. During the flood season (which lasted for months) the farmlands were partly or fully flooded by the rivers. During this season, the farmers built, maintained, or extended irrigation canals to bring water to adjacent areas. Animals were moved away from the flood zones to prevent them from drowning. As the waters receded, seeds were sown and crops were cultivated. Finally came the dry season when crops were harvested and stored. Then, the cycle repeated.


    It would be difficult to overstate the value to these early farmers of being able to remain stationary. Food was plentiful, goods could be accumulated, and large communities could be formed. This led to immense variety and specialization. Music appeared in variety and with many experimental new instruments. Written language developed, basic mathematics, and much, much more. It was the birth of man's intellectual life.


    Prior to this moment, men and women certainly had the same creative capacities, but their creations never left their small groups. Now, they inspired each other. Humans played off one another, helped one another, and corrected one another in very specific ways. For example, if you had the fortune to be born with unusual musical talent, the odds of finding a kindred soul among forty or fifty others would be fairly low. But finding someone of complementary talents among a thousand was possible and perhaps even likely. And once you found each other, utterly new worlds of exploration opened to you.


    Farm communities created an undreamed level of prosperity and human growth. Humans had long been capable of such growth, but they lacked the interaction that made it possible. Now, ideas could be compared, experiments conducted, results written and distributed, and the knowledge shared among thousands. Mankind began to flower. It may have been the most exciting time our race has ever seen: Humanity awoke and the world opened wide unto them.


    THE FIRST CITY


    As our first farming culture spread out from Armenia, only some found their way to the Tigris-Euphrates flood plain. Most of the others began to spread in other directions, as Professor Quigley notes in the passage above. They literally brought the knowledge of farming from one end of the Eurasian landmass to the other.


    There is not a great deal of solid information available on these groups, since they were small, moved regularly, and existed a long, long time ago. But a few early settlements have been unearthed.


    But in addition to the small settlements, a much larger one has been uncovered and quite well examined. This early city (the earliest ever, so far as is known) is now calledCatalhoyuk and is located on the Konya plain of central Turkey. It thrived between about 7400 BC and 5900 BC. And, most interestingly, Catalhoyuk functioned with no master and no overseer. There was no courthouse, no elite buildings, no central administration of any kind.


    Here's one of the early drawings of Catalhoyuk:


    After James Mellaart, "Ηatal Hόyόk", Thames & Hudson Ltd., London, 1967
    Much more has been discovered since this drawing was made, and it turned out that this was only one part of the city, which had a population of 8,000 people, and perhaps 10,000. As it was learned, these people were individualistic, clean, prosperous, peaceful, they ate well, women were treated equally to men, and they were highly artistic.1


    This settlement, which was a center on the prehistoric obsidian trade routes, dates from well over a thousand years after the ice age had fully ended. While it is very, very early from our perspective, it was certainly not "early" from the perspective of these farming groups.


    NOTE:


    1You can find much more detail on Catalhoyuk in issue #37 of Free-Man's Perspective.
    py

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    By Paul Rosenberg - April 25, 2015




    Violent overlordship, as we mentioned last week, is not eternal and in fact did not exist for long periods of time. In this week's segment we will describe its beginnings.


    It is important in our time to understand this. If rulership is eternal and inevitable, as we are taught, then all we can do is fight about how to divide the scraps that our rulers deign to leave us. But if rulership is not inevitable, a new world of possibilities opens to us.


    Continued from last week...


    THE RISE OF VIOLENCE


    No student takes seriously the seventeenth-century notion that states arose out of a "social contract" among individuals or between the people and the ruler. – Will and Ariel Durant


    The boundaries of human life have, for a long time, been set and maintained by violence. But it was not always thus. The reign of plunder began in specific places and in specific ways. The first settled group to have this lesson thrust upon them were the Pre-Sumerian farmers of Mesopotamia. Professor Quigley1 describes it this way:


    The chief event was the invention of agriculture, metallurgy, and civilized living by the Highland Zone peoples and the subsequent linguistic and cultural submergence of these peoples by inflective-speaking longheaded pastoralists who pushed in waves from the Flatlands by the two post-glacial dry periods. One of the chief results of this process, a result seen most clearly in Europe, was to create a political and social structure in which patriarchal, warlike, horse-loving, sky-worshiping, honor-seeking Indo-Europeans were established as a ruling class over peaceful, earth-loving, fertility-dominated, female-oriented peaceful peoples. This pattern, first established in central Europe almost four thousand years ago, was not destroyed, in spite of Rome, Christianity, and later migrations, until the appearance of industrialized urban society in the last four generations.


    Farming created large stores of food, typically as grain, which did not rot if carefully stored. Following shortly were other imperishable goods, such as clothing, furs, tools, and so on. By any ancient standard, these farmers were stunningly rich. And while our farmers were happy living cooperative, productive lives, there were others who operated, not by a cooperation model, but by a plunder model. Our farmers were now immobile. Stationary targets are easy to hit and sedentary people are not well suited for combat. They were easy victims.


    The first plunderers were the nomadic hunters and herdsmen described previously. At some point they expanded into new areas and discovered that rich, stationary farmers were easy to rob. The consciences of these people were informed by sky gods who imposed power from above and by clan groupings that featured dominance, submission and structure. They were emotionally suited to plunder. Furthermore, these people had the necessary skills for rapid movement and killing; they hunted, captured and killed mammals regularly. They would also have resented the prosperity of the farmers and their wealth, as it made them look second-rate, something that would not be permissible in their hierarchical, "we must be the head, not the tail" view of the world. Outsiders being richer and better was not a contradiction that they could bear.


