The Control System: Understand it to Leave it

The Control System began 6,000 to 10,000 years ago as the Agricultural Revolution. Today, the control system is as ubiquitous as the air we breath and is responsible for the structure of society today.

Why Does Civilization Need The Control System?

Simply put, because it has to hold the civilization meme in place over the better tribalism meme. If the Control System did not exist, people would walk away from wage slavery, inequity, violence, and poor education in favor of a better way to live. Civilization requires destroying the planet for humans to live and runs counter to human evolution. The civilization meme has to be kept in place by forced and addiction.

The Control Revolution

Indigenous societies avoided two things to live in harmony with the Earth and each other for perpetuity:

  1. Avoid Binding Decisions: No one had the power to tell another what to do. Even chiefs were advisors.
  2. Avoid Ownership: No one owned more than they could carry. Land and resources were held in tribal common.

Civilization broke these rules and caused a chain reaction that led to the issues of today. Problems today include: hierarchy, wage slavery, authoritarian government, endless war, environmental destruction, destabilized climate and much more. For the first time in America, children now expect less in their lives than their parents enjoyed.

Humans have such short life spans that we have social amnesia. We don’t know what a healthy society looks like. We are taught that the lack of empathy for non-humans and each other today is normal.

Domestication Detaches Us From Nature

Domestication is the deeply inbreeding for desired traits in plants and animals. Domestic species lose their ability to cope in the wild and are dependent on humans. If we abandon our garden or farm, the domesticated plants do not persist. More vital wild plants quickly take over.

Humans value what we depend on for our livelihood. Today, we value money. Indigenous peoples value nature most because they make their living form the wild.

Humans perpetuate what they value: money vs. nature. Since modern society does not depend on nature, we commoditize and consume it. At best, we recreate in non-arable wild places.

The 30 million non-human species, now mostly hanging on by a thread, have as much of an inalienable right to life as Homo sapiens do.

As long as civilization does not give equal rights to all species and maintains hierarchy, civilization may have no moral basis to exist.

Roman Control Grid

Have you ever noticed that all governments are essentially organized the same? Modern governments, whether democratic, dictatorship or communist are based on the Roman control grid. There is a reason the Roman government existed for 700 years. Or, has existed for 2,770 years depending on if we include the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman grid controls a geographic area and its population in a hierarchy: nation, state or province, county or district, municipality. All governments breakdown control this way. Corporations essentially do the same thing.

Civilization is the Problem

Each species has its own social organizational system. Tribes are how humans evolved to organize themselves over hundreds of thousands of years. Civilization is a new social system.

Humanity has lived in harmony with the Earth for 85,000 to 250,000 years. In less than one percent of human existence, civilization has brutally exploded human population beyond the Earth’s carrying capacity and plunged all but domesticated species towards extinction.

This is not humanity’s fault; it is civilization’s fault. We are a robots.


The enlarged human cerebral cortex is misnamed as the executive center. It should be called the Natural Programming Override Center© (NPOC).

The main purpose of an animal’s brain is to run natural programs to survive: eat, sleep, procreate, and be merry. If an animal is taught a new program for human benefit, it becomes domesticated. Mammals are better at family than reptiles, but they are essentially the same for this purpose.

Humans can run more complex programs involving abstract concepts. We can assign meaning to objects and concepts on top of concepts such as language, art or mathematics. To your dog, it’s just a stick. To you, it is a tool handle. Programs are downloaded into us by our parents, teachers and society.

Here is the crux, humans can write new programs. A program is also known as a meme. A meme perpetuates itself like a gene. A gene uses your body to reproduce. A meme uses your brain to procreate. A meme is similar to a virus.

Humans can run any program, good or bad, because our species is too young to be able to distinguish between long-term beneficial and destructive memes. We also live too short of a life and are disconnected from externalized costs to learn the results of our behavior.

Natural Programs

A Natural Program© is given to us by evolution. It is how a species manages itself to contribute to its ecosystem and exist for perpetuity. This means coexist in harmony with our relations and contribute to the whole.

Birds fly in flocks, deer run in herds, wolves run in packs and whales swim in pods. Humans run in tribes and tend the garden to build diversity and topsoil because we naturally depend on the garden for our livelihood.

