hunter-gatherers

Hunter-Gatherers and Human Evolution: New light on old debates - Richard B. Lee

Bayaka singing

A leading specialist on hunter-gatherers exposes Steven Pinker’s poorly-researched claims that humans have always been war-like.

Richard Lee also summarises decades of research on hunter-gatherers showing how they emphasise food-sharing, gender equality and cooperative childcare. Lee concludes that it was this sort of less aggressive and more cooperative social environment in our evolutionary past that permitted the long childhoods required for human brain growth.

Gender egalitarianism made us human: A response to David Graeber & David Wengrow's 'How to change the course of human history' - by Camilla Power

In an ambitious recent article in Eurozine David Graeber and David Wengrow try to rewrite the narrative of human history. They attack the ‘myth’ that humans had once enjoyed equality and freedom in hunter-gatherer bands, until the invention of farming sent us down the road to social inequality.

'Communism in Living' - What can early human society teach us about the future? by Camilla Power

We need to appreciate the significance that understanding primitive communism held for the early Marxists.

Marx himself put aside his work on Capital to do some anthropology, which we find in his notebooks - from which Engels extracted the work which led to The origin of the family, private property and the state. Besides Marx and Engels, there is Rosa Luxemburg: as a prisoner in World War I, she wrote Introduction to political economy, where she deployed the cutting edge of anthropology of her day.

Abundance and scarcity in primitive societies – La Guerre Sociale

A 1977 text reviewing recent scholarship on social anthropology and its implications for understanding the communism of the past, and how it may shed light on the communism of the future, based for the most part on extensive excerpts from Marshall Sahlins’ Stone Age Economics, as well as from the works of Pierre Clastres, Robert Gessain and other anthropologists and explorers.

Egalitarian social organisation among hunter-gatherers: the case of the Mbendjele Bayaka - Jerome Lewis

It would be absurd to try to return to the social relations of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But these social relations did last for 100,000 years in the most successful anarchist-communism experiment in history. So there must be something to learn from hunter-gatherers. The pygmies of Central Africa traditionally live in ways that come closest to the ways prehistoric hunter-gathers may have lived. This article is one of the most recent studies of the way African pygmies maintain egalitarian social relations and so make anarchist-communism work.

Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of culture - Chris Knight (complete book)

Rock art image of girl's first menstruation ceremony

This highly original book presents a new theory of the origins of human culture. Integrating perspectives of evolutionary biology and social anthropology within a Marxist framework, Chris Knight rejects the common assumption that human culture was a modified extension of primate behaviour and argues instead that it was the product of an immense social, sexual and political revolution initiated by women.

Climate, class, and the Neolithic revolution

Neolithic farmers

Climate change helped make human civilisation possible. Does it now threaten its existence?

Why hunter-gatherers' work is play - Peter Gray

Excellent article by Dr Peter Gray, explaining how hunter-gatherer societies lack a conception of "work" as they make no distinction between work and play. Whilst we harbour no desire to return to hunter-gatherer lifestyles, their existence proves that work and wage labour is unnecessary.

Mutual aid and the foraging mode of thought: Re-reading Kropotkin on the Khoisan - Alan Barnard

This paper utilizes Kropotkin's notion of ‘mutual aid’ and examines specifically Kropotkin's ideas on ‘mutual aid among savages’ and his comments on Khoisan Bushman social organization in light of later ethnographic findings.

Primitive communism and women's role in its emergence

Bushman Rock Art

How did human evolution give rise to a species whose very survival is based on mutual confidence and solidarity? More particularly, what was woman’s role in this process?

This is a review of Christophe Darmangeat's recent book, 'Primitive Communism is Not What it Was'.