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  1. #1
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    Default Neat article about civilization by Steven Erikson

    Here's a link to an article written by Steven Erikson, archaeologist and author of the Malazan books (anyone who reads the "favorite books" threads that pop up every few months should recognize that name by now, I think).

    http://www.stevenerikson.com/index.p...errick-jensen/

    It's too long to quote in its entirety. The gist of it is: These are letters he wrote to the author of a book series called "Endgame", which are about the problems with civilization and the conclusion that ending civilization entirely is the only way to save the natural world.

    The first letter is the assertion that the hunter/gatherer culture of our ancestors was not the fairy tale Jensen makes it sound like. The second details what Erikson actually believes would happen if we were to follow through and destroy civilization as we know it.

    I'll quote a few paragraphs about his take on a slow decline of civilization:

    As much as it makes my skin crawl to say this, let us assume that Jensen’s vision of the idyllic future of hunter/gatherer subsistence for the chosen few, arriving as a consequence of the active destruction of civilisation, is somehow confirmed as viable, how do we get there? Before I address that, let’s look at the initial assumption. It is predicated on the notion that such cultures existed and thrived in the past (to which I would point out that yes, they existed, and might even be seen to have thrived, indeed for a very long time, but that life in that system was far from idyllic; one need only look at the paleo-forensic evidence to see the signs of stress, injury, periods of deprivation and malnutrition, and endemic diseases and parasitic invasion, to know that life was hard and plagued with suffering and misery. And as soon as strategies arrived that had the potential to mitigate that difficult existence, those who could jumped at them). Whether such an idyllic existence existed in the past is, however, not really the point. The point is, and this is what Jensen is precisely addressing, how do we return to it, given the planet’s present condition?

    The answer is, we can’t. We have long since passed the point of no return. Let us now look at the possible scenarios to reaching Jensen’s goal (and this goal is born of the heartfelt desire to save the wild animals of the world). In the broadest sense, there are two. Both are dependent on a radical depopulation of the human species, down to perhaps one or two percent of the present population. The distinction lies in how we get there, and it is in that distinction on which everything hinges.

    Hunter-Gatherers need something to hunt and something to gather. Without them, the hunter-gatherer starves. Accordingly, for that last one or two percent of humanity left after the fall of civilisation, there needs to be enough animals left to hunt and eat; and there needs to be abundant edible plants to harvest and maintain. Having one and not the other is of course possible, as with the traditional Inuit or strictly vegetarian cultures (not that many of those ever truly existed), but these were very specific in their characteristics. And for the populations in question, biological adaptation was a crucial factor in survival. Finally, the biome being exploited was in each instance fecund enough to sustain viable (if small) populations, all other things being equal (i.e. the presence of ice).

    What will those hardy survivors of civilization’s end eat? The answer to that depends on how the other ninety-eight percent died; more specifically, on how quickly they died. If civilisation falls with minimal loss of life, or if it crumbles over a matter of a few years or even a decade or so, then we are looking at six billion very hungry people. What will they eat when the last stockpiles of processed food are gone? Why, they will eat everything (a present-day corollary can be found in the Congo, where civilization has already collapsed). They’ll start with the best stuff first: every animal wild and domestic they can track down and slaughter. Once those are all gone, they’ll turn to lesser creatures—those more difficult to capture or of little or no nutritional value. And finally, when they too are all gone, when every forest is silent, when the skies are truly empty, they will turn to the last source of food available to them: each other.

    This scenario, of slow or gradual collapse, will in fact trigger an absolute extinction of every wild and domestic animal on Earth, concluding with us.
    Anyway, worth a read. Again, it's pretty long (that quote was less than 10% of the whole thing), but beyond the philosophical arguments it's also very educational.
    Last edited by mcap; 07-25-2012 at 01:30.

  2. #2

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    When you think about it, the end game of this is that global mass murder by governments will become a necessity. When the resources are too thin, the herd will either need to be culled, or downsized. Or if collapse is inevitable, since those 6 billion are wreaking havoc on the food sources of the powerful, their only defense is to kill them by some means to keep on eating themselves. They're not going to lay down and die no matter what the circumstances. So they will use nukes, or engineered viruses, grey goo with a one year self destruct programmed into it, or some kind of means to kill off a few billion and save their own skins. It's self preservation, and even saving the species and life on earth itself. All these conspiracy theorists think its all about totalitarian control, but even if that were to occur after the mass die offs, that wouldn't have been a necessary reason. Survival would have been enough of a reason all by itself.

    Really scary implications here...

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    Lol he's dumb. We already know what's going to happen, we've been told.

    Silly scientists don't even know how to read.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokstarr View Post
    Lol he's dumb. We already know what's going to happen, we've been told.

    Silly scientists don't even know how to read.
    Jesus better be careful about when he comes though, or the few survivors left will eat him.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloomrender View Post
    When you think about it, the end game of this is that global mass murder by governments will become a necessity. When the resources are too thin, the herd will either need to be culled, or downsized. Or if collapse is inevitable, since those 6 billion are wreaking havoc on the food sources of the powerful, their only defense is to kill them by some means to keep on eating themselves. They're not going to lay down and die no matter what the circumstances. So they will use nukes, or engineered viruses, grey goo with a one year self destruct programmed into it, or some kind of means to kill off a few billion and save their own skins. It's self preservation, and even saving the species and life on earth itself. All these conspiracy theorists think its all about totalitarian control, but even if that were to occur after the mass die offs, that wouldn't have been a necessary reason. Survival would have been enough of a reason all by itself.

    Really scary implications here...
    Pretty much. If civilization is to be undone without destroying the rest of the world, it'd have to be done quick and in a way that doesn't harm the environment. That doesn't leave many options.

