Saturday, January 01, 2022

SOCIETY BEFORE DOMINATION

 

Warning – long read. This was written in 2018 and covers some of the territory of DAWN OF EVERYTHING. If written today would be nuanced by DAWN. It is part of a larger work called ETHICS, ANARCHISM and HUMAN CONDITION published in January of 2021

"One of the best kept secrets is that practically all of the material and social technologies fundamental to civilization were developed before the imposition of dominator society." 1
At one time, there was a common world view; one that emphasized unity, the sacredness of nature and the common good. At a certain point in history this unity was sundered, the common good reduced to the needs of a parasitic minority and nature as wealth to plunder. How this came about is a very important question. To begin to answer this we have to look more closely at the social and economic lives of early humans and the historic peoples who still lived in relative harmony with nature and each other.
We have already seen in a previous chapter how this world-view is based upon inter-relationship and unity. Rather than reiterate, I will leave you with three examples only. The motto of Clayquot Sound people of Vancouver Island, Hishuk ish Ts'awalk (everything is one) The Nuu Chach Nulth perspective is "Nothing is isolated from other aspects of life surrounding it and within it. This concept is the basis for the respect for nature that our people live with." 2 Further north, on Haida Gwaii, the Haida concepts yahquudanga (respect for everything) and gina'waadiuuxan gud ad kwasid (everything depends on everything else) reflect the same conception of existence. That such a world-view should deeply effect and reflect the social life of these peoples should seem obvious to the reader.
Land Tenure Social life was based on what was in essence a cooperative, communally-owned economy. This cooperation lay at the very root of what it means to be human. As Richard Leakey pointed out, food sharing is the essence of reciprocity, and is something only humans do. 3 Social life was what made us intelligent, and this was rooted in sharing. 4 . According to anthropologist Levi Strauss, "reciprocity as mutual exchange [is the] fundamental structural principle of societies." 5 A food-sharing society is, of course, one that is highly egalitarian, as compared with a system where the means of existence are appropriated and consumed by a minority.
For cooperation to exist beyond a mere handful of people , sedentary living was necessary. While the remains of long houses and small villages can be found dating back to 20-30,000 years, the great move to sedentary existence came with the improved rainfall after 13,000 BCE. More rain meant more plants and no need for migration. 6. The drought of Younger Dryas period, circa 10,000 BCE, triggered agriculture. Sedentary living preceded plant domestication, and farming was “no great conceptual break” since semi-farming was done by hunter-gatherers. 7. When conditions were right – less ability to easily forage – the transition to crop growing was made.
In spite of the development of agriculture, European forest clearing was "minimal" until 1000 BCE. Early farmers were also foragers, but the clearing that happened after 1000 BCE made the fall back on wild foods difficult for some populations. 8. Europe was mostly covered with heavy forest until Roman times and the ease or difficulty of survival for farmers depended upon proximity to fishing and hunting grounds . Virtually from the beginning of agriculture, if people became fully dependent upon crops produced in a climatically dry area, such as Jericho circa 6700 BCE, environmental degradation resulted. 9. Famine caused such systems to collapse and populations to disburse to other areas.
Hence, Archaic and Aboriginal egalitarian societies practiced foraging, horticulture and animal domestication. It is an error to fetishize the various economic developments amongst these peoples as rigid 'stages' of history. As hinted at in the preceding paragraph, when people started planting crops or keeping sheep, they did not stop fishing, hunting, gathering wild plants, fruit and nuts. Foraging complemented the agricultural. What was produced was a balanced economy and thus a balanced diet. All natural economies are thus mixed economies, and few, if any, free peasant communities were ever purely agricultural. Only with the advent of the state and class division, were peasants reduced to the role of purely agricultural producers – and that was for the masters, and even then, the Commons with its foraging rights continued to exist until the 19th Century.
It has long been thought that women developed agriculture. Whether this is true or not, most Aboriginal cultures see women as the 'moving spirit' behind agriculture and the sedentary life. 10. It is not hard to see that a sedentary life would improve the lives of women and children, as compared to a nomadic existence.
Nor can agriculture be blamed for the resulting class division and state-building. Recent studies show "repeatedly" that inequality is "more than simply an epiphenomenon." [of agriculture] 11. One need only ask how it was that the peoples of New Guinea had a yam-based economy for 8000 years and never developed a state or classes. Or how the Hopi, Wendat, and Iroquois grew crops for 2000 years and rather than building a state, went in the opposite direction. Authoritarian relations are much more than an 'epiphenomenon' of agriculture, indeed, agriculture is only a necessary precondition. But a precondition is not a cause. The cause must be found elsewhere.
The development of agriculture did not necessarily mean conflict with the earlier forager populations, as they occupied different ecological niches. The earliest agriculturalists of Europe came from the Near East and settled "in exactly those areas avoided by hunters and gatherers", ie, river valleys and loess plains of Danube basin, circa 5600 BCE 12. Farming spread from the Ukraine to France in about 300 years. There was a uniformity of burial styles, architecture and artifacts, among these peoples, showing that foragers became farmers. There is "overwhelming evidence against population replacement in the spread of the Neolithic." 13
Land tenure was on a usufruct basis. Forests, meadows and uncleared land were held in common.14. Communal lands not used for cultivation were open to all for hunting, fishing, plants and timber. Usufruct "ensured an equitable distribution of property... prevented land hoarding for wealth and status." 15. Generally, land was not bought or sold. It could be loaned but never permanently alienated, since the land did not belong only to the present people, but future generations as well. 16. According to the Jesuit chronicler, Charlevoix, writing in the 17th Century New France, Indigenous people "... hold that all things should be common to all men." 17 No First Nations people ever thought of property as a commodity or even an absolute right. .
This communal concept did not vanish with the arrival of the European invaders. In Indian Territory (Oklahoma) "not a pauper in that nation, and the nation did not owe a dollar... and it built its own schools and hospitals... Yet the defect of the system was apparent... they own their land in common. It is Henry George's system and under that there is no enterprise to make your home better than your neighbors. There is no selfishness, which is the bottom of civilization..."18.
Nor was this land tenure system limited to the Americas. Indeed, it was universal before the development of class division and the state. For example, the Celts had communal land ownership, which the Romans replaced with private ownership when they conquered them. 19 The Brehon Laws of Ireland had the land shared by kinship groups. This was destroyed and turned into private property by the English in the 17th Century. 20. In Highland Scotland the clans owned the land. The clan chief was a nominal owner only, like the Queen of England as nominal owner of the United Kingdom. 21
For the Germanic tribes, “The land which was not taken possession of by the village remained at the disposal of the hundred. [local regional government of several villages] What was not assigned to the latter remained for the shire...[ county] 22 In Switzerland the lands were allotted to each family to grow crops. Once the harvest was over, the land returned to the commons to be used as a communal pasture. 23
“Thus in Sweden we find all these different stages of common holding side by side. Each village had its village common land (bys almänningar), and beyond this was the hundred common land (härads), the shire common land (lands), and finally the people’s common land. In Caesar’s time, one of the largest tribes, the Suevi,... cultivated their fields in common... Tacitus (150 years after Caesar) only mentions the tilling of the soil by individual families. But the land to be tilled only belonged to them for a year. Every year it was divided up anew and redistributed.” 24. In Kievan Russia, the peasants were defacto owners of the land, though it was nominally owned by the prince. “The peasant held his land from the commune.” 25.
