Impeach #CRMP

(Adapted from The Bliss Book, available soon)

im·peach
imˈpēCH/
verb
  1. call into question the integrity or validity of (a practice).
    “there is no basis to Searle’s motion to impeach the verdict”
    synonyms: challengequestiondisparagecriticize, call into question, raise doubts about, cast aspersions on
    “the headlines impeached their clean image”

This acronym #CRMP is pronounced like the name “Crump.” And, I’ll start by addressing the proverbial elephant in the virtual room. Donald Trump is a horrible human being. There is, quite justifiably, a movement to be #Ungovernable under his regime and to impeach him from the position of President of the United States. However, I will attempt to show that removing Trump is not the answer to the problem that we are seeking to solve. Trump is only a symptom of a much deeper and older problem; around 10,000 years old. Getting rid of Trump will only lead to a new version of Trump stepping into his spot. #CRMP is what we must remove if we seek to make a better world and live happier lives.

#CRMP stands for: Capitalism, Religion, Monogamy, and Patriarchy. I intend to show that all four of these concepts were created around the same time, and were meant to support one another. I also intend to show that these four concepts are what stand in the way of peace and happiness for individuals, as well as the world as a whole. Now let me give some more definitions to make sure that we’re on the same page about what it is that we are discussing.

By capitalism, I am referring to the economic system in which maximizing profit is the prime motive for all economic activity. A small number of people control the vast majority of the capital, and they employ human beings and natural resources to produce goods and services which they can use to acquire even more capital.

By religion, I am referring to the type of organized religion that most people in Western society are familiar with; a vindictive God who looks down upon humanity ready to punish people for not doing what He desires — for not following the rules-laws-commandments.

By monogamy, I mean the general idea that human beings are supposed to only be in a romantic relationship with one person at a time. That having a sexual or emotional connection with someone other than your partner is a serious offense. And that this is how things “naturally” are, that there is something “wrong” with you if you don’t or can’t be “faithful” to the person you are in a relationship with.

By patriarchy, I refer to the usually unwritten and unspoken assumption in Western society that men are naturally meant to dominate over women; and that men are more fully human than women are. Men have more freedoms than women and make more money than women because men are better than women. We are taught this idea all the time, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

These four concepts together create a cultural system that serves to separate people from nature, separate us from each other, and separate us from parts of ourselves. I will show how and why that is by explaining some history.

Human beings have been on the planet, mainly in Africa, for millions of years. One of the earliest fossils of a hominid (a primate walking upright on two feet) dates back to around six million years ago. Scientists generally agree that modern humans with our current anatomy and brain size, homo sapiens, evolved around 200,000 years ago. So over the course of the past couple hundred thousand to couple million years, we have developed some habits as a species.

For the vast majority of our time as a species, all groups of humans lived in what is called the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. That term specifically refers to the combination of hunting animals as well as foraging/gathering whatever plant foods naturally grow from the ground. Anthropologists have referred to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as being “fiercely egalitarian.” That means that everyone in the group was equal and they shared all of their resources with everyone equally. Everyone got the same amount of food no matter how much work they personally put into acquiring the food. Everyone also got the same amount of love and affection and nurturing that everyone else got. These things held true throughout time and throughout every part of the world that we traveled to over tens of thousands of years. Hunter-gatherer people in Africa and Australia and North and South America and the Pacific Islands and elsewhere have all been found to share these same basic cultural traits. As a species, we made a collective decision that this was the way that we chose to live. Why?

In comparison to other animals, humans are pretty weak. We don’t run very fast, we’re not very strong, we can’t climb very well, and we can’t fly. We’re really vulnerable. However, we found that our greatest strength was our ability to work together. We were able to use teamwork to make finding food and protecting ourselves from predators easier. The more we worked together in these various ways, the more we needed to communicate, the more we developed our capacity for language, which in turn caused our brains to grow, which gave us even more capacity for communication and teamwork. Our large brains and capacity for intelligence is what gave us the potential to become the dominant planetary species that we are today, but it all started with our commitment to communicating well and working together and sharing everything equally.

Because our early Ancestors foraged for whatever food the Earth provided for them, they moved around a lot. They would come to a spot where food was growing abundantly, and they would stay there until the food started to run out, then they would move to another area. Moving around all the time meant that it wasn’t practical for them to have a lot of belongings. When they arrived in a new spot, they would build huts from the grass and sticks that they found there. They didn’t wear very many clothes. They didn’t need very many cooking supplies. When they left a spot and moved on, they left their huts behind and made new ones in the next spot.

