Agriculture Is Imperialism

Agriculture is the basis for models of the primitive and imperial state. Plant-based diets cannot support even paleolithic human population levels without agriculture. Therefore, a plant-based diet is a fundamentally imperialist diet.

The agrarian has offered us a devil’s bargain. By inducing population levels unsustainable by our planet’s naturally ecology through industrial agriculture, they now offer to sell us back the same product on the basis of said artificially inflated population. Their solution to unsustainable population? Shocker, doubling-down with more industrial agriculture.

“In the fertile lands of the Unites States and Canada a saying grew up that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” because the Indian encumbered the land which the farmer needed for cultivation of crops, and the miner for his digging and delving. The Indian was in the way and had to go, for we could not let questions of mere humanitarianism and justice restrain us from taking posession of the valuable lands that the Indian had inherited from his ancestors. In the South, economic and humanitarian interests were diametrically opposed, and the economic had their way. In the North, economic and humanitarian interests happened to coincide. The northern land was valueless to the farmer, and the country was of value to the trading companies only in so far as it produced fur; and furs could best be secured by perpetuating the Indian and keeping him in possession of the lands, because dead men do not set traps. The only good Indian in the North was the live Indian who brought in fur to sell.” – Vilhjalmur Stefansson, My Life With the Eskimo, 1912

The agriculturalists are quick to proclaim that we can’t survive without them. They declare that we’re better off under their management. These are, of course, imperialist lies.

“Some have said seventy-five million bison were on the Plains at the time of first European contact… Many think thirty million is a reasonable compromise… It almost doesn’t matter. The point is that… there were  tens of millions of buffalo, which means there was plenty to go around, especially for hunters on foot and armed with simple hunting weapons. There is no evidence that Aboriginal hunting of bison, over at least twelve thousand years, was making any serious dent in the population. On the contrary, evidence from the bones at many different sites of differing ages suggests that bison were certainly holding their own in terms of numbers, if not actually becoming more numerous through time.” – Jack W. Brink, PhD. Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains, 2008

Context: An average bison may yield 500 lbs. of meat after butchery. 500 lbs * 75 million = 37.5 billion pounds of meat. Assuming a 300 million population (roughly the current U.S. population), that equates to 125 pounds of bison for every individual in the U.S. at historic bison population. Obviously you can’t eat them all at once; this is just to provide some context. And… that’s just one species. How well did you say land management through barbed wire and farm agriculture are working again?

The agriculturalist has decimated the natural animal habitat of our planet. They have plowed grassland ecosystems naturally balanced with wildlife and offered us deserts and fossil fuel thirsty crops engineered on the barren lands of their parasitic tendencies. They have replaced the the equilibrium of an ecosystem in which we once thrived with mass extinction through mass extraction. Do not let the time that separates us from the agrarian subsumption of so many ecosystems serve as a chasm between us and the reality.

When speaking about the global ecology holistically, there is no such thing as sustainable agriculture. There are exceptions of course, agriculture ensures the sustainability of imperialist states. Agriculture ensures the sustainability of slavery — whether through slave labor, or its modern abstraction, wage slavery. Perhaps this is the sustainability we’re being promised by those offering agriculture as ne plus ultra sustainability.

The premise of all empires is that the backwards, uncivilized, primitives (read: the other) would be better off under the helpful guidance of their enlightenment. Despite a history of hunter-gatherers resisting assimilation by the state and its coercion, we’re told that those not blessed by our agrarian nightmare will be happy to subsist with the best of what industrial agriculture can provide. Forget that this claim has been demonstrated to be false time and again. The American Dream of unbridled consumption as a birthright is an illusion bearing the gift of an 80 hour workweek, alienation, and atomization. The dream is an easy sell, because we’re biologically driven to show off, but that impulse is a hollow replacement for living a vibrant life and demonstrating personality.

If you want less factory farmed meat, I have a solution: get the corn, soy, and wheat farms out of natural bison habitat. Of course, this is but one example.

And… for the sake of sustainability… I hereby forsake corn, soy, and wheat consumption… a practice not possible without fossil fuel agriculture and the GMO gestapo. Sustainability, you’re welcome.

Agriculture isn’t going away any time soon, but agrarians would do well to engage in some hard thinking on the full implications of their ideology. It’s certain that many veg*ns are unintentional imperialists — lulled by a life mediated by spectacular capital and swept away by its promises. It’s important to see its adherents as individuals, but ultimately: Veg*nism is imperialism. Drop the facade; self-righteousness doesn’t look good on imperialists.

