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Self-Sufficiency in contrast to Civilization.

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posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 12:38 AM
Note: I didn't know where to put this. It was originally intended as a response to another post, but was far too specific to an OP quip I disagreed with than the real substance of his post. In otherwords, it would have been OT. Still, I wanted to post this given the level of interest in self-sufficiency here on ATS. So I hope this is in the right forum, and if not, please feel free to close or move it.


It never hurts to be self-sufficient, but I think the problem is that self-sufficiency for every individual is fairly untenable for a society. One could almost see societies as a sort of super-organism. There are obvious parallels between society and biological functions. Individuals could be likened to cells. Our trade and transportation the arteries of society. Etc.

At one point in time, much of humanity was self-sufficient. We existed in only small nomadic tribes that scratched out a living from we could hunt or gather from the local environment. However, as mankind learned to harness the power of agriculture, we gained a valuable advantage of having food grown and stored so as to provide during lean times. This limited our nomadic wanderings and formed the first basic societies.

So now we had the ability for a relatively small segment of the population to provide enough food for the whole. This freed up valuable human resources through which we could specialize skills. Not everyone needed to know how to fight, we had armies for defense. Not everyone needed to know how to create tools, we had blacksmiths. As the level of specialization increased, the people became less and less self-sufficient - and learned to rely on others in that society to take care of needs for them.

Going back to the super-organism analogy a moment. Single Celled organisms are highly self sufficient, however a cell from a multi-cellular organism is reliant on the infrastructure of cooperation the whole provides for it's sustenance. The same could be said of our societies as super-organisms. We have a multitude of varying specialized individuals working cooperatively to sustain the whole of the organism (society). The whole, the society, is capable of advancements and feats far surpassing that of what is achievable on the individual level. Thus, it provides greater survivability potential to the individual through group cooperation than a specialization in self-sufficiency.

Humanity cannot truly go back to being self-sufficient on the individual level without a significant detriment to society as a whole. While it is preferable to diversify one's knowledge base and skill sets, to put them all into constant practice is too heavy a burden on time and resources, and ultimately leaves the individual as more or less of limited (or no use) to society as a whole - even if useful to themselves or immediate family unit. In the long run, and on a grander scale, this leaves our species as a whole much weaker - as we are unable to deal as effectively with threats.

For instance, consider how effective the self-sufficient and tribal Native Americans were against the Super Organism societies which invaded their homelands.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 01:02 AM
Our current corrupt monetary system operates on artificial scarcity. To implement self-sufficient abundance even in multi-celled organisms, please study Designing the Future ebook through my signature link.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 01:20 AM
What are our goals? I am not satisfied with the answer "merely to subsist and reproduce." We need to identify our goals. I think the Native Americans had it right, except that they were missing one thing: consistent technological growth. They could have pursued scientific endeavors but their geographic circumstances were definitely a factor in their lack of inspiration (abundance of food, temperate environments, lack of predation, etc).

My opinion is that an organismic model is not sufficient in providing a logical rationale for which to design your civilization. Organisms are designed with one thing in mind: the successful replication of genes. If a gene mutates in such a way that it hurts the organism as an individual in some way (let's say its life span), but conversely benefits the survival strategy of the gene, then the organism will definitely take a hit.

But what's more important? The quality of a single human life or the successful replication of social and economic strategies designed only with the benefit of some intangible goal such as the rise of civilization in mind?

I think that human consciousness is supreme. We now have the technology to engage in normative (ideological as opposed to spontaneous) decision making regarding our future. Let's abandon the super organism that is this dilapidated civilization and build ourselves a new path. It's my personal belief that all human life should be rewarded with a very high quality life by virtue of mere existence.

This will require the intelligent application of existing technologies; we have everything we need just not the incentive nor the motivation to do so. Automated agricultural systems, running on a combination of nuclear fuel and renewable energies, all coordinated by a global satellite-based network will supply all the nourishment the planet's population needs. Just as in primitive societies, when specialization emerged due to increased agricultural efficiency, art and science will flourish in an appropriate manner, and no longer according to the pervasive demands of a constantly growing, barely subsisting world population. Wealth isn't the only incentive. The implementation of creative and enthusiastic social and educational institutions will motivate all people to achieve, just as the ancient Greeks once aspired to emulate their Gods in terms of knowledge and strength, thus the term "arete".

