The Exchange

rogue-primateWe have exchanged wild belongingness for domesticated separation and planetary domination (13). Human domestication depends on ‘how-to-do-it’ (14; also, see the previous post). Wild relationships are ‘mutualistic’, whereas domestic relationships are more hierarchical (17). The ‘compulsion to comply’–which we myopically call ‘human decency’–is genetic, not cultural. It is necessary for social animals, whether wild or domestic (17). Relationships require animals to gather in groups. However, there are upper density limits for most species. Exceed them and mayhem ensues and the compulsion to comply becomes the need to resist (18-19).

Domesticates (including us) are no longer wild in some important ways: not only can they withstand far greater densities, they are more docile, they are slower to mature socially but quicker physically, and they are far more promiscuous (19-25). Evidence strongly suggests that before the domestication of the dog or any animal, or a plant, we domesticated fire (28-31). Unlike language, which is internal, or tools, which are an extension of us, fire is external. Control of an external technology is a uniquely human feat, yet ‘some of our reliance gradually shifted away from the collective toward non-mutualistic unilateral dependence on skills and knowledge’ (31).

The pattern of external how-to is set; the path towards domesticated separation and planetary domination is before us. But it is not the pattern we follow nor the path we walk that makes us unique. It is not what we have done, but what we have become. As a species we no longer fit an ecological niche. We are placeless. We are no longer wild. We are domesticates. Instead of being in balance with our biology, with Nature, we depend on our prosthetic device, our culture.

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