And if you think hunters do not revere the animals that provide them with sustenance, you ain’t got no soul (in the James Brown sense). Try getting some via my recent post on life in ANWR, Robb Wolf on Discovery, The Wild Within on Travel Channel, or the San bushmen in a persistence hunt…

If you don’t at least begin to get it after that, you don’t know soul and I’ll let you get back to your robotic existence of denying humanity.

50 Comments
  1. Neal Matheson 4 years ago

    Thank you for a rewarding read. Imagining head smashed in has been on my "to read" list for some time, I think I;ll ignore the price tag and get it now.
    I flew over the great plains for the first time this spring. I have never seen anything so utterly bleak in my whole life, endless squares of crops, I honestly couldn't think what it would be like to live there, what it would do to a person's mind.
    I think the sheer volume of life before agriculture is hard for modern people to understand herd of millions of animals. Maybe the (laughable) idea that cows are somehow responsible for greenhouse emissions through their farting comes from this .

  2. scott 4 years ago

    Wow, well done. Was this inspired by the NPR article? http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/10/27/14166665

    What do you mean by "atomization"?

    • Neal Matheson 4 years ago

      Is there any article written in a mainstream publication that has been anything other than condemning of the paleo diet?

      "Our ancestors began to eat meat in large quantities around 2 million years ago, when the first Homo forms began regular use of stone tool technology. Before that, the diet of australopithecines and their relatives was overwhelmingly plant-based, judging from clues in teeth and bones. I could argue that the more genuine "paleo" diet was vegetarian."

      hmmm? she could argue that if she wanted to be wrong. Straw men, common sense and conventional wisdom. Or as we say here "bollocks".

      • Galina L. 4 years ago

        I believe the same nutritionist tried to slap the "Paleo" leble on vegans BS diet during today Dr. Oz show http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/prehistoric-diet-p… . Just look what she recommends for a paleo-breakfast – a green smoothly. Beans and tofu as a protein source! It is just shameless! Why is that nobody is suddenly so popular? NPR invited her, and Dr. Oz.

        • Profile photo of Andrew
          Andrew 4 years ago

          This is exactly what we'd predict if agriculture had financial interests in these outlets. Just watch the commercials on Dr. Oz's show, it's not even a conspiracy theory at that point.

        • Neal Matheson 4 years ago

          unbelievable!
          fruit smoothies for paleo breakfast.

    • MadBiker 4 years ago

      Atomization refers to the increasingly solitary and isolated lives we're living. No more communities, no closeness. And as social beasts, we need positive, communal interactions with each other.

      • Profile photo of Andrew
        Andrew 4 years ago

        Scott, this explains atomization as I intended it.

        Thanks, MB

      • scott 4 years ago

        Thanks!

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      This wasn't inspired by the article per se, but it was motivated by the annoyingly weak arguments made to me by vegans in the aftermath.

  3. MadBiker 4 years ago

    Andrew, this may be one of your most impassioned posts yet. Thank you for it, it sums up some ideas and thoughts with which I've been wrestling for some time.

    I especially liked this sentence: "The premise of all empires is that the backwards, uncivilized, primitives (read: the other) would be better off under the helpful guidance of their enlightenment."

    This goes for any empire, whether in the literal sense or in the sense of movements or -isms which seek to train or retrain minds to think in their particular way (I'm thinking feminism here, but that's personal for me as a somewhat traditional woman who thinks liberal feminism is toxic).

    Agriculture is not going anywhere, but do you see a tipping point in the future? This has tremendous implications for humanity, some good and some bad. Will it be a cataclysmic collapse or a more gradual shift?

    My situation is, luckily, one where I do not work outside of the home (for now). I find liberation not in having a career outside of the home, but in the home. My garden (oops! I'm an agriculturalist I guess) provides veggies for my family and we hunt and fish for about 80% of our meat. I'm through with keepingupwiththeJonesesasmylifespurpose. But not many people understand it on the deep level at which I practice it. I know that, certainly, no one outside of my small family would willingly adopt these practices.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      I don't see a tipping point for agriculture per se. I do think the opportunity exists to push industrial agriculture over a cliff.

  4. JasonSeib 4 years ago

    You see, this is what we have come to expect from you. Hard hitting points delivered razor sharp. Nice work, my friend.

  5. PaleoDavid 4 years ago

    Well said.

