RE: virus: Memes needed for our Baby.

Jim Gadbois (
Wed, 19 Mar 1997 16:02:44 -0600

>No more sub- random quotes.
this has nothing to do with a thought/mail/meme thread the list is
currently following.

chaos rules, heil Eris.
begin break>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Evolution towards separation.

All matter in the universe began as part of its unity and remains part
of its unity. But for too long we humans have seen ourselves as separate
from the whole, different, superior.

In a sense our separation began with the emergence of life. A set of
complex molecules divided themselves off inside a membrane and began to
reproduce in defiance of the second law of thermodynamics. This states
that entropy or disorder must always increase. Life defied this law, but
she could only do so by exporting disorder to the surroundings from
which she drew energy.

The development of nervous systems was the second step. Higher animals
have self-centred impulses, to get food, to avoid danger, to reproduce.
They don't see themselves as part of nature or of a species with a
common interest. Apart from their close siblings nature seems to them a
huge bag of promises, threats and competitors in their own drive to
survive and multiply. To a lion, hunger makes the whole horizon look
like dinner. To an antelope, fear makes every bush seem like a predator.

Humans have the most fully developed intelligence and self-awareness of
all animals. At times this has been used to distance us further from
nature. Ever since we have believed in a soul separate from the body, or
in a special role allocated by God, we have seen ourselves as superior
to the material world. We have seen nature as there for our use only, to
deal with as we please.

But full consciousness does not have to mean separation. It may give us
an opportunity that is denied to other animals - the chance to embrace a
conscious re-unification with nature and the universe.

When we began our journey we were hunter-gatherers. We were part of
nature and subject to her rules, and so we were part of Gaia.

But once we began to assert control over nature through agriculture, we
ceased to be a harmonious part of Gaia. And when we began to burn fossil
fuels on a mounting scale, and to disrupt every ecosystem on earth
through pollution and interference, we started to undermine Gaia.

Two revolutions - the agricultural and industrial - set us over against
nature and Gaia.

A third, environmental revolution, now in its early stages, will begin
the process of re-integration into Gaia.

Hunter-gatherers as citizens of Gaia.

When humans emerged we too were part of Gaia's self-regulating network.

Most hunter-gatherers treat their environment well and tread lightly on
earth. They don't destroy nature's diversity. They don't replace it with
artificial systems of just a few crops and domesticated animals.
Instead, they use natural diversity to the full. They collect dozens of
different kinds of wild roots and leaves, and hunt a wide range of
animals and fish.

Because their way of life doesn't demand any large scale organization,
hunter-gatherer society tends to be easy on humans, too. They enjoy a
good varied diet, and work much shorter hours than farmers. Bands are
egalitarian. When there's a surplus above basic needs - if one person
kills a big animal, say - everyone in the band gets a share. People are
their own masters: political authority is limited to the task in hand,
and depends on skill and wisdom at that task.

Hunter-gatherer religion reinforces harmony with nature. To avoid
over-exploitation there are elaborate rules about which animals may be
hunted and eaten, and when. All living things, and many non-living
things like rivers or even stones, are believed to possess soul and
demand respect, just like humans.


The food crisis and the agricultural revolution.

We shouldn't over-idealize hunter-gatherers. They were humans just like

When they grew more successful, their populations expanded. This was the
critical development that pushed them to change the way they related to
the environment. Where they could not migrate, they were forced to start
cultivating plants instead of collecting them. To get more food from the
same land they had to clear away diverse natural vegetation and replace
it with a handful of food crops. And so agriculture began, about ten
thousand years ago, first in the Near East and East Asia, then in other

The agricultural revolution was a crucial moment in our alienation from
nature. Agriculture separated us from nature and set us against her.
Nature now was seen as a dangerous enemy rather than an ally. She was
the tangled forest we cleared to plant our crops. She was the refuge of
wild beasts that preyed on our livestock and ate our crops. Wilderness
was no longer a resource to be prized, but a threat to be crushed and

Settled agriculture changed humans as well as nature. Where
hunter-gatherers were egalitarian and anarchic, agrarian societies
became hierarchical and grossly unequal. Settlements were permanent.
Food could now be stored, and wealth could be accumulated. Stronger
forms of authority were needed to manage land and rising conflict over
land. Inequalities in wealth and power grew. Male dominance increased.

