RE: Re[2]: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: mike99 (
Date: Sun Sep 15 2002 - 19:53:58 MDT

Cliff Stabbert wrote:
> m> Could you name some of these near-paradisiacal societies? I must
> m> have missed them.
> I could be wrong and I've only read some superficial texts on this,
> but my understanding is that classic Balinese culture would qualify
> (not sure about the near-paradisical part, but the non-scarcity-based
> part). Possibly also Eskimo society, and that of a few of the Native
> American tribes.
> Some claim that in broad strokes the distinction between "matriarchal"
> and "patriarchal" societies is what's relevant; some that there's a
> strong geographical component; some that the transition from
> hunter-gatherers to agricultural societies is most strongly implicated
> in moving towards hierarchical structures. I've recently been reading
> bits of James DeMeo's studies/theories on these issues and found them
> interesting:
> --
> Cliff

In terms of material abundance (if not "paradisiacality") Eskimo society is
clearly not included. Life in the arctic is and always has been extremely
harsh. Conditions were only a little better further south, where the Native
American (Amerind) tribes eked out a modest living between episodes of
warfare against neighboring tribes. (Although only adult males took part in
these raids, the women back at the tribe's camp were given the privilege of
torturing any captured enemies.)

In the South Pacific, the residents of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) seem to have
enjoyed material abundance and social peace for the first couple of
centuries after their Polynesian ancestors settled that remote island. Then:
"The population of Easter Island reached its peak at perhaps more than
10,000, far exceeding the capabilities of the small island's ecosystem.
Resources became scarce, and the once lush palm forests were destroyed -
cleared for agriculture and moving the massive stone Moai. In this regard,
Easter Island has become, for many, a metaphor for ecological disaster.
   Thereafter, a thriving and advanced social order began to decline into
bloody civil war and, evidently, cannibalism. Eventually, all of the Moai
standing along the coast were torn down by the islanders themselves. All of
the statues now erected around the island are the result of recent
archaeological efforts."

I have not been able to find enough information about Balinese history
amidst all the vacation web page "happy talk" (if you'll excuse a reference
to the old musical "South Pacific") but I suspect that neither during its
prehistoric period, nor during its time under Hindu influence, and certainly
not under the Dutch conquest, did Bali exist in a paradisiacal condition.
But that's just my guess.

As for James DeMeo's paper (available on a website with the Reichian name
"") I detect more than a few hints of weak scholarship. For
example, I am suspicious of DeMeo's claim that all areas outside those he
labeled "patrist" (patriarchal) were "matrist" (matriarchal, which is not
the same as matrilineal, the later meaning that inheritance is through the
maternal line). Among these supposedly matriarchal, gentle, non-militaristic
areas would then be the Aztec empire, which was notable for its constant
warfare and mass human sacrifices. (For a thorough scholarly examination of
matriarchy/patriarchy issues in anthropology, see "Why Men Rule: A Theory of
Male Dominance" by Steven Goldberg
which is summarized in a book review at If you
don't have the time to go to these links and/or read the book, here's the
summary version: There is no anthropological or archeological evidence from
any primary sources or field work to indicate that any society has ever been
ruled by women. Men are driven (probably hormonally) to rule. The few women
rulers have been notable because they are exceptions to an otherwise robust
statistical rule. And the way men rule is by competing with and defeating
other men, either civilly by elections and economic competition and
culturally earned prestige, or violently by warfare.

Finally, my Baloney Detector goes into the red zone when DeMeo's cited
sources of authority include M. Gimbutas, W. Reich and I. Velikovsky. None
of these pseudo-scholars has a shred of scientific credibility.

This brief historical tour serves to underline my point that we are unlikely
to significantly change human behavior en mass until we can transform
humanity en mass, which means transhuman transcendence mediated by our
technology which, I believe, will depend crucially on Friendly AI.

Michael LaTorra

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