Original Affluent Society

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

= Famous essay on Pre-Scarcity times by Marshall Sahlins

URL = http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm


Scarcity is not an intrinsic property of technical means, it is a relation between means and end. Human material wants are finite and few. From this point of view, hunters are affluent, and market-industrial systems institute scarcity. Hard work, poverty, and hunger, actually increase with civilization.


First paragraph:

"Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times."


Source: from the book: Stone age economics, by Marshall Sahlins. Chicago, Aldine-Atherton [1972]

More Information

  • The Wealth of Man by Peter Jay. "The life of pre-historic man was easy, idyllic, and very pleasant. Hunt big slow game an hour a day, relax and enjoy the rest."
  • Book: The !Kung San : men, women, and work in a foraging society / Richard Borshay Lee. Cambridge, [Eng.] ; New York : Cambridge University Press,


Enlarges upon the essay "The Original Affluent Society" by Marshall Sahlins. !Kung informant, /Xashe asks, "Why should we plant when there are so many mongongos in the world?"

  • Book: Man the hunter / Edited by Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore. Chicago : Aldine Pub. Co., c1968.

Includes the Richard B. Lee essay "What Hunters Do for a Living, Or, How to Make Out On Scarce Resources"