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Accurate Worldview

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Accurate Worldview Previous | Next

4_01, 4_02, 4_03, 4_05

To be updated!

Cultivate an accurate worldview via sustaining and adaptive practices, direct observation, cooperation, and communal memory.

Your society's survival is not guaranteed. Accept that you may go extinct. As only one member of a complex ecosystem, your knowledge and wisdom are limited, and your health and survival depend on your wild, non-human partners. Attempting to survive by attempting to control your environment is counterproductive and ultimately suicidal.

A society's success is not designed, it can only be proven over time by successful adaptation to catastrophic change.

1. Humans are animals, and we're not qualitatively different from other animals. Ants build huge agricultural societies with effective division of labor; birds make and use tools. We have no idea what other animals are thinking, but we’re equally ignorant of most of what goes on in our own brains. It’s okay, get over it!

2. Like certain other animals, humans habitually strive to dominate whatever ecosystem they inhabit. We develop technologies which extend our powers, ultimately leading to habitat destruction and population collapse. Since, like other animals, we’re mostly unaware of what we’re doing, these outcomes always take most of us by surprise. Dependence on technology has weakened us and left us ignorant and naive. Jared Diamond collected tons of data on these phenomena, but as a scientist, he's too deeply invested in a linear perception of time to recognize the cyclical pattern, and as a successful pundit, he's too deeply invested in our dominant institutions to accept their bankruptcy.

3. Humans are no more able to manage or shape their own evolution than other animals. Sorry, new agers - we’re not on the brink of a quantum leap in consciousness. It’s more like the other way around. The only way for us to avoid our habitual destructive tendencies is to adopt strict social controls on our behavior, so our neighbors can help keep us in line. And even then, there are no guarantees that we’ll succeed.

4. Humans are social animals, unable to thrive without community support and cooperation. Hence the health of the community is more important than the welfare of the individual. Sorry, libertarians – you should have paid more attention in biology class. A healthy community produces healthy individuals – not vice versa.

5. As animals, we get all of our basic physical needs from ecosystems. The complete workings of these systems are beyond our comprehension, but we can observe that the health of our habitat – its ability to provide for our needs – is dependent on the work of the uncountable other entities – from insects and birds to clouds and geological processes - which all work together with us in the cycles of productivity. The best we can do is strive to understand our part and do it well, and allow them to do their parts without trying to control or manage the ecosystem. Thus we need to tend our own small piece of land and leave the bulk of the habitat unmanaged or “wild.”

6. As with other animal communities, the highest priorities for a human community should be to provide a steady supply of healthy food and raise healthy children. The majority of active adults in a healthy community will be food providers. Such a community is led by the people who have direct experience and wisdom in these fundamental roles, not by a specialized “leader” class or by people in parasitic “meta-roles” like lawyers, warriors, merchants or technologists. In a healthy community, these roles wouldn't even exist!

7. Only small-scale communities can be accountable, hence effective in these basic activities of life, and only rural communities, embedded in productive habitat and surrounded by wild, unmanaged habitat, can sustainably provide for their needs. Yes, I know, big cities are stimulating, with all the bright lights and colorful immigrants forced into exile by economic imperialism! But cities exist primarily to concentrate labor and facilitate the transformation of rural resources into wealth, all for the benefit of elites. And nations do that on an even bigger scale. Just say no to large-scale societies!

8. It seems that the most successful way for a community to ensure the good behavior of its members is not through a secular legal apparatus, but through what we typically call a religion: the adoption of a set of rules which acknowledges an overarching, unknowable mystery, encourages compassion, and restrains hubris, greed, and aggression. Sorry, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens - you shouldn’t have skipped that sociology class. It’s not about reason vs. superstition, it’s about humility and caring for each other.

9. Human experience is cyclical, not progressive. What we think of as progress is simply the mis-apprehended up slope of a long cycle ending in collapse.

  1. The short cycles, like day/night and the seasons, drive the normal productivity of the habitat, and the best thing we can do is achieve stability in those cycles, sustaining, doing as good from year to year, not trying to improve (“progress”) through technological innovation or the accumulation of wealth and power.
  2. The generational cycles literally renew the community. I can only wish that my parents lived as good a life as I live, and that my children will live as good a life as I live. If generations continually strive to improve on each other, it’s a sign that the community is in deep trouble.
  3. The long cycles, defined by events like large-scale drought, fire, epidemic, invasion & conquest, both destroy and renew habitats or communities, and the healthy response is to learn and adapt or migrate, rather than trying to fight or control the environment. The lessons and adaptations of long cycles represent an accumulating trove of wisdom to be passed from generation to generation.

10. Our destructive proclivities inevitably lead the majority of humans into large-scale, hierarchical societies. Small, healthy communities are typically in the minority, but they represent the best hope of our species. As individuals and families, the best we can do is strive to be part of these minority communities, or more realistically, leave them alone. On their part, the best they can do is strive to adapt to the majority societies and find a state of grace within or without them, retaining as much of their autonomy as possible. The Old Order Amish are a good example of this. They vote and pay taxes, but they won’t fight in our wars, and if we start interfering too much in their affairs, they’ll move somewhere else.

11. Money and a consumer market economy are fundamentally destructive because they create a parasitic class of consumers, alienated from producers, and facilitate an elite class which controls resources without accountability. No community should ever allow its members to accumulate wealth that gives them power over others or enables them to avoid the work of basic sustenance. Even the poorest among us can be charitable; philanthropy is no justification of wealth.

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