The Original Affluent Society Marshall Sahlins Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings.
Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times.
There are two possible courses to affluence. Wants may be "easily satisfied" either by producing much or desiring little. The familiar conception, the Galbraithean way- based on the concept of market economies- states that man's wants are great, not to say infinite, whereas his means are limited, although they can be improved.
Thus, the gap between means and ends can be narrowed by industrial productivity, at least to the point that "urgent goods" become plentiful. But there is also a Zen road to affluence, which states that human material wants are finite and few, and technical means unchanging but on the whole adequate.
Adopting the Zen strategy, a people can enjoy an unparalleled material plenty - with a low standard of living. That, I think, describes the hunters.
And it helps explain some of their more curious economic behaviour: Free from market obsessions of scarcity, hunters' economic propensities may be more consistently predicated on abundance than our own. Destutt de Tracy, "fish-blooded bourgeois doctrinaire" though he might have been, at least forced Marx to agree that "in poor nations the people are comfortable", whereas in rich nations, "they are generally poor".
Sources of the Misconception "Mere subsistence economy", "limited leisure save in exceptional circumstances", incessant quest for food", "meagre and relatively unreliable" natural resources, "absence of an economic surplus", "maximum energy from a maximum number of people" so runs the fair average anthropological opinion of hunting and gathering The traditional dismal view of the hunters' fix goes back to the time Adam Smith was writing, and probably to a time before anyone was writing.
Probably it was one of the first distinctly neolithic prejudices, an ideological appreciation of the hunter's capacity to exploit the earth's resources most congenial to the historic task of depriving him of the same.
We must have inherited it with the seed of Jacob, which "spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north", to the disadvantage of Esau who was the elder son and cunning hunter, but in a famous scene deprived of his birthright. Current low opinions of the hunting-gathering economy need not be laid to neolithic ethnocentrism.
Bourgeois ethnocentrism will do as well. The existing business economy Will promote the same dim conclusions about the hunting life. Is it so paradoxical to contend that hunters have affluent economies, their absolute poverty notwithstanding?
Modern capitalist societies, however richly endowed, dedicate themselves to the proposition of scarcity. Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world's wealthiest peoples.
The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely without parallel. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behaviour of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity.
The entrepreneur is confronted with alternative investments of a finite capital, the worker hopefully with alternative choices of remunerative employ, and the consumer Consumption is a double tragedy: Bringing together an international division of labour, the market makes available a dazzling array of products: Worse, in this game of consumer free choice, every acquisition is simultaneously a deprivation for every purchase of something is a foregoing of something else, in general only marginally less desirable, and in some particulars more desirable, that could have been had instead.
That sentence of "life at hard labour" was passed uniquely upon us. Scarcity is the judgment decreed by our economy. And it is precisely from this anxious vantage that we look back upon hunters. But if modern man, with all his technological advantages, still lacks the wherewithal, what chance has the naked savage with his puny bow and arrow?
Having equipped the hunter with bourgeois impulses and palaeolithic tools, we judge his situation hopeless in advance. Yet scarcity is not an intrinsic property of technical means. It is a relation between means and ends.
We should entertain the empirical possibility that hunters are in business for their health, a finite objective, and that bow and arrow are adequate to that end. The anthropological disposition to exaggerate the economic inefficiency of hunters appears notably by way of invidious comparison with neolithic economies.
Hunters, as Lowie 1 put it blankly, "must work much harder in order to live than tillers and breeders" p.Marshall Sahlins' classic of economic anthropology investigates the structure of subsistence economies. Arguing against the conventional picture that depicts the paleolithic economy as a condition of scarcity, Sahlins shows that labor, scarcity, and abundance constituted the "original affluent socieyt." According to Marx, the human being is.
"Jared Diamond masterfully draws together recent discoveries in fields of inquiry as diverse as archaeology and epidemiology, as he illuminates how and why the human societies of different continents followed widely divergent pathways of development over the past 13, years.".
Explain and justify Marshall Sahlins' statement in "The Origin of Society," that: "In primate society, sex organizes society. In human society, society organizes sex." In primate society, sex organizes society because of the competition to reproduce.
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By stepping away from western notions of affluence, the theory of the original affluent society thus dispels notions about hunter-gatherer societies that were popular at the time of the symposium. Sahlins states that hunter-gatherers have a "marvelously varied diet" based on the abundance of the local flora and fauna.
This demonstrates that hunter-gatherers do not exist on a mere subsistence economy but . Clement Meighan was one of the first archaeologists to develop chronologies and assess cultural development in western Mexico and California.
He also did archaeological work in Chile. He was a prime motivator in the modern day development of UCLA's Department of Anthropology.