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Resisting Trump? Five Tips from the Hunter-Gatherer Playbook


Resisting Trump? Five Tips from the Hunter-Gatherer Playbook

Jeremy Lent

Our egalitarian hunter-gatherer ancestors developed sophisticated social technologies for keeping upstarts in check. What can the popular resistance movement learn from them in confronting the worst excesses of Donald Trump?

"The most important lesson of all, however, may be to recognize what undergirded the hunter-gatherers’ resistance to an upstart in the first place: a shared set of values based in a deep sense of fairness and human dignity."


On the other hand, the greatest chief of the ancient Northwest tribes was the one who could give away the most riches in a Potlach ceremony.

Direct Democracy


“The most important lesson of all, however, may be to recognize what undergirded the hunter-gatherers’ resistance to an upstart in the first place: a shared set of values based in a deep sense of fairness and human dignity.” (Jeremy Lent)

Very nice - my feelings exactly !

natureboy - I think we have moved up a notch in the case of the Northwest indigenous fisherman. They were on the way to civilization, like pastoralists - a stage on the way to the Maya or Inca - who were just like us.

The key is the small group - interdependent upon the land - every day an adventure so to speak - like a mountaineering group.

This article highlights why I am able to maintain faith in our future. If everything crashes - we will return somewhat towards the values ingrained in homo sapiens over the course of two hundred thousand years plus - and our lineage goes back some millions of years as small social groups of upright apes.

I think things may be coming to a head vis a vis Trump and both mainstream parties.

It just takes longer - agonizingly so - in these huge societies of specialists we have all become.

But like the sciences - which are discovering the benefits of interdisciplinary co-operation, despite the drawbacks - we will too.


Addendum to my previous post:

You know, a small mountaineering group - I’ve found it to be born and sustained only of necessity. This is, I am sure, part of what held the small hunter-gather groups together - not some intrinsic lock on goodness.

Back in the city - the group is not the same at all.

I would like to mention that here - in that very same city - I look to music, and perhaps dance, or movement (same) - to reconnect with diverse people that I have little else in common with.

Like the Concert in Central Park, with Simon & Garfunkel = like the ballet Swan Lake - where movement and music negates completely any need for words or dialogue.

May I present a link to a solo climb, conceived as a work of art, by a great artist.

Part 1 is worth watching, but I love the Bolivian, or Andean influence of Part Two - only seven or eight minutes long.

I am not sure if anyone will like this - I am curious ?


There was a NatGeo documentary years ago about a !Kung woman called Short Face that explored exactly this topic. It was fascinating


And many post-apocalyptic themes in films and novels and other works of art explore/reinforce this idea. i.e. a recent sci-fi action flic that explores this crash (literally?) would be the film Snowpiercer (2013). In it, all of humanity hangs upon the technological achievement of an inventor who seeks to save humanity via a perpetual motion train on a track that travels earth. This is classic Greek/Shakespearean tragedy in it’s plot development/themes. And it explores the return to reliance on human instinct developed through eons (hunter gatherer–, and via visual symbolism at the very end-- but I won’t spoil it)

And if we view the current state of humanity as we would a Greek/Shakespearean tragedy, it is undeniably clear that humanity’s hamartia, it’s error in judgement that brings about the very thing the hero intended to avoid, is our technological/religious/political/cultural hubris.

This idea that humanity can overcome any obstacle with just some scientific ingenuity, a little prayer, and the right political/cultural approach (MacGyver, that loyal patriotic American hunk, defusing a bomb with a paper clip)—these forms of pride are what blinded us to the terrors we were creating along the way when we made our deals with the devil.

When “everything crashes”, it will be due to nuclear holocaust or byproducts of technological/industrial progress (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride) or a combination of the two. The unknown is who/what survives that crash, and how.


I am near finishing “Adults in the Room” (2017), by Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister for 162 days in the first half of the Greek crisis in 2015.

Yanis sees very much the ‘tragedy’ in Shakespearean.Greek terms, as your reply does.

I bought this book, which we can ill afford, being one of Noam Chomsky’s precariats these last fifteen years, but who really thinks any of us act entirely by rational means - and my experience of life, both in civilization and in the mountains and deserts, suggests strongly that the rational approach is only a minor tool in our survival toolkit. Einstein believed similarly, if I am not mistaken.

I thought that this book would increase my technical knowledge of mainstream economics, and it did. I was a stockbroker for a year, prior to my ‘precariat’ period, and took a few economic classes in University, along with a class in law and one in accounting.

I also thought I would gain an insider’s view of the Greek Crisis, from the ‘horse’s mouth’ - and this is emphatically the case/

But I did not expect to see, but did, the intense portrayal of human beings doing what they saw as ‘best’, and the drama there elevates this book for me into mesospheric territory, where our new climate change clouds, the noctilucents, are increasingly in evidence (see “AIM” [Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere] at Nasa if interested).

However - some good news too !

Man’s ‘search for meaning’ is also in evidence in this book, with some really decent human beings in the fore, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Jamie Galbraith, and many more…

Our civilized world is very complex, and Joseph Tainter sees a return to less complexity as probable.

The great English historian Arnold Toynbee summed things up nicely in his monumental “A Study of History”:

“Crystallization of a new order of civilization into an uncreative minority of powers that be leads to deterioration and ultimate collapse, despite the intervention of creative saviors.”

Yanis Varoufakis, during the Greek crisis, fulfilled this role I believe, and continues to do so today with his DiEM 25 initiative (Democracy in Europe by 2025).


For myself - I think I will restart my old website, Mountain and Desert Travel Tales, under a new name devoted to the new world we are entering.

As exploration is my forte, both as a professional exploration wellsite geologist for eighteen years, and as an outdoorsman and pilot, I am once again keen to begin another ‘life’.

One seems always to be re-inventing oneself, just to stay upright.

We are all, it seems to me, conscious condensations from the quantum vacuum, to use modern parlance, and as explored in a favorite New Scientist article “The Borders of Order”, life itself, and the Universe at large, both animate and inanimate, conform to this chaotic, trial and error way of exploring all possible configurations - selection being perhaps not only attributable to ‘survival of the fittest’ , but also to chance.

Life in the mountains followed this fractal pattern too, as it does everywhere, i.e., be one civilized, a pastoralist, or a tribal hunter-gatherer.

Gaston Rebuffat, the famous French Chominix mountain guide and member of the first eight thousand meter peak ever climbed, Annapurna in 1950, the year of my birth, called the mountain world

“The Kingdom of Light & Silence”.

I always saw the light and the silence, but I have just now become aware of Gaston’s first word - his Kingdom - for truly one feels entirely a man on a throne while climbing.

And this is how we are all supposed to feel - most of the time - and the way we are supposed to treat each other.

Equals - always.