Cultural Collapse...

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Cultural Collapse...

Postby daybrown » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:37 am

is one of the lessons of archeology. In thinking about the collapses of Easter Island, Chaco Canyon, The Maya, and the Greenland Norse, all reported by Diamond in his latest book. I noticed a pattern seen in other culltural disasters as well.

Wallace, in his anthro classic "Culture & Personality" noted that when a system is on the skids, and people's coping skills dont work so well any more, they engage in "magical thinking". A term he coined.

From scripture you get the idea that the loss of morals leads to collapse. But the data actually shows that the economic decline is accompanied by a greater sense of moral loss, providing people a reason for it. As people become more desperate, their morals decline, not the other way around.

Group think also takes a toll. In every case, as the leadership realizes there is a decline in the resource base, rather than cut back to buy time to look for new solutions, they actually *INCREASE* their exploitation of all lower classes. Thus, the amount of perks which the power elite has always seen increasing, keeps on increasing, giving them the illusion that 'progress' continues.

With the Greenland Norse, besides the climate change, political changes resulted in the importation of African ivory again, which displaced the Walrus Ivory the Greenlanders were exporting. But rather than using the money to buy iron tools to harvest wood from Canada, and thereby expand into the fishing business, they used it to buy more jewelry.

On Easter Island, the stone monuments got bigger as things got worse. The Maya clearcut the forest to make charcoal to cook limestone to make plaster, and as things got worse, increased the clearcutting to make more plaster for ever larger pyramids. At Chaco Canyon, ritual cannibalism increased. You can see the increase in religious furvor, the 'magical thinking' Wallace refers to.

You can see the houses of the power elites get bigger. At Greenland, at the start, every family had a couple cows. At the end, the chief had a barn to hold 50, and everyone else had, at most, 1.

I am not here to say what the lower classes deserve, or what the power elites should charge for their management services; the anarchy that results is worse for the survivors. Revenge is sweet, but not nutritious.

Which brings up another trait. The power elites always seek to find the cheapest thing to feed the lower classes, and always goes into monoculture. The shit hits the fan when there's crop failure because there's no other food supply.

Contrast this with the report on the bone middens from the Chalcolithic tels along the Danube. Continuous occupation for 4000 years with no sign of warfare or revolution. But the bone middens show us over 100 wild plants and animals. In addition to the fish in the river and the domestic varieties they raised.

Jared Diamond reports that 80% of agribusiness raises just 5 crops: corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, & cotton. The wide variety in super markets is deceptive if you read the labels. High fructose corn syrup is all over the place.

Diamond dont deal with it, but recent neurological studies have identified over 150 neurotransmitters. Back when the minimum daily requirement was calculated there were only 7, and they really didnt know what they did. But now, we have the brain scans and much better lab equipment to look at the nervous system all the way down to the nanotech level.

And, it turns out that trace minerals, commonly found in wild food, like iron, copper, manganese, & zinc, play an important role in empowering neurotransmitters when laying down new neural pathways during learning.

But agribusiness does the land with Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Potash. [that's a period] The trace minerals have all been leached out long ago. Which is why every generation is a little less competent than the previous.

Likewise, when the power elites increase exploitation, the lower classes no longer have time to forage and must rely on monoculture for ever greater percentages of the diet. And every generation is a little more neurotic and stupid.

You can see the diff if you look at the schools where the kids still grow up on family farms on homegrown veggies. The autism rate posted on TV is 1 out of every 155. The autism rate for the Amish? 1 in 15,000. The autism rate in my neck of Ozark woods, which is all small family farms, is 1:4000 or less. Its a low population area so statistics are not real precise.

I suspect you'll find similar results wherever the land is too steep for agribusiness, like the Appalachian or Rocky mtns. But get out your atlas and look up the small Ozark towns- where farm kids go to school- and then check the school test results at http://normessasweb.uark.edu/reportcards/select.php

The numbers jump right out at you. Zero rates of violence. Dropout rates in the single digits, classes average at the 65th percentile. Graduation rates near 90%, attendance near 95%. Then, if you actually visited the schools, you'd see the class photos in the front hall. Aint no epidemic of obesity here.

But these small towns dont have fast food outlets, much less candy machines in the schools. To a farm wife, a convenience food is something that's already dead. These kids dont get off the bus and put a remote in their hands. Its more often a wood handle for a tool. They have chores to do. Teachers dont assign much homework on that account.

When my son graduated from the Leslie High (pop 627) in 1996, 25% of the class scored over the 95th percentile on the ACT. Yet, these kids dont care to go to college. They dont want careers in the city. The guys like working outside, farming, logging, construction, etc.

