[Marxism] [SUSPICIOUS MESSAGE] Agriculture: The Worst Mistake Humans Ever Made
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Sat Jul 20 17:22:00 MDT 2019
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> Hunter-gatherers : Noble or savage?
> The era of the hunter-gatherer was not the social and environmental Eden
> that some suggest
> Dec 19th 2007 |
> HUMAN beings have spent most of their time on the planet as
> hunter-gatherers. From at least 85,000 years ago to the birth of
> agriculture around 73,000 years later, they combined hunted meat with
> gathered veg. Some people, such as those on North Sentinel Island in the
> Andaman Sea, still do. The Sentinelese are the only hunter-gatherers who
> still resist contact with the outside world. Fine-looking specimens—strong,
> slim, fit, black and stark naked except for a small plant-fibre belt round
> the waist—they are the very model of the noble savage. Genetics suggests
> that indigenous Andaman islanders have been isolated since the very first
> expansion out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago.
> About 12,000 years ago people embarked on an experiment called agriculture
> and some say that they, and their planet, have never recovered. Farming
> brought a population explosion, protein and vitamin deficiency, new
> diseases and deforestation. Human height actually shrank by nearly six
> inches after the first adoption of crops in the Near East. So was
> agriculture “the worst mistake in the history of the human race”, as Jared
> Diamond, evolutionary biologist and professor of geography at the
> University of California, Los Angeles, once called it?
> Take a snapshot of the old world 15,000 years ago. Except for bits of
> Siberia, it was full of a new and clever kind of people who had originated
> in Africa and had colonised first their own continent, then Asia, Australia
> and Europe, and were on the brink of populating the Americas. They had
> spear throwers, boats, needles, adzes, nets. They painted pictures,
> decorated their bodies and believed in spirits. They traded foods, shells,
> raw materials and ideas. They sang songs, told stories and prepared herbal
> They were “hunter-gatherers”. On the whole the men hunted and the women
> gathered: a sexual division of labour is still universal among non-farming
> people and was probably not shared by their *Homo erectus *predecessors.
> This enabled them to eat both meat and veg, a clever trick because it
> combines quality with reliability.
> Why change? In the late 1970s Mark Cohen, an archaeologist, first suggested
> that agriculture was born of desperation, rather than inspiration. Evidence
> from the Fertile Crescent seems to support him. Rising human population
> density, combined perhaps with a cooling, drying climate, left the Natufian
> hunter-gatherers of the region short of acorns, gazelles and wild grass
> seeds. Somebody started trying to preserve and enhance a field of chickpeas
> or wheat-grass and soon planting, weeding, reaping and threshing were born.
> Quite independently, people took the same step in at least six other parts
> of the world over the next few thousand years: the Yangzi valley, the
> central valley of New Guinea, Mexico, the Andes, West Africa and the Amazon
> basin. And it seems that Eden came to an end. Not only had hunter-gatherers
> enjoyed plenty of protein, not much fat and ample vitamins in their diet,
> but it also seems they did not have to work very hard. The Hadza of
> Tanzania “work” about 14 hours a week, the !Kung of Botswana not much more.
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