What first distinguished the human being from an animal was his use of a stick, merely, for protection and for food.  The culture that has come to be was originally contained in principle in this simple "naturefact," as anthropologists say, or randomly-found object lying at the feet of a hungry or fearful human.  Once in his hand, the stick (or other such object) became a weapon that other beings, animals and human alike, shortly came to fear.  Our purposes here are not to repeat what has already been said by anthropologists, however, and to discuss further the importance of tools for the person.  Rather, we are going to consider what "sense" the human being imparted to the stick.   The stick in the hands of a human was invested with a certain "mentality" or "humanity" which constitutes the subject matter of a phenomenological analysis;  phenomonology we take to mean a consideration of objects, not as in science from the outside in, but as philosophy from the inside out.  The stick, now a weapon, is alive in a sense analogous to a living being.  We can "penetrate," as phenomenologists say, the "essence" of that stick or stone used as a tool.  I might also reiterate what I said in Section #1 regarding Philosophical Anthropology as starting with some simple fact--here the primal tool--and extrapolating to a broader area of interest, which in this blog is civilization as we know it today.  These are all considerations which within this blog have come to be cliches of Force Theory.  I said not long ago that "the stick completes the arm; the slave completes the stick."  What is suggested by this formula, I am saying, is a "total" philosophy of society.   My point while suggestive still needs expanding and elaboration.  By understanding the mere stick "phenomenologically," I am saying, we may move to some opinion on broad processes of culture and civilization, leading up to, we suppose, a sort of "politics of the stick."  These are the same sticks suggested by the ritualistic faces,  rods symbolizing authority carried in a Roman parade.

Hegel's "dialectical" principle has always been open to interpretation and we cannot, here, consider ourselves pure Hegelians.  What was suggestive in Hegel was put to more concrete application by the great Engels, who, we regret to say, may have missed the point in his final conclusions.  We may follow Engels up to a point.   But above all we want to avoid simplistic explanations.  For example, I said earlier that "mind is a psychological reflex of the tool."  When early man started using sticks and stones as tools, mind, having a new role in human life, evolved accordingly in order to enhance tool use.  This would be a simple and straightforward statement and one that has been convincing, so far, to anthropology teachers and their students.  I could talk this way to my classes and be perfectly convincing.  But here we want to say more.  We want to say, rather, that, while indeed having a supportive and enhancing role in human life, the tool also in an important senes opposed the human being.   In other words, the tool had an ambivalent role in human evolution.  In this chapter of my blog I will point out that applied to some purely "external" problem--to kill animals or to dig roots--the stick was useful; any enhancement of this tool, something possible only through mind and intellect, would have a fostering and enhancing role in human life.  This fact is clear enough. This point is nothing that I would have to work to convince my students of.  On the other hand, where the tool and technology intersect with social life--as they must--an entirely new problem arises.  Human group life must change, somehow-- marginally at least, perhaps radically--to accomodate tools.  A major issue for humans arose when they began to use their technology--weapons, here--against one another.  Not only did humans challenge outlying hunting bands, regarded as competitors for food, they sought to subdue one another in dominance relations.  Sexual fighting could use lead off and on to serious injuries being inflicted, as, of course, the mere stick by itself, wielded by an otherwise limp and more or less ineffectual arm, leveraged the violence of the arm expondentially.  We need no lesson in physical force to understand this principle.  This leveraged violence, and the way it was used not merely outside the group but within the group, became an ongoing problem of society.  Here we must evoke the general Hegelian point of view.  We must say that each "problem" that arises--here the contradiction between healthy, relatively nonviolent relations within the group and, on the other hand, leveraged violence of extra-biological weaponry--has to be resolved in some way.  In knowing this need we are Hegelians.  The way that ingroup armed violence was resolved, I aver, was language.  So, unlike simplistic explanations for the relationship between  language and tools, we are rising to the viewpoint that language in an imortant sense first opposed  tools.  We are saying that language originated among humans as the cries of disadvantaged persons facing the man with the stick and being forced to negotiate with him.  The first language, we are saying, was in negotiating a peaceful settlement of violence within the group. 

The human being is a rather generalized animal, not capable of any extreme or highly directed exertion.  This is the first thing we learn about so-called human nature from anthropology.  For our purposes we observe that the human being is soft and weak; that is all we need to say.  If the human being is soft and feeble, compared to the lions and gorillas that would be man's competitors, then by contrast the stick is hard and focused.   What is morphologically opposite between man and stick becomes functionally opposite, as the stick, in hitting or stabbing, either one, concentrates the general effort of arm and hand into one moment of extreme force.  In the swing of the arm is a general activity; in the instant of impact all the effort that has accumulated becomes, in the end contact, a concentrated and violent moment.  This principle of accumulated force is taught in any introduction of physics course.   Inasmuch as the stick is opposite to what the man is, this naturefact complements the man and renders whole what is only partial.  The man is born partial; through culture, and through his own effort, he becomes whole.  This is all we are saying.  That culture requires human effort is not important if the effort required is only to lift a found stick or stone off the ground and carry it about.   By this simple process culture began.   That the stick is hard is a natural fact; that the stick is focused and directed is a quality invested in the stick by human use.  The stick may be used as a club or spear; it may be used to hit or stab.  In any case, the stick does what the human being cannot do with his arm or even his teeth (which became smaller as tools progressed).  The stick gives human exertion its "pointed" quality.  But there is more.  The stick leverages this "pointed exertion" beyond what an animal is capable of.  Thus, if sharp teeth stab and wound, the stick wounds even more.  By extension and leveraging the body can surpass itself and accomplish more than can the special members--the teeth and so forth--of the animal.  That is, the stick is more useful than are teeth so long as we assume that the purpose for which the stick is used is a "pointed"--that is, very specific--purpose.  The stick can be used to club or stab, but that is all.  The stick may be used to dig, too, say for edible roots and grubs, which constitutes another reason humans male or female came to have always a stick in hand.  This is the way human evolution proceeded for countess milenia.   In our present train of thought it is enough to say that the human being passed from a State of Nature to a State of Man with the "discovery" of the simple stick; everything basic that evolved subsequently derives, in essence, from the principle of the stick as used by human beings in their simple daily activities.  We may say, in short, that the evolution of the brain was a biological afterthought, perhaps, not to improve the tool, necessarily--because use of a simple naturefact (artifact) would put humans in a vastly advantaged relation to animal competitors--but to accomodate human beings themselves to their own technology.  It was at an early stage of culture, even the lower paleolithic, that technology began to intrude into human personal relationships and have, in that regard, a destabilizing and "denaturalizing" effect in these relations. 