  6. pieter d 4 years ago

    I've seen that persistance hunt many times, but the end puts shivers down the spine, everytime. What a contrast with most people who buy meat in a plastic wrap and don't want to think about the animal it once was. Great post.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Thanks, Pieter. Did you see the iCaveman show that Robb was in? There are some similarly powerful moments in there. The Wild Within has a few as well.

      • pieter d 4 years ago

        Yeah, I saw Robb in action. Powerful emotions indeed. By the way, that persistance hunt is unbelievable in it's totality: the physical performance and especially the tracking skills!

        • Emily Deans 4 years ago

          I thought icaveman would be so silly – and yet there was that moment, with the shivering and starved tribe waiting. You get it or you don't.

  7. Ben Fury 4 years ago

    Hi Andrew!

    Excellent post!!

    I'm curious as to what a sustainable post-industrial agriculture economy might look like. What kind of population density is truly sustainable? I've heard figures bandied about from 200 Million up to 1 Billion, but am unaware of any primary research to support these statements.

    Your take on this? Any references I can go read?

    Curious,
    Ben

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      Thanks, Ben. I don't know what kind of data exists on that question. It would vary depending on the mix of hunter-gatherers and agriculture. Managed permaculture farms seem to produce at rates equal to or greater than current industrial farming, and with a superior claim to sustainability. I have ethical issues with turning the planet into a managed permaculture farm in terms of land rights, and it doesn't alleviate the aforementioned political problems with agriculture.

      It's also a question of transition across time. It would take quite some time for animal populations to return to levels prior to the installation of walls and fences across the planet.

  8. John F. 4 years ago

    Andrew, this is very good! Agriculture has indeed been "the worst mistake in the history of the human race." (See Jared Diamond's article by that name.) It is really *the* issue we must confront. Yet recognition of that fact remains pitifully lacking. Thanks for trying to make a dent. Here was my own effort:
    http://www.canyoncountryzephyr.com/newzephyr/augu

    Glad I followed a link here and discovered this site. :)

  9. John F. 4 years ago

    Andrew, this is very good! Agriculture has indeed been "the worst mistake in the history of the human race." (See Jared Diamond's article by that name.) It is really *the* issue we must confront. Yet recognition of that fact remains pitifully lacking. Thanks for trying to make a dent. Here was my own effort:

    http://www.canyoncountryzephyr.com/newzephyr/augu

    Glad I followed a link here and discovered this site. :)

  10. gabriel 4 years ago

    1. Without factory farming, a lot of the people in the world would go hungry. Namely those in cities. Are you advocating reduced population levels via starvation?

    2. The mega fauna of prehistoric America very well could have died off due to over hunting, as well with the Mastadon, and the mega fauna of Polynesian New Zealand. Stop with your simplistic primitive = good modern = bad dichotomies.

    3. MANY hunter gatherer tribes subsist today, and quite healthily, on high carbohydrate, low protein, plant based diets. Most reside in equatorial climes, however.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      1. First off, it's a complete fallacy to claim that there is a food shortage in the world. It is absolutely an issue of control and allocation of resources. Also, it's a smokescreen to claim that people are just going to start dropping like flies without imperialist agriculture. Resource availability acts as a check on reproduction over time. In resource depleted environments, humans tend to become infertile. We see this today in populations like marathon runners who stop menstruating because of their training and body composition.

      Translation: the population doesn't just shrink by people keeling over, but also by decreases in the reproductive rate.

      2. That's a theory that's highly disputed. And… Stating facts can't be a dichotomy. Agriculture is the basis of imperialist states and authoritarian coercion across history. Deal with it.

      3. Most hunter-gatherer tribes are relegated to areas of relative resource depletion. This directly relates to the Stefansson quote above. And no, there certainly aren't "MANY" who are hunter-gatherers AT ALL. The fraction who subsist on high-carb, low-protein are probably zero. Even the Kitavans consume around 10% of their calories via protien. Of course, "low" is relative, but that's higher than the 8% recommendations coming from some folks.

      Example: At my height and weight, the USDA recommends I consume 233.5 grams of protein per day, and 3,355 total calories. That works out to be <7% of calories from proteint. So… Even the Kitavans aren't low-protein comparatively.

  11. Galina L 4 years ago

    We pretend to be rich. It is forbidden in our neighborhood to air-dry laundry in a way, that somebody may see it.It is more respectable to use a dryer. No one is allowed to keep any livestock. So many people in America own a house and so little keep a goat or chicken to graze on that damn grass and eat kitchen waist. It would be practical to feed some pigs with restaurant leftovers, but nobody is doing it. Pigs and chicken smell. It is better to let the middle of the country smell, while we continue our refine lifestyle. Before accusing somebody in the infusing starvation, look at our artificial life first!

