Tag Archives: agriculture

Civilization Disease

homeless

Image of homelessness from the now-defunct Italian blog Moving & Learning.

Big Pharma loves to invent new ‘diseases’ so that they can then invent dubious new drugs to ‘cure’ them, give them an official-sounding acronym (“ED” for hawking Viagra to men with low self-esteem), and then frighten you into hounding your doctor to ask if their new drug “is right for you”.

Ever since the term Information Sickness was coined, and ever since I started saying that in our modern overcrowded world we’re all suffering from a form of mental illness, I’ve been looking for a label to put on this ‘illness’. So I thought I’d invent a new disease. I’ve decided to call it Civilization Disease. I thought of calling it a ‘sickness’ but the term ‘disease’ is truly ancient, and before the invention of medicine meant literally ‘lack of room or opportunity’. Ancient peoples understood that crowding and confinement really are the causes of ‘dis-ease’.

So having named this new disease, it’s only appropriate that I provide an appropriate medical summary of it : Symptoms & Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & Prognosis, and Prevention.

Symptoms & Diagnosis:

  • Patient frequently appears anxious, distracted or depressed
  • Patient seems to be ‘disconnected’ from and distrustful of his/her instincts, feelings, sensory surroundings, and the natural world, all-life-on-Earth, with a tendency to retreat inside his/her head
  • Patient fears and hates nature and natural things, and sees nature as something that must be conquered, defeated, overcome
  • Patient is constantly competing with and trying to outperform and diminish others
  • Patient has delusions that the planet actually ‘belongs’ exclusively to his/her species
  • Patient is addicted to consumption unrelated to actual needs or even wants; this addiction is aggravated by encouragement from the corporatist establishment to get hopelessly into debt to feed this insatiable craving for ‘more stuff’
  • Patient may in particular be addicted to things made from or requiring oil, things containing artificial sugars, starches, alcohol and salt, and to desensitizing depictions of extreme violence and other activities that stimulate dopamine, adrenaline and testosterone release/reaction

Causes and Sources of Infection:

  • Disease is a form of deep-seated and chronic psychosis brought on by sustained trauma, beginning with parental humiliation whenever the infant/child patient’s behaviour is non-conforming, continuing with psychological abuse and  ritualized, relentless ‘normalizing’ propaganda from infected peers and adults in the competition-based education system, augmented by an imposed, unnatural hierarchy and scarcity in the ‘work world’ where approval is withheld, criticism and competition are constant, and the constant fear of never having enough, and by media which portray the patient as inadequate, a ‘loser’ and inevitably unhappy until/unless he/she acquires bigger, more and newer stuff
  • This continues life-long as the symptoms are reinforced by peers, friends and colleagues suffering from the same disease until the patient begins to believe this behaviour and this situation are normal, the only way to live
  • The disease is aggravated by chronic physical and mental malnutrition caused by:
    • eating processed, chemical-laden foods lacking in nutritional variety or micro-nutrients,
    • a disorienting separation from natural and peaceful places,
    • prolonged times spent in cities and other horrifically overcrowded, stressful and unnatural places,
    • exposure to unnatural toxins in the air and water, and
    • exposure to propaganda agencies that oversimplify complex issues and starve the mind of intellectual stimulation, replacing it with artificial adrenaline and dopamine stimulation.
  • The resultant stress responses disorient and confuse the patient until he/she chronically suffers from the symptoms above, and also acquires related physical and mental stress-provoked diseases, notably auto-immune diseases, asthma and allergies, cancers, attention-deficit diseases, and anxiety, depression and bipolar diseases

Treatment & Prognosis:

  • Proper treatment is unavailable and unaffordable for the vast majority, who are fated to suffer with the disease from onset in young childhood until death from diseases with related causes
  • Patients need to be removed, ideally at a young age, to a natural, healthy, sustainable environment, away from other sufferers, and for a protracted period; there, with therapy from others who have recovered and with practice, they can begin to reconnect with their instincts, senses, feelings and all-life-on-Earth, and come to understand how industrial civilization really works and why it must be dismantled to provide hope to other sufferers, and begin to discover a better way to live and make a living — the prognosis for such patients is good, though the threat of relapse if re-exposed to the above causes is constant
  • Until the causes noted above are systemically reduced or eliminated, the prognosis is for the current global epidemic of Civilization Disease to infect every human on the planet, as there is no natural immunity for the disease

Prevention:

  • For children not yet infected:
    • move the child to a natural, peaceful place, away from the sources of infection above
    • unschool the child, to enable him/her to learn naturally
    • bring the child up collectively in natural community with others who are not infected
  • There is no vaccine for this disease

 

http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2010/01/06/civilization-disease/

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Depression Is A Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key To the Cure

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“Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression within their lifetimes, and the rate is increasing with every generation.

