Thursday, 1 April 2010

Gods before grains

Only just found this, but it's massive. Evidence that religion predates agriculture - a new archaeological find, apparently an 11,500 year-old temple structure:
Schmidt has uncovered a vast and beautiful temple complex, a structure so ancient that it may be the very first thing human beings ever built. The site isn't just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed.
All that followed. You mean, the bad stuff anyway.
Schmidt's thesis is simple and bold: it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in the very first urban conglomerations. The need to build and maintain this temple, he says, drove the builders to seek stable food sources, like grains and animals that could be domesticated, and then to settle down to guard their new way of life. The temple begat the city.
Religion now appears so early in civilized life—earlier than civilized life, if Schmidt is correct—that some think it may be less a product of culture than a cause of it, less a revelation than a genetic inheritance. The archeologist Jacques Cauvin once posited that "the beginning of the gods was the beginning of agriculture," and Göbekli may prove his case.
Absolutely. This is huge! Agriculture marks the shift away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, that is to say - freedom. If you grow crops and only crops, you can be extorted. It's the beginning of protection rackets (governments). And it's also, of course, the beginning of the decline in human health and vitality. Bear with me here.
Everything from food to flint had to be imported, so the site "was not a village," Schmidt says. Since the temples predate any known settlement anywhere, Schmidt concludes that man's first house was a house of worship: "First the temple, then the city," he insists.
Whatever mysterious rituals were conducted in the temples, they ended abruptly before 8000 B.C., when the entire site was buried, deliberately and all at once, Schmidt believes. The temples had been in decline for a thousand years—later circles are less than half the size of the early ones, indicating a lack of resources or motivation among the worshippers. This "clear digression" followed by a sudden burial marks "the end of a very strange culture," Schmidt says. But it was also the birth of a new, settled civilization, humanity having now exchanged the hilltops of hunters for the valleys of farmers and shepherds. New ways of life demand new religious practices, Schmidt suggests, and "when you have new gods, you have to get rid of the old ones."
Doesn't that give you hope? Not that I can wait 1000 years personally, nor would I want new gods. Why have any at all?
Now, of course religion came before agriculture. It had to. Why else do it?
By the way, I am more of an anarchist than a libertarian, mainly because I give no credence to the non-aggression principle. Why start with a principle that's going to be violated immediately in practice? Wishful thinking is not a sound base for a philosophy.
Now, religion would have come before agriculture because they would have now have a reason to pray to the gods - for a good crop. Because - and here's the thing -they will have been convinced by the unscrupulous ur-politicians that they ought to.
So religion is to blame. But what came before? Paganism. A more benign form of religion, that religion got all its symbolism from.
So are symbols, including speech, to blame for it all? Not speech, because it's cultural. and primitive hunter-gatherer tribes do it. But how about written words? The ability to think was then equated with fire. And the sun, which is fire, associated with life. Fire of course is crucial, because it enabled us to evolve at all, because we could then eat meat.
It would make sense then that the earliest politicians were those that sought the human race to devolve, by going back to eating vegetation. Just like today. Because God, or Gaia, demands it. I bet it turns out that the Turkish temple dates from a feminised era, ie no logic, only superstition. No strong men or warriors - only sophistry.
A time or place becomes feminised when there is a relative paucity of women, as observed by Roissy in a recent post. This means they become worth more, and can throw their weight around more. Men put them on pedestals, and become weaker. That is, there is a disarming of men, in reproductive terms.
All the ills of the world happen when people come together. When there is centralisation. When they "get on" (ie bitch behind backs) instead of sparring, playing or fighting. When they compromise. When they stay in one place and ossify, instead of moving around - and moving sloooowly, not dashing around like an idiot. When women are treated as more than trophies. When the outside is considered more important than the inside. When the collective good goes above the individual. When words mean more than actions.
Now the obvious retort to all this is - are you kidding? You think we should revert to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and be like all those half-naked people we see in Africa on the TV? What about all the progress we've made since then? Civilisation. The industrial revolution. Health care, consumer goods, education, the finer things in life, the abundant food, culture, music, cars, transport. Science, the amazing discoveries we've made. We've been to the moon, and the bottom of the ocean. We split the atom. Do you think we could have done all this without agriculture?
My answer: yes, and at least 1000 years earlier, and better.
Everything that has come from religion has slowed us down. You think the Church helped in all of this? The Romans? Governments? Even the industrial revolution - do people really believe that those slave factories were necessary? Those furnaces, resembling Dante's inferno? The mines, those hellish pits cratered in humanity?
We would have figured out the use of oil without priests and governments. It is absurd to think otherwise. But instead we have huge oil cartels propping up societies that would be better off dead, for all the joy and vigour they bring to the world. It's true that there's too many people on this planet, but that's because of agriculture, industrialisation and fascism. The thing about agriculture, of course, is that it allowed for an explosion in the quantity of people, at the expense of quality of people. I've met perfectly "normal" people these days who are all for compulsory sterilisation, and I guess that means we're getting close to another holocaust of some kind.
So yeah, let's kill a few million here, a few million there... A bit of sterilisation, bit of NHS style genocide, gas chambers, nuclear bomb here, machete gang there...
Except that the problem wouldn't go away, would it? And besides, it's you next. Does nobody fucking understand that?
So what is it that makes us susceptible to being tyrannised, and can we overcome it? And make no mistake about it - we need to overcome it. Life is not zero-sum. When a trade is made, both people benefit. That's true holistic activity - it's more than the sum of it's parts. That's how we grow - though self-interest, free trade and self-strengthening measures.
So where does the invisible boot originate? From a general disarming by deception.
Is it not inevitable that governments would arise? Rees-Mogg and Davidson
talk about the megapolitics of war, which is to say, nation states had to arise because industry gave way to economies of scale in warfare. To put it another way, it made sense now for countries to fight each other, because we now had planes, and machine guns, and bombs.
But, as I will discuss sometime, economies of scale (and monopolies) only ever arise because of government. And anyway - how about guerilla warfare? America hasn't won a single war since WW2. Unless you count Grenada, which you shouldn't. And then look closer - didn't the USA pretty much fund both sides of both World Wars? Didn't the UK also, for that matter? Aren't they doing the same thing now around the globe? Isn't something funny going on here?
There's no such thing as a nation state - they're for the little people. There's only been a snake-like global elite profiting from war for hundreds of years, without having to get their own hands dirty. Nothing is as it seems, we've all been enormously, hugely misled as to the nature of things. Our understanding of history is warped beyond any semblance of reality.
So we come back to deception. So perhaps its the difference between belief and non-belief. If you believe anything, you can be controlled. If you believe nothing, you can do anything.
From Might is Right:
Belief  is  a  flunkey,  a  feminine — Doubt  is  a creator,  a  master.  He  who  denies fundamentals  is  in  triple  armor  clad.  Indeed  he  is invulnerable. Strong men are not deterred from pursuing their aim by anything. They go straight to the goal, and  that goal  is Beauty, Wealth, and Material Power.
Can we learn not to believe? Or will we continue on the historically extraordinary path of being ruled by the weak and venal?

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