PUBLICATIONS
Books
The Independent Review
(Quarterly Journal)
Policy Reports
The Lighthouse
(Email Newsletter)
Commentary Articles
News Releases
Audio and Visual Programs
The Independent
(Quarterly Newsletter)
Research Articles
Working Papers
Course Adoption Program




Subscribe



Commentary
Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Contribute
Your participation will advance liberty. Join us as an Independent Institute member.



Contact Us
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428

510-632-1366 Phone
510-568-6040 Fax
Send us email


Interested in working with us?  Click here for more information.

Bookmark and Share    

Hunters-Gatherers: The Original Libertarians
By Thomas Mayor
This article appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of The Independent Review


Abstract

Hunter-gatherer societies can shed light on one of the most fundamental issues bearing on political economy—whether man is better adapted to individualism or to collectivism. The evidence suggests that for millennia before the agricultural revolution, man lived in a state of political autonomy and economic freedom and acted basically as a self-interested individualist, not as the altruist depicted in much of the socialist literature.


Article

In this article, I ask a perennial yet still unresolved question: What version of political economy—collectivist or individualistic—is more consistent with man’s basic nature? Does man naturally respect an individual’s right to the products of his own efforts, or does he believe that others have a higher claim on those products? Is he genetically programmed to be an independent decision maker, or does he feel more comfortable in a passive role, following a strong leader? To be sure, philosophers and political theorists have given different answers to these questions, but almost always without significant supporting evidence. I argue here that such evidence does exist and may in fact be obtained by applying basic principles of evolutionary biology to the voluminous ethnographic literature available in the field of anthropology.

Archaeological and biological evidence suggests that humans, defined by Richard Leakey as upright apes, first appeared about seven million years ago (1994, xiii). Since then, with the exception of perhaps the past ten thousand years, it is likely that man lived in small, kinship-based hunter-gatherer bands. In such an environment, over such a long period of time, man would have evolved patterns of behavior and socioeconomic institutions that promoted survival in hunter-gatherer or foraging societies. We must conclude, therefore, that modern man is, in a fundamental, biological sense, a hunter-gatherer. To understand modern man in his entirety, we must understand him in his primitive condition, long before the advent of civilization a scant five to ten thousand years ago.

...




Volume 16 Number 4
Spring 2012

Subscribe Today

Buy Single Issues

Independent Review Issues

Articles by Subject

Independent Review Articles on Related Subjects




Home | About Us | Blogs | Issues | Newsroom | Multimedia | Events | Publications | Centers | Students | Store | Donate

Product Catalog | RSS | Jobs | Course Adoption | Links | Privacy Policy | Site Map
Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook
Copyright 2014 The Independent Institute