  12. gabriel 4 years ago

    I can tell that nothing I can say will make a 'tight enough argument for you'. As far as false dichotomies, try agriculture=imperialism, hunting and gathering=freedom from imperialism. That should fit the bill nicely. If there is no need to choose between paleo and neo, then why attack people who choose to eat from agriculture?

    I like how you reduced Zerzan, when his writings demonstrate a 'tightness' leagues above your own.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      I rather enjoy discussions in which I disagree with someone who makes good points. It makes me sad that your arguments weren't better.

      Your last sentence is a microcosm of why you're far from the "science" you claim to employ. An (1) unsubstantiated (2) unreferenced (3) generalization (4) of untested hypotheses (5) by a philosopher not purporting to make scientific claims.

      Perhaps most strangely, Zerzan's work is closer to what I've written here than anything you're suggesting. So… go read Zerzan again, and maybe you'll get what I'm saying.

      • John F. 4 years ago

        Andrew, I think I have a previous comment stuck in moderation.

        Yeah, I highly recommend John Zerzan’s “Agriculture: Demon Engine of Civilization.” I’m quite sure he completely agrees with this piece you’ve written.

        Also, Martin’s “overkill” hypothesis was dealt a new blow this year when evidence emerged that humans had been in North America for at least a couple thousand years *before* the megafauna die-off here. So, as I understand it, there is no more coincidence in time to support the hypothesis for North America.

        Nor does it stand up well, IMO, to simple logic. In his Endgame: Vol. II, Derrick Jensen quotes a passage for a paper by anthropologist Eugene S. Hunn, providing solid reasons why the overkill hypothesis just doesn’t make sense. (Google “pleistocene overkill. this beast, like dracula,” to find it posted on the web.)

        • Profile photo of Andrew
          Andrew 4 years ago

          Thanks, John.

          Yeah, I've read enough of the overkill stuff in passing to know that it's contested, but haven't looked into it specifically. Thanks for fleshing it out a bit and giving us some names to look for.

          Oh, I rescued your other comment. Not sure why it got flagged by the algorithm.

          • John F. 4 years ago

            I think it's also worth mentioning that even if the overkill hypothesis were to turn out to be right, the number of extinctions it would have caused absolutely pales in comparison to what we've caused since agriculture. The current Sixth Mass Extinction (or a highly accelerated phase of it) is traced straight back to the advent of agriculture. See Niles Eldredge's article, "The Sixth Extinction."

            (Probably the comment got snagged due to its containing a link plus me being a first time commenter here… or something like that.)

          • J. Stanton 4 years ago

            I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading pro/anti-overkill books and arguments, and can perhaps offer some insight.

            People arriving pre-Clovis doesn’t destroy the overkill hypothesis unless you believe that all hunter-gatherer cultures were, and are, exactly the same. That’s the same mistake the “everything before agriculture was savagery” people make.

            As far as the geography and climatology is currently understood, it was impossible to get from Beringia to the continental US via land before c.12,000 BP, due to glaciers. The opening of an interior land passage through modern-day Canada is the timing of the Clovis migration, whose signs are abundant, and whose spread coincides with the megafaunal extinction in America.

            Due to glaciers, previous migration(s) to the ConUS could not have come over land: they must have come around the coast on boats, or (a longer shot) blown in from Polynesia. This would have been a long voyage either way…so any previous migration would have been a very small founding population from a seafaring culture, which would have been inclined to settle the Pleistocene coastline (now under perhaps 200 feet of water). Thus the lack of archaeological remains, the lack of megafaunal hunting, and the lack of megafaunal extinctions until the mammoth-hunting Clovis culture showed up.

            JS

          • John F. 4 years ago

            Yeah, you're right for sure that it doesn't destroy the hypothesis. I doubt anything will for the time being. It does put a dent in it, though, since the correlation between the time of first human arrival and megafauna die-off has always been one of the key elements of the overkill argument. Without it as the general rule I don't think there would be any overkill hypothesis.

            And really, overkill advocates seem guilty of the very thing you describe. Ignore this one new exception, which didn't exist when the theory was developed, and you could say they see all hunter-gatherer societies as exactly the same.

            Heh, so maybe because it weakens that kind of thinking, the evidence of earlier North Americans makes the hypothesis *stronger*. 😉 Don't think so though.

