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Non-Hierarchical Paleo Permaculture Hunter-Gatherer Intentional Community  RSS feed

 
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Location: North Carolina Piedmont
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Dennis Lanigan wrote:The Wild Roots land project is outside of Asheville, NC if you're interested. I would definitely visit them to step out of the academic talk and meet real folks living a permaculture/hunter/gatherer/scrounger lifestyle. The Firefly Gathering is worth checking out along with the folks at Wild Abundance. Natalie Bogwalker, who's an old friend of mine, is an old resident of Wild Roots, started Firefly Gathering, and teaches with Wild Abundance. I recommend taking classes with her.



Dennis, would love to here more about your time at Wild Roots. I actually emailed them a few days ago asking when a good time to visit would be (btw, do you know if there is a better way to get in touch?) hoping that Wild Roots would be just what you described- a way to live more primal and make this stuff my reality. I still feel like a community rooted in one, relatively small, plot of land, is off the mark from a where I'd like to be one day, but that's not to say what's going on there isn't valuable in and of itself.

Definitely going to try and attend Firefly! I'll say hi to Natalie for you if I can
 
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I can't really share my experiences on a forum to folks I don't know. Pretty crazy times. One example: I was there for a hurricane and got amoebic dysentery. I was only there for two months had my fill and left to go find a land project in Cascadia, my preferred bioregion. I don't know how you guys handle the hot, muggy, rainy Summers. I couldn't hack it. Summers in Cascadia are what I'm used to: 70-80s with no rain and little humidity and cool nights.

I imagine Wild Roots is much different than when I was there in 2004. Back then they had several typical land project temporary dwellings: a trailer and a yurt. It looked pretty raw. But now they have several cob buildings and what looks like a finished wigwam. It's probably a totally different place now.

 
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leila hamaya wrote:

what i've been thinking is that there needs to be a HUGE umbrella group which links up as many as possible farms/communities/bioregions as possible into a very large network of communities in 100s and thousands of different locations. if you were to join this organization then one could belong to a variety of different projects- given potential access to land and work trade sort of situations, or for farmers/especially permaculturists or other horticulturist...they get labor and assistance, house sitters, and access to a number of different locations where they could also stay.

the idea being using what everyone involved already has, even if its a small extra bedroom, a couch to sleep on, or some unused land to share crop...to a farm with internships, land sharing or whatever else people are willing to open up to gifting/leasing/owning/sharing land. then this organization would have to coordinate between them to place people in different locations, continue to network in as many different places as possible.

with this though i dont think it would fly to make too many rules, or ideas about how the segments operate. each of the places would have to be able to make their own decisions about all the particulars, or none if they didnt want to have any restrictions.
no one could say even that you had to use only permaculture practices or anything...



I have been reflecting on how to create a state-less society or even what I would consider a just contractarian society (doubtful, but which might include the state) is the ability for all physically fit members to easily go between alternative social models. I personally favor voluntary state-less horticulture based on establishing a culture focused on reciprocity and individuality (after meeting what the community generally considers to be needs). Anyway we differ in our ideals, but I think we share an interest in the creation of stateless, non-hierarchical, and empowering communities/bands. Having communities/bands with certain overlapping cultural values (but divergent expressions) within a distance that can be traveled by an individual without excessively accumulated wealth (also culturally defined, sigh) might allow for the flow of individuals who disagree with their groups' dominant cultures, but value many aspects of them. Having alternatives (and actively creating alternatives from near the beginning) might create a more stable relation of peoples as long groups generally agree on what is considered to be a maximum population change/(area*time).

This is a rough idea, so proceed to poke holes into it and whisper questions into them.
On a less related note, if a community were aspiring for an (even more) ambitious project that wanted to actively challenge statism while having some physical security it might be do-able on certain islands of the Great Lakes.
 
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I have been away from this thread for a while since I have been reading a couple books by Charles Eisenstein, ' The Ascent of Humanity' and 'Sacred Economics'. i'd thought that someone here recommended them, but could not find who it was to thank them, but whoever you were, thank you. The ideas he brought forth seemed very appropriate to this thread, and for many people in the permaculture and organic movements. The main idea he seemed to espouse was one of animism, like Leila has so capably discoursed on here, as being key to the kind of life many of us would like to live. the idea that spirit is every where, in all of us, and that we would be better off living that way.
He also points out that collapse of the current system of constant, accelerating growth is almost certain sooner or later, due to the nature of the limited system we really live in. He does however, not think, if I may be so bold as to speculate on from what I got from it, that collapse will be enough to make the changes, but that it will give us incentive to make the changes needed, away from a growth oriented system.
 
Steven Johnson
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He thinks that we should start now, to build the systems that will allow the collapse to be less severe. I think that communities such as we envision here would be key to that. I totally agree with Leila, again, that horticulture will be a big part of that. One of the books that has been pivotal in my developing thought on this stuff is 'The Ohlone Way' a description of how the native tribes near the san Francisco bay area lived. they practiced a sort of horticulture, that utilized native plants and minimal sorts of disruption to help maintain conditions favorable for those plants. Many of our wild lands these days are much degraded from their former human enhanced ability to support life, and it will take a long time and many of us working to bring some of our lands back to the beauty and life supporting productivity that our society has sacrificed in the pursuit of money to the exclusion of much else.
 
Steven Johnson
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Just exactly how to do that will be a long time figuring out, but I think the best way is to start now, and refine it as we go, and in that spirit, and in the spirit of eisensteins reunion of body and spirit, and the gifting paradigm inherent in animisticly oriented societies, which we think we need to redevelop in order to get beyond the growth orientation that is destroying the ability of the land to support people in the non hierarchial paleo permaculture way we would like to experience, I would like to offer my place as a node in the community that Andrew proposed in starting this thread. If any of you would like to gather in person, and work toward a food forest in all its aspects, you can come and visit, camp out, and plot on how to do it, and start doing it.
I have 30 acres with a house and barn, there are woods and cleared areas. It is located in the Missouri ozarks. it is not perfect, but it is where I am now. Maybe even some migratory livestock would be possible, I am not ready for full time livestock yet, but could use some for a while. If any one is interested lets visit a little off the forum and discuss the details. I have been here only a short time, and need to live out of grocery stores for now, and a very few wild things, but I have started preparing to expand the horticultural domain, as well as the animal life here. there is plenty of opportunity to play in the woods.
 
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Many of our wild lands these days are much degraded from their former human enhanced ability to support life, and it will take a long time and many of us working to bring some of our lands back to the beauty and life supporting productivity that our society has sacrificed in the pursuit of money to the exclusion of much else.



i feel so blessed to actually live in one of the rare areas on the planet where it is still somewhat possible to forage and gather large amounts of food and materials. when i leave the little bubble i am in here i get kinda freaked out, truthfully, by how weird everything is in the "civilized world" ....
and this is in large part because of the horticulture practices of the natives here for hundreds of years, choosing to prefer certain more useful edible trees, and spreading certain edible/useful plants, practicing truly conservative resource management (or rather SOURCE management ) where it comes to wild animals for food.

and like you said with minimal disturbance, not huge amounts of destructive disturbance, and not total conservation either. the world is here for you just as much as anything, but not for you exclusively to do whatever you want with it. its ok to take what we need, and to make one's area more suited to our needs as humans, and to find ways to do this involving horticulture which work with the land in ways that are not harmful, and even regenerative. so IMO the point is not to not ever touch or affect anything at all, or to reject and exclude certain activities (for example annuals or tilling or etc) but to work with the land in a power with, win/win type deal........and to watch for when the practices have consequences which are negative to the greater systems.



The main idea he seemed to espouse was one of animism, like Leila has so capably discoursed on here, as being key to the kind of life many of us would like to live. the idea that spirit is every where, in all of us, and that we would be better off living that way.




i truly feel that animism is THE ANSWER.
at least for me, when i explored it and got more into it, it made some things come really crystal clear quickly.
things i had tried to understand, issues i had tried to solve that seemed unsolvable, were suddenly simplified and very clear.

reverence for all life forms as sacred, honoring the interconnectedness to all other life forms, not objectifying things or people, practicing "leave alone respect"......and the only "sins" are greed and disrespect, especially to the point of ecocide...these central values of animism are the key, IMO.
and the problem of turning away from animistic thought, of objectifying the world and cutting up everything into categories and imposed (false) values, especially of cutting up what is sacred and what is NOT sacred, like you could get all the sacred stuff in a box somewhere and keep it for oneself in a treasure chest (!) or a building/god/religion as being the sacred and everything else EXCLUDED ...IMO these are the root causes of many of our social ills in modern times.

it doesnt matter if one recognizes the name or calls it anything, or calls it permaculture say (in my mind its basically the same, though i guess the antiwoo crowd might not agree!)
....so its not like i think everyone should be converted to something, and i sense that rants about animism could come across that way, as just some kind of religious spiritual mumbo jumbo......but actually one cant really be converted to it because its something that already exists within us. regardless of how someone defines themselves, or believes, even holding contrary ideas to it, the core of people is still very animistic, and they are still an integral sacred part of the whole, interrelated, ALL INCLUDED.

all of our ancestors practiced animism in one form or another and its still there in our core....as the grandmother of religions its woven throughout all religions, but is more of a world view than a spiritual thing. but all religions have a hint of animism in them, though some more than others...like pantheism and paganism are very much the same vein, though even the other religions can be along side animism...if people wert to choose that. modern animists tend to be animist along side whatever other religion...because it is so woven into all of the various religious groups...
from an animistic POV, our spirits know what they are doing (as true for non spiritual people as it is for spiritual people, and other non human "persons"), its our human physical practical lives that need a bit of guidance, to remember the basic natural laws and wisdom of right living. though really there is no separation between the spiritual and the physical, in this and other ways its so different from what we are enculturated with, that its like it circumnavigates the issues by seeing things completely differently. in this it can be hard for animists who are coming from modern contexts to really get it

though i could be motivated to spread the general ideas about it, it is more like...the ideas behind it are what need to be recognized. so i dont often talk about it directly, more reflect and talk about the core values and basic shift on thinking about things. though i do enjoy exploring animism specifically named with those so inclined to explore it.

the truth speaks for itself, anyway, so i dont have to.....i think the core values of animism are like that...the kind of truth that speaks for itself, it doesnt need to be directly addressed as a "religion".
 
