Re: [unrev-II] Re: "Ishmael", Caveman Diet, Garden of Eden

From: Jack Park (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 10:57:14 PDT

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    A good friend to whom I forwarded this post responded with:
    "But the government and the state are just other businesses"

    Somebody else's $0.02 euros.

    From: Eric Armstrong <>

    > (long, philosophical)
    > Kent wrote:
    > >
    > > BTW, did you happen to read any of the "Ishamel" books yet?
    > >
    > In fact, I have. Finished Ishmael. Now working on My Ishmael.
    > Very thought-provoking, and very interesting. However, it also
    > seems belittle some of the real problems with the hunter/
    > gatherer lifestyle.
    > It does make good points that synchronize well with the
    > "Caveman diet" proposition, however. It was either Ishmael or
    > the web site that made some excellent
    > points regarding the suitability of available land for
    > agriculture -- to the effect that 2/3 of all available land is
    > *not* suited for agriculture, making herding the only reasonable
    > use of the land. Not to mention the damage done by plowing, etc.,
    > which would seem to make a herding-based culture much more
    > sustainable. The fact that the "Caveman diet" produced by
    > eliminating grains produces such extraordinary health and
    > energy is, of course, an additional benefit.
    > Again, though, there is the issue of the problems with the
    > hunter/gatherer lifestyle -- mainly the fact that one can
    > find oneself cold, wet, and hungry -- and generally miserable
    > a fair amount of the time.
    > Now, from reading Ishmael, the solution seems to be to turn
    > off the minds that *think* they know the difference between
    > good and evil, and willingly submit to the culling of the
    > tribe that accompanies hard times. However, that just ain't
    > going to happen. So what is the alternative?
    > The really desirable alternative, I'm afraid, is climatically
    > impossible. In general, I'm a big believer in Garden of Eden/
    > Atlantis legends. Somewhere back in remote times, I suspect
    > there was a time when the climate was really temperate, food
    > readily available, and there was little need for intelligence
    > to develop.
    > [Side note: I suspect that human aggressiveness developed
    > side by side with intelligence, btw. I was watching a nature
    > show where the lions rush in and take a zebra. The other
    > zebra are all agitated, then they settle down and go back
    > to grazing while the lions feast on their kill. I was
    > outraged! How can you stand there and take that! Then it
    > occurred to me that the rage I felt had a lot of explanatory
    > power -- our ancestors felt the same thing. They not only
    > banded together, wielding their clubs to beat off the lions,
    > but if one was successful, they pursued that critter to the
    > ends of the earth to finish it off -- and buried the carcass
    > just for spite! "He may have killed one of us before we could
    > get there, but he is by god not going to derive one damn
    > morsel from it. That aggressiveness -- and the memory capacity
    > to hold a grudge -- explains both our burial rituals and the
    > fact that there is no animal left on earth that considers
    > man as reasonable prey, because we exterminate(d) any animal
    > with the genes to think we are... That, too, is an aspect of
    > the human condition that Ishmael seems to overlook.]
    > Anyway, to get back to the Garden of Eden... I've thought for
    > a very long time that if (a) It were warm and (b) food were
    > readily available, then there would be very little need for
    > the massive civilization we have built. However...
    > The climate is *not* warm. That produces the need for housing,
    > heating, available water, and plumbing. Personally, I think a
    > comet came by and swiped us, and we are still seeing the
    > perturbations millions of years later -- including shifting
    > continents, weather patterns produced by the rising of the
    > Himalayas, the wobble in our orbit, droughts and deserts,
    > hurricanes, and all the rest. (I'm thinking that if you smashed
    > a billiard ball into a fluid-filled tennis ball, and then slowed
    > down the time scale a million times, you would have very similar
    > effects. Similarly, if you could speed up the earth's changes
    > a million times or so, we would probably recognize the changes
    > as continuations of an initial collision.
    > Now, the need for housing, plumbing, and all the rest leads to
    > the division of labor that produces our civilization. Meanwhile,
    > the shifting seasons present the need for food storage, since
    > one can starve to death over the course of a long winter.
    > Now admittedly, mankind is utterly failing to do it's part to
    > *create* a Garden of Eden -- a situation I find utterly
    > deplorable. With all the advances in genetic engineering, I have
    > not seen so much as *one* project devoted to crossing wild strains
    > with domestic strains, in order to produce full, fleshy fruits
    > that will thrive virtually anywhere without cultivation. Instead,
    > I have seen project after project aimed at producing a tomato
    > that can withstand stronger pesticides -- so we can sell more
    > poisons and trash our environment even more, while making a better
    > profit.
    > Given that we *can't* control the environment, I think it behooves
    > us to do as much as we can with what we have. That means coming as
    > close to a garden of eden as we can, within extant constraints.
    > But we are not doing that. Why? We have the technology to begin
    > moving in that direction -- but *all* of our efforts are governed
    > by the profit motive. And that motive is very likely to damn us
    > all to oblivion, because the quest for profit tends towards short-
    > term decision making that can have potentially deadly long term
    > consequences. (Example: Ford "gets it" that SUVs are a danger to
    > other drivers, to the environment, and to oil supplies. And more
    > than most they try to limit the damage. But if they stopped making
    > them, they wouldn't be profitable -- someone *else* would make
    > them, and their profits would disappear. Now, is that sad, or what?)
    > These are areas where government activity seems to me to be the
    > only effective vehicle. Governments should be strenuously funding
    > truly beneficial genetic engineering. Business just isn't going
    > to do it. Governments should be aggressively funding studies of
    > herbal remedies, nutritional cures, and disease-prevention through
    > nutrition. Business isn't going to do it.
    > But guess what? Government programs are *so* widely influenced by
    > business, that government isn't doing it either! This leads to my
    > basic proposition: The one weak link in our entire civilization,
    > the one problem that prevents all the *other* problems from being
    > solved, is the lack of separation between business and state.
    > The framers of our constitution saw the need to separate church
    > and state. In one stroke, they prevented the excessive and abusive
    > exercises of power that characterized other nations, and they
    > prevented religions from exerting a stranglehold on government
    > action. However, they could not have foreseen the rise of the
    > industrial civilization that is now exercising a new kind of power,
    > frequently in ways that ultimately harmful. (On television last
    > night, there were drugs to make you go to sleep, drugs to fix
    > your upset stomach, drugs to solve you "social anxiety" problems,
    > and drugs for a variety of other conditions. There were also ads
    > for cereals, soft drinks, beer, and dozens of other fun but
    > so essentially-unhealthy substances that they should be treated
    > like cigarettes -- you can sell them, but you can't advertise
    > them. When you add up all the harmful things that are being sold
    > over the airwaves, it's pretty sickening, really.)
    > So how, HOW, does one achieve a separation of business and state?
    > What does that mean? What does it translate to in terms of things
    > that the government can and cannot do? The question is important,
    > because I'm not sure there is any way for culture to begin
    > approaching a garden of eden, unless we answer it.
    > [Final note: The "back to nature" movement, as appealing as it
    > is in some respects, needs some controls, too. I mean, it's nice
    > to travel to Ireland. Who on earth would stand behind the ticket
    > window and make that possible, were it not for the wage they
    > earn in the process? Who would make the guitars I enjoy playing,
    > and how would I get to those sessions where I can play them?
    > True, we have a lost a lot. But we have also gained a lot. How
    > can two such fundamentally different approaches to life ever be
    > reconciled, if at all?]
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jun 05 2000 - 11:03:29 PDT