Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
Introduction | Contents | I.1
Contents of this section:
Core Assumptions of Western Civilization
The idea of metaconsciousness first arose in the course of an inquiry into the matter of human civilization, and why civilization is so fraught with savagery and brutality. Like all civilized humans everywhere, I had naturally begun by assuming that
Well... as a matter of fact, I hadn't actually believed these things in an explicit, conscious way. I simply hadn't questioned the generally accepted notion that human civilization is "a pretty good thing." And I was deeply puzzled as to why it isn't a whole lot better than it seems to be for most people, most of the time.
Then a friend introduced me to a little book by Daniel Quinn titled Beyond Civilization, in which Quinn pointed out that in the course of human events on planet Earth, civilization is a very recent development. Genus Homo, and immediate progenitors, have been resident on this planet for the past three or four million years; yet the earliest "authoritatively recognized" evidence we have of civilization turns up in the Tigris-Euphrates region only about five thousand years ago. The length of time between that epoch and this has been repeated six to eight hundred times or more during human and protohuman tenure upon this planet. What have we been doing all this time?2
According to the conventional wisdom of most contemporary anthropologists, the answer to that question is, "not much – of any importance." Mainly, until we became civilized, we are told, we were pretty much a pack of barbaric savages, and it is only since "the rise of civilization" that humans have accomplished anything of any significance or importance. Consequently, "prehistory" is pretty much a blank, and there are few who have any interest in it. Such is the popular contemporary myth of human civilization.
Well, Daniel Quinn, for one, takes issue with this myth. Quinn has described a context for human events which leaps entirely "outside the box" established and perpetuated by the cultural mythology of civilized peoples for the past 5,000 years. Specifically, Quinn has cast into high relief the undeniable fact that humans, i.e. members of genus Homo, and immediate antecedents, have been present on this planet, and evolving steadily, for far, far longer – millions of years longer – than has been human civilization, from its earliest inception. And during those millions of years, humans have evolved patterns of social organization – as have virtually all biological species – that have worked as well for humans as have herds, schools, flocks, etc. worked for other species. These demonstrable facts fundamentally change the picture we have been given by our mythology; for the almost universally held myths that human history begins with the advent of dominator civilization, and that nothing of interest or significance precede civilization (so defined), are hereby disclosed to be false and misleading fabrications.
On the contrary, Quinn's view makes it clear that civilization, which we have been taught to have been the crowning achievement of humanity, is after all only a recent experiment in "alternative living" – which the crucible of time has disclosed again, and again, and again, to have been a dead-end path that doesn't work. Civilized peoples in the past have repeatedly discovered this for themselves, and walked away from their monumental civilizations, and abandoned them to jungles and deserts all over the world.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.3
"Civilization," as defined by those who have been participating in it for the past several thousand years, doesn't work, because it is fundamentally parasitic. It advances by conquest, and preemptively destroys the web of Life wherever it goes. This may not be a particularly palatable thought for many civilized humans; yet I believe the reader will reach the same conclusion if he or she dispassionately surveys the scope in time and space of human civilization.
There will be those who point to the spectacular and sublime accomplishments of civilization, which could not have arisen in its absence; in response to which I shall argue that all these accomplishments have been the products of individual human creativity, often in cooperation with the creativity of others, and that they have been produced in spite of, not because of, human civilization. Civilization takes credit for a great deal of human accomplishment to which it is not entitled, and is today in the final stage of converting the life-sustaining planet Earth into an uninhabitable wasteland. People everywhere lament this, and many take measures in their daily lives in efforts to retard the process of global degeneration. Most of these efforts are in vain, for those who make them return at the end of the day, having recycled their aluminum cans and plastic bottles, to their civilized habits of thought and action, firmly grounded in civilized mythologies; which mythologies, and their concomitant actions, night and day ceaselessly devour the web of Life, upon which all living beings, including human cultures, depend.
