Desi nu se pot nega anumite avantaje aduse de evolutia economico-tehnologica, o privire sceptica in acest domeniu se impune. Vom vedea imediat de ce prin scrierile lui Jared Diamond si Kirkpatrick Sale. Primul este un expert american in evolutionism, fiziolog si biogeograf recunoscut, castigator al Premiului Pulitzer si laureat al medaliai Nationale pentru Stiinta.
Iata ce scrie el in "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race":
"While the case for the progressivist view seems overwhelming, it’s hard to prove. How do you show that the lives of people 10,000 years ago got better when they abandoned hunting and gathering for farming? Until recently, archaeologists had to resort to indirect tests, whose results (surprisingly) failed to support the progressivist view. Here’s one example of an indirect test: Are twentieth century hunter-gatherers really worse off than farmers?
Scattered throughout the world, several dozen groups of so-called primitive people, like the Kalahari bushmen, continue to support themselves that way. It turns out that these people have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neighbors. For instance, the average time devoted each week to obtaining food is only 12 to 19 hours for one group of Bushmen, 14 hours or less for the Hadza nomads of Tanzania. One Bushman, when asked why he hadn’t emulated neighboring tribes by adopting agriculture, replied, "Why should we, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?"
While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a bettter balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen’s average daily food intake (during a month when food was plentiful) was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It’s almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s. (...)
Similar contrasts in nutrition and health persist on a global scale today. To people in rich countries like the U. S., it sounds ridiculous to extol the virtues of hunting and gathering. But Americans are an élite, dependent on oil and minerals that must often be iimproted from countries with poorer health and nutrition. If one could choose between being a peasant farmer in Ethiopia or a bushman gatherer in the Kalahari, which do you think would be the better choice? [... ]
Studies by George Armelagos and his colleagues then at the University of Massachusetts show these early farmers paid a price for their new-found livelihood. Compared to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them, the farmers had a nearly 50 percent increase in [tooth] enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia (evidenced by a bone condition called porotic hyperostosis), a threefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably reflecting a lot of hard physical labor. “Life expectancy at birth in the pre-agricultural community was about twenty-six years,” says Armelagos, “but in the post-agricultural community it was nineteen years. So these episodes of nutritional stress and infectious disease were seriously affecting their ability to survive.”
Iata asadar ca vietile asa-zisilor "salbatici" erau si, acolo unde e cazul, sunt mai relaxate si mai sanatoase decat cele ale celor care i-au urmat. Fermierii, considerati pe o treapta superioara a evolutiei fata de vanatori-culegatori se pare ca au avut parte de o existenta mult mai scurta si chinuita decat predecesorii lor.
Odata cu aparitia agriculturii, conform lui Diamond, „besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions.” Pe scurt, ceea ce s-a considerat a fi un pas inainte a insemnat pentru populatie, din multe puncte de vedere, un adevarat dezastru.
Ca sa revenim la timpuri mai recente, este oare actuala oranduire planetara, dominata de capitalism, cu adevarat un semn de dezvoltare si progres? Kirkpatrick Sale, cercetator independent, ne ajuta sa gasim raspunsul. Nu, actuala stare de lucruri nu face decat sa ne indreptateasca sa credem ca progresul e doar un mit.
"E.E. Cummings once called progress a "comfortable disease" of modern "manunkind," and so it has been for some. But at any time since the triumph of capitalism only a minority of the world's population could be said to be really living in comfort, and that comfort, continuously threatened, is achieved at considerable expense.
Today of the approximately 6 billion people in the world, it is estimated that at least a billion live in abject poverty, lives cruel, empty, and mercifully short. Another 2 billion eke out life on a bare subsistence level, usually sustained only by one or another starch, the majority without potable drinking water or sanitary toilets. More than 2 million more live at the bottom edges of the money economy but with incomes less than $5,000 a year and no property or savings, no net worth to pass on to their children. That leaves less than a billion people who even come close to struggling for lives of comfort, with jobs and salaries of some regularity, and a quite small minority at the top of that scale who could really be said to have achieved comfortable lives; in the world, some 350 people can be considered (U.S. dollar) billionaires (with slightly more than 3 million millionaires), and their total net worth is estimated to exceed that of 45 per cent of the world's population.
