One of the greatest German philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer once said “The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness”. Jared Diamond, a professor of physiology at UCLA, attempted to prove, in a roundabout way, that agricultural societies left human civilization worse off than any hunter-gatherer society would have. After researching into this matter, Professor Diamond concluded that through the build-up of such agrarian societies, the current social scale is a disorderly hazard.
Agrarian society was the more prominent as hunter-gatherer societies began to settle down and transit into permanent settlements where agriculture could flourish and provide for their welfare. Yet from Professor Diamond’s research, the hunter-gatherers had a more balanced diet with adequate and even a surplus of the healthy amount of calories needed per day. On the other hand, a agrarian society would mass plant one crop such as rice or potatoes and deplete the nutrients of the soil while not fulfilling their necessary health with needed calories and other sources of food vital for their physiological needs. It is obvious that there was a lack of balance between the two societies on the matter of resources. The hunter-gatherers would have had more protein and more calories for them to expedite their energy rather than growing few types of crops and filling up on ‘empty’ calories.
There is even further friction and advantages seem to only be held by the hunter-gatherers. The epitome of any hunter-gatherer society can be summed up in Albert Einstein’s saying,
“Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
While the hunter-gatherer societies were simpler than the agrarian societies, they found working harmony to their ways of life and thrived in difficulty. Quite simply, their lives were a daily challenge. Hunting, foraging, and travelling only hardened them with strength and bestowed upon them more abilities. In such a society, everyone regardless of age and gender had to contribute. Children were born every four years or so or they would have to rely too much on the mother which would disrupt part of their work to survive.
Whereas, the agricultural societies was to simply congregate into one community for the ease of all people which not only makes them lax in contrast to these hunter-gatherers but more susceptible to diseases and other problems that usually come when masses of humans come together in towns or cities. As such societies evolve, it is only natural that divisions such as feudalism and serfdom arise and the seeds of sexism take root. Fields and crops became more valuable than any child, so women became less important to society than men and so were left with the domestic jobs which would further prompt unequal treating of the opposite gender. Enviromental issues also rose, with such population inefficient cess pools (primitive pits) full of human feces and excrements came to be, spreading pollution. A modern example of pollution by such a large society would be the dense-white smog of Beijing’s city where millions upon millions of cars spew out the pollution into the air making the city one of the most air-polluted on Earth.
With the help of time, the agrarians would become more settled and birth-rate would skyrocket with the help of both a settled environment and a large supply of food. However, hunter-gatherers had smaller supplies of food yet benefitted even more off of it in terms of physiology and society. Although they could not support large populations or cities, disease was not rampant among them nor did any unfair cultural development tie them down as it did to the agrarians. If one were to scale the differences between the many sickly and the few healthy, the choice to make would of course be the latter.
Humans are naturally social animals so it would have been impossible to avoid such a development in our specie’s history.
As one observes this fascinating comparison between two such different ways of life, one cannot help but think that the hunter-gatherers of today’s world such as the proud peoples of the Amazon, the few remaining tribes of Africa, and certainly the Inuit are considered “third-world” despite the amount of advantages they hold over the civilizations we see today that have climbed far up the so called “tree of progress”.
- Matt Schmitt