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Fatal and Nonfatal Memes
These observations may be unwelcome to many civilized people today, who have imbibed from infancy the memes listed at the outset as Core Assumptions of Western Civilization. Meme is a word coined by Richard Dawkins,4 denoting an element of human culture analogous in function to a gene in cellular biology. Just as genes carry the code within the nucleus of every cell, which specifies the structure and design of a biological organism,5 and replicate from cell to cell; so memes carry the code within the minds of every human individual, which specifies the structure and design of an entire human culture, and replicate from person to person. Listed above are paraphrases of some of the memes Quinn has written about, which define, in part, our culture, "Western Civilization." They are fundamental elements of our mythology. Just as certain genes have been found to be fatal to the organisms that bear them, so certain memes are fatal to the cultures that bear them. According to Quinn – and I agree – the memes listed above are examples of such fatal memes. I suggest instead the following nonfatal, life-nurturing alternatives:
Shocking, disturbing, and unwelcome as the challenges presented here may be to believers in the supremacy and untarnished glory of civilization, they are no competition for the shock of the total collapse of civilization itself, now in advanced progress everywhere. If civilized people were comfortable, satisfied, and confident of their steadily improving condition into the foreseeable future, there would be little reason to listen to "alarmists" like Daniel Quinn, or like me. However, this is not our situation now, is it? The signs are plainly visible to anyone who looks that "the Titanic has struck the iceberg," and it doesn't take a marine architect to predict reliably that she, and all aboard her who are unable or unwilling to abandon ship, will soon find their berth at the bottom of Davy Jones's Locker. The civilized way of life is not sustainable! What else needs to be said?
The (qualified) good news is that there is "somewhere else to go," for anyone who can see this eventuality, and elects to follow the example of earlier civilized peoples, and walk away from civilization. Genus Homo have developed patterns for living which have been proven in the crucible of time to work. The prototypical human pattern is that of the tribe, and where found intact, it works as well for humans today as it has ever done; and as well as flocks work for birds, schools for fish, herds for elk, packs for wolves, etc. The tribe, like corresponding social systems for other species, has evolved over the course of millions of years, and aspects of the tribal pattern that have been found in that time frame not to work have been eliminated by the metaconscious pressures of natural selection.
The qualification to this good news is this: There is one obstacle which the tribe has so far not successfully surmounted: the obstacle of civilization itself. Civilization has systematically crippled or destroyed tribes wherever it has encountered them, and so far, the tribal way of life has defended itself poorly or not at all against the conquests of civilization. Therefore, if the tribal way of life is to provide effective sanctuary from preemption by civilization, it must acquire a street-smart savvy that pre-civilized and contemporary tribes have evidently lacked. This is certainly true today, while civilization still bestrides the Earth; and it will be true into the remote future, for who knows when or where the specter of vanished civilization may once again raise its ugly head? Whenever, wherever it may be that some people take it upon themselves to preempt the will and action of others,6 the peoples of those times and places must be prepared to deal with it effectively; not as the tragically naïve Native Americans did 500 years ago, for instance, when they first encountered the bearded strangers from out of the Eastern Sea.7
Now the foregoing may immediately provoke a number of simultaneous questions – such as,
I'll give relatively brief responses to these questions here, and elaborate in greater depth on these and related matters in subsequent sections. Please bear in mind that we are undertaking a very broad inquiry involving many converging lines of thought. The overall pattern may not be evident from the outset, but will emerge gradually, as additional pieces of a mosaic of ideas are put into place.
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What I Mean by Myth
What I mean by myth is considerably more inclusive than is suggested by the word's conventional associations. All of science, all religion, and all philosophy, consist essentially of mythology – for the reason that, simply by virtue of being finite entities inhabiting a (speculatively) infinite universe, we find ourselves existing in an unknown, and unknowable context. In every direction we turn our attention in time and space, we find our universe disappearing over a very near horizon, beyond which we cannot see, and can only speculate. The finest granularity our finest instruments are able to resolve (e.g. "subatomic particles") may be "large" in relation to smaller elements still, lying beyond the reach of our highest resolving power. The most remote extra-galactic objects we are able to detect (e.g. "quasars") may be "near" in relation to objects more distant still. The earliest moment for which we are able to detect evidence (e.g. the "Big Bang") may have been "recent" in relation to cosmic events of which we have no conception.
These considerations will apply no matter how refined and penetrating our future instrumentation eventually becomes – unless, perhaps, we someday actually succeed in bringing "the outermost margin of the universe" within reach of our detailed inspection. That day has not yet arrived. If the universe is "in fact" infinite, as we speculate that it is, that day will never arrive, so long as we remain finite beings. If this is so, a) we will never be able to confirm or deny it, and b) our context will forever remain an impenetrable mystery.
