The late Michael McClure, a prolific American poet in the visionary tradition involved with The Beats, spent much of his time researching pre-history and writing about our fallen world in the light of pre-history.
He was ahead of his time with regard to the critique of civilisation. Back in the 70s, during the first wave of radical ecology, McClure was claiming things about pre-historic humanity which have since become widely accepted in Anthropological circles – that is among those who conduct materialist research into the way of life of pre-historic & non-civilised humans – but which have not been accepted by the far-left and its institutions, who base their concept of pre-history on the work of Frederich Engels in the late 19th Century.
Engels’ work is a huge advance on his contemporaries – the foundation of materialist anthropology in fact – but it makes the indefensible assertion that planet-killing Industrialism is a higher stage of human existence than the nomadic band-life we evolved in and for; and that humanity MUST pass out of nomadry and into & through toxic industrialism before socialism becomes possible.
This ‘stages theory’ is a mirror image of Imperialism’s racist & genocidal hierarchies and would later be the excuse for many & ongoing crimes against nature & traditional societies in every single country where declaredly communist regimes took power. In the name of Stages Theory, and quoting the venerable Engels, societies which are the closest to true socialism to have ever existed on this planet have been wiped off the face of the Earth by regimes practising the twisted doctrines of ‘actually-existing-socialism’ – and all in the name of a hallucinatory techno-Utopianism based on an imagined sci-fi future which we now know will never exist and, what’s more, could never have existed on a finite planet. Stages Theory is Settler Theory!
What McClure says in the 70s and which is now scientific orthodoxy is that pre-historic human beings were far happier, healthier & smarter than we. They lived without the endemic oppression, exploitation, warfare, interpersonal violence, mental suffering, mass addiction, & planet-killing hostility to & disharmony with the natural world that characterises our world.
This was the case for, at a minimum, 300000 years, but we evolve from 6-7 million years of egalitarian band-nomadic hominids.
The Decline & Fall of the human animal we call civilisation starts between the Tigris & Euphrates around 6000 years ago, but did not begin to touch much of the planet until a few hundred years ago with the conquering and enslavement of Africa, India, The Americas etc. What we call civilization is likely to destroy itself over the next few decades as industrial poisoning chokes the globe and everything on it. This is what ‘progress’ does to us.
From this perspective it is possible to come to a somewhat consoling perspective about living in the the wasteland of our times. Humans lived for 99% of their existence as a species without doing much harm to themselves or their supporting habitat. Our role within Gaia was to fertilise the wide earth by way of our wandering as we moved nutrients and seeds all over by way of defecation. In return we got everything we needed in abundance. Life was tough, sure, but absolutely nowhere near as tough as it has always been and continues to be for the vast majority of historical human beings. From this perspective our current & rapidly accelerating self-destruction, our rotting from the inside as it were, is no more than the senility of our species. Those who believed in progress were essentially in denial about the reality of growing old – contending that 90 year olds have better health, life-quality, & future prospects than 18 year olds. In truth we are the old man shitting his poisoned organs out on a hospice bed – but so full of morphine & blueys we mistake dying for being born and are full of dreams for awesome tmros that will never come.
McClure made one further suggestion which is more disturbing again and which I hadn’t really thought about before. For 6000 years some of humanity, and for the last few hundred virtually all of it has been subjected to an intense process of selective breeding in which the ‘wild’ traits of autonomy & righteous disobedience have been selected out. Numerous ‘wild’ societies have been eliminated – 90 per cent of Native Americans had to be killed to form the USA, for example. Less obvious than this though is the way the institutions of toxic industrialism – the nuclear family, the workplace, the school, the church, the state, the MSM – universally and systematically select against difference, working to discipline, punish, exclude, & finally eliminate the disobedient and the independent – whether that independence be physical or spiritual/intellectual. In other words we have been genetically disinherited by thousands of years of sedentary life.
After many successive generations of this aggressive, intensive, universal selective breeding humanity begins to devolve and the average individual human becomes naturally more malleable and suggestible. We are the labradoodle compare to our ancestor’s wolf, the dependent indoor cat in relation to their free-roaming, self-sufficient lion.
This is a biological, materialist, & ecological alternative to the sociological & speculative Marxist theories of Alienation & of Hegemony, when it comes to explaining why the working class rebels so rarely & so ineffectively and with such disastrous outcomes for itself when it apparently succeeds, yet stays within the iron cage of Toxic Industrialism as in Stalin’s Russia & Mao’s China.
5 year plans kill & Green New Deals the planet just like the ‘free development of market forces’ does. After a certain stage, it is technology that uses us, not the other way around. As McClure writes in his 99 theses, published in 1970 in Paris ‘IT IS NATURAL TO SWIM IN WAVES, IT IS NATURAL TO DROWN IN CITIES’.
Have we forgotten how to swim & learned instead how to drown?