Thursday, January 31, 2013

A View of Civilization

Does civilization improve the net happiness of human beings? This would seem like a "duh" question. Of COURSE civilization improves everyone's happiness. You get more stuff! Like iPhones and the internet and cappucino.

As I have begun "decivilizing" my life, I've found that more and more I'm happier with simple things. Going to a movie theatre would be a horror for me. I much prefer sitting on the porch and watching the sunset. Going to a restaurant is no longer enjoyable. Stirring a soup pot over the woodstove in winter has become a family discussion point.

If you cut your life free of the concept that "things make us happy" then you can begin to see where the lie of civilization unfolds.

I reject the Hobbesian viewpoint that life before civilization was "nasty, brutish, and short". We don't even see evidence of that today, where the only hunter/gatherer societies have been pushed into adverse environments that "civilized" man doesn't want.

Jared Diamond, in one of his books, noted that no culture affords its adherents more leisure time than primitive hunter/gatherer ones. The book, "Stone Age Economics" would seem to validate this, as it has documented observations where hunter/gathers spend no more than 4 hours a day providing their needs. A four hour workday! When was the last time you could survive on just that?

Men with industrial minds require others to share that same viewpoint. They cannot share a world with happy and simple agrarian peoples. The other model is simply too appealing. Do you not dream of a much simpler, agrarian life?


Gorges Smythe said...

The powers-that-be can't make money on agrarian people; therefore the lifestyle must be stifled and vilified at all costs.

Xa Lynn said...

I'm with you. My favorite part of the day is sitting on the deck with my husband drinking a cup of tea and reading my Bible while the sun comes up. Nothing else compares. The more time I spend working outside and in my garden, the more exercise I get, the better my diet and the healthier I am. The culture promotes weightlifting and treadmills while staring at tv screens, and eating/drinking high fructose corn syrup afterwards. I think my quality of life is far better.

Farmboy said...

It sounds like you are embracing John Locke's world view. He wasn't necessarily agrarian, but was a libertarian, staunchly opposing Hobbes need for big brother to run roughshod over the sheeple. Shalom.

Ernest said...

I've been a Locke follower for a long time, but I think this particular time I'm going way off the deep end.

I'm really struggling at this point with how civilization is of any benefit to mankind at all. The government is clearly of no benefit, and if I can prove to myself that civilization is of no benefit either, than that easily dispenses with the need for government.