Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae: Bushido Dischordian Futilitarian In Support Of:
Radical Honesty Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract Interpretations of Promotion of National Unity & Reconciliation Act, 34 of 1995
Excerpts: Brincibia SumMary of a Bushido Dischhordian Futilitarian
New tribalists believe in the New Tribal Revolution outlined in the Ishmael series by Daniel Quinn, meaning that the tribe fulfills an important role in human life, and that the dissolution of tribalism with the spread of civilization has come to threaten the very survival of the species. New tribalists seek to mimic indigenous peoples by organizing their own "tribes" based on underlying principles gleaned from ethnology and anthropological fieldwork.
An important expression of this movement is the trend towards modern eco-villages. Ecoregional Democracy and peace movement advocates are also often new tribalists as well, as the groups share common ideals.
In The Story of B, is one of the philosophical bibles for the Tribal Deep Ecology Ishmael community, wherein Daniel Quinn looks to tribal societies as models for future societies because they exhibited 3 million years of societal evolution before being overtaken by the totalitarian agriculturalist. Quinn specifically looks at tribal law as a basis for law in the future. In hunter/gatherer tribes, there are no formal laws, only inherent practices that determine the identity of the tribe. Tribes do not write or invent their laws, but honor codes of conduct that arise from years of social evolution. Quinn rejects the modern idea that there is one set moral standard for people to live by. Instead, he argues that the laws and customs that arise from each tribe are sustainable and “right” in their own way because they work for the tribe.
He also provides a deep ecology worldview for the idea of salvation. It was only after man invented totalitarian agriculture with its historical evolution of overpopulation and culling by means of wars and famine, that he invented the need for humanity’s salvation. Prior to civilization and war, man had no inherent need for a Savior.
The following is the speech by B, an itinerant New Tribalist Ishmael preacher, who takes us along the mythological journey of our history, and out of the lies. Forget everything you ever learned. It's all a lie.
Here he explains the origins of Conquer-and-Multiply Totalitarian Agricultural cultural mythology, as a result of refusal to adhere to the Law of Limited Competition, and the systemic historical consequences on man’s character development, which provides a Population Policy perspective to how population pressures nurtured what Hobbes finally referred to as the "nasty, brutish, and short" in his justification for the need of social contract political authority.
The Boiling Frog: 18 May, Schauspielhaus Wahnfried, Radenau
Systems thinkers have given us a useful metaphor for a certain kind of human behavior in the phenomenon of the boiled frog. The phenomenon is this. If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out.
But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.
We all know stories of frogs being tossed into boiling water—for example, a young couple being plunged into catastrophic debt by an unforeseen medical emergency. A contrary example, an example of the smiling boiled frog, is that of a young couple who gradually use their good credit to buy and borrow themselves into catastrophic debt. Cultural examples exist as well. About six thousand years ago the goddess worshiping societies of Old Europe were engulfed in a boiling up of our culture that Marija Gimbutas called Kurgan Wave Number One; they struggled to clamber out but eventually succumbed. The Plains Indians of North America, who were engulfed in another boiling up of our culture in the 1870s, constitute another example; they struggled to clamber out over the next two decades, but they too finally succumbed.
A contrary example, an example of the smiling-boiled-frog phenomenon, is provided by our own culture. When we slipped into the cauldron, the water was a perfect temperature, not too hot, not too cold. Can anyone tell me when that was? Anyone? Blank faces.
I’ve already told you, but I’ll ask again, a different way. When did we become we? Where and when did the thing called us begin? Remember: East and West, twins of a common birth. Where? And when?
Well, of course: in the Near East, about ten thousand years ago. That’s where our peculiar, defining form of agriculture was born, and we began to be we. That was our cultural birthplace. That was where and when we slipped into that beautifully pleasant water: the Near East, ten thousand years ago.
As the water in the cauldron slowly heats, the frog feels nothing but a pleasant warmth, and indeed that’s all there is to feel. A long time has to pass before the water begins to be dangerously hot, and our own history demonstrates this. For fully half our history, the first five thousand years, signs of distress are almost nonexistent. The technological innovations of this period bespeak a quiet life, centered around hearth and village—sundried brick, kiln-fired pottery, woven cloth, the potter’s wheel, and so on.
But gradually, imperceptibly, signs of distress begin to appear, like tiny bubbles at the bottom of a pot.
What shall we look for, as signs of distress? Mass suicides? Revolution?
Terrorism? No, of course not. Those come much later, when the water is scalding hot. Five thousand years ago it was just getting warm. Folks mopping their brows were grinning at each other and saying, “Isn’t it great?”
You’ll know where to find the signs of distress if you identify the fire that was burning under the cauldron. It was burning there in the beginning, was still burning after five thousand years . . . and is still burning today in exactly the same way. It was and is the great heating element of our revolution. It’s the essential. It’s the sine qua non of our success—if success is what it is.
Speak! Someone tell me what I’m talking about!
“Agriculture!” Agriculture, this gentleman tells me.
No. Not agriculture. One particular style of agriculture. One particular style that has been the basis of our culture from its beginnings ten thousand years ago to the present moment—the basis of our culture and found in no other. It’s ours, it’s what makes us us. For its complete ruthlessness toward all other life-forms on this planet and for its unyielding determination to convert every square meter on this planet to the production of human food, I’ve called it totalitarian agriculture.
Totalitarian Agriculture & Law of Limited Competition
Ethologists, students of animal behavior, and a few philosophers who have considered the matter know that there is a form of ethics practiced in the community of life on this planet—apart from us, that is. This is a very practical (you might say Darwinian) sort of ethics, since it serves to safeguard and promote biological diversity within the community. According to this ethics, followed by every sort of creature within the community of life, sharks as well as sheep, killer bees as well as butterflies, you may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. In other words, you may compete but you may not wage war. This ethics is violated at every point by practitioners of totalitarian agriculture.
We hunt down our competitors, we destroy their food, and we deny them access to food. That indeed is the whole purpose and point of totalitarian agriculture. Totalitarian agriculture is based on the premise that all the food in the world belongs to us, and there is no limit whatever to what we may take for ourselves and deny to all others.
Totalitarian agriculture was not adopted in our culture out of sheer meanness. It was adopted because, by its very nature, it’s more productive than any other style (and there are many other styles). Totalitarian agriculture represents productivity to the max, as Americans like to say. It represents productivity in a form that literally cannot be exceeded.
Many styles of agriculture (not all, but many) produce food surpluses.
But, not surprisingly, totalitarian agriculture produces larger surpluses than any other style. It produces surpluses to the max. You simply can’t outproduce a system designed to convert all the food in the world into human food.
Totalitarian agriculture is the fire under our cauldron. Totalitarian agriculture is what has kept us “on the boil” here for ten thousand years.
Food Availability and Population Growth
The Klasies River Cave are a series of caves located to the east of the Klasies River mouth on the Tsitsikamma coast in the Humansdorp district of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa; that are home to artifacts from the Middle Stone Age some 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. The 20 metre thick accumulation of deposits, both inside the caves and outside against the cliff face, prove that Klasies River Mouth people knew how to hunt small game, fish (later), gather plants and roots, cook by roasting on hearths, and manage their land (later). There is extensive evidence of shellfish collecting; MSA stone artifact technology; gathering plants, roots and flowers for food; cooking plants, corms, seal, penguins, and antelope meat on hearths with fire; general organisation of the settlement; and land/veld management by fire. The evidence also appears to indicate that their presence was seasonal or migratory. There is also evidence of cannibalism, charred and carved 'modern human' bones discarded with other food remnants. [National Geographic: Genographic Project] [Wiki]
The people of our culture take food so much for granted that they often have a hard time seeing that there is a necessary connection between the availability of food and population growth. For them, I’ve found it necessary to construct a small illustrative experiment with laboratory mice.
Imagine if you will a cage with movable sides, so that it can be enlarged to any desired size. We begin by putting ten healthy mice of both sexes into the cage, along with plenty of food and water. In just a few days there will of course be twenty mice, and we accordingly increase the amount of food we’re putting in the cage. In a few weeks, as we steadily increase the amount of available food, there will be forty, then fifty, then sixty, and so on, until one day there is a hundred. And let’s say that we’ve decided to stop the growth of the colony at a hundred. I’m sure you realize that we don’t need to pass out little condoms or birth-control pills to achieve this effect. All we have to do is stop increasing the amount of food that goes into the cage. Every day we put in an amount that we know is sufficient to sustain a hundred mice—and no more. This is the part that many find hard to believe, but, trust me, it’s the truth: The growth of the community stops dead. Not overnight, of course, but in very short order. Putting in an amount of food sufficient for one hundred mice, we will find—every single time—that the population of the cage soon stabilizes at one hundred. Of course I don’t mean one hundred precisely. It will fluctuate between ninety and a hundred ten but never go much beyond those limits. On the average, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, the population inside the cage will be one hundred.
Now if we should decide to have a population of two hundred mice instead of one hundred, we won’t have to add aphrodisiacs to their diets or play erotic mouse movies for them. We’ll just have to increase the amount of food we put in the cage. If we put in enough food for two hundred, we’ll soon have two hundred. If we put in enough for three hundred, we’ll soon have three hundred: If we put in enough for four hundred, we’ll soon have four hundred. If we put in enough for five hundred, we’ll soon have five hundred. This isn’t a guess, my friends. This isn’t a conjecture. This is a certainty.
Of course, you understand that there’s nothing special about mice in this regard. The same will happen with crickets or trout or badgers or sparrows. But I fear that many people bridle at the idea that humans might be included in this list. Because as individuals we’re able to govern our reproductive capacities, they imagine our growth as a species should be unresponsive to the mere availability of food.
Luckily for the point I’m trying to make here, I have considerable data showing that, as a species, we’re as responsive as any other to the availability of food—three million years of data, in fact. For all but the last ten thousand years of that period, the human species was a very minor member of the world ecosystem.
