Comment 70952

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2011 at 20:26:50

Life in prehistoric times was harsh and brutal. Life in ancient and medieval times was better, but no cakewalk. Life expectancy in 16th century England was just 35 years, and "murderous brawls and violent death were everyday occurences".

The average agricultural/civilized human didn't surpass the nutritional content of the average prehistoric hunter-gatherer until about the dawn of the industrial age. Until then, their lives were generally nastier, shorter and more brutish than their average hunting and gathering counterpart. This division has been clearly visible since the beginning of agriculture (smaller skeletons with more lesions, worse teeth etc),and even nomadic populations who settle today see similar results.

Many things have improved and 'proggressed' a great deal over the course of human history. Other things have not. Assuming that everybody is better off now than they were in the past (and in the recent past moreso than the distant past, etc) tells a grossly oversimplified story of human development. The "modern age" is golden enough, it doesn't need to be glorified for its own sake.

Other than that point (and largely, for that reason), I pretty much agree with the premise of the article. There's nothing special about our society which guarantees a bright and prosperous tomorrow unless we decide to make it so. If, instead, we choose to spend our time naval-gazing in slack-jawed wonderment at the grandeur of our society, we're going to meet the same kind of end that fell upon Babylon, Rome or the Classic-Age civilizations of central America. Being the largest, most "advanced" and prosperous empires of their time didn't protect them, and it won't protect us.

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