Contemporary Ripples of Early Monocultures (draft & incomplete essay thought)

It’s urgent that our species begin to agree on root problems of our cultural diseases. If these are taken as something we have no hand in, that we didn’t create, it hinders our ability to conceive of a world without them. Winston Churchill said that our first we design our buildings and then they design us.

Guiding the evolution of social systems. After millions of years, maybe we should start trying to do that?

1) If something is “selected for” does this mean it is inherently good? How does ethics relate to functionality for culture?

Ethics are disorienting. Determining if ‘something’ selected for is good or bad depends on weighing the short and long term changes to the evolutionary causal chain. For starters, there isn’t enough information in the word good or bad to say enough about what we are discussing. They create a binary pendulum for our minds and subsequently our inquiry to be limited to. If it’s not bad it must be good? With all that aside, I would have to say that if something selected for creates conditions conducive for life to continue then it should be close to being defined as good. It seems like complex life systems are good or healthy when they are creating more and more symbiotic interdependent relationships to life within its own and neighboring life communities in response to the laws of physics of this universe life finds itself in.

2) Are there different levels of change that occur at the same time in human cultures? Can you think of a few examples?

One of the most fascinating levels of change across a large time scale in space/time still unfolding at different levels is the selection pressure created by the earliest monocultures. When our brains evolved to categorize things we sought to execute a narrow definition of efficiency by concentrating plants or animals into a controlled homogenous grouping. This invited the strings of life attached to these chosen victims to be homogenized and concentrated as well to reflect the human preference for order and efficiency in our growing minds. Our minds might just now understand the unintended consequences that we wrought on ourselves. To the time scales we were considering this fit a narrow definition of efficiency and secured human life from the fluctuations in seasonal food variability, limitations. A law of nature or commandment by Gaia that we have not heeded. The organisms at different levels that considered those monocultured plants and animals home or a food source reflected the numbers or density of these monocultures. This came to be a mental reflex of our thinking which galvanized what I call the ‘clear cut approach’. I will link an example of this from a recent instagram post of mine. One of the earlier targeted victims of our fresh categorizing brains was grain and livestock. Instead of growing a diverse population of foods in an area it became efficient to grow fields of grain because it had a long shelf life to hold us over when the levels of photosynthesis or metabolism in a bioregion were diminished by the season of winter. This is one of the earliest denial of limitations of our species. It was, in the year of 2020 hindsight (see Nora Bateson), a short term or band-aid solution to the reality of living on a spherical rotating and orbiting body whose sole source of life is its star, Father Sun(?).

The monoculture grain fields were like a grocery store for various insects and pathogens. It simultaneously made us more vulnerable because cereal grain based diets lack micronutrients and Omega fatty acids which help with the uptake of iron for blood production. Today micronutrients may be a substantial factor in the limitations of our immune systems (See John Kempf’s interview with Dan Kittredge on the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast 10. Measuring Nutrient Density with Dan Kittredge) We also domesticated livestock and concentrated them near our settlements. Domesticated livestock lack Omega fatty acids as well. Concentrated populations of people and domesticated plants in monocultures, and animals invited zoonosis, especially from cross species milk consumption and created a springboard for mosquito diseases to bounce between vectors and evolve. A few examples are the cold virus from horses, bird flew chickenpox and shingles from chickens, influenza from pigs and ducks, measles, tuberculosis, and smallpox from cattle. Because agriculture in south and central America did not domesticate livestock, they avoided zoonotic diseases like those from the mosquito. Disease was a large part of early agricultural society and may have influenced the sacrifice reflex to appease gods. They were hopeless to address the situation and sacrifice served as a comforting plan of action. Interestingly, their evolved disgust reflex to stinky anaerobic waters led them in the right direction of the culprit, to the miasma hypothesis. Miasma hypotheses says that diseases come from noxious fumes, particles, or simply “bad air” leaching and misting from stagnant water marshes and swamps. Malaria comes from the Greek word for “bad air”… “mal aria”. They were on the right scent because this is where mosquitoes eggs were dropped and grew (“The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator” by Timothy C. Winegard)

Tangent: Is malaria via mosquito’s a Gaian defense response to early actions of the ecosystem subjugation tactics inherent in the ‘clear cut approach’ monoculture reflex? The city reflex and the subsequent war and conquest reflex that it necessitates breed the mosquito maladies across the planet as empires push wider and wider. I wonder if the mosquito is perhaps the original climate refugee. As the Apex predator throughout our odyssey it appears that her role in our relationship is to act as a countermeasure against and control human population growth she has no purpose other than to propagate her pieces and perhaps kill humans. After World War II malaria has lowered GDP 35% from its sickness, crippling’s, and death. Perhaps a blessing in disquise? Malaria seems to go straight for population reduction because it targets pregnant women and young children whose immune system’s are yet to be developed and so unable to defend against the mechanism of malaria. Malarial fevers also cook sperm when they reach 106° reducing male fertility. Holy crap! Mountain Dew? More like Malaria is reducing sperm count!

