Ch 1: A brief history of humanity

2004-12-17

Richard Moore

_______________________________________________

ESCAPING THE MATRIX

GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION:
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN GET IT

© 2004 Richard K. Moore
•••@••.•••
http://cyberjournal.org

draft version 2.2

This is a review draft of a copyrighted work. Please do not
forward, except to selected individuals who may provide useful
feedback.

This draft does not include proper footnotes or references to the
literature. I have inserted asterisks in (some of) those
places where a footnote will be appropriate. Feedback is
welcome on all aspects of the material, both substantive and
presentational.

_______________________________________________

 Table Of Contents

Chapter 1       A brief history of humanity
Chapter 2       The matrix
Chapter 3       We the People and the transformational imperative
Chapter 4       The harmonization imperative
Chapter 5       Achieving harmony and wisdom in groups
Chapter 6       We the People and social transformation
Chapter 7       Envisioning a democratic and sustainable world
Chapter 8       The transition process
Chapter 9       Living outside the matrix

_______________________________________________

 Chapter 1

A brief history of humanity


* Natural evolution: competition within a cooperative web

When I first learned in school about Darwin and evolution, the
lesson could be summed up in the phrase, the survival of the
fittest. The strong lion lived, and the weak lion died. The
strong cave man got the nice cave and beautiful woman, and the
weak cave man got the leftovers. With the strongest surviving
and having the most offspring, the quality of species keep
improving, and eventually the level of Homo sapiens was
attained.

I never thought to question this simplistic characterization
of Darwin's ideas, because  it seemed to make perfect sense.
It turns out, however, that this just isn't how things work.
For example, lions in a pride work together as a team, they
share their food, and they look out for one another. When male
lions compete for leadership of a pride, we see the simplistic
dynamics of competition operating -- but that is only one
part, an occasional episode, in the life of a lion pride. In
fact, it is the cooperative and social nature of the pride
which in part explains the success of the lion in comparison
to other, less social, predator species.

It was not until the latter part of the twentieth century that
scientists began to study environments as a whole -- as
ecosystems -- and to look at biology generally from a systems
perspective. Once scientists looked at the real world, rather
than just theorizing around the concept of competition, they
found that nature is characterized much more by cooperation
than by competition. Indeed, if we seek a simple phrase to
characterize our new understanding -- to contrast with
survival of the fittest -- it might be survival of those who
fit in best.

In the case of the lion pride we see an obvious example of
cooperation -- conscious collaboration among sentient mammals
-- whose emotions on making a kill are perhaps not that
different than those of a soccer team on scoring a goal. But
the principle of cooperation in nature goes much deeper,
involving the relationship between plant and animal species
within the context of their environment. It is not that a
plant wants to cooperate -- that would be silly -- but it
turns out that those species that fit in best -- within the
overall system of exchange -- are the ones that have the best
chance of surviving. If a predator species is too greedy for
example, and kills off all its prey, then it won't survive.

A colorful example of cooperation can be found in the case of
a certain plant, which is pollinated only by a single species
of insect, and that insect in turn can only survive if it has
access to that plant. They are each other's life support
system -- the two species have a mutually-beneficial symbiotic
relationship.

Another interesting example has to do with the relationship
between deer and their predators. Predators always go for the
weakest or slowest looking individual, and deer have evolved
so as to depend on this in order to maintain the health of the
herd. When deer are free of predators, as when they live in
some kind of protected area, then the herd begins to
deteriorate genetically within a few generations.

An ecosystem is in some sense an invention of the observer. We
can look at the whole Earth as one ecosystem or we can focus
our attention on just a pond in a forest, or anywhere in
between. But at whatever scale we might look, we find an
interplay among species that can in many ways be compared to
the economy of a community.

In a community people do different jobs, some producing what
others consume, and their collective exchanges are the economy
of the community. We may only occasionally feel like we are
"cooperating," as we go about our daily business,  but every
time we go into a shop, and find it open as usual, we are
participating in a symbiotic relationship with the shopkeeper
-- and both of us are cooperating in the larger endeavor of
"keeping our community operating."

Similarly, in an ecosystem, different species play different
roles, some being consumed by others, and their collective
'exchanges' are the life-flow of the ecosystem. The ways in
which cooperation occurs are not always so simple as that
between a shopkeeper and customer. There can be a whole loop
of exchanges, all of which together make up a symbiotic
system. This is what we are referring to when we talk about
the food chain. But it's not a chain with a top; mosquitoes,
for example, feed on us.

