We are not like this tigress, encountered on Xmas Eve 2011 as I traded the city heat for the leafy paths and avenues of Saigon Zoo. In the wild, once she’d mated, raised cubs and left her former domain on pain of death by matricide, hers would be a solitary existence.
But homo sapiens sapiens, doubly wise in that we know that we know, is neither physiologically nor psychologically equipped to survive alone. To produce and daily reproduce the material conditions of existence we must form social relations with our fellows. For most of our 150,000 years of walking the earth we did so as relative peers in small bands of hunter-gatherers. 1 2
The discovery of farming, some 10-12,000 years ago, changed all that. For the first time human effort, in tandem with nature’s bounty, enabled a reliable surplus to be produced. This allowed trade and ever finer division of labour. And it allowed the rise of class society.
The world has seen much bloodshed, suffering and unspeakable cruelty in those ten to twelve millennia. (Even the gains of greater land yield, courtesy those neolithic revolutions, may have been cancelled out by a variant of Parkinson’s Law in the form of soaring population levels.) As empires rose and fell – and slavery gave way to feudalism and mercantile capitalism, feudalism and mercantile capitalism to industrial capitalism, industrial capitalism to finance capitalism and modern imperialism – the tears of the losers would, if gathered up and discharged by some almighty being, overflow the oceans and drown every continent.
But until less than a century ago, those who seized power and enriched themselves could claim a certain historic legitimacy. On the one hand the socio-economic systems of which they were both stewards and beneficiaries did advance human productivity. Yes, even slavery did this.
On the other, such power had limits. For all its cruel rapacity (in the past overt but more recently requiring a chimera of legitimation by, inter alia, our systemically corrupt media) it had not the wherewithal to destroy us all, along with most of the species we share this earth with.
That magnificent tigress for instance.
All that changed in August 1946 with the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It changed again after America’s defeat in Vietnam. That defeat not only begs the question: had Washington retained its nuclear monopoly, would Hanoi have gone the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? It also sowed the seeds of the rise of the Straussians, with their poisonous doctrines of American Exceptionalism, Full Spectrum Dominance and the Project for a New American Century.
(For a glimpse into the mindset and workings of these people – not especially bright and not especially sane, but possessing doubtlessness, tenacity and organisational skills – try the piece by Andrei Raevsky in my recent post: Did the crazies capture the USA? How?)
Says American political analyst Michael Parenti:
The Project for a New American Century envisions a strategic confrontation with China, and permanent military presence in every corner of the world. The aim is to control all natural resources and markets, privatize the economies of every nation and hoist on peoples everywhere – including North America – an untrammelled ‘free market’, and to prevent the emergence of any competing superpower.
To that end they are of course aided by the overarching myth – trumping such triflings as facts – that the West in general, and USA in particular, are forces for good. But don’t take Michael Parenti’s or my word on this. Do a little research. Bone up on PNAC and a plethora of evidence hiding out in the open – the RAND Report cited here is eye-opening, as are US General Wesley Clark’s 2003 revelations on Washington’s plans for the middle east.
After doing what when all is said and done is only due diligence, then and only then have we the right to be taken seriously when we pronounce on Russians bombing hospitals, Beijing doing genocide in Xinjiang and a moral imperative to arm gallant Ukraine. Until that point, all we’ll be doing is aiding our collective sleepwalk to Armageddon.
For which we could blame those early farmers, and an irreversible chain of consequence, but that’s kind of fatalistic don’t you think? Better, I say, to call out the crazies who – hugely aided by those systemically corrupt media – are straining at a terrifyingly thin leash to implement their Project for a New American Century.
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- 150,000 years? After decades in which new discoveries – stones and bones – have led to a pushing back of the date of our arrival in recognisably human form, paleontologists seem to have settled on that estimate; an eye-blink in the wider scheme of things:
- 4.7 billion years ago – planet earth is formed.
- 3.8 billion years ago – single cell life emerges.
- 2.15 billion years ago – photosynthesis, hence oxygen.
- 900 million years ago – multicellular life.
- 530 million years ago – first vertebrates.
- 445 million years ago – first mass extinction event: End-Ordovician; severe ice age drops sea levels 100 metres to wipe out 60-70% of species.
- 360 million years ago – second mass extinction event: Late Devonian; prolonged climate change kills 70% of species.
- 252 million years ago – third mass extinction event: End-Permian; volcanic activity in Siberia causes global warming, with loss of 90% of species.
- 210 million years ago – early dinosaurs.
- 201 million years ago – fourth mass extinction event: Triassic-Jurassic; volcanic eruptions take out 75% of species.
- 140 million years ago – first mammals.
- 66 million years ago – fifth mass extinction event: End-Cretacious; a giant asteroid hits Mexico to shift tectonic plates and trigger volcanic activity across the globe, with loss of 75% of species.
- 6 million years ago – hominids evolve, common ancestors to us and other great apes.
- 150,000 years ago – we, homo sapiens sapiens, appear.
- 10-12,000 years ago – the first neolithic revolutions begin.
NB to keep this post simple I’ve ignored the question, will the 6th mass extinction be man made?
- That hunter-gatherer societies were ‘primitive communisms’ (with any division of labour rudimentary, along age and sex lines) can be derived logically – the lack of dependable surplus wealth may have allowed a degree of hierarchy but not a ‘passenger’ class. This has empirical corroboration in the discovery, as recently as the 1970s, of such societies in the Amazon Basin.