The first appearance of sickle cell anemia was a direct result of expansive agriculture encroaching on formally undisturbed mosquito habitats 8,000 years ago. Later on the chapter he said it was 8,000 BCE. Have to dig into this one. Bantu farmers began concentrated yam and plantain cultivation along the Niger river delta slashing south to the Congo river and “woke the mosquito from her isolated slumber”. I’d like to learn more about the specifics in the word “woke”. The yams they ate helped protect them because it releases a chemical that inhibits falciparum production, a type of malaria. With the help of this evolved immunity and iron weapons, pastoral Bantu farmers drove Khoisan, San, Pygmy, & Mande peoples to the southern coastal fringes of the African continent, where cattle weren’t suited. Falciparum malaria served perhaps as a ‘Gaian biological force field’ around their territory. Xhosa, Shona, and Zulu empires grew from this womb. Irrigation and the deliberate diversion of waterways, that agriculture necessitated, maximized the mosquito’s ability to procreate.This is an unaccounted for cost of the “efficiencies” irrigation. This is another example of our young evolving intelligence inability to calculate costs from stumbling into and around the web of life like a drunk.

The Colombian Exchange (See Alfred Crosby) was a clashing of two evolutionarily isolated causal chains. The diseases that were brought over when high density monoculture humans met the new world decimated around 80–90% of the natives. This ultimately resulted in a dip in the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere because land that had previously been managed by Native Americans. It was then overgrown by tree vegetation that which abruptly sequestered carbon from the atmosphere. The original domino was monocultures, the urge to bend ecosystems to a narrow human use. This led to a concordant dispersal of the cultural diversity of the remaining indigenous people. Desperation became a strong driver of cultural evolution as well, and continues to operate on our global capitalist mechanisms that currently create profit from a bastardized relationship to our food source and in turn create sickness. This is a lovely example of capitalism’s revered ability to create something out of nothing. Human health and holistic health of the Gaian tree of life is a market to be liquidated. However, I think it’s worth understanding the strengths of capitalism to harvest the baby from its bath water and compost the rest (See John Fullerton’s white paper on Regenerative Capitalism).

Early states also came to take the idea of having to perpetually build and maintain decaying infrastructure as a given fact of nature or evolution. Through the evasive cultural evolution vector, shifting baseline syndrome, the building and maintenance of infrastructure originated with the fact that cities had to keep a steady population of free slave laborers. We grandfathered this into our culture as unquestionable in our municipal tax payments. We take it as a fundamental law of nature when we created the conditions for it and to this day we use fossil fuels and diminishing earth mineral supplies to rebuild our roads which only lubricate the combustion of ancient photosynthesis from the savings of prehistoric sunlight (See William Catton Jr. “Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change). Humans work to make their civilization systems streamline, and therefore, fragile, in their singular focus dependent on a narrow and collapsing food web, further diminishing Gaia’s carrying capacity. Annuals are also taken as non-negotiable tool to feed ourselves and they create the norm of heavy tillage agriculture which washes ‘away our future into the sea’ (Sea, pun intended, “Thinking Like a Mountain” chapter in Aldo Leopold’s book “Sand County Almanac”.

Did nature’s response to monocultures also begin the galvanization of the adversarial posture in relation to nature? Seeing monocultures as natural or necessary invites ecological conditions that when seen move us to conclude nature as naturally malevolent to humans. In a world semi-regularly populated with nomadic humans, stationary states invited the necessity of a “defense” expense added to the tax payer “Matrix” human harvesting tower. Early states were convenient grain bins to raid for more nomadic cultures. This gave a habitat for the stereotype of barbarian/nomad/Mongolian unfairly robbing the dense food stores as well as easy docile livestock to “hunt”.