This is progress? A disease such a small number can catch? And with such inequity, such imbalance?
In the U.S., the most materially advanced nation in the world and long the most ardent champion of the notion of progress, some 40 million people live below the official poverty line and another 20 million or so below the line adjusted for real costs; 6 million or so are unemployed, more than 30 million said to be too discouraged to look for work, and 45 million are in "disposable" jobs, temporary and part-time, without benefits or security. the top 5 percent of the population owns about two-thirds of the total wealth; 60 percent own no tangible assets or are in debt; in terms of income, the top 20 percent earn half the total income, the bottom 20 percent less than 4 percent of it.
All this hardly suggests the sort of material comfort progress is assumed to have provided."
Citat luat din articolul "Five Facets of a Myth".
Totusi, nu se poate spune ca civilizatia a dus la sporirea duratei de viata? Nu este aceasta o dovada ca progresul aduce castiguri concrete si importante? Primul raspuns poate fi ca nu este clar cat de mult va dura aceasta longevitate, date fiind reducerea drastica si constanta a resurselor naturale si scaderea calitatii mediului inconjurator. Mai departe insa, jurnalistul Richard Heinberg scrie in "The Primitivist Critique of Civilization":
"In terms of health and quality of life, civilization has been a mitigated disaster. S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., et al., argued in The Paleolithic Prescription (1988) that pre agricultural peoples enjoyed a generally healthy way of life, and that cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, emphysema, hypertension, and cirrhosis--which together lead to 75 percent of all mortality in industrialized nations--are caused by our civilized lifestyles. In terms of diet and exercise, preagricultural lifestyles showed a clear superiority to those of agricultural and civilized peoples.
Much-vaunted increases in longevity in civilized populations have resulted not so much from wonder drugs, as merely from better sanitation--a corrective for conditions created by the overcrowding of cities; and from reductions in infant mortality. It is true that many lives have been spared by modern antibiotics. Yet antibiotics also appear responsible for the evolution of resistant strains of microbes, which health officials now fear could produce unprecedented epidemics in the next century."
Civilizatia si progresul au vindecat anumite boli, dar au si creat multe altele, iar progresul in durata de viata se pare ca se datoreaza unor factori mai putin spectaculosi si care nu necesita un grad de civilizatie iesit din coimun, care ar putea fi mentinute chiar si daca am renunta la multe din aspctele vietii moderne. De altfel avem in prezent exemple de populatii primitive ce bat recorduri de longevitate, precum cei din insulele japoneze Okinawa.
Ce concluzie tragem din aceasta expunere? Dupa ce am aflat ca primii umanoizi au avut parte de un trai mai relaxat si in privinte esentiale (miscare fizica si dieta) mai sanatos decat cei de azi; ca oranduirea sociala dominanta de azi a produs dezechilibre si inegalitati monstruoase, dublate de conditii de viata precare pentru un numar enorm de oameni; si ca unul dintre cele mai importante castiguri aduse de "progres" poate fi mentinut fara eforturi extraordinare, o privire sceptica asupra notiunii de "progres" se impune. Evident, nu trebuie sa renuntam la avantajele aduse de civilizatie, insa acestea se dovedesc considerabil mai putine decat la o prima vedere. Asadar, inainte de a ne irosi eforturile pe viitor manati de filosofia hei-rupista a muncii asidue si progresului, e cazul sa ne gandim de doua ori cu privire la utilitatea per-total a actiunilor noastre.
Redistributia veniturilor, reducerea inegalitatilor socio-economice si diminuarea drastica a cantitatii de munca trebuie sa devina la randul lor idealuri, intentia de a "progresa" devenind doar una dintre multele alte interese ale speciei umane.