It’s A Long Long Way To Fall

Recently I’ve been doing a deep dive into pre-history, the aceramic period and that stuff that lies beyond the invention of writing, or at least our knowing it was invented, which is not precisely the same.

As a digression: One of the things that has me highly amused is that, having bought a scattershot of books on the subject, as I always do at the beginning of a “reading-crave” I find those even from the nineties are grossly outdated as new discoveries and studies invalidate them. And all discoveries and studies seem to push the “invention of x” further into the past. So, we’ll see.

As a second digression: yes, this is probably for writing, though I doubt the fruits will be this year. This kind of obsessive reading on a subject usually — unless it’s for a known series already started — takes a year or so to come to fruition. I suspect it’s related to my sword and sandal fantasy and also possibly — sideways — to the multiworld saga that would start with (I’ve posted bits) “Jump, the mirror said.” Because it involves ancient/lost multiworld civilization.

Now back to the topic at hand.

The left, and some libertarians, have the bizarre idea that going back to the time before civilization will somehow bring about a paradise with perfect health, no crime, no private property, and everyone living in harmony.

Granted the libertarians put that on “the nomadic past” i.e. the time without governments. I yield to no one in my hatred for government and politicians in general, but making the assumption that nomadic groups didn’t have despots is a bit of wishful thinking. Of course, they had, if nothing else tribe/family leaders. What we have found already — and I want to point out here the reason it flips so much decade to decade is that what we’ve found is at best a minuscule portion of all the deposits from the time, themselves a minuscule percentage of what humans might have lived at the time –dispels this idea very thoroughly.

Turns out that humans were still humans, even in pre-history, and weren’t in fact the stuff of angels. And btw, those who say they were healthier…. No. They died younger. The oldest we’ve found are in their early sixties (ESTIMATED. I suspect they were younger) and most are much younger. The ones who are older were the creme de la creme of resources and being taken care of.

But what got to me, and caused me to put aside the book on the normadic cultures of western Eurasia/Eastern Europe until I can cope with it better was the casual disregard for humans as individuals. And for human life.

I don’t think any modern can fully understand how thoroughly your life as an individual didn’t count in those days, in that place.

Take the horrors of the 20th century and then make the disregard stronger.

What got to me was the kurgans of scythians. The level of wrong.

Look, I understand killing the wives/concubines of the great chief when he died, and burying them with him. Yes, it seems cruel to us, and the British banned it in India, and that’s good on them, but think about it, will you? In pre-historic conditions it was probably merciful or probably started that way.

In brutal conditions, where body-strength matters, widows and abandoned women are prey. Widows of an influential leader some of whose power can be acquired by marrying them are doubly so. Absent dying “with their Lord” these women would have had a sad and scary life for the rest of their days. Unless they were very very lucky.

(And for the foaming at the mouth types, since I’m finding a lot of them among the young “But why did women and not men suffer this way.” Because biology. Testosterone, upper body strength, etc. give men advantages you can’t every match in “normal living”. When I was young and in good shape, I could still be beaten by any teen boy, no matter how couch potatoey, okay. You can’t revolt against biology. You can try, but you’ll only be lying to yourself.)

For the record, if it needs to be stated: I disapprove of widow sacrifice. But I can see where it was at one time, perhaps — or at least considered — the merciful thing to do.

Less understandable is the killing of horses and dogs, which I understand aren’t human, but are, as Heinlein put it “animals who were brought up to think they are people.” Those got killed in big wanton lots, and considering they were wealth and rare wealth at the time, they also break my heart.

But worse was the ritual one year after the great chief’s burial, in which 100 young men (not slaves. Not that their being slaves would be better, but at least as strangers it would be more understandable) were selected AND KILLED with 100 prime horses, and their bodies assembled with the horses, so they appeared to be riding in an honor guard around the Kurgan.

I can’t come up with a reason for that. NONE. Each of these young men was a living, individual human being, brought to maturity at a time when that was a difficult battle because of illnesses and accidents in a harsh time.

And they were killed, for display….

When I got to the process of preparing horse and young man corpse to mount as a rotting statue, my brain glitched and I imagined a craft board in the 21st century. “Hi, we’re working on the Kurgan of great king Blah Blah, and we found if you empty the horse’s bellies of all viscera and pack them with herbs and spices, it makes the whole less smelly, and retards the rotting, so the horse stays up longer. Now, the stake you put through the horse to hold the rider in place: you should put it through–“

And that’s when I closed the book to let it chill a while.

But…. What you have to understand is that this is “the natural man.”

The natural man considers other men over whom he has authority as disposable for…. demented displays.

It has taken over two thousand years of civilization, and a little known (at the beginning) religion from a small tribe in the middle East to change us, so that we flinch at that description.

A bit of our squeamishness has bled through to other cultures, and yeah, China and other radically non-Western cultures could still see making the above display for any reason or none, but at least they try to hide it, because they have some sense us, silly westerners, would be squeamish about that wanton waste of human lives.

But make no mistake, that particular beast, the natural impulses of man, are always there, seeking to break through.

The first use we made of the ability to keep good records, have good transportation, and mass processes of any sort, resulted in the abatoirs of the 20th century.

The only — ONLY — bullwark we have against crafts with corpses we killed for display is Western Culture, what remains of it.

The left, in their vocal lust for collectivism and to abolish Western Civilization in all its forms thinks they’ll bring about paradise, when what rides at their heels is hell.

That too is a very old temptation, a very old betrayal.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blog, people of good will, this is why we fight. We fight to learn, pass on, transmit and uphold the much maligned Western Civilization.

Yes, it had ridiculous and horrible episodes, but not compared to everything else.

And thus we fight, on boards others have rotted, over an unimaginable abyss. We try to rebuild as we fight and not to slip on the fallacies accumulated by past generations.

Because the abyss is indeed that deep. So deep and dark, finding the way back up would take millennia.

So, fight my friends, and look up, not down.

It’s a long, long way to fall.

560 thoughts on “It’s A Long Long Way To Fall

  1. Western Civilization isn’t perfect. Far from it.

    But it damn well has been better than just about any other civilization that has been out there.

    And, nobody wants to agree because they think in another culture, they’ll be the top of the pyramid.

    1. How can imperfect people ever create a perfect society?

      How could imperfect people ever live in a perfect society?

      All the perfect people out there, raise your hands.

      Now keep them up so I know who needs shooting.

      1. There’s a Catholic joke that runs thus: There have only been two perfect people in the history of mankind, and that is why we sainted Joseph, who had to live with both of them.

  2. A possibility on the young men is they were relatives of the now dead leader. Getting rid of them would help secure the new leader’s place, while appearing to honor the old leader’s memory.

      1. If they had a harem culture, it may simply have been to cull the young men.

        Unattached single young men become a major problem for any polygamy culture.

        1. Yeah, but the legend of Genghis’ tomb was like, “We killed ten guys” in comparison to this. Although there are various legends, mostly stealing from the legends of Attila’s tomb and Tamerlane’s tomb.

      2. But the virgin wanted to be tossed in the volcano to appease the fire gods! Honestly that’s a possibility too, but I wouldn’t take an even money bet on it.

        1. When you make the leader out to be a god-king and make people think they will win favor, get a better life, etc you can get them to do lots of things that seem unthinkable. See suicide bombers, kamikaze, Jonestown.

              1. When you let him drag you off to distant jungles and regiment your life, you staked a lot on the rightness of obedience.

        2. I remember reading a book titled ‘Human Sacrifice’ in which the author swore that every person offered up by the Aztecs, Carthaginians, Shang Chinese, Australian Aborigines*, etc., as a human sacrifice was completely in agreement with their death and totally willing and voluntary. Every single time. I’ll just say that I have some serious doubts. Okay, some may have seen their deaths as a worthwhile trade to keep the world going for everyone else — ‘Give the gods blood or the sun will not rise’. But I simply cannot believe that literally every single person given in human sacrifice through all human history was delighted** at the idea of a horrible death.

          * — The author spoke with approval of one Aborigine tribe where women were required to kill and eat their firstborn child so they could communicate the tribe’s wishes with the ancestors. Or something like that. He didn’t mention how a newborn could approve of their own murder.

          ** — Save for Christians, of course, because the author hated them. And that wasn’t strictly speaking human sacrifice in the traditional sense.

            1. Issues? From what I can recall of that book, he had a lifetime subscription. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall him going so far as to defend one South American culture that preceded the Inca (Moche or Chimu, I think), who worshiped a skeletal death god by mutilating people’s faces to make them resemble their deity. They were then given access to a small army of slaves and concubines to keep them alive as long as possible. Truly an amiable people.

          1. “The author spoke with approval of one Aborigine tribe where women were required to kill and eat their firstborn child so they could communicate the tribe’s wishes with the ancestors.”

            I came across documentation on that, by sympathetic anthropologists; the practice was still going on around 1900. It wasn’t so much required, as that they regarded consuming the firstborn child a way to gain strength, as well as extremely tasty.

            This, not some desire to destroy Abo culture, was why Abo kids were taken away to be educated at English-speaking schools.

          2. One of the great mysteries of Aztec life is how they got prisoners of war to cooperate with the rites that often had the victims doing complex things.

            1. I’ve heard people claim for drugs, hypnotism, religious frenzy, and more. Granted, if you died as sacrifice you joined the gods in perpetual bliss. Normally, if you died, you went to a rather gloomy afterlife and then ‘died’ again after a few years, becoming literally nothing. So, I guess that could have motivated some few of them?

              Though I’ve also read a story where supposedly one woman from a conquered tribe told the priests to their faces, “Go ahead, send me to the gods. I’ll tell them how you’re REALLY behaving down here!” She was immediately removed from the line of sacrifices. No word on what they did do to her.

              1. Prisoners of war. From the very places that so eagerly aided the Spanish. I can see stupor but not religious frenzy.

                1. “If I can buy myself a little more time maybe I can find or make a hole” might have figured into it. It is also possible they had um. more painful ways of making resisters die… or take a really long time dying but my knowledge on those possibilities is from the other side of the world. (Side note, this is all speculative.)

  3. Corpse magic and murder magic have an overlap with tendencies of the human mind.

    There’s a lot of wishcasting, into the past and into the future, about what society looks like that greatly differs from immediately known societies. Plus, for the ignorant, imaginings about present day alien societies.

    “Oh, using this reduced order theory, we see that without the factors that made known society known society, we get a hypothetical society that is very pleasant.” The folks going down this route who aren’t evil, are overlooking that human populations produce a next generation that is more diverse than theory can account for. Some of the new generation are flat out evil, and more or less born that way.

    If you don’t have mores suppressing the tendency to see certain things as magic, and if you don’t have consensus suppressing the evil, guess how easy it is for evil to get into power and institute such rituals?

    1. Occurs to me that what the Left is doing to its own adherents is a form of murder magic; they’re just not dead yet.

  4. Puts an interesting spin on Adam and Eve, doesn’t it? Assume thousands of years of thoughtless brutality…and two very special people are tempted with, “Eat this and you will be like God, knowing good and evil!”
    Meaning from this point on, they and their descendants know those things people been doing are wrong. Humans’ eyes have been opened now and we don’t have the alibi of ignorance.

    1. Damned right he did. Also made instructive (moreso following the events of the early 20th century) what happens when you give up your guns. Never trust those who seek unilateral disarmament of the people. All it means is they don’t want you to shoot *back.*

      1. Kipling had something to say along those lines in “Gods of the Copybook Headings” (one of my favorites among *many* of his); stick to the Devil you know. Kipling knew people quite a bit better than do any of the current “elite”.

  5. I remember learning in elementary school about certain tribes rowing their sick elders out to an ice floe and leaving them there to freeze to death. At that time our teacher was able to tell us it was a blessing that we are a more enlightened civilization now and we value everyone and don’t send people off to die.

    Now the “enlightened” in our civilization promote killing anyone who isn’t convenient.

    We’ve already fallen a good bit.

    1. I watched the Ascent of Man a few years back. One of the things that stuck with me was the survey of one of the last true nomadic tribes.

      Every year they had to cross a raging river. For the boys hear ding the flocks through the raging waters was their trial to become adults.

      But for those too old to make the crossing, it was their end. The tribe would leave them behind as it crossed the river and they would simply watch as everyone they’d ever known walked away.

      It is such a loss that Dr. Bronoski passed away so soon after completing the series. It came out around the same time as Connections, and the Day the Universe Changed, and should have been as well known and at least as widely watched as those were. But without its driving force it was not to be.

  6. So many died as collective possessions to one leader. We’ve seen that in all tolitarian regimes. So yes, we need Western Civilization as a bulwark against the viciousness inherent in humans. Notice I didn’t say animals.

  7. Eve Online was a very interesting study in human behavior. Basically, in “null sec” or 0.0 space, players could attempt to kill each other and break each others stuff without the game enforcing consequences for it.

    What happened were two distinct waves of anarchy. The first wave was a cooperative anarchy, where people farmed loot as fast an efficiently as they could and otherwise kept to themselves or helped each other out.

    Then a small group of people were bored by that and formed a group to go rampaging around 0.0 space killing people for fun. That quickly precipitated a conversion to a hostile anarchy. Anyone you did not know was shoot on sight. And out of that phase of anarchy came tribes and proto-governments.

    They’ve followed the trend of moving from tribes of personality to ever more complex forms of government and crime syndicates and various other types of human organization.

    I figure about 90% of people are naturally cooperative. They’ll work with you and help ya i out because they feel like it, but there is also a 10% who will cheerfully go full reaver on you because they too feel like it.

    And a well formed society provides the trip wires to cut tail the ones who would use their neighbors skulls for litter boxes, while largely leaving the folks who just want to do their thing, without gutting their neighbor, alone.

    1. IIRC, something like three percent of the population is estimated to be psychopaths. Which is a lot, when you think about it.

      I remember hearing about “tollgates” in low sec space in Eve. A group of players would force everyone passing through a jumpgate to pay a toll. If you didn’t, you got attacked and likely blown up. And then someone decided it would be fun to blow people up even after they paid the toll. So everyone quit paying.

      1. The thing is, not everyone who is a sociopath is bad. A lot of sociopaths just grow up to be voluntarily rule-bound morality people, who don’t harm their neighbors because it is stupid. But yeah, not everybody.

        1. That situation is heavily dependent on environment, I believe. A rational sociopath can come to rule following behavior *even when there is little to no chance of getting caught.* However it seems significantly less likely to happen when said psychopath is brought up in an environment with inconsistently enforced moral rules. Viz. Chicago gang culture, Southwest gang culture, politics, etc.

          Many people seem to conflate psychopathy with sociopathy. I find this disturbing, and sometimes wonder if the effect is not intentional. I suspect sociopaths would find such a situation… useful, to some degree.

          1. Sorry to ask this ignorant question, but aren’t sociopathy and psychopathy the same thing, or nearly?

            1. Basically, they are terms that originally were used in psychology.

              The thing to remember about every term, category, measurement or description out of psychology, it is a profoundly challenged field. There are a ridiculous amount of inherent confounding factors. Even the very best work done in psychology tends to be profoundly limited, and only useful in very specific circumstances.

              Basically, there is a not rare personality trait that tends to disqualify you from being able to do good work as a psychologist. If you, when you spend time around crazy people, get caught up in their thinking, and decide that they are correct, you won’t be able to carefully observe the mental behavior of a crazy person. Being a fruitcake also is little bit disabling.

              THe very founder of psychology did some very bad work because he was nuts, and it took psychology a while to get past that.

              Modern psychology also has issues. For a while, we have been pushing academic research in psychology on weird bookish kids. So we’ve had a lot of weird bookish kids go into psychology, and this is bad for two reasons. REason one, psychology undergraduates are a common population for psychoogical research studies. Reason two, lunatic graduate students and faculty.

              The good observational research in psychology tends to, for lack of infinite time and infinite communication bandwidth, be carried out by one psychologists, or a very small team, and be observations that are usually deliberately or accidentally clustered around a few types of behavior. The pop sci treatments that are worth anything are very specific, and have to be read with a grain of salt. (Even then, limits. There are autistics not much like Temple GRandin, and they may get tired of hearing about her.) Aggregating the observational theories into a complete aggregate theory is a very challenging skill set. You have to figure out which observers are nuts, and then you have to be sane while you are fitting everything together. Which means that an aggregate model is worthless, if the people who did it aren’t sane, ethical, and competent. (Guess that this implies about conclusions from the current state of the APA.)

              I’m pretty sure that both psychopath and sociopath map to models published by the APA at various times.

              I know that sociopath mapped to a specific diagnosis in a specific edition of the APA’s Diagnositics and Standards Manual (DSM).

              The whatever it was personality disorder that I have heard is what sociopath means? I recall it was about 3% of American men, and 1% of American women. This wasn’t directly measured, it would have been estimated based on psychologists making a statistical inference.

              I have heard psychotic used to describe a degree of impairment, instead of a type. Degree of impairment may be the correct usage.

              So, basic issue with defining the terms? Some people are deep into the psychology literature, and are using it by a particular jargon standard. Others are using it casually.

              Mentally ill and criminal are different categories, but do have an overlap. Some of the regulars here study this stuff from a more mental health perspective, some from a more criminology/forensic perspective, some from neither.

      2. Part of the problem comes in defining “psychopath.”

        That rather famous headline about how most surgeons are psychopaths didn’t mention that they defined it in such a way that being willing to cut someone to save their life made you a psychopath. So, OF COURSE doctors-who-save-by-cutting-people had a very high rate of it. :facepalm:

    2. Also do note that all those players who went on a killing spree in 0.0 space were fully aware that it was a game. I’d venture a guess that your “10% who will cheerfully go full reaver” is an overestimate in real life.

      For example, look at this article titled “The real Lord of the Flies”, about six boys who were shipwrecked on a deserted island, and survived for 15 months by cooperating:

      I agree with the author’s analysis that Golding was projecting when he wrote his (IMHO lousy and not worth reading) book.

      1. >> “I’d venture a guess that your “10% who will cheerfully go full reaver” is an overestimate in real life.”

        Agreed, but it’s still greater than 0%. So his point about pure cooperative anarchy not lasting still stands; you’re going to get thugs from time to time and you need an enforcement mechanism to deal with them, even if it comes down to government by lynch mob.

      2. There’s also the way that EVE Online is optional, and well known for encouraging that kind of bad behavior.

        So someone like me who has no interest in that nonsense would avoid it, while someone who fancies themselves an elite griefer would select for it.

  8. Ah, I had a Rosseau “Noble Savage” fan try to tell me that hunter-gatherers lived an idyllic life where they gathered and hunted for a portion of each day, and lived the rest of their time in leisure.

    “You’ve never held a woman’s hand in labor, have you, chum?” I wrote back. He fled the forum and never made another remark. People who subscribe to the Noble Savage view of civilization have never, ever, taken a single camping trip. They’re usually childless. I despise them with every fiber of my being. Throw them into the wilderness and let them die the horrible deaths they deserve.

        1. None of them have ever even seen a dead body.

          Having seen one for real, you’re never really the same anymore. I don’t view it as an improvement. Thanks, gross anatomy.

            1. Sadly enough, I have.
              And I was also the one who found an employer (who was a dear and trusted friend – and who also trusted me) dead of a sudden and catastrophic heart attack.
              Won’t go into details, but yes. Not a happy day.
              The one thing that did strike me was how blue his fingertips were, when I finally took a good look at him.
              But his face was completely serene, which I was glad of, as I didn’t have to tell lies to his family and other friends. He just felt suddenly ill, lay down … and passed away, mercifully and swiftly.
              A bear, sitting around, waiting for the FD ambulance, the PD, and the medical examiner on a weekend, though.

              1. On the day my mom died the first person from the nursing home who called didn’t communicate what was happening clearly but the second one did. She was gone by the time I got there, but it really didn’t hit me until I saw her at the funeral home before preparation. Her face had a skull-like quality to it but they managed to cover that up well at the funeral itself. It does stick with you.

            2. Honestly there is a difference between a dead body and one that’s been embalmed. Seen both plenty of times. I can still see the face of the first code I worked. They clean em up well before go in the box.

            3. A lot of funerals don’t show the body.
              It might “disturb” people.

              (that’s besides the tendency towards cremation; I’ve never been to a funeral where the body was still intact, not enough money to do that and afford a plot for licit burial)

            4. Funerals? Or visitation? At least in all the funerals I ever attended, the casket was closed after the visitation at the funeral home and left that way until burial.

              1. I’ve seen open caskets at: Visitation. During the memorial service casket was closed. After service concluded, casket was opened one last time for mourners to say one last goodbye. First time for me was my great-uncles funeral. Dad escorted great-aunt to the casket, leaving his mom to go up alone (mom took younger sisters and cousins out as side door). I think I needed grandma more than she needed me. I avoided that part of the service, and still do. BUT … The absolutely Last time was my *cousins funeral (age 11). Son, age 10 (barely), insisted on going up, so dad and I supported him (mistake on letting him? IDK …) That night the scream he let out … by the time we came down off the ceiling … Never ever want to hear that again, ever. Worse than the toddler night terror scream. It was a long, long, day. Not only the above church service, but a second memorial service at cousin’s grade school. Then the burial service which was an hour drive south. Then the drive to the last wake, where there was food. Oh, by the way. Nothing more heart breaking in hearing a 4 year old asking why (cousin’s name) “wouldn’t wake up to play?”

