When did people begin to get ill?
The state, monoculture and pathogens

Online lecture by Michał Pospiszyl

Archeological digs conducted over the past 30 years indicate that the majority of known infectious diseases (polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps, malaria) appeared quite recently, only 10,000 years ago (within at least 200,000 years of our species’ existence). So, humas began to get ill as they invented agriculture, decided to settle in towns or villages with dense population and low diversity. Archeological discoveries tell us that hunters-gatherers who preceded the neolithic revolution lived longer (often up to 70 years), had complex diets, they were on average several centimeters taller than inhabitants of ancient villages and cities (Scott 2017). Nevertheless, for centuries states have proclaimed the promise of liberating poeple from poverty, famine or disease. They make this promise also today, and in the situation where the main reason for the development of new viruses (and contemporary famine) is industrial agriculture they support (Wallace 2016; Shah 2016). During the lecture I will resolve two questions. Why – as soon as the occasion presented itself – people chose to live outside state giants, replacing quasi-religious fantasy about the liberation from nature with the movement of building small, diverse communities, perhaps better prepared for challenges which the state had never been able to face. Secondly, whether these communities diversified in terms of species, can be developed within populations of tens of million, or are they condemned to live on the margins, at the peripheries of the state.