EDITORIAL
Introducing Paul Rosenberg: 'Production Versus Plunder'
By Paul Rosenberg - April 04, 2015

The Daily Bell is honored to present Paul Rosenberg's Production Versus Plunder as a weekly Saturday series. First, an introduction, from Paul …

I am greatly pleased to run Production Versus Plunder as a serial here at The Daily Bell. We'll post one section each week, running from beginning to end.

Production Versus Plunder is a history book, but I'm sure it's unlike any history book you've ever read. And I'm sure of that because I tried for decades to find a general history that made sense to me, and never found one.

I went to some of the best schools in my home town, got excellent test scores and, considering how much I hated school, secured some fairly decent grades. I was able to make sense of math, of science, and of more or less every subject but one: history. I was able to remember the dates and pass the tests, but it never made sense to me.

I could understand how math worked. I could verify it, test it and use it. To use an old '60s phrase, I could grok it. It was the same with science: I might have to work at it, but once I did, I could understand how the various materials and forces interacted; it made sense.

I could never get that from history. It was a jumble of disconnected facts and unsupported theories. I was able to ignore the problem once I left school, but it stayed in the back on my mind. For decades I read all sorts of history books (good ones, bad ones, crazy ones), trying to make sense of the subject. I spent a lot of time in museums. I absorbed a lot of data, but I still had no depth of understanding.

Finally, in the autumn of 2008, I had my breakthrough. The pieces finally came together and this book was written, at white heat, over a three-week period.

One thing I learned is that the history textbooks we received in school were political. They began with a mandate: That the past must be made to support the dominant cultural paradigm, or at least not make it look bad.

And that is precisely the wrong way to do history.

So, welcome to a history book that makes sense. Production Versus Plunder covers the civilizations of the West, from their earliest beginnings to the near future. I hope to revise it in 2016, to reflect new discoveries and my own increased knowledge, but there will be no change to the narrative: The story remains the same.

Welcome aboard,

Paul Rosenberg

Production Versus Plunder:

The Ancient War that Is Destroying the West

Chapter One: What Is Man?

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Psalms 8:4-5

It is an arrogance of modern man to think of himself as superior to his dim-witted and unimaginative ancestors. He is not. We are not. There have been no significant changes to the human species in 30,000 years, and perhaps not in 100,000 years. Our images of grunting cavemen are self-flattering nonsense. We are them; they were us.

Yes, our current style of living is far more advanced than that of our distant ancestors, but only because they – slowly and with great struggle – were able to create our current mode of living on earth, and to pass it down successfully to us. Hundreds of generations of men and women labored and suffered to bring us to where we are now. It was not magic and it was not because we deserved it; it is only because of their benefaction. They lived in dark times, fighting toward whatever bits of light they could find – opposed by other men nearly the entire time – and they scratched through enough thorns, weeds and underbrush to bring humanity to where we find ourselves now. We have no right to insult them and to devalue them. It is cheap, and it is false.

AN ANCIENT SUPERIORITY

While we presently lead far more advanced lives than any of the ancients, there is one aspect of ancient existence that was superior to ours, and that is self-image. The core of this is captured in one of our older texts, the book of Genesis. A passage in the second chapter reads:

The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but among them there was not found a helper suitable for him.

This passage points out the most obvious conclusion of men who live in direct contact with nature: Human superiority.

A great number of contemporary men, insulated from the world of nature, walk around with a highly-cultivated sense of inferiority and self-doubt. Our early ancestors did not bear these burdens; certainly not at the levels of modern, institutionalized man. Early man was immersed in nature, and there was absolutely nothing in nature that came remotely close to being his equal. Our ancestors knew for certain that they were superior to the animals. Nothing in the animal world could reason, could talk, could create. Some of them were friendly enough, some were useful and some were serious threats, but none was remotely man's equal.

The acknowledgement of superiority is a long-lost human trait, at least for most of us, and when it does appear, it is generally in a corrupted form, featuring a sadistic thirst for domination. We will examine modern self-loathing in a latter chapter, but for now it is worth noting that this original form of acknowledged superiority seems to have been universal (living in daily contact with nature, it couldn't be avoided) and it seems not to have been destructive. In fact, it probably empowered a good deal of human progress.