Political Structure According to social critic Jerry Mander, "Virtually all traditional tribal people share three primary political principles; 1. All land, water and forest community owned... 2. all tribal decisions by consensus, in which every member participates. 3. chiefs are not coercive, authoritarian rulers... more like teachers or facilitators. According to anthropologist Pierre Clastres "no relationship of command-obedience is in force." 27. Other scholars and commentators agree with Mander's observations: North West Coast chiefs had to seek advice from councils. "... they had little direct power over free individuals... little evidence they had power over the estate or fellow house members." 28.
While villages and bands were autonomous, this did not mean there was no mutual aid or peaceful relations among these groups. Cooperation sometimes came about in reaction to outside forces. The Chumash in California faced a major drought circa 1150 AD and began to fight over scarce resources. They realized the danger of this and cooperated, shifting their resource extraction from plant food to seafood. The Chumash were "without rigid social ranks, warriors or slaves...[their society] arose as a brilliant solution to an unpredictable world of climatic extremes. 29.
The traditional reason for the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy was an attempt to overcome the violence among the various Iroquoian speaking groups. As relative newcomers to the north eastern part of North America, they were probably under pressure from the previous inhabitants. The 13h Century saw a cooling of the climate, which also would have made life more difficult for them and would also contribute to inter-group conflict.
Hul'qui'num Villages of Vancouver Island were in "loose alliances" with each other for food gathering and defense. There was "no formal organization, no village chief or council. Co-operation and ad hoc leadership [was] for specific purposes, exercised by virtue of specific skills." 30. In reference to the Montagnais people "... they have neither political organization... nor authority... therefore they never kill each other to acquire these honours... not one of them gives himself to the Devil to acquire wealth." Also the women held "great power". 31. " [They] ... cannot endure in the least those who seem desirous of assuming superiority over the others." 32. The Malecite (New Brunswick) met at an annual council to settle disputes and re-allocate hunting grounds. 33. The Ojibwa and Saulteaux, had a highly diffused, non-hierarchical form of governance. 34. . For the Athabaska, leadership was from anyone showing ability, including women. 35. The Coast Salish had house chiefs from both sexes, but their power was circumscribed. There was no central authority in spite of a very hierarchical status system. 36.
The early anthropologist W.H. Maine described the villages in India, "The council of village elders does not command anything... nor is there right or duty in an Indian village; a person aggrieved complains not of an individual wrong, but of the disturbance of the order of the entire society." 26 This latter is much like First Nations attitudes to wrongs committed, rather than punishment of , the main concern is restoring harmony to the group.
Nor was this egalitarianism restricted just to the Americas or to 'simple' foraging societies.
"The principle characteristics of incipiently stratified societies in much of later prehistoric Europe is the relatively small scale of inequality." 37. According to Colin Renfrew, a "group oriented politics" prevailed in megalithic Europe and Malta with monumental architecture, but no individual displays of wealth. 38. The civilization of the Indus Valley was "the most egalitarian of all." 39. For ancient Ireland, it was "difficult in the court tombs context to point out any object... that screamed 'kingship' or even exalted states for any individual." 40. In Bronze Age Europe there were "no powerful kings or centralized bureaucracies... most people lived in small villages much the same as the first farmers 3000 years earlier.” 41. There was "No evidence in all Old Europe of patriarchal chieftanates." 42. At a much later date, the chiefs in Celtic and Germanic societies prior to feudalism '... were subjected to the authority of the councils... the powers... belonged to the community meeting in full assembly." 43.
The natural unit in Native American society was the self-governing village.
Each village owned its surrounding territory and the 'tribe' was a European invention. 44. The self-governing village would have been the common system with foragers and non-class divided agriculturalists, elsewhere in the world. Nor were these villages necessarily tiny hamlets of a few dozen people. Wendat villages had up to 2500 or more inhabitants. 45. Cowichan villages could have as many as 1700 inhabitants. 46. The Eastern Bororo of Matto Grosso has villages of 1500 people. 47
If you look at these villages in terms of contemporary mega-cities, you will not understand the significance of their population size. By way of comparison, we have population figures from late 17th Century England. In 1688 three quarters of England lived in villages. They averaged less than 200 inhabitants. 16% lived in towns or cities, the average size little more than 1000 people. 48. About one fifth of the villages were free, ie run by the peasants themselves. The gentry, who were only 5% of the population, controlled two thirds of the territory. 49. Note also, the difference in land tenure between the English peasants and Aboriginal farmers. Unlike their Native American contemporaries, 80% of them were dominated by a parasitic 'nobility.'
How did village-based societies relate to other groups? While conflict certainly existed, it was not necessarily dominant. The Cree had a word for the type of relations they sought. This word was witaskewin – and its meaning was, "How people not of same nation can live together... [by] continually re-negotiated peaceful co-existence." 50. The natural outcome of witaskewin was to form confederacies with other groups, and if not confederacies, informal, peaceful relations based upon trade or defense. The most famous confederacy was that of the Iroquois, but the concept was widespread. Other groups must have had their own witaskawin philosophy.
In fourth millennium Western Mediterranean societies, it was "difficult to detect warlike activities." 51. The more violent Bell Beaker culture penetrated the Western Mediterranean from 2450-on. A mass burial of war victims at La Vacause occurred approximately 2000 BCE. 52. 2000 BCE, was, of course, more than 4000 years after agriculture developed in that area. There was little evidence of violence in Neolithic and early Bronze Age Ireland, but a "formidable arsenal of weapons" have been found from late Bronze Age. 53.
The following people formed confederacies; The four different Algonquin peoples in the Maine - New Brunswick area, 54. the Blackfoot Confederacy of Blood, Peigan, Blackfoot and Sub-arctic Algonquin and the Sioux had a confederacy of seven groups. 55. The Wendat were some 40,000 people in twenty five villages divided into five groups. 56. The Wendat confederacy was not just for peace but also for trade. Alliances were also made with Eries and Montagnais, as well as Mi'kmaq, Penobscots and Delawares on the Atlantic coast – a vast network of trade and friendship. 57. The Eastern Bororo showed little sign of inter-village violence. They had four different clans. Some fifty four villages were confederated and former enemies, the Kayapo, Karowa, Kurogi also joined up. "By the establishment of ritual names and reciprocity... internal peace became part of the new morality." 58.
Complex cooperative concepts of land usage also played a political role. Saltspring Island was jointly owned by the Cowichan, Snuneymuxw, Penelakut and Saanich nations. The Europeans could not understand this, "the difficulty arising from the Indian custom of descent from the female side..." Also "because of complex inter-village kinship, warfare among Hul'qui'num [was] practically non-existent." 59.
Why Did the Egalitarian Societies Change?
"No possibility that the [patriarchical] could have developed out of the Old European matrilineal... balanced society... a collision of two ideologies, not an evolution." p. 396 Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, Harper, 1991
Until 400 years ago, at least one third of the population lived in stateless societies. 1600 marks the beginning of the hegemony of the state. p. 14, James C. Scott, Against the Grain, Yale, 2017
“One True God, one true answer, and one right way... results in a social structure consisting of specialists... ranked in terms of prestige... results in [a] social class structure.” Leroy Little Bear , in John Ralston Saul, The Comeback, Viking, 2014, p. 228
The classical Marxist view of the demise of what they called "primitive communism", i.e., the egalitarian societies of the prehistoric period, has been contradicted by anthropology and archeology. The Marxist concept is that early humans lived in such material scarcity they were forced to share out of necessity. Once agriculture arrived, there was now a storable surplus of wealth and eventually this was appropriated by the higher-status individuals like chiefs and shamans. This gave rise to class society – and the state which was needed to preserve with violence this class inequality.
