For the best part of 300,000 years human social groups were structured along similar lines. The social structures that existed are vague recollections to the modern mind. We don’t even have any solid concept of what life was like even 10,000 years ago.
Before the end of nomadic life basically, grandma would look after the kids while any fit and able male and female were out collecting food and gathering resources. Grandma was more likely to be the childcare provider. If she had lived that long, she would have valuable skills in raising children.
It took 300 thousand years for humans to reach 1 billion people in 1900. There is some debate as to whether life was, as so often portrayed, a tough existence of hand to mouth for pre-agricultural human history. What the record shows unequivocally, is that human beings were vastly healthier prior to the advent of agriculture. Life expectancy was surprisingly long, the only real concern was physical injuries such as broken bones not healing correctly and arthritis from overuse.
Healthy humanity disappeared with the advent of agriculture. With agriculture came a myriad of motor neuron diseases, large towns then cities and high density living. All of which created sanitary issues, a dramatic drop in the quality of food and health once nomadic life was given up for civilization.
Monuments like Stonehenge talk of a difficult time in human history, which was at the end of nomadic life. Whether it was due to overhunting or just purely the invention of agriculture, it allowed people to have stability and in turn population growth.
Stonehenge represented a celebration at a particular time of the year. Its astronomical orientation signified the transition from winter to the summer solstice and was more than likely a Stone Age public relations maneuver to promote the new agricultural lifestyle. The feast was where young people could meet and parents could party on with new and old relationships. Generally, it was about having a good time and talking about the grand old days of hunting. This was the grand plan for the construction of the stones which was a significant endeavor at the time.
More than likely, it was a panacea for the transition from nomadic to agricultural life. Agricultural life was the drudgery of digging through hard dirt to plant seeds and shoveling the shit of herded animals. The agricultural seasons were important because they could mean life or death, but in general agricultural life represented massive prosperity for the human species. It allowed us to propagate in numbers regardless of life expectancy.
The grand old days of nomadic life represented real freedom, the opportunity for the adventurous, resourceful individual/family to look for new lands and greener pastures. It was not survival of the fittest, as some may suggest. When it came to humans meeting other humans, as long as you were from the same species, you were more likely to get along and to swap valuable tips about where to find resources and how to fend off other competing homo erectus groups.
If females were only interested in the strongest males, Conan the Barbarian would look like a wimp if women continued choosing this kind of evolutionary tangent. Thankfully, females were more interested in good conversation, humor and intelligence. On the other side, men were more interested in how little hair a female had more than anything else. This kind of physical fixation has continued to be a disadvantage for males regarding partner selection.
For so called modern man, which at some point in time will be called primitive, we are left with some vague memory of true freedom, which is more than likely a fading memory of nomadic life.
Another factor that plays into our concept of true freedom comes from children. If you have ever had the opportunity to raise a child, one is amazed at their intuitive knowledge of right or wrong and what represents equality and rights. If the parent fails to provide these “rights”, more often than not the child is left resenting the parents at the time and often the child remembers this injustice for the rest of their life. This suggests that children have an innate concept of rights, wrongs, freedom and equality.
This is somewhat exaggerated in first world countries, if not taken to an extreme at present. For an Indian child working in brickworks, their comprehension of freedom would be equally as clear.
Talking of India, at some point in the distant past the DNA record suggests a cataclysmic event occurred. This left approximately 500 Indian people after the devastation. I mention this because it’s possible that the subconscious or even a collective unconscious memory of this event may have allowed the Indian nation to consider more deeply the ethereal nature of life and the science of freedom from suffering.
In Mathura in Northern India, around 3,228 BCE, the legend of Krishna begins. In many ways this marks the beginning of the next chapter in the evolution of freedom. As a child Krishna is described as a cow herder, a mischievous boy whose pranks earn him the nickname Makhan Chor (butter thief). It is difficult to gather a factual picture of who Krishna was, outside of the legend, what is clear is that he marks the beginning of a quest. The start of a path towards internal freedom and awareness.
Around 500 BCE, around 2,730 years later, Gautama Buddha arrives on the scene and takes the inner journey of self-discovery to a whole new level. Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal. Throughout the Buddha’s life, the Buddhist community in India grew. After his death the Buddha’s followers spread his teachings. Once the Buddha’s teachings were recorded in writing and thanks in large part to the ruler Ashoka who, looking to clear his conscience of his political wrongdoings, spread the tradition throughout India and onto China.
The West’s first introduction to this unique path back to freedom was in the 4 BCs and the 36 ADs with Jesus Christ. Yes, surprisingly Jesus was not born “in the year of our lord”. What he does represent is the birth of Buddhist thinking in the western world.
It can be argued, although it’s well known in India, that Jesus Christ studied Buddhism in Kashmir from the age of 12 to 29. After his mock crucifixion Jesus later returned to Kashmir to establish his own ashram to continue his teachings. Jesus Christ was greatly revered in India as a Buddha, which means “an enlightened being that has returned to help humanity on the journey to enlightenment”. The belief that Jesus survived the crucifixion and spent his remaining years in Kashmir led to a run-down shrine in Srinagar, which makes it the must-see location on the India tourist trail and is called the Rozabal shrine.
A couple of centuries later, Mohammed was pioneering his own version of a compassionate philosophy. His ideas may or may not have been directly connected to Jesus. While in a cave in Mount Hira (near Mecca) the Prophet Muhammad received his revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel. I find it difficult to believe 600 years after Jesus, Mohammed could have a completely independent worldview.
Basically, the concept of self-sacrifice was pioneered in the west by Jesus Christ.
My point here is not to diminish or dispel anyone’s religion or beliefs, it’s a shorthand version of historical events leading up to our modern concepts of freedom.