Without a clear understanding of the context in which we occur, our best analysis, even of what lies within our horizon, and within reach of detailed examination, is necessarily mythological as well; for the meaning of any "fact" may be profoundly and unpredictably altered by a change in context. When their context is unknown, and possibly / probably not even imagined, the meanings and implications that follow from our "facts" are unknown and possibly / probably unimagined as well. This is no criticism, either of science, religion, or philosophy. It simply points out something that is frequently overlooked by scientists, religionists, and philosophers: mainly, that our most firmly founded "theories," "conclusions," "convictions," "articles of faith," and "canonical doctrines" are founded at bottom upon mythology in an unknown and (as far as we "know") unknowable context.
This does not imply that our quest to understand our surroundings, and our place in them, are futile, vain, or trivial, or that there is nothing to be learned through observation and experience within the near horizon we daily inhabit. It merely highlights the often overlooked but unavoidable circumstance that everything we learn occurs within a context of profound and impenetrable mystery. One of any number of possible ways of describing this mystery is to call it simply, "the gods," or to acknowledge that we live and have our being "in the hands of the gods" – or "in the boundless sea of metaconsciousness."
Thus, for the purposes of what follows, mythology consists of whatever we create in our imaginations to fill the vast spaces that lie over our horizons, and beyond our reach. It embraces not only the word's usual associations; it also embraces whatever anyone believes about anything – because no human belief can be verified or falsified in the ultimate context of "All That Is." This theme is elaborated further in II.4. The Myths of Infinity and Hierarchy.
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What I Mean by Metaconsciousness
What I mean by metaconsciousness, briefly, is the overarching phenomenon which is, or can be, analogous to, yet less or greater than, what we humans experience as consciousness, intelligence, and creativity. It is an emergent behavior which exhibits itself in complex information-sharing systems of all kinds, and at all scales, under conditions of sufficient richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty, as a capacity for learning from experience, or its functional equivalent. That is why I spoke above of "the metaconscious pressures of natural selection." This is one way of describing what natural selection is: a mechanism whereby entire biological species "learn from experience" what works, and what does not work in the endlessly evolving process of biological evolution. In its totality, metaconsciousness bears a relationship to human consciousness, intelligence, and creativity analogous to that the entire electromagnetic spectrum bears to the narrow band of visible light. I find in metaconsciousness a useful term which relates to matters people have been experiencing, contemplating, and discussing, probably for as long as we have had inquiring minds. We have used many words to describe these transcendent subjective experiences and introspective speculations, including "God," "the gods," "spirit," "ESP," "parapsychology," "collective unconscious," "synchronicity," and many others. Metaconsciousness has the advantage of applying to all these concepts, yet it does not bear the traditional mythological freight attached to many of them. The concept is explored further in Additional Contours of the Metaconsciousness Myth in section I.4, and elsewhere throughout this work.8
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What I Mean by Tribe
Daniel Quinn distinguishes between civilization, tribe, community, and commune, and provides examples of tribal solutions in entirely contemporary contexts. Briefly, a civilization is a failed experiment in hierarchical social organization, characterized prototypically by a "pharaoh" who lives in luxurious splendor, and an underclass of "toiling masses" who live in relative poverty and "build pyramids" for the pharaoh. Civilization works favorably (for awhile) for the pharaoh and the privileged few at the top of the hierarchy; increasingly unfavorably for those, descendingly, at all lower hierarchical levels; and ultimately catastrophically for everyone involved in it, or touched by it. Civilization is inherently parasitic, and unsustainable. Its destiny is either destruction by a competing civilization, or abandonment by its builders.9
A tribe is a non-hierarchical social organization,10 polished by evolution over the course of millions of years, that facilitates the livelihood of all members of the tribe alike.
A community is an "inside the box" social adaptation to civilization, and does not offer an escape route beyond civilization. A commune is a closed social organization based upon social, religious, moral, or ethnic values, and as such does not offer an escape route beyond civilization either.
Of the four types of social organization, only the tribe offers a potential escape route "out of the box" created by civilization. The primary example Quinn uses to illustrate tribal life in a contemporary setting is the circus. A traditional traveling circus is a non-hierarchical tribal community which supports, and is supported by, all its members. It furnishes a viable livelihood to each, and each member of the circus-tribe contributes to the success of the whole. There is a "Boss," because this occupation is required in order to secure the success of the circus. Someone must coordinate the various elements of the tribe, secure bookings, etc. Yet when it's time to raise the Big Top, the "Boss" can be found pounding stakes beside the "Clown," the "Bareback Rider," and the "Boy Who Waters the Elephants." He's no pharaoh, and nobody is building a pyramid for him. Reciprocally, success for the circus contributes alike to success for each tribal member.
