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on the subject, as I always do at the beginning of a “reading-crave” I find those even from the nineties are grossly outdated as new discoveries and studies invalidate them.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.