This Hobbsian view of foragers has been contradicted by paleontologists - one example being the height of hunter-gatherers. A people living in scarcity would have a lower protein diet and hence would be short in stature. But the decline in height comes after foraging was replaced by the agricultural states. Evidence shows there was plenty of food for foragers during the paleolithic. Agriculture is also not necessary for storable wealth. There were many rich non-agricultural societies like Kwakwakawak and Tsmishian, who engaged in the smoking and drying of fish, and the manufacture of other storable food items. Humans were storing parched grain 28,000 BCE, Salting, drying and smoking of meat began long before agriculture. Some paleontologists are of the view that the semi-domestication of reindeer was occurring 20,000 years ago. Nor were storable food items the only forms of wealth that could be accumulated. Trade in shells, and useful tool-making stone like flint, nephrite, and obsidian, long preceded agriculture.
As for the origins of crop-growing, Scientists never thought to search for the origins of agriculture in the tropical regions and so reduced its origins to the Middle East. There is strong evidence that in the tropical areas humans were altering the landscape as far back as 45,000 years ago, and no clear cut division between foraging and growing.. “{Using techniques ranging from genetic sampling of forest ecosystems and isotope analysis of human teeth, to soil analysis and lidar, the researchers have found ample evidence that people at the equator were actively changing the natural world to make it more human-centric... people began burning down vegetation to make room for plant resources and homes. Over millennia, the simple practice of burning back forest evolved. People mixed specialized soils for growing plants; they drained swamps for agriculture; they domesticated animals like chickens; and they farmed yam, taro, sweet potato, chili pepper, black pepper, mango, and bananas. “
“[Scientists ]...realized they'd discovered a global pattern. Very similar evidence for ancient farming could be seen in equatorial Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia...They are challenging the idea of a "Neolithic revolution" ... In the tropics, there was no bright line between a nomadic existence and agricultural life...So rather than huge leaps, what we see is a continuation of this local knowledge and adaptation in these regions through time...Humans were clearly modifying environments and ...20,000 years ago in Melanesia, they were performing the extensive drainage of landscapes at Kuk Swamp to farm yams [and] bananas... There is also evidence that as soon as humans reached South America [and] took up residence in the Amazon [they] began farming.” 60.
While the "scarcity of primitive communism" is an erroneous assumption, so too, is the idea that agriculture leads automatically to state and class formation. As before mentioned, the people of Papua have been growing yams for 8000 years, but only got a state when the Europeans imposed it upon them in the 20th Century. The Iroquoian people were agricultural for over a thousand years and rather than developing state and class division went in the opposite direction, one of stateless confederalism. Numerous other examples could be given. The reality is, all states have developed out of agricultural societies, but not all agricultural societies have developed states. Thus agriculture is a necessary pre-condition for state and class division, but cannot be the essential cause. This must be found elsewhere.
According to John C. Scott, “All classical states based on grains, History records no cassava states, no sago, yam, plantain... states... only grains suited best to concentrated production.” “State formation becomes possible only when there are few alternatives to a diet dominated by domesticated grains.” 61. A broad subsistence web, foraging combined with crops and animals makes state formation difficult, 62. which is why Indigenous people of the Eastern USA, Old Europeans, Celtic, Teutonic and Slavic tribes – all grain growers, never produced a state. They were not dependent on grains. When the state arose in these areas it was imposed from without.
For liberal anthropologists like Jared Diamond, states arise from chiefdoms through competition and conquest. 63. Here the problem is that chiefdoms have existed for thousands of years without becoming states and tribes have raided and feuded all this time without conquering territory and establishing a state. The best example of this is Papua with its thousands of tiny feuding chiefdoms and nary a state. Thus chiefdoms with their competition and feuding, though necessary preconditions, cannot be an essential cause.
The science of paleoclimatology provides a possible answer.
Climate Change As Major Factor The growing of crops in the tropics began about 30,000 years ago. At this point in our knowledge we can only speculate that refugees from the flooding of the coastal plains due to the melting of the glaciers might have influenced the development of farming in the Middle East. Whatever the origins, it commenced there about 11,000 BCE and was fairly well established 2000 years later. 64. According to the American Geographical Union, climate around the time the Middle Eastern agricultural societies developed was warm and damp. This climate persisted roughly 7000 to 3000 BCE, but there were many fluctuations. Around 6200 BCE agricultural development received a severe set-back due to the flooding of glacial waters into the Atlantic Ocean. This created an arid climate in Europe and the Middle East. Conflict erupted in central Anatolia and destruction of villages by fire resulted. 65.
Increasing humidity in Europe after 6000 BCE, encouraged farmers to follow the improving climate north and west. 66. A hot, dryer climate began to emerge about 4700 BCE, persisting to 3500 BCE. At this time the Sahara Lakes and the Ural Steppes begin to dry up. Agrarian societies also disappeared in Greece and Britain. 67. Around 2200 BCE a climate crisis severely effected much of the world. Old Kingdom Egypt went into crisis, the Akkadian Empire collapsed, the temple civilization of Malta disappeared, the Harrapian civilization of India was negatively effected. Dendrochronology and glacial ice core samples show evidence for severe climate change. Some scholars think it may have been the result of a super volcano, others a large meteorite.
A second, even more severe wave of drying occurred between 2000 and 1600 BCE. (AGU Press release July 1999) The Sahara-Arabian area "played a crucial part in the history of man" and " in no other major belt was the interaction of man and milieu more oscillating in nature..." according to climate scientists. 68. Increasing aridity post 3500 BCE, led to population concentration and irrigation, preconditions for the state. 69.
Finally, there was the major crisis which effected all the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures after 1200 BCE. Civilizations of Crete, Malta and Mycenae, were destroyed. Egypt and Assyria survived, but never recovered their former stature. About this time archeological evidence for an increase in violence appears in Western Europe. Many scientists think it was the result of a super volcano eruption in Iceland covering the sky with clouds of ash for several years. Other scholars, most especially Eric H. Cline, see the destruction as a combination of natural and human- made crises. 70.
The results of climate change appear in archeological remains. It appears that the change “[to] cattle keeping was probably a response to drying conditions” in the Western Desert of Egypt. “Six thousand years an overwhelming drought gripped the Western Sahara... Its effects are dramatically obvious in the archeological record... human beings virtually disappear...” 71. The Badarian culture were newcomers to the Nile Valley, having arrived from the Western Desert. The "severe fluctuations of the western pluvial 7000-2500 BCE", might have caused this influx.
"Climate change a major factor" in the development of pre-dynastic culture. 72. The Nile delta was the site of an egalitarian farmer civilization circa 5000 BCE . 73. Upper Egypt conquered the delta peoples between 3300 and 3100 BCE and established an authoritarian system. 74. "No evidence of political centralization" in Lower Egypt, during 3500-3100, unlike in Upper Egypt. "The invention of the Egyptian state largely an Upper Egyptian Affair." 75. Falling Nile levels at the end of the pre-dynastic period [3100 BCE] triggered competition and conflict... eventually resulting in unification.” 76. Upper Egypt itself was probably a creation of the earlier invaders from the dried-up Sahara lakes .
The first invasions of the Old European Culture by steppe dwelling nomads occurred circa 4000 BCE., during the first period of dry climate. The next wave of invaders circa 3500 BCE completely destroyed the civilizations of Eastern Europe. 77. The descendents of these invaders, called the "Bell Beaker People" went into Western Europe and took over the megalithic societies about 2100 BCE 78. The egalitarian civilization of the Indus Valley disappeared circa 1800 BCE, which is well within the last drying period of 2000-1600 BCE
