Part Four: THE ANALYSIS OF EMPIRE CULTURE
The Final Empire: CHAPTER 9
THE CULTURAL DYNAMICS OF EMPIRE
Human cultures obey rules of metabolism. They are an energy code. A large part of human culture deals with food and eating. The life forms of the planet fit into niches within the flow of solar energy (NPP). Each species of organism fits into a niche so that it receives food energy and also makes a contribution to help support the system. Birds transport the seeds of trees, bees pollinate the flowers that they rely upon for food and all bodies eventually die and feed the soil.
All beings in the flow system of life/energy adapt in some manner to the whole. Human societies have been guided by cultures, adapted to certain ecosystems. On both coasts of North America, Europe and the British Isles there were massive migrations of fish at one time. This flow of protein in turn created niches for many life forms. Eagles, bears and humans were prominent in utilizing this food source. The young humans learned to fish. Fish were the subject of tribal art. Fish were the focus of spiritual attention through ceremony and ritual. Fish were food and their parts, such as bones, became useful tools and functional articles. All of these things were learned as part of the culture. The culture is an energy code instructing the young how to derive energy from their niche in the living world.
Our ancestors, the forager/hunters, had adaptations to reindeer migrations, bison migrations, salmon migrations and in the far north, whale, walrus and other migrations. There were many cultures also that had no single primary dependence but were adapted to the whole diversified ecosystem. We functioned according to the metabolism of the larger life flows. We followed the seasons nomadically; we knew each harvest of each watershed, as it became available. The metabolism of the earth set the pattern of dynamics for the forager/hunter cultures. The success of our endurance for three million years as a human family was our adaptation, our congruence with the larger cycles of energy. Our ancient culture was diametrically opposed to the form of civilized culture.
Civilized culture is not a linear and qualitative improvement; it is simply an inversion of our previous culture.
In our ancient culture we functioned in what anthropologists call a “domestic mode of production.” That is, we produced what we needed within the clan and tribe. We were nomadic, we did not attempt to accumulate surpluses or create markets. Bartering was a peripheral and minor activity. Food and goods were distributed through familial systems of sharing that were conditioned by each culture. Marshal Sahlins, a noted anthropologist and author of the widely circulated book, Stone Age Economics, reports that after studying many tribal economies, he finds that none of them come near the maximum yield of their environment. That made them stable and sustainable.
One of the myths of civilization is that our ancestors were hungry, lived short lives, and only by a high birth rate, could sustain their populations. Just the opposite is true. Tribal people consciously kept their populations under control by herbal contraception, abortion, abstinence, long nursing periods and infanticide.
Anthropologist Robert Allen in examining the !Kung Bushmen who live in the Kalahari desert of southern Africa finds that, “The proportion of men and women over 60 is 10 per cent-smaller than in the industrial countries of Europe and North America, but significantly greater than in the nonindustrial countries of the tropics.”1 Infant mortality is higher in forager/hunter groups. Once puberty is reached though, their good health insures long life. When this is averaged, including their higher infant mortality, it causes the life-span numbers to be lower. This has allowed the familiar canard that “primitives lived short lives.” We see here a tribal group living in an exceptionally harsh environment whose life expectancy exceeds most third world countries. Other tribal peoples, now gone, who lived in richer ecosystems must have been better off. The Kalahari is similar to the conditions of the Mojave Desert of California or the Negev in the Mid-East.
Robert Allen says that, “The Dobe !Kung…eat more protein than the British. Indeed, each person’s daily protein intake, 93.1 grams, is exceeded by only 10 countries today.”2 A time-and-motion study pointed to by Allen shows that the Bushmen were not desperate for food or they would have devoted more time to food gathering and hunting. Allen says that, “It was found that they never spent more than 32 hours a week searching for food, and that the average was half that-or just over two hours a day for a seven-day week!”3 We must keep in mind that most tribal peoples conducted a full and rich human culture with voluminous oral literature that was continuously spoken and they conducted many ceremonials and tribal rituals. Their time was not all taken up with subsistence matters.