Ludwig Klages proposes that mind is antithetical to life.    His book title, Geist als Widersacher der Seele (Spirit as Adversary of the Soul) pretty much summarizes his point of view and renders redundant what follows in the opus.  In my own book, tentatively titled Phenomenology of the Stick, I adhere to Klages essential thesis.  Where I differ from Klage is in regard to the issue of where "mind" first appeared.  I am saying "mind" at the beginning of the paleolithic, at a time when ancestral human brains were no larger than those of apes; but this "mind" existed essentially as a "principle" within the stick.  For our purposes the stick was findamentally mind itself, but outside the biological body and in a material, non-organic form.  Mind as it appeared as an epiphenomenon of the brain (we are saying) was simply an internalization of the stick; a reduction of the stick, we are saying, to a psychological reflex. 

Nevertheless, the externality and alienability--and finally the oppositionality--of the stick persist in the mental response to the stick.  Thus it is entirely appropriate to say that the mind is in an important sense "alien" to the body, and, as an alien entity can potentially be opposed to the body that contains it.   In the individual life, the antithesis of mind and vital essence are not necessarily severe;  the person can effectively use mind to advance himself and his family.  This is clear.  On the other hand, the prospect of a whole society raises an entirely new and larger dimension of the issue of Geist als Widersacher.  Society, we are saying, is disembodied Geist or the collective representation of what we have been calling the "stick."  Human beings come together, first as master and slave, "through the stick."   Duhring points out the necessity of force in forging complex society; we are adding to this thesis only that the medium of force is "the stick," the technics of weaponry.  But society as it grows larger and more complex shows its origins in leveraged force, in the sense, we are saying, that society is both larger than and external to the individual.  It is proper to say that society is opposed to the individual.  Society is alien to and opposed to the life of the individual.    Our stand at present--before we discuss the meaning of race in history--is "anarchistic."  Even as society--or leveraged stick of sticks--is opposed to the individual life, race is opposed to society. 

Where the present essay departs from the other social philosophers we have discussed is in the issue of the time of origin of this extreme antithesis.  But, as we are seeing here, the oppositionality within human life began to appear at the very beginnings of human existence, when tools--even an implement as simple as a mere stick--was first used.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-11-03 14:53:44)



I said earlier that "the slave completes the stick." We have already seen that the stick-as-tool focuses human effort and concentrates that effort in one moment of force (in hitting or penetrating).  The topic considered in this section will be how the generality, transformed by the stick into a narrow and violent specificity, is restored by the slave into a new and exended generality.  Human beings we are saying have been capable of translating weak generality into crude, brute focus; and then transforming this focus back into a generality.   In drawing a connection between the stick and the slave, in the above formulation, I have suggested essentially everything there is to be said about civilized society.  The stick as a focused instrument of violence compels the slave to work; the relationship between the person weilding the stick, the stick itself, and the slave constitute the main elements of society.  The slave on the other hand, who like the master is a configuration of weak but widely varied abilities, is the element translating brute focus into generalized practicality.   Engels talked about the "means of production"; we say simply--means of coercion.  We are going to follow Duhring regarding this issue, however, who even though decrying violence and oppression in history does ascribe to violence much of the progress of humanity.   The real origins of modern society, we are saying, is not in a dependency on machines for the goods of life, so much as a military intimidation of the population through the technics of war and  "oppression."  But this structure of human existence set in in the Paleolithic period of culture and has continued essentially until the present.  The real basis of collective and organized existence is an application of weaponry to the problem of human coexistence.   There remains to characterize the present age in America, where the military does not have special prominence or even visibility. 

The Duhring formulation does not seem to hold true.  Human beings come together today through the means of production and the terms of distribution; this cooperative life does not seem to be enforced by weaponry but more by mutual interdependency.  Modern industry, we are suggesting, is a development of weaponry; but this weaponry has been turned to everyday domestic activities such as getting food and so forth.  In fact it is difficult to separate the practical and material concerns from the activity of organizing human beings.  When we say "the slave completes the stick" we mean that the stick coerces the slave, and in that sense the stick is a weapon.  But the long-range intent of that coercion may be to produce a practical result.  The point to be made now is that the stick by itself is focused and violent.  In this capacity the stick is a weapon, merely, to kill animals or dig for food underground.  The stick applied to a slave is another consideration.   The  stick which has a limited function comes to have, through the slave, a general and diverse function.  Through the slave the stick, focused and specialized in itself, becomes generalized and capable of many functions.  We should consider slavery as a development or extension of technology rather than of society.  Engels falsely assumes that the history of human coexistence is one of the relationship of man to man.  That is simply not the case.  First technology appears and human beings form their society, what there is of it, through and around technology.  In fact, at a certain point in the evolution of technology human beings begin to be excluded, precisely, from their own technology.  This is the phenomenon of alienation (enfremdung).  But in the meantime the stick plus the slave now accomplishes what the human being first set out to do, which is just to survive.