No one owned much of anything. Whatever food they acquired all ended up getting consumed. A few clothing items, a digging stick, maybe a spear, and a bottle to drink water from was all that any one person would keep. The idea of having property and inheritances was completely unknown to them.

Starting around 12, 000 years ago, people started experimenting with this new idea of taking seeds from plants that were eaten, putting the seeds back into the ground, and growing new plants from those seeds. In the Near East, it was wheat, barley, and peas. In China, it was rice and millet. In Mexico, it was squash and corn. People also started domesticating cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs; training these wild animals to start staying in one group and moving when and where the humans wanted them to. This development of agriculture between 9 and 12 thousand years ago is what scientists call the Neolithic Revolution.

For the first time, people were able to stay in one place instead of having to constantly move around for food. Apparently, that idea was very appealing to people because the Neolithic Revolution spread very quickly, all over the world. With people now staying in one spot, they were able to now start building more permanent homes made from mud and brick instead of temporary homes made from grass and sticks. They were able to start making and owning furniture and art and clothes and other items. And they began to become attached to one area of land where their food was growing. Suddenly, for the first time, human beings were introduced to the concept of “this stuff is MINE.” No longer was everything shared equally, now people started to have personal property. This was most definitely a revolutionary time in human history. Everything changed in that moment. The seed was sown for #CRMP.

With people now having these new thoughts like “this is my tree” and “that is my garden” and “those are my cows” and “this is my stream”, it naturally led to disputes over ownership. Is that tree really mine or is it yours? We didn’t have any experience with how to answer a question like that because previously nothing belonged to any one person. In fact, the Earth as a whole didn’t belong to anyone. The Earth was sovereign and all of us were just thankful that the Earth was gracious enough to share her fruits and vegetables and animals with us. But now, we needed a system for handling disputes. And the answer to “whose is this?” came to often be answered in the same way that it is in the rest of the animal kingdom. “I’m the strongest, so it is mine!”

Instead of sharing and compassion and communication being the supreme cultural values as they had been for many thousands of years, all of a sudden strength and dominance and the ability to coerce became the most useful characteristics. The strongest person became the leader of the group. The strongest group became the leader of the region. The strongest gender became the leader of the species. Physical strength and mental competitiveness were everything.

In hunter-gatherer life, no one was in control of anyone else. Males and females were equal in authority. There were no governments and employers, all people made all group decisions in a purely democratic way. Even children were not under the domination of adults. Children directed their own education and did what they chose to do, for the most part — adults still took the necessary minimum precautions to ensure child safety.

But now that the strongest people began to own things, they had to come up with ways of keeping the things that they owned. Even after they died. Men owned their home and their land and their women and their children. It became custom for a father who owned his daughter to one day “give his daughter away” to the man who would become her husband, in exchange for some money. This was what we call Patriarchy. And when a man died, he was able to pass down his belongings to his children, usually with his firstborn son getting more than all the other siblings. But the practice of passing down inheritance from one generation to another caused another conflict with the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Hunter-gatherer people had very few rules about who could have sex with who and when. Almost all hunter-gatherer societies were matrilineal, meaning that people traced ancestry through their mother and their mother’s mother and so on. That was because no one could ever be sure of who their father was. Sex and affection was one of the things that people freely shared with one another. People would often share a hut with whomever they were “in love with” at the time, and when the feeling passed, they would both move on to the next person whom they felt drawn to. Sometimes those pair bonds would last for several years, sometimes for months, and sometimes just for one night. All adults in the group shared the parenting duties for all children born in the group. There was absolutely no concept of a nuclear family, with one husband and one mother and several children, separated from everyone else.

But in the new world of personal property, a man had a need to know for sure that his children belonged to him, so that his property could be passed on to those through whom his life continued after he went to the grave. So it was necessary to come up with the idea of Monogamy — that two people would be wed and then it would be against the rules for them to have sexual relations with anyone else. However, those rules were mainly only applied to women. Men would sometimes have more than one wife, sometimes men would have concubines or women who live with the man but have lower status than his wife or wives. Whatever the details were, men could do whatever they really wanted to with their sexuality, but women’s sexuality became the property of their husbands.  In every post-Neolithic society in the world, the culture has built-in outlets for men to freely explore their sexuality (prostitutes, strippers mistresses, etc), while women are tightly confined in using their sexuality only for the pleasure of their husbands.

