UNCIVILISATION: The Dark Mountain Network

A space for conversations in a time of global disruption

What do you like about people?

What makes you happy?

If you are into cultural anthropology, what behaviors do you see in other cultures that are ecologically sound and promote a sense of well being amongst it's members?

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Cultures that bring people together, and unite them around places - cultures which, for example, bring people together to work in groups outside.

Cultures that involve a lot of storytelling.

Cultures that involve sitting around fires under stars.

Cultures with a sense of place and prehistory.

Cultures that see people as part of a web of life.

Cultures that don's suppress an enjoyment of the physical or spiritual and replace them with paranoid puritanism.

Cultures with no cars or televisions.

Cultures in which the sound of human voices can be drowned sometimes by the sound of wind or sea or birds or forests.

Cultures with no advertising, supermarkets or cities.
Thanks Paul. I could live in your world. I'll just reply to your item Number 1.

I grew up in a culture of cooperation. Planting the crops, putting up the hay harvesting the crops etc. The work was cold or hot and always physically hard and dirty, but the sense of belonging and working towards a common goal was very rewarding. I don't have the words to describe the feeling.

Another thing about these tasks is that they could be completed in about 2 or 4 weeks followed by a period of rest.

Paul Kingsnorth said:
Cultures that bring people together, and unite them around places - cultures which, for example, bring people together to work in groups outside.

Cultures that involve a lot of storytelling.

Cultures that involve sitting around fires under stars.

Cultures with a sense of place and prehistory.

Cultures that see people as part of a web of life.

Cultures that don's suppress an enjoyment of the physical or spiritual and replace them with paranoid puritanism.

Cultures with no cars or televisions.

Cultures in which the sound of human voices can be drowned sometimes by the sound of wind or sea or birds or forests.

Cultures with no advertising, supermarkets or cities.
Thanks Lee. I didn't grow up in a culture like that, but I have sought out and experienced it during my adult life, and I know exactly the feeling you talk about. i think this is worth exploring further. I think that this feeling of being outside, working together with others, manually, brings a deep sense of human satisfaction, and I wonder if the loss of that is responsible for a lot of the emptiness we feel in modern life.
I also like creative complaining.
I worked with a guy that would come in morning and say moanin instead good morning. He sounded like Eeyore. He got me doing it. I still do it, and now I've got my granddaughter doing it. It lightens up the early morning crabby time.
I heard a Native American tribe (Hopi I think, but I could be wrong) have the worlds simplest divorce procedure - if a women no longer wants a man she just puts his shoes outside the tepi (or whatever it is they really live in - too many misconceptions about Native Americans...). He MAY try to reason with her family, but she is not required to listen. More of life should be like this - easy going and accepting of the fact that others are people too and have the right to live their lives; no-one 'belongs' to anyone else. I like it.

Funnily enough though, the piece I read this in neglected to mention what the guy did if he wanted to leave - just left probably - but sometimes I think that maybe the guys are just all so busy making their partners happy in the hope of never finding their shoes outside their home that they have no time to get bored of the marriage!

Another point (as this is the one that the current establishment always rolls out in favour of 'family' and 'marriage') is that children never lose out as the whole tribe is considered responsible for all it's children, like one big family. It is never a huge shock to the children because they're never fed the lie that people can know now that they will always love someone in the future - that neither will change enough for their relationship to fail. I like this too.

Of course, this may be just another fallacy of Native American culture, but if it's false I still think it's a good idea. Another, fictional, society really respect is that of the islanders in Aldous Huxley's 'Island' - Here and Now boys, Here and Now!
Hi Wolfbird, [I tried to post this on your page also, but like you, I had to many characters.]

Thanks for responding, but I would like to point out that I'm not living in la la land. I grew up with hardnosed Scandinavians that had suffered immigration, plagues of wheat rust & grasshoppers, drought, flood, economic depression, dust storms, war and on and on. But still they were able to have fun and they were able to make work that was essentially nothing but suffering into a tolerable situation.

It wasn't a bed of roses, I had a nemesis that tried to destroy me when I was a helpless child. Damned near did too..

I can probably out grim you. How about this little factoid. We are living in a pathocracy. This is true for the U.S., and from I can tell, it's true for the U.K. as well. The psychopaths have taken over and have also passed their disease onto large swaths of the population. There are parts of the U.S. where crazy is normal. Any collapse, be it economic or energy related could turn into a bloodbath of scapegoating. Understanding psychopathy and it's contagiousness is critical. Evil is a disease.