            I'm sure the debate will go on. Personally, I find the overkill hypothesis "civilization-centric" in feel. It violates much of what we know of hunter-gatherer societies. I find the arguments of people like Eugene Hunn and David Meltzer ("First Peoples in a New World") and Grayson more compelling. As Hunn says concerning hunter-gatherers, "Hunters who prefer killing and persist in killing until the last animal is gone exist only in the tortured imaginations of misanthropic scholars."

          • J. Stanton 4 years ago

            Meltzer ("First Peoples In A New World") is so full of transparently obvious baloney that I had to restrain myself from throwing it across the room — and I hadn't even read "Twilight of the Mammoths" yet! (In fact, I read it partially as a reaction to Meltzer's blatantly irrational bias against Shepard.)

            Just for example, I quote: ""Here was a high-ranked resource [bison] that could be dispatched at relatively low risk…" Bison are low-risk prey? Has Meltzer ever seen bison? According to him, Paleoindians were capable of driving a 1.5 ton animal of "wild and ungovernable temper", with sharp horns, capable of running at 40 MPH, that travels in giant herds and is prone to stampedes, into extinction — but they were incapable of killing solitary and largely immobile ground sloths?

            The rest of his case against Shepard is of similar quality. I was so offended by his terrible "scholarship" that I took notes and wrote a rebuttal — and, again, this was before I'd even read Shepard!

            The reason archaeologists are publicly opposed to overkill is purely political: it makes Indian tribal elders extremely grumpy when you tell them that their distant ancestors killed off far more species than the white man. Since most archaeology in the USA takes place on tribal land, this means "no more fieldwork opportunities for YOU".

            JS

          • John F. 4 years ago

            Shepard? I assume you mean Martin.

            Well, I guess we'll just have to disagree. Could I quibble with some of what Meltzer says? Of course. There's speculation and assumption involved in the topic, so… But I think he makes some excellent points, as do others.

            At any rate, anthropologists and others have not settled the debate, and neither will we, regardless of how sure you feel about it.

            "it makes Indian tribal elders extremely grumpy when you tell them that their distant ancestors killed off far more species than the white man."

            Well, on that, I don't think there's a biologist or anthropologist who would agree with you that "their distant ancestors killed off far more species than the white man." The Sixth Extinction we're in today tells the story.

  13. gabriel 4 years ago

    1. First off, it's a complete fallacy to claim that there is a food shortage in the world.

    I never said there was a food shortage. Only that if everyone wanted to eat a diet of free range organic meat and heirloom vegetables, a food shortage would appear.

    2. That's a theory that's highly disputed. And… Stating facts can't be a dichotomy. Agriculture is the basis of imperialist states and authoritarian coercion across history. Deal with it.

    Have you read the writings of John Zerzan? He points to not only agriculture but concepts of time, language, art, music, and symbolic thought (all beginning before the neolithic) as the sources of oppression. You remind me of a preacher except instead of SATAN! you cry AGRICULTURE! Simplistic, myopic thinking.

    Just because it is highly disputed doesn't make it false. This is science remember. They just overturned all of Einstein's work when they found out it is possible to break the speed of light.

    3. Most hunter-gatherer tribes are relegated to areas of relative resource depletion.

    So? The people of New Guinea have been living off tubers and the occasional pig for a LONG time. Like it or not, more calories can be derived from acreage when plants are grown than when meat is raised. If you want to demonize farming then why not demonize factory farming, then why not demonize factories of any sort at all? Imperialist? Try the apple computer you post from.

    "This directly relates to the Stefansson quote above. And no, there certainly aren't "MANY" who are hunter-gatherers AT ALL. The fraction who subsist on high-carb, low-protein are probably zero. Even the Kitavans consume around 10% of their calories via protien. Of course, "low" is relative, but that's higher than the 8% recommendations coming from some folks."

    What? The Kitavans are at around 80% of calories from carbs right? Sounds like a carb based diet to me.

    • Profile photo of Andrew
      Andrew 4 years ago

      "I never said there was a food shortage. Only that if everyone wanted to eat a diet of free range organic meat and heirloom vegetables, a food shortage would appear."

      No, you're changing your argument because it was weak in the first place. You said: "Without factory farming, a lot of the people in the world would go hungry."

      "Have you read the writings of John Zerzan?"

      Yes. While I agree with a lot of Zerzan's ideas, a lot off his work is based on outdated anthropology.

      And… He's pretty much just wrong on symbols and language. The recent work coming out of cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology provide better explanations than Johnny Z.

      "This is science remember. They just overturned all of Einstein's work when they found out it is possible to break the speed of light."