Richard Dawkins invites us to look at evolution at the level
of the selfish gene. Most of us are more accustomed to
thinking of evolution in terms of evolving species. Those are
both useful perspectives, but what may actually be more
illuminating is to think in terms of evolving ecosystems. In a
rainforest, for example, there are thousands of species of
plants, animals, birds and insects -- with countless and
complex interconnecting relationships -- all of which add up
to a vibrant, vital flow of life. Such a complex system
evolves over many eons, each species co-evolving along with
it, prey species getting faster, predator species getting more
cunning, fruit species becoming more tasty to the
seed-spreading creatures, etc.

When we think in terms of species, the "goal" (i.e., tendency)
of evolution seems clear: a species evolves toward being more
successful,  more able to catch its prey, more able to care
for its young, etc. But what is the "goal" of ecosystem
evolution? In what "direction" does an ecosystem tend, as it
gets more refined and complex?

There are perhaps different measuring rods which might be
relevant to this question, but there is one that seems to be
most fitting. The tendency of an ecosystem, assuming no
drastic changes in environmental conditions, is toward
maximizing the overall life activity within the system. As an
ecosystem evolves over time, the amount of life activity going
on per acre tends to increase, limited only by the
life-support resources available. When plenty of sunshine,
water, and fertile soil are available -- as in a rainforest --
then we see how far this evolutionary process is able to go.
The amount of life in one acre of rainforest, from beneath the
soil to the tops of the trees, is staggering.

The rainforest can be seen as a pinnacle of ecosystem
evolution. Similarly, in terms of the evolution of commerce,
we might say the economy of New York City is a pinnacle. Both
are examples of very complex systems, with all sorts of
cooperative synergies and interconnections operating, all of
which co-evolved over time. And just as a large city achieves
a maximum in the quantity of monetary exchanges per acre, so a
rainforest achieves a maximum in life activity per acre.

As each system evolved, both cooperation and competition
played a role. The big wheel of evolution is cooperation: the
evolving web of mutually beneficial interactions, enabling
ever greater productivity per acre. The smaller wheel of
evolution is competition: where players compete to occupy the
most desirable niches in the evolving system. The overall
tendency in both cases is toward greater cooperative
efficiency. Competition, in each case, plays a supplementary
tuning role, rewarding favorable adaptations within the
evolving system.


* The nature of aboriginal societies

Although life systems are pervaded by webs of cooperation,
some species exhibit more overtly cooperative behavior than
others. A Cheetah lives and hunts alone, sometimes supporting
cubs; lions and dogs live and hunt in family groups. Among the
most social and cooperative of the animal kingdom are the
monkeys and apes. They are on the upper end of the animal
intelligence scale; they can communicate relatively well with
one another, and they use cooperation very effectively to
achieve greater relative success -- as compared to other
species that are less skilled at cooperation but perhaps
physically stronger as individuals.

The first humans, then, had been highly social and cooperative
for millions of years prior to becoming distinctly human. We
started out as cooperative bands, much like chimpanzee or
baboon troops today. And as we began to find our own
evolutionary path, we developed increased capacities for
cooperation. Perhaps the most significant of these new
capacities was that for complex language. As intelligence and
linguistic capacity increased, enabling more complex languages
to develop, early humans could plan out hunting expeditions,
discuss strategy and compare experiences, talk over the pros
and cons of migrating to a new territory, etc. Language, as an
adaptive trait, can be seen as a tool designed to maximize the
effectiveness and flexibility of cooperation within the band.

We can perhaps now see how thoroughly wrong is the simplistic
Darwinian characterization of evolution, as expressed in the
common phrases, survival of the fittest, or law of the jungle.
A jungle, in fact, is much the same as a rain forest -- a
pinnacle of cooperative synergy. Darwin himself had a more
insightful view about cooperation, even back in the 1800s,
than that expressed by the simplistic interpretations.*

Based on archeological evidence, in particular skeletal and
DNA remains, it seems that we have been fully human for
something like 150,000 years, although as usual, experts
differ over the precise dating*. In any case, people have been
just like us for a very, very long time -- before any kind of
civilization came along. If a human infant could be brought
across time from that far back, and be adopted into a modern
family, he or she would grow up speaking today's language  and
be in every way a typical modern person. We can be sure there
have been many individuals -- throughout the span of this
whole period -- with the capacity for genius of a Mozart or
Einstein.