    These nomads could easily remove the spoils of conquest, either to a safe place or simply to the next settlement for the purposes of barter. And it is likely that their first actions against the farmers were simple looting missions.


    In some places, some of these nomads would have been so successful that they drove the farmers away, leaving them to either look for new victims or return to their previous lives. Before long they developed a third option: Steal only a limited amount, not enough to drive the farmers away. This way, you can work the same ground, as it were, for life. Thus, the first rulers were born. Like it or not, the probable scenario is that governance began as persistent theft, with hierarchical nomad groups sustaining plunder at a level that was low enough for the productive farmers to accept their rulership with limited resistance.


    On the farmer's side, giving a fifth of his crops to the thug every harvest was a lot less bad than facing death, or going back to being a traveling gardener or a forager. So he grimaced and accepted it, as would most modern men. To illustrate this point, here are the words of modern man in a similar situation: An exceedingly remote Tibetan nomad, commenting upon his first ruler2:


    The Panchen Llama owned areas and appointed officials to settle our disputes and collect taxes. He was our lord, although he never came here himself. Our taxes were heavy in those days, but we never went hungry.


    This series of events could easily have been predicted in advance. It was the incentives that the players faced that led to precisely this situation: Stationary, peaceful farmers colliding with nomadic herding and hunting societies could hardly turn out any other way.


    AND GOD CHANGED


    One way this "conquest of the productive by the plunderer" shows up in the archaeological record is in the mixing of the gods. We have said that the early farmers held to female gods based upon the productive principle. We have also said that the nomads held to male dominator gods. Sumer was eventually overrun by a nomadic group called the Akkadians. Dianne Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer3, studying the development of the goddess Inanna, report the following:


    In the cycle of Inanna, we encounter aspects of the earlier Sumerian Dumuzi (her male companion) as well as the more politicized Akkadian Dumuzi. The Sumerian Dumuzi... is characterized as the force in the grain and as the priestly lover and attendant of the Fertility Goddess, Inanna. The Akkadian Dumuzi, coming from the northern nomadic peoples who emphasized the arbitrary will and power of the gods is characterized as the shepherd, the astral heavenly bull, and the king who has "godlike" powers.


    Whether imposed by force or accepted by intermingling over time, the dominator male gods of the nomadic plunderers were mixed with the productive female gods of the cooperative farmers. Again, this was entirely sensible, since extracting plunder openly is an expensive process. Violence is never cheap. So, the sensible ruler would certainly prefer to have his subjects give willingly, and because the gods were super-human, they were the obvious tool to use. Since the gods did not speak directly to men, their "true message" was a matter of interpretation and could be turned to the ruler's advantage, if done carefully.


    Although the first instances of rulership were mostly naked impositions of force, an ethic was later created that said that the gods, if obeyed, would assure great harvests and prosperity. Furthermore, clever priests were added to the equation. These first public intellectuals promoted a theology in which the king played a 'legitimate' role. Thus, rebellion against the king became rebellion against the gods.


    Under this new theocratic regime the female god – formerly the friendly catalyst of production – became an arbitrary withholder of prosperity4.


    Soon enough, the rulers began building temples and monuments under the rationale that these things would help them connect with now-arbitrary gods, who had been removed to somewhere above, not with them on earth. The gods had become high and glorious, and the people were low and dirty. Only very special men who were very specially prepared could move between the two worlds. By convincing people that special men, massive structures and dramatic statements were necessary to reach the gods, a larger share of crops and labor could be collected more easily.


    The first priesthood and state theologies were developed at these times. Related to this is the fact that many monuments of this era featured inscriptions regarding the importance of properly worshiping the gods. Such inscriptions had relatively little religious importance to the rulers; rather, they were designed to encourage tax compliance. They were apparently the world's first propaganda campaigns.



    Details varied from place to place and time to time, but since all the incentives of the time led directly to this line of development, it was, again, nearly inevitable. The subjects had acclimated to being ruled and the rulers wanted more power and glory. The rest was obvious.


    This more elaborate religious model mentioned above began in Mesopotamia in about 5400 B.C. and was also present in Egypt at a very early date.


    THE HORRIFYING HISTORY OF SUMER


    One sows, another reaps. – Ancient Proverb


    Our first farmers from Armenia suffered a fate common to a shocking number of the true innovators and benefactors of mankind: They were overtaken by aggressive and abusive outsiders who claimed the innovators' discoveries as their own. Worse, the names of the innovators – who paid the dues, who expended heroic effort, whose genius it was that created human progress – were completely forgotten, and their usurpers were given their credit. Humanity's greatest benefactors have thus suffered the greatest injustice. In this case, as in so many others, a modern proverb is every bit as true as the ancient one shown above: No good deed goes unpunished5.


    An annotated time line of human life in Sumer6 shows this process:


    Prior to 6000 B.C.


    Gardeners travel down the Tigris River from Armenia into the land that will eventually be called Sumer. Stumbling upon the fact that they could create permanent settlements in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, they remain and create stationary agriculture. In effect, they create civilization. They become, as Samuel Kramer says, the "first farmers, cattle-raisers, fishermen, weavers, leather workers, woodworkers, smiths, potters and masons." Nonetheless, we have no written record of these people, few artifacts and only traces of their language. We don't even have a name for them.