      Nothing you've said has been vaguely scientific. The recent "faster than light" hubbub is far from vindicated, and doesn't "overturn" anything even if it's confirmed.

      Your understanding of New Guinea anthro seems pretty superficial. I could go on about how most of them aren't foraging hunter-gatherers (but rather practice horticulture on fixed land with property rights in ways that demonstrate the rise of the primitive state as I've referred to it above), but you don't really seem interested in getting at the the truth as much as arguing..

      "more calories can be derived from acreage when plants are grown than when meat is raised"

      This is just a stupid argument. Life is more than calories or we'd all literally be living in The Matrix with glucose drips.

      Listen, you're just being tedious. You said low-protein and I provided context that basically debunks that point. High/low are relative and need context.

      I'm not a Luddite. There is no choice between everything modern and everything paleolithic. That's a ridiculous false dichotomy that you've introduced, but it's just in your mind.

      Maybe I'll just have to keep preaching until people with shallow analysis will get it.

      I don't use Apple computers. Too high in fructose.

      Tighten up your arguments or your next post might get lost in the mail.

      • SW 3 years ago

        Hi Andrew! Thanks a lot for your writing.

        I’m wondering if you could point out the (i)  anthropological publications you say outdate the anthropology Zerzan relies on and (ii) the cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology which provides better explanations on symbols and language than Zerzan’s. Thanks again. 

        • SW 3 years ago

          (I ask because like you, I find parts of his work compelling while others lacking. As a result, it’d be great to see what light some of these academic disciplines can shed on his theories.)

    • Neal Matheson 4 years ago

      I get tired of stating this, the Kitavans are not hunter gatherers neither are the Maori (who ate all the moa). Their diets are interesting but as dwellers on tropical/ warm temperate islands who grow cultivated foods they can tell us little about the ancestral (african) diets of Homo Sapiens.

      • Profile photo of Andrew
        Andrew 4 years ago

        The closest to hunter-gatherer classification for Kitavans (also Trobriands or Trobrianders in the literature) that might be argued is the "delayed return" flavor. They do some foraging, but as Neal points out, they also grow crops. They don't necessarily grow a lot of crops, but they do grow some. The key here is that they have fixed villages, hierarchies, and elaborate trade networks that preclude them from being casually referred to as hunter-gatherers in the traditional "immediate return" sense.

        Property Rights Dynamics and Indigenous Communities in Highland Kerala, South India: An Institutional-Historical Perspective

        Temperate climate aside, geographic isolation alone tends to force abandonment of HG lifestyle (immediate return). This is partially due to the lack of frontier and its effect on political decisionmaking, and the land rights that arise from the lack of frontier. Main causes of isolation are difficult terrain (for example: elevation), islands, or encroachment from agricultural or other delayed return societies.

        This is common of many societies in Melanesia (which includes New Guinea).

  14. js290 4 years ago

    [youtube mUe8SNvple4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUe8SNvple4 youtube]

  15. J. Stanton 4 years ago

    Excellent work tying some of the threads together, Andrew. Once we depend on accrued labor invested into fixed resources which can be easily destroyed or captured, exploitation of that accrued labor is more efficient than continuing it – and we become the victims of either extortion (government) or pillage (barbarians, other governments).

    Richard Manning’s “Against The Grain” ties together much of this scenario from a modern perspective.

    JS

    • Reader 4 years ago

      I love your blog, and you absolutely must read the book “1491”, both for pleasure and for edification.

      It turns out that the America seen by European settlers was a land of extreme abundance because the top predator had suffered a >90% die-off in the recent past. In most areas, European diseases preceded European observers by decades or more.

      The current professional understanding of the archeological and historical record of pre-Columbian America is startlingly different from the traditional conception.

  16. Erik 4 years ago

    Wow great post!

  17. Danielle Meitiv 4 years ago

    Forsake soy corn and wheat for the sake of the planet? Too late. I had to give them up b/c after being a vegetarian for 24+ years I now have allergies to all three – plus other gluten products, cow's milk and eggs (The only ones I miss are eggs, sigh).

    My body rebelled against ag-imperialism before my brain caught up but now we're/I'm all on the same page.

    Instead earlier this week I picked up 100 lbs of organic lamb and beef from Wagon Wheel Ranch, just 35 miles from my home. I live in the DC area so it is possible to get the good stuff close to major metro areas.

  18. Varda Epstein 2 years ago

    Okay, okay. So I'm imperialist. Far be it from me to argue.

  19. Israel Pickholtz 2 years ago

    Ban compost.

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