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Andreas H.

Sorry if this post shows up more than once. But efter trying to edit the first post it vanished. Reposting said “ERROR: Duplicate reply detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that.” although it was not visible.

Hi Chris,

this is no real question, more a comment. Perhaps you’d like to re-comment this.
In one of your recent podcasts you mentioned “Against the Grain” by James Scott. I was glad you read it because I wondered what you would think about it after Civilized to Death was written, given its huge relevance to your book.
What stuck most in my mind of Scott’s book was the last chapter on the Golden Age of the Barbarians. I’ll give a very brief explanation of what he writes, so that other readers will have an impression what’s it about. Perhaps you might like to explain in in more detail if you’re responding to this.

He writes about those societies which existed at the fringes of states since the beginning of the states up until about the 17th century. He claims that they benefitted from the existence of the states by plundering them or trading with them and most probably blackmailing them. At some point he argues that the individual person’s life had most likely been better in those so-called barbarian cultures because they had a broader nutritional basis because of not depending on one or a few crops, had no or only a flat hierarchy and much more. In a sense they were probably something between hunters/gatherers and states. They had a lot of the advantages which were provided by their neighboring states while still maintaining the advantages living as foragers or pastoralists.

Sometimes I think your (and other people’s) plans to found communities somewhere as a refuge from today’s civilization is somewhat like an attempt to re-establish such a kind of “fringe” culture(s). Living at the edge of civilization but taking knowledge and technology with you and simultaneously living by hunter-gather-values seems to have quite some similarities those earlier “barbarian” cultures had. I don’t’ want to overstretch the comparison here by saying it is the same. But if there’s any valid point to my thought, it might be a good idea to look into what worked for the earlier fringe cultures in order to learn from it.
For example: Scott wrote that the states gained something from their “barbarian” neighbors by importing resources from the outback which were not available in the core land (Rocks, ore, oil, timber etc.). Of course, a future fringe community would provide different goods or services than those ancient ones. But it might be worth a thought, whether and how the community could deal with its big neighbor. That is, if there still will be a big neighbor around. And in the end, if nothing else works, you could of course resort to plundering.

Any thoughts about this?
Take care, buddy