R.K.: That's interesting. Has religion played a role in this scenario that you're describing?
K.S.: Well, I cannot directly blame religion for the attack on animals. Organized religion... well, evidence of religion doesn't occur until about twenty-six thousand years ago when there were burial sites where people were buried with great riches presumably because there is an afterlife and, once you have an after life, you have religion in effect, at least the beginnings of religion.
I don't think that our damage to nature increased through religion, certainly not in its early phases. I think, in fact, that you could say that in some part religion tried to mitigate the damage that we were doing to our fellow creatures and the land around us and to try to teach us that it's all God's creation and therefore we should treat it as that, as holy. And there are religious people who believe that, or preach that and there are laypeople who believe that and act that out, just not enough of us.
R.K.: So continuing along with the title of your book again, After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination, I'm also very interested in the idea of domination in terms of humans dominating other humans. Have you looked at that much?
K.S.: Well, that comes almost inevitably with settling down with agriculture and the creation of settled communities which have to have certain kind of organization which in many places, spontaneously as it were, grew into empires and, of course, that's by definition the domination of people. But in earlier times, there seems to have been in tribal times very few significant hierarchies until maybe about 2600.
R.K.: Is this again because of the ice age? Are you there? Uh oh! So it sounds like we've lost Kirkpatrick. When that happens, what I do is hope that he will call back and I'll keep talking. So, Kirkpatrick has some really interesting ideas here and he's got a wealth of a lifetime of experience here talking about decentralism, and he has also written a lot about Luddism, being a Luddite.
It's Ned Ludd. He's the person who resisted factories and machines in factories in England. That's who Ludditism was named after. So, hopefully, I can hear back from him and we will continue this conversation talking about some of those topics. Meanwhile there is a great article that I will also be re-printing from the New Economy Coalition, that's neweconomy.net, that's written by Kirkpatrick Sale that's called an overview of decentralism. And he basically talks in the article about how there are some reasons for" he gives a great story though and let me tell you a little bit about that story.
I am going to read it to you here:
"he is reminded of a story that Leopold Kohr -- K-O-H-R, the great decentralist economist, used to tell about going to Lichtenstein and wanting to visit the Prime Minister of the country. He went to the castle, rang the bell and the man who answered the door and ushered him in, whom he assumed to be a servant turned out to be the Prime Minister himself and when they were seated in his office chatting, the phone rang and the minister answered saying, "government." You see, with a tiny country like that, government is always there, always responsive, always able to answer the phone and take care of your problem.
It's a great little story. Imagine a government that was so responsive and a leader was not so far above, so disconnected from the people. So they list a number of factors that are elements of decentralism. One: decentralism is the basic human condition. Two: decentralism is the human norm, the way humans lived for most of their existence. Three: decentralism is deeply American. And again, the article will be up and posted soon. And it continues even now, it's alive and well in this country and around the world.
I'm going to get more into that, but it sounds like I've lost him. So, I'm going to try one more thing. I'm going to pause and see if I can get him to come back in.
We should be back on to recording now and so we should be good. So, I'd like to talk to you about decentralism. Tell me about that and how that fits in with your ideas. Just give me an idea of your overview of decentralism.
K.S.:Alright, I'll tell you my view of it. There are some people who believe in a flat earth with the left over here and the right over here, flat. I believe in a round earth and in a round earth, at the top there are the authoritarians. They can be of the left like Stalinism or of the right like Nazism, but they are authoritarians. You move down around the world to the equator where you find middle people of all kinds and then down towards the other pole there are the anti-authoritarians. On the left they are anarchists. On the right they are libertarians.
And there is more in common between those schools of decentralism and anti-authoritarianism than there is with any of the other parts of that scope which is one reason I was working in the Schumacher Society with a guy who was a leading right wing libertarian guy. And I found it easy to work with him since we had the same kind of values of how the world should work without any accumulation of power.
Because when you get accumulations of power, it tends to expand and it tends to get more and more people involved under its control. Whereas the decentralists try to devolve power, or eliminate power where that's necessary and they are...they have in common the idea that power and authority are to be avoided. And that the affairs of humans can be run in a different way than having hierarchies of people tell you what to do.
So that's my vision of decentralism and there are many ways that that can be accomplished, but you just think about trying to create organizations and systems that do not depend upon hierarchy and the accumulation of power. They try to dispense power, disperse power, as much as they can throughout the population. You can still have, experts and the like, but they aren't authorities, or authoritarian.