Archeology is full of examples of declines in art and workmanship before a culture collapses. But I dont see that happening here. Altho, when you see a bridge collapse in a great city, you havta wonder just what's going on there. Most of you all live in a city, what do you think?
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Postby War Arrow » Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:00 am

I do think we're heading towards a monoculture. London may be more diverse than it's ever been but the political and economic situation is (I think) becoming increasingly homogenised.
Some of your points certainly apply to the Mexica (by the way). Ahuizotl is reported as being (in some senses) a man of the people, and someone who regarded the excesses of the priesthood with a little scepticism. His successor, Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin certainly fits the pattern of a more "decadent" ruler (extremely superstitious and with a much stronger sense of his own Godhood - he is alleged to have instituted a law by which common people were not allowed to look at him). How reliable such accounts may be is debatable, but if true they certainly fit the pattern you describe).
Furthermore, is it me or are we currently seeing a resurgence of mumbo jumbo?
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Postby Rokcet Scientist » Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:17 am

Nineteen-Eighty-Four is a monoculture. And of course every monotheistic religion's goal is to be one.
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Postby daybrown » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:57 am

Wallace, in his anthro classic, "Culture & Personality" noted that when a system is on the skids, people's coping skills dont work so well anymore, and so they engage in "magical thinking". A term he coined.

Thus, we see Christians speak of "The Rapture", with vast numbers who expect to see Jesus return in their own lifetimes to take them away from what they see as an evil system. Curiously, Gibbon reports that the very 1st Christians in the Roman empire had the same idea.

Then too, there's such a myriad of information sources nowadays that people just cant cope with it, and thus turn to I Ching, Tarot, astrology, or whatever. And while those divination tools have never been regarded as reliable, I believe, that if you check they numbers, they turn out as well as the average financial broker or economist.

Finally, Native Europeans, in both the new and old world, are returning to their ancestral religious traditions the same as Native Americans have. In some ways, this certainly resembles mumbo-jumbo. But there no longer is any Pontiff Maxiumus telling them what the dogma is. Going to Stonehenge or one of the other ancient sacred sites speaks to this effort to recover ancestral traditions, but those who go, unlike Christianity, Islam, or other conventional religions, do not have to express a certain doctrine.

Gibbon noted that the pagan could enter any sacred space, no matter what the name applied to the sacred presence, and feel an emotional attachment without anyone asking him to define or comply with some standard, or asking anyone to conform to his own beliefs.

Said the Brahmin to the Bishop:"I do not pray to a stone carving any more than you pray to a wooden cross." And in many ways, London with its diversity, is representative of the world's diversity in much the same way Rome once was.

But regarding the danger of mumbo-jumbo, I just watched the GOP candidates debate. Most of whom express their Christian faith, all of whom will, if pressed, say they have it. The United States has had a long struggle with Islam; which is why the US marine's hymn has the phrase "to the shores of tripoli". And the result of that struggle resulted in the treaty of Tripoli with the Moslems, who were then committing the same kind of terrorism, kidnapping, and murder they do now.

That treaty, signed by the President, and ratified by the senate says, in part, that "The United States is not a Christian Nation." And having forgotten that, now struggles with Islam as if it was. Whenever it returns to its natural religion, the worship of the Almighty Dollar, it will win the war on terrorism in short order.

But it is the loss of faith in the Almighty Dollar which has led to the rise of other kooky religions like Christianity, and the wait for Jesus to come to solve all their problems. I am sure, that if he did, and took all of his faithful away, the rest of us could work things out expeditiously.

If you read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, you discover that this is, in fact, oral European tradition that was handed down by Nicodemus to his son Aristotle. And the return to Native European spirituality will result in the recovery of these values. Which Nietzsche was advocating over 100 years ago. But it may require economic crisis to get back to it.
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Postby Rokcet Scientist » Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:48 pm

daybrown wrote:
[...] And the return to Native European spirituality will result in the recovery of these values. [...]



You mean we gotta go back to worshipping forest demons, erecting rows of menhirs and sacrificial fertility rites to be 'saved'?

Get serious.
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Postby Minimalist » Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:59 pm

Nothing wrong with a few forest demons, R/S.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby daybrown » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:56 pm

Again, so many of those socialized in the Christian tradition assume that anything else is primitive and less moral. But archeology itself has weighed in on that.

They've examined the slave graves both before, and after Christian conversion of the empire. After, the women were so malnourished they would have been infertile. This was causing a chronic manpower shortage, and the legions were increasingly used as slave raiders.