It robs people of sleep, energy, focus, memory, sex drive and their basic ability to experience the pleasures of life, says author of The Depression Cure Stephen Ildari. It can destroy people’s desire to love, work, play and even their will to live. If left unchecked it can cause permanent brain damage.

Depression lights up the pain circuitry of the brain to such an extent that many of Ildari’s psychiatric patients have called it torment, agony and torture. “Many begin to look to death as a welcome means of escape,” he said in a Ted Talks presentation.

But depression is not a natural disease. It is not an inevitable part of being human. Ildari argues, like many diseases, depression is a disease of civilization. It’s a disease caused by a high-stress, industrialized, modern lifestyle that is incompatible with our genetic evolution.

Depression is the result of a prolonged stress-response, Ildari said. The brain’s “runaway stress response” – as he calls it – is similar to the fight or flight response, which evolved to help our ancestors when they faced predators or other physical dangers. The runaway stress response required intense physical activity for a few seconds, a few minutes, or – in extreme cases – a few hours.

“The problem is for many people throughout the Western world, the stress response goes on for weeks, months and even years at a time, and when it does that, it’s incredibly toxic,” Ildari said.

Living under continually stressful conditions – as many modern humans do – is disruptive to neuro-chemicals like dopamine and seratonin, which can lead to sleep disturbance, brain damage, immune dysregulation and inflammation, Ildari says.

Civilization is the disease

hadza-dance-tanzania_13187_990x742Epidemiologists have now identified a long list of other stress-related diseases as “diseases of civilization” – diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity and cancer. These diseases are rampant throughout the developed world, but virtually non-existent among modern-day aboriginal peoples.

In a study of 2000 Kaluli aborigines from Papua New Guinea, only one marginal case of clinical depression was found. Why? Because the Kaluli lifestyle is very similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lifestyle that lasted for nearly 2 million years before agriculture, Ildari said.

“99.9 percent of the human experience was lived in a hunter-gatherer context,” he added. “Most of the selection pressures that have sculpted and shaped our genomes are really well adapted for that environment and that lifestyle.”

In view of nearly 3 million years of hominid existence, since homo habilis first began use of stone tools, our genus has undergone rapid environmental change since the advent of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. And in the last 200 years, since the industrial revolution, our species has had to cope with what Ildari calls “radical environmental mutation.”

While our environment has radically mutated, our human genome is essentially the same as it was 200 years ago, Ildari says. “That’s only eight generations. It’s not enough time [for significant genetic adaptations].”

“There’s a profound mismatch between the genes we carry, the bodies and brains that they are building, and the world that we find ourselves in,” he said. “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived frenzied pace of modern life.”

The Cure

Though he’s not entirely opposed to medication, Ildari says we can throw all the drugs in the world at the depression epidemic, and it won’t make a dent.

Anti depressant use has gone up 300 percent in the last 20 years, but the rate of depression has continued to increase. One in nine Americans over age 12 is currently taking an antidepressant, and one in five have been on them at some point.

The answer, Ildari says, is a change in lifestyle. He says the results of his six step program have exceeded his wildest dreams:

1. Exercise

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

3. Sunlight

4. Healthy Sleep

5. Anti-ruminative activity

6. Social connection

In his presentation, he emphasized the importance of exercise and social connection, as they are two of the hardest parts of the program for modern Americans.

Exercise is ‘not natural’

Ildari says the results of exercise on depression are so powerful that if they could be reduced into a pill, it would be the most expensive pill on earth. The problem is 60 percent of American adults get no regular physical activity. Ildari says it’s not their fault. Between long days at work and household and family responsibilities to attend to, who has the time or energy to hit the gym?

The dirty little secret about exercise, Ildari says, is “it is not natural.” We are designed to be physically active “in the service of adapted goals,” not to exercise on a hamster wheel.

Hunter gatherers get four or more hours of vigorous physical activity every day, but if you ask them they will tell you they don’t exercise, Ildari says. “They don’t work out. Working out would be crazy to them. They live.”