All this inner development led up to the 19 century and lays the foundation of socialist ideas. After the horrors of the First World War, where man and machine faced off on the battlefield. Centralization, with the help of its new technological sidekick mechanization, were set to take over the world, wielding fear and control in a way that mankind had never experienced or was psychologically ready for.
The power of compassion was transmuted into the sacrifice of the few for the many and the many for the few. The dark side of these ideas led directly into collectivism and statism. And, what a complete disappointment, that socialism leads to fascism. To think, the very desire to help the less fortunate, your fellow man, would lead to centralization and dictatorship, is quite surprising to say the least, but it’s a fact. This conundrum is endlessly repeated in almost every corner of the globe and will continue until we come to the realization of its folly within institutions.
Whether it’s the US Federal reserve creating inflation by money printing to save the people in our day and age or Hitler saving his people from inflation in Nazi Germany in 1938, the results are the same, power floods in to centralized control and the individual is left at the whim of powers beyond reach.
You might say, so much for the ideological inner journey from Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.
I would argue, we went off topic.
Whether it’s the Buddha or Mohammed while they were alive, they refused to have any depiction of how they looked. Jesus may have felt the same, as there were no images of Jesus until 80 years after his death. Why? Because they were aware of a particular weakness in humankind, that being to idealize greatness and to make it untouchable. We do this because we look to “the one” who can take control, “the one” who can make everything better.
To my mind, this is clearly a hangover from childhood. In childhood, we cling to the parents (the two-party system) to come to our aid, to take care of all our needs, to show the wisdom and confidence we are led to believe exists outside of ourselves. This is a denial of our potential. This is also a denial of the responsibility to our life and the people we love, by handing over control.
But this is what we have learnt through overbearing centralized schooling, centralized government, centralized infrastructure and now centralized digital control of our information and currencies. All of which, seeks to put the mess and difficulty of freedom aside, in favor of placing us comfortably in our assigned position in the machine.
We find ourselves locked down in an institutional digital concrete jungle, with the potential to devolve mankind into a childlike relationship with our overbearing overlord parents.
So, how to find our way to the edge of town, and to journey back to the wilds of freedom, the freedom of our deeply subconscious, now almost unknown nomadic selves. The problem with heading back into the mysteries of the dark forest, is the reason why we left. The unknown, and all the difficulties that comes with it.
Could leaving the stability created by nature, to a human created world of stability, of a global technological and human society work. Can the products of our exciting technology even fit in to earth’s natural systems, is another question?
The other question is, can we reconcile our inner nature of freedom, to the modern technology mantra of centralization in the name of efficiency no matter how it tries to please us.
We have reached a crossroads that in general we are completely unaware of. To centralize or decentralize.
Authoritarian and corporate control will obviously try to funnel their resources into centralization. Which in relation to this article, is an agricultural society viewpoint, where we are cogs in the machine mostly discontented and asleep. Or decentralization, where the people are driven by their entrepreneurial spirit. The laissez-faire approach is akin to a nomadic life that has everyone always on their toes and a future so bright you have to wear shades.
We have always chosen an uncomfortable combination of the two, that’s ever-changing. But will technology i.e. algorithms from artificial intelligence, have the final word on our left or right directions.
Perhaps, we can look forward to a future in the human zoo, created for us by artificial intelligence. But in this dystopian vision, the algorithm has taken into consideration these two sides of our evolutionary subconscious and decides to keep us in this state of flux for our own good.
Perhaps, we are oblivious to the fact that this has happened before. Our reality exists in this conundrum infinitum.
No doubt this scenario has played out in some forgotten time in history over the last 200,000 years, for example how far have we come in the last 100 years.
Or perhaps, as some IT types would have us consider, reality exists in a computer simulation. In the basement of a virtual reality computer of some nerd sometime in the distant future.
None of these philosophical points of view helps and is somewhat disempowering. To my mind we are more like cinema going punters, observing the flickering light projected on to a screen, a screen big enough to encompass our entire field of vision. We are immersed and mesmerized in the story, and completely forget we bought a ticket to the show.
Though as Jesus pointed out, I think he was talking more broadly than himself but to the human condition, when he said “we are the light and the way”, which suggests the light of the projector is perception itself, and the cinema film and the story projected is our mind. The mind and all the preconceptions that have been stuffed full by society over our lifetime. Mostly, the mind sees the world in ways that allows us to relate to our fellow human beings and our survival.
And this is my point, liberating ourselves from this finely balanced agricultural perception or collectivism thinking, for the rebel or nomad maybe counter-productive.
A life of complete conformity is as untenable as a life of continuous rebellion. We are in a state of flux between these two positions and for good reason, it’s our greatest tool for survival on this planet. It has allowed us to create technologies and a social structure that has allowed us to dominate this planet.
And yet as always, this flux is under increasing threat. In China a system of control is being developed which could suppress rebellion. But in doing so they remove civilizations ability to self-check. Creating bubbles, boom and bust. Whether it occurs with corruption or stagnation, a swing toward statism creates a pressure that will naturally seek some form of release.
Conversely in the United States, the spirit of individualism has led to a winner takes all plundering of the state’s resources. Both countries are at different stages of the cycle and Thucydides Trap insures that there most likely will be a changing of the guard when it comes to world hegemony.
What is important here, is that we remember the moment just before we entered the cinema. When we were considering which movie took our fancy. Which movie could capture our imagination the most? That, inner observer, the witness to all our goings on, in this technicolor cinematic event. The “one” that looks, that is the truth unchanging, the “one” that is always “here”, the “one”, that will be lining up for the movie, next time around.
The way forward is thankfully always unknown, but I must say I did appreciate the usher (the Buddha), who came to me midway through the movie and mentioned the benefits of the candy bar. Which did rather remind me of who I am, and how involved I was in all the action of the entertainment provided.
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