                * Killed as a pedestrian by a hit and run driver in front of their property. Driver, when caught got 30 months Forest Camp prison time because by the time caught there was no way to prove DUI. Plus 11 years driving license suspension. Driver in question has had at least 3 DUI’s since driver license was “allowed”.

          1. I agree. I remember the first time I saw a dead body. And it was so clear that my friend was no longer present. His pictures looked more like him than the body did.

        2. In fairness, I haven’t seen either despite Mom’s best efforts around Christmas.

          Of course, unlike a Rosseau, I don’t want to either.

    1. Issac Asimov used to say something along the lines of “People who want to go back to the glory days of ancient Athens always imagine themselves as senators and their rich family members. They never imagine themselves as one of the much more numerous slaves in the Athenian silver mines. ”

      Heck Traditional Foods Tube of You videos are very popular. People blame Big Grocery for the rise of prepared foods and whatnot. But it is a whole lot harder to cook Traditional Foods over a wood stove with no special cooking gadgets.
      When I was a new wife there weren’t even microwaves and very few had dishwashers. I dried many a load of clothes on a clothes line.

      If the greens get their way, we will be out digging the first dandelions out of the snow to get fresh veg every spring like my grandma did.

      All very romantic I’m sure.

        1. Yeah. I dabble in wild edibles/minor-league medicines as a hobby. One of my favorite plants has roots that can make shampoo reasonably easily, IF you have a fridge and a companion plant growing nearby. (I’m looking for seeds now, thankyouverymuch.) Because I no longer trust the idiots in charge to even keep the lights on.

          1. Yeah, about that:


            “According to data from the Department of Energy, between 2000 and 2020, the number of what the agency calls “major electric disturbances and unusual occurrences” (read: blackouts) on the U.S. electric grid jumped about 13-fold. ”

            Bear in mind that this is what’s being admitted to. Texas hasn’t been immune, either.

        2. A woman in the SCA didn’t wash her hair for three months because she was trying various period hair products. She gave great thanks to her husband for putting up with it. (She also wrote it up in The Compleat Anachronist, which is why I know about it).

      1. Just reading the Little House series, and all that Ma and Pa had to do, by hand, to keep the family fed, clean, clothed and relatively healthy was enough to make me feel exhausted.

      2. Or worse, the sulfur mines.
        Or for that matter, dying as a newborn because your father thought you were too runty to survive. Or because you were female, and thereby just another mouth to feed and scrape up a dowry for.

        1. I am still boggled by the information– given very late in my education!– that part of why Christianity spread so fast and far is that those crazy loons would go out and pick up the discarded children on the hillsides, rather than letting the dogs eat them.

          …which meant in 14 years or so, if you wanted a woman, she’d be Christian, and so would your kids.

          You’d think that *might* be a little more important than vague hand-waving about crazy emperors.

    2. They’re probably the same idiots who get into fistfights in the supermarket over the last Easter Ham or Thanksgiving Turkey. They’re in absolutely zero danger of starving, but are perfectly willing to hurt or kill because “their family’s holiday has been ruined!”

    3. Ah the Noble Savage, I remember, from my youth, many matrons remarking that the gentle Eskimos had no word for war in their language. Later in life spending time with many Eskimos I found that to be true.

      Nope they didn’t have a word for war in Yupik nor Inuit, but they had plenty of words for killing Athabaskans.

    4. Given one “Strangle A Historical Figure in His Crib, FREE!” time machine certificate, forget Hitler or Stalin, I’m taking out that bastard Rousseau. Without his nonsense, a whole lot of evil in the modern world just never would have happened, starting with the French Revolution.

      1. I think, given the state of things, some sort of French Revolution was inevitable. Now, the Reign of Terror and all of the nonsense that the First Republic tried to implement (changing the names of the months, decimalization of the week and the clock, etc.), yeah, whacking Rousseau would probably have prevented that.

        1. A French revolution of some sort was probably inevitable, unless the additional financial burdens from supporting the American Revolution were eliminated and strenuous efforts were made to pay down debt. I was playing around with the idea of a time travel story where modern Americans with a time machine picked up post-Soviet or American post-WWII surplus weapons and took them back to aid the militia and Concord and drive the British from North America, and as a result the French revolution doesn’t occur “as scheduled.”

          1. Sounds like a Harry Turtledove story (IIRC he did that with a bunch of South African ex-pats giving Kalashnikovs to the Confederacy). I like it (your idea, I mean; never could get into Turtledove’s writing style). And TBH, you probably wouldn’t even need to give them post-WWII stuff: black-powder Winchesters and the capability to make interchangeable parts would still give them a major overmatch against the British (and probably jumpstart the Industrial Revolution.

            1. ‘Guns Of The South’

              Harry Turtledove says the book started when somebody at a bull session said somebody else’s idea would be as outré as a picture of Robert E. Lee holding an AK-47.

              Which naturally started him ta thinkin’ “How could there actually BE a picture of Robert E. Lee holding an AK-47?” Time travel, of course, but WHO would travel through time to give Lee an AK-47, and WHY would they do it? He found answers to those questions, too, and started writing…

              The book was published in 1992, and had a picture of Robert E. Lee holding an AK-47 on the cover.
              Andries Rhoodie to a bunch of Confederate recruits: “You have to be more than stupid to screw up an AK-47. You have to be a complete idiot, and even then you have to work at it.”

      2. Yes. Very much this. There’s a whole diseased train of thought and wreckage that stems from Rousseau.

    5. One of the best things about camping is that one can come home to central heating, hot water, etc.
      That does not mean vehicle-centered RV camping, but actual pack it in and live off it for a few days camping.

      1. And even then, it’s pretty plush compared to really roughing it. Relying on Mountain House freeze-dried, cooked on a propane/white gas stove, using a few-pound tent with a rain fly, and *good boots* is going to be a world of difference between “you hunt it, prep it, do the wood fire”, using brush/branches for shelter (OK, I’d allow a tarp), with footwear from Jake the cobbler. That’s scratching the surface (down sleeping bag vs wool blanket, and so on).

        Back a few decades, I’d do the former. Never tried any part of the latter. I don’t know how much of the latter the Boy Scouts taught. Dad was an assistant scoutmaster in the ’50s, but I was too Odd to make it in Cubs. I assume little of it is taught now.

        1. There’s Wilderness Survival as an optional merit badge. That does include a night “in the rough”, but as it’s in the grounds of summer camp (because these are minors), it’s not as rough as it could be.

          The closest I’ve come is (cotton) sleeping bag only under the stars. Very uncomfortable, and I was 17 at the time so I can’t blame age.

          1. There is also the “initiation” into Order of the Arrow (youth AND adults). Used to be for both Wilderness Merit Badge, nothing extra over what was needed for the environment, and water. When our son took it, they were allowed gear of ground pad, a tarp, and rain gear. Camp Baker, July summer camp. OA we each did the initiation at Camp Baker Beaver Weekend (his was the year before), which is a spring event. So, rain gear, a tarp, ground pad, and a sleeping bag (a field of bracken fern, pad, sleeping bag, and me rolled into the tarp, rain coming down, a very *restful night sleep, even kept my boots dry). Note, Camp Baker is on the Oregon Coast. A tarp and something between you and the ground is essential.

            * Most the other (non-military) adults didn’t fare as well. The military veterans were surprised I did because I have no military experience. When we could talk, (those familiar with OA know) I mentioned it might be because I had 55 years camping experience, I was 54. Plus I married someone who liked camping, unlike my sisters, (and most of their spouses) “The **Hilton is Roughing it” wasn’t something I could get away with. Now can I run down meals? Does fishing count with hook and line? Otherwise, nope.

            ** Whenever we go to one of those Timeshare free weekend seminars (never buying into one) my joke is “We’re updating from a backpacking tent!” (Okay, we have had a small RV for family vacations. I’m not as rugged as mom. A toddler, and car tent camping, is NOT fun. When we sold the last RV they asked if we ever used the oven and gas stove top … Well yes. But not much. We preferred cooking outside. But night time restroom, beds, and not hauling water, were nice.)

    6. Most of the Ideal Society theories do poorly on contact with children, pregnancy, illness, disability, Bad Years, truly hostile forces….

  9. While it was certainly a way to get rid of rivals after the infighting, I think it’s safer to say “for Sacrifice” than “for display”.
    I know almost nothing of that particular culture, but this kind of screams god-king and ancestor worship to me.

    The longing looks to prehistory are willfully and deliberately ignorant. My great-great-grandfather was old enough to fight nomadic tribes possessing Stone Age tech (and a smattering of firearms looted or traded). The Indians were no joke. That they were very far from angels is well documented.

      1. There seems to be a point in almost all societies where they get rich enough to try mass murder as a grave good. Usually women or girls, although male courtiers or young men are also popular.

        Usually there is some sort of revolt, not long after that, or everyone decides that figurines count as magical underworld servants.

        1. The transition in China from real grave goods to magical ones was accompanied by writings that urged it on people as more filially pious: you were ensuring the grave good would not be stolen.

          After they gave up the sacrifices, of course.

      2. You’ve triggered my morbid curiosity.
        Whatcha readin’?
        (It’s evidently time I learn that Kurgan wasn’t just a name in Highlander.)

        1. That makes two of us, though behavior like that from others with the that title does explain why Ramirez and the others who knew of him thought he was such a monster beyond what we saw.

        2. I’d start with _The Horse, The Wheel, and Language_ by David W. Anthony. That gives you a good overivew. Barry Cunliffe’s _By Desert, Steppe, and Ocean_ is excellent and covers the rise of the steppe cultures (Indo-European and otherwise) and the spread of technologies. Both are easy to read.

          For “Old Europe,” I’d recommend Harald Haarman _The Mystery of the Danube Civilization_. It’s a good English translation of his German work, and is pretty up to date. Müller et al Trypillia Mega-Sites and European Prehistory_ focuses on the later phase of the steppe-dwelling Old European culture. It may be a little too specialized, but is very useful in terms of “What do we really know?” Menotti et al _The Tripolye Culture Giant Settlements in Ukraine_ is fantastic, and includes information about the climate and so on. For more on the climate changes, you really have to go wading through a lot of articles and book chapters. One of the best summaries is _The Lost World of Old Europe_. David W. Anthony is one of the co-authors of that volume.

  10. I have a good friend who got roped into one of these critical race theory things where HR wanted him to apologize for his “white privilege”.
    Went slightly differently than they expected.
    “I am sorry the white race abolished slavery. I’m sorry we eliminated human sacrifice. I’m sorry we invented antibiotics and cures for diseases.”.
    He left the company shortly thereafter.

    1. He’s a braver man than I. Though in my defense, I’m fairly certain that if I gave that response, I’d be fired before I could resign.

  11. The only — ONLY — bullwark we have against crafts with corpses we killed for display is Western Culture, what remains of it.

    On the bright side, while it doesn’t speak to the same visceral level as “I can spend the lives of a hundred young men, and horses, to make a fancy display even after I’m dead” type power, the morality of Western Civilization is effective.

    It WORKS.

    You treat people in a moral manner, you shape your laws with an eye to justice– and it’s actual justice, the philosophical foundation is pretty simple and the arguments are mostly how to manage it– and you get an incredible wealth out of it.

    Folks go in and loot that? The loot gets eaten…and then they’re hungry, again, while those who went and followed the rules are rebuilding and end up with even more than what they started with, no matter how foolish they are in not getting rid of those useless eaters, how silly they are to cling to ideas about ‘fair’ and there being something more than strength, be it physical or emotional appeal.

    The looters are left having to skin-suit– and even then it doesn’t work. They take the obviously unfair advantage away, and… suddenly the thing that was defective when they had it, is productive, while the Clearly Superior item is somehow defective.

    1. One of the songs that pisses me off almost as much as “Imagine” is Tonio K.s “The Funky Western Civilization”. Haven’t listened to it in years, but I just reviewed the lyrics. Yep, it’s awful.

  12. In William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’, a group of boys abandoned on an island reverts rapidly to barbarism. Heinlein’s ‘Tunnel in the Sky’, published about the same time, also features a group of kids on their own for a protracted time..but with a very different outcome.

    Both outcomes are possible, of course. There was a real-life example in 1965, with outcome more like the Heinlein book than the Golding book.

    Thinking about this because I just put up a review of ‘Tunnnel’….

    1. That was an excellent review of “Tunnel in the Sky,” and the story of the shipwrecked boys from Tonga brought me to tears. Why is it that our “children’s literature” so often teaches despair instead of joy?

      1. Goldman said that the book had more to do with his own depression than anything else. Intellectual angst mostly. Something happened to the stories during the 19th century accelerating in the 20th. Was it Marxism or is Marxism a symptom too?

          1. Speaking of Twain, I was going to mention that THIS was apparently marketed as a KID’S movie:

            What in the ever-loving hell…

            1. Someone made claymation of the FIRST draft of Mysterious Stranger? Day-yamn! The third draft (the commonly known version) is rather less… outright terrifying. It’s not NICE, necessarily, but the terrors are more subtle.

                1. Nope, but it might be on Project Gutenberg. I had given up on Twain due to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in school. Then I saw a TV adaptation (live action) of Mysterious Stranger it ‘spoke’ to me… I went on something of Twain binge that Summer… read almost all the Twain in the local library (skipped Life on the Mississippi – folks were watching it and I couldn’t stand it.) and got a tome of ALL versions/draft of Mysterious Stranger though Inter-Library Loan. The character I knew as Number 44, New Series 864 962* was Phillip Traum (dream) in the second draft, and was a not-fallen Angel named Satan (the other one was his Uncle…) in the first draft. And, being unaware of good v. evil had no issue with ‘creating’ and destroy life, even if it had no chance at Redemption – which horrified the ‘August’ character.

      2. Have you looked at what the same folks will shove at adults? It’s very similar.

        The difference is that kids don’t tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine, since they don’t have an option– and a horrifying number of adults seem to find deliberately inflicting emotional injury on children to be “character building.”

        I am so. Freaking. DONE. With people wanting to use works of fiction as textbooks. (That’s before the inevitable “teach them how to think” preening starts– no, that is trying to teach them what to think, not giving them the most accurate information you can manage. That is handing them an interpretation that doesn’t even try to be factual.)

          1. Honestly, I think a lot of the issue is folks *responding* to books like that– to “introduce nuance.”

            ….which somehow always means beat the fun out of everything, and hyperfocus on anything that MIGHT BE bad as the truth and the whole truth.

          1. I am *still* pissed at the “Oh, you like fantasy, you’ll love the next book!”

            Bridge to Terabithia. Freaking literally written as self-help after a kid’s friend died from a bee sting.
            If I hadn’t had a sold foundation it would’ve hit me HARD in the “what is the freaking point?” area.

            1. What drug is it that people take that makes them think that Bridge to Terebithia is a fantasy novel? The movie was marketed that way too. I mean, I don’t know if you could ever have made a successful kids movie about a little girl dying, but you sure as heck couldn’t do it while marketing it as the next LoTR or Narnia! As I recall, and I sure as heck aren’t going to read it again to find out, even the “oh, the kids are imagining…” parts didn’t really come off decent fantasy because the narrator just wasn’t interested enough in the stories Leslie was making up to get into them.

              And while I’m on the subject, why is it that kids award-givers only seem to like books about people dying? I mean, the “Death by Newberry Medal” is well know, but I also remember reading in about third grade or so a book of stories by actual kids that were chosen from a contest. And guess what? Every, single freakin’ one of them had the hero suffer through the death of either a pet or a close friend.

              Sorry for the rant. I was subjected to Bridge to Terebithia at a similar age that you were, and the mention of it can still trigger me.

              1. Half a dozen comments up-thread, “overgrown hobbit” made reference to Gordon Korman’s No More Dead Dogs.

                Premise: Student is to write a book report on one such “classic”. Student identifies the “dead dog” trope and writes the report about how that made the book bad and derivative. Cue battle of wills with teacher trying to make him rewrite the report.

              2. I have absolutely no idea.

                I did a HUGE public speaking thing with posters, for RA Salvatore’s Exile, that’s how she knew I like Fantasy.

                …. Exiled guy from omnicidal maniac matriarch culture tries to find his place with his swords and magic kitty is SO VERY FAR from even Narnia, much less some woman’s somewhat justified navel gazing, that is just boggles my mind.

                There was a spate of “pre-teen to teens who are dying from cancer by their 18th birthday and it’s romantic and wonderful” books in high school, along with the “absolutely pointless deaths” stuff.

                It VERY MUCH didn’t help that I approached it with an open mind, went “ah… well, this is really not fantasy, but it’s kind of nice to hear about someone who is a little weird like me having a friend who thinks this is interesting.”
                BOOM! no, not allowed, dead.

                No freaking wonder kids latched on to Harry Potter. If I’d read them as a pre-teen, I’d have totally seen myself in Luna.

                1. Huh. I don’t normally associate real people with Harry Potter characters, but now that you mention it I’d have pegged you as more of a Hermione type.

                    1. Well, I think you’ve about matched her in number of children, at least. So, great start. 😉

                      But thinking about you as Luna, I don’t really see it. Yes, you can get weird and silly at times, but with you it’s a deliberate, spontaneous “let’s have some fun” moment. When Luna gets weird, it’s more like she just casually says what on her mind and you suddenly find yourself staring and thinking “What planet do YOU hail from?”

                      But thinking about it more it occurs that, as an Odd, you probably DO get that reaction from normal people a lot. It’s just other weirdos like me that you make sense to. So from a normie’s perspective you probably DO fit the Luna mold.

                      But thinking about it EVEN MORE I suddenly realize that for the first time in my life I’m actually seriously thinking about which Harry Potter character someone is and oh my God what in the ever-loving hell is [i]wrong[/i] with me?!?

                      …Excuse me, I need to go find my rubber mallet and get my mind right.

                    2. Literary archetypes are perfectly reasonable things to think about, especially when they’re from something that spoke to so many people. Even if it’s from something that is [pause, dramatic shudder] popular.


                      Bonus, since so very many people read and even memorized the books– it’s a great way to communicate with folks born after about 1975 or so, even if they didn’t read the books they’ve been exposed to them enough to have learned about them in sheer self-defense!

                    3. >> “Even if it’s from something that is [pause, dramatic shudder] popular.”

                      It’s not that. I’ve just never been much interested in the whole “What [X] are you” business. Doesn’t matter if it’s animals, D&D classes or whatever; I just don’t give it much thought. So when I realized you had me spending a bunch of cycles analyzing your personality in terms of Harry Potter characters, I had one of those moments where you stop and wonder what the hell your own brain is even doing.

                2. I was in my late teens/early 20s when I read them but Lupin was always the character I related to best and, for all his faults, Sirius ended up being the character I thought was the coolest.

      3. The real kicker is how these same brow-beaters of despair then complain about the kids becoming jaded.

        …dude, what did you expect to happen when you dumped all the emotional issues of a forty year plus old adult on to a kid, focusing on the problems rather than the foundation?

  13. Tom Holland’s Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World describes just how different Christianity made the world. Highly Recommended. The notion that in Christ there is neither Jew. Or Greek, nor male nor female, nor slave nor free from Galatians existed nowhere before.

  14. “because they have some sense us, silly westerners, would be squeamish about that wanton waste of human lives.”

    Even the westerners aren’t that far. Shirer wrote that Jewish victims of the Nazi camps who happened to have impressive tattoos would have their skins turned into lamp shades after death. But we tell ourselves that we are. And fortunately, the non-westerners believe us. Plus, we would look down on any non-westerners who did such things.

    1. That’s honestly why I think the holocaust is so shocking when compared to Japanese, Cambodian or even Soviet atrocities. Better was expected of them.

    2. Lampshades, lady’s gloves, and some other decorations I can’t remember at the moment. I wish I remembered the name of the book I got at the school library, it had a very good selection of the digital evidence. Photographing all that with as much information as they could obtain was a very good idea.

      That said, that was a group explicitly rejecting Western civilization. With all the usual notions of having moved beyond such pathetic morality, and being completely rational. Which makes homo sapien sapien just another mammal….

        1. THAT must be what I was remembering, I half-remembered … teeth or something? … but that’s so common, historically speaking, that I couldn’t vouch for it.

          1. I remember it, because there’s a market for bone buttons. They’re cheap now, ebay took the bottom out, but I inherited a ton from Dan’s grandma, back when stores paid $3 a button. OTOH I was post-partum depressed and not functional enough to sell them.
            On still the other hand I started thinking those buttons were from the thirties and forties, and wondered how many human-bone buttons are being bought now.
            It’s not like anyone does analysis. It kind of put me off them.

