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Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence

saharasia.jpgExcerpt: New Study of retired professor James DeMeo, Ph.D., on the Origins of Violence Proves: Ancient Humans Were Peaceful, Modern Violence is Avoidable.

His study is unusual in that it presents the first world maps of human behavior, as developed from large anthropological, historical and archaeological data bases. "A massive climate change shook the ancient world, when approximately 6000 years ago vast areas of lush grassland and forest in the Old World began to quickly dry out and convert into harsh desert.

DeMeo's maps show spreading centers for the origins of patriarchal authoritarian cultures within this same Saharasian global region - male-dominated, child-abusive, sex-repressive cultures with a great emphasis upon war-making and empire-building. DeMeo points to the work of the controversial natural scientist Wilhelm Reich to explain the patterns.

A new geographical study on the ancient historical origins of human violence and warfare, drawing upon global archaeological and anthropological evidence, has just been published presenting substantial proof that our ancient ancestors were non-violent, and far more social and loving than are most humans today - moreover, the study points to a dramatic climate change in the Old World, the drying up of the vast Sahara and Asian Deserts, with attending famine, starvation and forced migrations which pushed the earliest humans into violent social patterns, a trauma from which we have not yet recovered in over 6000 years.

The study and book, titled SAHARASIA: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World, by retired professor James DeMeo, Ph.D., is the culmination of years of library and field research on the subject. Professor DeMeo undertook the original research as a 7-year dissertation project at the University of Kansas, which was concluded in 1986. He has since put an additional decade of research into the subject. His study is unusual in that it presents the first world maps of human behavior, as developed from large anthropological, historical and archaeological data bases. DeMeo's findings were also recently presented at a regional meeting of the AAAS, in Grand Junction, Colorado.

"There is no clear or unambiguous evidence for warfare or social violence anywhere on planet Earth prior to around 4,000 BC and the earliest evidence appears in specific locations, from which it firstly arose, and diffused outward over time to infect nearly every corner of the globe." says DeMeo, who today directs his own private institute in rural Oregon. "A massive climate change shook the ancient world, when approximately 6000 years ago vast areas of lush grassland and forest in the Old World began to quickly dry out and convert into harsh desert. The vast Sahara Desert, Arabian Desert, and the giant deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia simply did not exist prior to c.4000 BC" DeMeo asserts, pointing to numerous studies in paleoclimatology - the study of ancient climates. "Something happened around 4000 BC which forced the drying-out of this vast desert region, which I call Saharasia, and the drier conditions created social and emotional havoc among developing human agricultural societies in these same regions."

DeMeo's maps show spreading centers for the origins of patriarchal authoritarian cultures within this same Saharasian global region - male-dominated, child-abusive, sex-repressive cultures with a great emphasis upon war-making and empire-building. DeMeo points to the work of the controversial natural scientist Wilhelm Reich to explain the patterns.

The Trauma of starvation

"Famine and starvation is a severe trauma from which survivors rarely escape unscathed. A lot of people die, families are split apart, and babies and children are often abandoned, and suffer enormously. Starvation affects surviving children in an emotionally severe manner. They shrink from the exhausting heat and thirst, emotionally withdraw from the painful world, and simultaneously suffer a severe stunting of the entire brain and nervous system due to protein-calorie malnutrition. Even if such starved children later get all the food and water they want, they are deeply scarred in an emotional-neurological manner which forever changes their behavior - specifically, there is an implanted inhibition of any impulse of a pleasure-seeking, outward-reaching nature, and a discomfort with deeper forms of body-pleasure, in both maternal-infant or male-female expressions. Additionally, the child's view of the mother, who could not protect or feed the child during the famine period, is thereafter colored with suspicion and anger. These attitudes and behaviors are deeply protoplasmic in nature, and are passed on to ensuing generations no matter what the climate, by social institutions which reflect the character structure of the average individual at any given period of time."

As part of his project, DeMeo undertook a cross-cultural evaluation of Wilhelm Reich's original ideas on human behavior. "Reich claimed humans became violent from two major causes: firstly from abusive and neglectful treatment of infants and children, and secondly from the repression of adolescent heterosexual feelings." This latter consideration, DeMeo asserts, has gotten nearly no attention from specialists on child-abuse, given that our society still considers adolescent romance and pre-marital sex to be a bad thing. "Pre-marital, adolescent sexual romance is normal among the most peaceful cultures, but is always repressed in violent warlike cultures. It is an even more precise predictor of social and individual violence than is child-abuse." Ideas such as these got Reich into hot water in the 1950s, DeMeo says, and his own work has similarly stirred up controversy. 

