Power Religion | Food | The Hunter-Gatherer Eucharist [2]

Power Religion [1]

FarmingYou might be wondering what the hell the last post was about, and where I’m going with this. Join the club.

In the previous post, I outlined Diamond’s basic thesis in Guns, Germs and Steel, and retold the story of Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca Emperor Atahuallpa. But what is the significance?

The pertinent question is this: how could 160 Europeans overcome 80000 Inca soldiers? The answer is simple: they’d domesticated horses, and had guns. But why had Europeans ended up doing this, and not the Incas? Were the Incas less intelligent?

Diamond’s answer is clear: absolutely not. Indeed, he contends that many ‘natives’ – in the way they interact with and understand their environments so intimately – are far more intelligent than the sedentary burger-munching Westerners who love to see themselves top of the pile. However, it is clear that different peoples have fared very differently in the 13000 years or so of human development. And the reason Diamond gives for that is simply this: some environments were more suited to domestication than others.

We all began as hunter-gatherers. But gradually, in some areas, some people began to domesticate wild plants and cultivate them, and domesticate wild animals to help with this work. Farming.

Once you begin to farm, of course, you pretty much have to become settled in one area. While hunter-gatherer communities had little need for political systems – everyone was pretty much in the same boat looking for food that didn’t store well – those in farming communities naturally developed political hierarchies. If you farm you can develop surplus, and this may require storage, or distribution, or communal work on irrigation.

And thus it was in the farm-based lands of Europe that technology was evolved more quickly, and, connectedly, monarchies and power-structures and empires began to grow…. and eventually develop ships that could sail to other lands to pillage them.

Which is where the Eucharist comes in in the next post.


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2 responses to “Power Religion | Food | The Hunter-Gatherer Eucharist [2]”

  1. kester, I wasn’t sure how to contact you but I thought you might be interested in this article and its ramifications for freedom of communication and ideas….

  2. Brilliant. Thanks. People should read this. Very worrying.