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Steven Johnson wrote:I have been reading a couple books by Charles Eisenstein, ' The Ascent of Humanity' and 'Sacred Economics'. i'd thought that someone here recommended them, but could not find who it was to thank them, but whoever you were, thank you. The ideas he brought forth seemed very appropriate to this thread, and for many people in the permaculture and organic movements. The main idea he seemed to espouse was one of animism, like Leila has so capably discoursed on here, as being key to the kind of life many of us would like to live. the idea that spirit is every where, in all of us, and that we would be better off living that way.
He also points out that collapse of the current system of constant, accelerating growth is almost certain sooner or later, due to the nature of the limited system we really live in. He does however, not think, if I may be so bold as to speculate on from what I got from it, that collapse will be enough to make the changes, but that it will give us incentive to make the changes needed, away from a growth oriented system.


Glad you appreciated them, Steven. I'm currently revisiting Part II of Sacred Economics to see if there's a way to directly apply its principles in relation to this project. Lots of exciting things happening behind the scenes bringing this all closer to reality.
 
Andrew Scott
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I realize that the non-sedentary component of the OP is perhaps the most difficult to model from our perspective as individuals socialized from birth by consumerist capitalism, but I remain convinced of the importance of pressing against assumptions of sedentism. A new article about the recent Fry & Soderberg paper arguing against the evolutionary roots of war...

Robert Sapolsky wrote:"...anthropologists have long known that hunter-gatherers typically solve tensions by taking advantage of the fluid, mobile nature of their cultures: They move on to the next valley instead of escalating things with would-be rivals." - Source*



*If you get stuck on the wrong side of the Wall Street Journal paywall, Googling the title, "When Were the Dogs of War First Let Loose?", and clicking through the search result usually bypasses it.
 
leila hamaya
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Andrew Scott wrote:I realize that the non-sedentary component of the OP is perhaps the most difficult to model from our perspective as individuals socialized from birth by consumerist capitalism, but I remain convinced of the importance of pressing against assumptions of sedentism. A new article about the recent Fry & Soderberg paper arguing against the evolutionary roots of war...

Robert Sapolsky wrote:"...anthropologists have long known that hunter-gatherers typically solve tensions by taking advantage of the fluid, mobile nature of their cultures: They move on to the next valley instead of escalating things with would-be rivals." - Source*



*If you get stuck on the wrong side of the Wall Street Journal paywall, Googling the title, "When Were the Dogs of War First Let Loose?", and clicking through the search result usually bypasses it.



i apologize for my seeming to play "devil's advocate" (what a weird phrase!) and debating with you in a contrary perspective, thats not usually the way i roll. AND your points arent lost on me, i do see why you state these things, talking about the "fortress" mentality, the huge problems with the modern distorted form of private property.....and i do think there is something to what you are saying.

i agree, its pretty hard with the way we are socialized for people to want to embrace this aspect of what you put forth. security is an issue, or rather insecurity is the issue. plus back when the ancestors were doing this, the world was wide open, wild animals and food were plentiful, nothing was locked down like it is now. to move from one place to the other was not very difficult and there was a lot of open abundant land. we are in a weird context living in a modern world, but i dont think we can act as if we were still in that kind of context, much as i might wish it were so.

actually in the past i have been nomadic, for many years sleep where i lay, something of a free spirit...and lived in seven different states, always moving. i burnt out on that, again the context of what is now needs to be considered, because it would be different if the greater context of the world were different and more supportive of that being a viable lifestyle choice for someone. if you want to encourage that, and deep thought about private property, the "fortress mentality" then i get it, its important to examine, and would applaud you. i just wouldnt be on that wave enough to want to join in, because i would rather settle in good somewhere.

i am happy on a tiny bit of land staying at home, not going anywhere ever, and *tending my oven*. though i hope you find people enough on that wave, i can imagine i would not be the only person to prefer settlement, and think in these ways. it is deeply embedded in our culture, for sure, all of these ideas...but i think there is something natural about it to, say the positive aspects of settling into one place, not lording over it with all the distorted private property paradigms and exploitively, just being in one place, deep belonging.


and since hanging up my travelling shoes, have wanted to settle down, get a consistant groove on, build up a more stable base of staying in one place for a long time and gain the real benefits of long term stability, especially when it comes to food producing. i have put in dozens and dozens of amazing gardens and planted food plants wherever i have lived all over the country and build or rebuilt multiple structures everywhere too. i could imagine what bounty i would be living within had i focussed all that on one spot, my own spot, and been able to have that support me long term. age is a factor too, roaming around free spirit style might be great for people in their twenties, not so much when you start getting older (i am feeling old these days!).

i think your ideas are very cool and for the most part i agree with much of what you say, even though it is very contrary to the more common perspectives of modern people. i could see what you talk about being bigger, with different kinds of groups all having very different ways, perhaps some of them non sedentary, perhaps some sedentary? i think the ideas you have presented could be realized on a broader scale, and it might be hard to find people who were as into that particular part of it, though i hope i could be wrong.

i also agree that the "fortress mentality" and private property needs to be examined and questioned as some of the root causes of the problems we now live with. so here, i will add some more reading to this thread with so many excellent reading references....some writing i enjoyed, a rant on private property

http://cjstone.hubpages.com/hub/Romania-Landscape-and-Possession

So “occupation”. It is occupation that occupies a man. We have our jobs, our occupations. We are occupied. But then, when one country invades another we call that “occupation” too. Occupied France in the Second World War. The Occupied Territories in what were once Palestine. Occupied Iraq. Occupied Afghanistan. The question then is, when we say that the landscape is occupied by humans what do we mean? Occupied as in an occupying army - a band of foreign invaders in the landscape imposing an alien culture upon it, degrading it, destroying it, murdering its inhabitants, exploiting it, marching all over it with storm-trooper boots of oppression? Or as human beings merely working in the landscape, working with the land, being occupied within it?

And when we say we “own” something, how do we own it? You can own a thought. You can own a knowledge. You can “own up” to things. None of these involve a legal relationship. Ownership here is just the acceptance of responsibility. It doesn’t imply possession at all.

It is the same with “belonging”. We can belong to a club, or to a tribe, or to a culture. We don’t say that the club “owns” us. Belonging, in this sense, is a relationship with something, the way we say two people belong to each other, the way a child belongs to a mother, or a man belongs to a women. It is a relationship over time: a be-longing, a being-over-time. A longing. A longing to belong.

All cultures have a sense of ownership in these terms, as relationship, as knowledge, as commitment, as work. But most cultures until very recent times did not have a sense of possession in the way we now have it: of a legalised and exclusive ownership, of an ownership that implies that what belongs to one cannot therefore belong to another. Common ownership was once the norm. This is what has changed. And the joke here, of course, is that when you look at who owns what in these legal terms, most people in the world own very little, or nothing at all, and a very few people own almost everything.

This form of possession is invisible, like a ghost. It is exactly like possession in that other, occult sense. A man does not need to have done anything to have this form of ownership. He does not need to have built a farm, or raised crops, or raised a family. He does not need to have worked the land or to have maintained it, to have tilled the soil, to have built fences, to have planted seeds, to have reaped the harvest. He does not need to have hunted on it. He does not need to know where the wild creatures go. He does not even need to have visited it. He need not know where it is. All he needs is a bit of paper that says he owns it, and when he wants to dispossess the man who is actually living on it, and who has raised crops and a family and built a home, he can. The joke is that we have all been sold into this form of possession, and yet all it has achieved is to have dispossessed us all.

Possessed and dispossessed, all at the same time.

And who, now, truly “owns” the land in which he lives? Who, now, owns it in the form of knowledge, in the form of belonging, in the form of being occupied within it, of being occupied by it? Who, now, can hear the land talking to us? Who can hear its secret words of wisdom, in the wind, in the trees? Who, now, knows the rituals of the landscape, it’s cycles and its seasons, and the potent alchemy that plants perform to turn dirt and air into food? Who knows its secrets? Who knows its charm? And who, now, knows how to charm it and be charmed by it? Who knows its magic?

 
Andrew Scott
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leila hamaya wrote:to move from one place to the other was not very difficult and there was a lot of open abundant land. we are in a weird context living in a modern world, but i dont think we can act as if we were still in that kind of context, much as i might wish it were so.

actually in the past i have been nomadic, for many years sleep where i lay, something of a free spirit...and lived in seven different states, always moving. i burnt out on that, again the context of what is now needs to be considered, because it would be different if the greater context of the world were different and more supportive of that being a viable lifestyle choice for someone. if you want to encourage that, and deep thought about private property, the "fortress mentality" then i get it, its important to examine, and would applaud you. i just wouldnt be on that wave enough to want to join in, because i would rather settle in good somewhere.