John H. Bodley in his, Anthropology And Contemporary Human Problems, reports:
“In 1965, 75 anthropologists assembled in Chicago to examine the latest research findings on the world’s last remaining tribal hunting peoples, who were expected soon to become extinct. The result was a new description of life in these simplest of ethnographically known societies, showing their existence to be stable, satisfying, and ecologically sound, and not at all ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short,’ as Thomas Hobbes had proclaimed in Leviathan in 1651. It was learned, for example, that even remnant hunters such as the Bushmen, who survived in extreme and marginal environments, were not eking out a precarious existence, constantly on the edge of famine, as was thought. Indeed, they devoted only a few hours a week to subsistence and suffered no seasonal scarcity. When uncontaminated by outsiders, tribal hunters seemed to enjoy good health and long lives, while they had the good sense to maintain their wants at levels that could be fully and continuously satisfied without jeopardizing their environment. One researcher even suggested that this was, after all, the original ‘affluent society.’
“Most significantly, when the discussions ended, it was concluded that the hunting way of life, which had dominated perhaps 99 per cent of humanity’s cultural life span, had been ‘the most successful and persistent adaptation man has ever achieved….'”4
In viewing the cultural change that has occurred since we were all forager/hunters, we confront the myth of “man’s evolution.” There is the linear concept of biological, “genetic,” evolution and a corollary concept of “social evolution.” The picture is that “man the toolmaker” has laboriously evolved, socially, by his inventions. First the rocks were chipped for tools, then the bow and arrow, then agriculture and now computers. In order to logically justify this linear concept, those farthest back on the linear path must be understood to have been in much worse condition than we are today. In this myth, we, today, in the richest industrial countries are at the forefront of social evolution. We are the most “evolved.” The emphasis is that we laboriously “invented” agriculture as an escape from the previous, less satisfactory condition. This is the standard myth. Others seek to use other functional reasons in addition, to explain why humans became civilized. Other theories to explain what influenced this cultural change are a rising population of forager/hunters that may have forced farming intensification or that the worldwide die-off of large mammals after the last ice age forced forager/hunters into agricultural intensification and a sedentary way of life.
The standard measure in the field of anthropology is that forager/hunters today, as in the past, spend an average of 500 hours per year per adult person in subsistence activities, the traditional villager spends 1,000 hours and of course the modern 40 hour week amounts to 2,000 hours per year. As anthropologist John Bodley so ably points out, this presents a problem for the linear concept, namely why would the forager/hunters opt for a system in which twice as much time would be taken up with subsistence? He points out that there are examples where village agriculturists have actually returned to forager/hunter life styles when the opportunity presented itself.5 The linear concept would argue also that humans “discovered” agriculture somehow, as if foragers with their intimate knowledge of the natural world did not know that plants grow from seeds!
The big myth, which we are confronting in this essay, is the myth that says that there has been a qualitative advancement with the change from forager/hunter culture to civilization. We have already seen that only ten of the countries in the world exceed the protein intake of the !Kung Bushmen. This means that most of the civilized people of the world can’t even feed themselves to the level of the forager/hunters and this is no doubt true for most of the people (other than the elites) in history who have lived in “civilization.” Civilization actually represents a lowering of living standards, using the values of longevity, food, labor and health for most people outside of the elite class. Only by restricting our view to “inventions,” could we say that there has been a linear progression. We live in a world where starvation is increasing. It is a world of myth where millions and soon hundreds of millions, die of starvation and we still say we are making “progress” by counting the number of devices created. This may be the ultimate of materialism (the belief that material objects are the ultimate value), that as billions die on a dying planet, we say that we have made great progress because we invented airplanes, computers, satellites and we went to the moon in a rocket ship.
Many have theorized about the cause of the change from forager/hunter to civilization. We simply do not know for sure. None of us were there and little hard evidence exists. Though we don’t have hard evidence for the why of the change we have abundant information about what the change was. We can easily understand the meaning and impact of these functional patterns in human society.