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The Parable of the Tribes
The section on the Tribe was originally written at an early stage of the present inquiry, and is clearly an oversimplification of the picture disclosed in later sections. As discussed in Learning to Live Within Our Means, in section II.3, the appearance of genus Homo about two million years ago represented a quantum leap in the evolution of, shall we say, "predatory technology" among biological systems; and the fossil record, as well as much more recent examples, disclose that humans have long been associated with large-scale species extinctions wherever human populations have expanded around the globe.
Complicating the matter further is The Parable of the Tribes,11 a social theory which poses the following problem:
Imagine a group of several neighboring tribes which, initially, are all at peace with one another and on amicable terms. Then at some point one of these tribes turns hostile and aggressive, and commences a campaign of conquest among its neighbors. According to this theory, the outcome for any of the non-aggressive tribes can be one of four, and only four, alternatives:
The point of the parable of the tribes is that all four possible outcomes to this situation result in the expansion of the ways of power,12 or the ways of war among humans, at the expense of the ways of peace. In order for the fourth option to take effect, the conquest-resisting tribe is forced to adopt at least some of the ways of power initiated by the would-be conquering tribe, because according to Schmookler, power can only be countered with power.
The parable of the tribes [Schmookler writes] is a theory of social evolution which shows that power is like a contaminant, a disease, which once introduced will gradually yet inexorably become universal in the system of competing societies. More important than the inevitability of the struggle for power is the profound social evolutionary consequence of that struggle once it begins. A selection for power among civilized societies is inevitable.13
Schmookler's scenario of the spreading contagion of rogue tribes fits in well with the idea of the Kurgan invasions, developed by Gimbutas and Eisler, and discussed in Dominator and Partnership Civilizations, section I.8; during which a long and widespread era of peace among Neolithic and quasi-civilized peoples was violently disrupted by invasions of mounted armies out of the Eurasian Steppe.
According to Schmookler, any tribe at any time opting for the ways of power, or the ways of war, thereby imposes this one-way evolutionary path, sooner or later, upon all others, and the fate of the human race is thereby sealed. Schmookler argues that, once introduced, not only do the ways of war gradually foreclose upon the ways of peace, they also progressively foreclose upon the freedom of choice.
I agree, particularly with the second of these, adding that the ways of war and freedom of choice are mutually exclusive opposites, and suggest that fundamental to the nature of warfare is the tendency to "narrow the spectrum of richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty,"14 and that warfare is therefore the enemy of metaconsciousness, and Life itself. Whether this means contemporary humanity is "doomed" remains to be seen. The question turns upon whether or not we are able in sufficient numbers to evolve an effective reply to the parable of the tribes – which is to say, devise a way of life that is not vulnerable or responsive to the ways of war, and is in harmony with the unencumbered evolution of metaconsciousness.
Scrutinized more critically, therefore, the pattern of "the tribe" as the only viable "escape route 'out of the box' created by civilization" is in need of considerable qualification. The record of tribal history on planet Earth has been a mixed bag, among which may be found exemplary "successes," and catastrophic "failures." The "successes" may represent patterns that work in the real world, at least in the context in which they have occurred; yet it must be owned that the course of human evolution has yet to achieve a universal social pattern that may be expected to work reliably under all circumstances. Perhaps this is an "impossible dream," because "all circumstances" imply an infinite set which cannot be anticipated, or adapted to in advance, by any finite system. Next best, then, would be a universal social pattern with the flexibility and adaptability to successfully negotiate all or most foreseeable contingencies, which is to say, contingencies known to have arisen in human experience. Humans have yet to evolve a social pattern which exhibits such flexibility and adaptability. Tribes everywhere have succumbed to "civilization," and "civilization" is today in the final stages of destroying the life-sustainability of the entire planet. This succinctly sums up the human predicament.
The ideal of the tribe as "a non-hierarchical social organization ... that facilitates the livelihood of all members of the tribe alike" may be a useful concept for the purpose of working toward a sustainable human social pattern; yet actual past and present tribes represent such various social patterns in such varied contexts that imagining a generic idealized tribe as "the answer" to the human predicament is fraught with hazards.