Imagine it—three million years and the human race did not overrun the earth! There was some growth, of course, through simple migration from continent to continent, but this growth was proceeding at a glacial rate. It’s estimated that the human population at the beginning of the Neolithic was around ten million—ten million, if you can imagine that! After three million years!
Then, very suddenly, things began to change. And the change was that the people of one culture, in one corner of the world, developed a peculiar form of agriculture that made food available to people in unprecedented quantities. Following this, in this corner of the world, the population doubled in a scant three thousand years. It doubled again, this time in only two thousand years. In an eye blink of time on the geologic scale, the human population jumped from ten million to fifty million—probably eighty percent of them being practitioners of totalitarian agriculture: members of our culture, East and West.
The – overpopulation colliding with scarce resources -- water in the cauldron was getting warm, and signs of distress were beginning to appear.
Signs of distress: 5000-3000 B.C.E.:
Samarra ware pottery, from Samarra 96 km north of modern Baghdad. The ancient symbol of the swastika is occassionally attested in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Here it gives direction to the swirling arrangement of fish and birds on this decorated plate, dating to 5 or 6 BC. These animal forms, particularly the wings of the birds , relate closely to the more abstract genometric patterning towards the rim. The bold outer ring of decoration appears to reverse the direction of the swirl begun by the swastika in the centre, balancing and lending a sense of depth to the composition. [Wiki]
It was getting crowded. Think of that. People used to imagine that history is inevitably cyclical, but what I’m describing here has never happened before. In all of three million years, humans have never been crowded anywhere. But now the people of a single culture—our culture—are learning what it means to be crowded. It was getting crowded, and overworked, overgrazed land was becoming less and less productive.
There were more people, and they were competing for dwindling resources.
The water is heating up around the frog—and remember what we’re looking for: signs of distress. What happens when more people begin competing for less? That’s obvious. Every schoolchild knows that. When more people start competing for less, they start fighting. But of course they don’t just fight at random. The town butcher doesn’t battle the town baker, the town tailor doesn’t battle the town shoemaker. No, the town’s butcher, baker, tailor, and shoemaker get together to battle some other town’s butcher, baker, tailor, and shoemaker.
We don’t have to see bodies lying in the field to know that this was the beginning of the age of war that has continued to the present moment. What we have to see is war-making machinery. I don’t mean mechanical machinery—chariots, catapults, siege machines, and so on. I mean political machinery. Butchers, bakers, tailors, and shoemakers don’t organize themselves into armies. They need warlords—kings, princes, emperors.
It’s during this period, starting around five thousand years ago, that we see the first states formed for the purpose of armed defense and aggression. It’s during this period that we see the standing army forged as the monarch’s sword of power. Without a standing army, a king is just a windbag in fancy clothes. You know that. But with a standing army, a king can impose his will on his enemies and engrave his name in history—and absolutely the only names we have from this era are the names of conquering kings. No scientists, no philosophers, no historians, no prophets, just conquerors. Again, nothing cyclic going on here. For the first time in human history, the important people are the people with armies.
Now note well that no one thought that the appearance of armies was a bad sign—a sign of distress. They thought it was a good sign. They thought the armies represented an improvement. The water was just getting delightfully warm, and no one worried about a few little bubbles. After this point military needs became the chief stimulus for tech-nological advancement in our culture. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Our soldiers need better armor, better swords, better chariots, better bows and arrows, better scaling machines, better rams, better artillery, better guns, better tanks, better planes, better bombs, better rockets, better nerve gas . . . well, you see what I mean. At this point no one saw technology in the service of warfare as a sign that something bad was going on. They thought it was an improvement.
From this point on, the frequency and severity of wars will serve as one measure of how hot the water is getting around our smiling frog.
Signs of distress: 3000-1400 B.C.E.:
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 km (2.0 mi) west of Amesbury and 13 km (8.1 mi) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is at the centre of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Archaeologists had believed that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC. [Wiki]
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population took only sixteen hundred years. There were a hundred million humans now, at 1400 B.C.E., probably ninety percent of them being members of our culture. The Near East hadn’t been big enough for us for a long time. Totalitarian agriculture had moved northward and eastward into Russia and India and China, northward and westward into Asia Minor and Europe. Other kinds of agriculture had once been practiced in all these lands, but now—need I say it?—agriculture meant our style of agriculture.
The water is getting hotter—always getting hotter. All the old signs of distress are there, of course—why would they go away? As the water heats up, the old signs just get bigger and more dramatic. War? The wars of the previous age were piddling affairs compared with the wars of this age. This is the Bronze Age! Real weapons, by God! Real armor! Vast standing armies, supported by unbelievable imperial wealth!
Unlike signs of war, other signs of distress aren’t cast in bronze or chiseled in stone. No one’s sculpting friezes to depict life in the slums of Memphis or Troy. No one’s writing news stories to expose official corruption in Knossos or Mohenjo-Daro.
No one’s putting together film documentaries about the slave trade. Nonetheless, there’s at least one sign that can be read in the evidence: Crime was emerging as a problem.
Looking out into your faces, I see how unimpressed you are with this news. Crime? Crime is universal among humans, isn’t it? No, actually it isn’t. Misbehavior, yes. Unpleasant behavior, disruptive behavior, yes.
People can always be counted on to fall in love with the wrong person or to lose their tempers or to be stupid or greedy or vengeful. Crime is something else, and we all know that. What we mean by crime doesn’t exist among tribal peoples, but this isn’t because they’re nicer people than we are, it’s because they’re organized in a different way. This is worth spending a moment on.
If someone irritates you—let’s say by constantly interrupting you while you’re talking—this isn’t a crime. You can’t call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and sent to prison, because interrupting people isn’t a crime. This means you have to handle it yourself, whatever way you can.
But if this same person walks onto your property and refuses to leave, this is a trespass—a crime—and you can absolutely call the police and have this person arrested, tried, and maybe even sent to prison. In other words, crimes engage the machinery of the state, while other unpleasant behaviors don’t. Crimes are what the state defines as crimes. Trespassing is a crime, but interrupting is not, and we therefore have two entirely different ways of handling them—which people in tribal societies do not. Whatever the trouble is, whether it’s bad manners or murder, they handle it themselves, the way you handle the interrupter. Evoking the power of the state isn’t an option for them, because they have no state. In tribal societies, crime simply doesn’t exist as a separate category of human behavior.
Note again: There’s nothing cyclical about the appearance of crime in human society. For the first time in history, people were dealing with crime. And note that crime made its appearance during the dawning age of literacy. What this means is that, as soon as people started to write, they started writing laws; this is because writing enabled them to do something they hadn’t been able to do before. Writing enabled them to define in exact, fixed terms the behaviors they wanted the state to regulate, punish, and suppress.
From this point on, crime would have an identity of its own as “a problem” in our culture. Like war, it was destined to stay with us— East and West—right up to the present moment. From this point on, crime would join war as a measure of how hot the water was becoming around our smiling frog.
Signs of distress: 1400-0 B.C.E.
A manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, recorded in the Mahābhārata. [Wiki]
c. 1310 BC: The Bhagavad Gita is written, according to some Hindu traditions. The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit भगवद्गीता, Bhagavad Gītā, "Song of God"), also more simply known as Gita, is a sacred Hindu scripture, considered among the most important texts in the history of literature and philosophy. The Bhagavad Gita comprises roughly 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata.
Sefer Torah at old Glockengasse synagogue Cologne. [Wiki] 1312 BC-The revelation of the Torah to Moses occurred. The term Torah (Hebrews: תּוֹרָה, "teaching" or "instruction", or "law"), also known as the Pentateuch (Greek: penta [five] and teuchos [tool, vessel, book]), refers to the Five Books of Moses—the entirety of Judaism's founding legal and ethical religious texts.
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population took only fourteen hundred years. There were two hundred million humans now, at the beginning of our “Common Era,” ninety-five percent or more of them belonging to our culture, East and West.
It was an era of political and military adventurism. Hammurabi made himself master of all Mesopotamia. Sesostris III of Egypt invaded Palestine and Syria. Assyria’s Tiglath Pileser I extended his rule to the shores of the Mediterranean. Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonk overran Palestine. Tiglath Pileser III conquered Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Babylon. Babylon’s Second Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and Tyre. Cyrus the Great extended his reach across the whole of the civilized west, and two centuries later Alexander the Great made the same imperial reach.
It was also an era of civil revolt and assassination. The reign of Assyria’s Shalmaneser ended in revolution. A revolt in Chalcidice against Athenian rule marked the beginning of the twenty-year-long conflict known as the Peloponnesian War. A few years later Mitylene in Lesbos also revolted.
Spartans, Achaeans, and Arcadians organized a rebellion against Macedonian rule. A revolt in Egypt brought Ptolemy III home from his military campaign in Syria. Philip of Macedon was assassinated, as was Darius III of Persia, Seleucus III Soter, the Carthaginian general Hasdrubel, social reformer Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, the Seleucid king Antiochus VIII, Chinese emperor Wong Mong, and Roman emperors Claudius and Domitian.
But these weren’t the only new signs of stress observable in this age.
Counterfeiting, coinage debasement, catastrophic inflation—all those nasty tricks were seen regularly now. Famine became a regular feature of life all over the civilized world, as did plague, ever symptomatic of overcrowding and poor sanitation; in 429 B.C.E. plague carried off as much as two thirds of the population of Athens. Thinkers in both China and Europe were beginning to advise people to have smaller families.
Slavery became a huge, international business, and of course would remain one down to the present moment. It’s estimated that at the midpoint of the fifth century every third or fourth person in Athens was a slave.
When Carthage fell to Rome in 146 B.C.E., fifty thousand of the survivors were sold as slaves. In 132 B.C.E. some seventy thousand Roman slaves rebelled; when the revolt was put down, twenty thousand were crucified, but this was far from the end of Rome’s problems with its slaves.
But new signs of distress appeared in this period that were far more relevant to our purpose here tonight. For the first time in history, people were beginning to suspect that something fundamentally wrong was going on here. For the first time in history, people were beginning to feel empty, were beginning to feel that their lives were not amounting to enough, were beginning to wonder if this is all there is to life, were beginning to hanker after something vaguely more. For the first time in history, people began listening to religious teachers who promised them salvation.
