|2 Aug 2007 @ 18:42, by janos|
Article about human history and our history. For a Portuguese version of this, check [link]
The history of human beings is in the same continuum as the history of humanoids, which is in continuity with the history of primates, and so on until the first living being. But what is generally called “human history” is just the history of one culture: our culture. What’s the real name of our culture? We never gave it a name because we always called ourselves “humanity”. But the translation of every name that tribal people use to call themselves is also “humanity”. Every people call themselves humanity, and we are only one of those peoples.
Everything that exists only in our culture cannot be essential to humankind. To say that something is essential to our specie and that this is found only in our culture is a contradiction. So everything we create in our culture that doesn’t exist in any other culture may be essential to us, but it is not essential for humanity. Legal rights are not essential, martial law is not essential, literature is not essential, and so on…
The history of our specie is very recent if compared to the history of other primates and humanoids. But the history of our culture is still more recent, even if compared with the history of our specie alone. This history is marked with accumulation. We accumulate many times more people, things and problems than every other people in the past. Just one country can contain more people and than the whole human population of about 500 years ago.
Accumulate is a constant in our culture, and it cannot last forever. The accumulation demands many things: a completely different way of life, to which humans are not biologically adapted because they never experienced that before. Demands more and more control over nature and man because the natural tendency of accumulation is that it is temporary. To concentrate and maintain the surplus, it is needed a system of expanding control, a control each time more rigid, which also can’t last forever.
To mix evolution with the origin of our culture is always problematic. Certainly there is evolution involved in that, but it doesn’t mean that our culture is “more evolved” than any other. Such an affirmation is a mistake because evolution dos not create a hierarchy. It is not a ladder. There are no stages in evolution. All existent living beings e cultures are different results of evolution, but they are in all as much evolved as they could be. Extinction is not always for less evolved species or cultures. Extinction opens space for a change that is not necessarily for better. To know if something is an evolutionary success or failure you need a lot of time. Eve what is a resounding success can became a great failure in the future. Species are not getting better, they are getting different.
The histories of other cultures that had accumulation as fundament was always very short, what is not a good sign for us. It is very difficult to maintain a system that depends on each time more complexity. It is like making a castle of cards. Our culture demands each time more effort just to stay standing. We even know that this can’t go on forever, but we call that event “the end of the world”. Again the idea that we are humanity so the end of us can only mean the end of the world for humans, which is far from truth.
We tend to see what is out of our history as irrelevant. It like everything was a prelude to our history, everything happened so that we could exist. This belief in human destiny avoids any try of understand the human history as something natural.
Is there a solution to our culture? Can we change our future? The specialty of our culture is the accumulation, and accumulation is unsustainable, so we cannot save ourselves and our culture at the same time. We have to change to another culture. We can create a new culture as we created others. This will depend on each one of us, human beings immersed in this culture.