It’s really very simple

For 200,000 years, we were hunter-gatherers. We weren’t perfect: Sometimes we fought; sometimes we killed. But within each tribe, we lived as equals and shared everything of importance. It was very simple. Genetically, that’s still who we are; that’s our true nature.

Then, 10,000 years ago, we invented hierarchy and property. That was only a change in our culture, not our nature. But that was our wrong turn, our fall from grace. After that, life became complicated, because there are many different ways of being unequal, and many different ways of not sharing.

We acquired a plutocracy, who ruled over us and took most of the property. They told us hierarchy and property were unavoidable and actually desirable. That was a lie. Actually, hierarchy and property are unnecessary, and they have been the root of our worst problems for 10,000 years.

Hierarchy concentrates power, which corrupts, as the Stanford Prison Experiment has proved. We can see that all around us: Authoritarians beat wives and children, bosses bully workers, guards torture inmates, police shoot the poor, and politicians lie and start wars to make themselves richer.

Property necessitates trade, and then …

  • Trade, too, concentrates power, because trade gives greater profit to the trader in the stronger bargaining position, making him stronger still.
  • Trade has side effects on parties who were not consulted in the trade negotiations. These side effects are enormous. They include war, poverty, and ecocide, which will kill us all soon if continued.
  • Separate property creates separate lives, killing empathy. We can’t care about others while competing against them. Soon some suicidal scientist may build a germ warfare lab in his basement and kill us all.

The only thing that can make us safe is a culture of caring and sharing that leaves no one behind. That doesn’t require returning to the stone age. But it will take us a while to figure out. The first step is to get more people talking about it.


2017 Sept 29, version 2.01. Underlined blue words and phrases are links to related materials.