Since the cooperative model disintegrated, is there some inherent weakness in it? Clearly not, as it was destroyed from outside. There was "no 'inner evolutionary transformation' and the state was "introduced by external factors." 79. There is, in fact, a “universal disinclination” to relinquish autonomy. The abolition of the free village could only come about through war. 80. In 1500 BCE there were an estimate 600,000 autonomous entities, by the year 2000, this had been reduced to one hundred ninety three. 81. “Force and not enlightened self-interest is the mechanism by which political evolution has led step by step from the autonomous village to the state.” 82. Societies choose subordination over extinction, thus war causes free societies to disappear. 83.
Climate change forced mass migration from the drying zones into the fertile and moist valleys. Previously, there had been the inter-group conflict that we are familiar with in observing band or village societies, which amounted to no more than raiding and feuding. We have also seen how migrants would chose different ecological niches and thus avoid conflict with the original inhabitants. With severe climate change there was seizure and permanent occupation of territory. The conquered valley populations would be more numerous than the invaders and this would lead to the need for a permanent repressive force to keep the vanquished in line. Thus the creation of the first states. The conquered would be made to work for, or at least pay taxes to their conquerors, giving rise to class division.
Slavery is a factor in class formation. Since slavery was practiced thousands of years before class division and in historically existing stateless societies, it is, like agriculture, a precondition for class and state, but not an ultimate cause. Culturally accepted enslavement meant that outsiders were game for exploitation, and it would make sense that with climate change based invasions, the conquered would be forced to work for the conquerors. The precedent had been set, perhaps thousands of years before. The difference was that in earlier times, and in existing stateless societies, slavery (or other forms of exploitation) was not the basis of the economy.
Uruk is believed to be the first state, forming 3200 BCE, but since it is not a Sumerian name, this would indicate conquest of the original population. 84. Peasants “will not automatically produce a surplus that elites might appropriate, but must be compelled to do it” In these early, but imperfect states, this would take the form of forced labour and taxation combined with slavery. 85. Only coercion prevents peasants from using alternative sources of food for subsistence, 86. as we have seen with the free peasant 'mixed economy.'
Terror is never enough to make an unequal society function. 'Soft power' is needed, and thus domination was rationalized through changes in religious ideology and practices. Nature gods were gradually or quickly replaced by tyrannical sky gods, modeled on the conquering warrior kings. Shamans were replaced by a bureaucratic priesthood, who replaced knowledge of the divine through practice with belief in and fear of the gods. These religious developments were uneven and complex. Nature divinities, while playing secondary roles, were incorporated into pantheons along with tyrant gods. Egypt, India and China never really developed a tyrant sky god, and in certain ways remained true to the old partnership religious practices. [Some scholars are of the opinion that the transition from shaman to priest was already happening prior to state formation. See David Lewis-Williams, David Pearce, Inside the Neolithic Mind] The Aztecs and several American dominator societies incorporated shamanistic practices, such as use of psychedelics, in an otherwise violent religion. By about 3000 BCE the dominator triumvirate; class division, state and authoritarian religion was in place in the Middle East and ready to spread like a fatal cancer across the globe.
Notes
1. p. 66 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, Harper, 1995 . The list includes pottery, agriculture, towns, two story houses, building with bricks and stone, monumental architecture, weaving, spinning, use of metals, writing, art, music and musical instruments, dance, sail boats, long distance trade, jewelry, wine making and brewing, domestication of animals, use of herbal medicines and psychedelic plants.
2. p. 231 Nancy J. Turner, The Earth's Blanket, Douglas and MacIntyre.
3. p. 185, Richard Leakey, Origins Reconsidered, Doubleday, 1992
4. p. 285, ibid
5. p. 16, Harold Barclay People Without Government, London 1990
6. p. 88, David Lewis-Williams, David Pearce, Inside the Neolithic Mind, Thames and Hudson, 2009
7. p. 75, Robert Wright, Non Zero, Vintage 2000
8. pps. 122-125, ibid
9. p. 95, ibid
10. p. 63, Georges E. Sioui, Huron-Wendat – The History of the Circle, UBC Press, 1999
11. p. 259, D. Price, G.M. Feinman, Foundations of Social Inequality, Plenum, 1995
12. p.68, Ruth Tringham, Hunters, Fishers and Farmers of Eastern Europe, Hutchinson, 1971
13. p. 317, T. Douglas Price, Europe's First Farmers, Cambridge, 2000
14. p. 101. Georges E. Sioui, Huron-Wendat – The History of the Circle, UBC Press, 1999
15. p. 66, R. Douglas Hurt, Indian Agriculture in America, Univ. Of Kansas, 1987
16. p. 67, ibid
17. 35, Paul Lafargue, The Evolution of Property, Kerr, ND
18. Senator Henry Dawes 1883. pps 231, 232 Noam Chomsky, The Year 501, Black Rose 1993
19. p. 205, Brian Fagan, The Long Summer, Basic Books, 2004
20. p 51, D.M. Voskoboynik, “The Memory We Could Be”, New Society 2018
21. p. 110, Paul Lafargue, The Evolution of Property, Kerr, ND
22. Frederick Engels, The Mark, Labor News, NY, 1928.
23. p. 54, Paul Lafargue, The Evolution of Property, Kerr, ND
24. Frederick Engels, The Mark, Labor News, NY, 1928.
25. p. 132, Law in Medieval Russia. Ferdinand Feldbrugge, Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden, 2009
26. p. 53, Paul Lafargue, The Evolution of Property, Kerr, ND
27. pps 227, 229, Jerry Mander, In the Absence of the Sacred, Sierra Club, 1992
28. p. 171 Foundations of Social Inequality, eds D. Price, G.M. Feinman, Plenum, 1995
29. p. 220 Brian Fagan, The Long Summer, Basic Books, 2004
30. p. 21 Chris Arnett, Terror of the Coast, Talonbooks, 1999
31. p. 35, Pere La Jeune, Jesuit Relations 1637, Eleanor Leacock, Myths of Male Dominance, MR, 1981
32. p. 48, ibid
33. p. 44 Paul Robert Megasci, ed, Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, Univ. of Toronto, 1999.
34. p. 129, ibid
35. p. 226, ibid
36. p. 244, ibid
37. p. 249, Foundations of Social Inequality, eds D. Price, G.M. Feinman, Plenum, 1995
38. p. 266, ibid
39. p. 167. Christina Biaggi ed, The Rule of Mars, KIT, 2005.
40. p. 154 Lawrence Flanigan, Ancient Ireland, St. Martins, 1998
41. p. 192, Brian Fagan, The Long Summer, Basic Books, 2004
42. p. 324, Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, Harper, 1991
43. p. 84, Paul Lafargue, The Evolution of Property, Kerr, ND,
44. p. 65. R. Douglas Hurt, Indian Agriculture in America, Univ. Of Kansas, 1987.
45. p. 83.Georges E. Sioui, Huron-Wendat – The History of the Circle, UBC Press, 1999
46. p. 46. Chris Arnett, Terror of the Coast, Talonbooks, 1999.
47. p. 321, Anna Roosevelt, Amazonian Indians, Univ. Of Arizona, 1994
48. pps 56-57, Peter Lasett, The World We Lost, Methuen, London 1976
49. p. 64, ibid
50. p. 51 John R. Saul, A Fair Country, Viking 2008
51. p. 75, Patricia Phillips, Early Farmers of the Western Mediterranean, Hutchinson, 1975
52. p. 130, 145, ibid
53. pps 159-161 Lawrence Flanigan, Ancient Ireland, St. Martins, 1998
54. p. 39, Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, ed Paul Robert Megasci, Univ. of Toronto, 1999.
55. p. 252, ibid
56. p. 87, ibid
57. pps. 166, 168. Georges E. Sioui, Huron-Wendat – The History of the Circle, UBC Press, 1999
58. pps 321, 323, 329. Anna Roosevelt, Amazonian Indians, Univ. Of Arizona, 1994
59. pps. 84, 86 Chris Arnett, Terror of the Coast, Talonbooks, 1999
61. pps. 21, 22, James C. Scott, Against the Grain, Yale, 2017
62. p. 49, ibid
63. p. 148, Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday, Viking 2012
64. p. 75, Jean Manco, Ancestral Journeys, Thames and Hudson, 2013
65. p. 82 ibid.
66. p. 73, Ruth Tringham, Hunters, Fishers and Farmers of Eastern Europe.
67. p. 104, Jean Manco, Ancestral Journeys, Thames and Hudson, 2013
68. p. 304, S. Huzayyin, Mans Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, Vol. 1, W.L. Thomas, ed. Univ. Chicago 1973
69. p. 121, James C. Scott, Against the Grain, Yale, 2017
70. See Eric H. Cline, 1177 BC, The Year Civilization Collapsed, Princeton, 2014.
71. p. 106, 115, Harry Thurston, Island of the Blessed, Doubleday, 2003.
72. pps 140, 141, Micheal A. Hoffman, Egypt Before the Pharaohs, Dorest Press, 1979
73. pps. 176 and 195, ibid
74. pps 213, 214, ibid
75. 131, Harry Thurston, Island of the Blessed, Doubleday, 2003.
76. pps 299, 301, Micheal A. Hoffman, Egypt Before the Pharaohs, Dorest Press, 1979
77. p. 205, Ruth Tringham, Hunters, Fishers and Farmers of Eastern Europe. See also pps 126 and 130, Jean Manco, Ancestral Journeys, Thames and Hudson, 2013
78. p. 389 Gimbutas, p. 168, Biaggi.
79. p. 59, Robert Wright, Non Zero, Vintage 2000
80. p. 209, ibid
81. Robert Carniero quoted p. 62, ibid
82. p. 57 ibid
83. p. 119, James C. Scott, Against the Grain, Yale, 2017
84. p. 152, ibid
85. p. 153, ibid

