Do advances in technology necessarily signify improvement in human life?

Humans today may have grown advanced in the fields of technology and science but we have failed to improve the status of humanity

In 1834 a French scholar determined three stages of sociocultural evolution of humans and declared "Means Of Production" as a method to identify these periods or stages. According to him, the first period was of stones, when humans used stones, wood and bones to make weapons and other useful items. This was followed by metals, when metal was melted and used by humans to make necessary materials. In the third period, man used Iron. We are currently living in this period.

Karl Marx in his famous book "Capital" writes that we do not recognise different economical ages by materials; rather those periods are recognised by how and from which means of production those materials were made. It is the ideal way to determine the progress and regression of societies because means of production determine the mutual relationship between humans and also form the general skeleton of a society. Humans have been on this Earth for over three million years and in this long period, they have never lived alone. Man has always been part of a family, tribe or nation. A human cannot also live alone since he is dependent upon other humans to fulfill his basic necessities of life. Therefore, Aristotle called man a "Social Animal". By "Social Animal" he meant that a man cannot live without a society.

The discoveries and the inventions made by humans have also been shared collectively by the society. No one can today possibly tell who invented language, who invented music or who invented poetry. All these inventions and discoveries were the result of collective efforts, thoughts and experiments by people of different societies.

In ancient societies, people used to produce essential materials and other daily living items collectively and used to share them equally with all the members of the society. This age is known as 'Primitive Communism'.

One of the best examples of a Primitive Communist society is that of a tribe known as 'Tasaday'. People of this tribe lived in the age of stones which ceased to exist more than fifteen thousand years ago. They were extremely peaceful people and did not possess any weapons. They did not follow any religion and were unaware of any art. They were divided into many families, each consisting of a mother, father and unmarried children. In spite of being divided into families, they all lived together with peace and harmony and shared items of food and other materials collectively. Their language does not contain words like enemy, war, murder and evil. Their tribe did not have a chief and decisions are made through consensus with every adult man and woman given the right to present their opinion.

Such tribes following the Primitive Communist ideology exist in different parts of the world. A tribe by the name of "Semang" is found in the mountainous forests of Malaya. Another tribe following the principles of Primitive Communism is found in America by the name of "Paiute". Another example of such a society is that of an ethnic group found in Chambri Lakes region in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea.

In Margaret Mead’s field study research in 1933 in Papua New Guinea, she outlined the position of women in the Chambri community that was unusual to what had been thought to be the norm across cultures. She speculated that women, instead of men, were the power individuals within the Chambri villages. How Margaret's conclusion was based on a few attributes of the Chambri. She first noted that the Chambri women were the primary suppliers of food. Contrary to other cultures, the Chambri women were the ones who did the fishing for the community. This empowerment and responsibility of the women signals higher importance of women within this society. Through further observation Mead found that women also took the fish they caught and not only supplied it as food for their families, they traveled to trade the surplus, as well. It was the women’s job to take the extra fish caught and travel into the surrounding hills to barter for sago for their families. Once again instead of the primary provider being the man in the family, Mead was witnessing the woman performing this role.

In such tribes all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.
Taking all these ancient societies into consideration, studying and observing how they spent their lives and shared things collectively with all the members of the society, I am rather forced to say that we humans today may have grown advanced in the fields of technology and science but we have failed to improve the status of humanity. We have discovered planets but we have failed to unite people. We have connected people through the Internet, but we have yet to remove hatred from our hearts. People of these ancient tribes and societies may be living in the "dark ages" as we would call them now, but the truth is that they were aware of the fundamental principle of life that is love: spreading love and sharing your belongings with other fellow humans. As for us, we have fallen prey to the curse of global Capitalism.

Ammar Anwer is a student with an interest in philosophy, rationalism and politics

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