Over 1000 aboriginal cultures explored

To test Reich's ideas, DeMeo reviewed social variables on child-rearing, sexuality, the status of women, and violence, for over 1000 aboriginal cultures from around the world. "The cross-cultural evidence is very clear about this: the most violent human societies are those which treat their children in a neglectful and punitive manner, and which also demand sexual abstinence from their young unmarried people. Such cultures also emphasize highly compulsive forms of marriage, with a reduced status for women, and a lot of strong-man political or religious bosses who order everyone around at the point of a spear."

DeMeo does not pull punches about our own society. "Americans are not as violent as the most extremely violent cultures around the world, but we certainly are not as peaceful as the most peaceful societies. Unfortunately, our culture appears to be going towards increased social violence." He points to the general failure of parents and sex-education programs to say much of anything positive about sexual pleasure, with the great emphasis upon "abstinence education", as a major cause for the growing violence in our schools. "Our young people should be warmly romancing each other, dancing and singing together, making love and enjoying what should be the happiest time of their lives. Instead, we start our children off with a lot of hidden cruelty in the hospital birth, with incubator-isolation, denial of the mother's breast, time-table feedings, circumcision and so forth.

Later, it is compulsory schooling, obedience-training and so-called 'tough love'. Then comes the biggest lie, the 'sex-can-kill' hypothesis stemming from modern AIDS hysteria, a disease for which young adolescents and teens have virtually a zero risk." DeMeo injects an additional controversy into his work, by siding with dissenting scientists who reject the "infectious-HIV" hypothesis of AIDS, and he points to various studies supporting this criticism (such as those by Prof. Peter Duesberg, the retrovirus specialist at the University of California at Berkeley, and by the larger "Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV Hypothesis of AIDS").

"We give potent and dangerous psycho-drugs like Ritalin to perhaps 10% of the livelier kids, which is a major scandal in this country, to squash them into conformity with our obedience-demanding school system, or to the irrational demands of their families. Then we give them inaccurate and superstitious lies about the supposed dangerousness of love-making, and unrealistically expect them to behave in a loving and calm manner. We still define a 'good child' as the one who is quiet and obedient, who does not have any sexual expression - but our entire society is constructed like a social pressure cooker in which an enormous inner tension has built up. Social violence, suicide and drug abuse erupts from that high-pressure situation, in a very predictable manner."

Treatment of children causes violence

The roots of modern violence are similar to the ancient roots of violence, DeMeo says: "It is all in the treatment of our children, and in our sexual attitudes and behavior. If we would end institutional violence towards babies and children in the hospitals, making gentle home birth more widely available, ending practices such as circumcision, allowing more freedom and even student-democracy in the schools, emphasizing 'hearts over heads', if we could be more tolerant of adolescent romance and premarital sex - giving kids a real education about contraceptives and love instead of a false education of AIDS hysteria - and also eliminate compulsiveness in our marriages, then social violence would gradually ebb away. Ending the better-known forms of child-abuse, such as beating of children, is very important but by itself is simply insufficient."

DeMeo again points to the cross-cultural evidence to support his, and Reich's, controversial positions. "If this theory was wrong, there would have been no positive support from the cross-cultural evidence, and no patterns on my world maps. Instead, the cross-cultural review demonstrated a 95% positive correlation between the many variables, at a high level of statistical significance." DeMeo's "World Behavior Map" which was also prepared from cross-cultural data, appears strikingly similar to a world climate map, with the harshest desert areas of the Old World characterized by extreme patriarchal authoritarian culture.

The geographical patterns, he asserts, are imbedded in the same data found in every university library. "These data were gathered by hundreds of anthropologists who engaged in field work and published their studies over the last 100 years. The data was then coded by a team under the direction of George Peter Murdock at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1960s. I took the data and made maps from them, and the maps demonstrated the Saharasian patterns which can be clearly seen. This finding has therefore been subjected to a triple-blind control procedure, which virtually insures the pattern is real and not some methodological quirk or accident. My later review of archaeological and historical patterns demonstrated the same Saharasian pattern extended back in time to around 4000 BC, which was the starting point for both the vast Saharasian desert belt, and the very first child-abusive, sex-repressive, and violent patriarchal authoritarian societies. The drying up of the Saharasian desert belt was the cause of a vast epoch of generations-long famine, migration and land-abandonment, leading to the first-time appearance of warlike patriarchal authoritarian culture. The process started firstly in Arabia and Central Asia, spreading outwards over several thousand years to eventually encompass nearly the entire world."

DeMeo believes his findings provide conclusive proof for other social theorists who have long argued for peaceful social conditions among the earliest humans. "The 'Garden of Eden' myths, which exist in the historical literature of many Old World cultures, appear to be factually rooted in this early period of socially-cooperative and peaceful social conditions, when the Saharasia was green and fruitful. Then came the devastating climate change towards aridity, which formed the vast Saharasian desert belt, and humans were literally cast 'out of the garden'. The rest is history."

Recommended reading: James DeMeo Saharasia
 

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