In particular, in addition to the fact that tribes are not universally non-hierarchical; as already mentioned, the tribal pattern has practically everywhere failed to deal effectively with the recent invention of civilization, or the contagion of rogue tribes that have imbibed the ways of war. We continue to await (and make!) a "final decision" as to whether the idealized pattern of the non-hierarchical tribe can survive its encounter with the pattern of civilization. If we are able to reconstitute functional tribes within the contemporary context, and are able thereby to cope effectively with civilization, we will have moved the evolution of the tribal model forward, beyond civilization, and into, as Daniel Quinn writes, Humanity's Next Great Adventure.15 In a subsequent section we will examine a "quasi-tribal" phenomenon of global scope which encourages the hope that such street-smart savvy can emerge in the contemporary context, and deal effectively with civilization.
In any case, what "natural" tribes and species never do, or even attempt, according to Daniel Quinn, is to annihilate utterly their foes. Specifically, tribes that have not been exposed to civilization never carry retaliation to the point, for instance, of burning up their enemy's food crop, or poisoning their wells. These are the kinds of things that only "civilized" people do.16
The reason contending tribes (that have not imbibed the rogue ways of war), or any competing species, never employ genocidal strategies against their foes is because they "honor" what Quinn calls the Law of Life, or the Law of Limited Competition:
You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. In other words, you may compete but you may not wage war on your competitors.17
This is not a "law" in the civilized sense of a statute entered in a book, or graven upon a tablet of stone. It is written into the "meme pool" that defines what a tribe is; and into the gene pool of every living species – although it must be admitted that many tribes have inadvertently driven to extinction many species upon which they, the tribes, have depended for sustenance; frequently with catastrophic results for the tribe. The Law of Life is placed in the gene pool by the metaconscious pressures of natural selection, exerted over the course of millions of years, which replicates patterns that work, and culls out patterns that do not – as it will inevitably do eventually (and "soon" now) with the pattern of dominator civilization.
The Law of Limited Competition has been "obeyed" by all (successful) living species in planetary history, with the single exception of human dominator civilization (which has never been successful). The Law works, because it promotes cultural and biological diversity (i.e. richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty); whereas its "violation" destroys cultural and biological diversity, and this in turn destroys the life-sustainability (obstructs the metaconsciousness) of the entire biosphere. It is exactly this that contemporary human developments demonstrate to be the catastrophic flaw in dominator civilization, and the reason, ultimately, it has been abandoned in the past by every culture that has attempted it;18 and must be abandoned by us, if we and all life are to continue evolving on this planet. In a few words, civilization doesn't work, because civilization obstructs the evolution of metaconsciousness: by diminishing, rather than expanding, richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty. All other living social patterns function to exactly the opposite effect.
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Why You Should Listen to Me
You should listen to me – or to anyone – only if you find in what I or they have to say, something that you find useful to your own ongoing evolution. In what follows we will be drawing together many strands from many disciplines. Our objective is the fabrication of a plausible mythology for post-civilized people, on the basis of which social structures may be built which are "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike civilization;"19 which is to say, a mythology on the basis of which social structures may be built that work. The premises upon which are laid, and which are supported by, the following arguments may be summarized thus:
What follows in the remainder of Part I is a preliminary attempt at staking out the ground for such post-civilized mythologies. On that foundation, in Part II we invite collaborative participation in the creation or discovery of a suite of post-civilized myths upon which can be built post-civilized human social patterns that work. Your participation is welcome, and invited.
Oh, and one other thing. The way things are going lately, if these pages strike you as having any importance, it might be prudent of you to copy them, HTML and PDF versions, to your own storage, just in case they happen to disappear from the Net. I haven't had intimations that anything of the kind is in the offing; but then one seldom does, does one? The words of the Rev. Martin Niemoller come to mind, out of the haze of WWII:
In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.
The pharaohs now-a-days seem, "morally" and "legally," prepared to round up just about anyone they don't happen to like, and whisk them away for any reason, or for no reason at all, and do whatever they want with them, or to them. The Last Train from Berlin departed generations ago, and the First Train from planet Earth isn't scheduled to depart any time soon. As for "speaking up," to whom might one turn in such an eventuality? To whom, or what, does a chicken squawk whilst being carried off in the night by a hungry fox?