The archeological evidence conclusively indicates that for
almost all of these 150,000  years -- excepting only about the
past 10,000 -- we have lived in small, hunter-gatherer bands.
But archeology can give us very little detail about what our
societies were like back in the early days. In order to gain
insight into what those societies must have been like, we need
to look elsewhere.

History is no help, because  no language was recorded until
the old hunter-gatherer ways were already giving over to the
ways of civilization -- and it was the new ways that were
recorded. We can learn a lot, however, by looking at those
hundreds or perhaps thousands  of indigenous societies that
have been observed and studied over the past few centuries as
Europeans expanded their operations to previously uncivilized
areas.

Anthropologists have surveyed the many such societies that
have been studied and written about by witnesses, and they
have gone out and studied  still-existing societies in the
field directly, They have found an amazing diversity and
variety of languages,  cultures, systems of beliefs, diets,
and economic lifestyles. They have also found certain
characteristics, in addition to being based on
hunter-gathering, that seem to apply to all aboriginal
societies -- up to the point where they make contact with
civilization.

Given that people have been basically the same for 150,000
years (in terms of their innate capacities and tendencies),
given that all known aboriginal societies share certain
characteristics, and given that the "sample size" of known
such societies is a very large one -- given these three things
we can reasonably assume that for nearly all of the past
150,000 years all humans have lived in societies with these
same characteristics.

And we do find quite a number of universally shared
characteristics in observed aboriginal societies. Every such
society has a complex language, capable of abstract and
imaginative expression. Every such society has its own
culture, supported by mythologies, beliefs, taboos, and
stories which are passed down orally from generation to
generation. In this way mores, history, discovered knowledge,
and adaptive behaviors are preserved and reinforced in the
culture. Frequently poetic, rhythmic, and musical forms are
employed--which aid greatly in preserving intact the oral
cultural heritage through the generations. Typically there is
a creation story in which some kind of spirits or gods lay
down the foundation of the cultural beliefs and explain the
society's place in the world.

Every such society, except those going through some kind of
adaptive transitional phase, lives sustainably in its
environment. Although the observed mythologies are very
diverse, they all place humanity within the context of nature,
as part of nature, with a kind of spiritual responsibility to
live in harmony with nature. The members of every such society
cooperate systematically in their economic endeavors -- mostly
hunting, foraging, and territorial defense -- with culturally
specified roles for different ages and sexes. Every such
society is egalitarian, apart from gender and age
differentiation, and decisions tend to be made by consensus
based on open dialog -- with no individual or clique being
given the power to decide for the group. There may be chiefs,
selected for their wisdom and knowledge, but they hunt and
gather along with everyone else, and they have no authority to
command others.

Such societies exhibit territorial behavior, each group
typically wandering over a particular area, following the diet
opportunities as the seasons change and local areas become
depleted. Although communication and exchange occur among
neighboring groups, territories are defended against intruders
and a pattern of relatively stable territorial niches is
generally maintained. These patterns shift from time to time,
as changing conditions cause some groups to migrate -- and
more aggressive groups sometimes displace other groups -- but
on a day-to-day basis each group has its own territory, within
which it finds its collective livelihood.


* Cultural evolution: stability within adaptability

Animals are born with most of their behavior patterns already
hard-wired in. Humans, on the other hand, learn their behavior
patterns -- and their culture generally -- as they grow up
their society. Just as a fox or lion inherits instincts that
make them efficient hunters, instincts that evolved over the
eons, so aboriginals inherit a culture that enables them to
efficiently use their territory, a culture that has evolved
over many generations. An aboriginal culture is finely tuned
to its own local environment -- as finely tuned as are the
instincts of an animal to the requirements of its evolved
niche.

But whereas animal behaviors change only on a time scale of
millions of years or more, human cultures can evolve over
thousands or even hundreds of years. When a group migrates to
a new kind of territory, for example, it can typically learn
all the useful plants, and the patterns of the local animals,
within a single century.* This ability to rapidly adapt to new
circumstance enabled early human societies to spread out from
their original primate habitats and occupy a wide variety of
niches. We soon left the other species behind like so many
frozen statues in a pastoral tableau. Lions are still doing
exactly what they were doing before humans came along.
Meanwhile, humans spread out over whole continents, from
tropical deserts to the polar regions, evolving specialized
cultures suitable to each kind of environment that was
encountered.