The new culture that came along with the rise of agriculture produced a need for new forms of social cohesion. Previously, the values of cooperation and sharing held everyone in a group together. The team was strong because it needed to be in order for everyone to survive and thrive. With the rise of agriculture, people still had a need for groups to work well together. Those with the power needed to make sure that everyone played by the rules and played their parts in creating wealth for those with power. This was accomplished by the creation of what we have come to know as Religion.

Priests came to fill a myriad of roles within the group. Priests were often the judges who settled disputes between people that couldn’t be solved by simply showing who was the strongest. But the two most important functions of the priest were: 1) telling the people the instructions from God, and 2) overseeing the social rituals that made everyone feel like a part of the group.

A very effective way of getting people to go along with all the new rules in society, which people didn’t really like very much, was to tell them that there was a very powerful God who would punish them if they didn’t obey. Hunter-gatherer people didn’t believe in a God who controls everything and has the power to bless or punish people based on following the rules. But in the agricultural world, Gods now had extreme authority and very strong opinions about the behavior of people. These new Gods were very useful in controlling the sexuality of women and also in making sure that workers went to work everyday without rising up and overthrowing their bosses.

Groups like fraternities and militaries and street gangs all demonstrate the usefulness of ritual in bringing people together around a common identity and for a common cause. Religions developed rituals like animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, circumcision, tattooing, and other things that require some level of physical or mental pain in order for people to show that they are willing to sacrifice in order to be part of the group. Thereby showing that they can be trusted to go along with the rules. Anyone unwilling to get the tattoo or drink the blood would face expulsion from the group, or worse. Societies built on power and obedience must have rituals like this in order to measure everyone’s level of obedience.

A 19th century British politician known as Lord Acton famously said that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” When human beings moved from having collective ownership of all things to having personal property, the seed of corruption was sown. In hunter-gatherer life, people get a sense of security from the group’s sharing. The more you willingly and lovingly share with other people, the more secure you can feel that other people will always share whatever they have with you. The natural tendency for competition is neutralized by the social values of cooperation. But if the only safety net you have is your own personal wealth and power, then the only way to increase your sense of security is to pursue more and more wealth and power.

And thus began the Game of Thrones. That popular television series is actually a very accurate visual representation of what world history has looked like for the past several thousand years. A small group of people seize power over a large group of people. That small group makes the rest of the people work ridiculously long and hard hours to generate more wealth and power for the small group. Meanwhile, some other small group is plotting on how to take over the seat of power for themselves. And whether by political cunning or military force or covert assassination or other means, eventually most kings get their heads cut off, as Basquiat said. And there is a seemingly never-ending cycle of powerful people overthrowing other powerful people, or joining forces with other powerful people, and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

But this cycle can only be maintained as long as the masses of the people continue to willingly give their power to the masters. When the masses get fed up and decide to use the power of their numbers, then the wealth of the masters matters very little. No matter how many dollars or coins you own, if the workers will no longer work for you, then your power is gone. The primary concern for the masters is: “how do I constantly convince the masses that they don’t actually have ALL of the power because they are the majority?”

An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest half of the world’s population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people. It is #CRMP that allows these men to sleep at night without being in paralyzing fear that the masses of the people will rise up and slaughter them.

To be clear, you don’t have to belong to any particular religion or have taken any particular classes in school or have any particular kind of family upbringing in order to believe in #CRMP. The culture of the entire post-Neolithic world with its masters/masses relationship makes #CRMP omnipresent, permeating every aspect of life, whether we realize it or not.

To reiterate an earlier point, the fiercely egalitarian hunter-gatherer cultures shared not only resources, they also shared authority. There were no governments in these cultures. There were no police in these cultures. Even parents didn’t exercise authority over their children… I know that sounds like crazy talk. I must be mistaken, right? To give you a sense of hunter-gatherers’ parenting philosophy, here is a sample of quotations from anthropologists and others who have lived in various hunter-gatherer societies and observed them closely:

  • “Hunter-gatherers do not give orders to their children; for example, no adult announces bedtime. At night, children remain around adults until they feel tired and fall asleep…. Parakana adults do not interfere with their children’s lives. They never beat, scold, or behave aggressively with them, physically or verbally, nor do they offer praise or keep track of their development.” —Yumi Gosso et al., “Play in Hunter-Gatherer Societies”
  • “The idea that this is ‘my child’ or ‘your child’ does not exist [among the Yequana, of South America]. Deciding what another person should do, no matter what his age, is outside the Yequana vocabulary of behaviors. There is great interest in what everyone does, but no impulse to influence—let alone coerce—anyone. The child’s will is his motive force.” —Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept
  • “Aborigine children are indulged to an extreme degree, and sometimes continue to suckle until they are 4 or 5 years old. Physical punishment for a child is almost unheard of.” —Richard A. Gould, Yiwara: Foragers of the Australian Desert
  • “Infants and young children [among Inuit huntergatherers of the Hudson Bay area] are allowed to explore their environments to the limits of their physical capabilities and with minimal interference from adults. Thus if a child picks up a hazardous object, parents generally leave it to explore the dangers on its own. The child is presumed to know what it is doing.” —Lee Guemple, “Teaching Social Relations to Inuit Children”
  • “Ju/’hoansi children [of Africa] very rarely cried, probably because they had little to cry about. No child was ever yelled at or slapped or physically punished, and few were even scolded. Most never heard a discouraging word until they were approaching adolescence, and even then the reprimand, if it really was a reprimand, was delivered in a soft voice.” —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Old Way

Notice that these quotations are from people living in what we know as Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, Alaska, and Southern Africa; all over the world. How did we go from a situation in which people all over the world shared this sense of equality among all human beings to a world in which inequality is so extreme that five people own as much as wealth as 3.5 billion people? How is that even possible?

Most people are conditioned to believe that what “feels right” is not a sufficient basis upon which to choose your actions. Our childhoods are chock-full of daily reminders that our primary responsibility is to follow the rules. Your parents incessantly tell you what you cannot do. Your teachers follow that up with another set of things that you cannot do. The media adds to the list of cannots. It starts with rules about not being too loud or not running too fast or not climbing too high; all things that you have a primal drive to do just because it feels good.

It feels great to meet up with your friends and then burst out of the house and yell as loudly as you can while running at top speed and maybe or maybe not adding in a game of Tag or Hide-And-Seek. It feels good to get up and walk around after obediently sitting down in the classroom for forty-five minutes. It feels good to play House with the next door neighbor and “I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours.” But eventually, most of us get told how wrong we are for doing these things that feel just as naturally to us as breathing.

A major part of our conditioning to be servants comes from the attitudes that we are taught to have around sex. During puberty, our bodies are SCREAMING at us that it is time to have sex sex sex sex sex. While society, whether it is preachers or parents or teachers or media, is telling us to either fear sex because of pregnancy and STDs or because God will send us to Hell for doing it before marriage. This is a major training ground for our ability to deny our own desires in the interests of being obedient to the rules. Religion and Monogamy and Patriarchy all play roles in reinforcing the prohibitions on doing what naturally feels good and right to do.

So then when you’re thirty years old and you hate hearing your alarm clock go off in the morning and you hate the clothes that you have to put on for work and you hate driving in morning rush hour traffic and you hate way your boss talks to you and you hate that your lunch break is so short and you hate that so much money comes out of your paycheck in taxes etc etc etc, you have a whole lifetime of training on how to ignore ALL OF THAT and just keep repeating the cycle everyday. And guess who decides what the schools teach and what the media portrays and what the churches teach and how the corporations are set up?? The small group of masters who overthrew the last group of masters who overthrew the last group of masters, going all the way back to the beginning of agriculture and personal property ten to twelve thousand years ago. They teach their children how to maintain control over the masses, while the masses are taught how to be better servants.

We are conditioned to believe that we are not the kind of people who are supposed to have authority over our own lives. We are conditioned to believe that other people having the power to tell us how to be and where to be and what to be is just the way things are. Our hunter-gatherer Ancestors chose for themselves a lifestyle in which all activity was self-chosen, self-directed, and imaginative or creative. If most of what you do with your life is chosen by someone else and directed by someone else, with someone else telling you exactly how to do what they have chosen for you to do, then maybe a big part of what makes you truly human is not being fully expressed. Maybe that’s why you’re not happy with your life.

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The Bliss Book goes into more detail of how #CRMP separates people from nature and separates people from each other and separates people from parts of themselves, thus making it possible for the masters to be safe from the (not) unified masses. We also go into detail about what literally happens inside of our brains and bodies when we live lives of self-denial, and how those effects are the root of the deep sadness, depression, and hopelessness that so many of us feel.

More to come.

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