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Farmer
Part 4 of 7: The Fate of Western Civilization: 3/19/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
NOV/30/23
“...a more domestic claim to our regard… In the rude institutions of those barbarians, we may still distinguish the original principals of our present laws and manners.”
-Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 9
Grain provides more people, more toil and more social order than does herding. However, the farmer lacks the freedom and liberty of the herder and, in advanced circumstances, is stuck on a plot of ground. If weather reduced the fruitfulness and famine and disease reduced the population and destabilized the social order, and the remaining folk were in possession of domestic herds, why not revert to a herding lifeway? [0]
The chief military advantage to herding over farming are three to one:
against the numbers of the farmer,
the herder enjoys
-Mobility
-Practice driving dangerous creatures to places they do not want to go, and their killing or capturing them, expressing itself in aggressive stratagems of war.
-Animal allies in battle.
So even civilized folk who would like to remain farmers, might be forced by circumstances to revert to herding and hunting.
It is viewed by this reader as no accident that Fate or Fortune, in Аrуаn religions—like fertility—was a feminine power. Unlike the modern ideological mind imprisoned by Science in a realm of rationalized magic, might the farmer—who actually touches her—have had a closer understanding of Earth, Our Physical Mother?
Might the Fates have been imagined weaving like Maid, Matron and Crone upon the Loom of Ages [1] as feminine, due to all men, especially kings and heroes, being but harried sailors upon Her Fateful Waters?
Especially, under pre petroleum agriculture, a minor global temperature shift, as well as drought and flood, can turn waving fields of grain into a desert, a swamp or even a permafrost zone.
The Modern Mind, our collective majority mind, under Science, believes in a rationalized myth, The Rape of Europa, the maiming attack of we upon our gargantuan mother, which has brought her to her knees like the statue of Rome holding ravished Britannia by the hair.
Why wouldn’t we think ourselves, titans, we who turn mountains into craters, rivers into lakes and deserts into gardens?
But we possess the very powers in our industrial and information capacity that the ancients once attributed to the gods. Our entire society might be imagined by an ancient, should he see it, as a paradise constructed by Apollo, God of the Arts, with the caveat that the Fates and Furies have decreed that Morpheus, Discord, Panic and Rout will be able to stalk Apollo’s Utopia dispensing drugged dreams and summoning War when his thirst is adequate to satiate their malice.
In short, the ancient farmer who might have been tilling the good black Earth when the same deluge that beat down his crops brought snows in the hinterland that drove the Sarmatians and Scythians down upon them like wolves among a fold of sheep, would see not his collective hand, but Fate’s remote hand at work. Even a Sumerian farmer who by collective action has destroyed the soil, would likely see desertification, not as his fault, but the punishment of some higher power...and perhaps it was.
Then, there is also the temptation of civilization, especially a distressed one, to the barbarian. Tacitus points out that the Germans gambled heavily, and that they would only consent to being sold into slavery as an ode to the Fates over a game of chance! He describes the form of the games played as being learned from Romans or Greeks.
Likewise, they made a rude beer for intoxication, but thirsted for Roman wine. Gibbon chides them for not starting a winery. But, as the Dark Ages fell, wine cultivation regions were reduced on the northern margins. Indeed, table wine came as bowls of ice on The Rhine. Likewise, in the time of Xenophon, 400 B.C., another time of climate change and mass, even forced migrations [2] wine in Thrace tended to freeze. For you people who are not drinkers, that is cold. Might a failure to export wine to the barbarians due to poor grape harvests, even as grain harvest in the far north reduced beer supplies, provided a temptation risen to the level of addiction?
As cold snaps drove the barbarians across frozen rivers into the teeth of a ferocious Roman war machine, their impetus for giving up their little patches of grain for mass murder might have been an additional threat. That same cold drove steppes nomads into the forests, these being even more savage than the Germans, eventually bringing the Huns, the nastiest of the barbarian bunch.
Is there a closer historical example of a mass movement of people for drug use?
Portland Analogue
We have an army of some tens of thousands homeless drug addicts in Portland. Most Portlanders I know declare that it has “ruined our city.” It is interesting that these tweakers were invited into Portland by the State and City governments, who took down their drug laws, defanged their police, made camping legal in the city limits and even handed out tents and medical aid to arriving addicts.
At a certain point, Roman officials would invite German and other barbarians into the empire to provide various services not related to farming. I wonder how the Roman farmer felt about that? Might he have been tempted to take his horse and livestock elsewhere once the barbarians took his grain to make beer while they raped his wife and daughter?
Do note, that many of the people currently being driven from cities and suburbs by the forces of modernizing civilization, are choosing to live a more primitive life, many going rural and attempting to grow their own food.
A farming people under such pressure, why would they not leave their grain and drive their cattle to a new place. I think of this as the hail beats down on me today, walking in mid April, as homeowners discuss how they are three weeks behind planting their garden due to the cold.
As a practicing hobo, my solution to the invasion of Baltimore by Africans differed from my family. My family all relocated and continued the same life as before in greener fields. I decided on movement as a life way, the life of a nomad, who adopts the very same survival method as military organizations and warriors: when confronted with overwhelming force, break contact, move to a more advantageous position and keep moving until you find it.
The story of Exodus, in outline, is perhaps one of the most common and untold stories at the root of many a people: escaping a [3] civilization [or simply an enemy, like the Crows fleeing the Sioux] by the same means that elk, deer and bison use to survive cruel seasons and hunters, migration.
Notes
-0. Note that Norse myth begins with a cow as a specific basis for creation.
-1. Which Zeus Almighty declares himself powerless to command.
-2. See Manager: Part 6, for a treatment of the Greco Persian Wars.
-3. Based on the Plagues of Egypt, it might be inferred that Moses was not just conducting his people out of Egypt, but out of an Egypt beset by numerous climate related issues that could be better survived by herders in the highlands than farmers in the lowlands.
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