For those who may be coming to this conversation without reading the multiple pages of discussion, I want to stress again that the concept forwarded isn't about being nomadic, but merely having a network of multiple smaller properties that folks can move between at their choosing rather than community models based on one large chunk of land. It's intended to be a model adapted to the current realities of a 100% "owned" planet, with an attempt to distill the most salient features of hunter-gatherer lifways with the limits that happen to be, and not an attempt to exactly replicate the particular ecological or social conditions of any past date.
 
Steven Johnson
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Andrew, thanks so much for clarifying again what you want to discuss here. if we are not careful it is so easy to become argumentative even when we do not disagree. I feel so strongly that your idea of having multiple nodes that people can travel between at will is an important aspect of what will come to work for us. I think that as time goes by, it will lead to a world that is less 'owned' and restricted. we have to remember that we are bucking a trend here and that it will take time to change things.
I want to also cast my vote to support leilas ideas of horticulture to improve the productivity of the land where we live. The zone idea put forth in the permaculture manual is just what we are talking about.
also want to thank Leila for the link to cj stones letters from rumainia, very inspiring. i'd like to see our continent more like that again someday, esp remembering the idea stone talked about of even the wild land being managed to some degree.
 
Andrew Scott
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This is part of a tangential conversation about Derrick Jensen and DGR, but Tucker's points on some serious potential problems with horticulture relate to some earlier discussion.

Kevin Tucker wrote:Horticultural Warfare

A longstanding dispute I've had with Derrick is over his portrayal of horticultural warfare. In the decade since I initially brought this up, he's only made flippant mention of it as a minor point in public. But as someone who bases their ideas on facts rather than whims and appeals to personality, I find this sticking point rather irritating.

In Culture of Make Believe, Derrick has a discussion about battlefield warfare amongst horticulturalists in Papua New Guinea. What he says is largely true; battlefield warfare is particularly less lethal than one would imagine. Before the battle, there are large pork feasts, which, if you haven't overloaded yourself with pork before, will tire you out quickly. The weapon of choice is typically large and not horribly accurate or effective arrows, but the tongue is equal as insults are more often shot across than darts. Derrick mentions this to distinguish it from modern warfare for obvious reasons: civilization is unequivocally more violent, faceless, and ruthless.

This sounds nice, but it's not the full truth.

Derrick has no interest in attacking the roots of civilization. This has gotten worse over the years as his focus has shifted in accordance with liberal targets. In my eyes, looking at the consequences of domestication truthfully and honestly is the most telling way to understand how civilization could exist. So horticultural societies, as societies with domestication, but without civilization, are telling. I don't wish to damn them, but it's important to understand them.

Derrick's fairytale version of horticultural warfare would be far more pleasant than the resource wars that our civilization currently undertakes, but it's not true. Most people who have taken a Cultural Anthropology 101 course could tell you this.

Battlefield warfare is a part of horticultural warfare patterns. It is, typically, the least fatal method of warfare. The problem is that warfare is a consequence of resource competition. This applies equally to horticulturalists as it does to us, but it's a matter of scale. In having semi-sedentary lifestyles with gardens, granaries, and surplus, you have property, power, and boundaries that simply don't exist with nomadic gather-hunter societies. The response isn't just battlefield warfare, it's warfare culture.

This is where you get the origins of patriarchy. In warfare culture, you see, for the first time, a preference for males (warriors) over females, hence a higher rate of female infanticide (curbing population). In the warfare cycle, battlefield warfare has little on the more important aspect of raiding. In raids, a lot of people can die. Wives and children are taken, villages are burned. It is, after all, warfare, and it's messy.

I don't say this to judge, but this is what domestication does to us: it's a socio-religious justification for an ecological reality. Sedentary life challenges natural means of birth control associated with nomadism. People settle, numbers go up, surplus is finite, numbers need to go down. It's a cycle. - Black and Green Press


[bold emphasis mine]

Like Tucker, I neither wish to damn nor judge horticultural societies, but it's important to learn as much as we can from the result of human experiments in horticulture just as it is with agriculture.
 
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It's interesting to go at this topic from a different angle. Now, that I'm not OP, I'd like to add a few questions to this lively discussion.

Andrew Scott wrote:...individuals develop a unique view of the relation between self and other. It is a view that differs from that in both individualist and collectivist societies. Like those in individualist societies, members of immediate-return societies put a premium on autonomy. Their autonomy, however, does not contrast the individual with the society as it does in individualist cultures. Rather, immediate-return autonomy grows out of repeated, mutually trusting social interactions. Each individual acts with the other person in mind, and can assume that the other person will do the same.


The core principle of any hunter-gatherer society is the tribe. The core value of those societies is that each member is more a beloved part of the family, rather than an equal individual. This is notably different to any intentional-community we have now.

What do you guys have in mind, when having to handle internal conflict? Whether between members of the same community, such as when neither member wishes to leave the place, or between communities in the society, such as when a dispute causes for a breaking in the free movement ideal. What sort of social pressures do you have in mind?

Myself, having a fascism-phobia, it is harder to ask about how you would handle external conflicts. How is your society designed to handle the notorious abstract assaults "the government" likes to deal to alternative groups? This is without even the justification of a court of law, such as in the case they just decide to bring in the tractors and police, and remove everything immediately! Naturally, the following question is how you plan to handle the legal assaults against your society, or each community?

You know we both aim for the same result, just about, so I emphasise that these questions and hypothesis are not critique, but rather practical questions with, supposed, practical answers.

leila hamaya wrote:one of the stories that someone told involved the "honey wars"...where because there was a lot of resentment being built up between the people about people hogging the honey and eating it too fast, it was decided that when the bulk order shipment came in (once or twice a year there were large bulk orders placed) they would all divide up the honey and everyone would have their own honey bear. when their honey ran out that was it, they didnt get no more till the next bulk order came in.

now this sounds logical and like it couldve worked, but it so did not. people were guarding their honey bears like their life depended on it carrying them around so as not to leave them unattended, after several honey bears got stolen! not only that but it became something of a commodity, people were trading honey for other stuff....
hence the "honey wars" which turned into a huge problem. ooo how this weird little stuff becomes epically huge and blown up out of proportion in the microcosm of community!


Was producing their own honey that much out of the question? An impossibility? I've known some honey producers, and it really seems more simple, than actually managing a human conflict. >< Hell, if not honey, then dates, or sugar cane... Any sweet replacement, rather than having to handle such a bitter-sweet conflict.

Dennis Lanigan wrote:...during this lean time while squatting in Cascadia and waiting for clam/oyster season to open, and losing weight rapidly because there wasn't much else, I could see how a system of hierarchy around stored carbohydrates could develop quickly. Simply trying to "unlearn" hierarchy and conflict when you're really "hangry" and exhausted is especially difficult, in my experience.
How would this project avoid this descent into hierarchy?


Yup, been there. Traveled Europe without money for exactly the purpose of answering this issue. I have two answers that should be more than plenty to make sure this never happens, in our modern day and age:

1) Having people outside of the community - external supporters, who identify with the cause. Those "normal" folk can usually easily afford sharing, when things go bad. This would be especially ideal, before there are enough communities to support each other. I have enjoyed such good-will in squats that I've lived in. I have also enjoyed people giving me money and food, without asking, just because I was immediately visible to them, and seemed thin and scraggly (and young probably). It's more an issue of marketing, rather than practicalities.

2) Permaculture shows us that there is no excuse for not providing our own calories, in a pre-designed space. And I do mean calories, as that's the highlight in times of "hangry", and I know that feeling very well. Living in squats, both rural and urban, showed me that the only reason for hunger is bad planning. Without a plan for calories, folk sort of idle, and when things go empty, they just leave. With a plan for calories, be it grown, or "foraged" (see: urban dumpster diving and "recycling from shops"), there is always more than plenty, and most folk are happy to make the effort to get it, prepare it, and clean afterwards.

Dennis Lanigan wrote:What works about Wild Roots is they prepare new people to end up on the same page with them. If people want to live there they need to go through an apprenticeship program of sorts and then check in with the group at six months and then a year to see if it fits for everyone.


I strongly agree. Both designing for necessary skills, and for learning, practicing, and proving those skills, for each member. It makes sense to have this system be "comprehensive and effort based", rather than "qualitative and results based" (such as those aweful school tests.)

Steven Johnson wrote:I have 30 acres with a house and barn, there are woods and cleared areas.