I said above that the stick alone accomplishes a very limited, special and violent effect.  That is the stick is specialized if we consider the it  as it was most often used in hunting, say, and killing animals and other humans.  But the stick as a means of coercing human behavior, and doing so in a direction favorable to the man weilding the stick, becomes a general source of "labor."   The individual without the stick is capable of a wide range of general functions, but in the act of using the stick this generality is lost.  The generality of the arm and hand are transformed in the stick into a narrow and violent result.  This is the way human beings subjected to coercion see the stick.  They fear its violent impact.  On the other hand, this fear motivates the slave to perform the diverse and generalized  that the master, for his part, had been accostomed to seeing through his own effort.  Fear we might say is the factor motivating human beings to cooperate and collaborate.  Society is built from fear.  Slavery was an appropriate institution as humans passed out of the hunting and gathering period into agriculture.  We may assume, on the other hand, that slavery was present as soon as humans, now possessing the weapon or tool, turned that weapon on one another, compelling one another into servitude.  Agriculture provided food for more humans; these numbers were likewise organized.  But the factor organizing them was still the force of weapons in the hands of a "master class."  Finally, human beings instituted agreements as a promise to one another to exclude violence and weapons from their relationships.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-10-19 18:31:54)



The human being, as I said earlier, is capable of performing diverse actions but none of them very well.  That is, the human being can jump but he can't fly; he can hit with his fist, but not very hard; he can run but not very fast; he can shout but not very loud.  He is the proverbial jack of all trades but master of none.  The generality of the human being was first his main strength.  For instance, if we observe generalized animals as a group--squirrels, mice and apes--we see that they are able in certain environments to exploit a wide range of food-getting and defense opportunities.  Mice and eat almost anything and they are imaginative in escaping predators.  Apes, which are man's closest relatives, survive by living both in trees and land and having, as I say, a varied diet.  The evolutionary descent of human beings is in a line featuring animals with few specializations. But there is more.  This success that prehumans had did not last.  As forest environments made way for savannah, and the ancestors of humans (Australopithecenes) were forced onto the open grounds, exposed on every side to formidable carnivores, the fact that humans were generalized and lacked special aptitudes was not in itself a means to anything or a defense against anything.  In his original setting, the savanahs of Africa, this lack of any specialization counted against his survival.  He could be run down and killed by any number of large cats or wolves or bears.  Conversely, plodder that he was he could not run down and kill fleet-footed animals.  Cats and even the lumbering bear were first to the food.  The fact that the human being could do a number of different things, but not effectively kill that predatory cat, would in itself have sealed the human's doom.  The human being, to face this challenge--that he would be eaten momentarily--had to acquire the needed specializations.  Probably the thing that enabled him to escape being eaten--the stick--was a necessary step towards his being able to kill animals as food, many of them larger and certainly faster than he was.  Through the stick the human being "turned the tables," so to speak.  We observe, finally, that through his newly found culture, which in the beginning was merely a stick or stone used to hit or throw, the person became a specialist.   The effect of culture was to project his personality out in one direction or the other.  The instincts of the human being remained of a "generalist" nature, insofar as the human being anatomically and behaviorally was a generalist.  The mentality of the human being is on the other hand that of a specialist, insofar as the mind serves the technics.   Of course, he did not originally extend this personality--essentially his human need and imagination--in all directions at once.  The most pressing need--competition to eat and avoid being eaten--was the need dealt with first, with, as I say, a mere stick or stone used as a tool or weapon. 

The history of culture from this early point, to a time much later, was again one of increased specialization.  The stick used as it was found was sharpened at the end to form a spear; a larger stick was sought as a club.  These were the advances of technology that there were.  We may say that the human being, by virtue of the technical, extra-biological specialties that he had, could remain in other respect, as an animal, rather generalized.  He still ate a wide range of foods; this ability to tap these resources contributed to his survival.  The mentality of the human being was by contrast still generalized and open to all sorts of possibilities.  The anatonomy of the human being, through the agency of mind, sought to surpass itself in a number of directions.  So, new technology was found.  We may at this point consider slavery a shortcut to this new generality. In other words, a general technology lacking, the slave was an obvious way to expedite the great number of possibilities that still remained in sight but for which technology had not yet been invented.  A human being can be trained in any direction.  Of course, such specialization, as I have suggested all along, would be contra naturam for a human being.  A human message carrier, forced to run long distances, does not want to do so; the work laborers had to do to build pyramids (or anything else) had to be onerus.  This work had to be forced.  We may identify the next period of culture, then, as one which human beings were compelled to make use of one ability or another which they already had, but in unnatural ways.  This was coercion "by the stick."  In an agricultural economy slave labor would be a definite advantage (where, obviously, other technology was lacking).  So the first economic practice that made slavery highly rewarding for the master was agriculture.  On the other hand, slavery on a limited scale was earlier obviously in place, .  In Africa slavery is practiced even by food collectors on a very primitive level of subsistence; slavery for all intents and purposes in Africa is all there is, whatsoever, to society.   Not the generality of the individual human being is now used to recreate  the original homid generality of living, but rather the individual abilities of humans are used, generally, in a wide range of diverse directions, to create this same overall generality.  This point can be stated more plainly.   The individual slave can only do what the master could otherwise do.  I can wash dishes and cook just like any slave; for that reason I choose to cook and wash dishes for myself, thus sparing myself, thankfully, from the bother of having a slave to do these things.  Besides, cooking (etc.) I move about and don't sit by the television.  It is where slaves can be exhorted to specialize their abilities, albeit unnaturally--under some kind of compulsion--and so extend the human imagination diversely in a number of directions--that slavery becomes a real advantage (to the master).  I am not saying anything here at all about what advantage slavery is to the slave, assuming even that there is such an advantage (there may not be).

