Our Prehistory as Egalitarian Nomadic Foragers with Antiauthoritarian Leadership: What These Nomads Can Teach Us Today

  • Our species has deep prehistoric roots in egalitarian and antiauthoritarian bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers. As large agricultural societies develop after the Neolithic revolution 10,000 years ago, despotic rulers, social hierarchies and brutal social inequalities begin to emerge. Through the immensely long arc of the history of our species the pendulum has swung between authoritarianism and antiauthoritarianism, egalitarianism and hierarchy, cooperation and competition, collective solidarity and individual selfishness. Recognizing these oscillations is a key to understanding the political and social nature of our species. As I show, our capacity to control bullies and tyrants and our longing for autonomy and freedom have deep roots in the egalitarian ways of life of nomadic foragers that prevailed during 100,000 years of the prehistory of our species or perhaps much longer. A better understanding about what is known about this prehistory gives us reasons to believe that >the better angels of our nature< are not just historical products, but are indeed rooted in human nature.

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Author:Mauricio Cortina
Parent Title (English):Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Vol. 41, pp. 456–472.
Document Type:Articles
Year of first Publication:2021
Release Date:2022/05/04
Format:PDF-file upon request / PDF-Datei auf Anfrage
Writings about Erich Fromm (Secondary Literature):Articles / Artikel
Erich Fromm's Library and Erich Fromm Archive:Articles / Artikel
Licence (German):
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