Naturally wide swathes in Germany and Dacia were utterly abandoned, and then only re-occupied with aggressive warrior tribes who were more mobile, into hunting & herding, not farming.

The attitude of the slave masters seems to be, that if Jesus is going to reward the slaves in heaven, there's no need to do so on Earth.

I mention the Nicomachean ethics because it is an example of the European oral tradition, and will happily put it up against the moral values in scripture.

To elaborate another point which seems missed. When the Bramin tells the Bishop he does not worship a stone carving any more than the Bishop worships a wooden cross, that does not mean that there are not gullible people who worship wood and stone.

They are as they are, and as Dr. Freud noted, neurosis is a very intractable condition. Discourse will not enlighten them, any more than it cured obsessive compulsive disorder. But perhaps you recall, that it was discovered that a new arthritus medication did in a few weeks what couch therapy was unable to do in years.

There is a strong biochemical component in behavior. Christianity ignores this, and tries to suppress the use of sacred potions as a result of the dogma related to free will.

But again, archeology has entered into the question. If you look at the collection of chalcolithic artifacts seen in the books by Gimbutas or the museums of Eastern Europe, it aint what you see, its what you dont that gets your attention. No weapons. The people had arsenic bronze for crysake, the toughest of all bronzes, and all they left us was grain sickles, wood working tools, belt buckles, clasps, kitchen utinsels, etc.

But among the artifacts, they also left us models of Amanita Muscaria and pots with really trippy decorative motifs for mixing potions. And this is, if you recall, the land known as *Transylvania*.

Moreover, Gimbutas shows us lotsa "Phallic Wands"; but I've seen porn flix, and I know dildos when I see them. And you dont havta read too far between the lines to realize the Bishops were flipping out over sacred orgies. The Bishops were all about the will of an alpha male tyrant warrior god, and these people were into sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

And when you dig down into their tels, you dont find the evidence of warfare. What you do find are all these morbidly obese Goddess figures. If you factor in the clues from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, and go around as Gimbutas did, and collect and collate the oral traditions of obscure rural villages, you can, as Campbell does also, reconstruct the myth and the cosmology.

In which Chaos, not god, is the primordial substance. And out of this the Goddess, aka Gaia, Potnia, Venus, Hera, Sophia, etc *evolved*. While the variations are considerable, the Golden Age of Peace is easy to understand when you consider the problem a demagogue would have trying to rile up a mob or an army by claiming that *he* speaks in *HER* name.

So- we are where we are, and one thing thats going on with all the witches and 'wiccans' is that they are beginning to realize the political effect of having the Goddess accepted as the prime deity. Think what that idea'd do to Islamic cultures.

Gibbon noted that in the Roman era, the people all believed that religion was true, the philosophers all thot religion was false, and the politicians all knew religion was useful. And now the political use of the Goddess is becoming obvious.

The biochemical effect of Soma and many other potions is a lot like LSD. And now, combined with the idea that the divine can be conceptualized as *female*, Rapidly increasing numbers of adolescent girls are figuring it out, and identifying themselves as initiates to "The Craft". And where the pussy goes, the men will soon follow.

I dont discuss my sex life with those I dont have sex with, but I have noticed that the men that are already in this movement are getting laid, and they are grateful. Because the sacred potions are not self medicated, but only given out on ritual occasions, they're not drug addicts.

The only people who maintain that it is delusion and not enlightenment, have not tried the sacred potions. They mite want to look up the Marsh Chapel study done at Harvard.
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Postby daybrown » Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:18 am

When Americans, the modern power elite, realized that there was a problem with the global supply of oil, they quit driving fuel efficient Hondas & Toyotas, and bought Hummers & SUVs.

Classic case of denial.
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Postby War Arrow » Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:01 am

