Daniel Quinn is the author who gave us Ishmael, which catapulted him to fame in 1992. His second book, The Story of B (1996), includes his views on the historical and what we like to think of as “pre-historical” (i.e., pre-Greek) development of what he calls “totalitarian agriculture,” the gradual rise of which he links to population growth. Quinn argues that population expands in response to increase in food production, and not the other way around.
I’m reminded of a fact of life in the southern Idaho desert when I was a kid: massive rabbit road kill for a few years, and then whoosh! Hardly any rabbits, as coyotes ate enough rabbits to breed more and larger litters, which then led to humans killing coyotes, so rabbits increased again, and so on. A predictable cycle. Likewise, when I lived in Jackson Wyoming, it was common knowledge that when we kill wolves and other large predators, their scarcity allows deer and elk numbers to increase to the point where they seriously disturb ecosystem balance.
Daniel Quinn: for humans, the invention of totalitarian agriculture (which does not recognize humans as belonging to nature, but rather as dominators of nature), allowed population increase; the more the population grew, the more food was produced. This dynamic, led gradually, but then exponentially, to the point of scarcity (we live on a finite planet, remember) and therefore the need for more and more territory (on this finite planet, remember) which in turn bred first war, then crime, corruption, religion, slavery, state power, and so on. And where are we now in this seeming endless cycle on this finite planet? Is our only solution to colonize space?
Please read this document in its entirety, and join me in absorbing its possible implications, as we begin to realize that it’s not just “industrial agriculture” that is the issue. That’s only a couple of hundred years old. Imagine back 10,000 years to the origins of totalitarian agriculture in the mideast. The Boiling Frog is one chapter of Quinn’s second book, “The Story of B.”
Reader Rose sent me this piece today, with this comment: “I will not give much away in stating that the ending is (imho) a clarion call for a permaculture paradigm that acknowledges the pitfalls of ‘controlled’ Supply and Demand.”
Speaking of controlled supply and demand, I’m reminded of the fact that, due to floods, a large percentage of midwest corn did not get planted this year, and yet Trump has just signed a deal with Japan to buy much of our (“surplus” what surplus?) corn. Even if you don’t like corn, even if you see it as mostly GMO and likely glyphosated to boot, still, corn happens to be the principal lousy food of giant industrialized animal operations, and its scarcity will result in higher prices for animal products and who knows what else.
I speak within the dominant paradigm when I say that. Of course that paradigm needs to go. But what will it take for it to go? How many human beings will have to starve to death this time? Or be fodder for war, crime, corruption, slavery, trafficking, state control this time? Or suffer, along with all other beings, from the destruction of the natural world? We cannot turn to permaculture fast enough.
Please join me in absorbing the breadth and sweep, not to mention the possible implications of Daniel Quinn’s
And if you simply don’t have time or energy to actually plough through this document, search youtube for various videos, short and long.