THE INPENETRABLE PAST

For the last half-million years, our planet has experienced a string of at least four ice ages. In each of them, a huge portion of the earth has been covered with ice and snow and the rest of the planet was much colder than it is now. And, in each case, the surface of the earth has been radically changed, wiping out much or all evidence of human life before the ice came. Millennia of moving glaciers, runoff, winds, rock falls, and other geological changes would almost certainly erase most traces of what had been before. We simply don't know what happened before the end of the last ice age in any detail. We don't know what humans built and we know little of how they lived during the ice ages.

It has been suggested1 that evolution and migrations through these four ice ages separated the races of men. This may well be true, but the theory has little support from evidence at the current time, and, given that glaciers, runoff and hundreds of millennia are not kind to artifacts, not much may be forthcoming.

The surprising thing about the ice ages is that they were very, very long. Warm periods, such as the one we now live in, are the exception. Most of the time, earth is half-frozen2. Look at the following graph of temperatures and ice volume and consider that the world is in its current state only at the peaks on the graph. These warm peaks, called "interglacials" have generally lasted in the range of 10,000-12,000 years, meaning that we may be approaching the end of a warm period and closing in on a new – and very long – glacial period.

The last ice age on earth ended at about 8000 B.C. In the years near that point, whatever humans that had survived the ice age began to spread out over the earth. We have little information on what these people did during the ice age. Since humans now and then are the same, we can carefully imagine ourselves in such a situation and guess how they would have behaved, but evidence is lacking.

The traditional view of early man is that he lived, almost universally, as a hunter-gatherer, and while it is certain that many groups of humans lived that way (and some still do), that may not be a fair generalization. A portion of the idea's popularity may come from the fact that it is a simple explanation and because it fits with our self-flattering opinion that we are different and better than our distant ancestors. It may be that men lived as hunter-gatherers (foragers, in more scientific terminology) for a hundred thousand years before they learned agriculture, but we do not know that for sure – the ice age would have wiped out a lot of evidence.

Nonetheless, we do find evidence of foragers previous to the end of the ice age and we don't find evidence of farming. So, we will stay with that model, given the caveat mentioned above.

During the times of foraging, most humans organized themselves in small clan groups, probably in the range of 20-50 people per group. This was probably a highly-functional type of grouping, and may have some sort of instinctive base as well, since human minds are very comfortable keeping fifty individuals clearly in mind, along with all of their abilities, needs and personal traits.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Inside the clan, decisions were generally made by informal consent, and clans cooperated with other friendly clans to form loose tribal associations. They also interacted violently with unfriendly clans. These were not mass wars as we know them, but they could be violent and deadly, generally being fought with stone axes, arrows and spears.

THE MINDS OF THE FORAGERS

The foragers thought the same thoughts we would think, if we were in the same situation they found themselves in, and if we found ourselves with the same small knowledge base they had. These people concerned themselves with the same things humans always have: How to escape fear, pain, and sorrow. How to increase security, pleasure, and joy. How to realize their dreams of something better. Beyond this, they needed to find some way to make peace with the hard areas of life:

  • Sickness and death
  • Existence itself
  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Helplessness

These factors, and certainly others, led to the first philosophies and religions. Religion is, after all, just a type of philosophy that focuses on what philosophers call metaphysics3. So, because these folks did not have a great deal of knowledge, their philosophies would have included a lot of conjecture on things they couldn't explain. Having the faculty of imagination, they would have exercised it at some length, seeking clever answers to their questions. And, over time, the best and most entertaining of such imaginings turn into myths.

These early religious myths tended to focus on imaginary beings and powers that lay behind nature. This could have begun in ways as 'modern' as saying "The principle of the sun, which we do not yet understand," rather than saying "the Sun God," but, the simplest ideas are the ones that tend to stick, and the Sun God would have quickly displaced more scientific explanations.

HOW MANY?