    Shortly after the Tigris-Euphrates Valley was settled, Semitic nomads from what are now Arabia and Syria begin to raid the agriculturalists. At some point thereafter, they invade and remain, setting themselves up as a dominant political group. In other words, they make themselves the first stationary rulers, collect a portion of the harvest every year and claim a monopoly on the right to dispense justice to the agriculturalists, all by force of arms.


    6000-5400 B.C.



    The agricultural settlements continue under the coercive rule of the nomads. Technologies and arts continue to develop, albeit more slowly.
    5400 B.C.


    A new group of invaders, apparently originating in central Eurasia, arrive from the north. These are more effective than the southern nomads and overrun them. They develop more efficient schemes of rulership and control. It is likely that they leave much of the previous ruling elite in place as middle managers.

    Eridu, the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, is founded. Monuments and temples begin to be built. A new myth is propagated, retelling the story of the goddess Inanna, and stating that she had to travel to Eridu in order to receive the gift of civilization. This is fundamental to the new strategy of using the gods to create the moral legitimacy of the rulers and to decrease the difficulty of tax collections.


    Groups of cities are built around temples, eventually almost within sight of one another.


    5400-3000 B.C.


    City-state governments continually organize and control daily life. Creativity decays.


    3000 B.C.


    A powerful ruler appears and organizes all of the city-states of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley into a single empire. A list of kings calls this man Etana, and describes him as, "the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries."


    3000-2000 B.C.

    A variety of kings and dynasties rule and fight for rulership of what is now properly (and finally) called the Sumerian civilization. They exercise great care in organizing and regulating human life. Creativity and production finally fail and the civilization irreversibly degrades.
    2000-1750 B.C.


    The death throes of civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. They are overrun by the Babylonian empire of Hammurabi. The name, Sumer, ceases to be associated with any living group.


    NOTES:


    1 Again, from The Evolution of Civilizations, published in 1960.


    2 National Geographic, June 1989


    3 In their book, Inanna


    4 This change would have greatly affected the psyches of the farmers (almost certainly damaging them), making this a fascinating field of study. How might humans think of themselves and experience themselves differently if they presumed that the divine principle was with them, warm rather than aloof, and creating alongside them? And if they were included in the physical act of creation, in which divine magic erupted as sexual ecstasy? The issue here would not be the truthfulness of these beliefs, or even their broad usefulness, but the emotional health they might engender. Scientific examination in this area could be of great value.


    5 This is so common that it indicates structural causes. The innovator is hated and the exceptionally healthy man must be eliminated. Humanity seeking comfort in stasis is a potential explanation, unfavorable contrast being punished is a similar cause, and others are possible. In any event, this is a phenomenon worthy of close examination: The smart kid is picked on, the superior man is despised, Jesus must die.


    6 This outline is partly based upon Samuel Noah Kramer's essay, "Sumerian History, Culture and Literature," which appears in the book Inanna, mentioned previously. Kramer (1897-1990) was one of the world's leading Assyriologists and a world-renowned expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language. An Institute of Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies is named for him at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. Recent studies and findings were also used.
    py

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    By Paul Rosenberg - May 02, 2015




    Surveillance is nothing new. In fact, it goes back some seven thousand years. Then, as now, it quietly destroyed productive modes of life. Furthermore, it was fundamental in setting one class of people (rulers) above all other people (the ruled).


    This two-class division of humanity was not always with us; it began in specific ways, which we'll examine today.


    Continued from last week...


    THE PROGRESSIVE CHOKING OF CREATIVITY


    As illustrated by last week's time line, the great benefactors of humanity – the unnamed first farmers – experienced a stunning explosion of creativity and very shortly found themselves the effective prisoners of barbaric, ignorant men who harnessed and slowly ruined what they had created.


    At first, the farmers simply gave up a portion of their harvest and tried their best to work around the stupid, barbaric rulers. It was only when a more clever set of rulers arrived that the more serious damage began. This, more serious damage, was two-fold:



    1. Piece by piece, their actions were restricted and monitored. It is difficult enough to create useful things when a man is fully unopposed, but if, before he acts, he must also consider whether or not he will be punished, creativity is forced to overcome additional and large obstacles. The more controls, observations and punishments, the fewer useful innovations arise.
    2. More importantly, their range of thought was restricted. The imposition of a dominating, arbitrary, punishing god upon men's thoughts is inherently intimidating, and intimidation powerfully opposes creative thought. When men fear that new thoughts will be punished, they allow few to pass through their minds, and admit to even fewer.



    It is important to remember that the cities we are discussing here were small by modern standards. That meant that the ruler was never terribly far away and there was often no dark corner to hide in. The watcher was close and records were kept. Hiding was difficult.


    As successive waves of rulership rolled over the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the structures of government and their associated theologies and punishments occupied more and more of men's minds and activities. During the semi-creative city-state period (5400-3000 B.C.) temple complexes like the one shown below1 were common.