The loss of innate specialization, as a biologically inherited
characteristic, represents one of the most significant genetic
distinctions between humans and other species -- ranking right
up there with complex linguistic capacity. On the one hand,
de-specialization enabled us to inhabit nearly the whole
globe, aided by our ability to discuss and share our
discoveries and experiences. On the other hand, it has made us
particularly dependent on our societies for our survival.
Whereas a mixed group of lions from different prides could be
released into an available territory -- and they might be
expected to form successful  new prides -- a mixed group of
humans from different aboriginal groups would find it very
difficult to develop an effective cultural response to the new
environment -- even if they could communicate in some common
language, which typically wouldn't be the case.

Although from a long-range perspective cultural evolution is
characterized by its adaptability, aboriginal cultures tend to
exhibit remarkable stability over very long periods -- when
environmental conditions don't change much and there are no
significant intrusions by other societies. Cultural stability
is a desirable survival trait: it serves to preserve the
adaptive knowledge the group has gained over the generations.

This cultural stability is facilitated by the fact that
children are highly impressionable. If an aboriginal child, or
a modern child for that matter, is told by a trusted adult
that a certain mountain is the home of a certain god, with a
certain agenda, the child will typically take that on board as
absolute, literal truth. The child learns its culture not as a
set of facts to remember; rather the culture is absorbed as
the child's model of reality: what the world is all about,
what the role of society is in the world, and how people are
supposed  to behave. The more this model is reinforced through
social interactions, the more deeply embedded it becomes n the
child's mind. When the child becomes an adult, he or she
simply "knows" that the cultural beliefs are "the truth."  The
adult would no more question these beliefs than a devout
Christian would question the existence of God.

As a consequence, the adults of an aboriginal society tend to
pass on their culture to their children exactly as they
themselves learned it. As children, they were too
impressionable to question the culture, and as adults they
don't question it because they "know it's true." In addition,
coherent stories, poems, images and songs provide a reliable
mechanism for passing on cultural details unchanged. Hence
aboriginal cultures tend to remain remarkably stable until new
adaptations are required, or new opportunities arise, due to
some significant change in circumstances.


* Origins of civilization: inside and outside the Garden

For nearly all of the past 150,000 years, bar only about the
past 10,000, all of us humans lived in aboriginal societies
like the ones described above; we inherited our cultures
socially, and we passed them on much as we found them,
believing them to be "truth."

What happened about 10,000 years ago is that some societies
began to systematically domesticate plants and animals as a
means of food production. This shift from hunter-gathering,
and its aftermath, are knows as the agricultural revolution.
The consequences of this revolution were profound, bringing
about fundamental changes in the economies and social
structures of societies, and leading eventually to the
development of civilizations.

There were significant variations in the nature of this
revolution in different societies. Economically, societies
went down a number of paths, ranging from nomadic herding to
settled agricultural villages, and combinations of those along
with residual hunter-gathering. Rather than opportunistically
harvesting what nature naturally produces, societies were now
beginning to manage the production process themselves.

It is much more efficient to raise a sty full of pigs than it
is to go out hunting boar. A given number of people engaged in
animal husbandry and farming can generate more food for the
group than can the same number of hunter-gatherers. Thus, the
agricultural revolution gave societies access to a
significantly increased food supply. This led, as you might
expect, to larger families -- and hence the population of
societies increased -- for the first time ever in our history
as a species.

In a hunter-gatherer society some hunt and some gather. That's
about it, except for perhaps a few specialists, such as
healers, or ornament makers. In a society which manages its
own food production, on the other hand, there is both a need
and an opportunity for a greater number of social roles, and
an increased emphasis on specialization. There are many jobs
to do, including gathering and storing seeds, plowing (when it
was eventually invented), planting, tending fields, fending
off pest species, harvesting, preparing food for storage,
maintaining storage facilities, fashioning storage containers
and farm implements, foraging for materials from which to
fashion implements, etc. etc.

Bands became villages. These had many more members than bands
ever had, and the people had more varied and specialized
roles. The aboriginal political form -- egalitarian dialog and
consensus -- became increasingly unstable as a governing
principle.

