Pre-neolithic vs industrial man – were they better than us?

Affluence Without Abundance

Affluence Without Abundance

I am reading Affluence Without Abundance – The disappearing world of the bushmen by James Suzman. Mr. Suzman argues that, in their own terms, pre-Neolithic (e.g. Paleolithic ) hunter gatherers were more successful than modern man. A bold claim. So I thought I’d test it out.

Suzman qualifies his statement with “in their own term” because values change over time. In the 21st century we value granite topped kitchen work surfaces, a new smart phone every year and talking about our rights. Your Paleolithic man, by contrast, appears to have valued a shorter working week, abundant natural diversity and an ecology which was not on the verge of collapse. Horses for courses and who are we to judge?

I have completed an in depth comparison of the two systems; hunter/gatherer and industrial. Hopefully we can learn lessons from the discrepancies between the two. Obviously there may be some aspects to both cultures that I have omitted but, as can be seen, the case is not nearly as clear cut as Mr. Suzman claims. Hunter gatherers may have been more in harmony with nature but they had no ice cream. So much for science? No, the point is that Population Matters!

Pre-neolythic Industrial Man
Existed for over a 100,000 years Has existed less than 1,000 years
Only had to work about 15 hours a week Works all the hours gods send
Couldn’t read or write Can barely read or write
Ate a diet of fruit, vegetables and some meat Eats a diet of sugar, fat and salt
Eschewed possessions as encumbrances Created an ideology based on avarice
Worshiped absurd gods and spirits Worships celebrity and material goods
Lived in harmony with their environment Expanding population exponentially and decimating the environment
Colonised every continent except Antarctica Put a man on the moon
Created  cave art which was freely available to anyone Created are which is mostly shut up in secure storage
Presumably ruled by the current alpha male using personal relationships, influence and occasional violence to keep others in line Ruled by a complex system of power residing in a tiny minority of super rich who use a global media and marketing system along with gigantic institutions of coercion and violence to keep everyone else in line
Had no access to alcohol Brews some excellent pale ales especially those using American hops to give a delicious hoppy finish
No ice cream Created shops to sell ice cream at 3am


Affluence Without Abundance

Affluence Without Abundance


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