Monday, December 20, 2021

THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING by David Graeber and David Wengrow

 One of the few aspects which differentiate humans from other animals is our unending desire to know why things are the way they are. Where any knowledge, let alone scientific knowledge, is missing, we construct narratives to fill that void. These stories we tell ourselves to fill these voids are myths and they come not only in the familiar religious form, but also have secular manifestations. One such was the Hobbsian view of early humanity having a short brutal existence as it wandered around like bears and cougars looking for food. This myth still influences us as shown in our until very recent depiction of Neanderthals as knuckle-dragging, inarticulate brutes and of the wandering, grazing Indigenous people.

With the beginnings of paleontology in the 19th Century, came a linear and narrowly compartmentalized view of human development, based on the underlying capitalist ideology of Progress. First the Paleolithic Age, made up of foragers who stumbled about knocking over wooly mammoths and such. Then a transition period called the Mesolithic, and finally the Neolithic. With the Neolithic came the “invention” of agriculture, sedentary life, the processing of food, pottery, elaborate rituals and massive ceremonial sites like New Grange in Ireland.

Sadly, with agriculture comes the Fall of Man, as the surplus so generated – a surplus that could not exist in the Hobbsian world of the Paleolithic – is seized by a minority and so the state and class division are invented, and everything sort of goes to the dogs from there on.

This has been the story up until now. Recent discoveries have been quickly relegating this narrative to the realm of worn-out myth, even some years before the appearance of THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING.

The reality is that paleolithic peoples, and foragers in general, had plenty of food and worked way less than later cultures did to acquire it. They did not wander around grazing like cattle, archaeological evidence points to the formation of villages some 30,000 years ago. Nor did they lack forms of “wealth” that could be accumulated. They were gathering and parching grains 28,000 BCE (parching allows grains to be kept for years) and there is evidence of wine residue, the drying and smoking of meat. Valuable shells (for their beaded leather clothing) obsidian and flint were also kept. Pottery was made but only for figurines and no practical purpose.

Recent studies of existing foragers shows there is no clear cut line between foraging and cultivation. Indigenous peoples used controlled burning, replanting, pruning, wapato and camas gardens in a kind of permaculture. Neolithic peoples engaged in a certain amount of crop growing, but would then abandon it for foraging again, in what the authors called “play farming.” All free peasant societies mixed farming with foraging. It took about 5000 years to go from the first development of maize to the condition where it became the principle food source. Same was true with other grains.

Papuans have been growing yams for 8000 years, but never developed a state. Indeed, no root crop based societies ever autonomously developed a state. At the same, time the ONLY societies to develop the state and class division have been those where grains are the primary crop. Agriculture, at least grain growing, is a necessary precondition for state formation, but is not the only cause.

Archaeological evidence is now so complex that the authors insist that we should cease asking, “How was the state and inequality invented?” But before we examine that question further, let's take one last look at the breakdown of the paleolithic-neolithic dichotomy.

Supposedly Neolithic society was the first to develop massive monumental structures and then Gobleki-Tepi was discovered a few years ago and smashed that idea to bits. This massive structure – and others like it, since found, were built 12,000 years ago. At least 2000 years before the first major attempts at agriculture.

Urban environments were long seen as part of our move from simple peasant villages to “civilization” and of course our old enemies the state and class division. Something as complex as a city needed hierarchy, bureaucracy and inequality to function. Hence the archeological record ought to show a gross inequality of dwelling size, vast palaces, huge tombs for the kings. They should also be warlike with evidence of periodic destruction of buildings, art works glorifying war, and massive fortifications. Problem is, the early cities like those in the Ukraine, Chatal-Hukuk in Turkey, Mohejo-Daro in India, and the beginnings of urban life in Sumeria do not show any of this.

Even more astounding were Tiahuanaco in Bolivia and the massive Teotihuacan in Mexico. The former shows no palaces and no evidence of the use of warfare to spread the Tiahuanacan culture. Teotihuacan grew from a simple village into a ceremonial center with the vast Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, which show evidence of human sacrifice, but none of any rulers dominating the populace. It seems there was, however, a growing tendency toward authoritarianism and about 300 AD the temples were burned and largely abandoned. Housing then became the prominent goal of the city. About 100,000 people lived in houses of equal size and there was no evidence of hierarchy. The people of Teotihuacan had a revolution in 300 AD, it seems.

The authors point out that while foraging bands had small population, foraging societies were not. Once a year foragers would gather by the thousands at various sites for social interaction, ritual and gift giving. Certain temple sites were “seasonal cities” replicating seasonal variation of foragers.