The functional change was the domestication of plants for agriculture both in China and in the original Indo-European area of the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia. The Indo-Europeans also domesticated sheep and goats. This was accompanied by the creation of villages. Early villages in what is now Turkey have been dated at 8,000 years in the past. Smelting and copper working in the area have been dated at approximately 5,000 years in the past.
The Cultural Inversion
The large question that we seek to answer is, “What is it about the culture of empire that has produced the prospect of planetary suicide for us?” To understand this we must look at how this culture functions, its functional basis, its dynamics. When this change to empire occurred, human culture in effect inverted. In forager/hunter societies we were ecologically balanced. The archeological evidence from one area, southern Africa, is that humans lived stably for 130,000 years without overwhelming the ecosystem upon which they depended.6
In the inversion,
- human culture changed from one of sharing and cooperation in clan society to one of deliberate inequality of goods.
- The culture changed from one of social equality to one of hierarchies of authority and despotism ruled by the Emperor and associated elites.
- The culture changed from emphasis on fecundity, Mother Nature and what anthropologists call matrilocal culture, to patriarchy- control and ownership by males.
- The culture changed from emphasis on cooperation in clan society to an emphasis on the cult of the warrior and violence. This is a change from cooperation to coercion.
The emphasis in tribal society was on sharing. In most tribal societies the chief spokesperson for the group was generally the poorest in material terms. This is because that person had shared the most and was therefore held in esteem by the group. This changed to an emphasis on materialism symbolized by the emperor who possessed riches amongst his peasant subjects who had little.
The inversion represented a severance from the consciousness of the living world, what some call a change from pantheism to deism.
Natural culture has a continuing contact with the spiritual consciousness of the living world. Each person in Natural culture had the cultural understanding that each living thing was a spiritually conscious entity as well as the understanding that everything in material reality was spiritually vivified. When the inversion caused the severance from this, human spiritual sensibility became abstracted into “religion.” No longer was the entire world spiritually animated but the focus was on a pantheon of abstract deities or on one deity. These “sky gods” were not part of the corporeal world but were abstracted somewhere in mental space. This was the first alienation and separation from life. This radically changed human perception. In the former world of the forager/hunter, the cultural experience was a continuing and direct spiritual contact with the cosmos. When the culture inverted this was severed and the narrow focus was placed on abstracted “Gods,” priestly hierarchies and material goods. Natural culture, the forager/hunter culture that lived in integration with the natural world, viewed reality as a composite life where all beings worked together to produce the whole in a natural manner. With the advent of empire the reality view changed to centralized power concepts such as the abstracted gods and goddesses and the centralized authority of the emperor who in most cases claimed to be ruling by divine right granted by a male god. This tendency toward abstraction demonstrated itself in money as an abstraction of biological energy and in writing as an abstraction of human speech. We can also say that now, empire culture is abstracted- removed- from the earth and only retains a “resource” relationship with the living world.
Wisdom and human maturity were casualties of the inversion. Generally in Natural Culture, humans managed their numbers and had great awareness of their cooperative relationship with the living world and great respect for it. All species are self-regulating with respect to their environments. This on the human level we could call maturity. Later, we will show that tribal society and also animal species go to considerable lengths to be self-regulating. The examples of population control are equaled by the care not to overburden the environment with hunting or other use. There was respect for the living world as well as a concern about future generations. With inversion, group responsibility and responsibility to the young, so that they could endure, has been lost. This has been replaced by a focus on individual accumulation with disregard of responsibility to the group, the living world or concern about the future survival of the young. Animals all seek to protect their young and provide them with optimum survival but the culture of empire does not. A popular example of the wisdom of Natural Culture is the rule of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, that all decisions in council be viewed with respect to their effects upon the seventh generation. These values of Natural Culture were centered on one fundamental- respect. People had respect for themselves-valued themselves- respect for others and respect for the cosmos that had given life to all. The effect of the inversion has been to elevate the negative social values of violence, selfishness, lying, stealing (conquest) and irresponsibility to the level of cultural standards.
