Note: This is part 3 of a continuing series of my experiences in PoliSci 137B, taught by A.J. Gregor. For previous the previous entry, see archives.

Today: pre-industrial society and the Industrial Revolution. Gregor was upfront about the absurdity of trying to cover the whole of the IR and its effects on the world in a single class period of ninety minutes, so he largely didn’t try. He mentioned a few things about “productivity ceilings” and the like, briefly mentioning many things he’d most likely expected us to have heard before. What he did concentrate on heavily was dispelling the p .c. edenic image of pre-industrial societies, describing in his typical fashion what an ugly, brutal existence it is.


You think these cultures were fun to live in? You think they’re all noble savages living in perfect harmony with Nature? In my misspent youth, there were two summers when I lived with the aborigines in Australia. Stupid kid that I was, I was going to get back to Nature. Do you have any idea what a horrible existence it was for these people? The women would spend 8 hours a day, walk something like 20 miles, collecting desert millet, every single day. Do you know what that is? It’s these tiny, barely edible seeds that they would then grind up to eat. Does that sound like fun to you? 

And the children. .. let me tell you, there was barely any such thing as childhood in these places. First off, if a baby lives to be two weeks old (which isn’t often), they would circumsize it. And how do you think they did that? There weren’t any mohels around, that’s for sure. They took a sharp rock and slashed it around for a while until they cut the skin off. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, the baby is only 2 weeks old, it’s not gonna remember that when it grows up.”

Maybe not, but then when the kid is 14 years old, they take this poor scrawny 60 pound creature and take him miles away from the tribe’s home into the wilderness, and they take another sharp rock and they cut along his urethra from his balls to the tip of his penis, and then say “So long, kid!” and leave him out there to find his own way back, hobbling and bleeding the whole way. Usually half of them don’t make it

Now, this sounds barbaric, right? And it is . But why do they do it? They’re not evil people. They don’t do these things because they take joy in inflicting pain on their children and having most of them die before they reach the age of 14. They do it because the daily survival is so difficult in a pre-industrial society, that they’ve set up over the years all kinds of societal constructs to weed out the weak, because the tribe can’t support weak people and survive. If they let everyone live and tried to care for every person the way our society does, they would likely all starve.

These are the realities of a pre-industrial society. Does that sound appealing to you? I mean, people in our culture talk about “getting back to Nature,” and they go hiking or go on a ski trip, with all the modern benefits of advanced technology with them. They bring food, warm clothes, and can go back to complete security any time they want. You wanna really get back to nature: march out into the desert naked and try to survive for a month . That’s Nature.


He then described some of the more grusome traits of the IR, identifying it as, 200 years of blood and pain and misery for 99.9% of the population, yet still it was ultimately always more preferable to living in the pre-industrial countryside. By moving to the cities, even with the brutal worjk of the factories and the pollution and the crowded living conditions, people were trading in an awful existence for a slightly but consistently less-awful one.

last update : 26-5-2018

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