The Urantia Book
PRIMITIVE HUMAN INSTITUTIONS
Presented by a Melchizedek of Nebadon.
69:0.1 EMOTIONALLY, man transcends his animal
ancestors in his ability to appreciate humor, art, and religion.
Socially, man exhibits his superiority in that he is a
toolmaker, a communicator, and an institution builder.
69:0.2 When human beings long maintain social
groups, such aggregations always result in the creation of
certain activity trends which culminate in institutionalization.
Most of man's institutions have proved to be laborsaving while
at the same time contributing something to the enhancement of
69:0.3 Civilized man takes great pride in the
character, stability, and continuity of his established
institutions, but all human institutions are merely the
accumulated mores of the past as they have been conserved by
taboos and dignified by religion. Such legacies become
traditions, and traditions ultimately metamorphose into
1. BASIC HUMAN INSTITUTIONS
69:1.1 All human institutions minister to some
social need, past or present, notwithstanding that their
overdevelopment unfailingly detracts from the worth-whileness of
the individual in that personality is overshadowed and
initiative is diminished. Man should control his institutions
rather than permit himself to be dominated by these creations of
69:1.2 Human institutions are of three general
69:1.3 1. The institutions of
self-maintenance. These institutions embrace those practices
growing out of food hunger and its associated instincts of
self-preservation. They include industry, property, war for
gain, and all the regulative machinery of society. Sooner or
later the fear instinct fosters the establishment of these
institutions of survival by means of taboo, convention, and
religious sanction. But fear, ignorance, and superstition have
played a prominent part in the early origin and subsequent
development of all human institutions.
69:1.4 2. The institutions of
self-perpetuation. These are the establishments of society
growing out of sex hunger, maternal instinct, and the higher
tender emotions of the races. They embrace the social safeguards
of the home and the school, of family life, education, ethics,
and religion. They include marriage customs, war for defense,
and home building.
69:1.5 3. The institutions of
self-gratification. These are the practices growing out of
vanity proclivities and pride emotions; and they embrace customs
in dress and personal adornment, social usages, war for glory,
dancing, amusement, games, and other phases of sensual
gratification. But civilization has never evolved distinctive
institutions of self-gratification.
69:1.6 These three groups of social practices
are intimately interrelated and minutely interdependent the one
upon the other. On Urantia they represent a complex organization
which functions as a single social mechanism.
2. THE DAWN OF INDUSTRY
69:2.1 Primitive industry slowly grew up as an
insurance against the terrors of famine. Early in his existence
man began to draw lessons from some of the animals that, during
a harvest of plenty, store up food against the days of scarcity.
69:2.2 Before the dawn of early frugality and
primitive industry the lot of the average tribe was one of
destitution and real suffering. Early man had to compete with
the whole animal world for his food. Competition-gravity ever
pulls man down toward the beast level; poverty is his natural
and tyrannical estate. Wealth is not a natural gift; it results
from labor, knowledge, and organization.
69:2.3 Primitive man was not slow to recognize
the advantages of association. Association led to organization,
and the first result of organization was division of labor, with
its immediate saving of time and materials. These
specializations of labor arose by adaptation to pressure --
pursuing the paths of lessened resistance. Primitive savages
never did any real work cheerfully or willingly. With them
conformity was due to the coercion of necessity.
69:2.4 Primitive man disliked hard work, and
he would not hurry unless confronted by grave danger. The time
element in labor, the idea of doing a given task within a
certain time limit, is entirely a modern notion. The ancients
were never rushed. It was the double demands of the intense
struggle for existence and of the ever-advancing standards of
living that drove the naturally inactive races of early man into
avenues of industry.