How do you feel about becoming an official business, or anything that fits the bill, so that you could officially request your rather strict government to let foreigners join you for extended durations, in a legal manner (visa)? I'm asking, because the USA is notorious for being hard-assed about visitors; especially from my country (Israel). And I forgot to renew my old visa, when I had the chance. >< haha
 
Steven Johnson
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i'm thinking, assoff, that being licit, (licensed) and official, is the only way this can happen, for all of the reasons that you mention, including but not foremost in my mind until you mentioned it, the last one. i'd like to be able to call on the government for protection from people who are breaking the social contract, this is after all the legitimate role of govt. personally I would only do this after considerable one on one efforts had failed, and that should be written in to the contract between participants.
I have been pondering and writing and studying how to format the contract between participants, including government. it has been taking time I should use on planting trees and that is hard for me but it seems that the political basis is more important. have been reading eisenstiens work and am very impressed. I would like to see the government change the basis of our money, and let our greed support life instead of death, by basing our money on improved ecosystems instead of degraded ones, gold in the ground unrefined, instead of in the ground buried by hoarders, refined. We just have to click our heels (change our minds) and we can go home.
write to me Assoff. Are you still in the area?
 
leila hamaya
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Was producing their own honey that much out of the question? An impossibility? I've known some honey producers, and it really seems more simple, than actually managing a human conflict. >< Hell, if not honey, then dates, or sugar cane... Any sweet replacement, rather than having to handle such a bitter-sweet conflict.



producing their own honey wouldnt have been (wouldnt be, they are still at it- an established long standing 40 + year old IC) out of the question, but would have required people to be dedicated to that particular activity as well as the infrastructure and equiptment. to their credit they were producing a LOT of their own foods from 80 acres of fruit trees, large nut trees, chickens, and extensive gardens, as well as lots of foraging opportunities on like a bazillion miles of wild land surrounding them on all four sides....which people did....but adding on more and more things is well, more and more work and odds and ends to be taken care of.

the turnover of people is quite high as well, with many people coming thinking they would want to live there forever, only having to leave after a year or two. and eventually all left to get "own land" due to the the draw of that. so if someone starts something they might have to leave quickly, and that kind of project require continuity. a lot of ideas and projects were started, and then unfortunately abandoned when the people who were taking care of those particular projects, left.they started off a lot more idealistic, perhaps...at least in my understanding, with very high ideals, much of it similar to whats being discussed here. actually i think it is closest to a lot of the ideas presented here, there are a few difference, but they were mostly in line with alot of whats being discussed here.

in the beginning they were very idealistic, would accept anyone who showed up, and thinking they could just manifest food, grow or forage all their own food and medicine, and then realized how difficult it is to grow ALL of the food needed for how many people were there....made it more difficult to be accepted, and tighten up the few rules as time went on due to experience. i feel silly sort of talking about it...ahhh well whatever, but in general now they are more private and sort of secretive about their exact location these days.

technically i am still a member for life, though i left long ago, but if one manages to be able to stay 100 nights sleeping there they consider you a member, after you are voted in...but i will probably never go back...due mostly to how i felt it was very difficult to really ground yourself there, and my NEED for autonomy and more private space....they do not encourage ownership type relationship with any of the structures, consider that it is never "your house", everything belongs to the community as a whole and they do not allow people to build structures without a lot of talking and approval. it basically stays in this way, it is good for what it is, but they do not have any long standing members, IMO, partly due to what i just said and why i left, thinking i needed, own space more. thats a common experience, so people leave due to wanting own space, or for whatever other reasons.

from that and other community experiences i discovered i need more privacy and alone time and space, than what most communities give, and that i wanted own space, more security to be able to build something for myself- yes to share and have more connection and generosity than a normal situation, but i had a hard time living soo immeshed and everything is everyones type thing isnt for me....and decided to seek more of a co housing or land share type situation, if not just living in a plain old neighborhood and experiencing community that way.

ah sorry i got sidetracked from what i wanted to say, but there it is.

being three hours + down one lane dirt mountain roads to the nearest junk food, anything sugary is major rare and precious....but true they should have kept bees, only there was so much going on it was hard to keep track of what they had to keep track of, keep the pelting wheel going and have their off grid systems work, take care of gardens and chickens, forage and harvest, etc
 
leila hamaya
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Andrew Scott wrote:This is part of a tangential conversation about Derrick Jensen and DGR, but Tucker's points on some serious potential problems with horticulture relate to some earlier discussion.

Kevin Tucker wrote:Horticultural Warfare

A longstanding dispute I've had with Derrick is over his portrayal of horticultural warfare. In the decade since I initially brought this up, he's only made flippant mention of it as a minor point in public. But as someone who bases their ideas on facts rather than whims and appeals to personality, I find this sticking point rather irritating.

In Culture of Make Believe, Derrick has a discussion about battlefield warfare amongst horticulturalists in Papua New Guinea. What he says is largely true; battlefield warfare is particularly less lethal than one would imagine. Before the battle, there are large pork feasts, which, if you haven't overloaded yourself with pork before, will tire you out quickly. The weapon of choice is typically large and not horribly accurate or effective arrows, but the tongue is equal as insults are more often shot across than darts. Derrick mentions this to distinguish it from modern warfare for obvious reasons: civilization is unequivocally more violent, faceless, and ruthless.

This sounds nice, but it's not the full truth.

Derrick has no interest in attacking the roots of civilization. This has gotten worse over the years as his focus has shifted in accordance with liberal targets. In my eyes, looking at the consequences of domestication truthfully and honestly is the most telling way to understand how civilization could exist. So horticultural societies, as societies with domestication, but without civilization, are telling. I don't wish to damn them, but it's important to understand them.

Derrick's fairytale version of horticultural warfare would be far more pleasant than the resource wars that our civilization currently undertakes, but it's not true. Most people who have taken a Cultural Anthropology 101 course could tell you this.

Battlefield warfare is a part of horticultural warfare patterns. It is, typically, the least fatal method of warfare. The problem is that warfare is a consequence of resource competition. This applies equally to horticulturalists as it does to us, but it's a matter of scale. In having semi-sedentary lifestyles with gardens, granaries, and surplus, you have property, power, and boundaries that simply don't exist with nomadic gather-hunter societies. The response isn't just battlefield warfare, it's warfare culture.

This is where you get the origins of patriarchy. In warfare culture, you see, for the first time, a preference for males (warriors) over females, hence a higher rate of female infanticide (curbing population). In the warfare cycle, battlefield warfare has little on the more important aspect of raiding. In raids, a lot of people can die. Wives and children are taken, villages are burned. It is, after all, warfare, and it's messy.

I don't say this to judge, but this is what domestication does to us: it's a socio-religious justification for an ecological reality. Sedentary life challenges natural means of birth control associated with nomadism. People settle, numbers go up, surplus is finite, numbers need to go down. It's a cycle. - Black and Green Press


[bold emphasis mine]

Like Tucker, I neither wish to damn nor judge horticultural societies, but it's important to learn as much as we can from the result of human experiments in horticulture just as it is with agriculture.



this is quite harsh against derrick jensen. i am not that familiar with his work, but having read A Language Older Than Words many years ago and enjoyed it, i find that way harsh. he made some excellent points in that. perhaps i will re read it and see what i think of it with my current frame of reference....

i am not sure that any structure of community encourages or creates war among the people, as there would be too many other factors to count up as to whatever causes were there. ah this is just my take on it.
i suppose this could be like saying guns dont kill people, people who use guns and pull the trigger kill people. anything could be a tool of war or peace depending on how the individual acts with it. i would say community styles dont create war, whatever community style one is in one can individually and collectively either create war or peace. though this may be contrary to what some people are saying, this is what seems right to me.

actually i am not sure there is even going to be a way where there is no conflict for the people involved, if this is whats being suggested ...that certain community styles will create more favorable conditions for peace or war...as i see it - conflicts seems inevitable.

methods for dealing with it are as variable as there are people, some are certainly better than others, but if the community model is helping or encouraging one thing or another ...well i can certainly see how certain styles of community, namely dominator culture, and all of the exploitation and disrespect it encourages, would create the circumstances for violating each other and huge conflicts, but then again even within this is up to a person to develop and live by their integrity, lessening conflict and living well even among the madness of what passes for normalcy.

as well i have a similar understanding, which is not commonly shared apparently, and which other people seem to have a very different understanding, which i think is more assumption than knowledge. pointing out, well even the natives had war with each other, like they were always fighting and just as bad as other cultures from within dominator cultures with colonization paradigms. so because they fought some, it isnt as perfect as people make it sound, and they were just the same as everyone else, making war on each other and fighting all the time. IMO this is NOT true, and my reflection and understanding of it is quite different. in my understanding, even though they had conflicts, their "warfare" was more like play fighting usually, outside of very isolated instances. it was no fatal usually, and fairly rare for a native of one tribe to actually take the life of another in combats that SOMETIMES and RARELY happened. they had social customs which involved inter related and far away tribes to have exchanges, gifting ceremonies, sharing, and inter marriages, as a way of keeping good relations with the neighboring tribes, and live in what could definitely be called RELATIVE (especially to any modern city) peace with their neighbors, far and near. that is before the colonization. i would say a lot of their fighting was more similar to what young packs of dogs and cats do with each other, as siblings when young, something more like play fighting...which will only go so far, no lethal.

of course i wasnt there, but this is my understanding as well, rhyming with what i gathered the crux of what he is arguing against with derrick and the POV...if that makes me not enough of a revolutionary, than fine, or not in line with someone elses ideas, whatever, i dont care. i m just me, calling it out like i see it, for sure i make mistakes and am wrong, but i am interested in forming my own ideas and thinking critically. and this is what i see of it....

note: i did at least learn that he also was the write of this wonderful writing: Thought to exist in the wild, which i actually hadnt made the connection that he also authored "a language older than words". both i found to be thought provoking good writing.

the critique reads more like a break up of their bromance !!! than a real critique!
i wont judge, theres obviously some weird dynamics there, that have nothing to do with me.. i suppose its still an interesting point to think about, besides the weird dynamics apparently there.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:What do you guys have in mind, when having to handle internal conflict? Whether between members of the same community, such as when neither member wishes to leave the place, or between communities in the society, such as when a dispute causes for a breaking in the free movement ideal. What sort of social pressures do you have in mind?