I could go on about this, but there are plenty of people with better writing skills doing it. I'll leave it to them. I would like to comment on your experience of having to fight. There is a mental state after fear has been overcome that I call it my inner cave man. The single minded clever aggressiveness of it shocked me when first I experienced it, but I like knowing it's there. It has saved my butt a few times. I think psychopaths are in that mode all the time.

We are what we are. I'm not afraid of my inner cave man. I've been to parties where full on wild caveman energies were expressed without there being a hint of hostility and where art happened. We can't be ecstatically happy all the time, but if we know what conditions are necessary for that to occur we can develop rituals to facilitate it. Most of the time the pleasure of joking around with my wacky misfit friends was enough to get me through the upcoming week of hard labor.

Psychopaths want us to feel helpless, hopeless and fearful. The black lady will be coming for me soon enough and I will welcome her, but till then I'll try to pass on something positive and I don't care if I fail.

Did you know that Chief Joseph basically died of a broken heart, but his example helped the Nez Perce nation succeed.

Pursuit of happiness. The framers of the Constitution weren't 20 year olds. They did not say the pursuit of hedonism. Let me translate. Everyone has the right to try and be happy. They did not say that everyone had the right to be happy. Makes you wonder why they put that in there. Could it be that in England only the aristocracy had the right to pursue happiness.
Ha ha, You didn't out grim me.

Is this a lizard people are taking over the earth scenario. Don't worry, massive meteor showers and super volcanoes will take care of them. That is if the earths magnetic field flipping and the earth over heating because of stellar dust accretion doesn't get them first.

Maybe this is the psycho's plan to reduce the surplus population while they hide in their bunkers

Or maybe we will figure out how to deal with these sickos and engineer societies that bring out the best in people. I think I'll commit my meager energies to that goal.

You can continue with your mission to induce a sense of fear, helplessness and unworthiness in the population. Feel the power.

In the mean time, I think I'll plan my garden for next year and go to the oyster festival in October while I'm waiting to see what happens.

wolfbird said:
"We are living in a pathocracy."
"Corporations are destroying the planet under the guise of seeking profit. But their ecocidal activities are so horrendous and so ubiquitous that profits seem hardly plausible as authentic motive."
http://www.countercurrents.org/ananda070910.htm

Glenn "Lee" Howden said:
Hi Wolfbird, [I tried to post this on your page also, but like you, I had to many characters.]

Thanks for responding, but I would like to point out that I'm not living in la la land. I grew up with hardnosed Scandinavians that had suffered immigration, plagues of wheat rust & grasshoppers, drought, flood, economic depression, dust storms, war and on and on. But still they were able to have fun and they were able to make work that was essentially nothing but suffering into a tolerable situation. It wasn't a bed of roses, I had a nemesis that tried to destroy me when I was a helpless child. Damned near did too..

I can probably out grim you. How about this little factoid. We are living in a pathocracy. This is true for the U.S., and from I can tell, it's true for the U.K. as well. The psychopaths have taken over and have also passed their disease onto large swaths of the population. There are parts of the U.S. where crazy is normal. Any collapse, be it economic or energy related could turn into a bloodbath of scapegoating. Understanding psychopathy and it's contagiousness is critical. Evil is a disease.

I could go on about this, but there are plenty of people with better writing skills doing it. I'll leave it to them. I would like to comment on your experience of having to fight. There is a mental state after fear has been overcome that I call it my inner cave man. The single minded clever aggressiveness of it shocked me when first I experienced it, but I like knowing it's there. It has saved my butt a few times. I think psychopaths are in that mode all the time.

We are what we are. I'm not afraid of my inner cave man. I've been to parties where full on wild caveman energies were expressed without there being a hint of hostility and where art happened. We can't be ecstatically happy all the time, but if we know what conditions are necessary for that to occur we can develop rituals to facilitate it. Most of the time the pleasure of joking around with my wacky misfit friends was enough to get me through the upcoming week of hard labor.

Psychopaths want us to feel helpless, hopeless and fearful. The black lady will be coming for me soon enough and I will welcome her, but till then I'll try to pass on something positive and I don't care if I fail.

Did you know that Chief Joseph basically died of a broken heart, but his example helped the Nez Perce nation succeed.