I think I may be missing the point here, or I've lost missed the point amongst this apparently fractal torrent of data, but nevertheless a few things occur to me.
Older religions were adaptive systems of investigating and explaining the world, and the best of these were progressive as new problems arose. Often, however, the arrival of the written word allowed certain tenets to be recorded and set down as immutable, therefore producing dogma and bingo - suddenly we have models in which only one version of percieved truth is open to discussion. In so much as older religions made the best of the thought and technology available at the time they might therefore be seen as having a great deal more in common with the methodology of contemporary science, and very little in common with contemporary religion whether it be in the well publicised forms of which we are all aware or the pseudo-utopian nostalgia of many westerners who adopt earlier religious practices in much the same way as an Elvis tribute act reiterating the symbols of the original without any understanding of the context. It is therefore, I believe, an insult to the ancient cultures in question to identify their hard-won belief systems with our contemporaries who choose mumbo-jumbo over progressive thought for exactly the same reasons that teenagers get tattoos. We know (or at least are fairly certain) that the universe was not created by two Gods having a fight with an alligator and to pretend otherwise is to adopt the trappings of an earlier age purely in the name of surface grammar, whilst wilfully ignoring (and doing a great disservice to) whatever factors initially informed the semiotics of said trappings - in other words, accumulating a vast library just because you like the pretty pictures on the covers of the books. I would furthermore add that expressions like "alpha male tyrant warrior God" seem to represent an imposition of 20th century values upon religious systems to which those values may be of dubious application, which therefore seems to be a case of seeking an earlier alternative to present circumstances and then just cherry-picking the safe, comfortable bits - as one mixes and matches an outfit. I'm an advocate of sceptical enquiry, I therefore strongly resent any system which tells me "this is the way it should be" as much as I resent those proposed and often conspiracy-driven alternatives which paraphrase "do you accept this or do you want to know the TRUTH?" Both are sides of the exact same coin and neither is of any relevance to the continued survival of our race, planet or ecosystem.
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Postby daybrown » Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:34 am

War Eagle's points are well worth considering. I'm not always as clear as I hope, and tend to run on too long the way it is. But "alpha male tyrant warrior" god for instance is not to deny that other believers had more noble visions, but to point out that this ugly side was not dismissed. It is causing enormous problems now, and has always empowered zealots.

Only now, the weapons are so much more powerful. They worry about a few dozen zealots bringing a nuke into a city for Allah's sake. Not that they would not have done the same for Jesus if nukes had been invented. Gibbon writes of a massacre in a French city, where the followers of Bishop Anathasian butchered 40,000 followers of Bishop Arian because the latter didnt think that Jesus was part of the Father at the beginning of creation.

Look at Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Hindu, or pagan traditions, and you dont see that. Zeus was a bad ass kicker, but he was not omnipotent, and not everything could be justified in his name. Zeus was more like a town mayor who had other factions, gods & goddesses, to consider. Read Ovid. Its a gas. To wit:

Tireseus was the child of Aphrodite & Hermes, and spent different times as either a man, or a woman. Zeus & Hera were having an agument over which sex got the most pleasure out of sex, so they went to see Tiresius, who'd done it both ways. The answer: "The woman of course."

Hera, having lost the argument, was pissed. "All right, you are such a good referee, I'll make you just like all other referees." She blinded Tireseus. Zeus, says:"Well, I cannot undo what she has done. But if you cant see the present, I'll fix it so you can see the future."

You find humor and irony in most of the other great religions, but the Levantine god is a humorless jackass, in a class by himself, and he has empowered more zealots committing more atrocity than all the other concepts of the divine combined.

If you rebut with descriptions of him being loving & gentle, I'd call that bi-polar considering his taste for vengeance.

PS, Tireseus's other name:"Hermaphrodite". And he dont fit in the Christian cosmology either, All the efforts to make people with XXY chromsomes have resulted in surgical disasters trying to make them into something the Levantine tradition can accept. It could not handle ape/man hybrids for the same reason.
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Postby Rokcet Scientist » Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:56 am

daybrown wrote:
[...] I'm not always as clear as I hope, and tend to run on too long the way it is. [...]



Well, if I look closely I can see a bit of improvement compared to your posts of a few years ago. But there's still a lot more room for upgrading. So keep at it. You may get there yet.
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Postby clubs_stink » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:48 am

Rokcet Scientist wrote:
daybrown wrote:
[...] And the return to Native European spirituality will result in the recovery of these values. [...]



You mean we gotta go back to worshipping forest demons, erecting rows of menhirs and sacrificial fertility rites to be 'saved'?

Get serious.


Don't be so quick here..sounds like there could be nudity in the forest involved in this..which is a heck of a lot better than panty hose and hats on the ladies in their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes :D
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Postby clubs_stink » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:51 am

War Arrow wrote:Older religions were adaptive systems of investigating and explaining the world, and the best of these were progressive as new problems arose. i!


BINGO right on target.

Adaptive systems that grew and or changed according to what was happening in their environment. Cultures in rain forest environments had little use for rain ceremonies...ect ect ect.
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Postby Digit » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:12 am

Praise Huitzilopochtli!

I would, if I could pronounce it! :lol:
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Postby clubs_stink » Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:36 pm

Digit wrote:
Praise Huitzilopochtli!

I would, if I could pronounce it! :lol:


Whooitz eel oh poh cheat lee :D

three times fast.
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