[P2P-F] What do I Know?

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Tue Jul 25 10:33:00 CEST 2017

thank you Anna,

perhaps we can formulate it the following way

we both reject relations of domination and extraction towards people and

and the question is, if we want to remove them substantially, or totally,
what the causes are ? obviously where we locate them is important

so if we look at the relations of domination over nature, then by and
large, I don't think there is any question that indigenous en non-modern
peoples lived dramatically lighter on the planet, and related to non-human
nature in ways that reflected the recognized inter-dependence of humanity
with the totality of beings and things

if we look at the relations with people, then it seems clear that
human-gathering societies were vastly more egalitarian in nature, but,
there was actually more violence with people 'outside' the community;
however, there were also tribal societies that were very violent internally
(think about the vikings). Once class-society set in however, then the
violence became structural , institutional, structured as formal domination
and extraction.

And with capitalism, the relationship with nature became vastly extractive
and destructive; the structural social relationships changed into new forms
of exploitation, and vast social movements counter-balanced the domination
and extraction.

So what does it mean in removing them. If we remove capitalism, we remove a
vast amount of structural extraction, exploitation and violence; but if we
revert or transform into other forms of class society, we will still have
other forms of structural exploitation; If we remove 'class society'
altogether, we'll have removed much more. What then remains is "culture".
How can we avoid the cultural determinants of intersubjective violence ?

Obviously, we can learn a lot form indigenous practices, but re-instating
the forms of violence practiced in those cultures is not something that
would be useful.

My view is that we are hybrid beings, that both genders and
no/trans-genders are mixes, and that we need structures and cultures that
bring the best out of us, and most importantly capacities to manage
conflicts with no or minimal amounts of violence.

Both agression and non-agression are potentials in all of us, how we
express is very largely determined by our societies.

One approach I would find very promising is that of the prosocial movement
of david sloan wilson for example, which looks at the traits of 'high-pro'
individuals , and how to socially promote them, inspire 'mid-pro'
individuals to emulate them, and to limit the expressions of low-pro

We don't need hierarchy to 'repress' the potential agression, but a
supportive culture and social structure,


On Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 2:58 PM, Anna Harris <anna at shsh.co.uk> wrote:

> Dear Michel,
> Rereading your emails, there seem to be two conflicting themes. The
> evidence you quote about decreasing levels of violence in our 'civilised'
> societies, seems to indicate the need to restrain natural male aggression,
> supporting Ranjani's point, which I have questioned.
> In our 'civilised' society, in my view, all our relationships have
> elements of 'power over', reflecting the hierarchical and class divisions
> you mention. We know that power over relationships naturally engender
> aggression because they threaten the autonomy and freedom of the
> individual, both the one with power and the one subjugated, and thus
> necessitate repressive measures to avoid conflict.
> Entering post civilisation processes then, (as I understand that term
> without I confess having read the book) insofar as they develop a more
> egalitarian society, can in my view, resolve the cause of aggression and
> the need for repressive measures - (here is the importance of quoting the
> example of small band hunter gatherer societies as being more egalitarian
> and less aggressive)
> However, if men are aggressive by nature, those repressive measures will
> still be needed, which reinstates hierarchy, and we are back to square one.
> Anna
> On 24 Jul 2017, at 15:45, Anna Harris <anna at shsh.co.uk> wrote:
> Dear Michel,
> We have had this discussion before, and you have failed to convince me. My
> reading seems to have taken me in the opposite direction, coming across
> many who see prehistory, and some still existing people, eg aborigines, as
> a time when people lived harmoniously with each other and environment.
> 'Australian aboriginal people have lived in harmony with the earth for
> perhaps as long as 100,000 years; in their words, since the First Day. In
> this absorbing work, Lawlor explores the essence of their culture as a
> source of and guide to transforming our own world view. While not
> romanticizing the past or suggesting a return to the life of the
> hunter/gatherer, *Voices of the First Day* enables us to enter into the
> mentality of the oldest continuous culture on earth and gain insight into
> our own relationship with the earth and to each other.
> This book offers an opportunity to suspend our values, prejudices, and
> Eurocentrism and step into the Dreaming to discover:
> • A people who rejected agriculture, architecture, writing, clothing, and
> the subjugation of animals
> • A lifestyle of hunting and gathering that provided abundant food of
> unsurpassed nutritional value
> • Initiatic and ritual practices that hold the origins of all esoteric,
> yogic, magical, and shamanistic traditions
> • A sexual and emotional life that afforded diversity and fluidity as well
> as marital and social stability
> • A people who valued kinship, community, and the law of the Dreamtime as
> their greatest "possessions."
> • Language whose richness of structure and vocabulary reveals new worlds
> of perception and comprehension.
> • A people balanced between the Dreaming and the perceivable world, in
> harmony with all species and living each day as the First Day.'
> Anna
> On 24 Jul 2017, at 14:19, Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net> wrote:
> dear Anna,
> if you read anthropological accounts of Amazonian native tribes, such as
> in the books of Pierre Clastre (societies against the state), and others,
> then it seems that warfare was endemic, he even describes it as 'their
> favourite passtime'; at the same time, it was more 'sporadic' , since
> nomadic tribes can move and thus avoid protacted conflict. This is in 'our
> times', so you could argue that it was different 'in the past'. The
> evidence does not support it. I had to revise my romantic notions that
> prehistory was less violent. That evidence was not yet available in the
> books I used to read in my youth.
> Here is the study showing violence has percentually decreased since
> prehistoric times:
> here is the key passage: "I have collected data on violent deaths; the
> long list of sources can be found below. These data show that in
> prehistoric times (archeological evidence) and in non-state societies
> (ethnographic evidence) the levels of violence was much higher than in
> modern state societies and in the world today."
> from https://ourworldindata.org/ethnographic-and-
> archaeological-evidence-on-violent-deaths/
> the study (of studies) summarized:
> "The proportion of human deaths phylogenetically predicted to be caused
> by interpersonal violence stood at 2%. This value was similar to the one
> phylogenetically inferred for the evolutionary ancestor of primates and
> apes, indicating that a certain level of lethal violence arises owing to
> our position within the phylogeny of mammals. It was also similar to the
> percentage seen in prehistoric bands and tribes, indicating that we were as
> lethally violent then as common mammalian evolutionary history would
> predict. However, the level of lethal violence has changed through human
> history and can be associated with changes in the socio-political
> organization of human populations. Our study provides a detailed
> phylogenetic and historical context against which to compare levels of
> lethal violence observed throughout our history."
> http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v538/n7624/full/nature19758.html
> On Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 8:03 PM, Anna Harris <anna at shsh.co.uk> wrote:
>> Thank you Michel. Actually I was just questioning whether aggression and
>> violence are a *natural* tendency in males, which has to be supressed.
>> As Rajani says:
>> "They managed to restrain male destructive drives – which are the scourge
>> of all living things -  within the prison of affective, kin relations to
>> the extent  humanly possible:"
>> And unlike you I do not see aggression and nurturing as polarities in
>> each of us. The evidence of prehistory as I have been reading would seem to