The Dynamic Cultural Factors
Our ancestors lived by adaptation to the life of the earth. When the pathology of empire broke out in the human family this adaptation and unity with the cosmos faded, and rather than adapt to the cosmos, humans became “God,” as it were. Humans sought control rather than adaptation. This is the pivotal fact of the culture of empire. Humans in empire culture began this control with domesticated “biological slaves”: wheat, barley, sheep, goats, water buffalo and rice. When this change occurred, human culture changed from ecological balance to ecological imbalance. The biological slaves have historically been used along with human slavery to extort energy from the earth’s metabolism in a parasitic relationship. This led to the idea that humans have no need to unify and act responsibly and cooperatively with the cosmos but instead it was the cosmic role of humans to control the cosmos. Thus, the suicide pact of empire began. This need to control, so characteristic, truly, of a position of weakness, is the pivotal fact from which the coercive dynamics of empire culture flow.
The attitude of control rather than cooperation with a greater power is a quantum shift in human perception. From a position that all perceived reality is manifest from unseen spiritual dynamics with which tribal people sought to be in contact, humans in empire began to see the world as a source of gratification for culturally defined needs-the accumulation of material wealth and power over the earth and other people. Meaning was taken from the spiritual forces of life and the cosmos and placed on material accumulation. In this respect the cosmos became meaningless. This also contributed to a generalized sense of the meaninglessness of human life within the Culture of Empire.
The fundamental dynamic of the Culture of Empire is linear increase. The massing of human population into the early towns was based on the productivity of agriculture and herding. This quickly went above a sustainable level. It meant that the humans would soon exhaust the soils and foraging areas and so must turn to some way to continue these methods. Once this inversion had occurred, rather than the previous balance, it became to the advantage of the humans to spur further growth in food production by expansion. Further growth in human numbers added to the human energy applied to agriculture, stock raising and the production of material goods. Further growth also increased the security of the larger sedentary population. Because the increasing, sedentary population needed military conquest to expand their food base, patriarchy, militarism and hierarchy were strengthened.
Once the human population exceeds that of balanced forager/ hunters, the ecology of the area inevitably becomes denuded. This is the trigger mechanism. When one eats up what is in one’s own backyard- when one exceeds the natural productivity-it is necessary to go to other areas to get more to sustain the massed group. This requires militarism and the social ideology of conquest. The idea of accumulation of material goods and the idea of linear increase becomes ingrained into the social ideology.
A profound change takes place in the psyche of the culture when this change from forager/hunter to civilized, imperial, energy systems occurs. Where natural human culture tended toward unities of person, tribe, and cosmos- in cooperative relationship, the culture of empire tends toward disintegration, separation and isolation on all levels. Conflict/competition, not cooperation, becomes the dynamic. The cooperative unities are supplanted by the coercion of the controlling elite with its military force, as in early empires, or with administrative-legal control in the later empires. Human culture, which had been passed down through generations, person to person, disintegrated, but the social body was still held in form by the power of the elites with their hierarchies of coercion. Order in imperial society ultimately rests upon the monopoly of violence. Within the imperial worldview, the imperial cultural mind, power is the ability to compel another person or to force change in the material world. Power to compel and force is a central dynamic. This power is the dynamic by which the heathen are conquered, the aristocrat becomes emperor, material goods are produced or gold is accumulated.
This coercion is the element of militarism in empire. The complete inversion of human society from Natural to Empire Culture did not take place overnight but took thousands of years to become what it is today. What it is today, nonetheless, is a direct extrapolation of the original dynamics that were initiated when human population began to swell. When the inversion occurred, human attention shifted from relationship with the living world to extortion of the fertility of the living earth. The extortion factor of empire is in effect stealing. Though civilization fears to name it, conquest is piracy and as the anarchist theorist, Kropotkin, says, ownership is theft. Differential profits are theft. The First World sucking the Third World dry of their resources is theft. Male ownership of females and the use of their energy, which was sanctioned by common law until recently, is theft. Human slavery is theft. The using up of the earth’s life by unbalanced culture is theft from one’s children. Empire culture is based upon the theft of conquest and the socially sanctioned practice of theft runs throughout the society under many names. The deliberate inequality of hierarchy introduces competition and a struggle for power. Hierarchy is not a social form in which all share equally. It is a form in which the few in the elite are winners and the supporting masses are losers. Much of the conflict, covert and overt in the culture of empire concerns who gets the scarce goods. Any possible separation or difference such as race or gender is used to gain advantage. Hierarchy is a social context of coercion. Hierarchy creates a context of dominance/submission and a competition for power.
