Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

December 15, 2011

Did the World End 6,000 Years Ago?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — paragardener @ 5:25 pm

Imagine a horrific water shortage throws the world into famine and tumult. Fathers are leaving their families to go and find food, and often as not they don’t come back. Orphaned children band together to prowl the streets and steal supplies.

After a while, only the strong are surviving. Organized raiders led by brutal warlords come to dominate the blasted landscape. These men fetishize power and violence, keep other people as slaves, and assemble harems to please their carnal whims.

Once the water situation is a little less grim, the new society organizes itself around the warlords in their fortified camps. No longer do warlords have to end all of their commands with “OR DIE!”, because everyone just knows it is right to obey their leader. Everyone has a place in the chain of command / obedience, from ruler down to slave.

Women have their right to contraception stripped, since the warlords want more numerous children to aggrandize their little empires. Needless to say, homosexuals meet a swift and final punishment, since they fall so far outside of the Big Man – Harem – Breed More Soldiers model. Some men might be castrated and kept in subservient positions, though.

As a final insult, the warlords put all of the teachers to death and replace them with priests, who seem to coach obedience within the armed-camp society more than they actually teach anything. Their lessons are about following orders, reveling in inequality, hating the sinful ways of people in the other camps, and constantly examining one’s self for disloyalty.

Did this scenario actually play out in the distant past?

A number of sources tell this story, or pieces of it. To begin with the familiar:

The Bible

In Genesis, we hear of an earlier, more peacable society consisting only of Adam and Eve. They were hanging out naked in a lush, garden-like environment in the Before; in the After, they’re clothed, guilt-wracked and have to work hard to eat. The Knowledge of Good and Evil might well be the Knowledge of Fitting In to Armed Camp Society — in that place you’d want to hide your sexuality to avoid being raped or jealously murdered. Eve is punished with difficult childbearing (all of the midwives were killed?) and told that her husband will henceforth rule over her, which is clearly warlordism and not a natural way for partners to get along.

Incidently, Eden is located in Mesopotamia, by extremely vague Biblical directions. That area definitely experienced a drying trend over recent millenia, going from “The Fertile Crescent” to sandy desert. We know for sure that the people of the region adapted by farming grain (imagine the work, with stone and wooden tools!) and moving into walled cities. The Old Testament in general is an excellent source book regarding civilized society at this time…

Excerpts from Numbers 31…

Moses to Isrealite commanders: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

…The LORD said to Moses, “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the LORD one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the LORD’s part. From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the LORD’s tabernacle.” So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.

The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

The half share of those who fought in the battle was:

337,500 sheep, of which the tribute for the LORD was 675;

36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the LORD was 72;

30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the LORD was 61;

16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the LORD was 32.

Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the LORD’s part, as the LORD commanded Moses.

The half belonging to the Israelites, which Moses set apart from that of the fighting men— the community’s half—was 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys and 16,000 people. From the Israelites’ half, Moses selected one out of every fifty people and animals, as the LORD commanded him, and gave them to the Levites, who were responsible for the care of the LORD’s tabernacle.

There is this genuine strain of questing for justice in the O.T. — notice how they divided the sex slaves so fairly amongst themselves! Another point on the Bible — the warlord chieftain of the moment has been replaced by the LORD, a king of kings, seeing all and ruling from behind the curtains like the Big Brother of 1984. This document is supposedly a good foundation for morality, and in fact I often think of some fable or poetry or parable out of the Bible; still, can you see how it documents a horrible time? Cretins then refer to the Bible to justify the horrors they’re perpetrating today.

DeMeo’s Analysis of Anthropological Data

James DeMeo, a supporter of Willhelm Reich’s theory of sex repression and mystical, put together a vast amount of existing cross-cultural data on warfare, marriage, child-rearing and such to establish the origins and spread of warlordism. He found that warlordism, which he calls patrism, originated in a broad swath of drying land including not only Mesopotamia, but also the Sahara and extending in the other direction through Central Asia (for short, Saharasia). The alternative to patrism, matrism, is humanity’s default in this model, and it once covered the entire globe. Patrists have prevailed because of their excellence in violence, and spread over the world.

DeMeo believes that patrism continues generationally through painful or pleasure-censoring child-rearing practices, such as genital-mutilating rituals or demands that children be quiet, uncurious and obedient. These practices result in adults who are more aggressive, sadistic and authority-worshiping than natural people — and better warriors with shield and spear in hand. Thus, the original trauma of famine and warlordism has been replicated and spread by conquest and sadistic cultural practices: an enforced catastrophe.

If you doubt the existence of less-violent, matrist cultures, look up “Trobriand Islanders.”

Eisler’s Chalice and Blade

Another source of information on the rise of “patrism” is the 1987 book “The Chalice and the Blade” by Riane Eisler. She describes a Neolithic agrarian way of life that revered fertility goddesses, featured male and female priests and treated males and females equally in their tombs. This widespread culture was conquered or displaced by Indo-Europeans (aka Aryans), who rode horses into battle and stressed masculinity and death in their religion. I have yet to read it except in this tiny summary, but I understand that this book really opened people’s eyes to the idea that more peacable cultures can be viable, and that women’s historically lowly position is due to historical circumstance, and not inborn human nature. I bet that Eisler uses the term “patriarchy” and not “patrism,” but her story is pretty compatible with DeMeo’s and the Biblical evidence.

Sick, Sad World

Sometimes I think to myself, “is the world really sick, or do I just look at it too darkly, or are my expectations just too high?” Now I have some evidence that the world is really sick: people are living in a cycle of catastrophic famine behavior, the cause of which was in the ancient past. We’re perpetuating it on ourselves through a culture of repression and violence. It cheers me to know that the horrible water-shortage scenario I imagined really happened (more or less), ’cause it means there is a reason for people to act so damned mean. The imagined possibility of changing the situation becomes a real-life chance.