69:2.5 Labor, the efforts of design,
distinguishes man from the beast, whose exertions are largely
instinctive. The necessity for labor is man's paramount
blessing. The Prince's staff all worked; they did much to
ennoble physical labor on Urantia. Adam was a gardener; the God
of the Hebrews labored -- he was the creator and upholder of all
things. The Hebrews were the first tribe to put a supreme
premium on industry; they were the first people to decree that
"he who does not work shall not eat." But many of the religions
of the world reverted to the early ideal of idleness. Jupiter
was a reveler, and Buddha became a reflective devotee of
69:2.6 The Sangik tribes were fairly
industrious when residing away from the tropics. But there was a
long, long struggle between the lazy devotees of magic and the
apostles of work -- those who exercised foresight.
69:2.7 The first human foresight was directed
toward the preservation of fire, water, and food. But primitive
man was a natural-born gambler; he always wanted to get
something for nothing, and all too often during these early
times the success which accrued from patient practice was
attributed to charms. Magic was slow to give way before
foresight, self-denial, and industry.
3. THE SPECIALIZATION OF LABOR
69:3.1 The divisions of labor in primitive
society were determined first by natural, and then by social,
circumstances. The early order of specialization in labor was:
69:3.2 1. Specialization based on sex.
Woman's work was derived from the selective presence of the
child; women naturally love babies more than men do. Thus woman
became the routine worker, while man became the hunter and
fighter, engaging in accentuated periods of work and rest.
69:3.3 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. Man has always been ashamed to do
woman's work, but woman has never shown any reluctance to doing
man's work. But strange to record, both men and women have
always worked together in building and furnishing the home.
69:3.4 2. Modification consequent upon age
and disease. These differences determined the next division
of labor. The old men and cripples were early set to work making
tools and weapons. They were later assigned to building
69:3.5 3. Differentiation based on religion.
The medicine men were the first human beings to be exempted from
physical toil; they were the pioneer professional class. The
smiths were a small group who competed with the medicine men as
magicians. Their skill in working with metals made the people
afraid of them. The "white smiths" and the "black smiths" gave
origin to the early beliefs in white and black magic. And this
belief later became involved in the superstition of good and bad
ghosts, good and bad spirits.
69:3.6 Smiths were the first nonreligious
group to enjoy special privileges. They were regarded as
neutrals during war, and this extra leisure led to their
becoming, as a class, the politicians of primitive society. But
through gross abuse of these privileges the smiths became
universally hated, and the medicine men lost no time in
fostering hatred for their competitors. In this first contest
between science and religion, religion (superstition) won. After
being driven out of the villages, the smiths maintained the
first inns, public lodginghouses, on the outskirts of the
69:3.7 4. Master and slave. The next
differentiation of labor grew out of the relations of the
conqueror to the conquered, and that meant the beginning of
69:3.8 5. Differentiation based on diverse
physical and mental endowments. Further divisions of labor
were favored by the inherent differences in men; all human
beings are not born equal.
69:3.9 The early specialists in industry were
the flint flakers and stonemasons; next came the smiths.
Subsequently group specialization developed; whole families and
clans dedicated themselves to certain sorts of labor. The origin
of one of the earliest castes of priests, apart from the tribal
medicine men, was due to the superstitious exaltation of a
family of expert swordmakers.
69:3.10 The first group specialists in
industry were rock salt exporters and potters. Women made the
plain pottery and men the fancy. Among some tribes sewing and
weaving were done by women, in others by the men.
69:3.11 The early traders were women; they
were employed as spies, carrying on commerce as a side line.
Presently trade expanded, the women acting as intermediaries --
jobbers. Then came the merchant class, charging a commission,
profit, for their services. Growth of group barter developed
into commerce; and following the exchange of commodities came
the exchange of skilled labor.
4. THE BEGINNINGS OF TRADE
69:4.1 Just as marriage by contract followed
marriage by capture, so trade by barter followed seizure by
raids. But a long period of piracy intervened between the early
practices of silent barter and the later trade by modern
69:4.2 The first barter was conducted by armed
traders who would leave their goods on a neutral spot. Women
held the first markets; they were the earliest traders, and this
was because they were the burden bearers; the men were warriors.
Very early the trading counter was developed, a wall wide enough
to prevent the traders reaching each other with weapons.