Forager societies cannot be reduced to one type. One example being the Calusa culture of Florida that practiced “extreme forms of inequality.” Hunting culture may have moved from feeding the group to dominating other humans. It seems that some foragers who lived near urban areas may have created cultures that were hierarchical and violent and through a process called “shismogenesis” both cultures became less and less like each other. This would lead to a kind of proto-state developing on the margins of the non-statist cities, a proto-state that eventually conquers the cities and imposes kings and class rule. But even then for a very long time kings had limited power – limited to annual tax gathering (the rest of the year the peasants were left alone to live as they always had.) or as in the case of the Sumerian cities constrained by urban and neighborhood councils.

The real question according to the authors is not the origin of inequality and the state, but how this fluidity of social relations cease or “How did we get stuck” with authoritarian relations. The puzzle being, not the appearance of kings, but “why we didn't laugh them out of court?”

There are three elementary forms of domination, 1. control of violence 2. control of knowledge 3. charismatic power. The early proto-states had one or at most two of these. Only a full-blown state has both. The state was not the long evolution from some earlier mode of living but a “confluence of the three political forms” previously mentioned. These elementary aspects existed well prior to state formation, though they are not some kind of eternal Platonic form, but had their own specific origins.

Another aspect explored by the authors is Indigenous political analysis and political choice as exercised by these people. We have already seen how there must have been a kind of revolution in Teotihuacan, which established an egalitarian society. There was a similar situation (and most likely situationS) in North America with the city of Cahokia near the Missouri River circa 1300 AD. A highly inegalitarian society was overthrown and for centuries after its ruins and surrounding area became a “forbidden zone.” The ex-Cahokians returned to village life many miles from the remains of the city. “Whatever happened at Cahokia, the backlash against it was so severe that it set forth repercussions we are still feeling today.”

The result was a return to the communal, consensus-based councils. Since Indigenous peoples traveled widely, most likely a critique of centralized, top-down authority spread among the Atlantic Coast population. One possible result may have been the Haudenosaunee Federal Council, which developed roughly about the time of Cahokia's demise.

As a result, by the time the Europeans arrived, if not a long time before, Indigenous peoples had a well developed political theory that involved democracy and federalism. Later claims that such ideas stemmed from the Europeans and that Indigenous leaders were merely repeating what they learned from the white man or that European critics of authoritarianism were guilty of romanticism or reading European ideas into the Indigenous are simply untrue. European intellectuals of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries – especially the Jesuits from whom we get most of the reporting – saw democracy and equality as an anathema. The European critique of authoritarianism owed a great deal to the Indigenous critique of authority, and especially, its European manifestations. Liberal and socialist thinking is thus rooted in a good measure, in an earlier Indigenous political critique.

I have little disagreement with DAWN, most of it is congruent with the readings in anthropology, paleontology and archeology, that I have done over the past forty years. These minor disagreements are two in number.

For one, I am surprised that the question of climate change and its relation to state formation was not raised, other than very briefly. Back in the late 1990s I noticed that Europe and the Mediterranean areas went through a periods of severe drought circa 3000-4000 BCE leading to population migration. This coincided remarkably with the formation of proto-states and the destruction of the Ukrainian cities aforementioned.

The other aspect is their characterization of the Pacific North West cultures. While there are a lot of similarities among these cultures, they are not the same. The Salish are not like the Haida, Nuu cha nulth, or Kwakwakawak. Nor can the potlach be reduced to its most extravagant form as was found in a culture already devastated by disease and overwhelmed by capitalist consumer goods. Indeed, Indigenous people see the potlach as their most important ceremony, one that involves sharing and ceremonies of name-giving, “coming of age”, and marriage. Nor for all of the immense and complex status hierarchies, did the chiefs possess much coercive power. Any petty colonial official had more ability to coerce.

While DAWN has been welcomed by most of the left, those of a sectarian or vulgar Marxist bent, feel they must trash it using their quiver full of logical fallacies. “I mean, really, we can't say anything good about a book written by ANARCHISTS, can we?” It just cracks me up to read that the book is “anti-materialist”, “conservative”, “opposes historical materialism” ect. Sorry folks, but there is something called the dialectic, which means that theories have to be changed as limitations appear as new evidence arises. To cling to an old theory that clashes with empirical reality is to indulge in philosophical idealism, turning an ever-moving theory into a religious dogma that must be defended at all cost.

When Marx wrote briefly about the prehistoric in the 1840s there was no anthropology, no paleontology and archeology was in its tomb-plundering infancy. Marx's narrative of a communism of poverty and a later development of an agricultural surplus allowing a class and thus a state to form, was simply guess work. Science has shown the limitations of such a schema, and while all societies must have an economic base, which in the last instance limits the abilities of that society, the actual situation is vastly more complex and contradictory. (For the simple-minded, complexity and nuance are an anathema.) Marx would be the first to change his opinions, as indeed he began to in his later writings. Those of a secular religious bent, however, do not follow in their masters footsteps. Far from the absurd charge that this is anti-materialist, I see DAWN as a fine example of materialist dialectics at work.


YES MARTHA, IT REALLY IS CLASS STRUGGLE – the Indigenous and Environmental Movements

 “OK, what do you mean by 'class' and what constitutes 'class struggle'?”, you may well ask. Classes are based upon their relationship to the ownership and control over the means of wealth production. (Wealth, refers to that which is produced by labour acting upon the natural world.) In contemporary society, people who have neither ownership nor control over wealth production are called 'working class'. This is a relationship of economics and power and has nothing to do with education level, cultural preferences, the ownership, or the lack of ownership, of automobiles or a dwelling. Attempts to reduce the concept of working class to the poor or uneducated, or to 'blue collar' workers alone are superficial and a form of disinformation. Those who do own and control the means of wealth production are called 'capitalists.' There is also a middle stratum of small capitalists, managers and independent professionals. The latter two are called the 'managerial class'. Roughly 75-80% of the population are workers and the remaining 20-25% make up the other two classes.

Class division creates conflict over who controls the system of wealth production. Workers seek to maximize their income and improvements in their working conditions. Capitalists seek to minimize worker's income and restrict any improvements that might impinge upon their annual profit margin. Thus the capitalist-worker relation is a bit like oil and water.

The battle over wages and working conditions is class struggle at its most limited and basic. It is something relatively easy for capital to accommodate and indeed, by creating a consumer economy though higher wages and shorter work hours, workers have done capital a great favour. Mass consumption enabled capital to rapidly expand into new areas or replace older forms of economy like the “mom and pop” store and craft workers with corporate production.

Socialists, syndicalists and anarchists always tried to get workers to move beyond the 'bread and butter” (wages and working conditions) issues and to directly challenge capital. Hence, these radicals rejected the notion of “a fair days pay” for the slogan, “abolish the wage system.” , the corollary of which was the workers were to democratically control the economy. If we look at working class history, we find the shop stewards movements, workers councils, general strikes and factory occupations which directly confronted the capitalists over who was to be in control.

In the 1930s, in order for the trade unions to get the legal clout needed to force the capitalists to recognize them as bargaining agents, the unions agreed to not challenge management over the control of the workplace. Since then, unions have been reduced to “bread and butter issues” and when capital is challenged it usually comes from outside the official union movement, (France 1968), or from a radical minority within the union movement, (the Quebec General Strike of 1972.)