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-10-19 18:35:39)



Over time, the slave, at first a generalist, becomes a specialist.  Under hunting and gathering the slave is likely to do domestic work.  This is the task slaves are put to in Africa, where living is at a barely subsistence level (and sometimes below even this).  Agriculture, supporting as it does a larger population, allows also a more complex division of labor.   Mobile barbarians, practicing chariot warfare, descended upon agriculturalists and enslaved them.  These events of warfare followed by enslavement constituted a sort of natural ebb and flow of life on the open ranges of central Asia and into Europe.  We see then that slaves were put to more diverse and specialized tasks.  In other words, the work that a single human being could do--let us say on a scale and of the complexity of domestic work (cooking, sweeping etc.)--the slave now, under (what I call) "predatory" slavery, involving masses of people, would do on likewise mass scale.  The general intentions and purposes of an elite group, as enforced through the rather specialized force of arms, became the general work of the slave caste.  The work of slaves in general became a large-scale general operation.    Hunting may have been the "work" of an upper caste elite but became a mere sport.  Slaves were excluded from "sport" in this sense.  On the other hand, what was once the generality of domestic tasks was extended to whole populations.  The Greek word economia meant first managing the single household.  As society grew economia became economics, or the organization of a large number of persons and technology in a single system.  This transition from the small economia to the mass-organization known today as an industrial society took place, essentially, without any departure in principle from the idea of slavery.  The motive power of such a mass grouping was provided through the agency of a "stick," or weapon and the fear that this weapon provoked.  We follow Duhring, not Engels, on this basic point.

The specialized abilities of the individual slave, put to work in a diversified economy, inspired the idea of new and diversified tools and technology.  The specialist slave now was given an implement that grew out of his own specialized work.  There is no doubt in my mind that the new technology appeared as the master class, now with the amenities of education and knowledge, observed the slaves at work and projected their work patterns upon physical objects and materials at hand.  Thus the stooping and digging of slaves, abstracted as a pure pattern or configuration, materialized as the implements of agriculture, ones still, at this point, handled by slaves.  One must acknowlege, at this point in our argument, that the human elements of the slave system were understood more clearly in relief against the purely technological factors of the economy.  The tools of the slave's trade were beginning to compete in theory with the slave himself as a human being.  Ideas of so-called freedom were beginning to be spun out by priests and intellectuals that had appeared at that time.  These ideas morover were met with approval by the elite caste, which saw in the removal of slaves--and virtually the whole human element--from production would improve the production system.  At this stage in history what were formerly slaves entered the economy in an entirely new capacity, that of consumers.  The elite caste had in effect negated themselves, as consumers, by calling into existence a system which produced goods on a mass basis--for the masses only.   That is, the elite had first employed--by force of the stick--artists to adorn their hunting lodges with beautiful and original paintings.  That was the way the economy was oriented.  As the slave was replaced by technology, on the other hand, this technology--because it was a technology of "mass" production--was oriented toward mass, proletarian tastes.  There was a decline in the quality of culture as the quantity increased.  Thus, for instance, a rich and powerful man was allowed the pleasure only of consuming thousands of the same kinds of things that the common man, as individual, could buy only a few of.  So, in other words, the rich man who could once stage his own production of Handel's Messiah, now is limited to buying  thousands of recordings of country singers.   Success today ironically means that one can have hundreds of the things that, possessing even one of is too much!

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-10-20 15:37:18)



The stick, first a tool to leverage an individual's intentions through other human beings, becomes, finally, the agent of depersonalization of society.   The stick finally becomes society, or what is the same becomes the agent that holds society together.  We are affirming Duhring on this issue over Engels.  We are saying that, once used by one human being to coerce behavior in another human being, the stick becomes the essential element of the relationship between these two persons. This is a social relation in a "human" sense that persists through the basic stages of history.  To be more precise:  the stick is a non-human thing that is inserted, in a human way, into a human relationship to transform that relation into a non-human thing.    I am sure that later I will have a better way to state this.  In earlier sections of this blog I dwelt upon the significance of the simple tool, whether a stick or stone, as determining the evolution of mind itself, which is called, here, a reflex of the tool.  The mind itself is a depersonalized, in a sense dehumanized entity.  The original function of mind was to serve technology; this is still the basic significance of mind.  Therefore, when human beings come together in groups around technology, or through technology, or on behalf of technology, this assemblage of human beings, while consisting of human beings, does no cohere through any human principle but rather through a material principle.  The humans who come together through technics are indeed human beings, but their relationship is not as such human.  There is nothing in them, say by way of instinct, that brings them together.  In such a technical-industrial system they might as well be strangers.  I have developed the basis of this principle in earlier sections of this blog.   

My point may be further stated several ways.  There are human beings at this stage in a relationship with one another; but this relation, although a human relationship--it is indeed a specifically human relationship (animals do not have this relation), is not a personal relation but is impersonal.  The individual leverages his personality, but that leveraging is not personal.  "Personal" here means a relation mediated through what in the individual is inherited and biological that brings him or her into a relation with another person:  we mention spontaneous gestures, noises and so forth.  A connection between persons that is mediated by a stick or weapon is of another sort.  We may go on to observe that  humans turned sticks toward one another even before their species acquired language and symbolic thought.  If that is the case--that they were technological before they possessed language--then it is a safe assumption that mind and language evolved in response to, and as a reflex of, technics.  Mind exists on behalf of the tool or stick.  The stick is incorporated into human behavior as mind.  The mind is in these terms simply a reflex, as I say, of the stick.