69:4.3 A fetish was used to stand guard over
the deposits of goods for silent barter. Such market places were
secure against theft; nothing would be removed except by barter
or purchase; with a fetish on guard the goods were always safe.
The early traders were scrupulously honest within their own
tribes but regarded it as all right to cheat distant strangers.
Even the early Hebrews recognized a separate code of ethics in
their dealings with the gentiles.
69:4.4 For ages silent barter continued before
men would meet, unarmed, on the sacred market place. These same
market squares became the first places of sanctuary and in some
countries were later known as "cities of refuge." Any fugitive
reaching the market place was safe and secure against attack.
69:4.5 The first weights were grains of wheat
and other cereals. The first medium of exchange was a fish or a
goat. Later the cow became a unit of barter.
69:4.6 Modern writing originated in the early
trade records; the first literature of man was a trade-promotion
document, a salt advertisement. Many of the earlier wars were
fought over natural deposits, such as flint, salt, and metals.
The first formal tribal treaty concerned the intertribalizing of
a salt deposit. These treaty spots afforded opportunity for
friendly and peaceful interchange of ideas and the intermingling
of various tribes.
69:4.7 Writing progressed up through the
stages of the "message stick," knotted cords, picture writing,
hieroglyphics, and wampum belts, to the early symbolic
alphabets. Message sending evolved from the primitive smoke
signal up through runners, animal riders, railroads, and
airplanes, as well as telegraph, telephone, and wireless
69:4.8 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.
5. THE BEGINNINGS OF CAPITAL
69:5.1 Capital is labor applied as a
renunciation of the present in favor of the future. Savings
represent a form of maintenance and survival insurance. Food
hoarding developed self-control and created the first problems
of capital and labor. The man who had food, provided he could
protect it from robbers, had a distinct advantage over the man
who had no food.
69:5.2 The early banker was the valorous man
of the tribe. He held the group treasures on deposit, while the
entire clan would defend his hut in event of attack. Thus the
accumulation of individual capital and group wealth immediately
led to military organization. At first such precautions were
designed to defend property against foreign raiders, but later
on it became the custom to keep the military organization in
practice by inaugurating raids on the property and wealth of
69:5.3 The basic urges which led to the
accumulation of capital were:
69:5.4 1. Hunger -- associated with
foresight. Food saving and preservation meant power and
comfort for those who possessed sufficient foresight thus
to provide for future needs. Food storage was adequate insurance
against famine and disaster. And the entire body of primitive
mores was really designed to help man subordinate the present to
69:5.5 2. Love of family -- desire to
provide for their wants. Capital represents the saving of
property in spite of the pressure of the wants of today in order
to insure against the demands of the future. A part of this
future need may have to do with one's posterity.
69:5.6 3. Vanity -- longing to display
one's property accumulations. Extra clothing was one of the
first badges of distinction. Collection vanity early appealed to
the pride of man.
69:5.7 4. Position -- eagerness to buy
social and political prestige. There early sprang up a
commercialized nobility, admission to which depended on the
performance of some special service to royalty or was granted
frankly for the payment of money.
69:5.8 5. Power -- the craving to be
master. Treasure lending was carried on as a means of
enslavement, one hundred per cent a year being the loan rate of
these ancient times. The moneylenders made themselves kings by
creating a standing army of debtors. Bond servants were among
the earliest form of property to be accumulated, and in olden
days debt slavery extended even to the control of the body after
69:5.9 6. Fear of the ghosts of the dead
-- priest fees for protection. Men early began to give death
presents to the priests with a view to having their property
used to facilitate their progress through the next life. The
priesthoods thus became very rich; they were chief among ancient
69:5.10 7. Sex urge -- the desire to
buy one or more wives. Man's first form of trading was woman
exchange; it long preceded horse trading. But never did the
barter in sex slaves advance society; such traffic was and is a
racial disgrace, for at one and the same time it hindered the
development of family life and polluted the biologic fitness of
69:5.11 8. Numerous forms of
self-gratification. Some sought wealth because it conferred
power; others toiled for property because it meant ease. Early
man (and some later-day ones) tended to squander his resources
on luxury. Intoxicants and drugs intrigued the primitive races.
