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end civilization

"If some people hear that people want to “end civilization” they automatically respond in various negative ways because of their positive associations with the word “civilization.”" - (inthewake)

Attempts to clarify, define and describe the term tend to lead to debates about the term:civilization? and its association with outcomes humans prefer, or don't, depending largely on their relation to power networks and their experience with power structures.

One definition of civilization includes(external link) the following "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...
  • 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)."

“Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.” - anthropologist? Stanley Diamond?

Hierarchy?, command and control seem to define civilization as a culture: "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 (i.e., 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 dense enough to requite 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)."

Many people find the idea that humans might end civilization to contract some assumption that the dominant culture’s way of living is “natural”. However, human beings lived as small, ecological, participatory, equitable groups for more than 99% of human history.

Many notable books and articles compare indigenous societies to civilization?:
  • "Chellis Glendinning?’s My name is Chellis and I’m in recovery from western civilization? is an amazing and readable book, and it’s one of my favourites. You can also read an excerpt of the chapter “A Lesson in Earth Civics?” online. See http://www.eco-action.org/dt/civics.html.(external link) She has also written several related books, including When Technology Wounds - The Human Consequences of Progress?."
  • "Marshall Sahlin?’s Stone Age Economics? is a detailed classic in that same vein. You can read his essay “The Original Affluent Society?online here(external link)"
  • "Anthropologist Stanley Diamond’s book In Search of the Primitive - A Critique of Civilization? is another great classic." Jared Diamond? takes a less extreme position
  • Richard Heinberg?’s essay “The Primitivist Critique of Civilization?” is also highly readable, and online(external link)

Despite the irony? of primitivist?s using the World Wide Web, there are "good general websites with related writings, excerpts and articles:

These sources show that "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?'s ((A Language Older than Words, and Chellis Glendinning covers it as well in My name is Chellis, cover this."

Arguments for the inherent ecological unsustainability of civilization seem to focus on "the city? and industry?."



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