It is true that we no longer know on which foot to dance. We generally agree that we need to reduce our consumption of goods of all kinds. We also admit that we eat too much meat, which requires a lot of energy resources. But decreasing is as if it is never enough. We would have to go back a long way, become again the itinerant hunter-gatherer that we were a few thousand years ago, to save the planet suffering from invasive cancer.
As if “the Earth in its natural state [pouvait] to give to man in abundance all that is necessary for the satisfaction of his material needs ”, modern industry and technology would be responsible for the ongoing disaster. This is the kind of discourse held by the new ecologists, followers of primitivism.
The myth of the “good savage” is more and more present in the current ecological debate, says the author. Modern humans like to be in the center of the universe, which would be quite deplorable. “Animals, rivers, forests, coasts, oceans: so many objects that he can appropriate and instrumentalize, which he can use and abuse as he sees fit”, denounce these environmentalists, including Paul Shepard, the most interesting of these theorists.
This tragic break between humans and nature dates back to the Neolithic Age, when humans began to control the reproductive cycle of plants and animals. Primitivism deplores this transition to a sedentary society. But this concept is a historical aberration, according to Madelin, “a political and strategic dead end, so improbable it seems that humanity will one day revive on a large scale a way of life based on hunting and gathering”.
The portrait painted by primitivists of the post-Paleolithic era is apocalyptic. “We go from homicide to war, from murder to genocide, from family famine to famine, from diversity in all its forms to homogeneity, from disease, as individual organic failure or attack by parasites. , to deadly mass epidemics, from group-centered power or advice to a hierarchy of empires, from occasional madness to group insanity, ”Shepard says. But he is not wrong across the board.
The author does not believe in the earthly paradise of the Paleolithic era. Several large animal species went extinct during this so-called golden age and this would not only be due to climatic conditions. “Obviously,” he explains, “prehistoric societies did not always live in perfect harmony with their environment or with the animals that inhabit it. ”
For Madelin, the domestic tasks so much decried by the primitivists, such as the cultivation and harvesting of cereals, the drying, threshing, pounding, crushing, upkeep of the home, must be at the center of any process of civilization. The emergence of food storage, which results from these activities, necessarily leads to wealth, and consequently social inequalities and even slavery. However, it has been proven that slavery existed among primitive populations, including the hunter-gatherers of the northwest coast of North America.
The author therefore questions the line of demarcation between the Paleolithic, presented as the golden age, and the Neolithic, presented as the beginning of human decay. Forms of age and gender inequality existed among nomadic hunter-gatherers. The romantic myth of the “good Indian” enjoying full freedom in the midst of wild nature is now on its way. “In view of the ethnographic data at our disposal, violence in hunter-gatherer societies responds to two main reasons: the acquisition of women (or at least the desire, among men, to assert the rights they already exert on their wives if they consider them threatened) and thirst for justice. ”
Finally, we learn that primitivism finds its raison d’être in the cult of ” wilderness “, A term that is difficult to translate into French and which evokes” an almost always wild nature, sometimes virgin, and at the antipodes of modern civilization “. There would be nothing more modern than primitivism, since humans are still and always preoccupied with the quest for freedom, justice, equality between men and women and harmony between humanity and the Earth. . But there has never been a society free from all forms of domination, concludes the researcher.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7116