  15. The Bible, reading thereof, can be approached from many directions:

    As the Word of G-d, parenthetical aside;(I’ve no discomfort writing or reading the whole word but out of deference to our hostess…[Not faulting of course Sarah, just following your lead while here, as I’m a guest and I feel such is proper behavior.] ).
    The evolution of man’s understanding of the Deity; early biblical stories, a capricious G-d, later vengeful, then a just and most lately, mostly the New Testament, a merciful Supreme Being.
    As the oral history of a people, passed down in recitation, verse and song, later, recorded, written.
    As a roaring good tale abet with some slow chapters.

    Not surprisingly approaching the Book from any of these directions does not negate nor denigrate the validity of any of the others. Of course the same reader, at different times, will probably approach passages from, many, if not all of these directions

    Point being; The Bible is perhaps one of the more definitive sources of information concerning much of man’s pre-recorded, pre-written history. The Garden of Eden for example; can be read as an allegory, root hog or die farmer telling the grandkids how easy his great, great, great (___ begat ____ who begat ____who begat…) granddad had it just picking berries off the bushes or waiting for the fruit to fall in his hand!

    The same may be true of texts supporting other religions but I lack adequate familiarity with such to so postulate.

    1. … approaching the Book from any of these directions does not negate nor denigrate the validity of any of the others.

      You have omitted from your list, sir, a very well-established approach that would absolutely negate and (if this were a venue for such discussions) denigrate all four of the options provided.

  16. I forget which philosopher said that just because something is natural, does not automatically make it good.

    1. I think it was David Hume though it was G.C. Moore who actually coined the term “naturalistic fallacy”.

  17. Cultural Anthropology disabuses students of the “Noble Savage” canard by teaching about the damn Yanamamo. This is a hunter gather society that lies, steals, and murders without so much as a guilty thought.

    1. I have a degree in Anthropology from the 1970s, I read through alllll the bullshit about the Yanamamo. They pretty much operated on the level of a shitty street gang. The only reason they could even get by was that the jungle where they lived pretty much dropped food at their feet.

      Ever notice nobody talks about what’s going on with the Yanamamo -now-? They’re all wearing clothes, playing with their cell phones and driving cars like everybody else. So very counter to The Narrative.

      1. Yep. Went through the same getting my degree (though I avoided dirty cultural stuff like the bubonic plague!). Mead et. al. pretty much got that side Anthropology a bad name for quite a while. Cultural Anthropology has always been worryingly susceptible to fad theories be they political or garden variety crazycakes.

        1. I think the damage was caused as much or more by the fervor and misdeeds of Mead’s more rabid defenders in the field than anything Mead herself did.

            1. Beat me to it.

              Meade was a product of her time and her environment. A child of the elites, a student of Boaz and Benedict (big names in anthropology of the time), it wouldn’t be odd to think she was under some pressure to make her mark. Her later work proved a big part of the foundation of the feminist movement (Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies, 1935). She never did back off her stance on her work in Samoa, she built on it. For the rest of her life, in fact.

              It was only after her death that Derek Freeman published his scathing critique. It was so effective that today the usual folks are trying to tear it down, saying that Meade was *right.*

              Meade wasn’t the most effective at putting her work to use. It took others more politically active and aware to manage that. But I don’t think she would’ve *disagreed* with the use to which her work was put.

              1. It was only after her death that Derek Freeman published his scathing critique.

                Science progresses one funeral at a time.

            2. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think she was both credulous and far too willing to allow others to make all sorts of crazy conclusions based upon her dubious work. I just think her more fervent defenders may have been even worse, because they defended her so assiduously because their airy theories and prescriptions were built upon her dubious work.

  18. “And they were killed, for display…”

    The Aztecs and Incas spring rather forcibly to mind in this regard. One of the greatest untold lessons of history is how fast the Spanish ended those empires, even while operating at the extreme end of the longest logistics train to that point in history. Also while not really even trying to end them, they were mostly in it for the gold.

    Your current crop of Ivory Tower idiots are pleased to call this “colonialism” and view it with great alarm. But the simple, observable truth of the archaeological record is that the very worst the Spanish Empire could come up with, while nassssty from our 21st Century perspective, was still better than an average Tuesday afternoon under the Aztec Empire.

    As far as I’m aware, the type of cultures that go in for these vast atrocities and displays of human suffering, they never do well when faced with Western cultures. Historically speaking they lose cohesion very fast. Rule with the consent of the governed is simply more productive and more efficient than rule by fear.

    1. And California, or some school districts, are by reports, teaching about the “Noble Aztec” culture. Yet the surviving Mayans, and other pre Spanish/European emigrants, in Mexico and points further south are appalled. Exterminating the Aztec practices is still considered a civic benefit, at minimum.

      1. An Aztec prayer was apparently part of a course curriculum. Fortunately, it got removed after the uproar.

        This time.

        The complete lack of awareness on the topic of Meso-America was driven home to me in a video game level (in Age of Empires 3, for the curious) that had you -as a European – defending the holy places of various local nations, including the Aztecs, from generic Conquistadors.

        Realistically? He would have burned the places down himself.

        1. “If the Spaniards of the day found your culture so appalling savage, such that they though it should be completely destroyed… your culture probably deserved it.”

    2. To be fair, in Mexico it was the Spanish and maybe as many as 100,000 non-Aztec Indians who put an end to the Mexica. The Aztecs were not quite universally beloved by their subject tribes, let alone recently beaten enemies like the Tlaxcalans.

    3. Apparently someone coined the term “deicide” [deity-cide] to describe the Spanish “killing off” Aztec and other Latin American deities. To which I say “good riddance.” When something is so over the top that even the neighbors (who practice human sacrifice) are appalled and are willing to help the Spanish eliminate the Aztecs, weeeeelllllll . . .

      The Inca were pretty serious about eliminating other cultures, too, just not quite as efficient. (Granted, they only had a century or so before smallpox led to civil war just before Pizarro and Friends got there.)

    4. The Aztecs were… eh, mass psychosis springs to mind.
      Yet — Cortez described Teotihuacan as the most beatiful, cleanest and well run city in the world.

      1. Could easily have been cast as a chivalric romance: knights off to a faroff land with a magical city that proves to be run by evil sorcerers.

        1. Wasn’t the 16th century’s version of ‘Lord of the Rings’ far and away the most popular book in Spain at the time? I refer to ‘Amadis of Gaul’ which I recall as having armies of barbarian warriors, diabolic sorcerers, lust-crazed naked Amazons in a country where gold nuggets lay about in such profusion as to be a traffic hazard, and everything else that appealed to young men back then and later.

          I also recall Bernal Diaz in his book about the Conquest mentioning the size and beauty of Tenochtitlan, and of being horrified when shown the Templo Mayor. Especially the inner temple chambers where human blood was caked on the walls.

    5. I think it says more than they intended when TPTB in San Jose, Cali-f’n-ornia commissioned a sculpture of Quetzalcoatl. They’re quite proud of it…

      1. That sculpture looks like a large brown deposit on the sidewalk, a gift from a large dog. It should be in San Francisco. It would fit right in. They angered the artist, and he gave them something that looks like s… Appropriate for both the left and aztecs.

      2. I’ve seen it at the hotel I used to attend Further Confusion at. Maybe I’ve seen too much lousy modern art but it didn’t look too bad. And at least Quetzalcoatl was the main Aztec god opposed to human sacrifice, so it’s not like they put up a statue to Tezcatlipoca or Xipe Totec.

        I also notice with some amusement that it’s maybe a block or two from a very large and beautiful Catholic church. Tourists and Anglos gather around the Quetzalcoatl statue, while the Latinos are all down by the front doors of the church.

        1. If I remember the more recent research, he wasn’t opposed to human sacrifice– just didn’t demand as much of it, and preferred blood to hearts.

          Think more on par with some of the neighboring groups’ human sacrifice demands, instead of huge numbers of deaths.

            1. Not mistake! Slightly outdated information isn’t a mistake, especially when it’s still mostly accurate. I’m almost POSITIVE that as recently as the 70s, the very serious researchers believed he opposed death-related sacrifices– based in part on him having shed his own blood to raise folks, so he “only” wanted blood sacrifice. Pretty sure he’s one of the send-a-drowned-person-to-talk-to guys, kind of like how the… Inca? … sent drugged maidens to the mountain top, but only one at a time, not in job lots.

              Just got more detail, and clarification, over time– not something for you to be sorry for, though heaven knows that they had stuff to be sorry for, when “he only wanted a little human sacrifice” really does make someone a relatively nice god for a culture.

            2. I OD’d on Aztecs a bit when I was a teen, can remember even in the 80s and 90s some non-fluffy sources were saying he wanted flowers.

  19. Oh dear.

    A mention of a moment of discomfort over the horse and rider display.

    And I am still busting out laughing out loud, scare the cat again, over the prior thread quip:

    “Saint Tepes of the Artificial Forest”

    odd-squared, I just don’t fit -anywhere-

      1. Hopefully the heros don’t have to invoke some sort of “Hoyden Forest Service”:

        You knock them down, we’ll stand them up again.

        Or perhaps,

        You Toll ’em. We’ll pole ’em.

  20. I’ve been doing my own dive into prehistory, although I’ve been looking at Africa more than Europe or Asia. Even still, the imaginary idyllic society of the stone age involved a scramble for survival of extremes of weather and finding reliable sources of water and food that modern man accustomed to air conditioning, plumbing and grocery stores can scarcely imagine. But these are matters of technology. When one compares the Noble Savage Chief who expects to take an escort of retainers into the next life and the modern liberal who speaks casually of using nuclear weapons to quell a domestic insurrection, it’s not so evident that there has been all that much progress in morality or ethics.

    1. Barbarism is the natural state… It takes effort to be moral and ethical. Of course the morally lazy fall back into easy barbarism.

      1. As one of my favorite authors put it: “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”

        As much as I love Robert E. Howard, I sincerely hope he was wrong on this. But I wonder.

        1. It all depends on definitions. For example, some people think sh*tting in drinking water is civilized. 🙂

        2. I see your Robert E. Howard and raise you a Robert A. Heinlein:

          “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

          This is known as “bad luck.”

        3. If he was right there would never have been a Western Civilization. There is also something in man that seeks something greater. Barbarism is easier, but there are those who build as well.

    2. One need look no farther than the leader of the Official Opposition here in Ontario. Mr. Stephen Del Duca, the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, has been telling anyone who will listen that if he was Premiere the cops would be busting those Freedom Convoy vermin and confiscating their trucks.

      What’s alarming here is that this appalling a-hole thinks he’s going to get elected next time out. He really, seriously thinks that coming out hard-line for vaxx mandates, seizing private property and jailing protesters for the crime of disagreeing with the current public health policy is going to get his party back into power.

      Meanwhile, out here in the Real World, any trip to the grocery store in Ontario will see two or three cars/trucks/tractors with Freedom Convoy signs on them out driving around.

  21. “In pre-historic conditions it was probably merciful”

    Even in the seventies I remember people using the “mercy” argument to justify abortion, quite openly saying those babies were better off dead instead of growing up those families. The pre-historic times definitely aren’t all that far away.

    1. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness.

      It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.
      Flannery O’Connor, “Introduction to a Memoir of Mary Ann”

      Generally paraphrased as “In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber.”

      Or, more concisely, putting folks out of our misery.

          1. No, the fun part, I could only get hold of like 5 of her shorts in Portugal. So when Dan came to propose, he brought library books, for me to read, copy and quote. 😀

            1. >> “So when Dan came to propose, he brought library books, for me to read”

              In other words, he knew your weakness and bribed you to say “Yes.” 😉

  22. I think that Quinn’s Ishmael presents a very good counterargument against the hypothesis that there is something wrong with human nature. Insane cruelties began after civilization came into being. And having looked into this in excruciating detail, I can attest that the earliest civilizations show hardworking peaceful people. Look into Caral, or Catal Huyuk, or the Cucuteni (who were swept away by the brutal Kurgan). There is evidence that even Sumerians governed themselves bottom up in the early days, and women played an importat part. Later, of course, we have slaughter-funerals there, mostly women…mass human sacrifice seems also to have accompanied the early proto-state formations, like the Cahokia. The Cahokians had whole villages of women meant to be sacrificed at some future festival.

    It is on the other hand quite true that in tribal days, despots were rare. People in leadership were closely watched, and removed or dispatched if power went to their heads. And psychopaths were known, and rarely reached reproductive age. The Yupik Eskimos called them kunlangeta. In terms of game theoryl, it all makes sense. So I lean toward the theory that says tribal societies worked very well, politically speaking, and quality of life was high (other things being equal).

    This has nothing to do with the Noble Savage theory or the creep Rousseau. 🙂

    1. i disagree, there’s plenty of evidence for human cruelty even in large scales from before that, and some pretty strong evidence of tribes being ruled by despots.

      1. Human cruelty always existed. Lage scale human cruelty and institutionalized war goes hand in hand with latter-day civilization, If you want to disagree, please give references

        A clarification: when I say tribal, I mean prehistorical tribes or bands. Latter-day tribes have been a mixed bag, ranging from egalitarian groupings like the San all the way to tribal kingdoms.

        Yanomamo are now thought to have been uprooted and hunted by rubber tappers and reduced to a wretched existence. Something like the Ik except still in the jungle.

        1. there’s plenty of evidence for large-scale inter-tribal warfare ‘before civilization’ or in areas that civilization was basically unknown… like, grave sites for entire villages among native americans while columbus was in diapers.

          1. Draven: There is a difference between institutional warfare and intertribal skirmishes that have existed since time immemorial. The first archeological remains of a massacre is from about 11k years ago… about half a small village perished (I think 27 people). Somewhere in the near east.

            1. I recommend for your enlightenment “War Before Civilization” by Lawrence H. Keeley, ISBN-13 978-0-19-51 1912-I, Oxford University Press, 1996. Available on Amazon in papar, hardcover and Kindle. *Lots* of well-documented examples, with cites, from all over the planet. Enjoy! (Peaceful primitives, my aching butt…)

          2. Or read War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage”:

            The myth of the peace-loving “noble savage” is persistent and pernicious. Indeed, for the last fifty years, most popular and scholarly works have agreed that prehistoric warfare was rare, harmless, unimportant, and, like smallpox, a disease of civilized societies alone. Prehistoric warfare, according to this view, was little more than a ritualized game, where casualties were limited and the effects of aggression relatively mild. Lawrence Keeley’s groundbreaking War Before Civilization offers a devastating rebuttal to such comfortable myths and debunks the notion that warfare was introduced to primitive societies through contact with civilization (an idea he denounces as “the pacification of the past”).

            Building on much fascinating archeological and historical research and offering an astute comparison of warfare in civilized and prehistoric societies, from modern European states to the Plains Indians of North America, War Before Civilization convincingly demonstrates that prehistoric warfare was in fact more deadly, more frequent, and more ruthless than modern war. To support this point, Keeley provides a wide-ranging look at warfare and brutality in the prehistoric world. He reveals, for instance, that prehistorical tactics favoring raids and ambushes, as opposed to formal battles, often yielded a high death-rate; that adult males falling into the hands of their enemies were almost universally killed; and that surprise raids seldom spared even women and children. Keeley cites evidence of ancient massacres in many areas of the world, including the discovery in South Dakota of a prehistoric mass grave containing the remains of over 500 scalped and mutilated men, women, and children (a slaughter that took place a century and a half before the arrival of Columbus). In addition, Keeley surveys the prevalence of looting, destruction, and trophy-taking in all kinds of warfare and again finds little moral distinction between ancient warriors and civilized armies. Finally, and perhaps most controversially, he examines the evidence of cannibalism among some preliterate peoples.

            Keeley is a seasoned writer and his book is packed with vivid, eye-opening details (for instance, that the\ homicide rate of prehistoric Illinois villagers may have exceeded that of the modern United States by some 70 times). But he also goes beyond grisly facts to address the larger moral and philosophical issues raised by his work. What are the causes of war? Are human beings inherently violent? How can we ensure peace in our own time? Challenging some of our most dearly held beliefs, Keeley’s conclusions are bound to stir controversy.

            It’s a scholar’s monograph, with plenty of footnotes and citations.

            1. Yes, and a well known work, Keeley. Not uncontroversial. (Very true re cannibalism.)

              The question is, have these brutal conflicts began only when humans got crowded enough to have to fight for their livelihoods, or do they go into the paleolithic? In other words, is it our nature, or is it the circumstance we were thrown into with growing population and growing technology/culture/language and the intensification of production?

              Some scholars have posited that we have gone through a long period in our evolution where we began to evolve into ethical beings and were not in any massive conflicts with anyone. That these massive conflicts only began in the Holocene, and in specific conditions. Viz, for example, Hierarchy in the Forest by Christopher Boehm.

              1. “In other words, is it our nature, or is it the circumstance we were thrown into with growing population and growing technology/culture/language and the intensification of production?”

                What’s the most violent portion of society- *any* society? Answer: toddlers. They hit, they kick, they bite, they’re selfish and self centered. They have little to no concept of empathy. That’s human “nature” right there. Civilization is what prevents us from being like that all the time.

                A properly civilized child is taught to be curious, respectful, hard working, moral, and strong enough to defend himself and others. Brutal conflicts need not involve tanks and bombs. They involve people. And a person with the intent to cause harm and little to no conscience *will* brutalize others if not stopped.

                1. But then we gotta define what we are talking about. Are we talking about civilized as enculturated (toddlers are enculturated even in the most primitive tribes) or are we talking about civilized as not “primitive.”

                  1. Given that anyone with any organization has been dubed as too civilized to count by you, I think you don’t get to set the definition.

                    1. ah, she’s okay with “Matriarchal” civilization.
                      Like, oh, well…. every single one of them was lunatic and murderous and eventually put out of its misery before getting really big, but whatevs. Shine on you bizarre diamond.

                    2. I don’t know why people go on about ancient matriarchies. I don’t know any. The closest thing to matriarchy I know about is the Mosuo, and they seem to do fairly well, even face to face with modernity. Last I checked. Though places like ancient Crete are seen as much more women-centered as compared to say Greece.

                    3. I don’t know why people go on about ancient matriarchies.

                      Because you’re making from the “these early groups were peaceful matriarchies” theory people.

                    4. 1) You brought up Gimbuta as your primary source that was part of her thesis especially in her later work. You invoked the package.
                      2) every time we’ve brought up examples you’ve rejected them as too civilized except where people were “much more women-centered” then even if they had the SAME tech level and organizational capacity they counted. maybe not full matriarchy but sure seems like you one of the marks of your perfect not-civilization is women in promenance. And before you say you didn’t say that:
                      “Though places like ancient Crete are seen as much more women-centered as compared to say Greece.”

                      Why do they count in your ideal sphere and technologically equivelent places NOT count?

                    5. Your thesis is that it was the rise of civilization that made people nasty. Yet you define civilization as the people who are nasty which is begging the question.

                    6. Fox: “Because you’re making from the “these early groups were peaceful matriarchies” theory people.”

                      You just made that up. Nice going.

                    7. See my comment about your invocation on Gimbutas and your assumptions that anything more favorable to women fell in ‘tribal’ and anything less favorable fell into ‘civilized’ even for similar recharge and organizational levels

                    8. Fox: “Because you’re making from the “these early groups were peaceful matriarchies” theory people.”

                      You just made that up. Nice going.

                      Foxfier says:February 9, 2022 at 3:30 pm

                      This is a text based discussion.

                      You can’t pull the “I never said that” nonsense very effectively in such a situation.

                      Aha. So I say I got some info from Gimbutas, and you turn it into me claiming “peaceful matriarchies.”

                      Nice going. Am I supposed to take anything you say seriously?

                    9. For the majority of the conversation she was the ONLY source you cited. How are we supposed to take you as anything but an ignorant troll?

                    10. If you didn’t want us to think you were citing her whole oeuvre then you should have actually been at least as specific as you’re trying to whine at us to be.

                      Squence of events:
                      You make the claims that we’re wrong because you KNOW and based on a work of fiction. And demand that if we argue we provide citations you have not provided.

                      You are called on it. You whine and provide Gimbutas as your sole academic citation. Your other citation? Wikipedia and not even a specific article.

                      You are again called on your double standard and procede to whine and pitch fits about how unfairly we’re treating you but we totally have to take your word on it.

                      We take that citation (Gimbutas’s entire oeuvre) as your citation. Since that’s what you’ve presented.

                      You continue to reject anything brutal as done by civilization, citing treatment of women as evidence of ‘tribal’ nature even from technologically and organizationally similar cultures (the Crete conversation) You dismiss out of hand those who have experience in your own field (Dan Lane) because they don’t’ agree with you. Insisting your right.

                      Several hours and citations as well as real world examples later. You FINALLY provide a single citation and not in the conversation where it is requested (Boehm).