It’s impossible to overstate the novelty of this idea of salvation. Religion had been around in our culture for thousands of years, of course, but it had never been about salvation as we understand it or as the people of this period began to understand it. Earlier gods had been talismanic gods of kitchen and crop, mining and mist, housepainting and herding, stroked at need like lucky charms, and earlier religions had been state religions, part of the apparatus of sovereignty and governance (as is apparent from their temples, built for royal ceremonies, not for popular public devotions).
Judaism, Brahmanism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Buddhism all came into being during this period and had no existence before it. Quite suddenly, after six thousand years of totalitarian agriculture and civilization building, the people of our culture—East and West, twins of a single birth—were beginning to wonder if their lives made sense, were beginning to perceive a void in themselves that economic success and civil esteem could not fill, were beginning to imagine that something was profoundly, even innately, wrong with them.
Signs of distress: 0-1200 C.E.
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only twelve hundred years. There would be four hundred million humans at the end of it, ninety-eight percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. War, plague, famine, political corruption and unrest, crime, and economic instability were fixtures of our cultural life and would remain so. Salvationist religions had been entrenched in the East for centuries when this period began, but the great empire of the West still saluted its dozens of talismanic deities, from Aeolus to Zephyrus. Nonetheless the ordinary people of that empire—the slaves, the conquered, the peasants, the unenfranchised masses—were ready when the first great salvationist religion of the West arrived on its doorstep. It was easy for them to envision humankind as innately flawed and to envision themselves as sinners in need of rescue from eternal damnation. They were eager to despise the world and to dream of a blissful afterlife in which the poor and the humble of this world would be exalted over the proud and the powerful.
The fire burned on unwaveringly under the cauldron of our culture, but people everywhere now had salvationist religions to show them how to understand and deal with the inevitable discomfort of being alive.
Adherents tend to concentrate on the differences between these religions, but I concentrate on their agreements, which are as follows: The human condition is what it is, and no amount of effort on your part will change that; it’s not within your power to save your people, your friends, your parents, your children, or your spouse, but there is one person (and only one) you can save, and that’s you. Nobody can save you but you, and there’s nobody you can save but yourself. You can carry the word to others and they can carry the word to you, but it never comes down to anything but this, whether it’s Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam: Nobody can save you but you, and there’s nobody you can save but yourself. Salvation is of course the most wonderful thing you can achieve in your life—and you not only don’t have to share it, it isn’t even possible to share it.
As far as these religions have it worked out, if you fail of salvation, then your failure is complete, whether others succeed or not. On the other hand, if you find salvation, then your success is complete—again, whether others succeed or not. Ultimately, as these religions have it, if you’re saved, then literally nothing else in the entire universe matters. Your salvation is what matters. Nothing else—not even my salvation (except of course, to me).
This was a new vision of what counts in the world. Forget the boiling, forget the pain. Nothing matters but you and your salvation.
Signs of distress: 1200-1700
Plaque commemorating Black Plague: The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350.
Inspired by Black Death, The Dance of Death is an allegory on the universality of death and a common painting motif in late medieval period.Epidemiological Studies of persons with CCR5 Delta-32 mutation: The delta-32 mutation of the CCR5 receptor gene is present in up to 20% of the white population worldwide. Persons who have 2 copies of this mutant gene have been shown to be highly resistant to HIV infection. When the CCR5-delta32 mutation was first discovered — and when its restriction to European populations was identified — scientists hypothesized that the mutation had been favored because it offered resistance to an intense epidemic largely restricted to Europe: the bubonic plague pandemic of the Middle Ages...
[CCR5 Delta32 Gene's Black Death & AIDS Mystery]
It was quite a vision—but of course the fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only five hundred years. There would be eight hundred million humans at the end of it, ninety-nine percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. It’s the age of bubonic plague, the Mongol Horde, the Inquisition. The first known madhouse and the first debtor’s prison are opened in London. Farm laborers revolt in France in 1251 and 1358, textile workers revolt in Flanders in 1280; War Tyler’s rebellion reduces England to anarchy in 1381, as workers of all kinds unite to demand an end to exploitation; workers riot in plague-and famine-racked Japan in 1428 and again in 1461; Russia’s serfs rise in revolt in 1671 and 1672; Bohemia’s serfs revolt eight years later. The Black Death arrives to devastate Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century and returns periodically for the next two centuries, carrying off tens of thousands with every outbreak; in two years alone in the seventeenth century it will kill a million people in northern Italy. The Jews make a handy scapegoat for everyone’s pain, for everything that goes wrong; France tries to expel them in 1252, later forces them to wear distinctive badges, later strips them of their possessions, later tries to expel them again; Britain tries to expel them in 1290 and 1306; Cologne tries to expel them in 1414; blamed for spreading the Black Death whenever and wherever it arrives, thousands are hanged and burned alive; Castile tries to expel them in 1492; thousands are slaughtered in Lisbon in 1506; Pope Paul III walls them off from the rest of Rome, creating the first ghetto. The anguish of the age finds expression in flagellant movements that foster the idea that God will not be so tempted to find extravagant punishments for us (plagues, famines, wars, and so on) if we preempt him by inflicting extravagant punishments on ourselves. For a time in 1374, Aix-la-Chapelle is in the grip of a strange mania that will fill the streets with thousands of frenzied dancers. Millions will die as famine strikes Japan in 1232, Germany and Italy in 1258, England in 1294 and 1555, all of Western Europe in 1315, Lisbon in 1569, Italy in 1591, Austria in 1596, Russia in 1603, Denmark in 1650, Bengal in 1669, Japan in 1674. Syphilis and typhus make their appearance in Europe. Ergotism, a fungus food poisoning, becomes endemic in Germany, killing thousands. An unknown sweating sickness visits and revisits England, killing tens of thousands.
Smallpox, typhus, and diphtheria epidemics carry off thousands. Inquisitors develop a novel technique to combat heresy and witchcraft, torturing suspects until they implicate others, who are tortured until they implicate others, who are tortured until they implicate others, ad infinitum. The slave trade flourishes as millions of Africans are transported to the New World. I don’t bother to mention war, political corruption, and crime, which continue unabated and reach new heights. There will be few to argue with Thomas Hobbes when, in 1651, he describes the life of man as “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” A few years later Blaise Pascal will note that “All men naturally hate one another.” The period ends in decades of economic chaos, exacerbated by revolts, famines, and epidemics.
Christianity becomes the first global salvationist religion, penetrating the Far East and the New World. At the same time it fractures. The first fracture is resisted hard, but after that, disintegration becomes commonplace.
Please don’t overlook the point I’m making here. I’m not collecting signals of human evil. These are reactions to overcrowding—too many people competing for too few resources, eating rotten food, drinking fouled water, watching their families starve, watching their families fall to the plague.
Signs of distress: 1700-1900
The Trekboers were descendants of Dutch (often Frisian) settlers of the Cape Colony, Flemish settlers, French Huguenot refugees, German Protestants, and smaller numbers of Danes, Portuguese, Greeks, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Scots, English, Irish, and Scots. They were semi-nomadic pastoralists, subsistence farmers who began trekking both northwards and eastwards into the interior to find better pastures/farm lands for their livestock to graze as well as to escape the autocratic rule of the Dutch East India Company (or VOC), which administered the Cape during the 1600s to 1700s. Trekboere also traded with indigenous people. [Wiki]
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only two hundred years. There would be one and a half billion humans at the end of it, all but half a percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West. It would be a period in which, for the first time, religious prophets would attract followers simply by predicting the imminent end of the world; in which the opium trade would become an international big business, sponsored by the East India Company and protected by British warships; in which Australia, New Guinea, India, Indochina, and Africa would be claimed or carved up as colonies by the major powers of Europe; in which indigenous peoples all around the world would be wiped out in the millions by diseases brought to them by Europeans—measles, pellagra, whooping cough, smallpox, cholera—with millions more herded onto reservations or killed outright to make room for white expansion.
This isn’t to say that native peoples alone were suffering. Sixty million Europeans died of smallpox in the eighteenth century alone. Tens of millions died in cholera epidemics. I’d need ten minutes to list all the dozens of fatal appearances that plague, typhus, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza made during this period. And anyone who doubts the integral connection between agriculture and famine need only examine the record of this period: crop failure and famine, crop failure and famine, crop failure and famine, again and again all over the civilized world. The numbers are staggering. Ten million starved to death in Bengal, 1769. Two million in Ireland and Russia in 1845 and 1846. Nearly fifteen million in China and India from 1876 to 1879. In France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan, and elsewhere, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands died in other famines too numerous to mention.
As the cities became more crowded, human anguish reached highs that would have been unimaginable in previous ages, with hundreds of millions inhabiting slums of inconceivable squalor, prey to disease borne by rats and contaminated water, without education or means of betterment. Crime flourished as never before and was generally punished by public maiming, branding, flogging, or death; imprisonment as an alternate form of punishment developed only late in the period.
The Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger; the Irish Potato Famine; an Drochshaol, the Bad Life) was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 during which the island's population dropped by 20 to 25 percent. Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland. The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight. [Wiki]
Mental illness also flourished as never before—madness, derangement, whatever you choose to call it. No one knew what to do with lunatics; they were typically incarcerated alongside criminals, chained to the walls, flogged, forgotten.
Economic instability remained high, and its consequences were felt more widely than ever before. Three years of economic chaos in France led directly to the 1789 revolution that claimed some four hundred thousand victims burned, shot, drowned, or guillotined. Periodic market collapses and depressions wiped out hundreds of thousands of businesses and reduced millions to starvation.
