Here I offer three indisputable facts that everyone already knows, and that thoroughly indict our culture and way of life. If we trace the roots of these facts, they lead us, invariably, to the foundation of civilization, our own culture, a relative newcomer in the pantheon of human cultures. We, civilized humans, like to think of civilization as some kind of evolutionary leap forward for humanity, as a cultural advance over more “primitive” cultures, and even as an indicator of the superiority of human intelligence over the rest of creation. These three facts should disavow us of these beliefs, once and for all, along with everything else we think we know about how to live in the world.
People outside of our culture, the precious few uncivilized, indigenous people left in the world, see civilization as something else. They see civilization as a heartless killer, an enslaver of people, a poisoner of water and a raper of the land. They see civilization as a terrible plague, and a disease of the mind. It’s about time we recognize the acuity of their assessment. Here are three facts you already know that prove it.
Fact #1, Overpopulation You must have heard about this. For most of human history, the Earth’s population of human beings grew, like that of most other large animals, very slowly, related largely to our expanding range. Then, about 10,000 years ago, coincident with the birth of civilization, human population exploded at an exponential rate, and our global population began doubling in ever shorter timespans. The Earth’s population recently doubled from 3 to 6 billion people in less than 40 years. We’ve since surpassed 7 billion on our way to 11 by the middle of the century, barring a catastrophic population collapse of some kind.
Of course, at some point, a catastrophic collapse becomes inevitable. That’s the problem with exponential growth. You can’t have exponential growth, forever, in a finite world. This exponential population growth pattern is a unique characteristic of our culture. No indigenous cultures share this characteristic. In the 10,000+ year history of civilization, this population problem has caused much bloodshed and suffering, and we can expect it to cause much, much, more in the future. Attempts by civilized people to solve this problem, throughout history, have failed miserably, despite all the latest technology.
Today, we think it will be easier to colonize Mars than control our own exploding population. That’s how intractable our population problem has become. Of course, you knew this already, and there’s nothing newsworthy about it, but it says something about how we, as civilized people, do things. Overpopulation stresses social cohesion and brings out the worst in people, but overpopulation takes it’s biggest toll on the environment. Which brings us to…
Fact #2, The Environmental Crisis Even if you live under a rock, you’ve heard of this. Al Gore has a new movie about it. Thanks to the endless “awareness raising” efforts of myriad environmental organizations, pretty much everyone knows that “the environment” needs help. Everyone knows about global warming, even if they deny it. Not everyone knows that we’ve lost half of the world’s biodiversity since 1970, and that species are going extinct at a rate of 100 to 150 every day. Not everyone knows that this is the highest rate of extinction in geological history, since the Cretaceous Extinction Event that wiped out the dinosaurs more than sixty million years ago. You know about the environmental crisis, but the truth about it is even worse than you know.
Not coincidentally, the Environmental Crisis also began about 10,000 years ago, with the advent of the farming lifestyle in the Middle East, considered to be the birth of modern civilization. Early farmers deforested huge swaths of land in the Middle East to grow wheat and barley, which quickly exhausted the fertility of the thin soil. They then abandoned the fallow, depleted land to erosion and continued to slash and burn their way through abundant forest rich with fish and game. That’s how they turned “The Fertile Crescent” into the Sahara Desert.
Now ask yourself, “Why did the people who founded our culture, and gave birth to Civilization, burn millions of acres of wild, abundant forests, unleashing plague after plague of pests, to grow wheat and barley, thousands of years before the invention of bread?” What do you think they did with all of that barley and wheat? They made beer out of it. Beer! Which brings us to the third fact you already know about.
Fact # 3, Alcoholism Alcoholism is a debilitating disease that destroys the life of the alcoholic, and creates dysfunction within the alcoholic’s family. One-hundred alcoholics, and their dysfunctional families create a dysfunctional community, and a hundred beer-soaked generations of dysfunctional community is what we call “The Birth of Civilization.” Alcoholism is so deeply entwined with our culture that Civilization could rightly be called “Alcohol Culture.” If you doubt this, I recommend a Discovery Channel documentary titled “How Beer Saved the World.” In the video, they assume that civilization is a great thing, but they outline the hard evidence for beer’s role in it pretty well.
Alcoholism requires a lot of work. It’s hard to keep that thirst quenched, and alcohol culture quickly devolved into slavery, as evidenced by great monuments like the Sphinx and the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The workers who built the pyramids were paid in beer, and people willingly sold themselves into slavery for it.
We’ve all seen what alcoholism does to people. We’ve all seen what alcoholism does to families. We know that alcoholism is an enormous social problem, but try to imagine how much alcoholism has twisted our culture, from the beginning. You knew alcoholism was a serious problem, but, like the environmental crisis, it’s worse than you can imagine.
An alcoholic lifestyle will never be sustainable. Alcoholism creates an imbalance that no technology can overcome, but which requires constant technological innovation to mitigate. Alcohol culture compensates for this imbalance by constantly expanding, and in it’s relentless expansion, Civilization exterminates and enslaves every sustainable indigenous culture it encounters along the way. That’s the “civilized” way of doing things.
Let these three facts sink in. Take some time to think about them. Then, take a look at President Trump. Take a good long look at Donald J Trump, because civilization is a machine that consumes the lives of billions of people, and wipes out over a hundred species of plant and animal every day, in order to produce Donald J Trump and people just like him. We’ve sacrificed damn near everything natural, beautiful and alive in the whole world, so we could have the Trump we deserve, before we keel over and die from the overwhelming toxicity of our own sick culture.
We’ve hit rock bottom, folks. Face it. We need to sober up, now, or we are going to die. Forget the Democrats; they can’t be trusted. Forget the Constitution; it never worked. Forget democracy; it gave us Trump. Everything we know is wrong. Our culture, Civilization, is the product of hundreds of generations of alcoholic dysfunction. We need to get away from that alcoholic mindset altogether if we want to survive. It’s not going to be easy, and we’re going to need help, but we have got to do it, and we’ve got to do it now.
The remaining traditional indigenous cultures of the world remind us that human beings can live in a sober and respectful way, and that some still do. We’re not flawed creatures. We were born into a sick culture, and traumatized by our alcoholic ancestry. Indigenous people can show us how to live in the world, without enslaving it, and ourselves, to an insatiable thirst for more. But first, we need to admit that we have a problem.