                      We have, meanwhile built an argument against what you’ve said based on the citations you have leaned (Gimbutas) that you have now tried to dissavow ever having done.

                      And you have the unmitigated gall to say it is we who are arguing in bad faith? Really?

                    11. You claim to not know why people are going on about peaceful matriarchies.

                      When several people point out that it is because you keep hammering on the folks who claim peaceful matriarchies, you claim that you did no such thing and falsely accuse me of having invented the notion.

                      When a direct link to you doing exactly that is provided, you try to brush it off, and for a third time make a false accusation.

                      If you truly believe you are being misunderstood, you could avoid it by forming a coherent argument, with specific citations and a logical chain of reasoning, and engaging rationally with those who answer you.

                      Instead, you accused the guy who put quite a bit of time and trouble into formatting an easy to read, careful and coherent response of “ranting,” and then tried to browbeat him– and then complain when anyone else is anything less than the height of civilized manners!

                2. Ah, so *that* is where she lifted the sudden notion of trying to come at me about ‘enculturation’ as a toddler.

                  I make her feel bad, so….

        2. Oh, boy. Let’s break this down a bit.

          “Human cruelty always existed.”

          Yes, it has. The capacity for evil exists within every human heart. We are born tiny savages and it is only through proper upbringing and moral training that we grow into civilized beings. Infants and toddlers are not born with an innate sense of morality. Source: any parent. Ask them.

          “Lage (sic) scale human cruelty and institutionalized war goes hand in hand with latter-day civilization, If you want to disagree, please give references.”

          We’ve already said that humans have the capacity for cruelty (and evil, I would argue), and that has already existed. Large scale cruelty? Would any of the tribes in the pre-Columbus Americas count? Human sacrifice, slavery, rape, and so on were common parts of warfare, not just in pre-industrial Europe. I count those as cruelties.

          With the rise of Christendom, human sacrifice became less common. But warfare, raids, and the like continued to be commonplace. Banditry involved quite a bit of cruelty. Are you familiar with the Barbary Pirates? Nasty business that, and banditry/piracy has been a part human history for as far back as we *have* history. They’re not a product of latter-day civilization, they’re a driving force TOWARDS civilization. Look up the history of the post-colonial Navy and Marine corps sometime.

          A clarification: when I say tribal, I mean prehistorical tribes or bands. Latter-day tribes have been a mixed bag, ranging from egalitarian groupings like the San all the way to tribal kingdoms.

          Right. Prehistorical tribes or bands- you mean the ones before we have written records of them? Would you count the Aztec, those lovable heart stealers, as pre-historical when they were happily warring with everybody else long before the Spanish decided to crash the party? Or are they too organized for your taste? How about all those mass graves we’ve found in the States with entire villages scalped and dismembered? Crow Creek dates back to around 1325. 1492 > 1395, bub.

          The most violent era in the Southwest we know of happened before Europeans even set foot on these shores. Or what else would you call a population of 40,000 individuals spread across several village sites with greater than 80% showing trauma indicative of violence? Cracked skulls and forearms, burned out defensive structures and so on. From ages ZERO to thirty on average. Mesa Verde looks to have been a bloodbath in the mid 1100s, based on the archaelogical record. And I don’t care who you are, murdered kids is an insane cruelty.

          If we’re going to throw out Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Persian Wars, and so on because they were too literate, keep in mind that mass graves positively *litter* the archaeological record for a long. Time. Back. Or are you arguing that the Africans that left a pile of riddled corpses were too civilized back in 12,000 BCE? Or Nataruk around 10,000 BCE?

          There’s a reason that ‘tribal psychology’ in common parlance refers to a very xenophobic ‘us vs. them’ mindset. Cruelty and violence are *not* the exclusive property of the state, they are inherent in every human mind. Primitive peoples had just as much (if not more) propensity for said behavior. Caral, or Catal Huyuk, or the Cucuteni do not sweep away the brutal violence that the archaeological record shows us.

          1. Dan: Nice rant, thank you. 🙂
            I don’t see where we much differ.

            I count the Aztecs and Incas and others as part of the various civilizations as they evolved, not as mere tribes. There were many proto-civilizations as well, and some quite peaceful and as far as one can tell, based on voluntarism. They are the ones that interest me. In the New World, Caral and the Pueblo culture are the ones I know about.

            Yes, I am familiar with the blood bath that unfolded after the Chaco Canyon proto-civilization (not one of the peaceful ones but rather a warning to posterity) crashed and burned.

            I think that in the days when tribes were small and dispersed and could watch and eliminate their psychopathic or seriously personality disturbed indivdiduals and the earth provided plenty for all, intertribal violence was minor, and tribal self-governance worked reasonably well for all.

            “All men want to rule, but when they cannot, they’d rather be equal.” Cheers.

                1. Fair point. And, of course, for that credulity level nothing pre-civilization is bad enough to qualify as atrocity-atrocities. Even if the upfront casualties are 50% or higher.

                    1. Erin honey, if you’re going to come to me attacking civilization and praising tribal life, getting an earful of folks who disagree with you based on existing sources is a kindness. You said earlier that you don’t see where we much differ. Then let me be clear:

                      You don’t get to admit cruelty is endemic to the human condition and *then* ascribe it to “civilization.”

                      Sweetie, you’re bringing Gimbutas to the party and disregarding a mountain of evidence to the contrary of your theory. Tiny, isolated tribes are *vulnerable* and while they do not have the opportunity to engage in genocide unless it is against themselves, they *aren’t* exempt from insane cruelty because the capacity for such exists within every single human being. The archaeological record supports that. The sources provided here support that.

                      And to further illuminate, when I say “civilization” I mean that particular American brand of Western Civilization that promotes individual liberty, responsibility, and a high trust culture. Tribal culture ain’t all that great. Ask anyone with in person experience with tribal culture. Ask the vets and currently serving military, if you are brave. Expect an earful.

                      If you’re going to narrow it down to only tribes that were isolated and say *they* had control of their psychopaths and lived a peaceful life, it’s still bullshit. Is it possible for some tribes, for certain time periods, to experience no insane cruelty (absent the cruelties of nature)? Sure. Is that a *common* theme in the history of humanity, written and pre-history? No.

                      And mark me well, I’m not giving you all doom and gloom. Negativity bias is a thing in psychology. So let’s give civilization some love, eh?

                      Every day now around 175,000 are pulled from poverty. Absolute poverty. Less than $2 a day, adjusted for price changes over time and price differences between countries (source: Max Roser of Oxford Uni and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina of Our World In Data). Industrialization has brought a greater proportion of the global population out of poverty to better health and education, not just economic improvement than anything else, bar none. It’s not even a contest.

                      Famines are becoming a thing of the past. Outside of war zones, they’ve all but disappeared. Famines and hunger in tribal societies has historically been *much* more common. Didn’t the horrors of Chaco Canyon arise from a local famine? If not, there are a bunch more you could shake a stick at that we know of. The fact that there is less hunger on a global scale in an important variable to consider when looking at possible atrocity.

                      Civilization is what allows women the *most* freedom and safety they’ve had in the entire history of there being human women. Bar none. Not even a contest. Civilization has laws. Tribes have custom and tradition. They also don’t have modern medicine. Or good hygiene. Western Civilization is also incredibly non-xenophobic. Tribalism is very commonly xenophobic.

                      If you’ve ever experienced an amoral familist culture, you’ve touched on common tribalism. Me against my brother. Me and my brother against my cousin. Me, my brother, and my cousin against the world. Rule of law is not a thing in tribal culture. Tradition, strength, and custom is. Outsiders are not easily trusted, if at all. Heck, trust itself is seen as incredibly foolish.

                      And lastly, “institutional warfare” has laws of war. Any vet could tell you a bit about that. There are ROEs that soldiers operate under to prosecute war that is not *total* war. you don’t get that with intertribal warfare. That’s war to the knife, kill, rape, pillage, then burn the corpses. It is larger in scale, but human cruelty is the business of humans. They don’t magically become docile when restricted to the level of the tribe- far from it, by what we’ve seen.

                      Also, I wouldn’t call my words a rant. Dearie when I rant, you’ll know it. It includes quite a bit of much more colorful language.

                    2. Tribal culture ain’t all that great. Ask anyone with in person experience with tribal culture. Ask the vets and currently serving military, if you are brave.

                      Ask the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ who have done charity medical work in those ‘idyllic’ tribal areas how many of their patients were victims of tribal atrocities. The few survivors, anyway.

                      Only Western civilized societies even HAVE ‘Doctors Without Borders’. The very concept is alien to tribal societies.
                      When reality doesn’t conform to your theories, it’s not the universe that’s wrong.

                    3. Talk to one Private Musoke, with whom I went to basic training. She was American because her village in Africa (never said where, I have guesses) was raided by a rival tribe. She was barely 5ft tall when I knew her as a grown woman, at the time she was 14. Running with an infant under each arm. She never said if they were siblings, nieces, or just the neighbor’s kids. It was the women, the old, and the young running. All the men who could fight… did. I got the impression she had no surviving adult male relatives.

                      But because she was small and carrying a lot she was in the back. And the rival tribe was gaining. She was pretty sure she was about to get shot, because she could feel the dirt kicked up hitting her feet when someone in a uniform popped out of the tall grass and started shooting the people shooting at them. Then he vanished again. After that every time the other tribe got close, someone popped up out of the grass to shoot them until what was left of her village was safe. She found out exactly one thing about the men who saved her: They were Americans. Why was she in the army? Because, while she wasn’t infantry material, she was going into supply so someone else could pop up out of the grass for some other poor villager about to be murdered.

                      They need to tell me again how civilization is a BAD thing and tribes are so wonderful.

                    4. She found out exactly one thing about the men who saved her: They were Americans. Why was she in the army? Because, while she wasn’t infantry material, she was going into supply so someone else could pop up out of the grass for some other poor villager about to be murdered

                      :tearing up, salutes:

                    5. “You don’t get to admit cruelty is endemic to the human condition and *then* ascribe it to “civilization.””

                      I never said that.
                      Thank you for your condescension.

                    6. Yes Erin, I do. Your own words:

                      “Human cruelty always existed. Lage scale human cruelty and institutionalized war goes hand in hand with latter-day civilization,”

                      Are your words, not mine. For clarity’s sake, let’s review just a bit.

                      You open your comments here with a reference to Quinn’s Ishmael. I don’t care that it’s fiction, we quote Heinlein and Kipling around here so that’s no problem. It so happens that you use that to make a very anti-civilizational comment:

                      “Insane cruelties began after civilization came into being. And having looked into this in excruciating detail, I can attest that the earliest civilizations show hardworking peaceful people… “

                      While allowing that:

                      It is on the other hand quite true that in tribal days, despots were rare. People in leadership were closely watched, and removed or dispatched if power went to their heads. And psychopaths were known, and rarely reached reproductive age. The Yupik Eskimos called them kunlangeta. In terms of game theoryl, it all makes sense. So I lean toward the theory that says tribal societies worked very well, politically speaking, and quality of life was high (other things being equal).”

                      Problem one: You didn’t read the room. You could have approached this better, defining your position and noting where we agree, and where we do not. Quinn’s Ishmael is also a political work. Again, not an issue in and of itself- Starship Troopers is quite political in places. But anti-civilization and pro-peaceful-tribal-life appears to be your position.

                      Problem two: A demand for references when you’ve insufficiently defended your position. Large scale cruelty and institutionalized war are what you’ve decried as bad things. Tribal life as good. Yet even if we accepted that large scale cruelty and institutionalized war are the *fault* of civilization (which we do not), you’ve advanced no solutions.

                      We can agree on a few points, I think. Murder, torture, famine, and rape are bad things. On this you’ll find very few disagreements. Here, we believe in personal responsibility. Very strictly in that, in point of fact. That means that murders are the explicit responsibility of murderers and so on. Further, that does not hold those that knowingly order the murders blameless- the UCMJ is pretty clear on that, too. As well as civil law.

                      Thus no arguments over the Barbary Pirates or the Aztecs and the like. You ascribe this to them being civilizations, therefore they can’t help but enact large scale cruelties and institutionalized war. I ascribe it to cultural issues, as a civilization based on raiding and slaving (Barbary Pirates) is not very civil, nor is a good political structure. Human sacrifice is also bad in and of itself- it did not arise spontaneously once a certain level of civilization was reached, that was the result of religious beliefs and culture. A *specific* culture.

                      Again, personal responsibility. Can one be born into a dysfunctional culture and become a moral person? Absolutely! Damned hard, that, but with enough will and determination it is possible. Helps to have a good example, and proper education, though. There might have been praiseworthy Aztecs that didn’t believe that ripping the hearts out of other living human beings was a good thing, but you hardly hear about them if so. Aztec culture was quite seriously messed up. Those that did the sacrificing bear the moral guilt of that. Those that willingly supported it and thought it good bear the responsibility for their own actions as well.

                      Problem three: While we do advocate small government and personal responsibility, the consequence of going back to tribal life is either immense technological leap forward or mass death. Or, since we’re spec fic nerds, aliens. And civilized life is pretty darned good anyway. That much should be obvious, but feel free to disagree anyway. I won’t stop you- but I will argue with you.

                      Problem four: The Gimbutas argument. While you didn’t praise her to the high heavens, tagging her as a source uncritically is instructive. We can agree that her later work goes off the rails. There’s theorizing based on physical remains and potsherds, there’s wishcasting that doesn’t make it to the published work, and then there’s flat out making stuff up out of whole cloth. She’s famous for it. The jump from peaceful tribal to peaceful matriarchy is a jump but it ain’t all that big of one, considering uncritical mention of Gimbutas.

                      If you don’t accept her wilder theories I’ll accept that. But I hope you’ll be more careful in the future on that one.

                      You’ve tsk’d and derided the comments of others without addressing the substance of their arguments. We can disagree, but to argue honestly you have to claim a position, define your argument, and address evidence to the contrary. Your claims of tribal peacefulness have been rebutted many times. You haven’t addressed any virtues of civilization that might run counter to your narrative or faults of tribal life, the same.

                      I will accept that I’ve condescended to you. I have. When I’m defending civilization, I am quite proud to do so. Craft your arguments better and more honestly. Look into sources that don’t agree with the theory you hold in your heart. I’ll take Locke, Voltaire, and Heinlein over Malthus, Marx, and Quinn any day.

                    7. Dan, I just read your long reply and I appreciate your more measured tone. I will take time to think about what you say, and respond thoughtfully to your thoughtful response.

                      Right off the bat, I want to clear what may be a misunderstanding.

                      ““You don’t get to admit cruelty is endemic to the human condition and *then* ascribe it to “civilization.””

                      Note that I acribed ^massive* cruelty to civ (and not even all civs; I mentioned some that were not like that, and I see them as continuation, for a time, of what went before). It’s kinda like the difference between a cold and lung cancer. There was a time when things went haywire, is what I believe, and I have been preoccupied with finding out why. And it was emphatically NOT when civ began, that’s the interesting part. It’s as though the civ project went malignant at some point. Not all of it, of course. But enough to land us today in some deep manure.

                      I am not anti-civ. I am for more civilized civ. For a while it looked as though the barbarians here would smother all discussion. Perhaps not all is lost, and I will write soon.

                    8. Explaining complex topics in clear, simple language is a worthy goal for anyone who wants to communicate. Maybe your words did not express your intent such that other people could understand it. Happens to all of us. I tend to take a lot of words to get a point across. Consequence of too much academia, perhaps.

                      If you want to reply to a specific post, it helps to use WordPress’ reader function. Top left, click on the comment bubble on the post you’re following, then expand the comments (it will show 10/400 or something. Click on that). That way you can reply directly in deeply nested trees and folks you are replying to will get a notification.

                      Re: barbarians, I don’t care if you address me poorly, but the ladies I assume you are referring to deserve better from you. Foxfier is blunt, but she’s a good friend that’s willing to call folks out on their bullcrap. That is a valuable thing to have in a friend. Ask Ian how he started out with Foxfier. If you think she’s got something wrong, address the issue directly. Maybe you didn’t get your point across clearly, maybe she finds she got something wrong. We are none of us perfect here, but we always try to be better people.

                      Wyrdbard is an intelligent and incisive woman. She is quite adept at picking apart arguments and relaying things in a clear, easily understood manner that I believe is worth emulating. Again, try and address the issue completely and with an open mind.

                      Accordingtohoyt is the boss here. It’s her site. She’s very American in spirit, but wasn’t born here. A more passionate defender of liberty you won’t easily find, I would say that she has a unique and valuable perspective and is well worth listening to. She also writes some pretty good books, and that’s what started the website, as I recollect.

                      If all of us have misinterpreted your true intent, chances are that what we read didn’t convey it well. That happens. Tsks and LOLs aren’t effective communication. Bob’s analysis of things comes from his own unique perspective, and while his conclusions may often be disturbing, he is worth listening to as well.

                      A thick skin is required and some humility suggested to navigate the internet when you put your foot in it, and not just here. Take your time and think on it. If your theory is that civilization has been growing more malignant over time, pick out some specifics and work forward from there. Dig into first sources, check the angles- like Machiavelli and the Medici, there may be more complex reasons than bare facts for what is reported.

                      For a resource that is pro civilization, you may look at this:

                      Jordan Peterson discusses the book 10 Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know with its author. It’s useful because the stats are public and easily researched. There is nuance there (especially #9), and that is worth digging into as well. Don’t accept my premises or anyone’s uncritically, research things for yourself.

                      If you want to pursue that theory and keep an open mind, you might be surprised where it takes you.

                    9. Ian’s an excellent example– he keeps trying, and it’s clear he wants to convey information, at least most of the time. (There’s humor, too, not sure that counts as information.)

                      We may not *agree*, but by gum by the end of it we do UNDERSTAND what the other side is saying!

                    10. Humor counts as important information. A sense of humor is essential to every rational human being, I think. And being able to laugh at oneself has the virtue to stopping one from getting too full of oneself.

                      …I don’t think I’d want to know me if I couldn’t laugh at myself. That’d be weird.

                      But yeah, communication. Our host, TXRed and several others are polylingual. Being able to communicate effectively and be understood (and difficulties thereof) is something such folk *get.* I still think that being able to present complex topics in a clearly understood form (a la Milton Friedman, or Scalia) is a superpower. I wish I could do that.

            1. The earth will very rarely “provide plenty for all”, and in the few cases it does, not for long. (Unless barbaric practices are keeping the population down.)
              There were several missionaries brutally murdered by the tribes of Northern Idaho for objecting to indolence, and the bloody practices that allowed it.

        3. If a hundred people out of every thousand people are killed, it hardly matters whether it’s raids or battles.

    2. Rule from the bottom up, to me, equates to mob rule. That’s bottom up. And women as leaders can be just as greedy, nasty, cruel, and rapacious as men. We’re just sneakier about it.

            1. I suspect it’s more like 50%. Half (about) of all people are women, I would expect half of all psychopaths to be women.

              If you believe women are only half as likely to be psychopaths as men, why? What observations and deductions led you to that conclusion?

      1. Really? I thought rule from the bottom up means rule by respected elders who are directly accountable to the people they lead.

        1. Think about the form that accountability takes– and who is allowed to live to become an elder, much less a respected one. And who goes hungry if they don’t obey the people in charge.

          There are a lot of reasons that people left small towns. A lot of them have first names, and if there were formal titles would have been known as Respected Elder.

          That’s even with legal limits on how much abuse can be dished out.

          1. The Friends church I once belonged to was effectively cleared out by a “Respected Elder”. Yep.

            1. It does happen. But then, why didn’t the people stop him? Tell the story?
              I once almost joined a Friends gathering. Their interminable business meetings about minutiae turned me off. Impecable process, but almost no content.

              1. I’ll not tell much, because it’s too small of a town and some of the Usual Suspects are still around.

                (I’m having a hard time distilling this. It’s still a sore point. Attempt #3 follows).

                The congregation had dwindled to single-digit attendance and falling. The previous minister left under a cloud, partly due to evidence of (not quite-illegal) misconduct unearthed by $RESPECTED_ELDER. $R_E became “acting minister” and did the sermons, while I handled the rest of the service. Pretty much on my own dime.

                I was secretary (picked up from previous-minister’s wife, when they left), and the treasurer was retiring. I dragooned $SPOUSE into doing the treasurer role.

                Before the next board meeting, $SPOUSE was examining the food stash. A lot of short-code and old stuff, and she wanted to give this away to the needy. $R_E objected mightily, wanting a) to control the donations, and b) else, give the food back to the food bank. Not doable, because bulk had been broken into smaller quantities. No resolution. “Control” was a big issue for him. Sigh.

                The board meeting was a disaster. The outgoing treasurer noted that $R_E had been promised a sum of money for filling in when the minister was out. She wanted to continue this. It *wasn’t* financially sound; the bulk of the church’s income was rental of the parsonage, and barring the treasurer’s and our offerings, the weekly take looked like the tip jar at an unpopular diner. See attendance. Another spirited discussion, but he got the money. This was about 3/4s of the monthly income. Ouch.