We see this lack of wise management, this immaturity of competition now in world society. Because the people of Empire Culture are locked into an accumulative, competitive structure, there is no management of the whole. Each person, social institution or country simply struggles to maximize their power and wealth. There is only grasping for short-term gain at the expense of long-term survival. In a competitive market the farmer who incurs the long-term expense of preventing soil erosion- will go broke. In a hierarchical/competitive environment, short-term gain must take place over long-term gain because the farmer that makes the short-term gain will remain and the other will be eliminated from the system. No one in the empire advocates long term gain in soil fertility when the short-term gain of profit margins or production quotas are the whole point of the effort. This is the reason that nothing real will be done to avoid the final collapse of civilization. The structure of empire is to enrich the emperor/elite at the expense of the earth and society- not to manage affairs for the benefit of the whole life of the earth.
Agriculture and herding began the energy system of empire, rooting in the soil, extracting energy directly out of the planetary metabolism – and growing by the force of violence employed against the earth. The development of mass societies demands stasis, immobility rooted in the soil organ. As the hierarchy of human power relationships grows in the cult of empire, the energy of the soil community and the general life that it finances declines. Empires have historically run great net deficits of the fertility of the earth. The cultural ideology of the warrior cult of empire may have survived into our time, but the individual energy cycles of each empire such as the Indus Valley, Sumeria and Greece that have adhered themselves to the earth’s metabolism, have each cycled into ecological exhaustion. Unfortunately, the cultural form had spread before they deflated.
Empire replicates itself in the mind of the young by means of the patriarchal family. The family itself is a mini-empire that provides the conditioning, which prepares both the male and female children for their later roles in the larger social body. In the family the young females learn their submissive, dependent roles and the young males learn their roles as the favored “mini-emperors” of the hierarchical structure. The sexual imbalance of patriarchy and female ownership, or more accurately, female slavery, is inherently involved with militarism and with the inherent growth dynamic of empire. War, inherently brings the males to supremacy within a culture. Not only is empire forced to expand because of the exhaustion of “resources” in its central areas but also there is a growth dynamic in the sociology of warrior cultism itself. It is simply that a general amounts to very little unless there is a war to fight. In a culture of militarism it is the role of the males of the culture to foment war. War is the raison d’être of militaries. In ancient times, the country of Greece did not have to conquer the “known world” in order to feed and clothe itself. Nonetheless, Alexander laid down and cried when there were no peoples left to conquer. He cried not because Greece had any functional need to conquer the whole world but because he and his culture had internalized the values of empire.
Patriarchy, militarism and growth are defining characteristics of empire culture. The growth of a large family sired by the patriarch is a factor in the power of the patriarch’s mini-empire (and in population explosions). In the whole empire, numbers mean power when the cultural destiny is to accumulate and conquer. Even now, with almost universal knowledge of the consequences of the population explosion, some empire culture governments still cannot help but worry about the slowdown of population growth. Some governments aid population growth through tax incentives and other subsidies not enjoyed by single people or childless couples. All the patriarchs of religions and governments of the various sectors of the final empire understand that even as poor as individual Chinese citizens are, the mass of them creates the fact of a world power (though the Chinese government has recognized limits and has instituted birth control programs). The present population explosion is not an inevitable or natural occurrence. It is clear that the human population explosion is the result of cultural and religious factors. For the millions of years of the human family there was no world population explosion until empires began.