Well, it's perhaps a silly thought, but it occurs to me that there may be some among the pharaohs' set who might not be in complete "resonance" with exactly everything written in these pages, and so they possibly may not always be as easily accessible to you as they are now. An effective hedge against this possibility may be to secure your own copy. Simply being "paranoid" is no longer an adequate guarantee that they're not really "out to get you."
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1. After Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure, Three Rivers Press, New York, 1999.
2. See I.8. Lessons From History. Note that the early drafts of this work were written before I had encountered The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, in which it is made clear that there have been two alternative models of human social organization, and that human civilizations have manifested in both forms: the dominator model, and the partnership model. Most of Part I was written on the assumption that the dominator model and civilization are identical, and that there has never been an alternative model for social organization; because that has been the universal claim of civilized cultures throughout "recorded human history." It has always been assumed that civilization as we experience it today is, and always has been, the only right way to live. I will continue to use the term civilization as it is de facto defined by the contemporary global culture, i.e. as a male-dominated hierarchical structure. That this has not always been true, and may not always be true in future, is a theme developed further in Dominator and Partnership Civilizations in section I.8, and elsewhere in this work.
3. Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822, Ozymandias of Egypt.
4. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 1989, cited by Quinn, 1999.
5. This turns out not to be entirely true. See On Cellular Biology, ff., in section II.6.
6. Something needs to be said at the outset about preemptive force. It means much more than overtly beating someone up, or murdering them, without provocation. Ultimately, it means taking preemptive action that in any way damages the interests of another party. This can even take the form of malicious inaction, or nondisclosure of vital information. It includes theft by any and every means, fraud, misrepresentation, false advertising, and deceptive obfuscation. All acts of preemptive force are united by the common elements of being hostile and unprovoked, and are therefore included under the overarching rubric of war. Preemptive force is, and always has been, the fundamental means of advancing "civilization," as conceived and defined by contemporary civilized humans. See Conditions for Social Success, ff., in section II.3, for further elaboration.
7. See the widely circulated 1493 letter of Christopher Columbus, quoted in Robert F. Berkhoffer, Jr., The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, 1978, p. 6; and Amerigo Vespucci's vivid description in Mundus Novus, published in 1504 or '05, quoted loc. cit., pp.7-9. Of course, although a grotesque oversimplification, it must be admitted that the conquest of the Inca and Aztec Empires in the so-called "New World" was a case of one dominator civilization conquering and obliterating another; and a change of dominators for the indigenous peoples in the path of conquest.
8. Summarized in Elements of the Myth of Metaconsciousness, section I.11.
9. There is a third possibility for the end of a civilization: i.e. when it devours its planetary host, and can no longer be sustained. This is the point at which the contemporary global civilization has arrived in the present time.
10. As elaborated below, this is not always so.
11. Andrew Bard Schmookler, The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1984; Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Waking Up to Personal and Global Transformation, Harmony Books, New York, 1998, 1999, p. 140.
12. Schmookler defines the ways of power as "...power is a coercive capacity. Power may also be defined as the ability to restrict the range of another's choices. It is thus differentiated from the kind of persuasive power that changes how others decide to exercise choice (except to the extent that, as, for example, in brainwashing, and less obviously in many other forms of indoctrination, coercive power creates the situation in which persuasion becomes possible)," ibid., p. 20, footnote 4. Schmookler's ways of power thus corresponds to my definition of warfare in Conditions for Social Success, items 7 and 8, section II.3.
13. Schmookler, 1984, p. 22, emphasis in the original.
14. Conditions for Social Success, item 8, section II.3.
15. Quinn, 1999, p. 141.
16. Like the time Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commanding general of British forces in North America during the French and Indian war (1754-1763), evidently distributed among the natives he was fighting blankets known to be infected with smallpox. See "Jeffrey Amherst and Smallpox Blankets: Lord Jeffrey Amherst's letters discussing germ warfare against American Indians." Comparable examples may be found in every part of the civilized world, in every civilized generation.
17. Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, A Bantam / Turner Book, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland, 1992, p. 129; The Story of B, Bantam Books, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland, 1996, p. 252. Emphasis added.
18. Quinn, 1999, pp. 33-54.
19. Adapted from an expression Douglas Adams used in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Balantine Books, New York, 1980, Chapter 17, p. 123: "He had found a NutriMatic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."
Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
Introduction | Contents | I.1