Strategy 1: Multiple Locations

Dr. Robert Sapolsky wrote:"anthropologists have long known that hunter-gatherers typically solve tensions by taking advantage of the fluid, mobile nature of their cultures: They move on to the next valley instead of escalating things with would-be rivals. -Source


The enclave/exclave and "nodes" concept is specifically designed as a mechanism for self-regulating internal conflict. I still see the primary failure of intentional communities being that of a "pressure cooker" problem that naturally arises when a contiguous chunk of land is purchased to contain the entire community. Our model is for nodes of at least 3 smaller properties in each area that can be easily traveled between by individuals not thrilled with the social dynamic. This is our attempt to model the fission-fusion dynamics of observed hunter-gatherer bands.

From the other direction, if the group decides someone needs to go, they can be nudged to another node rather than banished completely back to the outside world. This alleviates much of the ultimatum problem (the binary all in or all out) in contiguous communities. If someone is asked to leave one node, then X amount of other nodes, they could be asked to leave the entire network of communities at some point.


Strategy 2: Social Dynamics
Source: "How Hunter-Gatherers Maintained Their Egalitarian Ways"

Dr. Peter Gray wrote:Theory 1: Hunter-gatherers practiced a system of "reverse dominance" that prevented anyone from assuming power over others.

The writings of anthropologists make it clear that hunter-gatherers were not passively egalitarian; they were actively so. Indeed, in the words of anthropologist Richard Lee, they were fiercely egalitarian. They would not tolerate anyone's boasting, or putting on airs, or trying to lord it over others. Their first line of defense was ridicule. If anyone--especially if some young man--attempted to act better than others or failed to show proper humility in daily life, the rest of the group, especially the elders, would make fun of that person until proper humility was shown.

One regular practice of the group that Lee studied was that of "insulting the meat." Whenever a hunter brought back a fat antelope or other prized game item to be shared with the band, the hunter had to express proper humility by talking about how skinny and worthless it was. If he failed to do that (which happened rarely), others would do it for him and make fun of him in the process. When Lee asked one of the elders of the group about this practice, the response he received was the following: "When a young man kills much meat, he comes to think of himself as a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his inferiors. We can't accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. In this way we cool his heart and make him gentle."

On the basis of such observations, Christopher Boehm proposed the theory that hunter-gatherers maintained equality through a practice that he labeled reverse dominance. In a standard dominance hierarchy--as can be seen in all of our ape relatives (yes, even in bonobos)--a few individuals dominate the many. In a system of reverse dominance, however, the many act in unison to deflate the ego of anyone who tries, even in an incipient way, to dominate them.

According to Boehm, hunter-gatherers are continuously vigilant to transgressions against the egalitarian ethos. Someone who boasts, or fails to share, or in any way seems to think that he (or she, but usually it's a he) is better than others is put in his place through teasing, which stops once the person stops the offensive behavior. If teasing doesn't work, the next step is shunning. The band acts as if the offending person doesn't exist. That almost always works. Imagine what it is like to be completely ignored by the very people on whom your life depends. No human being can live for long alone. The person either comes around, or he moves away and joins another band, where he'd better shape up or the same thing will happen again. In his 1999 book, Hierarchy in the Forest, Boehm presents very compelling evidence for his reverse dominance theory.


Anyone joining the community is expected to understand and agree to these principles.


Dr. Peter Gray wrote:Theory 2: Hunter-gathers maintained equality by nurturing the playful side of their human nature, and play promotes equality.

This is my own theory, which I introduced two years ago in an article in the American Journal of Play.[3] I will not go into detail about it here, because I have presented bits of the theory in other posts (see, for example, my post of June 11, 2009). Briefly, however, the theory is this. Hunter-gatherers maintained their egalitarian ethos by cultivating the playful side of their human nature.

Social play--that is, play involving more than one player--is necessarily egalitarian. It always requires a suspension of aggression and dominance along with a heightened sensitivity to the needs and desires of the other players. Players may recognize that one playmate is better at the played activity than are others, but that recognition must not lead the one who is better to lord it over the others.

This is true for play among animals as well as for that among humans. For example, when two young monkeys of different size and strength engage in a play fight, the stronger one deliberately self-handicaps, avoids actions that would frighten or hurt the playmate, and sends repeated play signals that are understood as signs of non-aggression. That is what makes the activity a play fight instead of a real fight. If the stronger animal failed to behave in these ways, the weaker one would feel threatened and flee, and the play would end. The drive to play, therefore, requires suppression of the drive to dominate.

My theory, then, is that hunter-gatherers suppressed the tendency to dominate and promoted egalitarian sharing and cooperation by deliberately fostering a playful attitude in essentially all of their social activities. Our capacity for play, which we inherited from our mammalian ancestors, is the natural, evolved capacity that best counters our capacity to dominate, which we also inherited from our mammalian ancestors.

My play theory of hunter-gather equality is based largely on evidence, gleaned from analysis of the anthropological literature, that play permeated the social lives of hunter-gatherers--more so than is the case for any known, long-lasting post-hunter-gatherer cultures. Their hunting and gathering were playful; their religious beliefs and practices were playful; their practices of dividing meat and of sharing goods outside of the band as well as inside of the band were playful; and even their most common methods of punishing offenders within their group (through humor and ridicule) had a playful element.[3] By infusing essentially all of their activities with play, hunter-gatherers kept themselves in the kind of mood that most strongly, by evolutionary design, counters the drive to dominate others.


This theory is expanded in an excellent paper referenced earlier, "Play as a Foundation of Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence"


Dr. Peter Gray wrote:Theory 3: Hunter-gatherers maintained their ethos of equality through their childrearing practices, which engendered feelings of trust and acceptance in each new generation.
...


The multi-generational aspect is a little bigger than I can tackle at the moment.

Dr. Peter Gray wrote:In sum, my argument here is that the lessons we have to learn from hunter-gatherers are not about our genes but about our culture. Our species clearly has the genetic potential to be peaceful and egalitarian, on the one hand, or to be warlike and despotic, on the other, or anything in between. If the three theories I've described here are correct, and if we truly believe in the values of equality and peace and want them to reign once again as the norm for human beings, then we need to (a) find ways to deflate the egos, rather than support the egos, of the despots, bullies, and braggarts among us; (b) make our ways of life more playful; and (c) raise our children in kindly, trusting ways.


 
Steven Johnson
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Andrew, I love the way you think. Lets play!
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:Myself, having a fascism-phobia, it is harder to ask about how you would handle external conflicts. How is your society designed to handle the notorious abstract assaults "the government" likes to deal to alternative groups? This is without even the justification of a court of law, such as in the case they just decide to bring in the tractors and police, and remove everything immediately! Naturally, the following question is how you plan to handle the legal assaults against your society, or each community?

You know we both aim for the same result, just about, so I emphasise that these questions and hypothesis are not critique, but rather practical questions with, supposed, practical answers.


I understand this is a serious issue and asked sincerely, and I think we first need to recognize there aren't good answers to everything. There's value in sayings like "perfect is the enemy of good", the Pareto principle (80:20 rule), and "analysis paralysis". States claim an exclusive right to wield violence, and they aren't shy about using it. That's a reality whether we're part of an IC or not.
 
James Koss
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Andrew Scott wrote:Anyone joining the community is expected to understand and agree to these principles.


How do you apply the play principle to your society?

What if an entire community turns "fascist"? We have reason to suspect that fascist societies grow and strengthen, and then conquer, if not actually dealt with actively.

Indeed, we are theorising, and I agree that we should be careful to avoid "analysis paralysis." Luckily for you, you have the means to experiment!

Personally, I dislike the passive-aggressive ways of those tribal societies described. We are now wiser about language, and have psychology (arranged discussions) to handle conflict, immediately. I have no example in mind, but I have read about tribal societies that managed conflict in other ways, than shaming a person, without turning to blunt violence.

Also, I have seen passive-aggressive censure in contemporary groups, and it seems to only derail, and reach an impasse.

The playing part is a definite Yes! Man, a Frisbee based community.

The problem I perceive with nodes is that popular anthropologists focus on the success with temporary small conflicts, but not on the big splits that happen every so often. I think this is a big con of this system. Generally planning a contingency for major splits makes sense.

leila hamaya wrote:anything sugary is major rare and precious....


Amen to that! I've lived that for months. That's why I put emphasis on replacements, such as the rather simple to grow sugar cane. Or any dryable fruit, such as figs and dates. I'm an addicted hippie. ><

Steven Johnson wrote:write to me Assoff [Assaf]. Are you still in the area?


You mean the US? I haven't been there for some years. I'm in Israel.

I ask you this, because an employer that sends a request for a person to come over and work for him, is critical for a foreigner like me, for getting the proper visa (or any visa).

I entirely appreciate the unparalleled amount of opportunity that exists in the US, for someone who is comfortable with the culture and language.
 