It is these “values of imbalance” functioning in the human social body that are killing the life of the earth. These values are: materialism, militarism, patriarchy, hierarchy, the idea of linear increase and extortion. Superficial political reform of this culture is no answer, technological innovation is no answer. The answer is that all of these dynamics must end and new culture must be created. Any human group functioning according to these dynamics will ultimately destroy the earth. The planetary crisis now is a product of these dynamics. Whether one drains the ecosystem of its energy slowly or rapidly, the ultimate conclusion is nonetheless, death for all.
The Cosmology of Empire
Materialism is the end of the spiritual world. When humans began to believe that they could “own” part of a planet, when humans began to selfishly “possess” things, cutting themselves off from the reality of the beneficent cosmos and its flow of energy, spiritual contact fell away. When the empire irrupted, when the focus of consciousness turned from the cosmos with all of its diversity of forces and beings, the focus narrowed, simplified. From the grand diversity of the cosmos, humans focused narrowly on the self and what the self identified with-its possessions- existing in a social context of the valuation of material objects. The value of humans became “wealth”- the objects that they possessed. One cannot live in holistic reciprocity with the forces and beings of the cosmos and be selfish. Generally, in the pattern of imperial culture the focus was turned inward, toward isolation, to concern with self rather than self/tribe/earth as was the focus of non-empire culture. Generally, in tribal society no one dies of starvation unless everyone dies. Food is shared. In present day empire culture the rich gaze out of the windows of fine restaurants at the poor, homeless on the streets. To them this is justified on a subconscious level by the linear increase-based, social- Darwinist programming of the cosmology of empire, with which they have been conditioned since birth. Social Darwinism says that there is only survival for the fittest, there are the weak and the strong, the unevolved and the evolved. That is why might makes right. In fact, it is said by some colonialists, that at times, the lesser should give up to the more fit, in order to aid “evolution.” The mind conditioning of the societies of empire says that there is “evolution” measured now by technological invention. Those who are most progressed are leading the whole planet toward a utopian destiny for the human race. Inasmuch as these “most progressed” groups are carrying the burden for the whole, sacrifices of the other lesser peoples to help the more advanced are justified. Here, a biological theory has been inflated to become cosmology. Cosmologies are each culture’s explanation of the plan and pattern of the universe as it works itself out on earth. The cosmology of a culture explains whom we are, how we got here on this planet and what the purpose of life is.
The Darwinist myth of the “survival of the fittest” rests within a larger mental construct- the basic subconscious image of linear increase. Rather than the organic view of a cyclic pulsation of life maintained by our ancestors, the culture of empire rests upon the image of linear increase. For example, the religious perspectives of empire from China, India and the Mid-East are linear in the sense that they believe we are not now adequate (we are sinners or we are unenlightened) but we are progressing in a linear manner toward some distant point of perfection. In social and economic realms we are progressing toward the utopian goal of wealth by making economic progress. In the technological “man the toolmaker” realm, we are inventing utopia where mechanical slaves will do our bidding.
In the cosmology of empire, the earth, its life and material forms became simply objects for manipulation and accumulation. They have no inherent meaning. Empire culture began to invest meaning in material objects themselves, with no relation to the cosmos. One’s identity became associated with one’s material accumulation as it hopefully increased in a linear manner. Materialism became a basic factor in the cosmology of empire. In this worldview, the earth is a “resource” to be used in service of empire.
The ideology of empire is fascism. From the belief in the centralized maintenance of “order” to the belief in the inherent racial, moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual superiority of the elites, the ideology has not changed since the first “son of heaven,” Chinese emperor or first Sumerian tyrant. In our own era we had the exemplars of civilization, the Nazis. Just as with the “old boys” in English mens’ clubs, in private yankee boys schools in New England, among the inheritors of social privilege in Italy, among the patrician class of Spain and in corporate board rooms throughout the industrial world, there is a bedrock belief in human inequality. All believe that the tribal people in the highlands of New Guinea are “less evolved” than they. They (as well as the social conditioning of all civilized people) state that they are on the forefront of linear increase, “advancement,” “progress,” “being civilized.” The Nazis said that they were on the forefront of evolution. They were carrying the burden of human advancement, genetically and technologically. They said that this was demonstrated by their superior machines, their superior military power and their superior culture, things that were only said behind the doors of the private men’s clubs of imperial England or now in transnational corporate boardrooms. Inasmuch as the Nazis believed they were carrying the evolutionary burden for the entire race and planet it seemed reasonable to them that other lesser breeds should step aside or be exterminated. Isn’t this the basic belief of the colonists who landed at Plymouth Rock? Cortez in Mexico? the Chinese now in Tibet? Isn’t this the social ideology of the last two hundred years of imperial conquest of the planet? Fascism is Empire, is Civilization!