    The Government Buildings of Uruk in 3400 B.C.
    Image courtesy of R. K. Englund, UCLA
    One of the primary features of these temple complexes was that they separated 'ordinary' men from their rulers and, especially, from the holy places. Restricted passages, courtyards, and great stairways had to be traversed in order to reach the important places. This had multiple effects:



    • It instilled the idea that the rulers, priests and gods were of a different class than the average men. They were literally above and figuratively above.
    • When a man was given access to the special places, he felt as though an honor was bestowed upon him. He had attained a special status and enjoyed the feeling. He would now be considerably less likely to turn against the regime.
    • The king, seeing that his subject was proud and moved to be admitted to his presence, was confirmed in his own eyes as being of a higher class of humans and worthy to rule. The kings of old often did consider themselves gods, and this effect of reflected glory contributed considerably to it.
    • Occupying a position of power (able to call forth violence) and being associated with the gods, made the ruler a very powerful imposer of shame. That gave them a terribly powerful weapon to use in securing the acquiescence of their subjects.


    Another function of the temple complex buildings and palace buildings were as halls of records. This love of control and order extended all through the years after 5400 B.C. For example, an archive has been unearthed at a city called Ebla, dating from 2350 B.C. The room was ringed with shelves and held approximately 2100 clay tablets. On the tablets were administrative records of:



    • Textile accounts
    • Metal accounts
    • Tax deliveries
    • Temple offerings
    • Letters
    • State reports
    • Scribal exercises
    • Villages (hundreds)
    • Large animal herds (thousands of animals)
    • A wool industry
    • Large quantities of gold and silver
    • Tribute paid to a superior city named Mari


    This is but one example of Sumerian record-keeping. Thousands of additional tablets have been found, recording things such as:



    • An appointment to a clerkship
    • The establishment of a Food Office
    • Legal documents in regard to slaves
    • Legal document in regard to an office
    • Agreements between parties
    • Deed of sale of palm grove
    • Deed of sale of a male slave
    • Receipt of purchase money for a pair of slaves
    • Documents in regard to loans of silver
    • Promissory notes
    • Acknowledgments of loans of grain
    • Acknowledgment of loan of dates
    • A bond
    • Receipt for silver
    • Receipts for grain
    • Receipts for vegetables of various kinds
    • Receipts for different kinds of beans
    • Receipt for dates
    • Receipts for figs
    • Receipts for straw
    • Accounts of the receipts for corn
    • Account of the receipts for bronze
    • Statement of silver, corn, oil, etc., received and at hand
    • Statements of shiploads of grain delivered
    • Statement of corn, wheat and vegetables delivered and at hand
    • Statement of garments at hand
    • Statement of chairs on hand
    • Storehouse accounts: corn, wheat, grain, vegetables, beans, dates, bronze
    • Accounts of the cost of the tilling of fields, as wages, feed of oxen,
    • Renting of fields to different persons
    • Account of fields, their measurements, condition
    • Enumeration of belongings, as implements, weapons, victuals, silver
    • Assignments of garments
    • Expenditure of sesame oil
    • Grain for the temple of En-lil
    • Grain for temple offerings
    • Flour and grain for temple offerings
    • Temple offerings and porphyry stone for couches for the deities
    • Lists of wages paid to officials, employees, artisans and laborers



    A final and crucial area of importance was the general psychology of the people of Sumer. Enough records exist to reconstruct the general mind-set of the Sumerian period; that is, in the period of serious decline. Kramer says2:


    A Sumerian tended to take a tragic view of his fate and destiny. They were convinced that man was fashioned from clay and created for one purpose only: to serve the gods by supplying them with food, drink and shelter so that they might have leisure for their divine activities.


    You can see here the result of the long centuries (millennia, in fact) of indoctrination by rulers and priests. Holding a tragic view of life means that very little action will be taken to change anything. By this point, these people had accepted that their role in life was little different than that of slaves or intelligent beasts of burden.


    At about 2200 B.C., near the end of the Sumerian empire, a father writes this to his son:


    Do not speak ill, speak only good. Do not say evil things, speak well of people. He who speaks ill and says evil---people will waylay him because of his debt to Shamash. Do not talk too freely, watch what you say. Do not express your innermost thoughts even when you are alone. What you say in haste you may regret later. Exert yourself to restrain your speech.


    Worship your god every day. Sacrifice and pious utterance are the proper accompaniment of incense. Have a freewill offering for your god, for this is proper toward a god. Prayer, supplication, and prostration offer him daily, then your prayer will be granted, and you will be in harmony with god.


    Note the caution, the uncertainty of mind, the fear of being impious. This is what control, regulation and fear breed. It created a mass of people who were easy to rule but unable to adapt, arise or create. Thus Sumer, the place of humanity's greatest explosion of progress, descended into uselessness and was overrun in full.


    By the time of the death of the Sumerian empire, rulers the world over were trying to conquer city after city and string them into empires. This lasted for more than five hundred years, during which time there were Egyptian, Babylonian, Hittite, Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite empires.


    NOTES:


    1This is an excavation grid from the city of Uruk, which was constructed at about 3400 B.C.


    2Again, from his essay Sumerian History, Culture and Literature.
    py

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    'Production Versus Plunder' ~ Part 6

    By Paul Rosenberg - May 09, 2015


    Any freedom advocate has to be amazed by the fact that millions of people seem emotionally bound to their abusers. Today, we'll explain how that began and uncover its roots.


    Continued from last week...


    THE GREAT TRADE


    During the years between 5400 and 3000 B.C., a great trade took shape, a trade between great numbers of humans and the hierarchical states that ruled them. This was a trade, not of money and goods or even of fear and safety. Instead, it was a psychological trade. And, being psychological (thus internal) meant that the trade was difficult to clearly identify.