The workshop consisting of a number of craftsmen working at different tasks becomes, finally, the machine.  We are assuming that an owner or manager is watching his men work.  He wants the men to have tools that will optimize their productivity.  The mentality of these tools of the individual craftsperson is the same as the mentality of the primal human being with a stick used for some purpose.  Any improvement of the tool, on the other hand, has effects in two directions.  First the improved tool results in improved productivity.  Secondly, and not less important, is the fact that the tool replaces the effort of the worker, making his work less difficult.  But the improved tool also makes the work of the worker, by degrees, redundant and irrelevant.  Slowly, again, and by degrees, the craftsmanship or skill of the worker tends to disappear altogether--and finally, as this work disappears, so does the worker himself.  We do not need to bother here with the economic consequences of this displacement of work and the worker; at the time of Engels and early in the Industrial Revolution this process of displacement had only begun.  How radical this process was to become could scarcely be forseen.  Had Engels forseen the final result he would dispair: displaced workers would not have money to buy goods, and the general system, for want of consumers, would collapse.  This never did happen.  Instead, human beings were simply given money on some artificial pretext or other; and their spending keeps the system going.  There is great disagreement on how this creation of smoke and mirrors really works.   The issue so far as we are concerned here, on the other hand, is not the economics of our present situation--which no one understands--but the sense that human beings have that a system of production is not now, and never was, a real social relationship.  In fact humans know now that for several hundred years, but perhaps far longer, human life in the Western world has been without society.  The thought perhaps for hundreds of thousands of years, where relationships whether of slavery or free wage labor have been through or around or on behalf of "the stick," has been illusory.  That is, people believed that the relationships they had were "social" in the original sense of the word, as through family, when these relations were artificial extensions of the production system.  This illusion has been lately exposed as human beings themselves, no longer needed by the system as workers, were set free from the system--and from one another.  For the time being people have involved themselves in faux relations, invented solely for the purpose of holding them together when real or practical reasons for being together have disappear.  I count as ersatz relations in this sense religious ties in the broad sense of the word religion, including not just formal religion but nationalism and political and "social" causes of various sorts.  Such an edifice is flimsy and awaits an inevitable distruction by the pure, primal elements of world history. 

To transform a workshop, in which human beings are links in the workshop's configuration, is a logical step toward the entirely depersonalized, human-free, instrument of production.  The stick, we are saying, is no longer precisely a "social" connection so much as a dehumanized entity.  The stick is no long a means to society, the stick has become society.  We are saying at this point that the human being is free of society (has no responsible role in it) and society is free of the human being.   This is a paradox if not an outright contradiction.   This is a "society" as it were without a human presence.  The industrial society is a paradox; it is only in an ironical sense that we can call the industrial society a society at all.  We may now go on to examine concepts of freedom and equality as they apply to this "society."  The freedom and equality of human beings in an around the industrial society, where in fact humans are redundant links in that society--replaceable and replaced by simply more technology-- have to be defined in a special way.  We may suggest that humans are now equal and free for the reason that as words freedom and equality have no meaning at all.  But there is more.  Human beings have been all but released from any commitment or responsibility in regard to the system.  It is proper to say that they are  "loose" to roam about and to find new activities and relationships.  This extra-industrial relationship (outside industry and outside society itself as earlier defined) is spontaneous anarchy, or absolute, logical freedom.  What democracy and the political theories of the Enlightenment provide is a purely symbolic context for human beings to come together in a way that is orderly and predictable and yet, because humans are redundant in relation to technics and machines, outside of any technical-industrial system.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-10-21 18:53:40)


oppositionality.  to oppose means more than oppositeness.  things that are opposite do not necessarily oppose each other, or even have an influence on one another.  the number one and negative one are opposite; but they do not change each other.  positive and negative charged objects do influence one another, but sustain one another. 

stick used to control humans.
first humans fight back against the stick.
then they depend on the stick.
they nurture and strengthen the stick that controls them.
then they compete with the stick.
they are free of the stick (essentially, society) when the stick frees itself from them.
anarchist phase
new order out of chaos.
"utopia of the instincts"
rise of race as principle of human unity
racial society. 

in all this i want to raise again the issue of agreements

Slavery separates one human being from another by relegating them to distinct and separate social classes.  This has been said before.  What is not often said is that slavery also has brought human beings together.  That slave and master are part of the same system, that they came together at all and perhaps from different continents, constitutes the "gravitational" effect of slavery.

As a given slave system comes to an end, there may be nothing at all holding humans together.  Any continued relationship depends on the economic system that replaces the now defunct slavery.  Above all, what holds humans together in the new world is something we call the "moral order."  The proposal that human beings, namely, "should" live together peaceably and cooperatively. 

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-11-04 14:39:32)



Through the stick human beings leverage their intentions, either to broadly distribute but weaken these intentions or to narrow and intensify them.  Thus for instance if the human is mentally and physically pursuing food, the stick focuses this pursuit and directs it toward the animal as impact and penetrating force.  The pursuit we are saying is leveraged and focused by the stick.  Of course, such leveraging--when the human being is himself biologically slow and weak--is necessary to the success of the hunt.  We have said this earlier.  Assuming that a hunt or other practical reason is the context,  there is a clear and pressing reason for the human to use the stick.  The objects that the stick falls on are "external" to the person and his familial group.  The life or death of an animal or even an enemy human is of no consequence for or concern of the immediate group.  But there is an inevitable application of the stick, as leveraged force, within the group itself.  That is the essential issue for Force Theory.  The individual personality, with its drive to hunt down prey for food, is a certainty of life; but the individual personality that asserts itself within the family group is another certainty.  Thus the individual extends himself or herself in different directions.  If the context for weapon use is within the family, then this "stick" becomes an entirely different issue.   Leveraging in one direction may be helpful, but in another direction it can be destructive.  As I said earlier, the stick is used by one individual to subject another individual who, for his part, becomes an agent of the first person.  The stick leverages the will of one individual through another person.   This was the thought that occupied humans or their tool-using ancestors from the first acquistion of technology in the human sense.  As humans extended themselves to "nature" as a purely physical "prey," they also leveraged themselves in the human groups into which they were born.  By this process, "society" itself came to be constituted by what we have already identified as the connecting rods of technics.  Society, from the first use of technics, became an edifice of technology with human beings themselves interposed as elements.  Such society already, from this early time, did not recognize human beings as essentially real.  Society also became rigid and inflexible and unresponsive to clear and pressing needs.  Human members of the social group, such as could be identified at all, reacted against this rigidity and claimed a new membership--as equals and free persons--in the social group. 