[edit on 26-3-2009 by cognoscente]

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 01:54 AM
It's impossible to be 100% self sufficient but we should strive for self sufficiency as much as possibly, notably when it comes to electrical energy and locally grown food, not to mention walking access to potable water.

At this point in time, most people in wealthy countries are what, 5% self sufficient? Maybe even only 1%, when it comes to food, for those in cities or suburbs.

If a major environmental disaster struck, there would be huge trouble for the least self sufficient people.

Our society needs a model where any shock to the system is at least softened, or the shock absorbed without too much disruption to life or limb.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 01:58 AM
reply to post by star in a jar

Please find the shock-proof model via my signature link.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 02:14 AM
Zeitgeist all the way, man. It's really picked up lately hasn't it? Every time someone mentions a solution to our economic insufficiences, the discussion always circles back to TVP. Great stuff!

[edit on 26-3-2009 by cognoscente]

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 05:51 PM
I did not intend to post this as any sort of solution or alternative to an economic system. Merely to highlight the fallacy of self-sufficiency with wider society. Too many are quick to lament that people are no longer self-sufficient, but the the demands of an advanced society prohibit self-sufficient functions of an individual.

In the event of the breakdown of the super-organism, it's good to have the information on hand so that one can revert to a self-sufficient model, but the practical experience of day-to-day living is another matter. In summary, it's merely a risk vs. cost analysis. We risk vulnerability as an individual for the greater protection and advancement the super-organism provides.

This is analogous to a biological system, as the Neural cell is not self-sufficient and risks it's survival on the continued survival of Heart Tissue, White Blood Cells, Aveoli, etc. However, on the whole, survival of the Neural cell is promoted though it's specialization and dependency on cooperation rather than through it's self-sufficiency.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 06:17 PM
Self sufficiency IS the MOST civilized form of society.

This is a non-argument


posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 11:57 PM
Self sufficiency is certainly attainable, but the governments of the world don't want it to be that way. They want you to rely on government assistance so they have a reason to place demands and mandates on you. Unfortunately, most sheeple think it's better to sacrifice liberty and independence for what they believe is an easier life.


posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 09:18 PM
Star for you - even though I think there is a misinterpretation afoot.

While some may say it is more convenient for 50 average people to work together than 50 geniuses of their specialized fields - I think otherwise.

Living in a civilization lets people do what they can do best. Maximizing certain skills, while ignoring one persons bad ones.

That is the impression I get from your thread.

But, many people are not against that. It is the fact that we are becoming to dependent on society. There are kids out there that can not even cook! There are many basic necessities of life that children/grown ups are not being taught.

For those who wish that everyone sustained would more than likely still be on a farm with no new technology unless you yourself was a genius. People always talk about living in the past, but having cell phones, games, computers, smarter cars, whatever, is a lot more fun than being in a damn room playing tic tac toe.

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 12:41 AM
reply to post by Lasheic

I think you've hit on something very fundamental about... morality.

The purpose of every organism is to protect and propagate the genes it carries. Every organism has an evolved set of programmed behaviours to enable it to fulfil this purpose. In complex organisms, we call these instincts.

In social animals such as ourselves, these instincts are of two apparently contradictory types. One set might be called the 'selfish' instincts - those that promote the survival and reproductive success of the gene carrier, the individual. The other set we may dub the 'social' instincts. These exist to protect and further the reproductive success of other carriers of the same genes - blood relatives, in plain English. We may also call this latter set of instincts 'altruistic'.

By extending and elaborating our altruistic instincts to include an ever-widening circle of ever less closely-related individuals, humans have evolved the enormously complex social groupings we call nations, cultures and civilizations. We have done so because - we being the sort of animal we are - such extended groupings still serve to protect and propagate our own genes.

Morality is essentially a recipe for managing conflicts between the two types of instinct. The contrast of which you speak arises from this. The opposition of self-sufficiency and civilization is the opposition of selfish and social instincts, but it is a complementary opposition. Success in carrying out the prime directive - get grandchildren! - is achieved through a suitable balance of the two types of instinct.

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 02:16 AM
When you are self sufficient, you have more leisure time, hence more time for experimentation within your own fields of interest. The modern city society is too stressful to really promote creativity in a large group. You can also devote actual wealth to a project and not worry if it might fail as you have no worries of not being fed, or cold.

The city used to be a place to meet, and conduct business...however, over time people have began living there in too large of a quantity.

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