In a hunter-gatherer society, egalitarianism is simply the
reality of how life is lived. Everyone must work equally,
doing more or less the same things, or they don't eat. In such
a society it is only natural that community discussions be 
approached on an egalitarian basis. What other basis could
there be? But in a society with a variety of roles, the
realities of everyday life may no longer be so egalitarian.
Perhaps some roles are seen as being "higher" than others, or
perhaps some people find ways to accumulate wealth at the
expense of others, or somehow get others to till the fields
while they drink the wine.

In any case, the fact is that the agricultural revolution did
create a crisis of governance for humanity. In a political
sense, we had lived in the Garden of Eden for something like
140,000 years. We were all equal; we all had a say; we were
free, intelligent, sovereign human beings -- within a
supportive and cooperative community. Now all of a sudden,
there were too many of us for this to keep working in the same
way. And there were too many loose cannons, in terms of
economic dynamics, for societies to remain stable on their
aboriginal terms.

In addition, the agricultural revolution was necessarily
accompanied by a transformation in cultures and mythologies.
People were doing new things, societies were doing new things
-- tuned somewhat differently to the seasonal cycles -- and
new stories were needed to explain what it's all about, and
what is expected of people.

Thus at the level of the individual society -- the overgrown
hunter-gatherer band -- agriculture led to a destabilization
of long-established social forms. The growing complexity of
society would require a new equilibrium to be reached in terms
of social relationships, a requirement never before faced by
humanity.

At the same time, agriculture led to a destabilization at a
higher level -- at the level of the larger system of
societies. For 140,000 years and before, the system was very
simple: each band had its own territory; it was
self-sufficient, and interactions between bands were, for the
most part, economically negligible. The relationship between
societies in the aboriginal world amounted to a flat space of
autonomous, relatively non-interacting units.

With agriculture and herding, new economic dynamics were
unleashed. Trade became possible. Herders, for example, could
make butter and cheese from the herd's milk, and trade it for
grain from farmers. Trade routes developed, and villages near
crossroads could develop into trading centers. There was now a
structure to the relationship between societies. I will no
longer be able to use the words band, community, and society
interchangeably. There is now a larger society, with structure
on a larger scale.

With all of these new forces in play, and long-established
social forms failing, there was a need for new forms to
emerge, new equilibriums to be reached. Until recently, the
common historical belief was that there was only one line of
equilibrium that was followed: that of male-domination,
hierarchy, conquest and empire, and so on with the standard
"history of civilization" -- beginning in the fertile
crescent, and then on to Egypt, Greece, etc.

But more recent research, as eloquently reported by Riane
Eisler in the Chalice and the Blade, reveals that there was
another path of equilibrium that was followed by some
societies, a path which led to a civilization of a different
kind. These societies too found ways to deal with complexity,
and increased interaction among social units -- but they came
at it from a different angle. They managed to retain more of
the desirable aspects from their aboriginal cultural heritage.
Many of these societies were located in southeastern Europe,
leading to a new archeological term, the Civilization of Old
Europe.

Eisler characterizes the first type as dominator societies,
and the Old Europe type as partnership societies. Dominator
societies tend to worship authoritarian male gods; they
relegate females to secondary roles; they are based  on
ranking and hierarchy; they engage relatively frequently in
warfare; they believe in the what Daniel Quinn calls the taker
myth, which Genesis expresses as "Go forth and conquer the
beasts of the fieldŠ" The images left behind on pottery and
other artifacts frequently depict scenes of battle, with
glorious heroes, slain enemies, and captured slaves.
Excavations reveal that settlements were typically fortified,
and many were destroyed and rebuilt time and time again, by
new generations of conquerors.

Partnership societies, on the other hand, worship a beneficent
goddess,  give equal roles to men and women, are relatively
egalitarian in their structure, are generally peaceful, and
their mythology is oriented around partnership with nature,
rather than domination of nature.. The images left behind show
many aspects of their lives, but there are no depictions of
battles, warrior heroes, or slavery. Settlements were not
fortified, and many of the sites that have been excavated show
that they remained undisturbed by warfare for spans of over
1500 years*[Eisler 13]

These Old Europe societies were highly developed, with
technologies and administrative systems on a par with, or
ahead of, the dominator societies of the same period. Their
art was highly developed, the palace at Knossos (preserved c.
1500 BC by earthquake) being perhaps the most striking
example. The king and queen of this Minoan society had
chambers of equal stature, the people in the frescoes all seem
lively and joyful, and the festivals and rituals involve both
sexes equally, including games involving physical strength and
agility. The (well-rendered) people in the frescos typically
appear very much like equals at a party, with no one on a
throne, and no retinue of servants in evidence.