Agreements, which are a uniquely human capacity, are a theoretical recognition of human beings as human in the presence of relationships that are non-human.  I talked earlier about human relationships which only human beings are capable of, but which, through terms of mediation, become essentially non-human.  Through the agreement, I am saying, human beings come into a direct as opposed to a mediated relationship.  Thus I say to you that you exist, and furthermore as a human being such as I am.  This is all we propose in an agreement, but the implications are important.  Agreements have appeared, we are saying, as a response to what we have frequently called the "mentality of the stick," wherein humans think first of their technology and only secondarily of other human beings.  The agreement corrects this inbalance, allowing to humans a real presence.  The thought of equality and freedom are inherent in agreements since they first appeared, no doubt among hunters of the paleolithic (so long as these men could speak). be continued...

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-10-23 15:15:28)



opposition vs. oppositeness. (??) hegel (?)

the individual as user of a stick

the individual in an agreement

physical expression of the individual personality

legal person abjuring force



We may say that an object of human making, for which humans also have a use and with which they are involved, as having a certain "mentality."   Even the mere stick used as a tool or weapon had a "mentality."  We say this only in a manner of speaking, because we know that the sick does not have a mind within it.  The mind which imparts the mentality is the human mind.  But the issue remains:  if the stick does not have a mind of its own, is indeed the mind--because the mind has evolved in such intimate association with the stick--in a manner of speaking itself a stick?  Mind in the modern human sense did not exist before the stick.  Slowly, in the period of stick use, the mind evolved, not slowly but in a (mere) three million year period, tripled in size from 500 cubic centimeters to 1500 cubic centimeters.  We may assume--since we do not presently accept pure coincidences--that the evolution of the brain was in response to, in one way or another, the human being's use of the stick.  The chimpanzee and gorilla have existed every bit as long as humans, but have not evolved brains of our size.  Such a separation would have been unthinkable except for the radically new behavior--tool use--that humans, but not apes, exhibited. 

There is no mystery here.  Human success as a species depended on the human's use of tools.  Brain and mind made tool- use and tool-making more effective.  The brain, which otherwise would have been just so much weight to carry around, gained a special importance.  With an advantage to the larger brain, this organ increased in size according to the universal laws of evolution.  Brighter humans made better tools and bested their rivals, whether these rivals were animals or other humans.  So far we have not said anything that anthropologists have not already belabored.   In this essay, on the other hand, our perspecive is not Darwinian, merely, so much as Hegelian.  The human being adopted technology that stood in for his otherwise smaller and weaker arms and legs.  The stick extended the limbs and leveraged their force.  What we are saying now, in addition to pointing out tools as an agent of human success, is that tools also intruded into human life in an altogether new and problematic way.  We cannot presently say, as Ludwig Klages said, that the stick and other technics is an unequivocal "adversary" of human life.   Klages seems to generally ignore the essential value of technics to human beings.  What we are saying is that technics like living beings themselves multiplied as the tools that a group invented fell into the hands of human rivals.  Finally these same tools came to constitute a vertible world, a new one, in which also an entire new human adaptation was necessary.  Thus in addition to animals that were competitors, at least early on, every group had to face human competitors with the same weaponry and capability for violence.  Also the very fact that animal species upon which humans depended for food were not put under pressure; whole species were killed off.    Human hunting bands were forced to wander about looking for food; and as they wandered they intruded into hunting lands of foreign and hostile peoples.  What is being said is that technology brought with it new problems even as it solved, if only temporarily, old problems.  This was the human condition at the end of the early or lower paleolithic phase of human prehistory. 

There were weapons that provided short term success followed by long term poverty and danger.  It was into this already hostile and dangerous world that mind in the modern sense appeared.  Thus we are saying not that mind appeared in order to enhance use of the tool, but to solve the problems that the tool or weapon presented.    We have seen that the tool had already, early in the lower paleolithic, solved the basic problems of human life--dominance over other animals--that humans could, from their limited viewpoint, understand.  The weapon meant that no animal would prey upon humans, while, on the other hand, humans could prey more or less at random on other animals.  The tool brought the human in this respect into a sort of early paradise.  This state of being would have continued indefinitely were it not for the fact--one which still is evident--that the tool itself constituted a threat.  As tools advanced, and as they fell into the hands of enemy groups, mind consisted of the ability to make "better" tools ad infinitum.  But the enemy had these tools too.  In the meantime game dwindled.  It was time, in other words, for humans to reach an "agreement" with other humans as to the nature and manner of use of technology.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-11-01 15:48:08)



The relationship that a person has "through the stick" with nature in general or with other humans is a one-sided relationship.  Through the stick what is individual becomes concentrated asocial and even anti-social, or sociopathic, individualism.  In using technics the person is alone unto himself and opposes, in a real sense, all other persons.  Technology began as individual and egotistic self-assertion and expresses this anti-social mentality in all its, technology's, diverse expressions.  Radical individualism of all persons may be radiated from technics in many directions at once; but these directions are all essentially egotistical, directing as they do the self-assertion of the individual.  This--individualism--is all we mean by specialization.  Within the specialized area of technics the person both focuses and isolates his personality. 

