Tuesday, November 11, 2014

a history of heartbeats and kisses

When the question of human nature comes up, the programmed always point us to their history books to show that all human beings ever do is fight, command, obey. Before we look at those books, let’s look a little closer at history itself: when they say history, which history do they mean? Time and space are both so vast that one could not hope to begin to record either in full: any record is inevitably selective in the extreme. Could one write a history of heartbeats, of kisses, of picnics? And yet aren't these, proportionately speaking, a much greater part of human history than anything in the history books? Today we are in the belly of a hierarchical leviathan, which naturally tells the stories of other hierarchical empires as “the” history of the human race: contests for economic and political power, books of laws and philosophical rationalizing, the trivia of the lives of “great men.” But the majority of human history has not been spent at the Battle of Hastings or the crossing of the Rubicon; most of the time, human beings were—and are, today, any time the boss has his back turned—just preparing food, flirting, daydreaming, playing or working on projects cooperatively. The times when slavemasters seized power and coerced masses of people have been exceptions—though Western civilization has seen a disproportionate number of these, to its discredit. Remember, our species has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but
the kind of centralized power and social control we see today is only a few thousand years old—and only became globalized in the last few hundred. If some of the earliest historical records are of wars and conquests, it is because the first ones to catch the disease of so-called civilization were the first to feel compelled to conquer and keep tally. Unbelievably, these records are the only ones taken seriously by our tunnel-visionary historians, who discount the oral traditions and folklore common to healthy human communities; but we can tell by the very rarity of such records that they are not representative of what all human beings were doing in those days, let alone before—or today. Let’s speak of proportions again. The human race has been around for over one million years, but agriculture, let alone centralized culture, has only existed for about ten thousand: before that, we were all hunters/gatherers who let everything run wild, ourselves included. Even inside of the last ten thousand years, only a small minority of human communities have been as bellicose and coercive as this one—and even today, only a small part of human interactions actually express that violence and subservience. Thus we can see that, on every level, fighting, commanding, obeying comprise about one percent of human history. What about heartbeats, kissing, and picnics, then? Aren't those the heritage of our species?

 - excerpt from the zine Harbinger, by crimethINC Ex-Workers' Collective