Episode:Civilization—Primitive Institutions (Part 2)

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[Paper 69:3-4]

All down through the ages the taboos have operated to keep woman strictly in her own field. Man has most selfishly chosen the more agreeable work, leaving the routine drudgery to woman. The early traders, however, were women, and they played key roles as trade expanded and commerce developed; women held the first markets.


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Summary by Kermit

Commentary on Review

We discussed one of the troublesome trends in our society today, the institutionalization of various aspects of social service which more appropriately should be occasions for personal social service. The resultant effect is the depersonalization of such service and the decline of personal initiative.

We also noted the revelators’ lack of specificity concerning the who, what, when, and where of these early events in our long, long story from virtual animal existence to something that can be called civilization. This serves to remind us that our authors are more concerned with revealing truth rather than merely disclosing facts.

We often mention that the revelation is here because the civilization we have managed to achieve thus far is in danger of collapse. In this context we briefly examined the primitive proclivity of man to try to get something for nothing. Today’s trends in gambling and the popularity of politicians who promise something for nothing should serve to highlight this point.


69:3. The Specialization of Labor

This section presents the order of the specialization of labor in primitive societies. Early determinants of such specialization were first the result of natural then social circumstances. Our author gives us five such foundational criteria which determined the specifics of the assignment of the various types of work.

  1. Specialization based on sex. The powerful maternal instinct is the foundation of the early division of labor, where women became the routine worker and men were the hunters and fighters. Yet the higher parental instinct, shared between the sexes can be seen in the their cooperation in home building.
  2. Modification consequent upon age and disease. The aged and infirm performed tasks appropriate for their constitutions.
  3. Differentiation based on religion. The medicine men were the pioneer professional class were the first group exempted from physical work. The smiths were the first nonreligious group to enjoy special privileges. The narrative whereby these two groups competed resulting in the smiths being relegated to the outskirts of settlements and founders of the first inns and public houses includes reference to the white smiths (tin smiths) and black smiths (iron smiths) giving origin to the superstition of good and bad spirits. This struggle is identified as the first contest between science and religion, and religion is said to have won, albeit, both of these primitive activities were rife with superstition and awe.
  4. Master and slave. This differentiation arising out of the relations of the conqueror and the conquered had major implications for the development of civilization which will be treated in more detail in section 8 of this paper.
  5. Differentiation based on diverse physical and mental endowments. The inherent differences in individuals and the statement “all human beings are not born equal” served as a point of digression in our conversation. The lack of genuine understanding of the statement “all human beings are created equal, and its degradation into the false statement “all human beings are born equal” is another serious indication of the danger facing civilization. The details of our discussion are available in the archive, along with inquiries by two callers. The topical content ranged from conditions giving rise to the founding of our nation, to the nature and possible remedies for our genetic deficiencies.


There was also an inquiry in the chat room as to where in The Urantia Book we can find evidence for our planet being in a civilizational emergency. While there is no direct statement to that effect, there are many places where the authors point out that civilization is in jeopardy, or danger, or that social and economic adjustments need to be made if cultural disaster is to be avoided. Also, the fact that the revelation is not dispensational, but an emergency, coupled with the conclusion that our emergency is not a spiritual one, points to the conclusion that we have philosophic emergency, for which we were given a philosophic text.

Getting back to our text, this section concluded with elaboration of further specialization of industry leading to the expansion of trade and development of commerce.


69:4. The Beginnings of Trade

Trade by barter following seizure by raids developed up to trade by modern exchange methods. These early methods of barter and trade were characterized by mistrust which served to shape many current day practices and condition the development of diverse achievements as standardization of weights and measures, writing, establishment of treaties.

New ideas and better methods were carried around the inhabited world by the ancient traders. Commerce, linked with adventure, led to exploration and discovery. And all of these gave birth to transportation. Commerce has been the great civilizer through promoting the cross-fertilization of culture.