I'm not really sure what you're getting at. However, by a weird coincidence, just a few hours ago someone linked me to this article, in which Jared Diamond (the Guns, Germs, and Steel guy) explores the idea that leaving hunting/gathering for agriculture was a huge mistake.
And 25 years on he's parlayed the article into a book, "The World Until Yesterday -- What can we Learn from Traditional Societies?" I have it on hold from my local library, but I'm #56 on the list (11 copies) so I don't expect to read it until about April.
I've read 2 books by Jared diamond, and heard several interviews. He doesn't say that progress is a mistake. He makes a very subtle point. He says that while human progress has done some very very great things, we are losing touch with things that are good in "primitive" cultures. There's this notion, particularly in the West, that since civilization has done a lot of great things, like extend life expectancy, have a huge variety in our diet, reduce the need for war, create functioning democracies, that everything in civilized societies is better than primitive societies. Jared Diamond just says that is not necessarily true. For all the progress that we have made, there are things that we have lost, and it would help us to just drop the attitude that we are just so much better.
I've read a couple of Jared Diamond's books and found a lot of interesting and thought-provoking stuff in there. Another couple of books on similar themes:
A Short History Of Progress by Ronald Wright, based on a series of lectures for Canadian CBC Radio, looks at the downsides of "progress" through successive civilisations.
The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody, an anthropologist who did a lot of work with indigenous communities in the Canadian Arctic. This is a beautifully written book giving Brody's personal take on the cultural and psychological impact of the encounter between hunter-gatherers and "civilised" societies. Even if you harbour no romantic illusions about the charms of the hunter-gatherer way of life, this is a moving and thought-provoking book.
New Scientist magazine also had an interesting article "Busted! The Myth of Technological Progress" (4 October, 2012) describing how societies can often seem to achieve "progress" but then lose, forget or abandon those advances. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall now - I guess that's progress!
No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
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