The age also ushered in the Industrial Revolution, of course, but this didn’t bring ease and prosperity to the masses; rather it brought utterly heartless and grasping exploitation, with women and small children working ten, twelve, and more hours a day for starvation wages in sweatshops, factories, and mines. You can find the atrocities for yourself if you’re not familiar with them. In 1787 it was reckoned that French workers labored as much as sixteen hours a day and spent sixty percent of their wages on a diet consisting of little more than bread and water. It was the middle of the nineteenth century before the British Parliament limited children’s workdays to ten hours. Hopeless and frustrated, people everywhere became rebellious, and governments everywhere answered with systematic repression, brutality, and tyranny. General uprisings, peasant uprisings, colonial uprisings, slave uprisings, worker uprisings—there were hundreds, I can’t even list them all. East and West, twins of a common birth, it was the age of revolutions. Tens of millions of people died in them.
As ordinary, habitual interactions between governed and governors, revolt and repression were new, you understand—characteristic signs of distress of the age.
The wolf and the wild boar were deliberately exterminated in Europe during this period. The great auk of Edley Island, near Iceland, was hunted to extinction for its feathers in 1844, becoming the first species to be wiped out for purely commercial purposes. In North America, in order to facilitate railway construction and undermine the food base of hostile native populations, professional hunters destroyed the bison herds, wiping out as many as three million in a single year; only a thousand were left by 1893.
In this age, people no longer went to war to defend their religious beliefs. They still had them, still clung to them, but the theological divisions and disputes that once seemed so murderously important had been rendered irrelevant by more pressing material concerns. The consolations of religion are one thing, but jobs, fair wages, decent living and working conditions, freedom from oppression, and some faint hope of social and economic betterment are another.
It would not, I think, be too fanciful to suggest that the hopes that had been invested in religion in former ages were in this age being invested in revolution and political reform. The promise of “pie in the sky when you die” was no longer enough to make the misery of life in the cauldron endurable. In 1843 the young Karl Marx called religion “the opium of the people.” From the greater distance of another century and a half, however, it’s clear that religion was in fact no longer very effective as a narcotic.
Signs of distress: 1900-60
The fire burned on under the cauldron of our culture, and the next doubling of our population would take only sixty years—only sixty. There would be three billion humans at the end of it, all but perhaps two tenths of a percent of them belonging to our culture, East and West.
What do I need to say about the water steaming in our cauldron in this era? Is it boiling yet, do you think? Does the first global economic collapse, beginning in 1929, look like a sign of distress to you? Do two cataclysmic world wars look like signs of distress to you? Stand off a few thousand miles and watch from outer space as sixty-five million people are slaughtered on battlefields or blasted to bits in bombing strikes, as another hundred million count themselves lucky to escape merely blinded, maimed, or crippled. I’m talking about a number of people equal to the entire human population in the Golden Age of classical Greece. I’m talking about the number of people you would destroy if today you dropped hydrogen bombs on Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, New York City, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
I think the water is hot, ladies and gentlemen. I think the frog is boiling.
Signs of distress: 1960-96
The next doubling of our population occurred in only thirty-six years, bringing us to the present moment, when there are six billion humans on this planet, all but a few scattered millions belonging to our culture, East and West.
The voices in our long chorus of distress have been added a few at a time, age by age. First came war: war as a social fixture, war as a way of life. For two thousand years or more, war seems to have been the only voice in the chorus. But before long it was joined by crime: crime as a social fixture, as a way of life. And then there was corruption: corruption as a social fixture, as a way of life. Before long, these voices were joined by slavery: slavery as world trade and as a social fixture. Soon revolt followed: citizens and slaves rising up to vent their rage and pain. Next, as population pressures gained in intensity, famine and plague found their voices and began to sing everywhere in our culture. Vast classes of the poor began to be exploited pitilessly for their labor. Drugs joined slavery as world trade.
The laboring classes—the so-called dangerous classes—rose up in rebellion. The entire world economy collapsed. Global industrial powers played at world domination and genocide.
And then came us: 1960 to the present.
Of what does our voice sing in the chorus of distress? For some four decades the water has been boiling around the frog. One by one, thousand by thousand, million by million, its cells have shut down, unequal to the task of holding on to life.
What are we looking at here? I’ll give you a name and you can tell me if I’ve got it right. I’m prepared to name it . . . cultural collapse. This is what we sing of in the chorus of distress now—not instead of all the rest, but in addition to all the rest. This is our unique contribution to our culture’s howl of pain. For the very first time in the history of the world, we bewail the collapse of everything we know and understand, the collapse of the structure on which everything has been built from the beginning of our culture until now.
The frog is dead—and we can’t imagine what this means for us or for our children. We’re terrified. Have I got it right? Think about it. If I’ve got it wrong, there’s nothing more to say, of course. But if you think I’ve got it right, come back tomorrow night, and I’ll continue from this point.
Cultural Collapse: The Collapse of Values:
19 May, Schauspielhaus Wahnfried, Radenau
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond [Amazon]. Diamond lists eight factors which have historically contributed to the collapse of past societies: (1) Deforestation and habitat destruction (2) Soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses); (3) Water management problems; (4) Overhunting; (5) Overfishing; (6) Effects of introduced species on native species; (7) Overpopulation; (8) Increased per-capita impact of people.
Before our era, the chorus of distress that had assembled over the ten thousand years of our cultural life consisted of nine voices: war, crime, corruption, rebellion, famine, plague, slavery, genocide, and economic collapse. Beginning in 1960, our own era found a tenth voice to add to the chorus, a voice never heard before, and this is the voice of cultural catastrophe—a voice that wails of loss of vision, failure of purpose, and the collapse of values.
Every culture has a defining place in the scheme of things, a vision of where it fits in the universe. There’s no need for people to articulate this vision in words (for example, to their children) because it’s articulated in their lives—in their history, their legends, their customs, their laws, their rituals, their arts, their dances, their stories and songs. Indeed, if you ask them to explain this vision, they won’t know how to begin and may not even know what you’re talking about. You might say that it’s a kind of low, murmurous song that’s in their ears from birth, heard so constantly throughout their lives that it’s never consciously heard at all.
I know that many of you are familiar with the work of my colleague Ishmael, who called the singer of this song Mother Culture and identified the song itself as nothing less than mythology.
The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell lamented the fact that nowadays the people of our culture have no mythology, but, as Ishmael showed us, not all mythology comes from the mouths of bards and storytellers around the fire. Another sort has come to us from the mouths of emperors, lawgivers, priests, political leaders, and prophets.
Nowadays it comes to us from the pulpits of our churches, from film screens and television screens, from the mouths of clergy, schoolteachers, news commentators, novelists, pundits. It’s not a mythology of quaint tales but a mythology that tells us what the gods had in mind when they made the universe and what our role in that universe is. A people can no more function without this sort of mythology than an individual can function without a nervous system. It’s the organizing principle of all our activities. It explains to us the meaning of everything we do.
It can happen that circumstances may shatter a culture’s vision of its place in the scheme of things, may render its mythology meaningless, may strangle its song. When this happens (and it’s happened many times), things fall apart in this culture.
Order and purpose are replaced by chaos and bewilderment. People lose the will to live, become listless, become violent, become suicidal, and take to drink, drugs, and crime. The matrix that once held all in place is now shattered, and laws, customs, and institutions fall into disuse and disrespect, especially among the young, who see that even their elders can no longer make sense of them. If you’d like to study some peoples who have been destroyed in this way, there’s no shortage of sites to visit in the United States, Africa, South America, New Guinea, Australia—wherever, in fact, aboriginal peoples have been crushed under the wheels of our cultural juggernaut.
Or you can just stay at home.
You no longer need to travel to the ends of the earth to find people who have become listless, violent, and suicidal, who have taken to drink, drugs, and crime, whose laws, customs, and institutions have fallen into disuse and disrespect. We ourselves have fallen under the wheels of our juggernaut, and our own vision of our place in the scheme of things has been shattered, our own mythology has been rendered meaningless, and our own song has been strangled in our throats. These are things that we all sense. It doesn’t matter where you go or who you talk to—a rancher in Montana, a diamond merchant in Amsterdam, a stockbroker in New York, a bus driver in Hamburg.
I’m just old enough to remember a time when it wasn’t so, and certainly my parents remember that time, as do yours. I’m certainly not talking about “the good old days” here. The chorus of distress was in full voice—heaven knows it was, since I’m talking about the decades following the most destructive and murderous war in human history. Even so, in the late forties and fifties, the people of our culture still knew where they were going, were still confident that a glorious future lay just ahead of us. All we had to do was to hold on to the vision and keep doing all the things that got us here in the first place. We could count on those things. They were the things that had brought us universities and opera houses, central heating and elevators, Mozart and Shakespeare, ocean liners and motion pictures.
What’s more—and you must mark this—the things that got us here were good things. In 1950 there wasn’t the slightest whisper of a doubt about this anywhere in our culture, East or West, capitalist or communist. In 1950 this was something everyone could agree on: Exploiting the world was our God-given right. The world was created for us to exploit. Exploiting the world actually improved it! There was no limit to what we could do. Cut as much down as you like, dig up as much as you like. Scrape away the forests, fill in the wetlands, dam the rivers, dump poisons anywhere you want, as much as you want. None of this was regarded as wicked or dangerous. Good heavens, why would it be? The earth was created specifically to be used in this way.
It was a limitless, indestructible playroom for humans. You simply didn’t have to consider the possibility of running out of something or of damaging something. The earth was designed to take any punishment, to absorb and sweeten any toxin, in any quantity. Explode nuclear weapons? Good heavens, yes—as many as you want! Thousands, if you like. Radioactive material generated while trying to achieve our God-given destiny can’t harm us.
Wipe out whole species? Absolutely! Why ever not? If people don’t need these creatures, then obviously they’re superfluous! To exercise such control over the world is to humanize it, is to take us a step closer to our destiny.
Listen: In 1948 Paul Müller of Switzerland received a Nobel Prize for his wonderful work with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, considered the completely ideal chemical means of wiping out unwanted insect species.
Perhaps you don’t recognize it by that melodic name, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. I’m talking about DDT. In the 1950s and 1960s DDT flowed across the earth like milk and honey, like ambrosia.