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I have been looking at the nature of the horticultural issues for 15yrs now.I looked at pre contact indigenous people in my area who were horticulturalist.They enjoyed greater species diversity than if they had been hunter gatherer and I would hypothosize that this was actually a major reason for this adaptation.Next I looked at post contact modern species diversity.With all the diversity currently available to a permie,a modern horticultural society would have an exponentially greater species diversity available to them than a modern hunter gatherer because they would have everything a hunter gatherer would have(perhaps not directly on their land) X 10.Of course we live in an agricultural society which also has less diversity.Next I looked at a future scenario.In that case a hunter gatherer society would have the least diversity available to them because now there are invasive plants and an unmanaged ecosystem would be greatly simplified by invasives.Of course management happens just through picking stuff but if you always take the hazel nuts but leave the invasives than the hazels eventually wont be procreating at the same rate so it compounds the problem.So the question I have is : Is maintaining egalitarian ideal worth the great reduction in diversity?I am fully aware that global diversity is dropping but I speak mainly here of species diversity available to an individual.Picking a non horticultural model would reak further havoc on global diversity as well due to the invasives issue.I am also confused at how a non horticultural society would enforce this value within the context of todays world and just how free such enforcement would make people?I also have a basic question as to how a discussion of the virtues of non horticultural society would even exist on a permies site.It is important to note that Kevin Tucker is an ideologe in the Green Anarchist scene and Im not sure how he lives now but 15yrs ago when I first started having these questions,I found it interesting that someone living in the city and enjoying the diversity of the global economy would be advocating a renunciation of that diversity.He claims to be not against horticultural society but has some major hangups about how they socially organize.I agree they are not pure egalitarian but am not sure that anarcho purity in this area is really worth the reduction in diversity/quality of life.In theory perhaps but on the ground,I will take my apples and medlars over a limited diet of wild crab apples.Ive even had indigenous people laugh at the idea that we should go back.It just seems like a really hard sell to most.IMO,actually avoiding the many species available and trying to avoid management beacause of an ideological ideal feels far more civilized than using what we have where we are at.
 
Matt Ferrall
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On another note.While I agree with the egalitarian ideals of hunter gatherers,I find most examples come from warmer areas.Generating surplus and hording for winter is something temperate and continental climate people do to survive winter ,not just practice civilization.Being semi sedentary is sometimes determined by ones enviroment and topogrophy not just because the philosophers in the tribe decided its the next evolutionary step toward civilization.Is it possible that civilization started in areas where these practices happened as a survival strategy?Kevin used the word grainery in his description of horticultural societies but the west coast of NA provides plenty of examples of tribes that grew no grains and as you go south were increasingly egalitarian but horticultural and semi sedentary.Yes, you have the eskimos to point to as non sedentary but not much else in the cold climate northern areas.You also see people on hoops but often they practiced management also.Wouldnt a return to the hunter gatherer ideal require a very small population in areas not condusive naturally to human existance?Wouldnt that mean a great reduction in cultural diversity?Cultural diversity is propped up by species diversity.IMO people want diversity and this interest in 'other' has been a driving force in civilization.Well we have the plants so we can jetison the global economy and still have diversity.The kids want novelty damn it!A horticultural society gives it to them.'going back' takes it away.I think we can learn alot from hunter gatherer ideals but we shouldent be blinded to the costs.
 
Matt Ferrall
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While Im at it:It seems as if reverse dominance is dominance non the less.I can fully see how this would be very effective in a group that has lived together for hundreds of years and has elders who actually have more experience,but how does this work when a group is newly formed?Often calling someone out is done by people with just as big of ego issues but kept hidden.It seems ripe for abuse(I believe passive agressive was a term used earlier).If someone I knew my whole life who was older called me out,I would listen but if it was someone with my age and experience did it,I would view it as passive agressive competition.If someone younger or with less experience did it,I would just laugh.Clearly the whole group would have to do it for it to be effective but even then,if the group was newly formed whos individuals were ladden with civilization baggage it would be hard to take seriously without being defensive.In consensus model,if you dont like someone for any reason,you can start blocking them so it gives power to the blocker.In this model,if you dont like someone,you can call them out for having an ego and if you can get the group on your side,you win.No matter what structure,people will figure out how to game the system in their favor.
These egalitarian ideals are good to flesh out for sure.Application seems much trickier.I like that there is hope and I only bring up the critiques now to speed evolution of the ideas.Ultimatly for it to work,a change would have to come from the hearts of the participants.
Full disclosure:I run a space that is not egalitarian but I really identify with the quotes pertaining to play being a glue in egalitarian societies.I and my landmates and interns are very playfull with eachother and thus spend little time conserned with the social hierarchy.I have met plenty of anarchists so obsessed with hierarchy that they saw inequality in virtually every interaction with others too regarless of if it was there or not.I chose my model because it was the most common one people are used to relating to.I am not really a defender of it but unfortunately trying something totally new has extreme beurocratic costs which felt even less free.Meetings are not play!I believe freedom can be found within any larger social structure and lack of freedom can appear in structures desighned to eliminate hierarchy so the structure is less important than the hearts and spirits of those involved.The map is not the territory!
 
Andrew Scott
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Matt Ferrall wrote:I have been looking at the nature of the horticultural issues for 15yrs now.I looked at pre contact indigenous people in my area who were horticulturalist...


Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Matt. I would like to take a step back to deflate the hunter-gatherer vs. horticulture dichotomy that seems to be developing. Perhaps looking at it from a permaculture zones perspective would be helpful. We might think of horticulture as a zone 1-3 activity (or maybe agriculture as zone 1-2, and horticulture as zone 3, it's not precise just a way to think about it) and hunter-gatherers primarily inhabiting a zone 4-5 existence. Rather than say, "we're horticulturalists" or "we're hunter-gatherers", the model under discussion seeks to preferentially value zone 5... to aspire to shift as many things as far out in the zones as we can manage... to start where we are or where we can, and recognize that our domestication is a program running in our minds that tells us to preferentially value life in zone 1.

With that way of looking at it, setting up horticulture as the ideal endpoint is an artificial constraint. Why would we, as aspiring wild humans, set our sights on zone 3? I think humans thrive in the wildness afforded by hunter-gatherer lifeways, and that it represents a peak in human flourishing. I do not think this is true of horticultural patterns. So while horticulture is perfectly compatible with permaculture, we might view it as a wilder point on the spectrum than agriculture, but not the maximum expression of designing ourselves out of systems of work and domestication. No matter how much we like the biodiversity of horticultural societies, vaunting the social dynamics that regularly become embedded in them seems to be another reflection of our domestication. Framing all human social interactions as "meetings" to be avoided also seems like a reflection of our domestication. With as many comments as you've posted on these forums, I would suggest that you enjoy those social interactions more than you're letting on, and that imposing a modern definition of "meetings" on the full range of human interaction obscures the nuance and richness of "meetings" between human animals.
 
Matt Ferrall
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First I will reply to the issue of there being a hunter gatherer vs horticultural dichotomy.I am not the one who created this.Folks like Kevin Tucker are quick to lump horticulturists with agriculturists because in some places the former led to the later.Here where I live,the indigenous folks have explicitly stated that being horticulturist was an ideal endpoint for them not a transitional phase.The manarchists that make up the bulk of the green anarchist scene are the ones focusing in on the differences and calling horticulturists out for being pro hierarchy.This all seems real silly when you look at the bigger picture that industrial agriculture is by far the dominate model with both horticulture and hunter gather being meer ideals at this point.While nitpicking within the anarcho scene is par for the course,I dont think it is a wise move at this point and here is why:We currently live in a very degraded enviroment.If we were to switch directly to hunter gatherer we would ultimatly have a low amount of species diversity which would be compounded by plant and animal invasions.If we instead,spent some time as horticulturists we could actually create a hunter gatherer paradise.All this would take hundreds if not thousands of years to create and form stable ecological equalibriums.I see your zoning idea as similar but perhaps my timeframe for those transitions would be longer.I do value the understanding of what makes each cultural choice unique but lets not put the cart before the horse.
Secondly,I did not frame all social interactions as meetings.I post on here because I love social interactions.Here I can talk about what subject I want when I want.A meeting has a set agenda often at a set time.True hunter gatherers,I assume,had more social interactions than meetings or the two were not able to be differentiated.I appreciate your point!Trying to create a hunter gatherer reality while living in this one is what creates meetings.If you have a set agenda to ,say,go over the bylaws of your future hunter gatherer society,well I guess that seems more meeting like IMO.Were hunter gatherers sitting around discussing how to socially organise,if they should stay hunter gatherer or become sedentary?What the rules and regs should be encoded into the articles of structure?Being humorus here but I do think there is a difference between living as a hunter gatherer and trying to become one and that difference is apparent in the social interaction vs meetings critique.
Lastly,if it isnt obvious already I think horticultural society IS the peak experience.That is because Im a novelty hound and will take greater increase in diversity over anarcho purity any day.I can honestly say that I would rather have the tastier apples of today than eat the sour little crab apples that survive on their own here in little clearings by the river.I dont want to be reduced to the native plants only.I think having more food choice and freedoms is extremely valuable.If you were to graph food choice numbers,horticultural living is the peak experience and that is what the permaculture appeal is.And I dont say these things from a strictly philosophical standpoint;I say them as someone who moved out to raw land 15yrs ago with the set purpose of living as a non hierarchical green anarchist and came to these conclusions over time spent living out my ideals.Hopfully truths can be gleaned here and I can spare some poor horticulturist permi from getting too mixed up with dogmatic hunter gathers and like wise perhaps get some of the hunter gatherer purists to lighten up a bit on those of us trying to create a paridise that might help hunter gatherers actually have a more enjoyable and diverse experience.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Of course we have seen the idea of horticulture being a stepping stone to agriculture before.The europeans invading NA developed the theory to justify their superiority.If the horticultural societies were on their way to agriculture,than that would place those who practiced agriculture further along.This is why tribes that were horticulturist have taken to defending their model as the peak.Sure we know more now but it does seem weird to tell them that no,they actually had a poor existance and the peak happened 10 thousand years before them.For those confused here,Native Americans were mainly not hunter gatherer at the time of european conquest.Some were agricultural and some were horticultural so they are not the ideal spoken of here.I still think they have alot to offer this project and I bring it up to hopefully change the horticulturist hunter gather division seen elsewhere.I feel like they should really be allies at least until the dominate industrial agricultural model fails.I worry that horticulturist tendencies might get called out by those more non hierarchical than thou.Clearly this thread is for promoting a non hierarchical model but I am wondering what level of compromise people would be willing to make on that.Clearly,all manner of compromises will be made in pursuit of food,clothing,and shelter.What seems to break most communities is where lines are drawn.Often folks will be really uptight about one issue that is important to them while simultaniusly overlooking things that they dont want to change about themselves.Will people be called out for landscape management while use of industrial technologies be overlooked?Will certain technologies be allowed and others shunned?Should the details of whats allowed be hashed out now or later?Isnt the hunter gatherer way of thinking opertunistic and how does that interface with technologies and available genetics?Should we work out a hunter gatherer ideology at all or work toward a hunter gatherer mindset?OK I dont really expect answers to all these questions and some have already been addressed in previous posts but since Ive been discussing these concepts for 15yrs,thought I would give my 2 cents worth.I guess seeing Kevin Tucker being quoted sorta got me going given that the most hard core hunter gatherer promoters seem to be mainly intellectuals.So this is me just streaming stuff.I will leave it alone now.
 
