rkm> The myth of human dominion and the birth of the Takers


Richard Moore


Thanks again to all of you who entered into the discussion
about capitalism, elites, etc.  It is by such interactive
dialog that these ideas have been developed; I consider
myself to be a scribe, part of a collaborative endeavor.
Several people asked permission to publish that series in
print or on websites, and I'll be presenting it as part of a
paper in April in Manchester at a conference on 'Alternative
Futures and Popular Protest'.

Since writing those three sections, I received my copy of
'The Story of B' and immediately read it through.  It's the
kind of story that changes your thinking to the core.  I was
surprised at how much I (we) had already figured out, but I
was surprised as well by how many important pieces of the
picture had been overlooked in our discussions.  As a
result, I've added a new section, at the beginning.  You can
also consider this section to be a kind of book report on
The Story of B.

Here's the new TOC for Chapter 1:

  1. How we got to be the way we are
      1a. The myth of human dominion and the birth of the Takers
      1b. Capitalism - the ultimate Taker economy
      1c. Hyper-Takerism & the rise of capitalist elites
      1d. Globalization: the end result of a 10,000-year cul-de-sac

best regards,


The myth of human dominion and the birth of the Takers

    "Man was born MILLIONS of years ago, and he was no more a
    scourge than hawks or lions or squids.  He lived AT PEACE
    with the word...for MILLIONS of years. This doesn't mean he
    was a saint.  This doesn't mean he walked the earth like a
    Buddha.  It means he lived as harmlessly as a hyena or a
    shark or a rattlesnake."  
    - Daniel Quinn, The Story of B, p. 255.
    "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and
    subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of
    the air and over every living creature that moves on the
    - Genesis, 1:28.

Some ten or twelve thousand years ago, in a place called the
Fertile Crescent, a momentous event occurred, an event
usually referred to as the Agricultural Revolution. People
had learned to sow, harvest crops, and herd animals long
before, but with this revolution came a new kind of
agriculture, what Daniel Quinn calls 'totalitarian
agriculture'.  The revolution was not about new knowledge or
new tools - rather it was about a change in cultural _vision,
a change in the culture's defining _mythology.

We know a lot about non-agricultural societies, from those
few that still exist, and from many others which were
studied in the 1900s - as colonial expansion invaded new
shores. _Universally, these cultures view humanity as part of
the world, interdependent with the Earth and with other
species. Typically there are rituals to honor and thank a
slain animal for the food it provides.  _None of these
cultures see humanity's role as being to change the world,
or to rule the world.  Instead, they seek to find their
place in the world, and to live in harmony with the world.

The Agricultural Revolution came about when some tribe,
already familiar with the sowing of crops, decided that
harmony was not enough, that the world owed them more than
that.  They came to believe that the world was theirs to
change, in order to produce more food for themselves.   If
wolves prey on cattle, then wolves can be hunted down and
slaughtered.  If a forest stands in the way, then it can be
cleared away to make room for more crops.  It had always
before been 'the gods' who decided which species prospered and
which perished, and where crops could grow and where they
couldn't. But for this tribe, with their new cultural
vision, these prerogatives had become their own.  The tribe
had become like gods, and the world was theirs to rule.

Quinn, in 'The Story of B', calls this unknown tribe the
'Takers', or 'Tak'. The Tak knew no more about growing crops, or
herding animals, than did their neighbors, or had been known
for countless centuries.  But with their new myth of human
dominion, they began pursuing agriculture and animal
domestication with a new kind of totality. In this way they
soon accumulated food surpluses, and their numbers began to
grow.  They then wanted more land to feed their growing
population.  So they began to expand, conquering or
displacing their neighboring tribes.  Just as they - being
like gods - could clear away forests and hunt down wolves,
so could the Taks clear away (or conquer) neighboring
tribes.  Not only totalitarian agriculture but also wars of
conquest developed inevitably once the myth of dominion
became the core cultural vision.

By force and by emulation, the Tak vision began to spread.
When it eventually reached the tribes of Abraham, the
adoption of the vision was recorded in the book of Genesis,
as the Garden of Eden story.  The story tells us that the
world was made for humanity to conquer, and the story omits
a million years of prior human history.  Adam and Eve spring
forth from nowhere already imbued with the Tak vision.  Part
of the Tak myth is that humanity has always been like this -
and Quinn calls that 'The Great Forgetting'.

Today, except for a few remote tribes, all of us everywhere
on every continent and of every religion are descendents of
tribes which adopted the Tak worldview.  Not only do we
believe the world was made for us to rule, but we also
believe that conquering the world is human nature. Our
ancestors all forgot that for a million years every culture
- hundreds of thousands of them - believed and acted
differently.  And our faith in our myth was not shaken when
we eventually learned that early man didn't share our vision
after all.  We simply expanded our myth, and decreed that
early man was 'getting ready' for his inevitable dominant
role.  He was developing the technology, and sharpening his
skills - in training to inherit the world that had always
been intended for him alone to rule.

The Tak vision - our vision - is out of balance with the
world.  It is unsustainable. Instead of harmonizing with the
world we are at war with the world, and by conquering the
world we are destroying our own nest. Our unique cultural
vision impels us to go forth and multiply, always growing
and expanding.  The Tak worldview has only been around for
500 generations - an infinitesimal fraction of human history
- and in that short time our population has grown
exponentially and we have brought the planet to the point of
environmental collapse.

Agriculture and technology are _not the problem.  Agriculture
and technology pursued without respect for the Earth _are the
problem.  Human nature is _not the problem. A particular
cultural myth - the Tak myth - _is the problem.  Competition
is _not the problem - all creatures compete for their place
in the world, and some species don't survive.  Relentless
domination - where competitors are systematically and
thoroughly exterminated - _is the problem. A large human
population is _not the problem.  An always growing
population, stressing ever more the balance of nature, _is
the problem.

Can humanity find its way back to sanity?  Can we abandon
our disastrous Tak mythology and return, like the prodigal
son, to become once again harmonious participants within the
web of life?  Before we try to answer the question, let's
take a look at our more recent history.  Any such changes
will need to be made in the context of today's circumstances
- and any such changes will surely be opposed by our current
political regimes. We need to be fully aware of the
obstacles that face us before we can understand how they can
be overcome.


Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
URL: http://cyberjournal.org

    A community will evolve only when
    the people control their means of communication.
    - Frantz Fanon

    "One cannot separate economics, political science, and
    history. Politics is the control of the economy. History,
    when accurately and fully recorded, is that story. In most
    textbooks and classrooms, not only are these three fields of
    study separated, but they are further compartmentalized into
    separate subfields, obscuring the close interconnections
    between them" -- J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2,
    (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 22.

Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT 
include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits,
and notices - including this one.