    The paragraphs after that talk about EE's type. The people hoarding weapons, food, animals, etc - they'll be just as fucked as the rest of us. It just might take longer (stress might, as they'll be juicier targets for the desperate masses).

    All theoretical of course. He was really just responding to the other author's assumption that we need to return to a hunter/gatherer society to avoid destroying everything. Essentially, Erikson says we'll destroy everything regardless.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloomrender View Post
    When you think about it, the end game of this is that global mass murder by governments will become a necessity. When the resources are too thin, the herd will either need to be culled, or downsized. Or if collapse is inevitable, since those 6 billion are wreaking havoc on the food sources of the powerful, their only defense is to kill them by some means to keep on eating themselves. They're not going to lay down and die no matter what the circumstances. So they will use nukes, or engineered viruses, grey goo with a one year self destruct programmed into it, or some kind of means to kill off a few billion and save their own skins. It's self preservation, and even saving the species and life on earth itself. All these conspiracy theorists think its all about totalitarian control, but even if that were to occur after the mass die offs, that wouldn't have been a necessary reason. Survival would have been enough of a reason all by itself.

    Really scary implications here...
    Well before resource scarcity populations will have been culled by more natural means: famine, disease, unrest and war.

    Governments do not need to engineer anything. People are still animals and we are susceptible to the same effects of overpopulation as any other species.
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    An idiot responding to a cretin.

    Mediocre in everything, from book authorship to archaeology (sorry, but Malazan series sucks, and so does his little analysis).
    Congo is a hilariously dumb example as less than 1.5% of it's land mass constitutes arable land (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/repu...a-wb-data.html).

    As a historian, he should have known that we were hunter-gatherers only because we lacked the know how to be farmers (raise crops and animals). His subsequent scenario is so far removed from reality it is depressing this guy is in academia. Soviets in Ukraine, Germans in Netherland etc. have all shown that without outside forcefull intervention (burning of crops, removal of cattle), people have and will survive perfectly fine off the land.

    Following that, his subliminal support for processed foods only makes me wonder where his personal bias lies.
    7 billion is nothing. With wise planning and clean, renewable energy this planet can easily support much more (how about 70 billion?) Do you need a new gas guzzling tank every 2 years to drive on the high way? Or would electric public transit with solar cells do it for you?

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    milgram experiment
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Calhoun#1962-1963
    a less flashy but more interesting outcome considering the current birth rates and other parallels one could draw
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    Quote Originally Posted by GirlyMan View Post
    Jesus better be careful about when he comes though, or the few survivors left will eat him.
    Comments like this are why I come here

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hydrogenium View Post
    An idiot responding to a cretin.

    Mediocre in everything, from book authorship to archaeology (sorry, but Malazan series sucks, and so does his little analysis).
    Congo is a hilariously dumb example as less than 1.5% of it's land mass constitutes arable land (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/repu...a-wb-data.html).

    As a historian, he should have known that we were hunter-gatherers only because we lacked the know how to be farmers (raise crops and animals). His subsequent scenario is so far removed from reality it is depressing this guy is in academia. Soviets in Ukraine, Germans in Netherland etc. have all shown that without outside forcefull intervention (burning of crops, removal of cattle), people have and will survive perfectly fine off the land.

    Following that, his subliminal support for processed foods only makes me wonder where his personal bias lies.
    7 billion is nothing. With wise planning and clean, renewable energy this planet can easily support much more (how about 70 billion?) Do you need a new gas guzzling tank every 2 years to drive on the high way? Or would electric public transit with solar cells do it for you?
    1. The Malazan books are awesome.
    2. He clearly stated that we were hunter-gatherers only because we hadn't yet found a way to produce a stable food supply.
    3. He wasn't saying the world was going to end, he was responding to the guy who said we should destroy civilization, and theorizing on how things would go if that did happen.
    4. The amount of arable land in the Congo has absolutely no bearing on the argument given the context.
    5. You obviously didn't read it, or you'd have understood all of these things.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hydrogenium View Post
    An idiot responding to a cretin.

    Mediocre in everything, from book authorship to archaeology (sorry, but Malazan series sucks, and so does his little analysis).
    Congo is a hilariously dumb example as less than 1.5% of it's land mass constitutes arable land (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/repu...a-wb-data.html).

    As a historian, he should have known that we were hunter-gatherers only because we lacked the know how to be farmers (raise crops and animals). His subsequent scenario is so far removed from reality it is depressing this guy is in academia. Soviets in Ukraine, Germans in Netherland etc. have all shown that without outside forcefull intervention (burning of crops, removal of cattle), people have and will survive perfectly fine off the land.
    The problem is that zombie horde of idiots in this collapse scenario, that won't cooperate to do so and will desperately murder those resourceful individuals (and or their resources) just to live a little longer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sqarak View Post
    Well before resource scarcity populations will have been culled by more natural means: famine, disease, unrest and war.

    Governments do not need to engineer anything. People are still animals and we are susceptible to the same effects of overpopulation as any other species.
    You don't understand my full statement. They do need to do things to save themselves. A lot of their work will be done through natural means, but they will also have to commit mass murder if they want to survive. Again, talking strictly in this collapse scenario.
    Last edited by Gloomrender; 07-27-2012 at 05:53.

    Quote Originally Posted by Branwulf View Post
    Criminals will always get their weapons, it's the fucking lunatics that you should be worried about Colonist.
    Quote Originally Posted by United States Department of Education
    Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Erikson
    blah blah blah, a bunch of pontificating, rambling bullshit.
    What a fucking wind-bag.

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