Monday, July 6, 2015

A Brief Aside

I know I have not yet caught up with all the writing I said I would do this week, but please bear with me, I will get to it soon. Until then, I have a passing thought.

I was reading a Marxist lit crit site recently and ran into one of those absurd ideas that Marxism constantly espouses, in this case that marxism is all about leisure, and that labor as opposed to leisure is a feature solely of capitalism, that hunter gatherers were pretty leisurely and so will be Marxists.

I explained the Marxist end of this fallacy in "Stupid Quote of the Day (January 3, 2012)" (as well as "Stupid Quote of the Day (February 24, 2015 - Also a little late)" and "Stupid Quote of the Day (March 3, 2015)'), and the hunter-gatherer end in "The Hunter-Gatherer Mistake" (and to a lesser degree "The "Occupy" Mindset" and "Peaceful Matriarchies, Noble Savages and the Industrial Revolution"), but I want to emphasize the second part once again, as it is a foolish concept used not only by Marxists, but also by naive primitivists who denounce our technology as the cause of our problems.(See "Primitivist Delusions", "Inversion of Traditional Values", "Stupid Quote of the Day (January 11, 2012)", "Contradictory Positions", "Deceiving Themselves?", "Stupid Quote of the Day (December 28, 2011)",  "A Beast's Life", "The Dishonesty of Avatar", "Rousseau's Foolish Legacy", "Happiness", "Simplicity", "Opinion Masquerading as Fact", "A Western Evil?", "The Mythical Cure for Cancer", "Right for the Wrong Reason", "Deluded Neo-Pagans" and "A Great Quote".)

Hunter-gatherers persist in modern societies solely in those areas optimal for hunter-gatherer lifestyles. In areas where resources were scarce, they moved on to pastoral or agricultural existence. Thus, the hunter-gatherers we see are those who remain in optimal conditions, and thus have the easiest time. For the vast majority of hunter-gatherers life was nowhere near as relaxed. (And even for those who still persist in hunter-gatherer lifestyles, they are not as leisurely as those who extol them would suggest, not to mention most dying somewhere in their early to mid thirties, which is hardly a ringing endorsement.)

The fallacy here is pretty obvious, yet often overlooked, as people want to believe there were some "Garden of Eden" conditions at one time. However, we can see how foolish it is if we just make a simple analogy. For example, let us imagine someone looking at South Africa and concluding diamonds must be pretty cheap around the world, since they are so abundant, and it just just be capitalism that makes them expensive. Or arguing from looking at the wheat belt that grain must be close to free since it is so abundant, and any famine or even high food costs must be the result of our system. You see, it is the same with modern hunter-gatherers, we are looking at an outlier, and unusual situation, and imagining it the rule, not the exception. Doing so is a terribly dangerous and foolish way to make economic decisions.

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