Thursday, January 30, 2014

empire part 3

EMPIRE PART 3

When you bring a knife to a gunfight, all is not necessarily lost. If you are smart, skilled and lucky, sometimes you can be victorious. Not that I’d like to try that myself, but my point is that even if some of the time small scale success is possible in the long run most people most of the time are going to lose the fight. Similarly, you can sometimes in some instances defeat an agricultural army with your band of hunters, but don’t count on it and they will all be battles won in a war you lose. Because it isn’t necessarily the food that wins the war but the food that feeds far more people that wins the war. Agricultural was the first force multiplier in organized war ( or, the first multiplier that allowed the rise of organized war ). It was MORE food to feed MORE warriors that also fed MORE farmers and MORE workers that assembled the tools for mass warfare. If you had Ug the hunter who was tough and brave and big and a mighty hunter, he was no match for two scared scrawny mediocre soldiers who kept being replaced as they fell.

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So, obviously, here you have a really neato system of government. You have few of the disadvantages of hunting/gathering and all the perks of a food surplus you get to control. Overpopulation goes from a threat that might decimate the tribe to a virtue of strategic advantage. The less capable still have a place in society, unlike in the more Darwinist environment you just abandoned. Even if the food quality was reduced, you had more of a steady supply for longer periods ( not infallible, of course, but better ). Remember now, I’m talking about the advantages on a macro level, not a micro one. The lowly swinging dingus out there eating gruel and kowtowing to the mighty king had a suck ass time of it. You never get a free lunch and the price you paid for a more steady supply of food ( and, one presumes, a safer supply as the reasons you had to give up hunting in the first place ) was re-engineering the environment away from which we had evolved. We no longer left behind our environment impacts but wallowed in them. We no longer ate good food but pale substitutes. We no longer had a say in our future as we went from an egalitarian existence to a slave society. We no longer lived by staying in good physical shape but took up a sedentary existence ( you still worked hard, but you didn’t do the same kind of labor the body was made for ). But the macro effects overrode all that. If you didn’t engage on the treadmill of the new agricultural empire building, you were defeated and assimilated. And while it was okay to enslave your own tribesmen, it certainly wasn’t okay for the leaders of the tribe to be enslaved by others! So the race was on to grow and centralize and out-breed and out-fight and out-produce food surpluses against your competing tribes. Tomorrow, the environmental cost of empire and the inevitability of a continuation of empire building after our current collapse.

END

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4 comments:

  1. Jim, thumb drive order is in the mail. Would have been sooner but our mail quit running cause of the little ice storm we had. Yes it was nothing compared to up north but they have no means to clear or salt the roads,

    Keep us posted on the on-going saga of the step-family. I'm sure it will make some most entertaining reading.

    Your Humble Minion....

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    1. I used to call step-D "yeh, but". She would argue about anything and everything. Throw in three curtain climbers. I'm positive I'll have amusing annacdotes ( sp? ) at the very least. This is going to be a force of nature blowing in.

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  2. People have been known to wander out in the desert and disappear....Just saying..Hang in there.

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    1. As they say, it's a big desert out there and I've got a shovel.

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