The eco-movement and the Indigenous movement, even when moderate in form, directly challenge capital. They do this by attempting to stop or limit what capital can do with “its property”. (1) Like with the factory occupations, the question is raised, “who owns/controls?” The Wet'suwet'en struggle challenges the “right” of capital to build a pipeline through Indigenous territory. The Fairy Creek land protectors confront Teal Jones “right” to cut “its” old growth trees. Virtually all the major Indigenous and ecological struggles are about who controls/owns what. Capital seeks to exploit Indigenous lands and to generally impose development and forms of resource extraction that are in opposition to the needs of the human and natural environment. (2)

Since the Indigenous and Ecological movements directly challenge capital over questions of ownership and control, theirs is a much higher stage of class struggle than over the wages and working conditions of the business unions. Not only do the business unions refuse to go beyond this narrow frontier, they are often in league with the capitalists in opposing the Indigenous and ecological movements when they challenge developers or ecologically unsound resource extraction. Their sectoral interests are seen as more important than the needs of the people as a whole.

While it is true that certain land or tree protection, can after a lengthy struggle, be accepted by capital, the areas so protected are usually removed from the commodity system. As land trusts, parks, Indigenous territories, they take on more the form of a commons defended from capitalist exploitation. Thus, a small, but permanent encroachment on the “rights” of capital. Mega projects, on the other hand are the system's favorite way of plundering the land and public finance, and are much more difficult to defeat. A few hectares of old growth might mean several million dollars, but Site C involves billions. Stopping, or limiting, a mega project is a major victory against corporate state capitalism. And it does happen, though it is difficult to achieve, as capital will use all its media, government and political resources, including violence, against these movements.

So, with the exception of the minority of class struggle unions and any spontaneous worker risings that might occur in the future, the capital-challenging forms of class struggle have shifted to the Indigenous and Ecological movements. Essentially, they are, at this point, the “vanguard” of the struggle in opposition to capital. As climate conditions deteriorate, one can only conclude these movements will grow in the level of support and militance.

Before I conclude, there is one straw man I wish to beat down. That is the ridiculous claim that the ecological militants are some how “middle class.” Of course, when something is sneered at as “middle class” the implication is that it is not worth supporting by “real” socialists. I doubt if anyone making these claims has done a sociological study of ecological protestors, nor has anything but a superficial understanding of what constitutes a class. Somehow I doubt that the Fairy Creek land defenders are made up of corporate managers and small capitalists! I suspect what they are in the main are white collar WORKERS, like teachers, nurses, technicians, and those in the service industry. None of these forms of employment involve ownership or control of the workplace, hence they are as working class as a logger or heavy equipment operator.

  1. Here on Vancouver Island in the last decade, we have had the Shawnigan Lake waste dump fight, Victoria's Blue Bridge battle, the attempted privatization of the Nanaimo Harbour, the Colliery Dam, Linley Valley, Cable Bay, the Union Bay coal struggles, and now Fairy Creek. All challenged capital's “right” to do what it wants with “its” property.

  2. A consistent ecological approach is in opposition to capitalism, even if many environmentalists are unaware that they are so. Since the environmental movement realizes there is a limit to growth and capital exists to perpetually augment itself (perpetual growth) the two are incompatible.







Sunday, September 19, 2021

THE FAIRY CREEK HOSTILES – Examining the Content of the Comments.

 Forty-four abusive comments, (below) were taken from the CHEK News comments section, two others were added from Face Book. In general, there was no attempt to form rational, empirically based arguments against the defenders or in favour of cutting old growth. It is all emotionalism, all abuse, as though they could not come up with counter-arguments and in frustration, simply raged on.

The largest number of negative comments by far were accusations that the defenders did not work and were on welfare. Accusations of hypocrisy were the next most numerous as “Do you not live in a wood structure.” Almost as numerous were claims that the defenders were stupid, uneducated, and ignorant. Conspiracy theories were a fairly common explanation for the blockade as in “they were paid to cause a confrontation” and “someone is getting rich.” Other accusations include being terrorists (3) were spoiled brats (3) criminals,(2) racist comments (2) hippies (1) and outside agitators. (1) There were also three threats of violence against the defenders.

Anyone conversant with social history will immediately recognize the long history of these accusations. Virtually every progressive movement from the Abolitionists on, has had similar, and worse charges hurled at them. They are all part of the reactionary push-back and are the common currency of what might be called a right-wing culture.

Immediately apparent was the fact that there were only two racist remarks and no misogynist ones. This is in spite of the important role played by women and Indigenous people in this movement. (The Fairy Creek action was founded by women and the majority of leadership comes from women according to spokesperson Pamela Laila Rai.) Of course, the hostiles might not wish to express such feelings in a public forum like CHEK News, and who knows what they are saying in closed groups like “Loggers Up.” which I have not been able to access.

I will now examine the comments in more detail. The two largest groups “Not working” and ”Stupid, uneducated” can be taken together as the right has always used this line of attack. The Wobblies were “the bummery”, and the membership of mass movements were always dismissed as gullible and ignorant, easily manipulated by their leaders for nefarious purposes. You can see how such a line of thought leads inevitably to conspiracy theories.

Social and political stances are usually rooted in one's psychological state. One has to ask what is behind the accusations of stupidity and laziness?

Progressive movements are today made up usually in the main of students and white collar/professional workers. I suggest that the hostiles, being less educated and having to do manual labour, unconsciously feel inferior to these educated people and thus project accusations of laziness, ignorance and stupidity upon them. As well, one of the core elements of right-wing culture in regard to “radicals” is demonization. If you turn your opponents into monsters you can project anything you like upon them. (Think of the German Jews, totally assimilated and innocuous, yet Nazi propaganda turned them into Christian civilization-destroying parasites in the eyes of masses of Germans.)

That old right-wing standby, anti-intellectualism, must play a part. Since the defenders are articulate and well educated, they become the target of “I know trees, not those scientific types.” Where prejudice begins, a scientific understanding ends, and thus people well versed in biology, climate science and ecology are dismissed as ignorant.

Another key element in right-wing culture is envy. In the case of Fairy Creek, I suspect it is a matter of jealousy that young people can take time off work or studies to protect some trees, then go back to their nice clean jobs or classrooms when it is over, “while I continue to slog.” Accusations of being welfare bums shows a hostility toward the poor. It may also indicate the anxiety of potentially losing their jobs and ending up on welfare. While the protestors are plainly not on welfare, THEY might end up on it, as logging jobs continue to disappear due to mechanization.

Let's examine the accusation of hypocrisy. This is based upon the straw man fallacy that environmentalists want to ban logging. Five minutes of Internet search shows this to be dead wrong. What they want is sustainable forest practices like they have in Europe. Practices that would actually increase the number of forestry jobs. The straw man fallacy is a common trick of right-wing ideologues. (and left-wing extremists as well) It was used earlier in the TMX protests and as an attack upon the Green New Deal. The gradual phasing out of petroleum usage was straw-manned as immediately turning the taps off, and thus enviros who used petroleum products were deemed hypocrites.

