Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Evolution of Social Organization

It is useful to examine the extremely gradual evolution of social organization, from the primitive anarchy of our proto-human and human ancestors to the first imperial slave states which arose at the dawn of history. What we now refer to as “history” comprises considerably less than 1% of the period in which we and our proto-human ancestors have existed on this planet. During the prehistoric period, which comprised hundreds of thousands of years, our rate of innovation proceeded at a glacially slow pace, when compared to the constant acceleration of in the rate change which occurred in the historical period. At each phase, the conceptions of Time reflected and influenced the world view of society- its religions, laws, and economic organization, as well as their concurrent evolution to the next phase.

In the first phase, humans hunted smaller and weaker animals, and larger, stronger carnivores hunted us. The conception of Time was that of a “point-instant”- an all-encompassing Present in which all needs and desires were dealt with immediately. During this period, we were closer to other animals, in terms of outlook, then we have ever been since. All primeval paradise myths in which humans live simply and in harmony with nature hearken to this period, partly because such a harmony did exist in the sense that the pace of human mental evolution and the pace of human social and technological evolution were in more closely in tandem than at any later period. Certainly the physical condition of human existence was harder, and more dangerous, and lives extremely brief compared to later times. Modern humans sometimes romanticise Nature, but Nature cannot be tamed: it can be both ugly and brutal. There are innocent victims aplenty in Nature. However, we must not dismiss the possibility that even given the apparent relative harshness of natural conditions when compared to modern times, the human brain, physique, and society of the primeval age was endowed with hundreds of thousands of years during which little changed and an unspoiled natural environment conducive to an ever-increasingly satisfying depth of familiarity. Mother Goddess Cults, celebrating plenitude and the nurturing qualities of the Earth, date from this period.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

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