69:5.12 As civilization developed, men
acquired new incentives for saving; new wants were rapidly added
to the original food hunger. Poverty became so abhorred that
only the rich were supposed to go direct to heaven when they
died. Property became so highly valued that to give a
pretentious feast would wipe a dishonor from one's name.
69:5.13 Accumulations of wealth early became
the badge of social distinction. Individuals in certain tribes
would accumulate property for years just to create an impression
by burning it up on some holiday or by freely distributing it to
fellow tribesmen. This made them great men. Even modern peoples
revel in the lavish distribution of Christmas gifts, while rich
men endow great institutions of philanthropy and learning. Man's
technique varies, but his disposition remains quite unchanged.
69:5.14 But it is only fair to record that
many an ancient rich man distributed much of his fortune because
of the fear of being killed by those who coveted his treasures.
Wealthy men commonly sacrificed scores of slaves to show disdain
69:5.15 Though capital has tended to liberate
man, it has greatly complicated his social and industrial
organization. The abuse of capital by unfair capitalists does
not destroy the fact that it is the basis of modern industrial
society. Through capital and invention the present generation
enjoys a higher degree of freedom than any that ever preceded it
on earth. This is placed on record as a fact and not in
justification of the many misuses of capital by thoughtless and
6. FIRE IN RELATION TO CIVILIZATION
69:6.1 Primitive society with its four
divisions -- industrial, regulative, religious, and military --
rose through the instrumentality of fire, animals, slaves, and
69:6.2 Fire building, by a single bound,
forever separated man from animal; it is the basic human
invention, or discovery. Fire enabled man to stay on the ground
at night as all animals are afraid of it. Fire encouraged
eventide social intercourse; it not only protected against cold
and wild beasts but was also employed as security against
ghosts. It was at first used more for light than heat; many
backward tribes refuse to sleep unless a flame burns all night.
69:6.3 Fire was a great civilizer, providing
man with his first means of being altruistic without loss by
enabling him to give live coals to a neighbor without depriving
himself. The household fire, which was attended by the mother or
eldest daughter, was the first educator, requiring watchfulness
and dependability. The early home was not a building but the
family gathered about the fire, the family hearth. When a son
founded a new home, he carried a firebrand from the family
69:6.4 Though Andon, the discoverer of fire,
avoided treating it as an object of worship, many of his
descendants regarded the flame as a fetish or as a spirit. They
failed to reap the sanitary benefits of fire because they would
not burn refuse. Primitive man feared fire and always sought to
keep it in good humor, hence the sprinkling of incense. Under no
circumstances would the ancients spit in a fire, nor would they
ever pass between anyone and a burning fire. Even the iron
pyrites and flints used in striking fire were held sacred by
69:6.5 It was a sin to extinguish a flame; if
a hut caught fire, it was allowed to burn. The fires of the
temples and shrines were sacred and were never permitted to go
out except that it was the custom to kindle new flames annually
or after some calamity. Women were selected as priests because
they were custodians of the home fires.
69:6.6 The early myths about how fire came
down from the gods grew out of the observations of fire caused
by lightning. These ideas of supernatural origin led directly to
fire worship, and fire worship led to the custom of "passing
through fire," a practice carried on up to the times of Moses.
And there still persists the idea of passing through fire after
death. The fire myth was a great bond in early times and still
persists in the symbolism of the Parsees.
69:6.7 Fire led to cooking, and "raw eaters"
became a term of derision. And cooking lessened the expenditure
of vital energy necessary for the digestion of food and so left
early man some strength for social culture, while animal
husbandry, by reducing the effort necessary to secure food,
provided time for social activities.