Pursuit of happiness. The framers of the Constitution weren't 20 year olds. They did not say the pursuit of hedonism. Let me translate. Everyone has the right to try and be happy. They did not say that everyone had the right to be happy. Makes you wonder why they put that in there. Could it be that in England only the aristocracy had the right to pursue happiness.
Hi,
I've attached below something I have just written for Sustain Magazine.
I was pointed to the Dark Mountain website by someone who had heard me lecture, and I'm interested to see you looking at people. I've been rather depressed by all the books that tell us all would be well if we could just commune with nature a bit more. there is a lot more to it than that, not least the fact that people have been around for a long long time and we do have our own wisdoms, we just need to see them. You can't ignore the human contribution. I do think there are changes going on, but they are more rooted in our own past than we might realise...

Viewpoint for Sustain Magazine
As an archaeologist my work is rooted in the past, but I am keen to explore its relevance for today. As an inhabitant of the 21st century, I try to be ‘green’. As an academic I am keen to re-awaken interest in the ancient hunter-gatherer population who lived in Britain before the development of farming (known archaeologically as the Neolithic) some 6000 years ago. While carrying out my most recent research I have found that all three come together.
I have always been interested in the way that some of the key traits of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle have survived down the millennia, and even occupy a high status role in the twenty-first century, despite their almost complete material disappearance with the introduction of farming. Elements such as hunting and fishing, and the consumption of shellfish, for example all occupy ‘special’ places in British culture today, though the archaeological evidence demonstrates that the resources of sea and moor were almost completely abandoned when the mainstay of life shifted to farmed animals and crops.
The changes that came about with the adoption of farming were radical indeed. Exactly why the change took place is still something of an archaeological mystery, but in reality it is likely that it occurred in many different ways all over the UK, hence the problems for archaeologists who seek a ‘universal truth’. What we do know is that the cattle, sheep and crops that were the mainstays of the farmers’ new lifestyle were not native to the UK; someone – or some people – must have introduced them, so there was, at least, some incursion. In some places they may well have been taken on by local hunters who were keen, or predisposed, to new ways; elsewhere activities such as inter-marriage or trade may have played a part; in some parts episodes of aggression, even genocide, may have taken place.
For my part, I am interested in the consequences rather than the mechanism of introduction. Within a couple of hundred years of the arrival of the first sheep on British shores, it seems that the hunter-gatherer way of life had all but disappeared across the UK. Interestingly, the first Neolithic houses and monuments have very similar dates wherever they occur. From the south coast of England to the archipelago of Orkney the earliest archaeological evidence of farmers dates to the years around 3800 BC. Farming, it seems was highly successful and spread quickly. At the same time a whole people had apparently abandoned everything that identified them – their way of life, their tool kit, their houses, religion, customs, rituals and even their diet: everything changed.
What is interesting is the way in which these changes have had long term implications that resonate down to the present day. Many of our common illnesses began to appear with the new life style as people settled down, lived in larger communities, in close proximity to their animals, and dealt with waste and new foods. Fertile lands had to be managed; there is evidence of sophisticated manuring techniques from early on. Our relationship with the world began to change; we could practise control, but not on everything. Increased stresses included a fear of the wild: unproductive wild lands; wild animals; and vermin. There was also the fear of famine, of uncontrollable weather. It was at this time that we first see a marked change in our attitudes to hunter-gatherers.
This is not to say that farming did not bring benefits, but there was always a sting. More reliable food led to population increase, encouraged by the farmers’ need for a workforce; with time these new adults needed land. Food surplus and a settled lifestyle facilitated innovation; we can track an exponential increase in technological development to the present day. Our addiction to energy took off: from hand drawn prehistoric ards, to oxen led medieval ploughs, to water and then steam, the emerging dominance of oil as a fuel in the 19th century, and our current package of nuclear/wind/wave. We need energy and we no longer provide it for ourselves.
It is easy to sound depressing but curiously some traits have survived from our remote, hunter-gatherer past and they are beginning to resurface in ways that hold keys to the future. Increasing elements of food, leisure, self sufficiency, and medicine all hark back to different local attitudes.
Nevertheless, the lessons of archaeology are not quite so direct. Of course we could solve the problems of today if we reverted to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but global populations and changed circumstances make that impossible. There is no simple one stop solution. The solution offered by an analysis of the past is more general; it is one of scale and it is one that we can take on board, though we may not like the message. We need, for example, to reduce our individual energy consumption: we can do that. Insulation; appropriate generation; higher maintenance; local use; less gadgetry: the technology is all there. We need to become more self sufficient: we can do that; we need to re-embrace the local. Economies of scale can be false economies; increasing specialisation can be loss of wisdom; industry can reduce ability.
As inhabitants of the twenty-first century we are concerned. There is a growing realisation that life, as we live it, is not sustainable. We devote books, magazines, courses and think tanks to the problem. But the existing analysis is shallow, it focuses on the present. We need to add the deeper understanding of time. Only by doing this can we see that the current issues: climate change; resource depletion; food scares, they are mere symptoms, not the problem.
In the end this is a book about the questions not the answers. But if we do not understand the questions, we can never find the right answers. We need to get to the roots of the issues that concern us today. My contention is that archaeology has more to offer than an evening in front of Time Team. Whether or not you believe in the Gaia theory, the power of nature to nurture is once more of interest to us all...
Caroline Wickham-Jones teaches archaeology at the University of Aberdeen. She lives in Orkney, where she is part of a team working on past sea-level rise and the impact of landscape change on the population. She is the author of many academic papers as well as several popular books on archaeology.
Fear of Farming was published at the beginning of September and may be ordered from Oxbow Books:
http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/88290//Location/Oxbow
Hi Wolfbird - that is interesting. I really like the reference you give to stories about lower sea-levels. That is one of the things we are researching here in Orkney. There are many references to lower sea-levels in old stories and also in more recent documents such as the church sessions. There are islands that used to be used for grazing, but now appear only as skerries, and islands with causeways that have disappeared. No one has taken much notice of it, but we are now realising that stories have foundations and very often a grain (usually more than one) of truth.

With regard to the people coming in - the monuments all relate to the farmers (boo hiss) and you have had people around for much longer than that. Here in Scotland the Ice Age is quite convenient as it leaves an empty land so we look at the incursions after that. but of course there were people in Britain before then too. The old idea was that people moved south with the Ice Age and then north again as things improved - a sort of ex oriente lux idea (to those of us in the north). Now we know it was much more complex than that - with lower sea levels Britain was connected to the continent (Island Britain is a recent concept), and people came in from all over, even the north...

Deep archaeology is getting quite exciting.

And by the way there are fish traps in Scotland that, while generally medieval in date, go back much earlier even to the Bronze Age 3000 years ago.
There are maps, but I've not seen one online - just at conferences. They look very fancy, but the problem is that by and large they are just based on modelling not actual data so they are really best guesses albeit scientific ones. Wikipedia is quite good on Doggerland
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doggerland
And there are some good links at the end - especially this one
http://www.iaalocal.bham.ac.uk/North_Sea_Palaeolandscapes/index.htm

You are quite right regarding the Inuit, we are only just waking up to the ability of people to live in marginal environments - which is of course staring us in the face but we tend to be blind to other styles of life except as an exotic TV show - look at the way FitzRoy and Darwin etc struggled in the Magellan Straits and Beagle channel despite the fact that there were people living there quite happily with a sophisticated system of survival - people whom Darwin later used as an example of utter primitives.

Your birch bark sounds interesting.
What do you like about people?
-I have to admit to being a bit of misanthrope myself. It's not the individual I dislike, no....it's the anonymous member of society that gets my ire. The faceless automobile driver that finds themselves in too much of a hurry, racing to get wherever on time.
What makes you happy?
It does make me happy to genuine acts of human kindness.
what behaviors do you see in other cultures that are ecologically sound and promote a sense of well being amongst it's members?
When I was a child, I lived in Germany. Trash and litter was not at all evident, as I'd see shopkeepers sweep the sidewalk in front of their shop each morning. When I tossed a wrapper on the ground, I was instantly castigated.
Attachments:
Thankyou for taking the time to write and the links.

Caroline, when I was a teenager I sailed out to Australia/NZ from the UK with my father. I met a guy selling wooden trains he'd made in a Sydney subway. He said his grandfather was Spanish and his grandmother was from a tribe somewhere on the west coast of Chile. He told a story from the maternal line about a tribe of tall white people that arrived by boat to the swamp and had susequently been eaten!!
It really blew my mind at the time. Although I knew of the Viking sagas, I suddenly realised that there was life before fourteen hundred and ninety two when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Whether true or not, the 'possibility' that people did carry on down the Eastern seaboard and round the bottom....!

With regard to the peoples around the Beagle Straight (some are being supported in hunger strike by politicians at the mo? I dont know their name) it is similar to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania, cut off from the mainland by the rising sea levels. They were considered primitive (being reliant on lightening for fire for example) but they were running round in basically pants and had very advanced survival mechanisms.

Sorry there are no links to reference. I just wanted to say thanks for writing! I never before imaged people living on the margins of Europe, Northern Europe or 'Doggerland' with moving ice and glaciers.

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