Everyone knew it was a deadly poison. Of course it was a deadly poison, that was the whole point of it! But we could use as much of it as we liked, because it couldn’t harm us. The earth, doing its job, would see to that. It would swallow all that wonderful, deadly poison and give us back sweet water, sweet land, and sweet air. It would always and forever swallow all the radioactive wastes, all the industrial wastes, all the poisons we could generate, and give us back sweet water, sweet land, and sweet air. This was the contract, this was the vision itself:
The world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it.
This is what we’d been about from the beginning: conquering and ruling, taking the world as if it had been fashioned for our exclusive use, using what we wanted and discarding the rest—destroying the rest as superfluous.
This was not wicked work (please note again), this was holy work! This is what God created us to do!
And please don’t imagine that this was something we learned from Genesis, where God told Adam to fill the earth and subdue it. This is something we knew before Jerusalem, before Babylon, before Catal Hüyük, before Jericho, before Ali Kosh, before Zawi Chemi Shanidar. This isn’t something the authors of Genesis taught us, this is something we taught them.
Let me say again, as I must on every occasion, that this was not the human vision, not the vision that was born in us when we became Homo habilis or when Homo habilis became Homo erectus or when Homo erectus became Homo sapiens. This is the vision that was born in us when our particular culture was born, ten thousand years ago.
This was the manifesto of our revolution, to be carried to every corner of the earth.
The truth of this manifesto wasn’t doubted by the builders of the ziggurats of Ur or the pyramids of Egypt. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of thousands who labored to wall off China from the rest of the world. It wasn’t doubted by the traders who carried gold and glass and ivory from Thebes to Nippur and Larsa. It wasn’t doubted by the scribes of the Hittites and the Elamites and the Mitanni who first pressed the record of imperial conquest into clay tablets. It wasn’t doubted by the ironworkers who carried their potent secrets from Babylon to Nineveh and Damascus.
It wasn’t doubted by Darius of Persia or Philip of Macedon or Alexander the Great.
It wasn’t doubted by Confucius or Aristotle. It wasn’t doubted by Hannibal or Julius Caesar or Constantine, Christianity’s first imperial protector. It wasn’t doubted by the marauders who scavenged the bones of the Roman Empire—the Huns, the Vikings, the Arabs, the Avars, and others. It wasn’t doubted by Charlemagne or Genghis Khan. It wasn’t doubted by the Crusaders or by the Shiite Assassins. It wasn’t doubted by the merchants of the Hanseatic League. It wasn’t doubted by Pope Alexander VI, who in 1494 decided how the entire world should be divided among the colonizing powers of Europe. It wasn’t doubted by the pioneers of the scientific revolution—Copernicus and Kepler and Galileo. It wasn’t doubted by the great explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—and it certainly wasn’t doubted by the conquerors and settlers of the New World. It wasn’t doubted by the intellectual founders of the modern age, thinkers like Descartes, Adam Smith, David Hume, and Jeremy Bentham. It wasn’t doubted by the pathfinders of the democratic revolution, political theorists like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It wasn’t doubted by the countless inventors, tinkers, dabblers, investors, and visionaries of the Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t doubted by the Luddite gangs who smashed up factories in the Midlands and north of England. It wasn’t doubted by the industrial giants who built the railroads and armed the armies and rolled out the steel—the Du Ponts, the Vanderbilts, the Krupps, the Morgans, the Carnegies. It wasn’t doubted by the authors of the Communist Manifesto, by the organizers of the labor movement, or by the architects of the Russian Revolution. It wasn’t doubted by the rulers who plunged Europe into the maelstrom of World War I. It wasn’t doubted by the authors of the Treaty of Versailles or by the architects of the League of Nations. It wasn’t doubted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation or by the signers of the Oxford Pledge.
It wasn’t doubted by the scores of millions who were jobless during the Great Depression. It wasn’t doubted by those who struggled to establish parliamentary democracy in Germany or by those who ultimately defeated them. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of thousands who labored in an industry of death created to rid humanity of “mongrel races.” It wasn’t doubted by the millions who fought World War Il or by the leaders who sent them to fight. It wasn’t doubted by the hardworking scientists and engineers who exerted their best skills to rain down terror on the cities of England and Germany.
The world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it.
This manifesto certainly wasn’t doubted by the rival teams that raced to split the atom and build a weapon capable of destroying our entire species. It wasn’t doubted by the architects of the United Nations. It wasn’t doubted by the hundreds of millions who in the postwar years dreamed of a coming utopia where people would rest and all labor would be performed by robots, where atomic power would be limitless and free, where poverty, hunger, and crime would be obsolete. But that manifesto is doubted now, ladies and gentlemen . . . almost everywhere in our culture, in all walks of life, among the young and the old, but especially among the young, for whom the dream of a glittering future in which life will become ever sweeter and sweeter and sweeter, decade after decade, century after century, has been exploded and is meaningless.
Your children know better. They know better in large part because you know better.
Only our politicians still insist that the world was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it. They must, as a professional obligation, still affirm and proclaim the manifesto of our revolution. If they want to hold on to their jobs, they must assure us with absolute conviction that a glorious future lies just ahead for us—provided that we march forward under the banner of conquest and rule. They reassure us of this, and then they wonder, year after year, why fewer and fewer voters go to the polls.
Silent Spring and beyond
I’ve said that this new era of the collapse of values began in 1960. Strictly speaking, it should be dated to 1962, the year of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the first substantive challenge ever issued to the motivating vision of our culture. The facts Carson brought forward to detail the devastating environmental effects of DDT and other pesticides were astounding: DDT didn’t just do its intended job of killing unwanted insects; it had entered the avian food chain, disrupting reproductive processes and breaking down egg structures, with the result that many species had already been destroyed and many more were threatened, making it not unthinkable that the world might someday wake to a silent spring—a spring without birds. But Silent Spring wasn’t just another sensational exposé, welcome in any publishing season.
With a single powerful blow, it shattered for all time a complex of fundamental articles of our cultural faith: that the world was capable of repairing any damage we might do to it; that the world was designed to do precisely this; that the world was “on our side” in our aggrandizement, would always tolerate and facilitate our efforts; that God himself had fashioned the world specifically to support our efforts to conquer and rule it.
The facts in Silent Spring plainly contradicted all these ideas. Something presumably beneficial to us was not being tolerated and facilitated by the world. The world was not supporting our cultural vision. God was not supporting our cultural vision. The world was not unequivocally on our side. God was not unequivocally on our side.If the matter had ended with Rachel Carson and DDT, our cultural vision would surely have cleared up and recovered, but as we all know, Rachel Carson and DDT were only the barest beginning. Carson was just the first to look, the first to show us that there was something new here to be seen.
Dozens, hundreds, thousands have looked since then, and the more they’ve looked, the more they’ve shattered our cultural faith. I won’t review it for you. In an evening I could barely scratch the surface, and I’d only be telling you things discoverable in any encyclopedia.
It comes down to this: In our present numbers and enacting our present dreams, the human race is having a lethal impact upon the world. Lakes are dying, seas are dying, forests are dying, the land itself is dying—for reasons directly traceable to our activities. As many as a hundred and forty species are vanishing every day—for reasons directly traceable to our activities.
Listen, I hear you squirming in your seats—but I’m not saying these things to make you feel guilty. That’s not my purpose here at all. I’m here tonight to figure out . . . what’s gone wrong here.
Theories: What’s gone wrong here?
Every year more and more children are born out of wedlock. Every year more and more children live in broken homes. Every year more and more people are bruised and battered by crime. Every year more and more children are abused and murdered. Every year more and more women are raped. Every year more and more people are afraid to walk the streets at night. Every year more and more people commit suicide. Every year more and more people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Every year more and more people are imprisoned as criminals. Every year more and more people find routine entertainment in murderous violence and pornography.
Every year more and more people immolate themselves in lunatic cults, delusional terrorism, and sudden, uncontrollable bursts of violence. The theories that are advanced to explain these things are for the most part commonplace generalities, truisms, and platitudes. They are the received wisdom of the ages. You hear, for example, that the human race is fatally and irremediably flawed. You hear that the human race is a sort of planetary disease that Gaia will eventually shake off. You hear that insatiable capitalist greed is to blame or that technology is to blame.
You hear that parents are to blame or the schools are to blame or rock and roll is to blame. Sometimes you hear that the symptoms themselves are to blame: things like poverty, oppression, and injustice, things like overcrowding, bureaucratic indifference, and political corruption.
These are some of the common theories advanced to explain what’s gone wrong here. You’ll hear others. Most of them have to be deduced from the remedies that are proposed to correct them. Usually these remedies are expressed in this form: All we have to do is . . . something. Elect the right party. Get rid of this leader.
Handcuff the liberals. Handcuff the conservatives. Write stricter laws. Give longer prison sentences. Bring back the death penalty. Kill Jews, kill ancient enemies, kill foreigners, kill somebody. Meditate. Pray the Rosary. Raise consciousness. Evolve to some new plane of existence.
I want you to understand what I’m doing here. I’m proposing a new theory to explain what’s gone wrong. This is not a minor variation, not a smartening up of conventional wisdom. This is something unheard of, something entirely novel in our intellectual history.
Here it is: We’re experiencing cultural collapse.
The very same collapse that was experienced by the Plains Indians when their way of life was destroyed and they were herded onto reservations. The very same collapse that was experienced by countless aboriginal peoples overrun by us in Africa, South America, Australia, New Guinea, and elsewhere. It matters not that the circumstances of the collapse were different for them and for us, the results were the same. For both of us, in just a few decades, shocking realities invalidated our vision of the world and made nonsense of a destiny that had always seemed self-evident.
The outcome was the same for both of us: Things fell apart. It doesn’t matter whether you live in tepees or skyscrapers, things fall apart. Order and purpose are replaced by chaos and bewilderment. People lose the will to live, become listless, become violent, become suicidal, and take to drink, drugs, and crime. The matrix that once held all in place is shattered, and laws, customs, and institutions fall into disuse and disrespect, especially among the young, who see that even their elders can no longer make sense of them.