69:6.8 It should be remembered that fire
opened the doors to metalwork and led to the subsequent
discovery of steam power and the present-day uses of
7. THE UTILIZATION OF ANIMALS
69:7.1 To start with, the entire animal world
was man's enemy; human beings had to learn to protect themselves
from the beasts. First, man ate the animals but later learned to
domesticate and make them serve him.
69:7.2 The domestication of animals came about
accidentally. The savage would hunt herds much as the American
Indians hunted the bison. By surrounding the herd they could
keep control of the animals, thus being able to kill them as
they were required for food. Later, corrals were constructed,
and entire herds would be captured.
69:7.3 It was easy to tame some animals, but
like the elephant, many of them would not reproduce in
captivity. Still further on it was discovered that certain
species of animals would submit to man's presence, and that they
would reproduce in captivity. The domestication of animals was
thus promoted by selective breeding, an art which has made great
progress since the days of Dalamatia.
69:7.4 The dog was the first animal to be
domesticated, and the difficult experience of taming it began
when a certain dog, after following a hunter around all day,
actually went home with him. For ages dogs were used for food,
hunting, transportation, and companionship. At first dogs only
howled, but later on they learned to bark. The dog's keen sense
of smell led to the notion it could see spirits, and thus arose
the dog-fetish cults. The employment of watchdogs made it first
possible for the whole clan to sleep at night. It then became
the custom to employ watchdogs to protect the home against
spirits as well as material enemies. When the dog barked, man or
beast approached, but when the dog howled, spirits were near.
Even now many still believe that a dog's howling at night
69:7.5 When man was a hunter, he was fairly
kind to woman, but after the domestication of animals, coupled
with the Caligastia confusion, many tribes shamefully treated
their women. They treated them altogether too much as they
treated their animals. Man's brutal treatment of woman
constitutes one of the darkest chapters of human history.
8. SLAVERY AS A FACTOR IN CIVILIZATION
69:8.1 Primitive man never hesitated to
enslave his fellows. Woman was the first slave, a family slave.
Pastoral man enslaved woman as his inferior sex partner. This
sort of sex slavery grew directly out of man's decreased
dependence upon woman.
69:8.2 Not long ago enslavement was the lot of
those military captives who refused to accept the conqueror's
religion. In earlier times captives were either eaten, tortured
to death, set to fighting each other, sacrificed to spirits, or
enslaved. Slavery was a great advancement over massacre and
69:8.3 Enslavement was a forward step in the
merciful treatment of war captives. The ambush of Ai, with the
wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children, only the king
being saved to gratify the conqueror's vanity, is a faithful
picture of the barbaric slaughter practiced by even supposedly
civilized peoples. The raid upon Og, the king of Bashan, was
equally brutal and effective. The Hebrews "utterly destroyed"
their enemies, taking all their property as spoils. They put all
cities under tribute on pain of the "destruction of all males."
But many of the contemporary tribes, those having less tribal
egotism, had long since begun to practice the adoption of
69:8.4 The hunter, like the American red man,
did not enslave. He either adopted or killed his captives.
Slavery was not prevalent among the pastoral peoples, for they
needed few laborers. In war the herders made a practice of
killing all men captives and taking as slaves only the women and
children. The Mosaic code contained specific directions for
making wives of these women captives. If not satisfactory, they
could be sent away, but the Hebrews were not allowed to sell
such rejected consorts as slaves -- that was at least one
advance in civilization. Though the social standards of the
Hebrews were crude, they were far above those of the surrounding
69:8.5 The herders were the first capitalists;
their herds represented capital, and they lived on the interest
-- the natural increase. And they were disinclined to trust this
wealth to the keeping of either slaves or women. But later on
they took male prisoners and forced them to cultivate the soil.
This is the early origin of serfdom -- man attached to the land.
The Africans could easily be taught to till the soil; hence they
became the great slave race.