Terrorism and Conspiracy. Far right media like Fox News and Rebel Media have been pushing the irrational notion that people who take the violence of the state upon themselves and do not reply in kind are terrorists. That words have meaning seems lost on them, but this is, of course, part of the demonization process. Trump supporters and alt-right neofascists have done the same with Black Lives Matter and the movements against fascism. (The much demonized “Antifa.”) The Alberta Government and Rebel Media have pushed the idea that anti-pipeline protests are the result of a conspiracy of some nefarious American group, possibly funded by George Soros. The idea has been floated that the environmental movement and the Green Party are gaining financially from the Fairy Creek struggle and thus, they are behind the scenes pulling the strings. The problem with that is the defenders have their own fund raising and if anything this is diverting funds away from those organizations. Furthermore any direct or indirect aid that the NGOs like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Suzuki Foundation give, COSTS them money.

Spoiled. Students and white collar/professional workers can appear as privileged, and in some cases are, even though most will probably earn less than a logger. As with the other abusive terms, this is pure emotionalism, devoid of real content. Spoiled people do not have the internal where with all to get a university degree and work as a nurse, a teacher or a technician. Spoiled people do not risk health, safety and career for a principle. Spoiled people do not freely endure endless abuse and do not have the self-discipline to neither flee nor fight back when faced with police violence. How many of the hostiles would go through this ordeal for a principle? Many might do so if it involved self-interest like protecting their property, but risking their lives for a bunch of trees? Closer to reality – though still unfair – were two comments that came to my attention recently. The protestors must be “insane” for risking their lives up on those tripods and that they are “zealots.” Both commentators seem unaware that every movement for change has been accused of being full of zealots and crazies.

Anything outside of conventional politics is deemed criminal, crazy or dangerous. The hostiles seemingly have no knowledge of how we got what few freedoms and reforms we still have. They came from a long struggle. Sometimes it was non-violent like the Chartists or the Wobblies, other times it involved workers mano a mano with the cops, riots, window smashing, insurrections, dynamite, Winchesters and Colts. They ought to give thanks that we don't have the latter. Some claim they believe in the right to protest – but as long as they don't block the roads. This more liberal view actually boils down to “I am in favour of protest as long as it is not effective.”

The accusations hurled at the defenders indicate that the hostiles have no understanding of the practice of non-violent civil disobedience, nor the history of that movement. Perhaps they think non-violence is all hearts and flowers. It isn't. It is a form of warfare without violence. Non violence is people standing for a principle like independence for India, civil rights or protecting the environment and enduring arrest, beatings, prison, lynch mobs and death, yet never retaliating with violence themselves. Yes, they are crazy. Crazy like Gandhi, crazy like Martin Luther King, crazy like Goodwin, Schwerner and Chainey, crazy like Greenpeace in the atomic test zone, crazy like the man in front of the tank at Tienamin Square, crazy like Paul Watson defending the whales.

We are facing a growing climate crisis, that if not dealt with will be devastating for humanity and the biosphere. Governments, enthralled to the corporations are dragging their feet. A fire must be lit under them. We need more, far more, of the spirit of the land defenders to fan those flames. To paraphrase a great revolutionary “One, two, three, many Fairy Creeks!”


LIST OF HOSTILE COMMENTS

Hypocrites

well I'm glad you woke up in you modern heated house to hop on you computer or cellphone all of with has a mass of carbon footprint to show your a strong land Defender contributor my advice to you if fuck off as hard as you can pal these guys can protest all they want but get the fuck off the road,


Do you not live in wood structures do you wipe your ass with toilet paper do you not sit on furniture the list is endless get real you tree huggers ,

Do you live in a house made from trees ?,

Let's protest about the forest. Yet they are burning wood sitting on wood, Where did you get the nice chunks of firewood??You cut down a tree. Total hypocrisy.


Lmao! SAVE THE FOREST…theirs a lot going on in this picture that wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for logging…for example, that nice folding WOODEN stool/table, that lovely processed lumber they are using as a bench


how many of these " loose nuts" have furniture in there house's ...and for a better question....what's the furniture made of....?

Not working

Maybe if Cerb ends one day, these lovely folk would consider getting a job.

People that dont work and dont contribute to society, people who leech off other people, and people that have nothing to offer and dont care

Take away their food stamps

Must be nice not to have to work

Nice to see welfare dollars at work,

Must be nice to protest and not work. I guess when the welfare runs out they will go home.

Imagine if all these people just got jobs and put money back into the economy

I feel so badly for the RCMP having to deal with these dead beats who don’t go to work and the poor loggers trying to do their jobs. I hope we have a cold snowy winter maybe that will get these law breakers to go home

Lock these parasites up till winter hits.

Our welfare system at work.

Collection of losers and culls who won't work but mooch taxpayer money

Shouldn't these young people be working,oh ya they're parasites that live off other peoples hard earned pay.throw the book at em and make an example of disobeying the rule of law.

Parasites burning old growth trees.

Protesters on wefare Get a job!!!!

and take your welfare and stuff it up your smelly ass real people work. I've never taken a payment from any government payday fucktard...as I said

Ya u scum bag mud licker disgusting excuses of worthless shit are the real criminals get a fucking job and for that matter a life.un informed hippie pieces of garbage leaving shit pigs

Terrorists

The eco-terrorist blockades at Fairy Creek will continue for a very simple reason. The coffers of the terrorists, the Wilderness committee and the Green Party would suffer a major decrease if they don’t have this conflict! It’s all about the $. (From a personal FB page)


Throw the book at those hypocrites maybe they’ll go out and get real jobs to find a use for their spare time instead of whining about the environment they know nothing about and committing eco terrorism


Hope the rcmp leave us alone pretty sure we can deal with these terrorists they better hope they lose in court


they are criminals and wont follow any court order

Threats

Referring to man on tripod - “Just light the fire

Video of a toy bulldozer running over a doll - “Give those turds what they deserve

Something many protesters need - a good slap in the head

go fuck your hat hope to see u one day

Conspiracy Theories

They get paid to cause a confrontation, They are paid shit disturbers and they are there to trigger everyone they can. Fairy Creek is not the first time paid protesters try to instigate forestry workers then try to play the victim.

All a bunch of zombies following a group begging for money...Someone is getting rich.”

Ignorant, uneducated

These people are so ignorant they're the reason why California is burning to the ground people like them has nothing to do with global warming has everything to do with not harvesting

So protestors go home. We are tired of your stupidity. Cut down the trees and replant and in 60 years we can cut them down again. Its one of the few sustainable resources

Don’t call them old growth defenders like their uneducated and short sighted stance has some sort of nobility

Most don't even Know what old growth is. The places I logged back in the 60's - 70's - 80's that were replanted - most PROtesters - if any - would be able to tell they were even logged

Bunch of loosers. the bunch of u. under educated granola eating arm chair quarterbacks. beat it ...go fuck yourself we grow trees as a profession and you fucktards just cock off about bullshit

Anti-Indigenous Racism

About Indigenous support - “I would like to see the government break away from giving giving & more giving... We pay to every village in Canada, millions of dollars, who pays us white people millions, nobody. What was done way back when is over, let it go, not my fault or yours, has to be put to rest I had to pay for my land, they don’t, so who’s land is it? So tiring to see on media, they want more & more.”

In reference to Indigenous dancers - “Thats nice, the blockaders are providing entertainment for security. Maybe get a beer truck out there and make a party of it.”

Outside Agitators

I was told most of them don’t live in BC


Where do the protestors receive their money ? No one seems to want to mention that do they ?


Somebody is paying these folks don’t kid yourself!!

Spoiled

So now they are acting like spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum.

It is a disgusting display of self righteous spoiled brats.

Said by a white guy – of course Gosh what attention seeking posers these middle class white brats are.


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