And that’s what’s happened here, to us. The frog is dead. Circumstances have at last shattered our mad cultural vision, have at last rendered our self-aggrandizing mythology meaningless, have at last strangled our arrogant song. We’ve lost our ability to believe that the world was made for Man and that Man was made to conquer and rule it. We’ve lost our ability to believe that the world will automatically and inevitably support us in our conquest, will swallow all the poison we can generate without coming to harm. We’ve lost our ability to believe that God is unequivocally on our side against the rest of creation.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, we’re . . . going to pieces.
We are Not Humanity
At last, good news
A woman recently told me she wanted to bring a friend to hear me speak, but her friend said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t stand to hear any more bad news.” [Laughter]
Yes, it is funny, because you know that, oddly enough, you’re here in this theater listening to me because you absolutely know that I’m a bringer of good news.
Yes, that’s so, and because you know it’s so, you laugh. You’re already feeling better! You’re absolutely right to feel better, and here’s why. It’s really quite simple. Here is my good news: We are not humanity.
Can you feel the liberation in those words? Try them out. Go ahead. Just whisper them to yourselves: We . . . are not . . . humanity.
We are not humanity. I want you to understand what these four words are. They are a summary of all that was forgotten during the Great Forgetting. I mean that quite literally. At the end of the Great Forgetting, when the people of our culture began to build civilization in earnest, those four words were practically unthinkable. In a sense, that’s what the Great Forgetting was all about: We forgot that we’re only a single culture and came to think of ourselves as humanity itself.
All the intellectual and spiritual foundations of our culture were laid by people who believed absolutely that we are humanity itself. Thucycdides believed it.
Socrates believed it. Plato believed it. Aristotle believed it. Ssuma Ch’ien believed it. Gautama Buddha believed it. Confucius believed it. Moses believed it. Jesus believed it. St. Paul believed it. Muhammad believed it. Avicenna believed it. Thomas Aquinas believed it. Copernicus believed it. Galileo and Descartes believed it, though they could easily have known better. Hume, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Kant, Kierkegaard, Bergson, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus—they all took it for granted, though they certainly didn’t lack the requisite information to know better.
But you’re bound to be wondering why it would be such bad news if we were humanity? I’ll try to explain. If we were humanity itself, then all the terrible things we say about humanity would be true—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then all our destructiveness would belong not to one misguided culture but to humanity itself—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is doomed would mean that humanity itself is doomed—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is the enemy of life on this planet would mean that humanity itself is the enemy of life on this planet—and that would be very bad news. If we were humanity itself, then the fact that our culture is hideous and misshapen would mean that humanity itself is hideous and misshapen—very bad news indeed.
But we’re not humanity, we’re just one culture—one culture out of hundreds of thousands that have lived their vision on this planet and sung their song—and that’s wonderful news, even for us!
If it were humanity that needed changing, then we’d be out of luck. But it isn’t humanity that needs changing, it’s just . . . us.
And that’s very good news.
Population: A Systems Approach:
21 May, Stuttgart
US Army Sustainability Strategy (PDF): Army Sustainability is a comprehensive, systems approach to planning and decision-making designed to sustain the natural infrastructure, which includes the land, water, air, and energy resources required to conduct our mission. Advances in technology, ever-increasing global population, and urbanization have effectively made the world smaller. They have placed greater stresses on the world’s interconnected human, economic, and natural systems. Local and regional issues, such as famine, natural disasters, ecological degradation, economic decline, political upheaval, and disputes over precious and sometimes scarce natural resources, are evolving into global issues that influence how the United States must respond and interact—through political, economic, and when necessary, military engagement. [See also: Military Gospel According to Homer Lea; Military Prepares for Peak Oil; The Renewable War Machine]
Because the ideas I’m going to be presenting here have proved to be so unsettling for people, I’ve learned to approach them cautiously, from a good, safe distance—a good, safe distance being in this case about two hundred thousand years. Two hundred thousand years ago is when a new species called Homo sapiens first began to be seen on this planet.
As with any young species, there were not many members of it to begin with. Since our subject is population, I’d better clarify what I mean by that. We have an approximate date for the emergence of Homo sapiens because we have fossil remains—and we have fossil remains because a sufficient number of this species lived around this time to provide those fossil remains. In other words, when I say that Homo sapiens appeared about two hundred thousand years ago, I’m not talking about the first two of them or the first hundred of them. But neither am I talking about the first million of them.
Two hundred thousand years ago, there was a bunch. Let’s say ten thousand. Over the next hundred ninety thousand years, Homo sapiens grew in numbers and migrated to every continent of the world.
The passage of these hundred ninety thousand years brings us to the opening of the historical era on this planet. It brings us to the beginning of the agricultural revolution that stands at the foundation of our civilization. This is about ten thousand years ago, and the human population at that time is estimated to have been around ten million.
I want to spend a couple minutes now just looking at that period of growth from ten thousand people to ten million people. As it happens, what this period of growth represents is ten doublings. From ten thousand to twenty thousand, from twenty thousand to forty thousand, from forty thousand to eighty thousand, and so on. Start with ten thousand, double it ten times, and you wind up with about ten million.
So: Our population doubled ten times in a hundred ninety thousand years. Went from about ten thousand to ten million. That’s growth. Undeniable growth, definite growth, even substantial growth . . . but growth at an infinitesimal rate. Here’s how infinitesimal it was: On the average, our population was doubling every nineteen thousand years. That’s slow—glacially slow.
At the end of this period, which is to say ten thousand years ago, this began to change very dramatically. Growth at an infinitesimal rate became growth at a rapid rate. Starting at ten million, our population doubled not in nineteen thousand years but in five thousand years, bringing it to twenty million. The next doubling—doubling and a bit—took only two thousand years, bringing us to fifty million. The next doubling took only sixteen hundred years, bringing us to one hundred million.
The next doubling took only fourteen hundred years—bringing us to two hundred million at the zero point of our calendar. The next doubling took only twelve hundred years, bringing us to four hundred million. The year was 1200 A.D. The next doubling took only five hundred years, bringing us to eight hundred million in 1700. The next doubling took only two hundred years, bringing us to a billion and a half in 1900. The next doubling took only sixty years, bringing us to three billion in 1960. The next doubling will take only thirty-seven years or so. Within ten or twenty months we’ll reach six billion, and if this growth trend continues unchecked, many of us in this room will live long enough to see us reach twelve billion. I won’t attempt to imagine for you what that will mean. At a rough guess, my personal guess, take everything bad that you see going on now—environmental destruction, terrorism, crime, drugs, corruption, suicide, mental illness—violence of every kind—and multiply by four . . . at least. But, believe it or not, I’m not here to depress you with gloomy pictures of the future.
We have a population problem. There are a few people around who think that everything is fine, and we don’t have a population problem at all, but I’m not here to change their minds. I’m here to suggest that the angle of attack we’ve traditionally taken on this problem is ineffective and can never be anything but ineffective. After that, I want to show you a more promising angle of attack. But right now I’d like to read you a fable that I think you’ll find relevant. It’s about some people with a population problem of their own and the way they go about attacking it. It’s called “Blessing: A Fable About Population.”
Blessing: A Fable About Population
It happened once, on a planet not much different from our own, that researchers at a drug company got lucky with a substance they were testing as a pain reliever. Ingesting this substance, called D3346, pain-ridden mice began to exhibit signs of relief: They were friskier, they mated more often, their appetites improved, and so on. Human tests made company officials ecstatic. D3346 outperformed much more powerful drugs and had no deleterious side effects (aside from imparting to the subject an objectionable odor that soon disappeared when the drug was discontinued).
The new drug worked so well that the marketing department knew they had more than a mere painkiller on their hands. People put up with a host of small aches and pains more or less all the time, and simply by getting rid of them, D3346 gave users a feeling of well-being so intense that it almost amounted to a “high.” The name Blessing was adopted for the new product without discussion, as was its slogan: “Works on pain you didn’t even know you had!”
The drug was initially marketed in pill and liquid forms, but in less than a year someone had the bright idea of packaging it as a powder in disposable shakers designed to take their place beside the salt and pepper on the dining-room table. Within months, all “medicinal” forms had disappeared from store shelves, and Blessing was no longer “taken for pain.” It had become just another beneficial food additive, like a vitamin.
No one was surprised when, nine months after the introduction of the drug, the birth rate began to climb. This had been predicted, and everyone understood the reasons for it. Blessing didn’t increase fertility or sexual appetite; it wasn’t an aphrodisiac. People using it just felt better—more playful, more affectionate, more outgoing. It was predicted that the birth rate would soon level off—and it did . . . at about ten percent above the old rate.
On this planet, the people I’ve been talking about did not constitute a dominant world culture, as we do—but they soon began to be noticed globally. In the first place, they smelled bad, which earned them the name by which they became known all across the world: the Stinkards. In the second place, responding to internal population pressures, they were incorrigible trespassers and encroachers. Nonetheless, the Stinkards usually managed to do their encroaching without violence . . . by sending Blessing ahead of them.
It didn’t matter that no one wanted to end up smelling like the Stinkards. The Blessing was there, and few could resist taking just an occasional dose for a sore back or a headache, and before long they were using it like table salt. People began by loathing the Stinkards and passionately resisting their encroachments, but ended up becoming Stinkards themselves. After a few hundred years the Stinkard expansion came to an end—because there were no new lands to expand into. The entire planet was Stinkard.
Farsighted leaders realized that population was soon going to be an urgent problem, but a century passed without significant action being taken. The human population, having no reason to do anything else, continued to grow. Famine became a familiar feature of life in certain parts of the world, and in some quarters the problem came to be understood not as one of curbing growth but as one of increasing food production. Another century passed, and the human population continued to expand.
In informed circles, people began to practice and advocate various population-control strategies, ranging from birth control in one form or another to school programs designed to reduce teenage pregnancies, but none of these initiatives had any measurable effect. As more and more people became aware of the crisis, sociologists and economists began to probe more deeply for its causes. They noted, for example, that in many parts of the world, having children was a means of financial success; lacking other economic opportunities, especially for women, people brought children into the world to serve as unpaid workers and guarantors of old-age security.
