THE INVENTION OF THE SERF
or HOW WE ALL BECAME SERFS and the upper 001% became FEUDAL LORDS!<==== BACK TO ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ' HOME PAGE & ARCHIVE.
Contributed/ written by a Knowledgeable Brit,
*Alfred Douglas of Rye, Sussex, England who writes:
WHEN in ancient times could the SUPER RICH, the Dukes, Kings, the LEADERS have emerged? How did they just set themselves up on top? How did just a FEW ALPHA MALES step forward from the huddled masses and DISTINGUISH themselves sufficiently to seize control of the minds of the others, to the point of taxing and enslaving them? What kind of conditions would it take to make an agrarian tribe or village SOCIETY fall in line behind one GREEDY man? Was he some kind of super snake oil salesman? A priest? A super cop? Was our mind invaded and exploited by someone? Dr. Erich Fromm says we were. THE EXPLOITED MIND is something you want to read. It's online, so it's a freebie.
Being enslaved and taxed. Convinced you were a peasant and this other guy was a blue blood. Has that happened to you? We think so because at some point in your family's ancient history, a grandparent made that mental shift and the egalitarian, tribal village shifted to an inequal playing field. We know that around 10,000 BC, after the last Ice Age came to an end, farming was invented. (See Catal Huyuk, at bottom of this paragraph, a village in Turkey dating back that far.) Before that 10,000 BC date, humans were hunter-gatherers, constantly on the move through snow in search of game. Kind of like American Indians, landless families roaming with caves, tents or temporary shelters. Screen the film QUEST FOR FIRE for your family. It depicts a small clan of cavemen running around a cold, cold world. Right around 10,000 BC the TURKS made their own caves, digging whole communities into the ground.
As the ice retreated, areas supporting plants and animals expanded, making life easier for the hunter-gatherers and inviting FARMING. Women were of more use, they now had something to do. Mankind cooperated to achieve power over the harvest. In the old days, men came home tired from hunting or froze out on the slopes. Now he was home every night. Warm weather, lots of sweet, starchy baked tubers. Calories to spare so there could be a rapid rise in human populations. This marked the transition from the hunter gatherer male to the farmer male who had a female sidekick. When men left off eating freshly caught meat and hung around a woman growing corn, suddenly these females -- previously not needed on the hunt, only kept for a night or two, then abandoned. ---became co-tenants on a farm. The girl became a veritable Jack of All trades. Hot meals three times a day. Hot Sex. She produced artisanry which a fellow could trade for stuff he'd never seen or had before, much of it imported items. She could also make decent boots and cloth and clothing herself. She had a gift for dealing with the domestic livestock and at seed planting? None better. So the man was tempted to use her for longer than a single night when he was in town. Now, the downside was, she gave you babies and claimed they were YOURS. Those kids were noisy and under foot, but were quite cute at times and the male began to love them so now, he thought of leaving them the farm acreage when he checked out. Wives, children, artisanry, domestic livestock, PROPERTY and planning your Last Will and Testament all spelled doom for the roaming male hunter. It turned him into a citizen. Previously independent, now he was owned by the very landscape he'd previously roamed freely. He'd settled down. Or, just say it this way. He'd settled.
In the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, in Northern China, and in northern India, people began to experiment with gathering seeds to plant and grow into foodstuffs. They found that so much of the scenery was edible! They domesticated the wolf who made a great sentry and animal herder so now they could have corrals of fat, edible, useful animals and live in a hut built to last. They wouldn't have to move around so much and could rear more children. Settled communities arose with permanent houses, barns, ovens for cooking meat and baking bread, for firing pottery for cooking or storage, and surpluses of food and artisanry that could be traded with other communities. And just beyond the village, a fenced herd of sheep, goats, cows called the COMMONS.
At first, the villagers shared THE COMMONS. Sadly, later when a few villages rose to have power and minted coins, they would seize it leaving the poor citizens to pay coins for someone else's butchered meat..
But for this golden moment in time, surpluses of land, livestock, grain fields, food and artisanry meant that a non-hunting, non plowing class could be supported for the first time. Walk around the marketplace with your product in hand, see if anybody wants to trade something that YOU needed. In the old days Hunter-gatherers couldn't hang out with chums at the market. It was every man for himself vis a vis fast running deer. Everyone had to keep moving the tent so they could hunt and gather to survive. But a prosperous village could produce enough of everything to keep a leisure class fat and happy. Maybe too fat. Hunters actually had twice the life span of these new fangled townspeople.
SOMEHOW some of the fat villages survived their rich diet and stayed hunters in their ethos. These type A's or Alpha males were wily and became richer than the rest. Their wives were better artisans, created capitalistic trade. These men leased their fields, opened a forge, minted coins of tin, copper, brass, silver and gold. Who were these kopek-forging people? And how could they argue that everyone else should fall in line with the little coins and use them? And once seduced by the need for kopeks, get everybody to fall in line behind Mr Big? WHO AND HOW doesn't matter; there always were a few males with adrenalin and a permanent light bulb over their head who'll become top merchants, bankers, traders. Next stop, there WAS the military and the concept of war for plunder. The CHIEFTAIN in charge could convince the men who were good at handling a spear that "Look, everything's going well, but those people over the hill might come over some night and steal everything you've worked hard to build up. But we're good with spears so we could be out every night patrolling to make sure this doesn't happen, and I'll pay you ten kopeks a night if you are on patrol and if you are ever attacked we'll fight them off.
Young Men especially, preening for the girls, would love to join the ten kopek club when it was described that way. The blowback of course would be you've sadly trained the bored boys and male villagers to murder other humans!. You'd have trained them to bring home fallen warriors as slaves so that everybody could whip their cooks and garden workers and turn off their hearts and not have to plow fields anymore.
So when guilt and moral degeneration set in, the priests could stand up at public meeting and say, "I'm personally aquainted with the Gods on our Totem pole and they say that if you do this mantra any PTSD or guilt will go away. And if you give the Gods some sacrifices at our local temple they'll help you be rich. Let's trade favors. Salary ME too! The real Reason, you're doing well in your war right now, is because we priests intercede with the gods who favour you not only in battle but by giving you fertile soil and rain and sun at the right seasons, but give you beautiful children. Seriously, what if all that were to stop? Ruin, that's what. If it weren't for our moral teachings, your daughters would be in haystacks three villages away! Now we priests are the experts in talking to the gods and making sure they stay on our side by making the right sacrifices. But it's a complicated business and needs to be done right. Placating the gods is a full time job, so we can't spend our days out in the fields. But if you provide us with temples and jeweled robes and podiums to give our lectures...?
The last cherry on the sundae is the bureaucrats as every time a man would step forward and say "All of us villagers can't spend our time in the fields planting and reaping the harvest and have time left over to make war as well. Let us organize the work agenda through City Hall. First we need chain gangs. With laws we get law breakers and we'll have scum paving the streets. Then, Mr. King, appoint me your tax collector, accessor, road maker, hospital builder and call me a MAYOR. After all, our village is not going to organise itself without slaves and overseers, is it? You need cops, firemen and a strong politician in charge (such as me) to organise everything properly. And I'll need a team who can count, to work out what everyone is producing and tax them accordingly, to pay for the army and the roads and hospitals and the priesthood. Shall we call it a 'civil service'? " And once we had Kings, Generals and Bureaucrats, the die was cast. We've gone downhill ever since."
Read Will Durant on the evolving morality and mind-set of the earliest pre-historical peoples in "Our ORIENTAL HERITAGE." The riveting, first four chapters treat formation of the city, marriage, monogamy vs. polygamy, the treatment of women, their slavery, the slaves of wars, the evolution of hunter economies into agrarian and artisan villages, how elitism began and through them, and formation of capitalism -- Durant's intuitions are mind blowing. This is the first of 11 books encompassing all human history though not modern times.
The books are available used from abebooks.com. My copy cost me a dollar, shipping was extra. Or hit the local used book store, get the whole set of 11 books. See "HOW TO ORDER VERY CHEAPLY"
Study the early communities online.
THE FIRST AGRARIAN PEOPLES in 7000 BC "CATAL HUYUK"
The largest Neolithic village in the Near East was Catal Huyuk, founded
7,000 BC in central Anatolia.(now TURKEY) See it reproduced at
These houses are underground. The ladder gets you to surface. This colony had wide-ranging trade networks, outstanding wall paintings, shrines, figurines, craftsmanship generally. But life expectancy was an average of 34 for men, 29 for women, with a high incidence of the diseases of too much continual food: arthritis, and other back and joint problems resulting from lives of hard physical labour, farming, animal tending. "He who has soil will toil." said Yogi Bhajan. But some of these ancient farmers lived to be over 60. The hunter-gatherers with frequent fasting between kills had been much fitter and lived a lot longer, but that way of life was no longer an option.
Today, Catal Huyuk is near the site of a vast American airbase in the modern country of Turkey. The airbase was built to defend the 'Free World' against Soviet Russia. The Soviet Union is gone but the airbase is still there. There might be a moral in there somewhere.
An ONLINE writer said: "I went to that web site, looked at this unusual village, was surprised to see houses were UNDERGROUND, shoulder to shoulder, no space between at all, the entire village was like a hidden ANTHILL. No wall had a window, no hole, no door in any house. There was a single hole in the roof, for smoke to emerge. An oddly structured diagonal "ladder" led to this blow hole in the rooftop thru which the entire family could enter or leave. The homes were beautiful, spacious, as modern as a Beverly Hills minimalist architect could do. Just look at the reconstructions archaeologists made from the ruins. Now, If an enemy came, he wouldn't see the village at all! As it was entirely underground! If they heard pirates were heading toward their coastline, or scouts saw brigands were near, all they had to do was put out their cooking fires, the beautiful fireplace in each home....put a lid on it. and they were invisible. Their village was back to mother nature in minutes, as if a forest clearing. Seeing how they lived in 7,000 BC one might realize that most certainly we have been dumbed down.
So, It is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Time to use the tools of the 21st century and build your own CATAL HUYUK l00 miles from your home, along with ten other families. Stop being a patsy, an exploited SERF. We must become hunters, gatherers, farmers, activists and vigilantes, able to cope with the rural life and maintain a pied a terre in the city to meet our marketplace needs. For that is where we gather kopeks with dharmic employment, righteous products that we created on long winter nights in our Wigwam, sold INTERNATIONALLY on the INTERNET.
CHRIS HEDGES TELLS US HOW WE ARE ALL BECOMING SERFS.
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