Regenerative cultures are rooted in cooperation
Daniel Christian Wahl
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I am conscious of possibly starting an argument with followers of socio-biology, by suggesting in this essay, that “natural selection” in humans did NOT occur through xenophobic “tribalism”, inter-group competition, and warfare. The idea of a conscious and deliberate “project of conquest” to take over the world, killing off, “out-competing, and replacing the “archaic” humans all over Eurasia and the rest of Africa has been fairly prevalent, but it is fading. 
 
 Evidence is emerging that indicates that these events weren’t like that at all. Behaviorally and anatomically modern humans were successful because they were able to “culturally construct” localized variations on a general “theme” — and create an ecological niche as a keystone ecological engineer: a niche that for the most part preserved the diversity and stability of whatever local ecosystem they entered. 
 
 Having developed this adaptation, during severe climatic turbulence, they represented as few as 20,000 survivors around 100,000 years ago. From this tiny community, our ancestors then expanded their range to retake the interior of the vast African continent. About 10% of them expanded along rivers and coastlines into Eurasia and beyond. In each period of warmer and wetter climate (the first of which occurred 148,000–132,000 ears ago) this initially tiny minority — representing a culture specialized in exploiting dual aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, trickled repeatedly into Eurasia: this became a river and then a flood after the end of the African mega-droughts, dated at 74,000 B.P. but it was a flood from a single source. 
 
 Then the climate stabilized, around 12,000 years ago. On every continent, here and there, a few more sedentary populations used even more intensified management, resulting in domestication of a multitude of plant and animal species, and to creation of local economic diversity and various mutually symbiotic forager, pastoral, and farming economic niche communities — but did not break the pattern of positive trophic flows, except in a few places. From such places, people migrated to less densely settled regions; failing that option, they created regulatory systems for use of the commons that offset risks and internal conflict. 
 
 Only when these measures failed did a few “centers of civilization” develop. Most of these avoided collapse by disengaging egalitarian social controls in favor of social stratification. 
 
 That made possible competitive predatory expansion against other demes (often involving mass murder). Such expansion resulted in the innovative restructuring of economic activities, permitting agricultural and extractive task forces — in the form of a hierarchical feudal system — to support an urban minority of specialized classes: acting as an economic, military, and legal administration. But it also created poverty, and exported ecocide.