The palace looks down on a vista from a modest coastal hill,
is not fortified, nor is there any evidence of fortifications
along any approaches. It was clearly constructed on the
assumption that it was not likely to be attacked. One of the
frescos in the Queen's Chamber, a brilliantly colored
underwater scene involving dolphins, is one of the most
elegantly composed frescos I've seen from any era; there is
nothing at all "primitive" about its style; it is strikingly
contemporary. The Palace itself is an immense architectural
masterpiece, far more modern looking than the much later
edifices of the classical Greek and Roman periods. One side of
the structure drifts down the slope of the hill, blending
Frank Lloyd Wright-style with its environment. The interior
spaces are flowing, dynamic, asymmetric, inviting, with many
levels --  and amazing uses of natural light and water
courses. The familiar terra-cotta clay drain pipes looked they
could have been laid in recently, and the Queen even had a
flush toilet.

I quote here from Eisler, p. 13:
        Between circa 7000 and 3500 B.C.E. these early Europeans
        developed a complex social organization involving craft
        specialization. They created complex religious and
        governmental institutions. They used  metals such as copper
        and gold for ornaments and tools. They even evolved what
        appears to be a rudimentary script. In Gimbuta's words "If one
        defines civilization as the ability of a given people to
        adjust to its environment and to develop adequate arts,
        technology, script, and social relationships it is evident
        that Old Europe achieved a marked degree of success."

This partnership path to civilization was not a maladaptive
cul-de-sac that didn't work out. It came to an end only
because  of invasion by warrior-based dominator societies, who
plundered and who also borrowed technologies. Whereas
archeologists long believed that agriculture first originated
in the contest of a dominator Sumerian society, the latest
evidence reveals much earlier agriculture-based partnership
settlements in the region, indicating that the later Sumerian
society did not originate the technology but borrowed it, most
likely after conquering the more pacific inventors.

There is no way to know how civilization would have developed,
if this partnership path had been allowed to survive. But
based on how far it was able to progress, in the limited time
available to it, it seems at least plausible to imagine that
the partnership forms might have been able to incorporate
advancing technologies, and move toward what we might
recognize as "modernity," while retaining a relatively
egalitarian and generally peaceful. culture

This possibility is at least plausible enough that it would be
worth our while to try to extrapolate how such a society might
have evolved, as it incorporated increasingly complex and
empowering technologies. When they had more power, energy, and
artifacts available to them, in whatever forms that might have
manifested, could such societies have avoided drifting into
some kind of competitive warfare, perhaps over the resources
required to support new technologies? We will return to these
questions in a later chapter, but we will approach them from a
slightly different perspective.

For now there are two conclusions that I would like to draw,
before moving on to the next chapter.

First conclusion: Contrary to previous scientific
understanding, early, complex, agriculture-based societies
were not universally associated with hierarchy, female
subservience, and an attitude of domination toward nature. We
can no longer assume, carte blanche, that hierarchy and
dominance are necessary in order to manage increasingly
complex societies. We must now be somewhat in doubt about this
question. We must at least admit that a viable candidate
exists for an alternate organizing paradigm, and that we
cannot be sure how far that partnership model might be capable
of developing without losing its core virtues.

Second conclusion: A partnership culture cannot remain viable
-- not in the long run -- if it must face competition from
dominator cultures. A dominator society, in competition with
others, learns to focus its available resources in a
concentrated strategic attack during warfare. In order for a
partnership culture to keep up some kind of defensive arms
race in the face of aggressive societies, it would need to
become like them -- regimented and focused via hierarchical
command and control. If there was a viable long-term future
for the partnership model to reach maturity as a modern
society, that viable future would have led to an entire globe
based on partnership. The world isn't big for both models to
co-exist; they are like parchment and acid.

The pursuit of the dominator path began, symbolically
speaking, when Adam left the Garden. That path was thenceforth
destined to prevail, not by divine intervention, nor by any
lack of adaptive ability to on partnership's part -- but by
the natural dynamics that occur between the armed and the
unarmed, the takers and the producers.

