Diamond J. 1997. Guns, Germs and Steel: The fates of human societies. Norton. New York, United States. Chapters 4,5,6 and 8.
CBC was on point this afternoon, while I was listening to vinyl cafe stories about Tofino’s wharf, beach combing and pallets that washed ashore on the eastern edge of the pacific after the Tsunami that reaped havoc on the Japanese coast. The plummeting blue whale populations stories… Its all about the stories. It seems like coastal communities are bearing witness and feeling the impacts of climate change in a way that we cannot comprehend. We are spoiled here on the interior of BC because of our cozy nook in between he rockies and Pacific Northwest with the only signs of global warming being the shortening winters, even now, my only experience with changes in weather and catastrophes has only been the slight aftershock of an earthquake that measured 3.6 on the richter scale that I slept through. I feel spoiled. My main issue these days is the my perpetual overheating due to the lack of cold winter I have been experiencing here in Kamloops.
The sun was beating down hard in mid January and the snow was melting at a rate that I have never seen before, I was thinking to myself after reading Diamonds chapter on the haves and have nots that the primary victims of the apparent “progress” of the world were the indigenous and non white populations. Is global warming a direct result of progress? Is this the type of society I want to bring my children up in? working 5 days a week to earn my keep sounds awful, no wonder the “indigenous” were so reluctant to adopt farming. I found myself exceedingly irritated by the ignorance of diamonds statement on Page 154 “Naturally, I don’t subscribe to the obvious fallacy that every society promptly adopts every innovation that would be useful for it.” I found myself thinking “how the fuck do you know what would be useful for them” and got quite the laugh when he started to question the edibility of the mushrooms his new guinean Foré companion picked and was told to “shut up”. I felt a strange comfort in that because although this guy apparently knows a lot of “facts” about the development of societies, he was scared to even eat a mushroom and throughout the book he kept talking about the fertile crescent as if it was the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity, even though it bred diseases that the scared white people used to take over entire continents and eventually lead to the warming of the globe due to the unrestrained growth of a poison way of life, needless to say, I’m a little sore about the subject. When Lyn mentioned in class that Hunter and Gatherers only needed to forage for 2.5 days a week whereas food producing societies had to work for 5 days a week it got me thinking that we were tricked into working for a system that systematically restricts the freedom of people by forcing wage slavery upon them. If we were hunter gatherers we would have much more time for innovation and true progress. I personally think Diamond delusional speaks about the advent of food production as something advanced but I see it as a method by which humans have exploited the land to the point that its starting to burn not only the land but the indigenous people of the world, again. Its all about the story and how many believe it. I found this book speaking about the narrative of building empires from a single side of the coin. I believe, however that this story isn’t over and the fact that our society has been lagging in progression for the past 100 years due to our obsession with murder of not only our fellow humans but our planet as well has some truly inspirational lessons to be learned and dreams to be dreamt:
- If we can kick our addiction to oil and cars what would we do with our roads? -Imagine if we planted crops in place of our roads
- If we can maintain this era of peace with each other Imagine an era of peace with the land?-sure the human population has exploded and the inevitable population decline is on the horizon, but if we can control ourselves would we be able to transition from a species extinction event to a species explosion event?
I feel like Diamond has dreadfully failed to tell the story of indigenous people, although there are a lot of “facts” in the book, there is a distinct lack of “soul”. lots of great insightful information but talk about boring and repetitive in presentation.
This reminds me of a story one of my elders told me once:
There once was a white guy and a horse near a river bank setting up camp during the time of the colonials. a village of indigenous people were just up the river and they smelled him so they sent a couple of warriors to investigate the stink. When they came to the ridge that the white guy was they called in a spirit to investigate the guy so the spirit went down the hill and touched the white guy on the shoulder, he didn’t notice but the horse could see the spirit and started neighing and pulling on its ropes and the white guy screamed at the horse to shut up. The spirit returned to the indigenous warriors and said that the white guy didn’t feel it so the warriors put more energy into the spirit and sent it down to talk to the white guy at the river but when the spirit got there the white guy didn’t notice the spirit at all, but the horse started kicking and freaking out. The spirit returned to the indigenous warriors and told them that the white guy doesn’t have a spirit, and he was carrying a book that had a cross on it. The white guy was a priest.
Was Diamond just another white guy without a spirit?