In the natural human culture, life is adequate in and of itself. Life and its living is the point of it all. Life is a natural occurrence that is manifest as the intent of the cosmos. Life produces the needs of humans who live in balance. Life produces those needs as constantly as the tree grows and the rain falls. In the world of natural culture, life survives by its successful adaptation to the larger whole, not by conflict and control.
In the empire culture, people struggle for materialist salvation. When the herder exhausts the grasses, more must be found. When the agriculturist exhausts the soil, more wilderness must be conquered. When the general conquers one country, there are always more. In the inadequate present, one must struggle, battle and compete in linearity toward salvation, which is that point in which one has conquered and then owns and controls everything in the universe. This is linearity. This is mechanistic evolution in which repeated chance collision of chemicals rather than the intelligence of the cosmos produced the world. The myth of linear evolution is laid as a template over reality. It allows academicians, politicians and personal egos to justify much of the destruction and death caused by the empire. It allows people who should know better to say that self-sufficient tribal people should be displaced by economic development so that “they can become educated and productive.”
“Man the tool maker” is a correlate myth. In predicating that the cosmic role of humans is to make tools (to produce material goods), academicians find stone spear points, fit the many types of spear points into an evolutionary line and then declare that this is evidence for the role of “man the toolmaker.” Of course humans have always made tools but this was not the basic purpose of the society. It is, though, the basic purpose of industrial society. By taking what the basic pattern of empire culture has been through history and looking at the world through that pattern, the leaders of empire have “discovered cosmic patterns” like, “the hidden hand of God in the ‘free enterprise’ market,” “dialectical materialism,” or “the survival of the fittest,” and its derivative, social Darwinism- the theory that in the dog eat dog competitive social struggle the best always wins and that is what improves the human species. The linear growth myth justifies the contempt and racism directed toward Native people (who are not “evolved”) and it justifies the contempt for the “lesser” in the hierarchy. As the empire races toward suicide it scorns the “less evolved” human ancestors that have lived sustainable manner for a million years. As the materialism and markets of Empire Culture developed, humans began to increasingly focus human energy upon the production of material goods. Markets became the mechanism that accelerated the extortion of the earth’s fertility. Empire is a culture of violence, arranged according to coercive hierarchies of social power based on the extortion of the fertility of the planetary metabolism. An empire is a temporary, pathological human culture. It grows based upon declining resources and then collapses.
The general dynamic of empire culture assumes a life of doing on the part of humans. Humans work and produce goods and services. Humans invent new “tools.” Prior to the inversion the emphasis of human life was on Being. There was nothing to do but gather and hunt the “fruits” of the earth and be in spiritual consonance with the cosmic pattern and will as demonstrated in the life of the earth. This is a clear inversion between being and doing.
The conditioning in empire, the “doing” culture, carries psychological consequences. Within the body of myth, that each of us play out each day in our personal lives, we assume subconsciously that life is not yet adequate but that we are moving toward utopia. This means that each of us see our lives as somehow wrong and as yet inadequate, none the less we are struggling toward completion. This is a bedrock psychological assumption. Life is not yet full, complete and adequate. It is in this manner that we live out the pathology of the imperial whole in each of our personal lives.
1 Natural Man. Robert Allen. The Danbury Press. (no location given). printed in Madrid, Spain by Novograph S.A. & Roner S.A. 1975. p. 24.
4 Anthropology And Contemporary Human Problems. John H. Bodley. Second Edition. Mayfield pub. Palo Alto, CA. 1985. pp. 18,19.