Civilization appeared only some 9,000 years ago. Its duration is dwarfed by the thousands of human generations who enjoyed what might be called a state of natural anarchy. The general orthodoxy in the anthropological literature, even including textbooks, portrays life outside of civilization as one of ample leisure time; an egalitarian, food-sharing mode of life; relative autonomy or equality of the sexes; and the absence of organized violence. Humans used fire to cook fibrous vegetables almost two million years ago, and navigated on the open seas at least 8000,000 years ago. They had intelligence equal to ours, and enjoyed by far the most successful, non-destructive human adaptation to the natural world that has ever existed. Whereas the textbook question used to be, “Why did it take homo so long to adopt domestication or agriculture?” now ask why they did it at all.
- John Zerzan