    It is unlikely that this trade was purposely developed. Rather, it arose unexpectedly as several factors came into play in the same place and time:


    The painful conflicts built into human character
    Rulers trying to convince their subjects to pay taxes willingly
    A populace with their actions increasingly constrained by regulations
    A populace with their thoughts increasingly constrained by fear of punishment
    The first point above is of great importance. Humans are internally conflicted beings. This is inherent in human nature – we are all born to it and suffer accordingly.


    We love family, we seek faithful mates; we know that children are happier and better when they are raised with two loving, committed parents. Yet, we have animal mating instincts that would drive us to other sexual partners.


    Likewise, we see and value hard work, honest dealing and loyalty. Yet, we have impulses that would drive us to grab what is available in front of us, whether it be honest or not.


    This set of inherent conflicts can certainly be trained and controlled to a very considerable extent (in fact, most of us do control ourselves quite well most of the time), but it takes considerable time and effort, and thus remains a universal problem. It has driven many developments in religion and philosophy... indeed, it is involved in almost all expressions of religion to a greater or lesser extent.


    The crucial factor here is simply that most men and women do feel conflicted, insecure and confused, and that they lack the time, skill or desire to fix the problem. It is too hard. So, they find ways to work around it, most notably to seek belonging in a group, with the half-conscious thought that by being merely one of many, blame and shame will not attach to them.


    The Great Trade was, and is, this:


    The state and/or church presents themselves to men as a superior entity – higher than man. To be joined to them provides sanction from a higher source than that of their internal conflicts.


    In our times we often hear this expressed as: People need to belong to something larger than themselves. They need to sublimate their confusion and conflicts into a higher entity.


    In effect, the man or woman's internal conflicts become less important than the entity to which they are joined. It is the great assurance from the great adult, and it is ever-so-easy to accept, since perhaps every other human you've ever known has done the same.


    Note that blame for this trade does not lie with the state. Frankly speaking, the rulers weren't smart enough to have figured this out in advance. They merely watched as it developed and slowly learned how to take advantage of it. The majority of blame lies with the people who flocked to the deal. Again, it was so much easier than having to make peace with one's self.


    This trade is the magic secret of politics and of rulership. People wanted the Divine Right of Kings. They need to think of their Leader as a superior being. Rulers and politicians merely play their roles as public theater.


    You can also see from this why political science is so seldom scientific: The magic ingredient buried in it is anything but, and indeed, may not be explicitly named without calling millions of comfort-transactions into question.


    ANALYZING THE CHARACTER OF THE SUBJECTS


    We have now been analyzing the charters of the subjects at some length, but before we leave the subject, it is important to explain why such discussions have some validity. After all, making grand pronouncements about millions of greatly varying individuals is beyond the scope of normal human ability and this tends to make such discussions seem almost arrogant. However, it is, in some very important ways, easier to analyze many than it is one, so long as we realize that any individual may vary from our conclusions. This is actually the same technique that is used in the analysis of gasses:


    Trying to analyze the motions of each individual molecule of a gas is a practical impossibility. They push against each other randomly, impart momentum back and forth, and travel at constantly varying rates of speed. To measure each one, chart each one and determine from a study of 10x1024 individual molecules what will happen from compressing them would be a ridiculous waste of time and energy, presuming that we had the capacity even to do it. But we can tell – almost perfectly – what a volume of gas will do, if we take it as a whole. Compress it and it heats, decompress it and it cools. This we can determine with great precision. In the same way, we are often more accurate in analyzing the character of a mass of humans than we are when trying to analyze just one.


    THE CHARACTER OF THE RULERS


    One final but important area of exploration is the mind of the ruler. Rulers and subjects face very different sets of incentives, which greatly affect not only their actions, but their attitudes.


    A first fact to reestablish is that the rulers of this era were generally from a different cultural background than that of their subjects. As mentioned earlier, the consciences of these people were informed by sky gods who imposed power from above and by clan groupings that featured dominance and structure. They were emotionally suited to plunder. Thus, to rule over others was far easier for them than it would have been for average farmers.


    Perhaps the primary incentive for these rulers was simply to stay in power. One reason for this was simply that humans experience increased levels of pleasurable hormones1 when in positions of power. It literally feels good. Another was that being deposed could mean death. Add to that the related perks of status and wealth, and not many rulers walked away from power. Plus, they wanted to pass this great advantage along to their children, and to see them prosper and rule after them.2


    The incentives above, however, are fairly common among rulers of every era. What set this era's rulers apart was the need for ferocity. Whether (early) to get farmers to capitulate, or (late) to keep sub-rulers in obedience when you were away, the newness of the rulership enterprise plus the extremely low population density made extending power difficult. Ruling one settlement could be done fairly well if the settlement was not large and if you remained there. But if you wished to rule another three or four nearby settlements as well, you needed to extend your power. And, since soldiers were expensive, other methods were required.


    This difficulty was solved with ferocity and fear. The rulers of this era were especially willing to boast of the horrible pain and punishments they inflicted upon anyone who rose against them or refused them. They wanted people to hear about these things and to fear disobedience.3


    And, as mentioned in the previous section, the ruler had to play the role of being a better class of human, embodying the Higher Power.


    Here are a few quotations from the period:


    The Assyrian ruler, Ashurnasirpal II:


    I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst of the mighty mountain I slaughtered them, and, with their blood, dyed the mountain red like wool... I carried off their spoil and their possessions. The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over against their city. Their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire... I flayed all the chief men who had revolted and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar; some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes... Many within the border of my own land I flayed, and I spread their skins upon the walls, and I cut off the limbs of the royal officers who had rebelled.


    The Poem of Culgi:


    I, the king, was a hero already in the womb; I, Culgi, was born to be a mighty man. I am a fierce-looking lion, begotten by a dragon. I am the king of the four regions; I am the herdsman and shepherd of the black-headed people. I am a respected one, the god of all the lands.


    King Lipit-Ectar:


    I am a king treated with respect, good offspring from the womb. I am Lipit-Ectar, the son of Enlil. From the moment I lifted my head like a cedar sapling, I have been a man who possesses strength in athletic pursuits. As a young man I grew very muscular. I am a lion in all respects, having no equal.


    I am a gaping dragon, a source of great awe for the soldiers. I am like the Anzud bird, peering about in the heart of the mountains. I am a wild bull whom nobody dares oppose in its anger. I am a bison, sparkling with beautiful eyes, having a lapis-lazuli beard.... With my kind eyes and friendly mouth, I lift people's spirits. I have a most impressive figure, lavishly endowed with beauty. I have lips appropriate for all words. As I lift my arms, I have beautiful fingers. I am a very handsome young man, fine to admire.


    I am Lipit-Ectar, king of the Land. I am the good shepherd of the black-headed. I am the foremost in the foreign countries, and exalted in the Land. I am a human god, the lord of the numerous people. I am the strong heir of kingship. Holding my head high, I am established in my position.


    NOTES:


    1Seratonin in particular.


    2I am bypassing the important topic of sociopathy here. It will appear in the second edition of Production Versus Plunder.


    3It is of some interest that the first ruler of men mentioned in the Bible is also the first man with an impressive legend: Nimrod, the mighty hunter.
    py

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,378
    By Paul Rosenberg - May 16, 2015




    There have been lots of complaints about governments sticking their fingers into school curricula... and the people complaining have been right; setting knowledge free from the state was the key to its growth. We'll cover the story this week.


    Continued from last week...


    Chapter Three: Classical Civilization

    Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft. – Pericles


    Even though there was a long and dark period following the catastrophe of 1200 B.C., men did, eventually, re-gather themselves and begin to move forward again. But this was not a cold restart. Tremendous amounts of knowledge had been assembled and passed on. Men knew what had been done and more or less how to do it. They still may have suffered from a delusion that a great hierarchical empire was necessary as a catalyst for human progress (as evidenced by the fact that they kept trying to rebuild them, and perhaps by the fact that hierarchy is still considered necessary and good), but they did understand many things, such as:



    • Farming.
    • The calendar and seasons.
    • Trade.
    • Seafaring.
    • Rudimentary navigation.
    • Basic mathematics.
    • The use of currency.
    • Accounting.
    • Reading and writing.
    • Metallurgy. (Brass, copper, iron.)
    • Military technologies.
    • Music.
    • Art.


    The Greek Dark Age was shockingly long. The previous, warlike, Mycenaean civilization vanished at some point between 1200 and 1150 B.C., along with writing and many other things. Stunningly, no visible progress occurs for almost four hundred years. As shown above, there was not an absolute lack of knowledge at this time, especially for the Greeks, whose lives were closely aligned with the sea. All through these dark years, there did remain a sea-faring culture that had not failed at 1200 B.C. – the Phoenicians. This Semitic merchant culture was thriving in the Mediterranean during this time and they definitely had outposts where they interacted with Greeks. The later Greeks (after the roughly four hundred years of silence) certainly borrowed heavily from the Phoenicians, who had long organized themselves into city-states and collaborated in leagues or alliances when threatened. They also developed the first alphabet.


    The Phoenicians thrived between 1550 B.C. and 300 B.C., a period that is interestingly offset from land-based civilizations of the era, and is, also interestingly, in synch with the Biblical narrative of the Semitic Hebrew civilization.


    In any case, the Greeks most certainly had retained knowledge available to them. Nonetheless, they were unable to use it for four hundred years. Again, this indicates an internal, psychological, reason for dark ages, and not external reasons.


    Power devolved throughout this period, ending up in the hands of aristocracies. Slowly, equality grew among the different sects of people, leaving the fundamental unit of organization as the family. It seems to have been at this point that development restarted.


    THE RISE OF THE INDEPENDENT MYTH-MAKER


    When the Greeks did begin to recover themselves, one of the first things they did was to create stories. This was not mere entertainment, but stories with moral lessons as central elements. And, very importantly, these stories were not sponsored by, censored by or approved by any state institution at all. They evolved almost entirely separate from imposed authority. Stories were accepted and writers rewarded solely upon merit. A good story teller would prosper and a bad one would not.


    Homer seems to be the first great Greek poet to arise. He was, as is still commonly known, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, and seems to have lived and written in the late 9th Century B.C., close to four hundred years after the great Catastrophe. Herodotus says that Homer lived four hundred years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 B.C.1


    Sappho was another famed and early Greek poet, living approximately between 620 B.C. and 570 B.C. In history and poetry texts, she is sometimes associated with the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Sapho's poetry was well known and greatly admired throughout antiquity. Most was lost, but her immense reputation has endured and is attested to by a few fragments of her works that have survived.

    Many other poets flourished between the 5th and 7th Centuries B.C., creating all sorts of stories and songs, covering virtually all aspects of life and generally conveying some sort of message.


    Recitations of poetry, especially Homer, were very popular at Greek festivals of the period. By the 5th Century, there were a great number of playwrights, such as Thespis, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. Theater performances were extremely popular and were little-connected to the state. What we think of as entertainment began in Greece, and it was one of the primary ways in which the Greeks revived themselves and came out of their dark age.


    It is very important to understand that the Greek myths were a radical departure from those of previous civilizations; they were written so that people could find meaning in them. The holy writings of the previous state/church systems were primarily rules of behavior. Do this, and things will go well. The Greeks had stories that were meant to address the reader's inner life. The theologies of the empires addressed men's actions; the Greeks had stories that addressed men's souls. And there was something else: in the Greek myths, men were not small, insignificant, and powerless before the gods. In the Greek myths, man challenged the gods, and sometimes won! They beat the gods through superior thinking. This was a radically new intellectual development.

    THE SEPARATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND STATE

    During the long period prior to 1200 B.C., there were very strong ties between knowledge and state/church systems. The intellectuals of the era – the priests – were the keepers of the most important technical information of the time, astronomical knowledge. They spent considerable time studying the positions of the sun, moon and stars during the various seasons and their association with precipitation, freezes and floods. The obvious reason for this was to keep track of the right times to plant their crops. They built a variety of naked-eye observatories, usually featuring a round, artificial horizon and a set of posts or pillars around the edge as measuring devices. Then, after a few years, they could predict with some assurance when the last freeze or flood might be expected. This system was eventually replaced by the calendar, but the important issue is that this knowledge was strongly controlled by the state/church system, with the knowledge often being mysticized. This was obviously useful to the cause of rulership.

    Mechanical and other types of knowledge prior to this time generally concerned technologies, not science per se. In other words, it concerned the end uses of things, not the operating principles. The Greeks, however, were about to change that forever, and the first of them to do so seems to have been a man named Thales.


    Before Thales (624 B.C.-546 B.C., but these dates are uncertain), Greeks explained the origin and nature of the world through myths of gods and heroes. Phenomena such as lightning or earthquakes were attributed to actions of the gods. Thales attempted to find reasoned explanations of the world, without presuming the supernatural. In other words, he and others like him began to inquire not just about how things worked, but why they worked.


    According to Herodotus, Thales used his knowledge to predict a solar eclipse.2 This would have been a monumental thing in the ancient days, equivalent to being able to read the mind of god. It was certainly a story that was repeated often. Some of Thales' conclusions later proved to be highly inaccurate (such as the belief that the continents floated on the oceans and that earthquakes were caused by collisions), but his method of looking for reasons was a gigantic leap forward.


    Thales was a moral teacher as well. A few of his still-valid and highly-influential principles were these:


    That for which we blame others, let us not do ourselves.
    Be rich, yes, for success is sweet. However, do not be rich badly.
    A happy man is one who is healthy in body, resourceful in soul and of a readily teachable nature.

    It is with Pythagoras, however, that modern science begins to take shape. Pythagoras seems to have lived between 580 and 490 B.C., though, again, these dates are not certain. His pivotal discovery was that music was based on proportional intervals of the numbers one through four. He believed that this number system, and therefore the universe's system, was based on the sum of the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, which is 10. Pythagoreans swore by these numbers (which they called "the Tetrachtys of the Decad"), rather than by the gods.


    According to legend3, Pythagoras discovered that musical notes could be translated into mathematical equations one day as he passed blacksmiths at work and thought that the sounds emanating from their anvils (when struck) were beautiful and harmonious. He decided that whatever scientific law caused this must be mathematical and could be applied to music. He spent time observing the blacksmiths to learn how this had happened. He examined their tools and discovered that it was because the anvils were simple ratios of each other, one was half the size of the first, another was 2/3 the size, and so on.


    Pythagoras thus discovered the numerical basis of musical harmony. He spent a great deal of time examining this subject and decided that all of the universe could be understood and predicted with numbers. It was one of the most important intellectual discoveries in history and almost all subsequent science has used this fundamental premise.


    Pythagoras went on to discover the trigonometric theorem named after him, the square root, that the earth was round, that all planets have an axis, and that all the planets travel around one central point. He also went on to form a complex cultic group around his teachings and became highly secretive. After this point Pythagoras, or at least his followers, seem to have become overly enamored with their own doctrines and ran boldly into grand pronouncements for which they had no evidence. The Pythagoreans developed a series of mystical beliefs that later affected Plato.


    NOTES:


    1Some modern scholars question Homer's actually existence. His stories, however, are evidence of his existence, as are the beliefs of all the ancients (including Herodotus). Added to this, there is no direct evidence that speaks otherwise.


    2This seems to have been the eclipse of May 28, 585 B.C. as determined by modern astronomic calculations.


