top of page

Wild to Civilized

A Troubling Transformation

For all its benefits, today's advanced civilization has left us isolated and lonely, with serious environmental impacts that we likely cannot anticipate or control.

From small nomadic packs 

in the African wilderness . . .

. . . to megacities linked in

a global industrial civilization

Despite all the things that we appreciate about civilization -- technology, material wealth, art, music, and more -- at least one serious negative impact is involved:  the loss of close social relationships. Our relationships have become increasingly anonymous and impersonal, and based on classifying and relating to people in terms of categories such as occupational roles -- doctor, bank teller, check-out person, cab driver, store manager, and many more.

The price of civilization is also enormous environmental impact, far more extensive than just fossil fuel use and greenhouse gases. We are constantly extracting resources from the physical environment, and we will eventually lose those resources entirely. Or we may experience a sudden environmental impact that we have not anticipated. Given the U.S. government's deeply flawed, politicized response to the Covid pandemic, we cannot reasonably expect that the government can successfully engineer a reduction in environmental impacts without serious, negative unanticipated consequences.

In prehistoric Africa living in small nomadic packs, our environmental impact was virtually zero. One conclusion from this work would be to return -- to whatever extent possible -- to a less centralized, more decentralized mode -- for social as well as environmental reasons. For a government to "engineer" such a return would be contradictory, using a centralized formation to achieve decentralization. Rather, decision-making needs to happen at the local level, in smaller jurisdictions and at the local level of neighborhood and family.

homo habilis.jpg
bottom of page