Could we have planted more partnership Gardens, rather than
leaving home to find our fortunes as conquerors of nature and
of weaker tribes? Is there any sense in which it might be
possible for us to return to the Garden? Can the prodigal son,
which is civilization, somehow return home to experience once
again a fatted calf and family hearth, and emerge with a
recovered vision, the "lost chord" of harmonious social
organization?

Might that even be the message intended in the parable of the
prodigal?Šas told by that one who did not come to fulfill the
lawŠthat one who spoke of the brotherhood of man and of the
meek inheriting the Earth. Could such a revolutionary and very
earthly message -- anathema alike to Rome, the Pharisees, and
the emerging Christian hierarchy -- be the actual ultimate
secret that lies beneath the legend and partial history that
form the basis of the story told in Dan Brown's novel, The Da
Vinci Code? Was that one, among other things, a social
revolutionary -- seeking to assure us of the possibility of
salvation on Earth through our own efforts, by waking up to
the "kingdom that lies within"?


* The co-evolution of conditioning and hierarchy

Anthropologists tell us that the first hierarchical societies
were chiefdoms. These chiefs, however, were not at all like
the chiefs that occur in aboriginal societies. While those
chiefs are chosen based on their ability to provide wise
advice and guidance, these dominator chiefs ruled with
absolute authority -- with defiance punishable by death. The
role of such a chief became economically feasible once a
society reached the point where it was able to accumulate
significant stored foodstuffs.

Once there were granaries, or wine cellars, or salt-meat sheds
-- holding the critically needed winter's food supply -- then
the opportunity existed for an aggressive and charismatic
would-be boss to assemble allies, seize the storehouses, and
establish a hierarchical chiefdom -- with perhaps his coup
allies as lieutenants administering food allocation. Or
perhaps a more subtle transition: someone volunteers to store
the village's grain in their extra hut, as a public service.
His son inherits the role, but begins to see it as a right,
and gets bossy about who gets how much food, etc. ad
escalatum. By one happenstance or another, many societies did
end up as chiefdoms, and by doing so they took the first steps
down the relentless dominator path.

Thus Adam banished himself from the Garden time and time
again, in different parts of the world. But in some societies,
and whole regions, partnership-based agricultural societies
persisted for several thousand years, with sizable granaries,
and they remained somehow immune to hierarchical coups until
the very end -- when overwhelming invasions swept in from
dominator societies. What defense mechanisms -- cultural
immune system -- did these societies possess which protected
them so reliably from internal power usurpation for so long?
Again, we will return to this thread later, but will approach
it from a slightly different context.

For now, I'd like to trace a particular thread through the
evolution that occurred within and among the dominator
societies -- in the world outside the Garden. We are all
familiar with the standard story of civilization, where
chiefdoms grow to kingdoms, historical events begin to have
names and dates attached, mighty empires appear, as in Egypt
-- hierarchies getting always larger in scale and rulers
grander -- until finally one dominator superpower has very
nearly achieved global hegemony, and its leaders are greeted
with reverence (by officialdom at least) wherever in the world
they deign to pay a visit.

Within this so-called "rise of civilization" story, let us
trace the role and basis of social conditioning. Earlier in
our discussion, we noted that by the time we were fully human,
we had acquired certain genetic traits that enabled us to
adapt to new niches, and which at the same time facilitated
cultural stability. One of those traits -- de-specialization
-- is an important distinguishing characteristic of humanity,
as compared to the other primates and "higher" mammals. In the
context of the aboriginal world, de-specialization represented
cultural flexibility -- the ability of a society, over to
time, to co-create a culture more suitable to a change in
conditions.

The other related trait -- the impressionability of youth --
is not uniquely human. But in conjunction with
de-specialization, it means that a human child has the
capacity to take on board -- within broad limits -- almost any
arbitrary cultural pattern, and will then as an adult accept
that pattern as "the obvious truth" about how things are and
how things need to be. In the context of the aboriginal world,
these two traits together enabled cultural readjustment when
appropriate, and reliably preserved adaptive behaviors the
rest of the time.