    3And all we really have are legends, as none of his writings remain to our time.
    py

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    1

    Production vs plunder 2

    Over time, three early groups developed their own cultures – cultures that informed their ways not only of daily life, but of looking at the world. More importantly, over time – and this was thousands of years – manner of living guides the development of human character. Indeed, the historic nature/nurture arguments2 are moot in such a case – both nature and nurture are operating. Specific types of nurture become normal within the group and are passed down from generation to generation. And, since the group is more or less isolated and closed, the gene pool is refined and passed down as a fairly consistent set of genes. These groups formed slowly and there were multiple generations' worth of time.3 With both isolation and time, groups of humans, such as these first three, produce distinct societal structures, including structures of cooperation and/or rulership, and of gods and worship.
    These three groups are of two primary types: Farmers and nomads. Again, over time, different styles of living teach different lessons to men. In particular, farming leads to a cooperative model of thinking and living, while nomadic hunting and herding lead to a warfare and domination model of living and thinking.
    Farmers learn to rely upon their neighbors. They help build each other's barns, share tools, lend their expertise for repairing their neighbor's equipment, and so on. They also respect each other's property lines. So, in farming, there are long histories of mutual help and respect for property.
    Herdsmen, on the other hand, tend to mistrust their neighbors and to hide information from them. When the nomadic herdsman finds good grazing land, he does not share that knowledge with another herdsman. If one finds a hidden water hole, he does not disclose the location. So, the overall balance is much more toward not helping a neighbor. Similarly, property is less respected in nomadic cultures. And, of course, they developed different methods of warfare.
    But, beneath all the details there are two different sets of assumptions regarding the world and human existence. The farmers developed what economists now call apositive-sum view of existence and the nomads developed more of what we call a zero-sum understanding of existence.
    Briefly, a zero-sum assumption is that there is a fixed pool of any specific good and that in order for you to have more, someone else has to accept less. This is the essence of the common slogan, "there are only so many pieces of pie." If you want an extra slice, someone else has to accept one less. A positive-sum assumption, on the other hand, assumes that the pool of assets can be expanded. In other words, if there are not enough slices of pie for your liking, you can make a new pie for yourself.
    The important thing about zero-sum and positive-sum assumptions is that they form a mental pattern, an analysis program in our brains. This is one of the human software routines we discussed earlier. Positive- or zero-sum routines form in human minds and – if not analyzed and adjusted – color wide areas of thought. This affects all sorts of opinions and judgments. People take these basic views of the world as givens: things they don't need to waste time examining; things that are considered to be known. This built great differences in the thoughts of the farmers and the nomads.4
    Young nomads were instructed to take, from a world of limited resources.
    Young farmers were instructed to use the world intelligently and to create food.
    These early farmers, for the first time we know of, discovered a post-parasitic way of living on earth. They did not feed off of what already existed, as do parasites. Instead, they became actors in cooperation with the earth, and made it produce food for them.
    Of course, animal husbandry does ride the line between the parasitic and the creative, but it never fully crosses it. The farmers did cross it, firmly and permanently.
    THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN NOMADS
    The northern nomads lived in the flatlands above the Black and Caspian Seas, in what are now southwestern Russia, Ukraine, and western Kazakhstan. They tended to be taller and with longer rather than rounder heads. They were pastoral, war-like, patriarchal, and worshiped sky gods.
    The southern nomads lived in the flatlands of Arabia. They tended to be slight-boned, had long heads, were pastoral, war-like, patriarchic, and worshipped storm gods.
    It is difficult for modern westerners to understand the structure and incentives of such societies. Most westerners expect cooperation in life. Most of the time, the storekeeper does not try to cheat us, we don't steal metal exposed on the sides of buildings, and so on. In short, we expect people to "play nice" because of the programming in their brains, not because they are forced to do so. We complain bitterly about the stupid criminals that do arise.
    This assumption of cooperation did not exist in these groups of nomads. They were not the same as us in their assumptions regarding life upon earth. We Westerners derive (more or less) from farmers who presumed cooperation and creativity. These nomads assumed dominance and scarcity.
    The nomad existence was based upon a plunder model, placed on top of a clan model. At the base was the family clan. In these small groupings, there would have been a good deal of sharing and cooperative decision-making, but the final and large decisions would have been made by the senior male. For these clan groups to join together and form a larger group, a central dominator was always required.
    What these people saw as "normal" was a dominator in charge, with a structure below him. Each clan, of course, would have a protected place within that structure, along with certain privileges and allowances.
    The rigidity of these structures led to hatreds that could endure for centuries. When an outside group forcibly alters one of these societal hierarchies, the occupants live with tilted floors, so to speak, until the structure is righted.
    The rigidity of this structure derives from the fact that it is a collection of clans, and the clans nearly always remain for centuries. Added to this, clans tend to constantly compare themselves with the other clans, and oppose any changes in status between them5. Because of these status-conscious and enduring bonds, the structure is not permitted to modify. Thus, the inconvenience and the humiliation of altered hierarchy endures.
    Nikolay N. Kradin, in his paper, Nomadism, Evolution and World-Systems: Pastoral Societies in Theories of Historical Development, explains that the nomadic empire is organized on the military-hierarchical principle, and survives by exploiting the nearby territories. He goes on to say:
    The most interesting and novel feature of the steppe empires was their dual structure. From outside they appeared to be despotic aggressive state-like societies because they were formed to extract surplus product from outside the steppe. But from within, the nomadic empires remained based on the tribal relations without the establishment of taxation and exploitation.
    hello

Visitors found this page by searching for:

Nobody landed on this page from a search engine, yet!
SEO Blog

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •