February 22, 2010
Caution! This is a spoiler-ish discussion. If you haven't yet read The Gnoll Credo, you may want to skip this.
I've heard a number of objections that boil down to "but hunter-gatherers can't ever have anything beyond Stone Age technology. We need agriculture to make possible the specialization that enables technological progress."
Consider that agriculture may be a necessary intermediate step, but not a necessity for further progress. Analogy: coal-powered steam engines may have been a necessary intermediate step to semiconductors (which include solar electricity as well as computers)...but that doesn't mean we should forever keep using coal-powered steam engines.
Also consider that we might not need agriculture-based specialization in order to progress. We currently spend most of our time inventing and perfecting that which those who already have lots of money think will make them even more, i.e. reinforcing the power structure of modern civilization. This leaves us little free time to pursue our own wants and desires -- and often what we do for money directly undermines them.
In contrast, hunter-gatherers have a surfeit of free time, working an average of perhaps 25 hours/week...and that's using Stone Age technology. That leaves a lot of time to invent and perfect anything we want -- with the emphasis on want.
The technology we want is not the same as the technology we are currently paid to create. If all our needs were taken care of in twenty hours or less -- including much of our 'recreation', which is simply displaced hunting or foraging behavior -- what could we accomplish in the remaining time?
In other words: is it possible that a moderate amount of time devoted to the things we actually want would be more productive than endless grinding hours devoted to enriching the already rich?
Live in freedom, live in beauty.
Bonus questions: what would such technology look like? What needs and desires would it serve?
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