SHARED POSITIVE VALUES
Our values are largely derived from the following three articles which aim to uncover commonalities among various hunter-gatherer cultures. Without this context, it is easy to miss or misunderstand the feralculture project.
- Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence (2009). Peter Gray, Ph. D.
- Immediate return societies: What can they tell us about the self and social relationships (2007). Leonard L. Martin, Ph.D.
- Egalitarian Societies (1982). James Woodburn, Ph.D.
Play / Fun
Wildness / rewilding
Permaculture as a comprehensive design system, and its ethics
- 1st Ethic: Care for earth
- 2nd Ethic: Care for people
- 3rd Ethic: Return of surplus to earth and people
Biomass and biodiversity
Instantiation of regenerative habitats on human-degraded lands
Escape from industrial food system / Food sovereignty
Highly and Intentionally Egalitarian
"Because of the high degree of non-contingent sharing, differences in resources rarely occur in immediate-return societies. When differences in resources do occur (rarely), active steps are taken to eliminate them. For example, some individuals are routinely better hunters than others. This means that a large proportion of the meat in any given camp is brought in by a small proportion of the group. These successful hunters, however, are not allowed to translate superior skills into domination over others. The group accomplishes this through a variety of leveling mechanisms.
*Further articulate difference between egalitarianism and sameness and/or “commie” ideas.
Small, Non-sedentary, Flexible-Membership Camps
There is frequent movement of individuals in and out while a camp remains at one site, and the camps themselves may move every few weeks. When it comes time for a camp to move, the members may either move together or they may move separately, and they may either establish a new site or they may move to a camp already established by others. There are no special criteria for acceptance in an existing camp. When members from one camp arrive at an established camp, they are allowed to share equally in the camp’s resources while they live there. In immediate-return societies, it is very easy for individuals to leave and join different camps. This so-called ﬁssion and fusion is simply a part of their life. Because the composition of camps changes so frequently, each camp is deﬁned primarily in terms of its present membership. There may be some stability in the composition of a camp (e.g., a family may move with the wife’s mother), but nothing formally holds the members together except each individual’s involvement in the current round of activity.
Mobility terminology (with a preference for nomadic or non-sedentary modes):
- Nomadic - Days at a single location
- Non-sedentary: Weeks, months, or seasons at a single location
- Sedentary: Cyclical year or more at a single location
Intentional Avoidance of Formal Long-Term Binding Commitments
The failure to respect formal, binding social contracts is evaluated negatively in most societies. In hunter-gatherer societies, however, this is not the case. By avoiding such commitments, individuals avoid the claims, debts, and future orientation that they ﬁnd extremely undesirable. With a binding contract, the ﬁrst party holds power over the second party until the latter delivers on his or her end of the deal. In immediate-return societies, individuals are not allowed to assert dominion over one another. So, by avoiding formal long-term, binding commitments, they reduce the possibility of social domination.
Individuals in hunter-gatherer societies develop a unique view of the relation between self and other. It is a view that differs from that in both individualist and collectivist societies. Like those in individualist societies, members of immediate-return societies put a premium on autonomy. Their autonomy, however, does not contrast the individual with the society as it does in individualist cultures. Rather, immediate-return autonomy grows out of repeated, mutually trusting social interactions. Each individual acts with the other person in mind, and can assume that the other person will do the same.
Direct person-to-person sharing is the main source of economic distribution among hunter-gatherers. Although individuals are allowed to possess some personal items (e.g., clothing, tools, weapons, small quantities of food), there is great social pressure for individuals to part with any objects for which they have no immediate need (e.g., large animals obtained from a hunt). This high degree of sharing, however, does not mean that individuals in immediate-return societies are inherently more compassionate than other individuals. Their sharing is a by-product of their social arrangements.
Reversed dominance Hierarchy
Members of hunter-gatherer societies tend to believe that one individual should not dominate another, attempts on the part of one individual to become dominant are perceived by the group as a problem. This leads the group to exert pressure on the would-be dominator to bring him or her back in line.
Distributed Decision Making
Hunter-gatherers (e.g., Hadza) can rarely give an answer about future plans that turns out to be correct. The reason is the absence of procedures for reaching joint decisions about camp moves. Predictions tend to be no more than guesses. They are not in the habit of committing themselves to plans. Camps are very flexible units with constant movement of people in and out. Movement of a whole camp depends on a series of ad hoc individual decisions not on the decision of a leader or on consensus reached in discussion.
Cultural Variability and Diversity
There can be no single, correct version of events or values. After all, if the values of one person are considered correct, then a different set of values held by another person must be incorrect. This dichotomy applies to inequality, which is actively avoided in immediate-return societies. The concrete result is that individuals in immediate-return societies have few verbalized rules of behavior, their rituals are highly variable (and may even be dispensed with altogether), and the individuals have no single, clear idea of a moral order.
Core group values, like those in this section, are largely exempt from this point. The specific content of cultures may change, but a few basic principles remain fairly constant.
Benign View of Nature
Individuals view the relationship between humans and nature in much the same way that they view relationships between humans. Both involve the sharing of resources and affection.
We seek to dissolve the culturally reified construction of ‘wilderness’
Individuals usually obtain a relatively immediate yield for their labor and use this yield with minimal delay. They know within a few hours, for example, if their hunt has been successful. If it has been, they can return to the camp to eat, and if it has not, they have time to search for an alternative food source. This relatively immediate feedback allows members of immediate-return societies to maintain an extreme focus on the present.
Personal Property (also see “Sharing” above)
Clothing, tools, weapons, smoking pipes, bead ornaments and other similar objects are personally held and owned… they are relatively simple objects, made with skill but not elaborately styled or decorated and not vested with any special significance. They can be made ore obtained without great difficulty. Rules of inheritance are flexible and no-one depends on receiving such objects by inheritance or by formal transmission from close kin of the previous generation during their lifetime.
Connected to bioregions rather than tied to specific plots of land
Nodes / Enclave-Exclave
Physical health through diet
- hunter-gatherer lifeways (community, social, diet)
optimal foraging theory (diet)
Physical health through activity
“Spiritual” connection (dualism/religion not implied)
Connection to the non-built world rather than nature as ‘other’
- Complexity / Richness
- Maximizing knowledge and skill of all individuals
OUR SHARED NEGATIVE VALUES
Work (in the modern job sense). Rather, we strive to design ourselves out of systems.
We are not against hard work per se, particularly when working toward less work in the future. However, we do not value work for work’s sake. See: “The Abolition of Work” by Bob Black
Agriculture (as a system of control of earth and people). Rather, we value integration and participation.
Division of labor and specialization or reliance on experts. Rather, we minimize reliance on specialists, empower individuals with all necessary skills, then leverage the particular strengths of individuals in group setting. Resilience.
Materialism / consumer culture
Progress mythology / salvation through technology
Reductionism / Excessive measurement objectifies complexity and richness
Commodification of relationships
Assigning market values to things humans care about reduces connection
Screens, whether in the sense of filters or view screens
Normalized gender roles
Agricultural societies deeply embed proscribed roles around sex and gender.
We do recognize the nuance between private property and personal property. This includes land enclosure and accumulation of items beyond “personal property” as described above.
“Everywhere we find that there are sanctions against accumulation. This cannot be explained… simply in practical terms: nomadic peoples who have to carry everything they possess are concerned that their possessions should be readily portable so that they can be carried with ease when the time comes to move camp, but sanctions against accumulation go far beyond meeting this requirement and apply even to the lightest objects such as beads, arrowheads, and supplies of arrow poison.”