Europeans have spent 500 years wrestling away the Garden of Eden that Columbus stumbled upon when he was found lost at sea. Also, throw out the term hunter-gatherer; humans actually “tend the wild.” Learn more about how indigenous Americans intentionally tended the wild and managed resources in California in a book by M. Kat Anderson.[2]

Any program that humans run contrary to the original tribal program, leads not only to the destruction of ourselves, but of Earth, as well.

Civilization overrides human Natural Programming with the Control System.

Control Through Dependence

Dependence is one of the foundations of the control system. If there is no alternative for survival, we go along with whatever choices are left. Civilization, for example, eliminates all choices except to earn money to buy food and shelter.

Food, land, water and other resources people need used to be free. Everyone had the skills to use wild resources to make a good livelihood working only a few hours a week. Civilization is a lot more work than tribal existence is tending the wild.[3]

Europeans cut down the valley oaks in the California Central Valley to plant modern agriculture. Native Americans burned around the valley oaks for ten thousand years. The average tree was 400 to 600 years old with a girth of 17 feet, stood 100 feet tall by 100 feet wide and yielded 500 pounds of acorn meat. One tree could feed a family for a year; one tree!

In the Willamette Valley of western Oregon, homesteaders either grazed off or plowed under the perennial camas lily for annual agricultural production. The Native Americans tried to tell the homesteaders that the camas lily was renewable food as far as the eye could see and not to destroy the perennial food.

Civilization forced dependence by destroying the buffalo herds, locking up or privatizing the food and land, closing the commons, and denying people the skills to use wild resources.


Modern society allocates resources to those who contribute the most to reinforcing the system. We get the most by contributing or exploiting the most. With incentives like this, we do not need a conspiracy theory, everyone will generally behave the same.

Tribal societies operate with the opposite ethics: equality and do not ask a profit from a trade. Yes, each receives equal value from a trade without profit or gain. Regenerative indigenous cultures do not exploit one another, nor commoditized natural resources.

The brilliance of the wigwam is three-fold: Absolute quality; Comfortableness; Renewable. Everyone, including the eldest chief, has the same quality dwelling. Everyone in the tribe, including the poorest member, can make a comfortable home. Every home is made from a small amount of renewable resources taken at a rate to allow the wild to regenerate.

People and Obedience Religion

Religion today is all about humans. In fact, the gods and deities even look like people. Diminished is the spirituality that values the wild, the great spirit, and the lunar and solar cycles. Today we have human-centric religions.

The purpose of being taught religion at an early age is to teach obedience to absolute authority. In religious training, the disempowering message is enforced that God is all powerful and that we will be cast out of the culture or will burn in hell if we do not obey his word. Religion coerces us into giving up our control and makes us forget that we are sovereign beings. As former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura once said, “Religion is for weak-minded people.”

Civilization is Dependent on The Control System

If we take away the control system, civilization fades and regenerative natural cultures re-emerge. Remove the overt control that we have not even discussed here such as: laws, military, media, corporations. Instead of civilization being dependent on the control system, what if food, land, shelter, health care and education were given away for free? What would happen is that people would live happy, healthy and vibrant lives, instead of being stressed-out-to-the-max from living month to month. How is that considered “living” anyway?

Hierarchies have strong defenses for attacks from below, but they have none for abandonment.

The first step to end the control system is to look behind the curtain and see it. Once we see it and understand it, we can leave it. Along with our children, we can change the program and create community to live without the control system.

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Chuck Burr is author of Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution. Revised Fourth Edition. 10th Anniversary.


Post Editor, Beth Brown — Beth is a lifestyle writer and former assistant news editor of the Easley Progress. She graduated from Columbia College with a focus on Writing and Public Affairs. She is also a singer/songwriter/musician, yogi, activist and Love Warrior for Mother Earth.

Featured Photo: Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Standing Rock.

[1] Wikipedia. Neolithic Revolution.

[2] M. Kat Anderson. Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. University of California Press. 2013.

[3] Marshall D. Sahlins. Stone Age Economics. 1994