Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Domestication of crops and animals

The first crops to be domesticated were all crops of edible seeds, wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, bitter vetch and flax these crops were easy to domesticate and grew quickly – selection for plants with larger heads or heads that stood upright would quickly bring about the changes in the domesticated varietys we see today also sowing and harvesting at on etime would have promoted uniformity with only plants that were mature at harvesting surviving. these are crops which naturally grow thickly and with a high energy payoff in return for the amount of work put in. these crops would have allowed yields up to 100 times higher per area unit than hunter gathering. .

For unknown reasons it appears that important crops such as corn and wheat were domesticated near simultaneously in different locations around the globe, a possible explantion for this is a shift the the earths climate which is thought to have occured over 10,000 years ago. Their is also a sliding scale in terms of agriculture with mant hunter gatherer groups raising some plants especially medicinal plants but this was almost always on a small scale and never with quite the same purpose as agriculture. A large amount of traditional agriculture also mirrored natural processes and did not completely reshape ecosystems as our current agricultural systems do.

The domestication of animals allowed for the accumulation and storage of wealth as animals could be transported from place to place and slaughtered as needed. This contrasted strongly with more hunter gatherer societys in which if food was not eaten quickly it perished. This accumulation of welath by some doubtlessly contributed to inequality as due to various factors some people had more than others.

Domestication of plants and animals combined with hierachy and ownership of propertyleads to the notion that humans can somehow have ownership over other living entities and the land around them. Private property owned by individuals and used for agriculture becomes something that one must have sole control over to ensure one eats and it must be defended to make sure all your hard work is not in vain.

Population growth is almost always inevitable in an agricultural society as the sedentary lifestyle allows one to have children frequently because you dont have to carry them around with you. More children also means more labourers and allows you to increase your food production level. The change in diet which agriculture brought about may also have increased the number of children that are born.

As the population increases agricultural communities tend to expand and displace surrounding hunter gatherer communities. This process has accelerated throughout the past ten thousand years placing us in a situation where our populations increase exponentially.

The rise of complex civilisations

Civilisation as posted on wikipedia is defined as a society where a large proportion of people live in citys and gain their food via agriculture. And with complex social hierachys and institutionalised governments. Civilisation arose through the food surplus agriculture provided and the complex organisational structures which typically arise in agricultural societys. Civilisations inevitably brings about complex alienation as people no longer rely on their surroundings for food instead having to fight nature for harvests. Added to this you have a large proportion of people which have no contact with how their food is produced and you have a society which comes to believe it is seperate from and above nature.

The complex social hierachys inevitably rely on domination and forcing those below you to do what you want. This process is almost impossible to avoid in a sophisticated society - for instance if your supervisor in charge of irrigation decides to take a few weeks off to go hunting then crops fail and people starve. Thus violence or symbolic violence is used to make sure people sustain this system.

As society quickly comes to rely on complicated distribution and production networks it becomes harder and harder to opt out or turn back. If people decided to stop doing what they are told and stop maintaining these systems people would starve and their would be enormous social disruption. Add to this that most people live in citys and have no experience relying on nature or growing their own food and you have a situation where people rely on a system of oppression and because of this they will defend it.

Bringing it down

If we accept that civilisation relies on the domination of humans and non humans then the next step is to look at how to reform or end it. I do not believe that civilisation can be reformed so i will focus on how to bring it down.

Currently over half the worlds population lives in cities, these are people with almost no experience of wild nature and with no substantial connection to their food or surroundings. They live cucooned in boxes relying on fake entertainment to replace real interations. Living in fragmented nuclear families we are insecure and desperate for a sense of place or community. Schooled since birth in hierachy our relationships, jobs and families are framed by oppression and domination.

To change things we need to wipe away 10,000 years of domestication and oppression, we need to make people reliant on their surroundings and help people experience the sacredness of wild nature. This can be done by gradually converting people one by one and by helping people increase their self reliance. This is something we can all do - starting in our own lives we need to take the time to reconect ourselves and to try and strip away our reliance on domination to gain food and in social relations.

I also believe that some people will need to be forced that so many people are so reliant on civilisation that they will fight and die to defend it. For these people we will need to destroy the complex networks of domination they rely on to survive. Dams need to be brought down, power stations need to be destroyed and animals inside factory farms need to be liberated - this will happen inevitably as our civilisation collapses due to overexplloitation of resources but the sooner it happens the better for the rest of those that share this planet with us.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey John- that last bit you sound a Lot like Pol Pot before he launched Year Zero in Cambodia. To this day, the Khmer Rouge regime is the only "successful" attempt to forcibly de-industrialise a state, and force them into a rural subsistence economy. How would your programme of dam busting and urban cleansing differ?

Your comrade JC

John said...

The last bit would be carried out by concerned individuals it would have no ability to gain significant power for itself. It would be done with the goal of decreasing civilisations ability to continue - and would entail suffering for a large number of people as the power and food supply networks go down,

I believe that civilisation will not dissolve itself and will crash in the mid future. I think the sooner it is made to crash the lower overall harm to people and the environment.