the enemy: theft culture

We need to work effectively in order to have food to eat.  However, we need to eat good food before we can work effectively.  So, tough stuff, where did this “first bite” come from?   This “first bite” comes from other people, in expectation that we will use the energy they have given us to give back to them and others in turn.  The result of this exchange is that we feed each-other beyond surviving, into thriving.

However, there are many people today that do not reciprocate on others’ generosity, at any level.  These people trick and exploit others’ giving so that they can take, and continue taking.  The effects of this virulent psychocultural behavior are toxic.  When we do this, we drain energy from others without ever replenishing it.  It is this dynamic which generates massive disparities in w/health. Worse than that, the behavior is contagious.  When others around us — even entire societies and cultures — only take from us, they also demand of us that we in turn only take from others, out of a desperate attempt to preserve a definition of the self that shrinks more with the increasing alienation of the apparent choices we face:  victim of theft culture, or thief.

So we shrink away from thriving back into surviving, and we all suffer.  Whether “rational self-interest” is a positive thing depends on our definition of the self, and right now, our definition of the self is alienated, lonely and impoverished.  Those of us who believe in gift culture are embattled.


2 Responses to the enemy: theft culture

  1. ozob says:

    from facebook discussion:

    Well, unfortunately, this maddening cyclical dynamic is the result of our human species moving away from hunter/gatherer ways of living/mentality (communal, peaceful, taking care of each other, fair and equal distribution of food, and primarily egalitarian) through an agriculture society that has developed into an all consuming industrial society (… See Moreeach to his own, intense warfare, competition, capitalism, materialism, patriarchal, and power driven). I feel hungry too.

    It’s a shame that, as a human race, we have lived as hunter/gatherers for 90% of our time on earth and are now hearing strong posturing from those “in power” (or who have taken or assumed power) that abandoning this fantastic industrialist/capitalist way of living is somehow throwing in the towel and giving into evil “socialism.” It’s a distraction.

    Hunter/gatherers managed to get us through millions of years and we, in just a few short centuries, will have managed to destroy ourselves. Yay for industrialism.

  2. ozob says:

    it’s difficult to find accounts that do not mythologize agriculture’s predecessors (e.g., “most energy came from meat” [men] BS!;

    from my alma mater
    … See More
    the more sophisticated and critical of its own cultural context that archeology becomes, the more we seem to realize that societies we dismissively called “hunter-gatherer” were incredibly sophisticated, and among the first “permaculturists” (if i can use that term anachronistically)

    agriculture supports greater population densities, but is also requires MUCH more labor per calorie. so it makes sense on a thermodynamic level that social stratification resulted out of necessity, facilitated by fetishistic illusions (ref. Alf Hornborg’s work). *i believe there is also a very strong connection between agropatriarchy and anthropogenic desertification.*

    “agriculture and patriarchy (THEY COME AND GO TOGETHER: CONTRARY to any Wiccan pop-claims)”

    Ron — I thought the above would be an interesting read in the context of your work. Often times I see monotheism lumped with patriarchy and agriculture. But Romans and Greeks were patently pagan AND patriarchal, so that doesn’t make sense to me, which in my mind gives credence to your work in suggesting not an alternative history, but a struggle of Christianity dating back to the efforts of Jesus, against patriarchy (and therefore large-scale agriculture-based societies). The implication is that Christianity is only patriarchal inasmuch as it has been co-opted and corrupted by the dominant cultures against which it originally developed. An ongoing struggle of thousands of years.

    Another implication is, in addition to *gender work*, the vision of Christianity that you seek requires reforming our food systems as well.

    So there is the intersection between community food security and anti-violence work :) (and almost every other form of social and environmental justice as well).

    can we reduce the rise of theft culture to gender and food? sure would make our jobs easier…

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