                Then, $R_E announced to the board that due to “tradition*”, $SPOUSE wasn’t eligible to serve on the board. Not a whisper of this before the meeting, so no chance to do it gracefully. Adding embarrassment to injury, this was done in front of a guest who had been renting space for her service business. $SPOUSE left. Period. I was then treasurer, along with the rest of my stuff. The next meeting, I listened to my heart (literally–AFIB was out of control) and resigned. As I told the yearly honchos, the leaving was “cordial, polite, and final”. I gave them all the information I could think of to get them running on their own. Did gat a call asking about “the music machine”. That was my own laptop computer. I gave them a contact to get a donated one. Don’t think it ever happened.

                I haven’t set foot in there since. (I did not give any details to the Yearly Meeting people. Was still pretty pissed.)

                A few months later, phone call from $CONCERNED_MEMBER. “Pete has to come back, nothing’s getting done.” I didn’t take the call. Would not have gone over at all. The Yearly Meeting people came down a few weeks later, and *something* got resolved for a while, but the congregation finished collapsing, and the property was sold to another church a couple years later.

                Bottom line, $RESPECTED_ELDER had control issues, and no ability to do so effectively.

                (*) See previous secretary.

                1. RCPete: That’s a nasty story. I have heard others so much like it… though not among Quakers. I am sorry you had to go through it. Including the afib. Yish!

                  You say: “So, the potential for abuse is built in with small groups. Correcting that within the group may or may not be possible.”

                  The potential for power abuse is always there, in any size group, no? Well, if it’s not possible to correct in small groups, then how is there any hope in large groups? And I do think it’s possible…. though sometimes, walking away is the only non-violent option that remains.

              2. It does happen. But then, why didn’t the people stop him?

                What is the mechanism you expect to “stop them” in pre-civilization groups?

                  1. Yet another part of this was the remnants of the congregation were those not willing to do things themselves, but were relying on others to step up, regardless of qualifications. Previous minister got the job when his predecessor was looking at retirement. I could have picked up the role given a revolt (unknown if it would have happened), but I knew full well that such a job was a full time one that I never felt I could do well to *my* satisfaction.

                    The best I could do was to tell the Yearly Meeting people that something was wrong, letting them figure out just what the something was. The end result was the dissolving of the congregation, and some years leter the Yearly Meeting went sideways over gay marriage–they’ve had quite the schism from Woke [spit] Quakers, losing about half the congregations in the region.

                1. THIS. Also, have you ever been the kid who calls a teacher on his/her crap? Because the rest of the class is suddenly standing with the teacher. Because they’re scared. even though before you spoke up they were all saying what you said.

                    1. Well, akshully, it does sound like the sort of thing I might be willing to discuss, in principle, with people who are honest and thoughtful.

                      Of course, a significant chunk of the time my MO is to make the case for Horrible Thing D. The regulars who know this, either realize most of why I do this, or are not going to benefit from me providing an explanation.

                      “Yeah, Bob says he has a secret good reason to say those things in favor of a pointless evil plan, but his explanations never made any sense to me. I just ignore him.”

                    2. :laughs:
                      That is a point– heck, most folks here are willing to engage on the subject, if someone is willing to make an argument. Making arguments, and supporting them effectively, is good exercise for the brain.

                      As a baseline selling point, though…. yeah, you propose a bunch of Registered Foolish/crazymadinsane stuff, but you at least bother to work up some kind of an argument for them!

                  1. Ha ha, yeah, calling out the prof when he speaketh bullsh1t. Good times! ~:D

                    Really bad marks though. There are few more vindictive and petty than an Ivory Tower weenie caught spewing BS.

                2. Confrontation, peer pressure, ritual… are the ones I have seen in the lit. Walking away in some cases. Same as among us. I see the difference as — they were keenly alert to power abuse, and ready to act on it. We are not.

                  1. Confrontation: That gets you kicked out of the tribe and dead.

                    Peer Pressure: from whom? The Elder is the one apportioning resources. Unless it gets bad enough the whole tribe revolts together (that’s REALLY ugly) or the person in question is, themselves, utterly critical to the tribe’s survival and the tribe is MORE scared of loosing them than the elder Elder they’ll side with the elder. They’re AWARE of abuse alright and want it to be directed at someone else, often anyone else.

                    Ritual: Only if there’s a ritual to cover it.

                    Walking away: Taking your life in your hands and probably dying in short order. There’s a reason exile is considered a death sentence in most tribal situations.

                    Try again without making your tribal people paragons of perfection which the record does not support.

                  2. So, the things that you admit do not work in any example that can actually be identified, worked before “civilization.”

                    A civilization you already stated was practicing execution of those who may be a problem, including children.

                    You appear to be using a lot of terms in ways which the English language does not.

                    1. I will admit that I was not enculturated into the same culture she seems to have embraced– and thank God for that! MY culture is functional!

                  3. You and, and maybe also the lit, are nuts.

                    Modern agriculture makes calories cheap, makes it a lot more practical to tolerate seriously divergent thought and feeling.

                    Moderns using an attempt at the tools of an ancient hunter, or an ancient gatherer, can keep themselves alive when working territory secured by the ‘warband’ that is a modern state supplied by modern agriculture.

                    Individuals competing against /groups/ of hunter gatherers will do poorly. And individuals /would/ be competing against groups.

                    Modern agriculture with a market economy fairly reliably produces cheap surpluses. Agriculture, generally, is somewhat less random than gathering, and more consistently predictable. For hunting and gathering, the calories within a territory available for exploitation are a bit random. Where or when it is randomly high, group populations grow. Bands split, and less well fed bands on less valuable territory start looking attractive as people to displace. Or, running off or killing individuals who have been living on marginal territory, that a well fed band has manpower to exploit now. When hunting and gathering in a territory is randomly low, a previously well fed band is also going to be looking for new places to try exploiting.

                    The “LOL, bands just controlled births/growth rate” is an argument that is very nearly self impeaching. Controlling growth is a behavior that is not penalized if and only if every group has that behavior. If only some groups have that behavior, the groups without that behavior will displace them and drive them off. There was zero mechanism for enforcing that behavior across a large group of bands. The behavior of enforcing behavior across a large group of bands is empire. You don’t have that behavior where you don’t have empires. There may have been small empires among hunter gatherers, but none so large as to provide the level of control that is speculated to have existed.

                    Crossing the group now is somewhat safe, and few do it. This is because ‘crossing the group’, generally, is a very unsafe behavior. It would have been very unsafe in very small bands where everyone knew each other, and could watch carefully for signs of dissent. There are actual morally licit reasons to make sure that strange people do not survive. Not doing is counter survival when calories are tight. Successful bands of hunter gatherers would have included a number acting on illicit grounds in addition to licit. Folks would have been careful /not/ to be thrown out of bands, and hence very careful not to be seen exhibiting wrong thought.

                    In conclusion, Erin: 1. Go F&ck yourself. 2. We perhaps should consider how many nutritional calories we are allowing ‘scholars’ of archeology and anthropology access to, given that some of them are determined to undermine the success of our band in holding territory and in extracting calories from it.

                    1. Knowing the future animal calories from a territory requires knowing the future vegetable calories from a territory.

                      Knowing the future vegetable calories of a territory requires knowing the future weather of a territory.

                      Nobody knows the future weather of a territory. Not on the time scales required for planning population size. Modern agriculture basically changes things so that you can tend to have a surplus despite not knowing the weather.

                      Lots of academic fields are f&cked up, due to being multidisciplinary in bad ways. IE, borrowing ideas from other fields that the fields in question have finally realized are invalid, then the borrowing fields never learn the original fields deeply enough to realize that the borrowed ideas are invalid.

                      Archeology and anthropology, may be bad in another way. This ‘planning information test’ is multidisciplinary, and requires information from outside the mainstream consensus in several fields, or so obvious in certain fields that they never discuss it in scholarship. Archeology and anthropology may have spent so much time in their individual silos that they haven’t realized that they have gone provably nuts. Game theory, economics, information science, and meteorology.

                      The counterargument to my case is ‘ancient hunter gathers obtained information magically’, which is the sort of thing anthropologists are biased towards taking seriously.

                    2. Bob: “Erin: 1. Go F&ck yourself.”

                      How decisively perspicacious of you. LOL
                      Amazing. So many here defending civilization by being uncivilized. Quite the show.

                    3. You’re attacking civilization, hun. With shoddy sources, poorly crafted arguments, and… LOL’s? I have not the slightest issue with you living out your fantasy, so long as it harms none but you. Form a tribe with a group of like minded fellows. Claim an island, or buy a plot of land, whatever suits your fancy legally.

                      But don’t expect sweet acceptance when you attack civilization. Civilized people will oppose you. And, since you’re not interested in icky civilization, you hear some bad words? That’s quite predictable, I’d imagine.

                    4. Oh, how tiresome to play the civility BS card. Curious how that’s only directed at one side.

                      Why don’t you go play in a freeway?

                    5. No, because they had post partum taboos for the entire time. That’s, unlike nursing, entirely reliable.

                      One anthropologist noted that he had a hard time believing it but informants would admit to violating every other sexual taboo except the post partum one.

          2. And “legal limits” tend to get flexible when R_E_s are involved. Especially in small towns.

        2. Elders get to decide who replaces them. Not every old person becomes a Elder (as in leader). Just being old doesn’t put one in a position of power in a political structure. And if the Elder had a childhood beef with your grandmother, how do you think you’re going to be treated?

          1. Ornery: “Elder” is merely a designation for “wise ones.” Leadership material.

            “And if the Elder had a childhood beef with your grandmother, how do you think you’re going to be treated?”

            That depends on the sanity of the rest of the tribe. And if they are in cahoots with an abusive person, then I can walk away… as the San did, as was common in many tribes. Bands were composed of groups of kith and kin and they could and did break away as a resolution to conflict.

            1. Listen to yourself “Leadership Material”. If the leadership material had a beef with your grandmother you were screwed because the leadership material determined how the resources of the tribe were apportioned. That’s what the leadership material does! Source: The tribes in Iraq (you want the gruesome stories, talk to my husband. hope you like nightmares), other sources, go read Peter Grant’s account of tribal practices in Africa, or talk to David Freer about the same. No I’m not going to do your homework for you. You’ve provided a single citation for a single nut job and a work of fiction. You’ve gotten several scholarly articles and rebuttles from several here, directly countering you. Including at least one archeologist (Dan Lane) and a historian (TXRed). I am not aware of Professor Ornery’s specialization. Me? I’m a geologist. At least the rocks don’t lie. There are also several citations (TxRed’s 15,000 years of murder and deathblows as one) scattered throughout the comments thread not directly addressed to you. This place is a wealth of experts on many topics.

              You’ve admitted that Gimbutas’ later work is suspect and that is dominantly where she puts forth the ‘peaceful’ pre-civilization types. So you’re bleating that we haven’t answered your question when you STILL refuse to give an actual book of Gimbutas’s that you recomend for learning about these peaceful civilizations.

            2. It’s more factors than sanity. When the tribe is small enough (see my comments on the collapse of the church above), the pool of prospective elders is small to begin with. 5 years before we left, the church was drawing 30 people. Not horrible, but limited. The Elders really were old, and several passed away. The leadership managed to be unattractive to new members, so by the time I became secretary, there was one person who wanted the position ($RESPECTED_ELDER), and approximately zero who would have been suitable. I do best as second in command. Leading a church congregation isn’t something I feel I would do well at, and it’s at the bottom of my “I’d like to do that” pile. None of the other members expressed interest in running things. “Pete has to come back. Nothing’s getting done.”

              So, the potential for abuse is built in with small groups. Correcting that within the group may or may not be possible.

              1. I call that “Oh, c**p, how did I get to be running this?” I know Now. Learned how to say “No! thank you” and how to walk away.

    3. :looks around this group:

      You know, selling “they killed off children that they thought might become dangerous” as evidence that they didn’t commit insane cruelties will be a rather hard sell with this bunch. Too many of us were the Weird Kids.

      And that’s before the physical evidence of pre-civilization horrors, like slaughtering a family down to the infants, cooking them on their own fire, and shitting out their remains in the hearth, come in. DNA in the preserved human fecal matter. The researchers were wondering why someone would poop in the cooking place.

        1. I’d say it’s the most degrading thing they could think of– similar to the Taliban supposedly feeding a mother her murdered son’s flesh, under the cover of hospitality.

          1. That practice has been around since ancient Greek mythology was written, or longer. It was also regarded as meriting the attention of the Furies. Evil isn’t original.

      1. >> “Too many of us were the Weird Kids.”

        And we didn’t stop being weird when we stopped being kids, did we, Mrs. Kitsune? 😉

        1. Incredibly strange– I’m happily married, and have a whole pack of kids, and practice standard Catholicism, and like the US!
          That makes me unique among my classmates!

    4. Erin, that doesn’t fit with what I read about the Cucuteni, and especially the Trypilia (the eastern branch of the culture). They were having major problems due to a period of climatic change prior to the arrival of the Proto-Indo-European speakers, according to the studies I’ve read. Some of the largest settlements in what is now Ukraine managed to hold on for a while, but eventually they seem to have been absorbed into the arriving culture, or relocated south, into the Balkans.

      Granted, my sources are either in German or are English translations of Romanian and Ukrainian papers and books from the early-mid 2010s, so more recent research might be showing something different.

      1. TXRed: It’s been a while since I looked into the Cucuteni. Regretably, the archeological work that was done in both Rumania and Ukraine kinda ground to a halt in latter-day communism… and so much information is missing. I remember reading they were displaced by the Kurgans but whether directly or after they had already faded… I don’t think the info is there yet.

        I think the remains do clearly show their awesome craftsmanship, advanced house building skills, kilns and rotating pottery wheels (way ahead of anyone else I think). And the circular towns were unique. No sign of fortifications. Oh now I remember, I read that the very last towns did show fortifications, and so some assumeed it was the Kurgans moving west.

          1. Wyrdbard: I have recommended Ishmael as a rebuttal of the argument against human nature. He has nothing whatsoever to say about the Cucuteni et al. 🙂 If you want to study those I recommend doing scholarly searches under Cucuteni and Tripyllia. I first learned about it from Marija Gimbutas. Wiki lists a lot of other works.

            1. You were the one who suggested looking into the Cucuteni in your first comment. What sources do you have that suggest they were all peace love and flowers?

              1. Ornery: When I studied them, I looked for signs of warfare. That is what archeologists looked for in ancient Crete, for example. At the time I studied it, they only found one dagger among all the remains, and no fortifications. Ergo… Same with the Cucuteni. I looked through the available lit and what is provided online by the two museums (one in Ukraine, one in Rumania). Again, the weapons and fortifications were missing.

                As for “peace love and flowers” I cannot help you with that. (Though Cretan frescos seem to have something suggestive to offer in that direction.)

                    1. most of the weapons aren’t going to survive a corrosive environment. ‘sea air’ isn’t good for metals or cut untreated wood.

                    2. Not to get in the way of a good pile-on, but that one doesn’t fly. We have loads of bronze weapons from equally-sea-aired mainland Greece. And all the evidence from art — of which we have plenty — suggests that the (non-Indo-European) Minoans were less warrior/weapon-focused than the coeval (Indo-European) Mycaneans on the mainland, even though they had otherwise near-identical palace-centered cultures. See John Chadwick, The Mycenean World (the guy who assisted in the deciphering of Linear B).

                      Extrapolating from that to say that the Minoans were completely peaceful, or that all non-Indo-Europeans were peaceful and all Indo-Europeans were warlike is a bridge too far, however.

                    3. Weren’t a lot of those preserved by the same folks that passed down the history we have, or found in shipwrecks?

                      I know there’s a big problem with the “was this made by group we know, or someone else” in dating weapons.

                    4. I went to an exhibit at the Museum of Russian Art featuring the Trypillian (sp?) culture. Some fantastic decorative stuff, but i couldn’t help noticing that the bronze tools and weapons were remarkably well-preserved while the iron/steel implements of the folk who displaced them had largely ‘returned to the soil’. Also that many of the invader’s weapons resembled Gladii (Gladiuses?).

                1. . At the time I studied it, they only found one dagger among all the remains, and no fortifications.

                  You DIDN’T NOTICE nearly like a century’s worth of research into the fortifications at Crete, and we’re supposed to believe you’d notice weapons?

                  Was the dagger sticking out of your foot, for you to actually notice it?

                  1. Did they fail to enculturate you as a toddler? Or maybe you think being uncouth is a virtue? LOL

                    1. Since my family and educators taught me how to think, and reason, and gather evidence, then make a rational argument– then clearly yes, they did fail to enculturate me in your brain-washed assumptions where appeal to fiction, well known nonsense and ‘read wikipedia’ somehow is a citation, but pages of specific examples which show the claims to be inaccurate at best are nothing.

                      You made a claim, with appeal to personal experience and expertise, that was in very obvious conflict with even a vague hobbyist’s knowledge of century old facts on the ground, and then try to back it up with this barely coherent nonsense?

                      It becomes clear why you think that civilized people do not recognize abuse– because you attempt to employ it as a method of argument, and you’re terrible at it.

                      Seriously, my ten year old when she needs a nap is better at managing effective jabs; the five year old reaches your level, except he manages to use his words more effectively, and is aware that he is behaving poorly.

                    2. Erin,

                      Your ‘cultural values’ are nonsense, and in a just world you would be killed or driven off from the band.

                      Not being enculturated in your values is a good thing, according to the standards of my culture.

                    3. >> “Did they fail to enculturate you as a toddler? Or maybe you think being uncouth is a virtue? LOL”

                      …Says the girl who’s sounding more and more like a random Twitter troll. I’ll admit I’ve locked horns with Fox a time or two myself, but I’ll still take her idea of manners over yours any day.

                      On a separate note: are you actively TRYING to get yourself banned? Because while I don’t claim to speak for Sarah, I have a hunch you won’t last here if you keep this up.

                    4. then she can claim to all her friends about how she got banned from a far right libertarian blog.

                    5. >> “then she can claim to all her friends about how she got banned from a far right libertarian blog.”

                      Here’s a thought: who cares? She’s just some pathetic nutjob who has nothing better to do with her time than waste ours, and I don’t see how it’s any skin off our backs if she brags to her fellow pathetic nutjobs. I’ve mentioned before that it’s harder to keep up with the increased volume of comments we get these days and I kind of resent having a couple of hundred MORE to wade through because everyone insists on feeding the troll.

                      Here’s my suggestion: temp-ban her for a couple of days. If that doesn’t work, do it again for a week. If she still doesn’t learn then just be done with it and permaban her ass. If she REALLY wants to be a part of this community she’ll tone it down a bit, and if all she wants is to antagonize us then we don’t need her anyway.

                    6. P.S. – Yes, I acknowledge that the low signal-to-noise ratio right now is making me cranky. Sorry about that, but there it is.

                    7. >> “There is no way to temp ban. Actually they’ve made banning massively more difficult last upgrade.”


                      Of course they did.

                      Weren’t you considering changing blog software at one point?

                      >> “Y’all can GAZE”

                      …Gaze upon what, exactly?

                  2. They would need daggers anyway. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE who the hell thinks pastoralists/agriculturalists or even hunter/gatherers can live with nothing we’d qualify as a weapon?
                    This is insanity.

                    1. Given how many modern weapons were from farm implements, forestry tools, threshing tools, etc. and the oldest single weapon (as differentiated from part of the body) is… a stick.

                    2. yep. Seriously. I grew up in a largely peaceable mostly farming/some hunting community. The weapons in any given house…..
                      Or you know, trident and net in the Roman circus.
                      PFUI. People who say “there were no weapons” have written their own certification of dementia.

                    3. You would almost certainly need tools for stabbing into animals as part of butchering them.

                      Unless we are supposing that humans only recently started needing B12, or that there was a recently lost plant on which B12 pills grew, or just that animals would not have been available even in circumstances where bands were not trying to drive the animal competition away from whatever territory.

                      I will absolutely concede that I am a lunatic, and so strongly interested in weapons design that I will see evidence of weapons design in hypothetical circumstances where it absolutely does not exist. This concession is not evidence that I am specifically mistaken in certain more fundamental bits of analysis.

                    4. People living in primitive conditions with meager resources will kill each other over ANYTHING. No matter how trivial the prize would seem to us. Those not willing to kill their neighbors got killed by them.

                      And they used anything handy to do the killing. Look at some of the ‘classic’ weapons: Staffs. Flails. Hammers. Axes. Spears. Arrows. Weapons made specifically for killing your neighbors are a relatively recent innovation.

                      Civilization and technology make it much easier for us to live without killing our neighbors. With possible exceptions for the REALLY annoying ones. 😛
                      Wing: ”Have you ever heard the phrase, Living well is the best revenge?”

                      Miles: “Where I come from, someone’s head in a bag is generally considered the best revenge.”


                  Grave goods included swords, about 2500 BC. Exactly how ancient are you trying for?