There were very few humans on the planet at the end of the last ice age, and the available areas for living were as large as they are now. This meant that any group of humans would be almost entirely isolated from all other groups. This made the transfer of information slow and uncommon.

The US Census Bureau produces a report called Historical Estimates of World Population. According to this document, there were only about five million human beings on earth at the end of the last ice age. That is less than one-thousandth of the current world population, spread over the same area. (And the earth is mostly empty space even now.) Imagine every human being on the earth wiped out, save only those in the city of Baghdad, and then scattering these survivors all over the earth. That was precisely the condition at the end of the ice age. Humans were very few and widely scattered.

Aside from speech, which is not especially accurate over time, functional methods of transferring information barely existed – presuming that you found a group that you wanted to share information with. If you wanted information to last, you carved it into stone. So, not a lot of information was retained and shared.

YEAR POPULATION (millions)

10,000 BC………………………………………. 5

8,000 BC………………………………………… 5

6,500 BC………………………………………… 7

5,000 BC………………………………………… 8

4,000 BC………………………………………..10

3,000 BC………………………………………..14

2,000 BC………………………………………..27

1,000 BC………………………………………..50

500 BC…………………………………………100

1 AD…………………………………………….200

200 AD…………………………………………230

400 AD…………………………………………220

600 AD…………………………………………200

800 AD…………………………………………220

1000 AD……………………………………….300

1200 AD……………………………………….400

1400 AD……………………………………….350

1600 AD……………………………………….500

1800 AD…………………………………….1,000

2000 AD…………………………………… 5,000+

The result of this incredibly low population density was not only that information traveled slowly, but that groups of humans were generally unopposed by other human beings. This lead to development without much stress from the outside. Once a group of humans found a way of life that worked for them, they could develop it among themselves with very little exterior pressure. Bear in mind that the greatest obstacle for productive men has always been other men. That was much less the case at a time when there was almost no one else around. This allowed ideas to develop without what we might call "natural enemies."

THE INVENTION OF COOPERATION & HARMONY

It is not entirely natural for humans to get along. We tend, naturally, to favor those who are most closely related to us (with whom we share more DNA) and we have usually existed in conditions of scarcity, which has often-enough led to competition. Imagine two separate groups of foragers, attempting to gather food from the same forest: They would – based solely upon animal-level instincts – dispute whose food it was, which would lead to aggressive and perhaps violent behavior. This is common in our times and would have been no less in the past, at least where groups of humans pressed upon each other. In such conditions, human instincts are very similar to those of animals, and they push us to act as animals do – to defend, to attempt dominance, to show status, and so on.

However, as we have said before, we are not merely animals, and we can override instinctive impulse with reason. Specifically, we can imagine better ways of handling problems, or remember how they were handled in the past – in ways that were superior to mere instinct, which leads to injury and death, possibly in great numbers4.

Most importantly, we can override our instincts. We can control them.

We have learned to recognize when impulses strike us and to restrain them before thoughtless actions are taken. We interrupt the instinct and introduce into that moment a command to take a better, more rational course of action. Our ancestors knew, just as we do, that envy, greed, fear, and impulsive actions can cause great harm. They learned to monitor their own thoughts with vigilance and to maintain harmony, against some of their instincts.

Humans created cooperation and harmony – we were not born into it in some mythical past.

This is the foundation of human progress and it began no later than the end of the last ice age, at about 8,000 B.C.

Notes:

1See The Evolution of Civilizations, by Carroll Quigley, published by Liberty Tree.

2In the last ice age, what are now Indianapolis and St. Louis were covered with glaciers – the same as Greenland's current state. Even the areas where soil was exposed were much colder than they are now.

3Metaphysics asks, "What is the nature of existence?" and it tends to ask questions about what might exist beyond our sight and analysis.

4Killing unprotected humans is not a particularly difficult thing. In ancient times it was generally accomplished with a stone ax or with a mace. Any healthy, post-adolescent male can kill with a mace-blow to the head, and even a small ax wielded by a child could kill in the days before antiseptics.

* * * * *

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