>> suggest that for many hundreds of thousands of years groups of small band
>> hunter gatherers lived harmoniously without need for interfighting.
>> See my article : http://sublimemagazine.com/healthy-birth-healthy-earth
>> Anna
>> On 24 Jul 2017, at 10:10, Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net>
>> wrote:
>> Thanks for this reaction Anna,
>> I agree about agression and nurturing to be polarities in each of us,
>> which may then be culturally re-inforced and fixated in all kinds of ways
>> by cultures and societies,
>> But patriarchy predates EM by thousands of years, and gendering predates
>> patriarchy by tens of thousands if not more. It is easy to forget that even
>> in tribal societies, with very strong nurturing, and this could be true
>> even for matriarchal societies (who engaged in hunt and had to defend
>> themselves), that male initiation was especially geared towards
>> de-sensitizing males and habituating them to violence. A meta-study last
>> year was pretty unequivocal: the amount of human to human violence has
>> dramatically decreased over time. Civilizational and nation-state based
>> wars can have a terrible cost, but overall, the percentages are
>> dramatically lower than in most tribal societies (anthropologists and
>> others have counted skeletons and how they died, i.e. percentage of signs
>> of violence vs illnesses etc..)
>> Ironically, though the balance and positions between males and females
>> have varied over time, I think only EM derivatives have allowed the
>> flexibility you describe.
>> The question is: can this be married with a return to nurturing ? To the
>> degree that we can enter post-civilisational processes (see A. Chandler for
>> a definition of civilization that is specifically linked to class based
>> societies, the need for internal repression, and thus , the need to
>> de-sensitize and make nurturing more difficult), we can develop renewed
>> nurturing practices. I see a lot of evidence of this around me, and more
>> specifically, in EM derived cultures, while where I live hear in East Asia,
>> maybe because of earlier forms of EM influences, the evolution may go in
>> the other direction (a lot of east-asian women in the middle classes do not
>> want to nourish their children directly because of aesthetic reasons for
>> example, and the men have to work harder and are less at home). The
>> movement for labor, gender, race and civic rights, to the degree they are
>> protests against hierarchical and class divisions, are post-civilisational
>> and create the basis for renewed emphasis on nurturing. (see how maternal
>> and paternal leave allows parents to spend more time with their children)
>> Michel
>> <<Message: 1
>> Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:41:24 +0100
>> From: Anna Harris <anna at shsh.co.uk>
>> To: P2P Foundation mailing list <p2p-foundation at lists.ourproject.org>,
>>         rkanth at fas.harvard.edu
>> Subject: Re: [P2P-F] Fwd: What do I Know?
>> Message-ID: <624F7EB1-C7EF-44A6-A7E6-6F63E0A5B48D at shsh.co.uk>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>> Dear Rajani,
>>  In this long rant there are nuggets of truth which shine, but I have a
>> quibble with one particular statement which is fundamental to your
>> approach, - that men are naturally aggressive and violent.
>> "I also know that men and women are profoundly,  and naturally,
>> dissimilar.
>> By instinct,  men are aggressive and violent, and  women are nurturing".
>> Our definition of what is masculine and what is feminine has been defined
>> for us by our culture which, as you have demonstrated, has been
>> contaminated with EM values. These definitions are being questioned now by
>> people who don't fit in to these gender categories, who are demanding at an
>> increasingly younger age, to be seen as non binary. Those of us who grew up
>> with these definitions may be becoming more fully aware of our own
>> discomfort at being thrust into one or other of these gender categories.
>> Progressives have got so far as to allow that masculine and feminine
>> energies exist in both men and women. But it seems a bridge too far to
>> question the very definition of masculine and feminine as culturally
>> dictated.
>> While this may seem peripheral to your whole thesis, I view it as a
>> radical challenge to the foundations of patriarchal culture which rests on
>> the primary division between male and female. (Unfortunately this has
>> currently been taken over by big pharma, since it paves the way for drug
>> dependency from an early age, and has actually created more confusion about
>> having to decide to be one or the other.)
>> Nevertheless the basic categories are being questioned and fatally
>> blurred, so that being yourself is what really matters. This is a really
>> positive step towards your kin based affective society, where kin is seen
>> as including all beings.
>> Anna
>> --
>> Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at:
>> http://commonstransition.org
>> P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net
>> <http://lists.ourproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/p2p-foundation>Updates:
>> http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens
>> #82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
> --
> Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at:
> http://commonstransition.org
> P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net
> <http://lists.ourproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/p2p-foundation>Updates:
> http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens
> #82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/

Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at: http://commonstransition.org

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens

#82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
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