Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Hooray for our side!

A while back on War on Guns, David Codrea was commenting about an anti-liberty bigot and pointed out that the guy's city council profile listed his favorite book as "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

David characterized the book as claiming that "...Western Civilization is just a fluke and we all lucked out,..."  He then went on to offer this alternative explanation "...the first people to apply the scientific method on any kind of consistent and large scale reached the path to advancement first."

I recently finished reading the book and didn't get that from it.

What the book's author seemed to me to be saying was that humans are all the same species.  We basically all have the same potential (but there are individual differences in intelligence and personality traits), at least averaged over the population.  But, location and circumstances matter.

"Western Civilization" wasn't a fluke- it was the natural consequence of certain natural conditions. It doesn't matter where it happened to begin, or who it began with.  At least, not to me.  I don't get the objection to that.

I would be living a very different life had I been born in the Australian Outback, without electricity or abundant food and water, rather than in the "American Outback" where those things are currently common.  I can't begin to pretend that there is some property of "me" that would have the same skills and use the same technology and have the same opportunities no matter where I happened to be born and grow.

Because a population of humans did "luck out" and live in an area where food production could be made less time-consuming, their time was freed so that they could learn to apply the scientific method instead of spending their time worrying about where the next meal would come from- if it came at all.

So, while it may have been "lucky" that some humans were from an area where there were abundant domesticable plants and animals, and those domesticates were able to spread over a wide geographic area due to the orientation of the continent, that isn't a judgement on anyone else.  I can't even claim it is "better" to be technologically advanced.  I like it, but that's just me.

I would have just as much value as a person if I lived in a cave and wore animal skins.  I might even be just as happy, although probably not as comfortable.

Opportunities matter a lot.  Even though I am not convinced that agriculture was a good thing in the long run, saddling humans as it did with a professional class of thugs and thieves who enjoy a (temporary) veil of legitimacy.



  1. Some years ago, my wife did a dissertation on the Yani-Mamo [sp?] tribe in the Amazon as part of her work towards her degree. One thing I noticed was that those folks simply went about their lives as they saw fit. They had very little contact with "civilization" and were content with using steel machetes instead of wooden or stone cutting tools, but seemed to have little interest in changing their lifestyle to become more "westernized".
    I'm suggesting they practice, and "we" should consider adopting an ancient concept called "live and let live." - Paul K. Brubaker, Sr.

  2. Ignorance is bliss, so they say. For instance, living in a cave and wearing animal skins. If you didn't know any better and this is how your family, tribe, clan had lived for generations, then it would be just fine. And as to comfort, you would take comfort in small things, like well-crafted bows and arrows to hunt with and a nice fire to cook with and keep you warm. You wouldn't know that you were "more uncomfortable," because there would be nothing (central heat and air) to compare it to.

    Ignorance is bliss. For instance in the old U.S.S.R., the government kept the people ignorant of what was available in the outside world. The internet help to remove the ignorance of the Russian people, thereby leading to the fall of the Soviet Union.

  3. Tao Te Ching, Chapter 3:

    Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.
    Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
    Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.
    The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
    If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.
    If nothing is done, then all will be well.

    "Wise" and Evil, I would say.