One biohistorian by the name of Spry tried to draw people’s attention to the fact that, before the appearance of Blessing, the human population of the planet had been virtually stable, but his listeners had a hard time seeing the connection between the two things.
Dr. Spry tried to explain. “If you introduce Blessing into the diet of any species,” he said, “the result will be the same: The birth rate will increase.
Without any offsetting increase in the death rate, the species’ overall population will inevitably increase as well.”
The professor’s listeners really had no notion of what he was getting at, since Blessing had been a constant feature of the human diet for a thousand years, and they couldn’t begin to imagine how it felt to live without it. He had to explain very patiently that, without a constant intake of Blessing, everyone would experience a whole host of minor aches and pains, and experiencing these minor aches and pains, they would be slightly less frisky, slightly less playful, slightly less affectionate, slightly less outgoing —-and slightly less inclined to mate. As a result, the birth rate would go down, and the population would soon become stable once again.
“Are you saying that the solution to our population problem is to live in pain?” people asked him incredulously.
“That’s a complete exaggeration of my point,” the professor said.
“Before Blessing came along, people didn’t think of themselves as ‘living in pain.’ They were not living in pain. They were just living.”
Others said, “This is really all beside the point. Dr. Spry has already pointed out that Blessing isn’t an aphrodisiac and doesn’t in itself increase fertility. The fact that we use Blessing doesn’t compel us to mate more often. We can mate as little or as much as we want. What’s more, we can also use any number of contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy. So it’s hard to see what Blessing has to do with the matter at all.”
“It has this to do with it,” Dr. Spry replied. “If you make Blessing available to any species, the members of that species will mate more often, and their birth rate will rise. It’s not a question of what you or I will do—whether you or I will elect to use contraceptives, for example. It’s a question of what the species as a whole will do. And I can demonstrate this experimentally: The birth rate of any species with free access to Blessing will increase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mice or cats or lizards or chickens—or humans. This isn’t a matter of what individuals do, this is a matter of what whole populations do.”
But the professor’s audiences always indignantly rejected this observation. “We’re not mice!” they would yell. “We’re not cats or lizards or chickens!”
Increasingly regarded as a crank and an extremist, Dr. Spry eventually lost his teaching post and with it his credibility as an authority on any subject, and was heard from no more.
The population crisis mounted. Environmental biologists estimated that the human population had already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet and was headed for a catastrophic collapse. Even former scoffers and optimists began to see that something had to change. Finally the heads of state of the major world powers convened a global conference to study and discuss the issues. It was an impressive event, unprecedented in human history. Thousands of thinkers from dozens of disciplines came together to put the problem under scrutiny.
The concept of control soon emerged as the overriding theme of the conference. Population control, of course, was the subject itself. But achieving control of population implied control on all sorts of levels and in all sorts of ways. New economic controls would encourage couples to control family size. In backward lands, where women were little more than breeding machines, new social controls would release their creativity to enhance family prosperity. Birth-control devices, birth-control substances, and birth-control strategies needed wider dissemination.
Naturally, on the level of the individual, personal control needed to be improved. Educational controls were hotly debated, with some arguing that controls were needed to keep children ignorant about sex while others argued that controls were needed to make children aware of sex.
Control, control, control—it was a word heard ten thousand times, a million times.
Unlike the word Blessing.
At the Stinkards’ great global conference on population, Blessing wasn’t a major topic—or even a minor topic.
In fact, Blessing wasn’t even mentioned once.
People who hear this parable naturally want to know how to interpret it. They can see that the Stinkards were fundamentally irrational when they refused to acknowledge the connection between Blessing and their population explosion. The connection seems obvious. The Stinkards’ population explosion began exactly with the introduction of Blessing, and the introduction of Blessing would clearly produce the result observed.
Logic and history combine to indict Blessing as the cause of the Stinkard population explosion. Logic and history combine to suggest that removing this cause would end the explosion and restore population stability.
But what in our own culture corresponds to Blessing?
I’ll answer an easier question first and tell you that my role here today corresponds exactly to the role of the unfortunate Dr. Spry. I will name to you the cause of our population explosion—with far more evidence and plausibility than Dr. Spry was able to muster in the case of Blessing—and then we’ll see. I’m used to people becoming enraged with me on this issue. They become enraged because, like Dr. Spry, I’m indicting what is perceived to be the very foremost blessing of our culture—a blessing far more essential to our way of life than any mere pain reliever.
Growth and the ABCs of ecology
Among life-forms found on the surface of our planet, all food energy originates in the green plants and nowhere else. The energy that originates in green plants is passed on to creatures who feed on the plants, and is passed on again to predators who feed on plant eaters, and is passed on again to predators who feed on those predators, and is passed on again to scavengers who return to the soil nutrients that green plants need to keep the cycle going. All this can be said to be the A of the ABCs of ecology.
The various feeding and feeder populations of the community maintain a dynamic balance, by feeding and being fed upon. Imbalances within the community—caused, for example, by disease or natural disasters —tend to be damped down and eradicated as the various populations of the community go about their usual business of feeding and being fed upon, generation after generation. Viewed in systems terms, the dynamic of population growth and decline in the biological community is a negative feedback system. If you’ve got too many deer in the forest, they’re going to gobble up their food base—and this reduction in their food base will cause their population to decline. And as their population declines, their food base replenishes itself—and since this replenishment makes more food available to the deer, the deer population grows. In turn, the growth of the deer population depletes the availability of food, which in turn causes a decline in the deer population. Within the community, food populations and feeder populations control each other. As food populations increase, feeder populations increase. As feeder populations increase, food populations decrease. As food populations decrease, feeder populations decrease. As feeder populations decrease, food populations increase. And so on. This is the B of the ABCs of ecology.
For systems thinkers, the natural community provides a perfect model of negative feedback. A simpler model is the thermostat that controls your furnace. Conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too cold,” and the thermostat turns the furnace on. After a while, conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too hot,” and the thermostat turns the furnace off. Negative feedback. Great stuff.
The A of the ABCs of ecology is food. The community of life is nothing else. It’s flying food, running food, swimming food, crawling food, and of course just sitting-there-and-growing food. The B of the ABCs of ecology is this, that the ebb and flow of all populations is a function of food availability. An increase in food availability for a species means growth. A reduction in food availability means decline. Always. Because it’s so important let me say that another way: invariably.
An increase in food availability for a species means growth. A reduction means decline. Every time, ever and always. Semper et ubique. Without exception. Never otherwise.
More food, growth. Less food, decline. Count on it.
There is no species that dwindles in the midst of abundance, no species that thrives on nothing.
This is the B of the ABCs of ecology.
Defeating the system’s controls
With the A and the B of ecology in hand, we’re ready to go back and look again at the origin of our population explosion. For a hundred and ninety thousand years our species grew at an infinitesimal rate from a few thousand to ten million. Then about ten thousand years ago we began to grow rapidly. This was not a miraculous event or an accidental event or even a mysterious event.
We began to grow more rapidly because we’d found a way to defeat the negative feedback controls of the community. We’d become food producers—agriculturalists. In other words, we’d found a way to increase food availability at will.
This ability to make food available at will is the blessing on which our civilization is founded. It’s also the blessing that the pain reliever in my parable stands for. The ability to produce food at will is an undoubted blessing, but its very blessedness can make it dangerous—and dangerously addictive—just like the analgesic in my fable.
“At will” is the operative expression here. Because we could now produce food at will, our population was no longer subject to control by food availability on a random basis. Anytime we wanted more food, we could grow it. After a hundred and ninety thousand years of being limited by what was available, we began to control what was available—and invariably we began to increase what was available. You don’t become a farmer in order to reduce food availability, you become a farmer to increase food availability. And so do the folks next door. And so do the folks farming throughout your region. You are all involved in increasing food availability for your species.
And here comes the B in the ABCs of ecology: An increase in food availability for a species means growth for that species. In other words, ecology predicts that the blessing of agriculture will bring us growth—and history confirms ecology’s prediction. As soon as we began to increase the availability of our own food, our population began to grow—not glacially, as before, when we were subject to the community’s negative feedback controls—but rapidly.
Population expansion among agriculturalists was followed by territorial expansion among agriculturalists. Territorial expansion made more land available for food production—and no one goes into farming to reduce food production. More land, more food production, more population growth.
With more people, we need more food. With more food available, we soon have more people—as predicted by the laws of ecology. With more people, we need more food. With more food, we soon have more people. With more people, we need more food. With more food, we soon have more people.
Positive feedback, this is called, in systems terminology. Another example: When conditions at the thermostat convey the information “Too hot,” the thermostat turns the furnace ON instead of OFF. That’s positive feedback. Negative feedback checks an increasing effect. Positive feedback reinforces an increasing effect.
Positive feedback is what we see at work in this agricultural revolution of ours. Increased population stimulates increased food production, which increases the population. More food, more people. More people, more food. More food, more people. More people, more food. More food, more people.
Positive feedback. Bad stuff. Dangerous stuff.
The experiment run 10,000 times
What is observed in the human population is that intensification of production to feed an increased population invariably leads to a still greater increase in population. I’ve seen this called a paradox, but in fact it’s only what the laws of ecology predict. Listen to it again: “Intensification of production to feed an increased population invariably leads to a still greater increase in population.”
I’ve been surprised by how challenging people find these ideas. They feel menaced by them. They get angry. They feel I’m attacking the foundation of their lives. They feel I’m calling into question the blessedness of the greatest blessing of civilized life. They somehow feel I’m questioning the sacredness of human life itself.
I’d like to deal with some of the objections people make to these ideas. I do this not to discourage you from expressing objections of your own but because I can express these objections as rudely as I like to myself without making anyone nervous.
I’ll deal with the most general objection first, which is that humans are not mice.