The "force" of the person's relation with nature and other persons is transmitted through the stick from stick-user to stick- objective.  This is a one directional relation, from, as I say, the stick's user to its object; there is no force exerted in the opposite direction.   This is what we mean when we say that the stick is coercive.  The object of the stick either is, or is regarded as, on the other hand,  passive.  The physical or natural object would be inert; the human object would be passive and acquiescing.  What resistence there is, either by inertia or active willfulness and rebellion, is presumably overcome by the stick.  Otherwise there is no point in using the stick.  That the individual can coerce an object (human, animal or inanimate) would suggest that his intentions are directly and accurately (efficiently) conveyed. .  The user imparts his intention to the object without any translation of that intention other than what is altered through the medium of transmition itself, the stick.  What we are saying is that intentions that other people have do not intrude into his purpose; so, in that sense, his intentions are stated purely and uncorrupted. This would be the advantage that befalls an individual in his unrestricted and uncompromised use of the stick to coerce reality around him.  This would be a world of pure or absolute fascism. 

But nature and humans may present a resistance to this directed force but not an oppositional force.   In the case of a non-living entity, the resistence is called inertia.  In the case, on the other hand, of a living being the resistence could be thought of as this being's inborn volition.    The word "resistance" needs further clarification:  resistance is not rebellion but a sort of inertia that objects normally have; hence the term "inert objects."  Where human beings are, the stick is used for control only on the premise they they, the people, are entirely inert.  Human beings in the capacity of servers and laborers are often tractible but may rebel.  We present the idea of absolute fascism as a hypothetical possibility for purposes of argument.  I believe that was the original idea of primal man in stooping to pick up the simple stick he saw along his pathway, possibly three million years ago.  Unrestricted force was his ultimate objective, and he weilded the stick against nature and nature's beings with no self-restraint.  What was successful in regard to nature proved to be useful, too, in relations with other humans.  Even chimpanzees wave sticks in a fit of anger which tends to intimidate their family members.  I have already said this.  I want to go on, however, to expand upon the idea the "stick's" one-directional effect.  There is a downside consequence of this one-directionality which excludes human beings from the kind of give-and-take relations to which they had grown accostomed even before the advent of the "stick."  What has been proposed, then, is that language appeared as a "negation of the negation," namely of the negative consequences of unilateral force.   The notion of one-directional force leads finally to the "negational" idea of the agreement.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-11-01 15:36:48)



We should try to conceive, if we can, a world of human making in which there is only coercion and no cooperation and mutuality.   There is in this world "of the stick" only resistance or even rebellion offered by inert and animate objects.  Coercion as we use the word here is a one-sided relationship.  But there is more.  As an extension solely of an individual, the coercive stick also is in an important sense the isolating prison of the individual.  We will take up the socially constraining and sequestering effect of technology.  In the meantime we can say only that the stick as coercive tool both extends the individual in one direction, but, insofar as the individual is expressed only through the stick, this person is also confined to the stick.  "Within" the stick, and unable to get beyond the stick, the person is shut off from real contact with other persons.  The man wielding the stick is transformed not merely into a person who deprives other people of their volition and self-interest, but into one who already is sociopathic.  In one way, this person extends society--he brings himself, through the stick, into a relation of force with another person.  That is already society in one sense of the word.  But--again through the stick--the person deprives himself of the mutuality and cooperation that had advanced his species in purely physical and technical pursuits (as in hunting).   What is being said here is that technology in itself has, already, even at the period when tools were only sticks, an altogether anti-social implication.  Technology is compartmentalizing of humans, of course, as sociologists have always known; as such, technics shuts down real social interaction such as had evolved prior to the lower paleolithic.  Humans come together through technology; but the bonds that they have are technological ones, not those bonds of instinct and give-and-take personality. 

The issue of language is raised at this point in the discussion.  I have suggested that language may be in some sense opposed to technics.  We have said that the stick as coercive tool both extends the individual in one direction, but, insofar as the individual is expressed only through the stick, this person is also limited to what the stick expresses. It has long been held by social philosophers that the kinds of relations humans have as humans are not, as Rousseau put it, "in a State of Nature."  This idea can be stated in more modern terms.  But this inbalance has been corrected by humans not by "reverting to a State of Nature," in any sense, but by advancing--already at a later phase of the lower paleolithic--to a whole new phase of culture.  The contradiction between technics and "society," as we conceive society here, was resolved in a new development of the human psyche--symbolism and language.

  As several times before in this blog I am trying to envision the origin of speech.  What I am proposing here is that speech began not among men wielding sticks, but by persons facing the sticks.  So, in other words, speech arose out of the cries of humans being beaten by members of their own group or by enemies.  We may consider for a moment that humans probably had the capacity to understand speech--they could process sounds into symbols of thought--before they had a capacity to speak.  For instance, Koko the gorilla (I spoke of her often in my now verschoben blog at could understand 2000 words of English, and sign 1000 of these.  Chimps and even monkeys can understand spoken words that they have learned.  This fact--that chimps (etc.) understand (a) language, but cannot yet vocally speak it--suggests that it would be possible for the first weapon-weilding humans to understand some sort of language.  The language was not  yet invented.  Soon, we may say, it was invented and invented, at that, by persons being beaten as they cried for mercy.  At this time, when survival was at stake, the cries began to make some sort of sense.  I want to also mention something called "presenting" among monkeys:  the females will "present" to the males--stand in a sexual posture--when they, the females, are threatened by males.  This is ordinary species behavior of macaque monkeys but allso other kinds of monkeys and apes. 