                  Note the footnote of a book from the 1800s, talking about the amazing weapons from Crete, and the book itself is from 1905. It may actually be from far enough back that they hadn’t made the discovery about how to identify where walls *use to be*.

                  And, of course, there are spears found on Crete going back to Palaeolithic; we even know how the ancient Cretans made their spears, we’ve found so many– Lost Wax method.

                  Needless to say, anyone who so much as does a basic internet search for “Crete” and “Dagger” would find out that they were a famous exporter of daggers to the rest of the area from 1500BC on.

                  1. She’s trying to push it older than Gobleki Tepe. She’s cited ‘pre-holocene’ and wanted us to go all the way back to the Pleistocene. Holocene only started about 12,000 years ago which is where most of the other geologists and the papers on sedimentology I’ve read put the approximate full end of the most recent major ice age. It’s approximate because when you’re dealing with things like that local effects are HUGELY varied. Not to mention all that evidence destroying effects of the glaciers, the flooding from the melting glaciers, the sedimentation from the flooding and new water ways and so forth.

                    1. Yup, and the Pleistocene (era from about 1.2 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago) had several more than one of whom reached places like Kansas. I’d have to dig through the USGS site for a bit to get the actual full extents.

                    2. Ah, the constantly shifting target where WHEN examples are given of horrific events from the examples that she chose, then No True Scotsman that was civilization.

                      How sadly predictable.

                      (and the spears are *still* there!)

                    3. Pair-bonding likely happened, and it’s a very good survival adaptation, so there were likely wives, just as even in Rome there were men noted for their devotion to their beloved daughter. (That we know of this from as an angle of attack is kind of depressing, but it happened!)

                    4. No, Fox, no! Long Pig is always out of season! How many times do I have to repeat that? 😀

                      Something like 80% of the last 2 million years have been Ice Ages, with brief warm spells between. The Glowbull Wormening cultists don’t want to hear that.

                    5. If we get laws enforcing vegan Nirvana, Long Pig may be the “meat back on the menu, boys!”

                      Humanitarian Before Vegetarian!

                    6. >> “(That you can use it on Og, too if necessary/desired is a bonus!)”

                      Og respectfully disagree.

                  2. Fox: Saw the link re swords, thanks, ok. I’d still challenge you to show me there was major murderous conflict. They generally keep well in the record. How about mass graves? How about battle grounds? How about people with arrows embedded in their back (or front for that matter) en masse? Especially in early to mid Minoan? If you do, I’ll cry uncle.

                    1. Fox: Saw the link re swords, thanks, ok. I’d still challenge you to show me there was major murderous conflict.

                      So you shift from “there was only one knife, and no fortifications” to admitting that your chosen example, with which you claimed personal experience, is famous for both the ancient swords in the unlooted graves and over-supplied with examples of spears; you then move over to demanding mass graves with a high number of arrows in specific areas, and records from 3500BC-1500BC.

                      You stated:
                      I’d still challenge you to show me there was major murderous conflict. They generally keep well in the record.

                      The Minoans had at least two different writing systems. The earlier is hieroglyphic, similar, but not the same as the Egyptian writing system. One example that has survived is the Phaistos Disc, discovered in the ruins of the city of Phaistos. The later system of writing is called Linear A. Linear A is written on clay tablets along lines, like our writing. As of now, no one has deciphered the mysterious Phaistos Disc or Linear A, therefore the Minoan language remains a secret.

                      After the time period that you chose, Linear B came into use.

            2. You chose that as your leading citation before demanding WE cite things, providing NO other citations to back yourself up. Especially when your premise is “Human nature has fundamentally altered so humans went from angels to demons”.

              If that’s not your cite, come up with something scholarly, NOT Wikipedia. I have not been impressed with the things I’ve found from Gimbutas either on this search or others. (For those who don’t know she’s the lady who started the whole ‘people worshiped goddesses, women ruled, and the world was at peace! then evil men happened’ schtick at least modernly. She may have pulled from the Victorians but I haven’t rabbit trailed on it that much, any more than I’ve followed in great detail the guy in my own field who claims all oil comes from meteor impacts.) For those playing at home, could you please cite which of her works you recommend for this subject?

              1. “Especially when your premise is “Human nature has fundamentally altered so humans went from angels to demons”.”

                You are raving. Chill.

                  1. Maybe she hasn’t published it yet, and it would violate the terms of her grant if she were to tell us.

                    (Let me tell you how I work in academia without telling you I work in academia….)

                    1. Given what she had posted to that point, I was expecting her to cite one of Gimbutas’s books and Gimbutas is dead, so that wouldn’t be a problem.

                      Frankly a simple ‘I’ll drop the name of the article here when it publishes’ would have sufficed in that case.

                      I just wanted something that wasn’t fiction and wasn’t ‘look it up on Wikipedia’ from someone who opened with ‘I expect citations’.

                1. Erin: Your own words: I think that Quinn’s Ishmael presents a very good counterargument against the hypothesis that there is something wrong with human nature. Insane cruelties began after civilization came into being. And having looked into this in excruciating detail, I can attest that the earliest civilizations show hardworking peaceful people.

                  You state that civilization is responsible for “insane cruelties” thus suggesting that pre-civilization was peaceful and quiet. Wyrdbard is not raving. You are employing the time-honored academic practice of claiming your statements were misconstrued when you get caught, as you have, without actual citations (I’m not taking your claim of your own archaeological digs as citations), and then trying to use Wikipedia as a source. I don’t even let my freshment use Wikipedia as a source. If you have sources, i.e. actual journal articles in reputable, first-tier journals, we’d all love to see them.

                  1. Ornery, I have provided more (in references) than most of my opponents here have. I have no obligation to do people’s research for them. You just wanna spend your time scoffing and deprecating? Be my guest. But that’s not what I am here for. So unless you calm down your feathers and talk to me… oh, you know, friendly-loike, I have nothing else to say to you. Cheers.

                    1. Why? You come in here, drop a single work of fiction and go ‘you’re wrong because I say so” then follow up with a loon (Gimbutas) and WIKIPEDIA and expect us to take you seriously? Especially when your responses to ‘things were brutal’ were examples of massacre’s that had 50% overt casualty rates. (Hint hint: the ‘survivors’ were either slaves, murdered at the massacring tribe’s camp after they amused themselves, or they ran off into the wilderness and died. Source: Iraq, accounts of Africa from people who lived there or served there) Your premise is that pre-civilization tribes were some kind of superhuman creature that were ever so much more peaceful than their civilized counterparts and little things like 50% casualty rates don’t count. It’s not a REAL atrocity. Right now you’re in the ‘troll’ category and citations are for the spectators.

            3. Don’t trust Gimbutas. She did good work in identifying the Kurgan complex with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, but after that she got onto this kick of “oh, the original Europeans were peaceful matriarchal goddess-worshippers who suffered genocide from those nasty patriarchal Indo-Europeans”. Every word of that sentence turns out to be untrue.

                1. Well, Erin said “I first learned about [the Cucuteni] from Marija Gimbutas” and I wanted to flag that.

              1. Yup, that’s pretty much what happens. But her early work still stands, and it’s pretty amazing.

                1. The point is it’s her later work that backs your thesis not her earlier work, which as balzacq points out and you just admitted, her later work is complete bunk (and is bad enough it casts doubt on her earlier work.)

              2. Balzacq: She opened up my world to all those artifacts over in Ukraine and Romania. After that, I was on my own, looking through other sources, and the museums. But her stuff was like a burst of wonder. Don’t know if I would have found it without her and the fact that her name was pushed by the feminists.

        1. So a perfect communist society existed in prehistory, which was analyzed by researchers answering directly to the communist party.

          I thought your arguments couldn’t become less convincing, but you’ve proven me wrong.

            1. LOL 😆

              Make silly comments here and you will get called on them.

              That’s what is happening. Not Bashing You.

                1. When you tried to bully your way over the rational arguments, became abusive, and repeatedly failed to account for basic facts, you either got your own behavior handed back to you or were laughed at because– seriously, why should we bow to your non-existent authority?

                  You make demands, but refuse to fulfill them yourself, then want to turn around and shame us for returning a fraction of what you offer?

                  What the heck IS IT with the wanna-be rulers showing up this month?

                  1. Fox: Oh yes, the old tactic of accusing the other side of what your side is guilty of. Prove I got abusive. Or just continue to flail about. I don’t really care.

                    1. You JUST finished making a blatantly false accusation, which was shown to be absolutely false by linking to your own comment.

                      You’ve been repeatedly caught in false statements, ignorant statements, appeal to authority in support of claims which are not just counter-factual but so far out there that even a hobbyist can recognize them as being false, and the continuing hypocritical demands that others go leagues beyond what you manage.

                      Just like when you were caught in falsehoods and had a hissy-fit about someone “ranting” for demolishing your nonsense with reason and style, your accusations are worthless.

                      Frankly, given your displayed judgement thus far, being attacked by you may be evidence of good character and a strongly supported argument.

                    2. Foxfier, Erin is obviously a fully credentialed academic who has no reason to come up with actual citations to back up her arguments for us hoi polloi. I mean, after all, she is an (nose in the air) archaeologist and we’re just blog commenters, right? And, Erin, besides Gimbutas, and your own claims of archaeological work, who else can you cite? If you actually published on the topic you have a long citation list. I’d love to see that. And, I note that you never answered my request for first-tier journal articles.

                    3. And here I was thinking that Erin is the grandchild or great-grandchild of Somebody Important! [Sarcastic Grin]

            2. Oooh, is being treated as a rational adult simply too brutal for you to deal with?

              Is the insane cruelty of having to offer evidence to support your assertions destroying you?

              …do you realize that would make YOU one of the children that ‘would not make it to reproductive age’?

              Just this morning you were citing group action as the thing that would prevent horrible behavior– yet now you complain about mere words confronting your claims is “Erin bashing.”

              SOMEBODY is accustomed to assuming that she’d always be in power.

            3. How is Luke bashing you? He’s talking about your arguments. Or are you so invested in your arguments that any discussion of their merits becomes personal for you?

  23. I’m reading through the Book of Judges, which is apropos of nothing really. Except it reminds me that our “natural” state is barbarism.

    Concealed carry people have to ask themselves the question every time they leave the house armed: “Am I ready to kill someone in the right circumstance,” and the answer either has to be yes or you leave the weapon at home.

    These times feel like a trial by fire, calling me (and us all) to make decisions about life and death.

    The communists/lefties have no idea how bad they’re going to make things. I trust we’ll have the courage and determination to do the bloody hard work to rid the illegals from the country and fix everything else.

    Damn these people to hell.

    1. “Am I ready to kill someone in the right circumstance,”

      A true pacifist is rare. Very, very rare. The natural state of man is very capable of brutal violence. Ask any mother what she’d do to someone that tries to take her child. Ask any father what limits he has on his own actions to protect his family. Those who believe there are no situations in which they would willingly kill have lived protected, sheltered lives.

      There is nothing wrong with that. Peace is a wonderful thing. A miracle. But it is also an anomaly in the history of Mankind. As human beings are capable of grace we also hold within us the potential for evil. Each one of us chooses what sort of person we will be.

      In many, many parts of the world today, the peace and safety most of us grew up in is quite amazing to the people there.

  24. i can’t comment on the Kurgans because i’d only ever heard of them because of Highlander.

  25. “Recently I’ve been doing a deep dive into pre-history, the aceramic period and that stuff that lies beyond the invention of writing, or at least our knowing it was invented, which is not precisely the same.”

    Yeah. Things we don’t have evidence of does not automatically mean that it didn’t happen. Students of prehistory run into a lot of inconsistencies and unsupported opinion masquerading as fact. This much hasn’t changed since the 80s at the very least. I see some places (looking at you, khan academy) purporting that language was invented only 50,000 years ago…

    Uh huh. Pull the other one.

    Early modern humans (which are very nearly morphologically identical to homo sapiens sapiens– us) have been around for somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 years at least. We may have *evidence* of things like cave paintings and grave goods that implies language (trade is a good indicator) 50,000 years ago… But the last big ice age ran from around 100,000 years ago to around 65,000 years ago. And ice ages really wreck a lot of real estate.

    That cuts down on available sites for the fossil record. Anywhere the glaciers ground up, chances are you ain’t getting squat.

    When you consider that early modern humans had the braincase capacity and skeletal structure of regular old modern humans, I find it highly suspicious that you rule out language for effectively half to three quarters of the time we’ve been, well, humans. I wouldn’t even put it past homo neandethalensis, our hominid brothers, from having language, either.

    Once you have the capacity for language (and start using it), the capacity for physical symbolic language is right there along with it. Do I think that there was some form of “writing” back then, even symbolic representation? Heck yes I do! Do we have evidence of it? No. More specifically, “not yet.”

    Sorry, I just get ticked off by the folks claiming that human beings just spontaneously developed language after living and reproducing for nearly three quarters of their history.

    1. OBVIOUSLY Neanderthals HAD language. They have symbolism in their burials. That implies language. I’ve always thought that one was insane. They were more like us than not.

      1. YES. The whole argument over Neanderthals (consanguinity, language, and all the rest) strikes me as professorial politics and protecting a paycheck. They most likely *were* us, as the argument that we’d interbred is strong.

        1. Heh. You know those illustrations of a Neanderthal wearing a modern business suit? Some of them look almost exactly like a guy I used to work for. Computer programmer, very intelligent, and if he ever were to take a DNA test, I bet it would show definite levels of Neanderthal genes, at least if those illustrations are remotely accurate. So yeah, you don’t have to persuade me that the Neanderthals were intelligent.

          1. There is very little room for doubt that the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon interbred. Just about everyone of European descent has some Neanderthal genes. According to 23 and Me, I have 283 variants that are traceable to Neanderthal ancestors. Which is, apparently, above the average.

            As for intelligence, there is no good reason to believe they were any less smart than our Cro-Magnon ancestors. There are a few bit of evidence that leads me to think they may have been sightly smarter.

            1. Heh. I’ve never indulged in the DNA stuff myself, but you could easily balance a pencil on my brow without it falling. Chances are good from what my father, uncle and grandfather’s look like that we’ve got more than a bit, too.

              1. I had to have it, to see if I had a rare gene that HAS been trouble in the family. (I don’t. Phew) It was the cheapest way to do it. Husband did it to show solidarity and also to find out if his dad’s parkinsons is genetic. (It’s not. Or at least husband doesn’t have it.)

      2. And writing, of sorts. “Mysterious symbols” are found in caves exactly contiguous with the Neanderthal range. To my eye they look like inventories of game animals. And obviously they had reliable, portable light, or they couldn’t see to mark up caves. Not to mention scaffolding to REACH some of those spots.

        Better dating on the famous cave paintings pegs ’em as Neanderthal, not Cro-Magnon.

        Neanderthal artifacts have been found on islands in the Mediterranean… that required boats to reach.

        Aside from the glacier-grinding thing, I suspect they worked a lot in wood, which doesn’t survive the ages.

    2. Oh my gosh, *dating stuff!*

      Look, I love radio carbon dating and such. It’s super nifty.

      It also doesn’t work so well if your sample has been handled, soaked with living water, etc. It’s super easy to contaminate.

      1. Oh yes. The issues with carbon dating, and the careful dancing around of said issues by students of the ancient past, is quite hilarious when you notice it. *grin*

        1. I think my favorite is a series that had hundreds of years of range for the oldest samples– but only five or ten for the newer ones, *all* ending in the same ten-fifteen year block of time.
          (Not when they were found, either.)

    3. Geologically speaking the last glacial maximum was only 20,000-ish years ago which gave it another round of crushing and destruction followed by inland seas and sedimentation that buried things.

      1. Yep. Studying the ancient past requires one to have some perspective, if one wishes to not look a fool. There’s only so far we can extrapolate from the fossil record, potsherds and all. Anything more is fiction- and too often professionals who ought to know better stray beyond that logical limit.

        The few sites and remains we have, have to be looked at in perspective. Just like we can’t invent culture and religion from carvings whole cloth, ascribing a *lack* of language to morphologically modern humans strikes me as proposition without evidence. That *cannot* have evidence, because how do you prove a lack of language from fossil record? You can *imply* it (foolishly), but proof is absent.

      2. It’s one of the two things that opened my eyes to the the cult of climate stasis.

        My backyard was under two miles of ice not that long ago. Now it is not. Who is looney enough to think recycling and electric cars would’ve stopped the glaciers from receding?

        Or that the world warming to create this green space was a disaster?

        It’s a cult.

    4. Sorry, I have to nit pick.
      There have been two major ice ages since 50,000 years ago. They are diminishing echoes of what came before, where ice sheets extended down into Kansas and Nebraska, but still enough to wipe out most traces of humanity before them.

      (I was going to attach a map and when the respective glaciations occurred, but academia evidently changed the terminologies and consigned a great deal of things that might cast doubt on AGW—such as a generalized warming trend— to the memory hole. The last several ebbs and flows of the ice sheet have been folded into the Wisconsinan, ranging from 100,000 to 5000 years ago. They’re pegging maximum extent to about 18,000 years ago. It’s all gotten terribly vague, and I had to use something other than Google to find even that much. When I was younger, mankind had existed for four ice ages and five interglacial periods, now it’s magically down to two and two.)

  26. Somewhere in my library I’ve got a little pop-archaeology book in German entitled “15,000 Years of Murder and Deathblows.” It’s a really neat book (for grim values of neat) about murder, honor killings, battlefield archaeology, massacres, and what we’d call attempted genocide in Europe before the Romans. It seems we haven’t changed all that much.

  27. And they were killed, for display….
    This caused me to think of the two years of daily tolls and charts of deaths from covid. They were killed for display, a display to control the populace.

    1. You know, that is scarily true. Ban everything that works, mandate everything you -know- doesn’t work, keep posting the numbers…

      Now I think I’m kinda more pissed off than I already was. 😡

  28. And all discoveries and studies seem to push the “invention of x” further into the past.

    You might have a hard time finding many historians who will admit publicly to believing in the Bible, but for those that do, that would come as no surprise. The Bible’s account of the first few generations of human beings, in Genesis 4, mentions people like Jubal, “the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes,” which I understand to mean that he invented many kinds of musical instruments. His half-brother Tubal-Cain “forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron”. Jubal and Tubal-Cain, if you believe the Bible’s account of things, were among the seventh generation of humans to be born! (I’m counting Cain and Abel as the first generation, not Adam and Eve; if you count Adam and Eve as the first generation, then Jubal and Tubal-Cain were in the eighth generation of human beings.)

    But whether you believe in the Bible or you don’t, it’s pretty clear that ancient humans were just as intelligent as we are. They just labored under the disadvantage of having to invent everything from scratch instead of being able to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, like we can.

    1. Oh, and also — the cavemen? They couldn’t possibly have lived in caves year-round; there’s not nearly enough room in caves to support a viable population. Rather, a little thought (and thinking of ancient humans as being, you know, people rather than specimens) would make it clear that they used caves for shelter when caves were available. They probably lived in homes made of wood, or tents made of leather, or some other such material that couldn’t possibly survive the passage of millennia.

      1. I occasionally mention what “future archaeologists” will find left of our civilization.

        Nobody seems to be able to grasp that the only thing anyone will be able to find is our civic buildings and maybe the concrete foundations of some of our houses, because nothing else will survive, long term.

  29. By Western Civilization, I assume you meant “Christian-influenced”, as in pre-Christian-majority Greece, Rome, Gaul, etc., people were just as brutal and bloodthirsty as any other era, except sometimes where Christianity mellowed them.

    Yes, I know about the Catholics, Protestants, and other nominally-religious groups slaughtering each other wholesale over property, power so on, and; but “the faithful” eventually influenced the culture enough to jump past everything before it. Even Locke, Rousseau, and that ilk owed their start to Christian tolerance of the so-called “marketplace of ideas”. Which is a very Western Culture thing.

    Cancel culture is exactly a Kurgan culture. And the global left is a death cult; but we even if we, ourselves “lose”, we can still go out like Boniface and gain a great victory…

      1. The Spartans of hallowed memory were slave-holding racists and misogynists with a rigit caste system. And they ruthlessly murdered imperfect children.

        The Romans perfected crucifixion, which is still the worst way to die. “Six thousand survivors of the [Spartacus] revolt captured by the legions of Crassus were crucified, lining the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.”

    1. Loony lefties insist that all humans are all good deep down. Loony righties insist that all humans are naturally depraved. Gadz. Plague on both yer houses.

      1. “Keep your religion to yourself”? Sorry, I’m not allowed to do that. I’m also not allowed to murder dissenters, so there’s that… 😉

  30. The natural state of Man (and Woman) is that of an animal — an unreasoning, violent creature driven entirely by primitive emotions and impulses, constantly seeking immediate self-gratification. In order to overcome that bestial nature, all Men (and Women) have to be taught to think rationally, and carefully inculcated with the values and principles of civilization, a process of education which must be started in infancy and maintained consistently until (at least) early adulthood. If such teaching is not applied, or is not effective, though they may walk upright and ape the words created by civilized folk, they will remain feral brutes and threats to all around them.