Let us now consider the consequences of these biological
traits in the context of a dominator society. We can see the
main structure of those consequences in the very first
chiefdoms, the very first steps toward hierarchical
civilizations. Typically these early chiefs claimed to be gods
-- and were treated as such by their subjects. The children of
the tribe were taught that the chief was a god, they took it
as truth, and as adults their obedience was assured. Chiefs
could use force to command allegiance, but their need to use
force was greatly reduced by their status as divinities. To
disobey or oppose the chief was not only a crime punishable by
death, but a sacrilege as well. As long as each new generation
was conditioned to this system of myths, then the chief and
his heirs were able to maintain their ruling positions with
minimum need for force. Even the natural necessity of slavery
could be conditioned into slave children, rendering them
mostly docile in adulthood, and showing how powerful indeed is
the tool of appropriate conditioning, in getting people to
accept almost any social conditions.

From the very beginning of hierarchical societies, myths and
conditioning have been used to subjugate, exploiting human
traits that had evolved much earlier for different purposes.
As civilization has evolved, the means of conditioning the
masses have become gradually more sophisticated. Hammurabi was
apparently the first Western ruler to reduce the cultural
rules to an enumerated list, a list that was consciously
designed by a known elite ruler. With Constantine we see an
emperor facing a crisis of control; we see him select a
religion to use as a conditioning tool; we see him modify the
principles and censor the defining documents of that religion
(Nicene Council, 325AD); we see him declare the newly
customized religion to be the official mythology of the empire
-- and then we see the new regime succeed in resolving
Constantine's crisis of control.*

In the Western world at least, Constantine's formula continued
as a primary control strategy right up until the period of the
Enlightenment, when a new primary mythology began to spread,
expressing itself in republican movements and revolutions.
During the intervening millennia, a partnership between the
sibling hierarchies of church and throne -- Constantine's
formula-remained the mainstay foundation of Western dominator
forms. When changing conditions pushed monarchs toward
stronger nationalism, then protestant revolutions were
encouraged, shifting the church part of the hierarchy closer
to home -- reducing its relative power vis a vis the throne --
while not reducing its power to control the masses through
conditioning. Indeed the pulpits now had the printing press;
the masses could learn to read and could then condition
themselves on their own time -- a very effective technological
adaptation on the part of elites.

When republics were established, a radically different
mythological regime accompanied them, one consciously
promulgated by emerging new elites. Whereas the previous
regimes had aimed to condition populations to accept the
reality of their oppression -- i.e., their station in life --
the new regime proclaimed the doctrine that people can escape
altogether from arbitrary rule by elites -- a doctrine which
may prove, someday, to be true. But along with this
perhaps-valid doctrine came a whopper of a myth: the myth told
people that they had already rid themselves of elite rule,
that they themselves were now the sovereign rulers of society.
The schools taught, and the people came to believe, that they
lived already in democracies.

The strength of this conditioning can be measured by the
number of readers who, at this early stage in our narrative,
are asking themselves, "Hold on a minute, isn't it true that
we do live in democracies?" I would not expect anyone to burst
free of that deeply embedded and daily-reinforced myth on the
basis of the general observations I have offered in this
context-establishing chapter. In later chapters we will
examine, as an archetypal case, America's Founding Fathers,
and the circumstances and intentions surrounding the drafting
and adoption of the widely revered American Constitution.
After that inspection, and the intervening material, you may
find yourself more willing to entertain doubt regarding the
"obvious truth" of democracy-achieved.

Let us now slow down the pace of our whirlwind flight over
human history, and focus in the next chapter on a brief era,
the era that began in 1945 AD. The conditioning thread will
continue to play heavily in our narrative. Indeed, the
metaphor of the matrix, based on the film, is introduced to
symbolize the complex illusion that characterizes the
mainstream belief systems of modern capitalist societies.

_______________________________________________

-- 

============================================================
If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
(http://cyberjournal.org) or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:
      •••@••.•••

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source and
this disclaimer.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE IT ", current draft:
    http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/rkmGlblTrans.html
_____________________________
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
_____________________________
"Zen of Global Transformation" home page: 
    http://www.QuayLargo.com/Transformation/

QuayLargo discussion forum:
    http://www.QuayLargo.com/Transformation/ShowChat/?ScreenName=ShowThreads

cj list archives:
    http://cyberjournal.org/cj/show_archives/?lists=cj

newslog list archives:
    http://cyberjournal.org/cj/show_archives/?lists=newslog
_____________________________
Informative links:
    http://www.indymedia.org/
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/
    http://www.MiddleEast.org
    http://www.rachel.org
    http://www.truthout.org
    http://www.williambowles.info/monthly_index/
    http://www.zmag.org
    http://www.co-intelligence.org
============================================================

Share this: