Friday, November 8, 2019

Sebastian Junger: Why Doesn't He Talk about Hunter-Gatherer Loot and Plunder

Reading Sebastian Junger's book Tribe: Homecoming and Belonging you are treated to the pro-social wonders of hunter-gatherer culture. No beastly inequality and a culture that insists on sharing. As opposed to our dysfunctional rich with their billions and the poor with nothing and millions suffering in loneliness and depression.

But somehow Junger never gets around to discussing the ancient practice of loot and plunder among our noble ancestors. Warriors from our tribe looting and plundering the tribe next door.

Of course, back in the day, there was not much percentage in loot and plunder because the more mobile hunter-gatherers didn't have much to loot.

Oh, except for women. According to researchers, the Yanomamö tribe in the Amazonian jungle did a lot of raiding on each other, and the game was always the same as the Romans and their legendary Rape of the Sabine Women. The Yanomamö warriors were "looting" their neighbors to obatain their women.

In other words, our back-to-nature forefathers were, just like us moderns, intensely interested in the concept of loot and plunder. In Empire of Blue Water by Stephen Talty, about the real pirates of the Caribbean, it appears that the pirates never had an idea bigger than loot and plunder: "they had no faith, no law, no institutions that would hold them together beyond the next raid."

Gosh, I thought. That means they were a couple steps behind our modern lefties, who have built a saving faith and several states that lasted a decade or two on the institutionalizing of loot and plunder, because workers, or women or civil rights.

Actually loot and plunder can last you for a while. The Roman Empire was built on progressive conquest of an ever-larger empire, with each conquest bringing a surge of plunder and slaves to beautiful downtown Rome. This cunning strategy only ran out of steam in the 2nd century AD when the boundaries of empire were so far from Rome that... Well, I wonder what did happen? Did the Roman generals sit on the loot? Did it evaporate on the way back to Rome? Or were potential Roman generals from the senatorial classes no longer interested in the stress and challenge of military conquest in the far east or the far north? More research is needed.

But now! Let's face it, in a democratic society every election is really a market for loot and plunder. Vote for me and you will be richly rewarded. And Republicans play the game too with their tax cut plans.

But do you know? I have no idea how we can move our modern era beyond the modern replacement of actual loot and plunder of the good old days that featured armies paid in plunder with the new method of rewarding voters with free stuff.

I mean, the only issue right now that does not include free stuff for the masses is the Green New Deal. But I am confident that it will fade as soon as average voters get to understand that the trillions in Green New Deal spending and subsidies will go to the educated voters of the mandarin class, not to ordinary middle class voters and workers.

It is comical, really. We make a big song and dance about the glories of democracy and justice and the rule of law. But when it comes to actual elections it is really just an auction of loot and plunder livened up with a bit of three-card monte, or the fooling of the punters into thinking they are going to strike it rich.

Really, if the current administrative state is reaching its sell-by date because there is just not that much more loot that can be promised without crashing the economy, what comes after it?

Is it possible to have a politics without loot and plunder? Is it possible to get beyond my maxim that "government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants to reward its supporters"?

Well, all I can say is that no genius has invented that politics yet. But we can certainly hope.

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