The story explains much about us, like where this gay-hating strain came from or how slavery was ever okay. It explains why the Battle of Good and Evil (Us vs. Them) is the plot or subtext of every Hollywood movie, and why going about naked is shameful and criminal. I’m sure you can find the celebration of warlord values all over the culture for yourself, so no more of that.

The flip side is that promoting matrist culture and resisting patrism constitutes a cure. If we treat children better, develop some wherwithall to take care of our own families and communities (outside of capitalist exploitation), and learn how to better resist violent authorities, well, those seem like the things that would damage the warlord culture and allow people to flourish in the world we were meant for.

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4 Comments »

  1. Interesting. Alas, it looks as if we are going to see severe water shortages in the not too distant future. I know that isn’t the point of this post, and I do appreciate the point you’re making, but I’ve recently run across a few articles about the coming water shortage. My thoughts are all over the place, because I’m also thinking about a recent book (I have not read it) by Steven Pinker that argues that humanity has been getting less violent over time. The Chalice and the Blade is a book I somehow never got around to reading! Wonder if it’s still in print …

    Comment by estraven — December 15, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  2. You can buy “Chalice” by following the link over its title to Eisler’s website. If humanity is getting less violent, I suspect it is because we are farther from the original crisis, though I can’t say I know anything about Pinker’s position on the topic. And, yeah, the idea of Peak Everything and water crisis approaching is chilling, things could definitely go the wrong way…

    Comment by paragardener — December 15, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  3. Hey there,

    Some random observations:

    The kids and I were watching a video on Ancient Mesopotamia the other day, and they were showing stone carvings of Assyrian victories. Then they cut to a modern-day archaeologist, who said “But sometimes new discoveries change our opinions of ancient peoples. The Assyrians may have been more than merely warriors.” At which point Anya cut in, in an awfully cynical tone for an 11-year-old, with: “Oh, now they’re going to show us how it turns out they must have been good people, because look at their art!” …And that’s exactly what they did say. We were unmoved (as Anya said, “Everyone has art”). I don’t actually believe in cultural relativism — whether one takes it to mean “all cultures are equally good” or “all cultures are equally complex”.

    I always thought Adam & Eve’s story was about the process of becoming human. Childbirth is not so painful in other animals (and unfortunately midwives, though they may save your and your baby’s lives, can’t do too much about the pain). Our huge brains create the difficulty. It’s basically a story in which the predominant human (a woman; most humans are women) receives the gift of sentience and knowledge, and in return is cursed with social constructs (such as clothing) and difficult childbirth. Also, hunter gatherers no doubt ate better than the early agriculturalists, and in the Mesopotamian era they certainly coexisted. Even in Middle Ages Europe farmers only got 2 grains of wheat back for every 1 they planted — for entire centuries! Clearly, in the less populated days of clans who could chase the reindeer herds, life had been easier.

    People do tend to be more cruel when their environment is crueler, so, evil warfare in deserts is no surprise I guess. Even today, look at Saudi Arabia or Yemen. But it seems like one could study other cultures that were contemporaneous with the Mesopotamians. If we’re talking about 4,000 BC, there were not just people but whole empires in South America and China and the British Isles by then (and if my dates seem a little too far back in time, just wait another 10 years and it’ll turn out “Oh, that happened a lot earlier than we thought…”). I read a book on the Great Wall of China with the kids the other day, and I was like, “What is all this bullshit about pyramids?” I mean seriously. The Great Wall was orders of magnitude bigger & more difficult. It’s that old Mediterranean Sea bias… anything near that sea gets first billing. Of course you might be right that it explains a lot about European violence. But then, what the fuck was with the ingeniously cruel Japanese in WWII? What the hell was their problem?

    Thanks for this post! Certainly got me thinking in all sorts of directions….

    H.

    Comment by freelearner — December 17, 2011 @ 3:29 am

    • “they must have been good people, because look at their art!” Lol!
      The story of Adam and Eve has lots of possible meanings, and my take is a little too straightforward perhaps (hmm, maybe there is a metaphor in there…). The story’s not strictly about becoming human, though, because humans really can run around naked and live off of “God’s garden” when circumstances permit. It’s also about becoming “civilized,” I guess.
      I looked up the question “where did the Japanese come from?” and it turns out to be the subject of dispute. They may have come from those horse-riding conquerors from out of the Asian steppe, or then again, maybe not. They certainly had a well-known warrior culture, with Samurai and the Bushido code and all of that. Being isolated for a long time, they held on to their traditional views much tighter than, say, the scattered Jews. So, they had plenty of patrist values to be inflamed by Faschist madness during WWII. Hopefully they are relaxing more lately, in their nicely forested country.
      Finding out more about the vicinity of 4,000 BC is definitely in the cards for me. I suspect that many of the gaps in my post’s story can be filled in by reading the entire Saharasia book (a worldwide survey, you know), but it is largely based on information that was compiled as far back as the 1960’s. Incidentally, the Saharasia study supports the idea of ancient links between Asian/Pacific people and New Worlders.
      I don’t like that people in Yemen and Afghanistan are incredibly repressive towards each other, even if it’s tradition, but since some people would twist this conversation into paranoia against desert people… Realistic threats to America include our own government, the “financial sector,” authority-worshipping Christians, but not Muslim immigrants and converts. Unless the world situation changes drastically, and the cruise missiles start falling on us, getting along with Muslims is only going to help people in our culture to act more like mature adults. Funny that the people who most fear a Muslim invasion have the most beliefs in common with them…

      Comment by paragardener — December 17, 2011 @ 10:31 pm


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