Separation from nature begins with domestication. As nature punishes monocultures humans begin the ritual of sacrifice. It’s fascinating that humans intuited themselves as copiable for the epidemic, perhaps an example of the bodily intelligence trying to its way to our runaway rational brains. Is this is a feature of living on a dynamic breathing living loving planet? Thanks Gaia ❤

A pending question of mine tied to my heart’s desire to believe Gaia is conscious, loving, or benign is that either by both the law of physics and or the self built Gaian layers of redundancy to ensure ethical conduct by inhabitants, that there are distress signals that pop up when her design aspirations are being compromised. These signals were not perceived as the distress signals they were but as a reason for humans to divorce from nature/God/Gaia because of her incorrigible response to monocultures, domestication, and early CAFO humans cities. We were breaking the laws of nature. We need to reunite with our evolved spiritual capacities that temper our runaway rational short term thinking brains. Here’s an earlier potentially non-sensicle muse of mine exploring this rabbit hole ( I’m particularly intrigued about learning more about “Mbraining”, the hypothesis that our intelligence is a choreography between our brain, gut, and heart. How do we accept Gaian butterflies planted in our stomachs?

Sedentary life increased reproduction. Over thousands of years this compounds and hunter gatherers become a minority. It’s also difficult to carry more than one baby at a time with a mobile lifestyle. Sedentary cultures were able to raise children more rapidly at ages closer together. Disease pressure didn’t favor nomadic people. Immunities to the pathogens we stewarded were not selected for in native peoples of the new world or second hemisphere. If war is inevitable or unquestioned then the proper maximization of capital was not killing the victims but enslaving them (See James C. Scott’s “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States).

Eventually, European culture affected (infected?) the nature and metaphors around currency in Native American culture. Wampum was made from whelks & quahogs by hollowing them out. Once Natives started using a metal drill, which was adopted from European technology, they were able to increase production of wampum. Europeans were happy to increase and spread its use to other tribes because it facilitated trade. This seems to be similar to what S. C. Gywnne referred to as ‘cultural pollution’ in “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quana Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Trive in American History”. I think further inquiry into the cultural evolution of Native American culture from the compression of their population westward, particularly following the Trail of Tears, is worth looking into more. For example, the Cherokee had been calling young America’s bluff by abiding by their demands to fit the definition of civilized. Some of those conditions were, having their own text constitution and a written language. They even had their own slaves and were participating in the rising ‘Global Ameoba’ economy (See Nathan Haga’s “Earth vs. The Amoeba” on YouTube, Jill Lepore’s “These Truths: A History of the United States” and Daniel Immerwahr’s “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States”. An early populist figure in American cultural degeneration was Andrew Jackson. He sold a narrative that the Cherokee were the only thing between them and their economic desperation. America used their British Monarchy flavored standing army to remove them from their soil which had gold under it. Gold just seems like a lifeless worthless mineral to the Gaian tree of life but to desperate over dense European culture it was currency. To the Spanish conquistadors gold was life. Many aspects of European culture were adopted by natives via appealing technology. Gwynne’s use of the word pollution isn’t as appropriate in this case since natives already had their own currency but used it differently.

The exchange of wampum was an aspect of native culture that could be compared to European culture because it was used as a token of status or social exchange. Leaders of villages, known as sachems, could “pay” their constituents for undo acts of god, so to speak. When the European diseases ravaged natives, the sachems would often pay their people to either expand or retain their power/influence among their people. This affected the power dynamics within tribes and individuals within them. Previously, the majority of natives did not handle wampum, and were even reluctant to own it because it can instigate confrontation among the wampum unwritten cultural language of status hierarchy (“Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England” by William Cronon. I see this as the infiltration of currency facilitating social transactions rather than maintaining relationships that characterizes western non-bioregional materialist culture.

The growing seeds of remote shareholder extraction, today exemplifies itself by Wall Street wolves, expresses itself explicitly at this time history. American’s systematically removed wolves from America and they popped up in our diseased global economic amoeba! As the fur industry in Europe dwindled, the Amoeba expanded its tentacles into the wealth of beaver biomass and pipelined it across the Atlantic to Victorian Bourgeoisie culture. The long evolved bioregional relationships were being deconstructed and fiscally corrupted ones built in its place.

Thanks for sparking such dam break of my pent up reading knowledge I’ve been storing so long Joe! The frustrations I have with our current cultural norms and expectations are visceral for me. Here’s a review of Lennard Davis’ “Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body” In the future I’d like to further articulate this developing cultural diagnosis manual to assess how the same mechanisms that exacerbate disability in our world are creating similar biological symptoms throughout landscapes, Gaian flesh.

Seeking ways of evolving humans from within & out, zero sum to symbiosis w/ Gaia. #auburnpermaculturepark & @EcoResCamps member. See “Welcome to Benni Blog”.