This is of course absolutely true, especially at the individual level. Each of us as an individual is capable of making reproductive choices that mice absolutely cannot make. Nonetheless—and this is the point that ecology makes and that I’ve made here today—our behavior as a biological population is indistinguishable from the behavior of any other biological population. In defense of that statement, I offer the evidence of ten thousand years of obedience to this fundamental law of ecology: An increase in food availability for a species means growth for that species.
I’ve been told that it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve been told that it’s possible for us to increase food production and simultaneously reduce our population. This is basically the position taken by birth-control advocates.
This is basically the position taken by well-intentioned organizations that undertake to improve indigenous agricultural techniques in Third World countries.
They want to give technologically undeveloped peoples the means of increasing their population with one hand and birth-control aids with the other hand—even though we know full well that these birthcontrol aids don’t even work for us! They’re certain that we can go on increasing food production while ending population growth through birth control. This represents a denial of the B in the ABCs of ecology.
History—and not just thirty years of history but ten thousand years of history—offers no support whatever for the idea that we can simultaneously increase food production and end population growth. On the contrary, history resoundingly confirms what ecology teaches: If you make more food available, there will be more people to consume it.
Obviously the matter is different at the individual level. Old Macdonald on his farm can increase food production and simultaneously hold his family’s growth to zero, but this clearly isn’t the end of the story. What’s he going to do with that increase he produced on his farm? Is he going to soak it in gasoline and burn it? If so, then he hasn’t actually produced an increase at all. Is he going to sell it?
Presumably that is what he’s going to do with it, and if he does sell it, then that increase enters the annual agricultural increase that serves to support our global population growth.
I’m often told that even if we stop increasing food production, our population will continue to grow. This represents a denial of both the A and the B of the ABCs of ecology. The A in the ABCs of ecology is this: We are food. We are food because we are what we eat—and what we eat is food. To put it plainly, each and every one of us is made from food.
When people tell me that our population will continue to add new millions even if we stop increasing food production, then I have to ask what these additional millions of people will be made of, since no additional food is being produced for them. I have to say, “Please bring me some of these people, because if they’re not made of food, I want to know what they are made of. Is it moonbeams or rainbow dust or starlight or angel’s breath or what?”
Almost invariably someone asks if I’m not aware that population growth is much slower in the food-rich North than in the food-poor South. This fact seems to be offered as proof that human societies are not subject to the laws of ecology, which (it is assumed) predict that the more food the faster the growth. But this is not what ecology predicts. Let me repeat that: Ecology does not predict that the population in a food-rich area will grow more rapidly than the population in a food-poor area. What ecology predicts is: When more food is made available, the population will increase. Every year more food is made available in the North, and every year the population increases. Every year more food is made available in the South, and every year the population increases.
Then I will be told very emphatically that more food is not being made available in the South. The population is growing like wildfire, but this growth is not being supported by any increase in food. All I can say about this is, if what you say is true, then we are clearly in the presence of a miracle. These people are not being made from food, because, according to you, no food is being made available for them. They must be made of air or icicles or dirt. But if it turns out—as I strongly suspect it will—that these people are not made of air or icicles or dirt but ordinary flesh and blood, then I’ll have to say, what do you think this stuff is? [Here B grabbed the skin on his arm.] Do you think you can make this flesh and blood out of nothing? No, the existence of the flesh and blood is proof that these people are being made out of food. And if there are more people here this year, this is proof that there is more food here this year.
And of course I have to deal with the starving millions. Don’t we have to continue to increase food production in order to feed the starving millions?
There are two things to understand here. The first is that the excess that we produce each year does not go to feed the starving millions. It didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1995, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1994, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1993, it didn’t go to feed the starving millions in 1992—and it won’t go to feed the starving millions in 1996.
Where did it go? It went to fuel our population explosion.
That’s the first thing. The second thing is that everyone involved in the problem of world hunger knows that the problem is not a shortage of food.
Producing more food does not solve the problem, because that’s simply not the problem. Producing more food just produces more people.
Then people will ask, “Don’t you realize that our agricultural base is already being destroyed? We’re eliminating millions of tons of topsoil every year. Even the sea isn’t yielding as much food as before. Yet the population explosion continues.” The point of the objection is contained in that last sentence: Our food production capacity is declining, yet the population explosion continues. This nonfact is offered as proof that there is no connection between food and growth. Once again, I’m afraid I must insist that this is magical thinking. Our population explosion can no more continue without food than a fire can continue without fuel. The fact that our population continues to grow year after year is proof that we’re producing more food year after year. Until people start showing up who are made of shadows or metal filings or gravel—when that happens, then I’ll have to back off this point.
When all else fails, it will be objected that the people of the world will not tolerate a limit on food. That may be, but it has nothing to do with the facts I’ve presented here.
No one has ever specifically asked me what I have against birth control, but I’ll answer the question anyway. I don’t have a thing against birth control as such. It just represents very poor problem-solving strategy. The rule in crisis management is, Don’t make it your goal to control effects, make it your goal to control causes. If you control causes, then you don’t have to control effects. This is why they make you go through airport security before you get on the plane. They don’t want to control effects. They want to control causes. Birth control is a strategy aimed at effects. Food-production control is a strategy aimed at causes.
We’d better have a look at it.
» » » » [Excerpt: [D](4) of Concourt # 23-10: Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae [PDF FILE]]
Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae: Bushido Dischordian Futilitarian In Support Of: Radical Honesty Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract Interpretations of Promotion of National Unity & Reconciliation Act, 34 of 1995 [PDF FILE]
I. 1st Amicus Curiaes: Note: Re: Declaratory Order for Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae (PDF)
II. Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae: (I) Summary Overview & Petition for Declaratory Order (PDF)
- Nature of the Proceedings
- Clarification of Petition for Declaratory Order
- Written Relief Requested to the Court
- Portions of record necessary for determination of matter
- Estimate of duration of oral argument
- List of authorities
A: NECESSITY: I AM NOT SURE OF MY EXISTENCE, BUT I AM SURE OF MY INTENTIONS (PDF)
- Futilitarian Contract Interest of Amici Curiae
- Petition for Declaratory Order
» Petition for Declaratory Order; Alternatively an Advisory Opinion
» Lysistrata Tsedeq Invitation to Radical Ubuntu
» Petition for Declaratory Order Approved: Audi Alteram Partem RSVP
- Summary of Argument
- List of Authorities
- Argument: Culture of Secrecy: Social Trap
B: DIGNITY: RIGHT TO PSYCHO-INFANCY DECEPTION (PDF)
- Critical Literacy’s role in Purposive Legal Interpretation
- Secrecy and Deception as Strategic & Tactical Meme’s of Conquer & Multiply Memeplexes
- Political Necessity of Freedom of Speech: ‘TRC was a fraudulent PR publicity stunt’
- Civil Disobedience Free Speech Necessity Defence
- ‘I am, therefore I think’ Common Law Reasonableness Test Skills & Competencies
- ‘I am, therefore I think’ Common Law Radical Hon(our)sty Reasonableness Test Skills
- Dr. Blanton vs. SA’s Political & Media Elite: ‘TRC was a fraudulent PR publicity stunt’
- Population Policy Common Sense: Exponential Functions, Eco-Laws & Eco-Literacy: Limited World, Limited Rights
- Lysistrata Tsedeq: Ecolaw 101: Laws of Sustainability
- Radical Honesty Law of Limited Competition Code: ‘I am not sure of my existence, but I am sure of my intentions’
- Practicing Radical Honesty: Being Specific about Anger & Methodology of Forgiveness
- Judicial Enquiry: Simple Justice Tribal Consciousness
C: RIGHT TO ‘FREE SPEECH’ PROPAGANDA PROFITS DECEPTION (PDF)
- Dignity: Abstract conceptual belief in a Existential Self
- Philosophical Concepts of Self: ‘I think, therefore I am’ et al
- Sui Generis: Word Stays the Same, Meaning Changes?
- Sui Generis (I think, I am Unique) Meme Dream
- Respondents ‘Dignity’ Meme not Sui Generis,
D: GREAT TRIBAL FORGETTING: SALVATION FROM LAW OF LIMITED COMPETITION (PDF)
- Corporations Intentions: Power and Profit
- How Corporations Became Cogito Ergo Sum People!
- Corporate News as Discourse
- News Reports & the Reproduction of Memeplexes
- Engineering of Consent: Adult Citizens to Infant Consumers & Cultural Commodification
- ‘If it Bleads, It Leads,’ Editorial Maxim
- How and Why Journalists Avoid Population-Environment Connection
- Freedom of the Press vs. Intellectual Prostitutes
E: SOCIO-LEGAL-POLITICAL ILLEGITIMACY OF TRC SOCIAL CONTRACT (PDF)
- The Truth About All Cultures & Their Mythologies
- Judaism X Manifesto Mythology: Divine Law of Melchizedek – Ecological War
- Eve’s Mission Impossible: Cracking the Lebensraum Right-to-Breed Code
- An ABC’s of Ecology Systems Approach to a Sui Generis Agriculture Mythology: When did We become We?
- Identity and Dignity in Ubuntu Mythology
- Black Liberation Mythology and Black Power
- Liberating Black Victim Theology
- Black Liberation Theology: Kairos & Reconciliation
F: TRC SECRET: APARTHEID: A JUST WAR FOR DEMOGRAPHIC SURVIVAL FROM ‘MARXIST’ ‘SWART GEVAAR’ (PDF)
- Cultures of Secrecy: Unconscious and Conscious Secrets
- Definitions : Fundamental Concepts Not Defined
- Did Amnesty mean Amnesty, or was legal meaning changed?
- Was Truth and Reconciliation Seen to be Done?
- Rainbow Truths: Were all Contextual Struggle Violence Truths Told?
- Cold War Ethno-Cultural Psychological Warfare
- Population Explosion Concerns During Apartheid
- Population Pressures & Apartheid Political Fears
- Does Africa have an Overpopulation Problem?
- Apartheid, the Struggle, Just War Doctrine & Competitive Exclusion Principle
- Radical Honesty Analysis: TRC ACT written by People who can’t, or don’t know how to handle their anger, forced SA’s to make Politically Correct Agreements, while still angry