“When you put a lab rat on a treadmill … it will squat down on it’s haunches, and the treadmill starts to rub the fur and the skin right off it’s back side,” he said. “When you stare at a piece of exercise equipment, there is a part of your brain that’s screaming out ‘Don’t do it! You’re not going anywhere!’”

If you can’t go out gathering your own nuts and berries or hunting your own meat, Ildari recommends brisk walking with a friend. Walking for 30 minutes, three times a week, has better effects on depression than Zoloft, he said.

Social Connection

Another huge factor in modern depression is the lack of social connection in our modern nuclear-family bubbles. “Face-time with our loved ones puts the breaks on our stress response,” Ildari says.

The problem is we’ve replaced face-time with screen-time. “Our hunter gatherer ancestors spent all day every day in the company of their loved ones.”

Unfortunately illness, including mental illness, triggers people to isolate themselves, which only makes depression worse.

“Resist the urge to withdraw,” Ildari says, “because when you’re ill, your body tells you to shut down and pull away. When you have the flu, that’s adaptive. When you have depression, it’s the worst thing in the world you could do.”

Rewilding and Tribal Living

What Ildari didn’t mention in his Ted Talk is how difficult his cure is for most modern humans to attain. Sure, we’d all like more fresh air, sunlight, exercise, a better diet, better sleep, less monotonous work, and more interaction with loved ones, but who has time for all that?

I’m stuck here staring at my screen typing about it in an effort to make a living for myself, and many of you don’t even have time to read this article because you have 50+ hours-a-week jobs of your own. Meanwhile, immediate-return hunter-gatherers work an average of 17 hours a week. In this world, we certainly can’t just quit our jobs to be less stressed, when the financial stress would create more stress.

In my opinion, the answer lies in baby steps. Baby steps away from dependence on civilization, and toward nature, earth skills, and self-sustaining communal living. These are things I plan to learn more about while building this website. I’m excited to share what I learn with you, and hope you’ll share your knowledge with me.”

http://returntonow.net/2016/02/24/the-caveman-cure-for-depression/

Definition of Civilization

Deyaar-12

Aric McBay
Originally published at inthewake.org

When some people hear that we want to “end civilization” they initially respond negatively, because of their positive associations with the word “civilization.” This piece is an attempt to clarify, define and describe what I mean by “civilization.”

One dictionary definition1 reads:

civilization

  1. a society in an advanced state of social development (eg, with complex legal and political and religious organizations); “the people slowly progressed from barbarism to civilization” [syn: civilisation]
  2. the social process whereby societies achieve civilization [syn: civilisation]
  3. a particular society at a particular time and place; “early Mayan civilization” [syn: culture, civilisation]
  4. the quality of excellence in thought and manners and taste; “a man of intellectual refinement”; “he is remembered for his generosity and civilization” [syn: refinement, civilisation]

The synonyms include “advancement,” “breeding,” “civility,” “cultivation,” “culture,” “development,” “edification,” “education,” “elevation,” “enlightenment,” “illumination,” “polish,” “progress,” and “refinement”. Of course. As Derrick Jensen asks, “can you imagine writers of dictionaries willingly classifying themselves as members of ‘a low, undeveloped, or backward state of human society’?”

In contrast, the antonyms of “civilization” include “barbarism,” “savagery,” “wilderness,” and “wildness.” These are the words that civilized people use to refer to those they view as being outside of civilization—in particular, indigenous peoples. “Barbarous,” as in “barbarian,” comes from a Greek word, meaning “non-Greek, foreign.” The word “savage” comes from the Latin “silvaticus” meaning “of the woods.” The origins seem harmless enough, but it’s very instructive to see how civilized people have used these words2:

barbarity

  1. The quality of being shockingly cruel and inhumane [syn: atrocity, atrociousness, barbarousness, heinousness]
  2. A brutal barbarous savage act [syn: brutality, barbarism, savagery]

savagery

  1. The quality or condition of being savage.
  2. An act of violent cruelty.
  3. Savage behavior or nature; barbarity.

These associations of cruelty with the uncivilized are, however, in glaring opposition to the historical record of interactions between civilized and indigenous peoples.

Let us take one of the most famous examples of “contact” between civilized and indigenous peoples. When Christopher Columbus first arrived in the “Americas” he noted that he was impressed by the indigenous peoples, writing in his journal that they had a “naked innocence … They are very gentle without knowing what evil is, without killing, without stealing.”

