If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact


  • 17-01-2010 4:29pm
    Closed Accounts Posts: 631 ✭✭✭

    Not really too sure where to put this, whether it should go in political theory or here, so move away if mods want.

    This guy is giving a talk in Brighton today but Im already late for it so hoping I can discuss it on here instead ;). What do people think? Im certainly interested in what he has to say, and would be in agreement with his analysis of present day society and with the history of civilisation as a whole. Im not sure that suggesting that we go back to the stone age is necessarily the best way to combat the problem. Encouraging people to learn the skills necessary to be integrated human beings again, and attempting to propagate more and more communal spaces (like squats and things) where people live as they used to insofar as is possible can only be a good thing IMO.

    Just wanted to put it out there and hoping that someone will post some more links to related stuff.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,398 ✭✭✭✭looksee

    So he doesn't want to 'un-do' society, but small numbers should protest by not participating in modern technology. Ok, first all the computers go, so you won't be able to discuss this with more than the person next to you.
    Then, each individual living off the land would need, oh maybe an acre or so for growing things, then access to hunting space. A bit like wild cattle need an acre of space each (I am guessing), but domesticated cattle can be kept at much higher concentrations by feeding 'artificially'.
    And a sort of no-man's land space around the clan area to limit the interaction of killing each other for food; community and sharing works best at family/clan level.
    Individuals did practise division of labour, and it would not be very long before they got to the 'you stay here and make stone spear heads and I will give you some of the meat I catch using them'.
    'That (gradual dismantling of society) would be more appealing than the prospect of all these people in entire blocs who will starve to death when the power goes out, because they don't have any skills, and then there could be food riots and then what?'
    And all these people are not going to die of diseases, cold, starvation, clan war, while they are trying to survive on what the earth can provide. Especially since the vast herds of animals are gone, others are dependent on civilisation (cows for example) and people have evolved genetically to need different types of food.
    Maybe there will come a time when we will be forced into brute survival mode, but there would be a long, long period of violence as the ambitious and strong rose to the top and took over as despots. And meanwhile the weak would die of anything from rotten teeth, untreated injuries, exposure, to starvation and murder.
    The whole argument is idealistic, unrealistic, immature, and his ability to disseminate this nonsense depends entirely on the technology he despises. Is he making his speech in a field or on the beach? Did he walk to Brighton? And would he have freedom of speech in a primative society to say anything he wanted - more likely his exasperated relatives would have tipped him over a cliff :D

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,551 ✭✭✭panda100

    I found that quite intersting, have never heared of him before. I particularly agree with his views on the Hobbesian view of Human Nature

    "Because it suited the system perfectly. It's the basic ideology for civilization. In fact, people have been told this all along from the very first cities, the walled cities: don't go out there, you'll die, nature's wild, and it's a good thing you are here, with the army and the temples to protect you. And that's what we're told right now, you can't leave -people are scared. When this all collapses, people with no skills, no orientation to the earth, they won't last. "

    One does have to question has technology made things easier for us? People semes to be stresssed out with hardly any time for family and freinds,just living for one holiday a year. Advacments in medicine may mean we're living longer,but for what? To work longer and harder ? Maybe life would be sweeter If it was shorter?

    I read this article in Adbusters last month which certainly provides a convincing voice for the proimitive lifestyle:

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,483 ✭✭✭Ostrom

    You may be interested in Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Discipline as a counterpoint; he argues that urbanization and bioengineering are essentially greener than typically argued sustainable alternatives.

    He made a comment on Pat Kenny yesterday suggesting that smallholder farming was more harmful than technologically intensive. The argument is that sustianable alternatives should be technologically intensive, and require transnational governance rather than local management to implement - interesting take in the context of what looksee is suggesting about complexity restricting any wholesale adjustments.

    I dont agree with his point on smallholder farming (overwhleming evidence to the contrary, especially in pre-famine Ireland) - I haven't read the book yet, so I'm curious to see how he justifies the other points.

    On the other extreme, I have used Levins and Lewontin a bit in my own work. Both scientists (geneticists I think) who attempted to apply Marx's method of analysis* to a number of areas. The dialectical biologist is their most coherent (the book in the link is a collection of monthly review think-pieces over the past twenty years - there is a piece on Cuba which is worth a read if you have been following the thread in politics - Levins has worked in South America for many years).

    * Dialectical presentation as opposed to the traditional 'political' application - in the same vein as John Bellamy Foster who has also written extensively on Marx's concept of metabolism in relation to nutrient exploitation in colonies. There are some really interesting papers appearing in the Journal of Human Ecology from authors that are attempting to model sustainable outcomes in terms of systems of micro-governance (comparative productivity with various aspects of micro-administrative systems, local knowledge, folklore etc as predictors).

    Historical-comparative studies are probably limited in the sense that they focus on aggregate yield rather than output per unit area - just a guess, but it would be interesting to see if further results from the above approaches suggested that labour intensive alternatives were more long-term sustainable in terms of morbidity/mortality and long-term health outcomes. (Perhaps to answer the question about technology...?)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,986 ✭✭✭Red Hand

    Well, he's only telling it like it is.

    OP, here is an interesting link:

    The Ishmael books are philosphical fiction novels that deal with these themes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,018 ✭✭✭shoegirl

    His concepts make a little sense, but only in a world where the individual has both the resources and the skills to survive. We live in an increasingly interdependent world - and indeed that carries with it a huge risk of breaking contacts or interdependencies destroying chunks of civillisation. However its more than likely that should such a scenario develop that at least some of the population would adapt.

    Not sure if there is any great benefit in rejected whole scale mutual interdependency.

  • Advertisement