The implication here of this simple example of "quid pro quo"--giving something to get something--is that out of the cries of persons being beaten there arose, as the sounds became more articulate and distinct, the suggestion that something would be given or conceded if the beating were to stop.  Of course throughout time language was elaborated, but the jist of language may be, still today, of "opposing" technology in order to gain a concession from the person wielding the technics.  We are asserting something very simple and straightforward.  The person facing the stick, as opposed to the person holding the stick, was "forced to negotiate.  The suggestion here is that language itself, as general human behavior, originated out of an attempt--probably desperate--to offer quid pro quo from a vantage point of weakness rather than strength.  Language, in other words, served to balance human life in the face of destabilizing technology.



Society, we are saying, is a concept that first appeared in order to oppose, not to support, technical force.  I suggested earlier in this blog that the essential elements of society were in place upon the occasion of the first agreement, possibly among hunters as to the time and place of the next day's hunt.  This was not a grand Social Contract envisioned by Rousseau, where masses of citizens laid their concerns before a king.  All we are saying is that the first agreement was built into the first speech; the agreement was the occasion of the first spoken words.  Also at another point I suggested that the first agreement may have been an offer made by a weaker person to blunt the armed violence of another, stronger person.  These examples of early life were meant by me to underscore the nature and function of language.  But society itself was constituted by just such agreements strung together in an endless chain of reciprocity.  But there is more.  Society as an amelioration of violence, and especially leveraged violence that came into human life following the acquisition of tools and technology, was by no means a return to the bovine existence that preceded tools.  Technology disrupted instinctive give-and-take relations of prehuman group life.  Society restores bonds among humans; but these bonds are of language rather than of instinct and personality.  We have seen that society was and still is based on language, which opposes (as we have said) instinctive relations of the past.    Technology, in bringing humans together on a physical level, isolates them on a primal or instinctual level.  The first use of a stick as a tool was to extend individual capabilities.  The stick extends the individual arm and the individual  body.  The stick was first used by an individual, when other persons stood by in stolid surprise. 

But there are some issues here that are more obscure.  The stick expresses individual inclinations, even when used by a group as a whole.  Action organized around some technological innovation, such as a tank or armoured ship (etc.etc.) has still the mentality, about it, of the individual.  The tool in all its phases has never become truly a collective thing, in spirit, but is always of and for the individual.  This point will need some exposition before it becomes convincing.  We may say, however, that the act of using a tool is as such not only an asocial act, but in an important sense an anti-social act as well.  The consequence of the complex tool, involving the work of many people and involving the product used by many people, is still to focus action as though it is the action of the individual.  There is no mystery as to why persons, then, within technology are isolated from one another and deprived of all primal--instinctive--communication and contact.

We may contemplate what a technological world would become:  a machine without any relation to human beings.   Humans in this world are simply redundant and outperformed by technics.   As I stated the issue earlier, the humans are free not only from work but from any relationship with the technics they had brought about.  But there is something else.  Technics is free of human beings.  The course of humanity is independent entirely, finally, of technology and economics; these later things operate on their own.   The sole meaning of society, then, we are saying is to bring back a direct relationship among humans that was lost, more or less, in the period in which humans did involve themselves with machines and come together through machines.  Human relations had been through technics.  These relations were not human in any real sense; they had been created by humans, but they were not the relations of instinct and give-and-take that were programmed into humans through millions of years of evolution.  Instincts atrophied.  In fact, economic relations had virtually destroyed what Engels called the "naturwuechsige" (nature-given) relations that there were, preeminantly of the nuclear and extended families.  In Engels' view, advancing technology and a changing exchange system broke down the clan system of cooperation.  All the older and instinct-bound forms of reciprocity passed away.  But there was an opposing force to this development already in place, as early as the lower paleolithic, in language itself.  Thus when technics created a force in the direction of depersonalization, language restored the balance between humans and their own technology.  Language contains within itself, as the logic of speech itself, an opposition to technics.  Language, as I said above, began as "negotiations" undertaken by those who were subjected to rule by the stick.   It is not too much to suppose that there was aleady, even as humans first started to speak, already in place a "religion of reconciliation."

When humans first started to talk, they could collaborate to use their individual weapons and tools in combined ways.  This generality of cooperation made possible a new and more forceful focus of mind, this time the group mind.  But there is more.  Precisely the collaboration of humans through and around technology isolated humans further from one another.  There arose, in the midst of evolving industrial civilization, a new "alienation" (entfremdung) talked about by Hegel.  This was an alienation of humans among themselves but also from the basis of their material existence itself, that is, technics.  Sociologists have made this theme their major subject matter.  What we are saying, however, in this essay, is that society has appeared with this very thought in mind:  that technology is, on an important levell of existence, the adversary of human beings in their private social relations.  Thus society--as an epiphenomenon of language itself--is a re-connection of human beings on a whole new level of existence, that of mind. 

This is a religious connection in all that the word religion entails.  We must submit that the relation provided by religion--and consequently society itself--is not itself a real relationship.  That is, the stick, once a unilateral force of oppression, has become in society a bilateral force.  But this new force is no less "oppressive" on account that it is bilateral.  The new society derives from the old primal technology of the stick, as a reflex of the stick, but as, in other words, an "opposing" reflex.  Society is an "oppositional" stick which substitues, finally, mere words of humanity without humanity's substance.  We pass on then at last to the final stage of human history.  Human beings as livng beings come into alienated conflict with the very force, religion as society, that had at first freed them from oppression by the stick (technology).

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2009-11-04 14:53:31)