And so he decided “they will make excellent servants.”

In 1493, with the permission of the Spanish Crown, he appointed himself “viceroy and governor” of the Caribbean and the Americas. He installed himself on the island now divided between Haiti and the Dominican republic and began to systematically enslave and exterminate the indigenous population. (The Taino population of the island was not civilized, in contrast to the civilized Inca who the conquistadors also invaded in Central America.) Within three years he had managed to reduce the indigenous population from eight million to three million. By 1514 only 22,000 of the indigenous population remained, and after 1542 they were considered extinct.3

The tribute system, instituted by [Columbus] sometime in 1495, was a simple and brutal way of fulfilling the Spanish lust for gold while acknowledging the Spanish distaste for labor. Every Taino over the age of fourteen had to supply the rulers with a hawk’s bell of gold every three months (or, in gold-deficient areas, twenty-five pounds of spun cotton; those who did were given a token to wear around their necks as proof that they had made their payment; those did not were … “punished” – by having their hands cut off … and [being] left to bleed to death.4

More than 10,000 people were killed this way during Columbus’ time as governor. On countless occasions, these civilized invaders engaged in torture, rape, and massacres. The Spaniards

… made bets as to who would slit a man in two, or cut off his head at one blow; or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mother’s breast by their feet and dashed their heads against the rocks … They spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords.5

On another occasion:

A Spaniard … suddenly drew his sword. Then the whole hundred drew theirs and began to rip open the bellies, to cut and kill – men, women, children and old folk, all of whom were seated off guard and frightened … And within two credos, not a man of them there remains alive. The Spaniards enter the large house nearby, for this was happening at its door, and in the same way, with cuts and stabs, began to kill as many as were found there, so that a stream of blood was running, as if a number of cows had perished.6

This pattern of one-way, unprovoked, inexcusable cruelty and viciousness occurred in countless interactions between civilized and indigenous people through history.

wetiko

This phenomena is well-documented in excellent books including Ward Churchill’s A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present, Kirkpatrick Sale’sThe Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, and Dee Brown’sBury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. Farley Mowat’s books, especially Walking on the Land, The Deer People, and The Desperate People document this as well with an emphasis on the northern and arctic regions of North America.

There is also good information in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States andVoices of a People’s History of the United States. Eduardo Galeando’s incredible Memory of Firetrilogy covers this topic as well, with an emphasis on Latin America (this epic trilogy reviews numerous related injustices and revolts). Jack D Forbes’ book Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism and Terrorism is highly recommended. You can also find information in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, although I often disagree with the author’s premises and approach.

The same kind of attacks civilized people committed against indigenous peoples were also consistently perpetrated against non-human animal and plant species, who were wiped out (often deliberately) even when civilized people didn’t need them for food; simply as blood-sport. For further readings on this, check out great books like Farley Mowat’s extensive and crushing Sea of Slaughter, or Clive Ponting’s A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations (which also examines precivilized history and European colonialism).

With this history of atrocity in mind, we should (if we haven’t already) cease using the propaganda definitions of civilized as “good” and uncivilized as “bad” and seek a more accurate and useful definition. Anthropologists and other thinkers have come up with a number of somewhat less biased definitions of civilization.

Nineteenth century English anthropologist E B Tylor defined civilization as life in cities that is organized by government and facilitated by scribes (which means the use of writing). In these societies, he noted, there is a resource “surplus”, which can be traded or taken (though war or exploitation) which allows for specialization in the cities.

Derrick Jensen, having recognized the serious flaws in the popular, dictionary definition of civilization, writes:

I would define a civilization much more precisely, and I believe more usefully, as a culture – that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts – that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities (civilization, see civil: from civis, meaning citizen, from latin civitatis, meaning state or city), with cities being defined – so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on – as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life.

Jensen also observes that because cities need to import these necessities of life and to grow, they must also create systems for the perpetual centralization of resources, yielding “an increasing region of unsustainability surrounded by an increasingly exploited countryside.”

global-warming-information-kids

Contemporary anthropologist John H Bodley writes: “The principle function of civilization is to organize overlapping social networks of ideological, political, economic, and military power that differentially benefit privileged households.”7 In other words, in civilization institutions like churches, corporations and militaries exist and are used to funnel resources and power to the rulers and the elite.