69:8.6 Slavery was an indispensable link in
the chain of human civilization. It was the bridge over which
society passed from chaos and indolence to order and civilized
activities; it compelled backward and lazy peoples to work and
thus provide wealth and leisure for the social advancement of
69:8.7 The institution of slavery compelled
man to invent the regulative mechanism of primitive society; it
gave origin to the beginnings of government. Slavery demands
strong regulation and during the European Middle Ages virtually
disappeared because the feudal lords could not control the
slaves. The backward tribes of ancient times, like the native
Australians of today, never had slaves.
69:8.8 True, slavery was oppressive, but it
was in the schools of oppression that man learned industry.
Eventually the slaves shared the blessings of a higher society
which they had so unwillingly helped create. Slavery creates an
organization of culture and social achievement but soon
insidiously attacks society internally as the gravest of all
destructive social maladies.
69:8.9 Modern mechanical invention rendered
the slave obsolete. Slavery, like polygamy, is passing because
it does not pay. But it has always proved disastrous suddenly to
liberate great numbers of slaves; less trouble ensues when they
are gradually emancipated.
69:8.10 Today, men are not social slaves, but
thousands allow ambition to enslave them to debt. Involuntary
slavery has given way to a new and improved form of modified
69:8.11 While the ideal of society is
universal freedom, idleness should never be tolerated. All
able-bodied persons should be compelled to do at least a
self-sustaining amount of work.
69:8.12 Modern society is in reverse. Slavery
has nearly disappeared; domesticated animals are passing.
Civilization is reaching back to fire -- the inorganic world --
for power. Man came up from savagery by way of fire, animals,
and slavery; today he reaches back, discarding the help of
slaves and the assistance of animals, while he seeks to wrest
new secrets and sources of wealth and power from the elemental
storehouse of nature.
9. PRIVATE PROPERTY
69:9.1 While primitive society was virtually
communal, primitive man did not adhere to the modern doctrines
of communism. The communism of these early times was not a mere
theory or social doctrine; it was a simple and practical
automatic adjustment. Communism prevented pauperism and want;
begging and prostitution were almost unknown among these ancient
69:9.2 Primitive communism did not especially
level men down, nor did it exalt mediocrity, but it did put a
premium on inactivity and idleness, and it did stifle industry
and destroy ambition. Communism was indispensable scaffolding in
the growth of primitive society, but it gave way to the
evolution of a higher social order because it ran counter to
four strong human proclivities:
69:9.3 1. The family. Man not only
craves to accumulate property; he desires to bequeath his
capital goods to his progeny. But in early communal society a
man's capital was either immediately consumed or distributed
among the group at his death. There was no inheritance of
property -- the inheritance tax was one hundred per cent. The
later capital-accumulation and property-inheritance mores were a
distinct social advance. And this is true notwithstanding the
subsequent gross abuses attendant upon the misuse of capital.
69:9.4 2. Religious tendencies.
Primitive man also wanted to save up property as a nucleus for
starting life in the next existence. This motive explains why it
was so long the custom to bury a man's personal belongings with
him. The ancients believed that only the rich survived death
with any immediate pleasure and dignity. The teachers of
revealed religion, more especially the Christian teachers, were
the first to proclaim that the poor could have salvation on
equal terms with the rich.
69:9.5 3. The desire for liberty and
leisure. In the earlier days of social evolution the
apportionment of individual earnings among the group was
virtually a form of slavery; the worker was made slave to the
idler. This was the suicidal weakness of communism: The
improvident habitually lived off the thrifty. Even in modern
times the improvident depend on the state (thrifty taxpayers) to
take care of them. Those who have no capital still expect those
who have to feed them.
69:9.6 4. The urge for security and power.
Communism was finally destroyed by the deceptive practices of
progressive and successful individuals who resorted to diverse
subterfuges in an effort to escape enslavement to the shiftless
idlers of their tribes. But at first all hoarding was secret;
primitive insecurity prevented the outward accumulation of
capital. And even at a later time it was most dangerous to amass
too much wealth; the king would be sure to trump up some charge
for confiscating a rich man's property, and when a wealthy man
died, the funeral was held up until the family donated a large
sum to public welfare or to the king, an inheritance tax.
