Saturday, November 30, 2019

Premodern To Post Modern Society Essays - Economic Systems, Foraging

Premodern To Post Modern Society Western liberal scholars have divided human history into three phases: the premodern, the modern and the post modern. Each phase has no definite end, rather they layer on top of each. For example, a thoroughly post modern society has elements of premodern and modern in it. There is no one exact time when the premodern ended and the modern began: each society reached them differently. Western Europe entered the modern era in the sixteen hundreds while the rest of the world was still premodern. Even now, most industrialized countries are post modern, yet most of the Third World is modern or even premodern. The premodern phase spans a huge amount of time, from prehistory until the rise of modern institutions. The premodern can further be divided into two periods, before and after settled agriculture. Before a society adopts settled agriculture, they live of the land, hunting and gathering. The political organization of such groups is roughly like a wolf pack: there is a dominate leader figure (not necessarily male) that leads a more or less egalitarian community. An excellent example of hunter-gatherers is the Kung bushmen of the Kalahari dessert. The Kung live in small family groups in an extremely hostile environment yet they have adapted. Since they do not cultivate plants for food there is no point in owning a parcel of land. Each small tribe can support itself on it's surrounding land with resources to spare. Private ownership of land is unherad of. Since the technology of the Kung is rudimentary, everyone in the tribe has the same skills at manufacturing as everyone else. If one m ember of the tribe wishes to make a loincloth, he simply makes it himself, every member of the tribe can exactly this. There is no way to differentiate status, everyone has exactly the same skills. The division of labor between man and women is slight. Both take an active role in feeding the family; the man hunts while the woman gathers. Women and men are treated equally. Serious crime like murder or robbery are unheard of among the Kung. There is no reason to steal when every product can be made easily with the resources at hand. The only thing stealing would accomplish is isolation from the rest of the tribe. Also, there was very little in the way to steal. The Kung live in tune with nature, they use only a few simple tools such as digging sticks and spears. As the Kung all live in a close knit tribe stealing from one another is like stealing from a close friend. There is no faceless anonymity of the victim for the perpetrator. The thief knows and lives with the person who he is stealing from. Even if one individual committed a minor offense among the Kung, they themselves are not directly punished. Instead, there is a ritual to banish the demon who enter the perpetrators body and willed him to misbehave. There is no forced confinement or resentment. Societies such as the Kung were very small. Each person must forage or hunt for their food. To sustain a population of even a small amount of people the surrounding wilderness must be big enough to continually regenerate itself in the following years. This did not lead to a large population density as it takes large tracts of land to support people without going barren. This is why hunter gatherer groups are so small; the land cannot support many people in its present state. The Kung continue to survive by adapting to the land, instead of adapting the land to better suit their needs. If it suited them and they had the technology, the Kung could plow fields and build irrigation system to bring water into the dessert. The cost of this is huge labor output, yet the benefit is increased food production. With increased food production comes larger and larger populations. A small population is not the only disadvantage of hunter gatherers. Science and technology suffer in a tribal system s uch as the Kung. Gathering food and caring for children occupied the entire time. There were no dedicated scholars or scientists. Only with food surpluses reaped by settled agriculture could people

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