The twentieth century historian and sociologist Lewis Mumford wrote one of my favourite and most cutting and succinct definitions of civilization. He uses the term civilization

… to denote the group of institutions that first took form under kingship. Its chief features, constant in varying proportions throughout history, are the centralization of political power, the separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor, the mechanization of production, the magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal introduction of slavery and forced labor for both industrial and military purposes.8

Taking various anthropological and historical definitions into account, we can come up with some common properties of civilizations (as opposed to indigenous groups).

  • People live in permanent settlements, and a significant number of them in cities.
  • The society depends on large-scale agriculture (which is needed to support dense, non-food-growing urban populations).
  • The society has rulers and some form of “aristocracy” with centralized political, economic, and military power, who exist by exploiting the mass of people.
  • The elite (and possibly others) use writing and numbers to keep track of commodities, the spoils of war, and so on.
  • There is slavery and forced labour either by the direct use of physical violence, or by economic coercion and violence (through which people are systematically deprived of choices outside the wage economy).
  • There are large armies and institutionalized warfare.
  • Production is mechanized, either through physical machines or the use of humans as though they were machines (this point will be expanded on in other writings here soon).
  • Large, complex institutions exist to mediate and control the behaviour of people, through as their learning and worldview (schools and churches), as well as their relationships with each other, with the unknown, and with the nature world (churches and organized religion).

Anthropologist Stanley Diamond recognized the common thread in all of these attributes when he wrote; “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home”.9

This common thread is control. Civilization is a culture of control. In civilizations, a small group of people controls a large group of people through the institutions of civilization. If they are beyond the frontier of that civilization, then that control will come in the form of armies and missionaries (be they religious or technical specialists). If the people to be controlled are inside of the cities, inside of civilization, then the control may come through domestic militaries (ie, police). However, it is likely cheaper and less overtly violent to condition of certain types of behaviour through religion, schools or media, and related means, than through the use of outright force (which requires a substantial investment in weapons, surveillance and labour).

That works very effectively in combination with economic and agricultural control. If you control the supply of food and other essentials of life, people have to do what you say or they die. People inside of cities inherently depend on food systems controlled by the rulers to survive, since the (commonly accepted) definition of a city is that the population is dense enough to require the importation of food.

For a higher degree of control, rulers have combined control of food and agriculture with conditioning that reinforces their supremacy. In the dominant, capitalist society, the rich control the supply of food and essentials, and the content of the media and the schools. The schools and workplaces act as a selection process: those who demonstrate their ability to cooperate with those in power by behaving properly and doing what they’re told at work and school have access to higher paying jobs involving less labour. Those who cannot or will not do what they’re told are excluded from easy access to food and essentials (by having access only to menial jobs), and must work very hard to survive, or become poor and/or homeless. People higher on this hierarchy are mostly spared the economic and physical violence imposed on those lower on the hierarchy. A highly rationalized system of exploitation like this helps to increase the efficiency of the system by reducing the chance of resistance or outright rebellion of the populace.

The media’s propaganda systems have most people convinced that this system is somehow “natural” or “necessary”—but of course, it is both completely artificial and a direct result of the actions of those in power (and the inactions of those who believe that they benefit from it, or are prevented from acting through violence or the threat of violence).

In contradiction to the idea that the dominant culture’s way of living is “natural,” human beings lived as small, ecological, participatory, equitable groups for more than 99% of human history. There are a number of excellent books and articles comparing indigenous societies to civilization:

  • Chellis Glendinning’s My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization (Shambhala, 1994). You can read an excerpt of the chapter “A Lesson in Earth Civics.” She has also written several related books, including When Technology Wounds: The Human Consequences of Progress (Morrow, 1990).
  • Marshall Sahlin’s Stone Age Economics (Adline, 1972) is a detailed classic in that same vein. You can read his essay “The Original Affluent Society.”
  • Anthropologist Stanley Diamond’s book In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization (Transaction Publishers, 1987).
  • Richard Heinberg’s essay “The Primitivist Critique of Civilization.”

These sources show there were healthy, equitable and ecological communities in the past, and that they were the norm for countless generations. It is civilization that is monstrous and aberrant.

Living inside of the controlling environment of civilization is an inherently traumatic experience, although the degree of trauma varies with personal circumstance and the amounts of privilege different people have in society. Derrick Jensen makes this point very well in A Language Older than Words (Context Books, 2000), and Chellis Glendinning covers it as well in My name is Chellis.

( link: http://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/repression/civilization-definition/ )