Andrew Scott
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Matt Ferrall wrote:First I will reply to the issue of there being a hunter gatherer vs horticultural dichotomy.I am not the one who created this.Folks like Kevin Tucker are quick to lump horticulturists with agriculturists because in some places the former led to the later.


You may be right, but it doesn't seem important to debate who created it elsewhere since, as articulated in the zones concept, the dichotomy is not baked into our concept/model. And in fact, maintaining a practical hunter-gatherer vs. horticulture dichotomy is impossible with our model, just as it seems to be with permaculture in general.

Matt Ferrall wrote:Here where I live,the indigenous folks have explicitly stated that being horticulturist was an ideal endpoint for them not a transitional phase.


I don't look at horticulture as a directional/transitional phase that necessarily leads to agriculture when looking at it from the anthropology context so that's not an idea I feel compelled to defend. Some horticultural societies clearly remained relatively stable for thousands of years without developing full-blown agriculture. There does seem to be higher levels of group violence, "big man" hierarchies, and sorcery and politically powerful shamans in horticulture societies, and that does seem directly related to the horticulture subsistence strategy.

If you'd like to discuss horticultural societies and indigenous views of horticulture, please provide a reference or specific details. It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation without knowing what we're really talking about, and having private sources that we can't ask more questions about. My cards are mostly on the table throughout this discussion, and I think the case is fairly well laid out for hunter-gatherers having distinct way of social life in the several references I've provided.

Matt Ferrall wrote:If we instead,spent some time as horticulturists we could actually create a hunter gatherer paradise.All this would take hundreds if not thousands of years to create and form stable ecological equalibriums.I see your zoning idea as similar but perhaps my timeframe for those transitions would be longer.I do value the understanding of what makes each cultural choice unique but lets not put the cart before the horse.


Yes. It seems to me that you already agree with the concept we've been discussing. In light of that, I'm not sure some of your language (calling people: manarchists, purists, dogmatic, etc.) is helpful to the conversation.

Matt Ferrall wrote:if it isnt obvious already I think horticultural society IS the peak experience.That is because Im a novelty hound and will take greater increase in diversity over anarcho purity any day.I can honestly say that I would rather have the tastier apples of today than eat the sour little crab apples that survive on their own here in little clearings by the river.I dont want to be reduced to the native plants only.I think having more food choice and freedoms is extremely valuable.If you were to graph food choice numbers,horticultural living is the peak experience and that is what the permaculture appeal is.


If we reduce the human experience to variety of plant food choice, or at least narrow it as you seem to have done here, then you may be right. That does seem overly reductionist to me. Hunter-gatherers tend to consume 100-200 plant species and 100+ animal/insect varieties. So while horticulturists may literally have more variety available, I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in as the numbers on your proposed variety graph increase. Meaning, at some point, variety is a number that no longer correlates to increasing well-being as variety increases.

In other words, even if you're right about variety (which I suspect you are), I still think hunter-gatherers have "better" lives overall (higher freedom, higher health, higher life satisfaction, higher autonomy, etc.).

Matt Ferrall wrote:Hopfully truths can be gleaned here and I can spare some poor horticulturist permi from getting too mixed up with dogmatic hunter gathers and like wise perhaps get some of the hunter gatherer purists to lighten up a bit on those of us trying to create a paridise that might help hunter gatherers actually have a more enjoyable and diverse experience.


If there is a real threat of horticulturist permies being subsumed by roving gangs of dogmatic hunter-gatherer purists, let's keep an eye out for them. Unfortunately, the history of humans has shown that hunter-gatherers are the ones that need the most protecting.

As it stands, I think the hunter-gatherer or horticultural question should and will be answered by the land--not "the land" as some degraded meta-concept, but the specific land each of us has access to. Imposing a strict hunter-gatherer lifestyle on some land is just as bad an idea as imposing horticulture on other land.
 
Matt Ferrall
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LOL...yea if I seem like Im just coming out of a foxhole in a battle,its because Im more used to dealing with the green anarchist crowd on this subject.Unlike the hunter gatherers of old,these ideological ones are much more aggressive.Lets not forget Zerzans projects before GA like Black Clad Messenger.
That aside,I totally agree that the land defines the approach.Thats why,IMO,some areas just lent themselves to horticulture and semi sedentism rather than some fall from grace being the cause.
I think the number of species you listed that hunter gatherers ate is a broad generalization.Certainly eskimos didnt have 200 plant species.Other ecosystems(mainly northern)are also not naturally condusive to humans.Here in the PNW we have few edible nuts with hazel being the only exception and that never producing nuts unless full sun/management so the recorded edible species are a lot lower.Hence the development of horticulture.As you pointed out-the land defines the approach.Natives on the coast were less oriented toward management but here deep in the North Cascades,the natives were known for their land management.Areas less condusive to human existance required more effort.
My indigenous references come from personal interactions but also from a great book called 'Keeping it Living' by Nancy Turner.In it she lays down her case for why the indigenous peoples here felt horticulture was their peak and not a transitional phase.Great Book!
While focusing on available diversity(both cultural and genetic)may seem reductionist,I have a hard time viewing it as any more reductionist than focusing in on hierarchy and egalitarian power relations.I get that many end up in these discusions through their own anarchist philosophical journeys and admitedly,I also was originaly drawn in by that but I also was into gardening so ended up on the horticultural end.At one point I had over 1000 edible plant species collected but yes diminishing returns left me happy to settle on 100 for my basic needs.The difference is that I got to chose which ones.Unlike hunter gatherers,I actually got some say in what flavours would make up my existance.That freedom of choice is one of the virtues of the horticultural reality.I would encourage folks who think hunter gatherer is ideal to try it out.I found that I didnt particularly like all the species I would have been forced to consume to maintain that ideal.Like I said earlier,I like some of the advancements in flavour that breeding has brought us.Sure,there are some nutritional losses in the process but I figure Im probably healthier if Im actually excited to eat something because it tastes good rather than marginalized into consuming it.This coming from someone who was as hard core of an ideological eater as they come!
I should also mention an experience that had a profound experience on me.For many years I collected native fruit for seed.I would only collect edible fruit because that was the only ones interesting to me.Some years I collected over 1000lbs of fruit.I had to keep track of how many pounds I was picking per hour to ensure that it was worth my time.For various reasons the old growth forests were the least productive.Managed areas like under power lines were the most.It really impressed upon me how management,perhaps as simple as burning could drasticaly improve yields.Simplification of the ecosystem taken too far becomes agriculture but in the right balance can make life in this ecosystem much easier.
The zone approach,IMO, plays into the liniar path world view.I like to view horticulture as the third way.Between the extremes lies the path.In that vien,I cant help but wonder to what extent the recent trend toward paleo is just reaction to industrial civilization as that has been a factor in my own interest.As in zone 1 is really bad so zone 5 must be really good.Or perhaps Im reading the whole paleo application wrong and the goals here are just to take the things we like from hunter gatherer life and apply them to modern existence.Like crossfit excersize and grass fed beef in which case horticultural might be a more accurate description of taking advantage of both worlds.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Is it possible that hunter gathers had a high life satisfaction because they didnt know any other possibility?Sour little crab apples would seem great if its the only fruit you have.But if you knew what was possible,how high would you rate your life quality if limited only to crab apples.This is why IMO aiming for true hunter gatherer will not neccesarily get you the high quality of life,because it is done within the context of todays modern world.Domesticated apples will not survive here without intentioned management.Does this group really aim to eventually pass into zone 5 where they will never have to taste a sweet apple again?If so, I applaud you in your determination to find this praxis.If you would like to continue to enjoy some of the last 10thousand years of plant developement,than perhaps you are aiming for zone 3.
 
Andrew Scott
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Is it possible that hunter gathers had a high life satisfaction because they didnt know any other possibility?


James C. Scott argues that most, if not all, all hunter-gatherers we know about are refugees who fled, by conscious choice, from other groups at some point. If he's right, and we know he's at least partially correct, then each of those hunter-gatherer bands represents a successful attempt at rewilding.