    Over the course of some two hundred thousand years, we have raised ourselves up from that savage condition. We have invented the concepts of right, and wrong, and the notion that life is better when the biggest, meanest asshole can’t just beat everybody up and take all the food and wimmins. We decided that living in cooperative societies is far better than violent anarchy. We formulated rules and laws to make such societies work, and refined those laws to make societies work better.

    Civilization is better than savagery even for the biggest, meanest asshole, because eventually he’d get a spear through the belly in his sleep.

    1. “Civilization is better than savagery even for the biggest, meanest asshole, because eventually he’d get a spear through the belly in his sleep.”

      Precisely. In civilization, the biggest meanest assholes get to hide out in anonymous cities and prey on the unwary. In primitive, they’d be pushed off the ice floe.

      1. no, they wouldn’t, if they’re really the biggest and meanest in a small tribal group, they’d club you to a pulp.

        1. Assuming they didn’t just let their thugs do it for them, as a bonding ritual.

          “Cross the big guy, and the rest of the group will kill you” is quite traditional.

        2. Draven: Read Boehm. The betas managed to successfully conspire against the worst alphas. Quite the tale. Gives me hope it can be repeated.

          1. meanwhile, i’ve actually watched people knuckle under to an ‘alpha’ out of fear of him or his thugs. Many americans have, its called ‘the high school football team’

        3. Draven: You haven’t read up on the Eskymo treatment of local psychopaths? I recommend it. Bracing.

          1. Anecdotes do not equal data. One data point does not show the results for all tribal civilizations. The Eskimos are unlucky/lucky enough to live in an area where mother nature cooperates with that type of work, whereas the great majority of human populations are somewhere where nature… cooperates with survival a little better by being warmer.

            1. Draven: Um. I believe such anecdotes are known from other, warm, parts of the world as well. It’s not that hard to find them. Because it’s not that hard to dispatch someone out on a hunt, or even, if the situation is pressing, in front of everybody when the culprit’s relatives have become unwilling to defend the psycho.

              Really. Why dontcha read Boehm? So inspiring…

                1. Boehm thought chimpanzees and bonobos were more egalitarian than they were hierarchical. A primatologist he was not. Nor a bioanthropologist, political anthropologist, etc… He made up this thing he called “reverse dominance hierarchies” wherein the betas or weaker males would cooperate to pull down the strong. This is not exactly how such things happen.

                  Yes, alphas need to show some charisma in order to sway the group, but they aren’t *beholden* to the group. There’s a long history in cultural anthropology of the egalitarian tribe. A lot of it is bunk. Human brains are highly plastic, we *adapt* to changing circumstances. Egalitarianism and hierarchy are part of group dynamics and said groups will tend towards one or the other over time.

                  The proposition that humanity was primarily egalitarian in their tiny hunter gatherer tribes for around 90% of human history is *highly* suspect. Yet it is taken as given (most of the time) in cultural anthropology.

                  This sort of thing is just one reason why I prefer bones and potsherds. You know what you’re dealing with on a dig. It’s living people that get complicated.

                  1. >> “It’s living people that get complicated.”

                    “People complicate things.” <— Human history in a nutshell, right there.

      2. And we used to arrange a date with Old Sparky for them. Unfortunately, Leftists disabled that portion of the body politic’s immune system (and are in the process of removing the body politic’s ability to wall off infection).

        The problem is to prevent that immune system from going autoimmune and attacking the healthy parts.

        1. Personally, I favor Madame Guillotine. Quick, efficient, zero incremental cost, and when the head’s in the basket, there’s no question about whether the execution was successful.

          Cleanup’s a bitch, but, hey, nothing’s perfect.

  31. IIRC The Lewis & Clark expedition encountered several Indian tribes who warned the expedition about the Sioux who were moving into that area.

    Apparently, the Sioux weren’t “asking” for territory. They were taking it by force including practicing “genocide”.

    Oh, one modern Sioux claimed that it wasn’t “Real Genocide” since they used the same sort of weapons that the people they killed used.

    IE It was only Real Genocide when the killers have Superior Weapons than the people being killed had. [Sarcastic Grin]

    1. It’s really near impossible to talk about these things. I once got banned from a forum for pointing out the NW Indians had slaves. The man who ran the forum changed the definition, and when that didn’t work, banned me. Privately people wrote to me they agreed, but could not say in the open. That was in the days just before when conversations between the left and the right fell apart.

      1. I won’t use the phrase ALL per-European settlers practiced slavery north of the Rio Grande, because that is too broad to use, plus not a historian, or expert in the topic. But the commonly known tribes I am aware of all did. Be it NW, NE, SW, or Canada. Wouldn’t surprise me if the SE tribes did too, but not as familiar with those. (The ones in Alaska and Canadian polar areas, commonly known as Eskimo, might not have given the environment they lived in. Slaves wouldn’t have been kept because of the difficulty of keeping them alive. Why bother?)

        1. D: I can’t comment on your broad brush. The argument I am familiar with is that in the intensifying salmon-based economy, things got too laborious, and so slave hunting kicked in [to oversimplify a bit]

          Also, if you have a non-storage economy like say the Montagnais or some of the N. California tribes, slaves would be a drag on everyone. There is just not enough to go around. Just like with the Eskimo. And some tribes ended up adopting captured people instead of enslaving them. Seems, er, more civilized. 🙂

        2. They’d enslave the female children over a certain age, even in groups that weren’t able to keep most other slaves around.

          For the obvious and horrific reasons. Folks figured this out from looking at the DNA in some of the graves, trying to find a pattern.

          My crazy high school teacher insisted on calling this “adopting” them into the tribe.

          …. slaughtering their family before raping and starving them into an early grave. “Adoption.” Glad I wasn’t one of HIS foster kids.

      2. I have a friend who is registered Cherokee (about 1/3, and when people say heredity doesn’t work that way, I point out that lot of crosses can approximate 1/3.) At one point she said, quote, “My ancestors didn’t care what color you were; they’d enslave you regardless.”

  32. Dan: 1. you are right. I barged in. I could have said things differently. I barged in, and in an awkward way.

    “But anti-civilization and pro-peaceful-tribal-life appears to be your position.”

    No. My position is that the civ project, which I support, went awry. Tribal life has been all sorts of things, in different places and different times, including peaceful. My position regarding tribal life is that it had some very good aspects and we ought to learn from what worked in that world. After all, it evolved success by success over untold millennia.

    2. When I said what I said, people initially ran in saying I was wrong. Boo. Nothing else. So I wanted more than that. Some argument. Some reference to something.

    Murder, torture et al are individual doings. Institutional war isn’t. Large scale genocide isn’t. Guantanamo isn’t. Slave markets aren’t. Etc.Sacrificing a virgin or two is individual doings. Massing hundreds or maybe more victims into pits and killing them for spectacle isn’t. Building roads to nowhere and aqueducts that run uphill. All that requires high levels of organization and manipulation and “something that went wrong on the group level,” maybe at the level of “collective intelligence.”

    For example: I am inclined to agree that individual human sacrifice is a cultural thing. Mass human sacrifice is, in addition, a political and organizational thing, and more. You?

    Would you not agree that not only was the Aztec culture seriously messed up, but their political and organizational structure as well? After all, they needed buttresses for the insanity they were wreaking.

    Are you suggesting that by becoming a moral person, we can fix such stuff? I would argue that is necessary but not sufficient.

    Let me switch to 4. You seem to think I should have known beforehand that mentioning Gimbutas will result in 10 people rushing in to bite my head off. I don’t accept that. I know now, and that’s all there is to it. Her work led me to others. That’s all. I must say I am astonished somobody would get that worked up about her.

    I would like to make a comment to the closing bit of yours. I don’t argue with the rude. I laugh at them. I find that when people abandon civility, argument becomes pointless.

    Now to your point 3, which is much more interesting. So I’ve saved it for last.
    I don’t advocate going back to tribal life. There are many reasons for it, not the least being that the civilized world would destroy anybody successfully trying that in short order, as it’s destroying the last original remnants of this way of life down in the Amazon. (I take that as stupid. Diversity of cultures is good for long term survival of the species. All the same, success must include resistance to invaders. They are defenseless. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that?) And yes, there is the mass death aspect as well, as you say. And the earth is not what it was when that way of life flourished. Anyways… not something I advocate. I think we should learn from that way of life. I endured for endless millennia. And it’s not like everything is hunky dory in civ.

    So. About this civ. There is much to be said for it. Much that is amazing and life-improving. I won’t count the ways, I am certain you can do that even better than I.

    What pisses me off and grieves me about this civ is… well, what I see as its heedless run for the cliff, in short. Basically, I see us cutting off the branch we are sitting on. Let me just look at one small aspect of the insanity we are witnessing. The soil. Since the time of Jefferson, people talk about caring for the soil. Hell, if we could speak to the bronze age people, I am sure they talked about how they need to do better so they don’t collapse yet another ecosystem. And the Cro-Magnons, discussing how they could have stopped overhunting the mammoth and the horse. Our soil is blowing and washing away, and the manure we produce goes to pollute the waterways instead of going back to feed the earth. We treat the soil like a hunk of dead dirt, to our peril. And despite organics, despite admonisments of the few foresightful farmers, it gets worse and worse. Everything around us seems poisoned and trampled. I was in central Europe last summer; the village where I stayed… near dead. Not just the soil in the fields, but almost no birds, squirrels, other critters that are still so common here in America. It shocked me. They don’t notice. The forests… all filthy, littered, and ripped up (they are going through a bark beetle infestation bought on by rank stupidity). I grew up there. I remember what it was. It’s painful to witness.

    And that brings up the other big elephant in the room: our inability to get along, to communicate, to create nifty things that would stop the slide into oblivion, in some crucial areas linked to our wellbeing and survival. I really don’t know if learning more personal skills is where it’s at. I applied myself hard over the years. Yet, when cornered this afternoon by a fanatical covidian neighbor, it did not go well. Now blow it up milliontimes; this is happening all over the world. Yes, we can still do some amazing large-scale projects. But when it comes to get together to stop damaging the soil, or to stop the covid madness, we come up empty. So, well, that’s the tip of the iceberg. And no, I have advanced no solutions. Doing fMRIs on everybody and eliminating the psychopaths? Knocking down their numbers would help. But then, there are the doormats and the cowards and the terminally gullible. Nearly just as bad.

    So have at it.

    1. What have you been smoking?

      Cro-Magnon cavemen and Bronze Age subsistence farmers had absolutely no concept of the environment as a complex interacting system. The environment was storms and droughts and floods, pestilence and unending toil and wild animals that ate your crops and cattle and you too if they could. Nature was the enemy, survival was constant war, and winning it today just meant another battle tomorrow.

      Environmentalism is a product of civilization and, in particular, industrialization, which gave people the luxury to consider Nature as anything other than an implacable enemy. The tools we use to understand ecology are products of civilization and technology.
      Not everybody should go to college. Some folks, you send ’em to college and you just wind up with an educated idiot.

      1. If you treat nature as the enemy to be fought rather than the mother who made us all and feeds us all, then you end up with nature lying bleeding at your feet. The harm the Bronze Age farmers inflicted was local. What we inflict is “industrial size” and matters in the greater scheme of things.

        I am not saying she is a kind mom. She is a wild and dangerous and often cruel mom. Still a mom.

        Look, the harm we do to soil is massive. It’s difficult enough to get a handle on it, and figure out what might be done to stop this harm, and even reverse it. But when the ideologically blind refuse to see the problem at all, then what chance do we all have in the long run?

        1. Erin, cease and desist. You are the child of the permanent present, thinking your ancestors were as silly as you are.
          In every ancient piece of literature “Wilderness” equals evil and death. Same for nature.
          KINDLY give up these crazy noble savage fantasies. You’re supposed to grow out of them around 14 or so.

        2. I’m not disputing the need for our modern industrial civilization to mitigate its impact on the environment. I called bullshit on this part:

          Hell, if we could speak to the bronze age people, I am sure they talked about how they need to do better so they don’t collapse yet another ecosystem. And the Cro-Magnons, discussing how they could have stopped overhunting the mammoth and the horse.

          The concepts of ecology and conservation did not exist in the Bronze Age, much less the prehistoric past 150,000 years ago. Bare survival took everything they had. Their impacts on the environment were local, and limited. They lacked the physical and intellectual tools to even come up with the idea of environmentalism.

          Concern for the environment is a luxury we can afford thanks to the very civilization, technology and industry you blame for all of our problems. We need to improve our technology and industry, not get rid of them. Modern machines are much cleaner and more efficient than their more primitive counterparts.

          Such improvements can’t be accomplished by government decree. Brutality and terror bring out the worst in people, not the best — but those are the only tools our elitist ‘leaders’ understand. Obey! Conform! Alles in Ordnung!

          And while I’m at it, I’ll call bullshit on:

          Doing fMRIs on everybody and eliminating the psychopaths?

          People can only be punished for what they DO. For the harm they cause to other people. Punishing people for what they MIGHT do, or for ‘being enemies of the State’, is totalitarian tyranny. We’ve got way too much of that already.
          People can make stupid mistakes, but only the government can force everybody to make the SAME stupid mistakes.

            1. accordingtohoyt: Thank you. Indeed. So is yours. Dust we are, and to dust we shall return. The words “humus” and “human” are actually very closely related. For a reason.

          1. I mean, holy personification, batman. The Earth is not our mother. It’s a ball of dirt in which life grows. (Probably not unique. we’ll find out.)
            It is not sentient. It didn’t MAKE us. Good Lord, I bet she thinks she believes in evolution, too, and sneers at intelligent design.
            BUT Gaia, now there’s a mother.

          2. Imaginos: I would not call it bullshit. I meant whimsy. Other than that, I am ok with what you say.

      2. a) complex interacting system model was borrowed from engineering in the mid to late twentieth century.
        b) This borrowing was garbage. And the modern environmentalists asserting that it is valid are mostly too badly educated when it comes to engineering to even notice the issue. Okay, I can point to some people very well educated in engineering, who make the same mistake. However, the f&ckers giving us the spaceship earth lectures, etc., are mostly people who could have productively skipped primary and secondary school.
        c) The fundamental issue appears to be the fallacy of taking a ‘snapshot’, one instant of the environmental ‘state space’, concluding that it must be a system with inherent stability preserving every element of that ‘state’, and then when that stability does not occur blaming it all on humans. The environmentalists are looking at stuff that does not have any feedback stability, and /never/ had any feedback stability. From weather on down, talking about system stability and periodicity is pretty much bullshit as far as the real limits of our physical modeling are concerned.
        d) Nature, Earth, and Environment, are mystical concepts, not scientific or physical concepts. If the expansion of systems thinking was licit, someone could legitimately expect me to respond to reasoning on the basis of that theory. As it is mysticism, and not my flavor of mysticism, it does not bind me in any way.

        1. Bob: Nothing I said is mystical whatsoever. Just a way of talking about stuff. Unless you think of talking of nature as the enemy (or talking about nature at all) is mystical. And there is plenty plenty of feedback regarding soil damage (and the waterway damage that follows).

          1. Erin says:February 10, 2022 at 11:46 am
            If you treat nature as the enemy to be fought rather than the mother who made us all and feeds us all, then you end up with nature lying bleeding at your feet.

            Erin says:February 10, 2022 at 12:40 pm
            Bob: Nothing I said is mystical whatsoever. Just a way of talking about stuff.

            [ mis-tik ]SHOW IPA

            See synonyms for mystic on
            📙 Middle School Level
            involving or characterized by esoteric, otherworldly, or symbolic practices or content, as certain religious ceremonies and art; spiritually significant; ethereal.

    2. “Murder, torture et al are individual doings. Institutional war isn’t. Large scale genocide isn’t. Guantanamo isn’t. Slave markets aren’t. Etc. …”

      I may regret asking this question but: Did you just equate *Guantanamo* with genocide and slave markets? O_o

      What is it that you think happened at Guantanamo, and what are your sources for that “information?”

        1. “Seems out of place” “If I’m talking out my ass”
          Which adds up to: Do you guys want me to ban her now? I can do the work.
          I think this troll has lost its flavor.

          1. Sadly, it’s probably for the best.

            She lies, and it’s not even good lies.

            Seriously, who the HECK has even faint illusions of being familiar with ancient history, much less to having been directly involved in on-site research, and will claim there’s a early to mid Minoan records hanging around?

            1. >> “She lies, and it’s not even good lies.”

              Also, while she hasn’t given me any static personally, I’m not a fan of the way she’s treating the rest of you. I don’t know that I’m close enough to any of you to call you true friends, but some of you have at least been in my “friendly acquaintance” file for years. And seeing some Johnny-Come-Lately waltz in here and spew Twitter-grade personal attacks at you isn’t exactly endearing her to me.

        1. Doctor: “Nurse, give this patient 300 milligrams of Thorazine!”

          Nurse: “Three hundred?”

          Doctor: “He needs it!”

          [This is repeated two more times]

          Doctor: “This patient has been over-narcotized! How does this happen?”

          (From ‘Life Stinks’ with Mel Brooks)

                1. So… napalm in the morning smells like victory, and chocolate bubble gum tastes like failure.

                  Hanging out here gives me the weirdest mental associations.

    3. Erin, I am working up a reply to you. It is not forgotten, simply long. Since you have not defined your terms nor done any of the things you have asked of us, I will be laying some ground work and that is taking time and space, as well as a point by point rebuttal. It will be direct and straightforward, since you seem to expect a certain level of dancing about the point I warn you there will be very little of that. I will also be avoiding the implicature you have indulged in. Often this has garnered accusations of ‘rudeness’ from you so I thought I would give you fair warning to prepare yourself.

      1. If you need sources on Boehm, egalitarian tribes, Quinn, the psychology of group vs. the individual, the literature history of Cultural Anthropology, or dominance hierarchies, I have a few. Just let me know.

            1. Even if this conversation comes up bust, it’ll be good to have some more things to go on. I have enough ancient people floating around my stories it’s going to come in handy. (Who would the 20,000 year old dragon have known in our world? as an example.)

              1. Message sent. A lot of my research material from that side of things was on Geertz, Benedict, Boas, and a few others. Boehm was relatively new on the scene back in the early 2000s when I went back to school.

                Actually two. Forgot one source.

                And 20kya dragon? Hrm… Pre Bronze age, lived through at least one ice age, what did that ice age destroy? That, and boats, there were very likely boats back then. Means there was diaspora, probably trade, sailing. Definitely trade, from the excavations if I recall correctly. That sounds like a worthwhile effort. Should be fun writing it. And reading.

                  1. Global politics and local politics make doing archaeology in Turkey today a… fraught proposition. Which sucks. Because I want to see more of that site cleanly excavated, classified, and studied. It’s a good spot for 10kya-6.5kya study, and in one of the cleaner spots (relatively speaking) for said study. I’ve seen estimates that it’s only 5% uncovered.

                    Darn you political nutbags! And religious nutbags, because Turkey! You’re getting in the way of serious archaeology with your stupid war on the post 4th century world!

                1. I’m taking gleeful notes here. And yeah. His hoard? Books. Or more precisely stories. There’s a rumor he taught several cultures to write so he didn’t have to write everything down himself. (I do not confirm or deny this in the story.)

                    1. Yes, but you’re the one who inflicted it on us and she’s not here to take the carpzooka shot to the face.

                      Now hold still…

                  1. Well, you could imply that cuneiform’s particular wedge shaped characters evolved from certain wedge shaped claw marks, from some certain character’s perspective. This being the 3kya+ era, so evolution over time and use disconnected from Big Scaly’s demesne changed it somewhat. Seeing as it’s currently running as the oldest writing system in the world (Kish, at 3500 BC I think), who’s to say he didn’t disseminate it first? If he’s not the only dragon ever, perhaps the claw-form writing alphabet *wasn’t* his invention, and is far older.

                    Of course you can argue from here that his lineage stretches back to the age of dinosaurs and that some did not die, but instead slept. Or maybe that’s just a vile rumor passed about by the ignorant.

                    1. I like all these ideas. we’ll see what comes of them. 🙂 He’s not the only dragon but he’s the leader of the ‘humans, we like them, do not roast.’ faction of dragons (and the oldest of the dragons). He likes humans. Not the least of which is because they make stories WAY faster than any of the imortal (or near imortal) races.

    4. My position is that the civ project, which I support, went awry. Tribal life has been all sorts of things, in different places and different times, including peaceful. My position regarding tribal life is that it had some very good aspects and we ought to learn from what worked in that world. After all, it evolved success by success over untold millennia.

      Okay, let’s start with the proposition: Some parts of the civilization project have gone awry. Some, since I don’t think you’re telling us that clean drinking water, modern medicine, the interwebz and all the rest need to die in a fire. Specifically, institutional war, large scale genocide (and I’d add, small scale genocide and bloody well *any* genocide is right out), slave markets and human trafficking, murder for sport (lethal gladiatorial games and the like), wasteful projects such as roads to nowhere and aqueducts that run uphill. Let’s get even *more* specific then for a bit to make sure we’re on the same page.