In the religions of agrarian states, the gods were no longer spirits
inherent in natural things: they became distant anthropomorphic figures
above the skies. Often they were still linked to the natural forces
controlling agriculture and the seasons of the farming year.

Imperial states, imperial religions.

The ultimate consequences of permanent agriculture were the huge empires
of Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, China, and India.

Empire intensified alienation from nature. Imperial elites lived in
capitals, far from the fringes where farming takes place. Their armies
plundered soils and peoples in pursuit of tribute and slaves. To harm
the enemy they burned crops and trees. In time of peace they rounded up
rare animals for sport or gluttony. The wildlife of the Roman
Mediterranean was decimated to fill the amphitheatre or the banquet

As warfare intensified and became the general condition of life,
transcendental religions and philosophies emerged in the West:
Platonism, pharisaic Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They were mainly a
response to growing insecurity of life, and often emerged at times of
acute crisis and widespread mortality.

These were imperial religions, aiming for a global audience, divorced
from all local environments. They completed our ideological separation
from our own bodies and from the world. They taught of a soul separate
from and superior to the body. They taught of a future world beyond
death, more important and more lasting than this world. They taught that
divinity was separate from nature and the universe, not inherent in it.

The fuel crisis and the industrial revolution.


By the sixteenth century in Western Europe, growing populations were
running up against a second critical shortage.

As demand rose, the land could no longer supply enough wood, hay and
other products for energy, horse transport and chemicals. These
shortages drove the second, industrial revolution.

Coal gradually replaced wood. As mines deepened, and horsepower could no
longer drain them, steam engines were developed. The chemical industry
grew up to supply products previously harvested from nature.

The industrial age expanded agricultural devastation to feed rapidly
growing populations. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides replaced manure
and crop rotation. Rising pollution and exploitation damaged habitats on
a widening scope, reaching global level by the 1980s.

Paradoxically, as more and more people lived in towns and cities,
attitudes to nature became much more positive. Absence makes the heart
grow fonder.

Industrial society was more equal, in respect of power and wealth, than
the agrarian civilizations that preceded it. Wealth from trade and
finance became more widely distributed in the mercantile age. In the
industrial age that followed, manufacturers joined the expanding elite.

On the political front absolute monarchy gradually gave way to democracy
- though in most countries the vote was still reserved for the

In the late nineteenth and twentieth century the power of organized
labour brought rising wages and political rights for workers. But an
underclass of poor still remained excluded from both a decent income and

The industrial age had its own characteristic religious expression.
Panentheism - the belief that God is both in this world and beyond it -
spread. Humanism and atheism were expressions of the age's
overconfidence in science and human industry.

The environmental crisis and the ecological revolution.

Today the full consequences of the industrial and fossil fuel age are
with us. At the same time booming populations require more and more
forest and wild habitat to be cleared for agriculture.

We have seen the consequences of pollution for the atmosphere (Gaia).
Acid rain has killed forests and left many lakes almost sterile in
Europe and East Asia.

The world's tropical forests are home to the greatest diversity of
species. Yet during the 1980s, their total area shrank by over 8 per
cent from 1,915 million hectares to 1,760 million hectares. The loss of
155 million hectares equals an area bigger than France, Germany, Italy
and the United Kingdom combined.

Species are dying out at an unprecedented rate - fifty to a hundred
times faster than the natural extinction rate. Projections of losses
over the next 25 years range from 2 per cent to 25 per cent of species.
For some groups of vertebrates and plants between five and twenty per
cent of species are already listed as under threat.

Overfishing now affects 70 per cent of world fishery stocks, and is
radically altering the ecology of many marine ecosystems. Fishing and
silt are destroying coral reefs. Coastal wetlands are being cleared for
tourist resorts and shrimp farming. Our impact on the globe is massive.
We are interfering in every natural cycle and every ecosystem.

Returning to unity.

Just as the food and fuel crises led to massive changes in our
technologies, social institutions and beliefs, so too will the
environmental crisis. As the problems grow, so does our concern. More
and more people are trying to alter their own lives, and influence those
of others, to do less damage to nature and Gaia.

We are in the early stages of our third revolution - the environmental

Gaia's children: how we can return to unity.
Gaia: unity of life and earth.