We know the Masai and Inuit who decide to stay within their cultures are generally aware of the outside world, and consciously choose to stay. The Hadza are very aware of this too, but I don't have a nice graphic with them.



I guess if crab apples were the only food available, it would be one thing, but that can't be the norm.

"Why should we plant, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?" - !Kung bushman (source)
 
Matt Ferrall
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Glad the bushmen in the tropics have some nuts without mangement.Our climax forest here turns to conifers and we have only hazels and they only produce if burned around.I do enjoy the charts but could you provide some more cold climate examples?(Obviously the inuit would have zero to gain from horticulture or any cultural change given the lack of genetic availability suited to that enviroment)Even crab apples here get shaded out eventually.Rarely even see them producing or thriving in our vast national park since its been protected and no longer managed.Its really sad to see a food forest that took thousands of years to create get over grown but hey,I guess thats a good thing on the path to hunter gatherer?
 
James Koss
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Glad the bushmen in the tropics have some nuts without mangement.


There are two ideals that explain why anyone would change their lifestyle in a major way.

1. I want to be free from the ideals of my society, which I disagree with, but I find no other way to do so, than to relinquish the pros with the cons, generally.

2. I accept that my habits are detrimental to me, as they bind me in a state, where I am discontent with my life. Therefore, I will accept replacements, which may not be equal, but will be worth the tradeoff, so that I can continue to develop my life in the way I wish.

Matt Ferrall wrote:Our climax forest here turns to conifers... Even crab apples here get shaded out eventually.


Have you actually seriously examined, even tried, to enjoy a diet full of pine and oak nuts? Pine nuts are super popular, where I live, and I wouldn't mind having them supply much of my calories.

When I traveled Scotland, by land, I enjoyed the season of berries. So many berries up in the north! (We barely have berries, where I'm at.) Apples are rather native to my land (very warm here), but if I had to go with berries instead of apples, would I be discontent? Personally, no, but any person should at least try, and see if it works. From my own experience, it seems that switching fruit is rather easy, while switching grains is the hard part.

I'd never live in Asia, because I just can't (well, can, but meh) stand living off rice! I need my dry grains - my bread! :=D
 
Matt Ferrall
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We have no oaks here,two species of pine but neither being used by the indigenous for food due to very small seeds.Im not a beginer at this.Like I said,I came to these conclusions through growing up homesteading here and ultimately heading out and trying it(i.e. Living out hunter gatherer ideals).Yes,you have berries but only some suitable for winter storage.Crab apples were a major winter food of the peoples here but,like I said,are in major decline here due to lack of management.The low percentage of food plants here is well documented.Even the creation story of the indigenous tribe here is that humans were only allowed in by the gaurdian beaver if they acted like the beaver(i.e. Managed the ecosystem to their advantage which even animals like beaver do(not sure on their social structure?))Thus the management but my point has been made so I wont harp.I wish you luck and suggest finding an ecosystem naturaly condusive to living your ideals.I have planted edible oaks from around the world so acorns will be part of my future.
 
leila hamaya
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pine and oak were important food crops here in northern california, but were also managed and increased. thats why they could be a staple food, because the natives kept planting them, and managed the forest with fire and clearing brush so as to continue to get a lot of oaks and pines, as well as other plants that need more light and openess to grow.
over hundreds, maybe thousands, of years (the natives say they have lived here since the beginning) they continued to prefer the oaks and pines and do management so that they were abundant. as well as create open areas and meadows by burning.

i support the practice of burning, it is still done now, or i should say they began doing it again after preventing people from doing controlled burns. controlled burns and creating open meadow like areas help manage the forest here, bringing more diversity of plants and animals that need the open meadow areas and especially the edges to thrive.

the controlled burns help stop the enormous wild fires that happen here, because there is no brush in those areas, it will contain the fire. even the simpler practice of clearing brush and continually gathering firewood helped manage the forest to contain the big wildfires, by having much less brush and kindling type smaller branches...which if not removed create conditions for wildfires and spread them, making them hotter. we are in a fire cycle here, i suppose most people dont deal with this, but here theres usually a couple of big fires (being thousands of acres at a time burn) every year.

generally i would agree with everything matt just wrote. and especially that there isnt that much food in an over grown old forest, not like there is in the edges of the forest, meadows, any clearings which happen, and the logical and practical want to grow more desirable food within a close proximity of ones dwelling.

one of my best spots for gathering right now is abandoned homesteads that have feral trees all over them. theres a large area with many clearings that was basically a whole neighborhood of really old homesteads that have been abandoned (or more likely the people were kicked out when the forest service went and kicked everyone out of these kinds of places). theres lots of cherry trees, apple trees, cultivated european grapes, as well as our wild grapes, raspberries, blackberries and thimbleberry, and tons of plum trees there.

actually not right NOW, which is another point, because its been winter and there was very little to no food here immediately available to forage. just started getting sheep sorrel, chicory, mint and lemon balm, which are growing in this more established place of human dwelling, all the rest has a limited window of time when its available.
 
Andrew Scott
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Glad the bushmen in the tropics have some nuts without mangement.Our climax forest here turns to conifers and we have only hazels and they only produce if burned around.I do enjoy the charts but could you provide some more cold climate examples?(Obviously the inuit would have zero to gain from horticulture or any cultural change given the lack of genetic availability suited to that enviroment)Even crab apples here get shaded out eventually.Rarely even see them producing or thriving in our vast national park since its been protected and no longer managed.Its really sad to see a food forest that took thousands of years to create get over grown but hey,I guess thats a good thing on the path to hunter gatherer?


Matt, my response was directly intended to answer the question you posed...

Matt Ferrall wrote:Is it possible that hunter gathers had a high life satisfaction because they didnt know any other possibility?


Since your answer seems to have been somewhat of a non-sequitur, I'm wondering if you think I didn't answer your question, or if you're having another foxhole moment. Either way, I think you have a lot to offer to this discussion, and I'd like to shift it in a different direction. I'm a little reticent, because I what I want to ask may come across as negative, but it's really not my intent. I'd sincerely like your input after a bit of introspection.

Since the group, and the original post in this thread, explicitly value non-heirarchical social relationships, egalitarianism, and hunter-gatherer lifeways, I'm wondering if you could tell us what you might have done differently to not lose what sounds like your original motivation. Scott's work shows hundreds-thousands of successfully rewilded peoples that left civilization/agriculture and adopted hunter-gatherer existence, so we know it's possible. Clearly you've shifted your own values, but they didn't, and I'm wondering if you might have some insight on the differences between 'success' and 'failure' with respect to the values we still hold.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I agree that its less than ideal to be combative but what did you all expect on a permies forum where the majority of folks and discussions revolove around management.The factors you can learn from that led to my giving up on that project 1- if you want to be a hunter gatherer you need to be in a place condusive to that.The tropics or subtropics seem to be where most examples come from.You dont need surpluss and even housing is unneeded.I tried being one in an area where humans probably have probably never lived as hunter gatherers as it is not really condusive to that.Steep impassable terrain and harsh winters mean no nomadic behavior.100 inches of rain makes life without solid shelter impossible.Long winters mean a strong focus on hording surpluss.Survival requires non hunter gatherer behavior.Being closer to the ocean would have helped as those folks lead an easier life in a more moderate climate.I cant say I didnt try hard to ideologically eat but really 2-I should have been the right genetics.My stomach just cant take living off of tree cambium and highly fiberous perennial un managed roots.3-I should have been rich so I could spend all my time on lots of paid off land trying to survive and 4-I should have maintained my ideological rigidity longer.Clearly when all of the above was killing me,I should have ignored all my native friends advise about management,ignored the fact that great tasting more edible genetics were easily available to me,ignored that everyone I know who is successfully making it in a rural location is making a ton of compromises to survive and ignored the path of least resistance longer and harder and continued to swim upstream.
As for the James Scott(Im assuming The Art of Not Being Governed)references,might I recommend chapter 6 subtitled 'the culture and agriculture of escape'.Not that Im that into annuals but freedom from hierarchy,at least in the form of the state,can sometimes be found in activities we would generally associate with hierarchical organization.
 
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Hi Matt, et al,

I have been checking in on this conversation from time to time, as a teacher of indigenous life skills and one that was raised in the Permaculture mindsets since the late 60's, I have some relatively keen insights into many aspects of this academic discussion. I understand many of your points Matt, yet sense that your contributions at this point are becoming a bit too tangential, and perhaps you would want to start a post of your own, as not to take this one too far off topic. There are many aspects of the this esoteric and detail discussion that will lend to certain divergents, yet we must respect the concepts that Andrew( OP) is sharing, as they have strong merit and several hundred thousand years of empirical truth behind them.

Location is often the primary dictum to a HG cultures population density, yet any biome has merit. Arid, arctic, or tropical doesn't really matter, each has its challenges and cultural matrix that forms within them. Humans have live (and often thrived) in almost all the biome types of this planet including pelagic. Antarctica is about the only continent to resist HG cultures. I would also suggest that when I read the word "survival" that this word often reflects a misunderstanding and internalization of what an "indigenous life style" truly is. A significant time duration (years) must be taken to differentiate between "survival mentality," and "indigenous living modalities."

If I may boil it down...horticulture/agronomy/animal husbandry is relatively new (comparatively to HG) and has many benefits to it, of that there is no debate, especially if practiced from the permaculture modality. HG lifestyles aren't necessarily better (nor fully supportable with current world populations in most areas) yet has just as strong and much older credentials of functioning within a normative culture, and within a biome and its limitations.

Regards,

j
 
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