      We haven’t yet defined institutional war, so let’s get right to that. The United States military recognizes three levels of warfare: Tactical, Operational, and Strategic. The Tactical level is the battles and engagements that occur between combatants at the unit level. Operational is where the campaign is waged, major operations are planned, sustained, and conducted to achieve strategic aims. The Strategic level is where the nation, alliance, or coalition develops strategic security plans and utilizes national resources to achieve those objectives. Daniel Sukman terms the instituional war level as these three combined, along with the individual/technical level. This would be the more technical definition. Doesn’t seem to fit with what you’re implying, though so let’s move on.

      Since I’m guessing here because we haven’t got to specifics yet, I’d say when you are using the term you are referring more to modern wars in the last 120 years or so since the first World War. Massive battles on a global scale, or just locally massive conflict including one or more state level professional military forces. Combine that with unusual cruelty which you mentioned earlier on, and, let’s see here… The Nanjing Massacre and the horrors inflicted on Korea around the time of the second Sino-Japanese War would apply. The Killing Fields of Kmer Rouge’s Cambodia would qualify as horrific and insane cruelty, but not institutional war. Stalin’s mad regime during and after the second World War would qualify for both, unquestionable, as would Hitler’s Germany. Mao’s Great Leap Forward would qualify as institutional and insane, and involved the use of Chinese Army units, but it was against their own citizens, so if that was warfare it would be something like a failed civil war with brutal repression but not quite. All of these things have a history and reasons they came about. For said history, there’s folks a lot more knowledgeable than me- TXRed, assuredly, but others as well.

      So I would propose that we define the terms insane cruelty and institutional war for the purpose of this discussion as: mass suffering to include famine, torture, and violent murder perpetrated by state actors. We’ll get to the tribal bit later on, but for now I will say this: the proposition that we may have something to learn from our tribal ancestors has *some* merit. Precisely what we can learn, and what value we ascribe to that knowledge is the question. Again, leaving further discussion of such to a later point. Moving on.

      Murder, torture et al are individual doings. Institutional war isn’t. Large scale genocide isn’t. Guantanamo isn’t. Slave markets aren’t. Etc.Sacrificing a virgin or two is individual doings. Massing hundreds or maybe more victims into pits and killing them for spectacle isn’t. Building roads to nowhere and aqueducts that run uphill. All that requires high levels of organization and manipulation and “something that went wrong on the group level,” maybe at the level of “collective intelligence.”
      For example: I am inclined to agree that individual human sacrifice is a cultural thing. Mass human sacrifice is, in addition, a political and organizational thing, and more. You?
      Would you not agree that not only was the Aztec culture seriously messed up, but their political and organizational structure as well? After all, they needed buttresses for the insanity they were wreaking.
      Are you suggesting that by becoming a moral person, we can fix such stuff? I would argue that is necessary but not sufficient.

      Organizations are made up of individuals. The individual is affected by the group, and to a smaller scale based on said individual’s position in the group and charisma. Policy goals and strategy are proposed by individuals. Individuals cooperate to achieve those goals. All of these things are done by individual people, sometimes in groups. So the next question is, how much is the individual influenced by the group? And with whom does the responsibility lay? This gets into the realm of psychology.

      Solomon Asch in the 1950s performed a study on group pressures on the individual that implies that conformity increases the larger the group, the perceived social status of the other members, the difficulty of the task, and *decreases* when the respondent can perform a task privately. Several other psychological studies imply the same. I’m not going to get into the reproducibility crisis in science (and especially psychology) here, so for now let’s accept the findings that most people are, in general, heavily influenced by the group. If you’ve listened to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s lectures, you’ll recall his lesson on how *you* could have become a Nazi prison guard. Chances are extremely slim that you wouldn’t, he argues, and based on the evidence, I agree. Mind the “you” in question here is very nearly every one of us, not “you” in particular.

      So let’s accept the proposition that most people are going to be heavily influenced by group pressures, absent certain character traits, pre-existing knowledge, and so on. This is much like the Gell-Mann amnesia affect- topics which you have deep practical knowledge of, you are largely unmoved by popular opinion even if it is wrong. Those you have less grounding on, you accept without much protest- or even second thoughts. I’d say here that we are seeing the effects of group pressure and Gell-Mann amnesia in real time today with the media’s presentation of the SARS-COV-19 covidiocy crap. The ever changing definitions and guidelines and the increasing lockdown pressure caused many people to begin to question what they initially did not.

      Responsibility next. Who is responsible for all this crap? The massive cruelties, the rape, murder, human trafficking, all of that? That evil exists in the world is not the question. I mean, obviously. That evil men and women exist in the world is also a non-question. They demonstrably do. The question is, is the person responsible, or the group? Is the person responsible, or the idea?

      There’s only one way this works, I believe. The person is responsible. The group is nothing without the individuals in it. The idea is nothing without the individual to believe it. Ideas do not die, but people do. Ideas do not grow and spread, but within the minds of individual people. The idea that women could be property, that people of different skin color, or just plain different from you, could be property is a vile thing. But the idea only exists because people exist that believe it. The rule of law works when it you apply it equally, impartially, and to all the people individually. This is why making first and second class citizens is a bad idea, by the way.

      Group pressure to conform exists, just as con men exist, just as fraternity brothers exist, and just as charismatic sociopaths exist. In the military, you have the duty and responsibility not to obey illegal orders. Absent that, your duty, your responsibility is to obey. You swear an oath to do so. That oath is necessary, binding, and it *means* something. It means that you have given your word to do what your told- but not if the order is illegal. Your commanding officer may order you to murder that peaceful village, but your duty as a soldier is to disobey in that instance, for example. As a citizen, born into these United States, you don’t swear that oath. You might have said the Pledge of Allegiance in school, but that is not the same.

      If your fraternity brother or sorority sister convinces you to do something illegal, the fact remains that you did something illegal. And you’ll be charged for that. If you’ve grown up in a culture that embraces infanticide, or gladiatorial sport, or slavery, or human sacrifice, and you don’t know any better… Those actions are still evil. Still wrong. If your culture has raised you to believe that certain people are not even human, therefore you have no moral duty to treat them as such, it is still wrong.

      If you’re familiar with Boas, Benedict et al., you probably get what I’m arguing against here. Cultural Relativism. The Aztecs had a seriously eff’d up culture. Their politics and religion were part of that culture. In fact, separating the two is a fools errand in this case, I would argue. Mass sacrifice is still an evil act. Just as all the other stuff we’ve been mentioning is quite thoroughly evil.

      Do cultures, groups, and political parties go bad? Assuredly. That, I think, is without question. To discuss this, we need greater resolution than just civilization has gone bad, and that’s what I’m trying to get into here. That brings up your latter point, on how things are all sorts of messed up these days.

      On Nature and Mankind:

      Are you familiar at all with what Conservation is? It’s like the environmentalist movement- okay, stop laughing people, I can hear you from here- but it’s not crazycakes. An environmentalist wacko want to ban hunting because I dunno, Bambi? A Conservationist knows that overpopulated herds mean disease runs rampant and many will starve, as their natural predators aren’t keeping them in check. Man counts as a natural predator. Humans have been hunting deer where I live since before the Romans started pushing their weight around the place. A Conservationist wants to preserve the flora and fauna without causing a ruckus. Conservationists donate land to make parks that people can enjoy or not, as is their want.

      Our hominid ancestors and the tiny isolated tribes out there… Okay, I’m not calling them that. No to the acronym. Henceforth they are TinyTribes. Okay, so hominid ancestors and TinyTribes. I study them because archaeology. I’m interested in the study of mankind, thus anthropology, but I don’t much like people, thus physical anthropology. I can hum the tune of cultural, and yes I read Boehm sometime back in the last twenty years or so. He’s a cultural anthropologist, but he pulls ideas from primatology, game theory, political anthropology and bioanth. Yes, as anthropologists we learn a lot about many different subjects, but those are not his focus.

      In “Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior” he argues that TinyTribes were egalitarian, and practiced a sort of “reverse dominance hierarchy” wherein the weaker would pull down the strong if they got too out of hand. And a murthering *lot* of the literature in anthropology sings the praises of the egalitarian band at least since the ‘60s. You have Irven DeVore and Richard Lee’s ethnography of the !Kung (San) Bushmen, Fontaneda’s account of the Calusa in the Florida Keys, and more. Lots more. Tacitus, back in first century AD waxed poetic about the free and egalitarian Germanic tribes- though they were quite bad at showing up on time for battles, they didn’t have a senate or consuls to worry about at all! As an side, Quinn’s Ishamel was similarly critical of wealth hoarding and in particular agriculture (which struck me as particularly Malthusian), and confused about technology, judging from the parable of the Taker Thunderbolt. I find this long narrative of the egalitarian hunter gatherer tribe suspect, though.

      Dominance hierarchies are quite prevalent in nature. Chimpanzees, our closest genetic analogue in the animal kingdom, have dominance hierarchies. As do gorillas and bonobos. I will not be talking about the bonobos. Too much weird sex. Anyway, dominance hierarchies- they’re everywhere. Even in lobsters (Hail Lobster!). Are humans so different that for 100,000 years or more of our ancestry, we were primarily egalitarians?

      I believe this is not the case. Manvir Singe writing in Aeon argues that humanity is quite capable of both egalitarian and hierarchical organization, and there’s little reason to believe that we were primarily egalitarian for most of our history. Connor Wood writing in Science on Religion agrees. Mary Douglas wrote about this back in the 60s as well, arguing that human social structure is inherently flexible. The evidence of that appears to be quite obvious to me as well.

      Why has there been such agreement on the notion that our hunter gatherer ancestors were egalitarian, then? To understand that, I think we need to realize something about Cultural Anthropology itself.

      Since Anthropology took its first steps, there have been a few major limiting factors on the study of mankind and our hominid ancestors. Time and money, firstly. Money, because man does not live by air alone, and time. Time to do the work, surely, but that also involves the practical. Can you do the dig, the ethnography in the current weather and climate? Can you do it in the current security and political climate? The money either comes from you if you’re rich and slightly cracked, or it comes from a benefactor. Recall the discussion on conformity before. Anthropologists primarily get their money to do the work from grants. Grants come from governments. Government officials have predilections and desires, too. They’ll be more likely to give you money if they like your grant proposal.

      I’ve said before that Cultural Anthropology is particularly susceptible to contamination by politics. This is a big reason why. Add to that, consider cultural Anthropology is one place where Relativism found firm root and grew, and remember where said poison came from. Cultural Anthropology was also for a long time a playground of children of the elites (viz Margaret Meade). Add in pressure to conform and a little bit of this, little bit of that… and we get where we are today.

      Some tribal bands were undoubtedly egalitarian for some periods of their history. Chances are good that the !Kung (San) Bushmen were not the continuation of an impossibly long chain of egalitarian tribal bands going back in to the mists of prehistory. Their structure when we found them was more likely a result of contamination by local Bantu farmers over time (source: Polly Wiessner). The Calusa had a definite hierachy as well, with a king, military, priestly class, and human sacrifices at his whim. Others were very likely more egalitarian at some periods of time, and less at others. One thing we know for true about humans is that our brains are highly plastic. We *adapt.* And we can change over time.

      Coming back to nature, folks have already detailed out things before I came to the party. Are there horrible things going on with respect to pollution and contamination? Yep. Absolutely, there are. Are there good things happening, at all? Yes. The proportion of one to the other is something you’ll have to look into yourself, but consider a few things as well. Human brains are wired for bad news. We evolved on the African plains and our brains haven’t changed that much since, structure wise. It paid off in the passing-on-the-genes fitness sense to remember where the lion that might eat you was more than the tasty berries that didn’t give you the trots. There was other food to be found. Dying before having kids meant your genes stopped dead right there.

      News and media agencies know this- or at least understand it on a gut level. “If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t just a catch phrase. It’s what gets the eyeballs, the clicks, the money from the advertisers. Finding awful information is beyond easy, it’s ubiquitous. Finding good news requires quite a bit more effort. You’ll recall the link I made upthread, on the global trends thing? That’s publicly available info. Now, show me a news cycle that ran any one of those ten things on a 24 cycle. Yeah. See the difference?

      Horrible things happen every day. But so do *good* amazing things, too. You just don’t hear about them as much. The resurgence of life at Chernobyl. The growing percentage of Earth covered by trees and forests. These things are natural, too. If humanity screws up big time and drops the nuclear football all over the globe at once, mother nature hits the BSOD and starts over. There’s quite literally nothing short of cracking the planet’s core or stripping away the atmosphere completely to kill nature. Push it back for a little? Sure. Antibiotics do that, for example. Ask a nurse sometime about antibiotic resistant germs. You’ll get an earful.

      Now, how do we fix all these horrible problems in certain parts of civilization? That’s something we discuss here quite often. We’ve had some good news here and there. Trump, though is cabinet and the people under him were pretty horrible and useless at times. More recently, DeSantis, Youngkin, and Sears in Florida and Virginia. Courts cleaning up loopholes in election law regarding ballot dropboxes, ballot harvesting, and the like. The Canadian Trucker convoy (Honk Honk!). Getting the covidiocy under control is only one part of the problem, though. More people need to pay attention to politics, because we’ve got idiots in control. Total idiots.

      On talking to each other, I will say again that you should reconsider dismissing Foxfier, wyrdbard, Bob, Professor Ornery, and accordingothoyt. People were rude to you? So what? Ask them, and I would bet they’d tell you that *you* were rude, too. And yet, time after time, you weren’t dismissed by *them.* If we want to be able to actually talk to each other instead of talking *at* each other or past each other, we need to be able to listen. Even when people are rude. Even when they say awful things. Or stupid things. I mean, have you *listened* to one of Biden’s press conferences lately? *sigh* That man needs a rocking chair and a blanket, not the oval office.

      If you want to stop the slide to oblivion, and believe me, we do too, there *are* things you can do. Jordan Peterson has some good ideas. Cleaning up your own life is an *essential* first step. And learning to write, to communicate is also highly important. If you can’t communicate, any good ideas you have stop with you and when you die, they’re gone. Shouldering more responsibility is also a great idea. There are more problems in this world than there are people to accept responsibility for them, and like as not always will be. If you get your life in order, you’re no longer a burden on anyone else. Then you can expand out from there, helping others, and so on. You can keep doing that, becoming more efficient in everything you do and thereby more effective.

      You can pay attention to the world around you, too. Learn how to research, and do so obsessively. Always seek truth. And, since you learned how to write and communicate, *do* that and spread valuable common sense and practical knowledge. Strive to be of unimpeachable moral character, and folks will seek to emulate *you.* That will happen, and you can’t stop it.

      Changing the world around you starts with changing yourself and becoming independent. Where you go from there is up to you.

  33. Because biology. Testosterone, upper body strength, etc. give men advantages you can’t every match in “normal living”. When I was young and in good shape, I could still be beaten by any teen boy, no matter how couch potatoey, okay. You can’t revolt against biology. You can try, but you’ll only be lying to yourself.

    Didn’t you know, women’s smaller size is a recent development as a survival mechanism due to the fact that the patriarchy hoarded food for me so women had to shrink in order to evolve to survive.

    Am I kidding? Nope, I’ve seen this one floated as a serious argument.

    1. Wha…? Dafu…? Are they…?

      Have said persons ever head of the scientific method? I mean the actual one, not the consen-very-sus one?

      1. Of course they’ve heard of it; it’s a tool of the patriarchy and racism. Avoid it as you value your soul! REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

        1. The grocery store has ‘free’ electric carts to haul their fat asses around, because they can’t waddle through the store under their own power.

          But it’s just a ‘lifestyle choice’ and only Eeevul Haters point out the serious health issues caused by carrying around enough excess fat to make a whole ‘nother person.

          They’d better hope they don’t succeed in tearing down civilization. The first time they have to run away from a hungry bear would be the last.
          Dukhat: “When someone does a foolish thing, you should say it is a foolish thing. They may still continue to do it, but at least the truth is where it needs to be.”

          1. I recall the joke/story of the guy who had figured he had nothing to live for, and went to a shrink or or doc who listened and finally said, “You know what.. I can’t find any flaw in your reasoning. But just committing suicide would be bad for your family friends. You know, maybe just take up running or jogging. You’re bit overweight, not exactly young, probably have some heart condition. Just let nature take its course.” Of course, the result was (in this joke/story) that the exercise helped into better shape, he felt batter, and wasn’t eating while jogging and so dropped some weight… and somehow life was better. Now if I could remember that and at least actually go for a walk now and again….

          2. Generally, not a lifestyle choice.

            Most commonly, when you talk to them, they barely survived something that really should have killed them– and the weight gain followed that.

            Like the high school star athlete I know, who was active into her late 50s even though she destroyed her knees– then ended up with a blood-clot in her leg from a medical mishap. Can’t feel her feet anymore, so it’s hard to walk, and she’s still upset about the weight gain and embarrassed by needing an electric scooter. Because everyone knows that people who use them are just fat and lazy. Not crippled from decades of hard work and the long tail effects of teen sports. Not merely surviving something like liver failure.

            There’s a reason that the studies say “associated with,” rather than looking at which came first. It’s not just because it’s a lot easier to do a single point of examination and line up records by data-point. Saying that sick, ugly people are badly off because they are morally flawed is comforting. It keeps you emotionally safe from the risk of becoming One Of Them.

            Just like the studies of BMI that look at what BMI is most strongly associated with positive health outcomes, if you include not dying, don’t tend to get follow-ups.
            (There’s been some cute ones that remove everyone who dies, and then compares the survivors and finds that BMI is better because *if* you survive, you don’t have as many chronic conditions. Even if both groups had the same number of chronic conditions at the start.)

            Sure, there’s folks who really do eat themselves onto morbid obesity. Same way there’s folks who really do fraud themselves into a disabled parking permit.
            It’s just not the way to bet, even if someone doesn’t have a nice, big sign across his chest saying “just going to the grocery store is going to mean three hours of agony tonight, from the nerve damage and torn muscles.”

            1. For how I found this out– it’s one of the few situations where the “Please, talk to me, I’ll listen” sign over my head comes in handy. Usually, I’ll be pulling the kids out of the way of a motorized scooter, and I’ll mention grandma or the neighbor (who had a mechanized wheelchair, though he could do a few steps). That tends to get the person on the scooter talking, and half the time they will mention how they always thought the things were stupid, and the folks using them were lazy.
              I’ll usually simplify and mention one of mom’s health conditions (breast cancer most common for women, high school sports and then work injuries for men, the blood clot specifically when I think either would go over poorly) and then just listen while they tell me when they suddenly started packing on weight like crazy.

              Sometimes it’s even drug reactions, I think we’ve got a couple of folks here who got that card– take the side-effect, or go untreated.

                1. I’ve seen people assume that mom’s shoveling food into her mouth basically any time that other people aren’t around.

                  She isn’t, but they do assume it– part of mom’s problem is that her mother spent months eating cottage cheese and lettuce while pregnant with her. >.<

            2. Dan has gained a ton of weight since his knees went bad. Partly because to stay thin he has to do four hours of exercise a day, which helped destroy his knees.
              We’re working on it.

            3. I was reacting to the Activists, the ones Rebelling Against Diet Culture because Patriarchy and Racism and REEEE!! The ‘Any attempt to reduce weight is Eeevul!’ Activists. Guess I wasn’t looking at the whole picture.

              1. Yes “fat activism” is actually insane. Not that I don’t understand them to an extent. I avoided going to the doctor for ten years, because all I got was “you need to lose weight.” And when I did a food diary they told me I was lying.
                Meanwhile I had ALL the florid signs of hypothyroidism, but not a category they like to treat, so they tested the wrong thing and told me I was fine.

              2. :thumbs up:

                Given all the TV shows pick the self-inflicted, it’s not exactly an unjustified focus. Plus…. They really are obnoxious. Even if they’re rare IRL.

                Just like all the other ‘remove morality’ stuff– they break what is there, and working. Then when stuff goes bad, they start trying to ‘fix’ it– in the same break-everything way. Because that means that they’re safe. They’re using the Holy Tokens Of Rightness, if something goes wrong a witch did it!

                It’s like how hook-up culture resulted in a huge number of wounded people– so they decided that if you get drunk and hook up, and aren’t happy, then it’s because you were raped.
                It’s not that, you know, males and females are different, hook-ups cause massive damage to the female psyche, and oh yeah it’s really not healthy for males, either. Noooo. An Evil Scapegoat caused the bad feelz.
                When they’re willing to lie to support it, it gets even harder to get good information.

  34. Sarah,

    FYI. Getting “Sorry, but the provided signature isn’t valid.” When I get the “Subscribe to this post” email. Tried both emails I have used. WP is being a pain.

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