69:9.7 In earliest times women were the
property of the community, and the mother dominated the family.
The early chiefs owned all the land and were proprietors of all
the women; marriage required the consent of the tribal ruler.
With the passing of communism, women were held individually, and
the father gradually assumed domestic control. Thus the home had
its beginning, and the prevailing polygamous customs were
gradually displaced by monogamy. (Polygamy is the survival of
the female-slavery element in marriage. Monogamy is the
slave-free ideal of the matchless association of one man and one
woman in the exquisite enterprise of home building, offspring
rearing, mutual culture, and self-improvement.)
69:9.8 At first, all property, including tools
and weapons, was the common possession of the tribe. Private
property first consisted of all things personally touched. If a
stranger drank from a cup, the cup was henceforth his. Next, any
place where blood was shed became the property of the injured
person or group.
69:9.9 Private property was thus originally
respected because it was supposed to be charged with some part
of the owner's personality. Property honesty rested safely on
this type of superstition; no police were needed to guard
personal belongings. There was no stealing within the group,
though men did not hesitate to appropriate the goods of other
tribes. Property relations did not end with death; early,
personal effects were burned, then buried with the dead, and
later, inherited by the surviving family or by the tribe.
69:9.10 The ornamental type of personal
effects originated in the wearing of charms. Vanity plus ghost
fear led early man to resist all attempts to relieve him of his
favorite charms, such property being valued above necessities.
69:9.11 Sleeping space was one of man's
earliest properties. Later, homesites were assigned by the
tribal chiefs, who held all real estate in trust for the group.
Presently a fire site conferred ownership; and still later, a
well constituted title to the adjacent land.
69:9.12 Water holes and wells were among the
first private possessions. The whole fetish practice was
utilized to guard water holes, wells, trees, crops, and honey.
Following the loss of faith in the fetish, laws were evolved to
protect private belongings. But game laws, the right to hunt,
long preceded land laws. The American red man never understood
private ownership of land; he could not comprehend the white
69:9.13 Private property was early marked by
family insignia, and this is the early origin of family crests.
Real estate could also be put under the watchcare of spirits.
The priests would "consecrate" a piece of land, and it would
then rest under the protection of the magic taboos erected
thereon. Owners thereof were said to have a "priest's title."
The Hebrews had great respect for these family landmarks:
"Cursed be he who removes his neighbor's landmark." These stone
markers bore the priest's initials. Even trees, when initialed,
became private property.
69:9.14 In early days only the crops were
private, but successive crops conferred title; agriculture was
thus the genesis of the private ownership of land. Individuals
were first given only a life tenureship; at death land reverted
to the tribe. The very first land titles granted by tribes to
individuals were graves -- family burying grounds. In later
times land belonged to those who fenced it. But the cities
always reserved certain lands for public pasturage and for use
in case of siege; these "commons" represent the survival of the
earlier form of collective ownership.
69:9.15 Eventually the state assigned property
to the individual, reserving the right of taxation. Having made
secure their titles, landlords could collect rents, and land
became a source of income -- capital. Finally land became truly
negotiable, with sales, transfers, mortgages, and foreclosures.
69:9.16 Private ownership brought increased
liberty and enhanced stability; but private ownership of land
was given social sanction only after communal control and
direction had failed, and it was soon followed by a succession
of slaves, serfs, and landless classes. But improved machinery
is gradually setting men free from slavish toil.
The right to property is not absolute; it is purely social. But
all government, law, order, civil rights, social liberties,
conventions, peace, and happiness, as they are enjoyed by modern
peoples, have grown up around the private ownership of property.
69:9.18 The present social order is not
necessarily right -- not divine or sacred -- but mankind will do
well to move slowly in making changes. That which you have is
vastly better than any system known to your ancestors. Make
certain that when you change the social order you change for the
better. Do not be persuaded to experiment with the discarded
formulas of your forefathers. Go forward, not backward! Let
evolution proceed! Do not take a backward step.
Presented by a Melchizedek of Nebadon.