Anthropologists warn us against overestimating the value of our progress and underestimating the material and cultural wealth of our so-called ‘savage’ ancestors. This overestimation is based on a prejudice which comes from the Victorian age, has continued to this day, and often assumes that stone age life was nothing more than a drawn out wait for the development of agriculture, to trigger progress and improve people’s lives. Looking at this objectively, industrial civilisation has also caused great damage to our world, from pollution to the over production of poor quality products, to the very close link with the contemporary model of slavery - capitalism.
According to anthropologists, life in the stone age wasn’t that bad.
However, we shouldn’t demonise progress, far from it: it is undeniable that certain aspects of our quality of life have greatly improved since those times.
More than anything else, the question we really might want to ask is whether this progress will last, or whether it is destined for tragic decline, as was the case with other technologies and cultures in the past. This has to do, on the one hand, with the relationship between material and cultural well-being, and on the other, the cost-benefit of the system that enables and produces it.
Determinism tells us that for every set of similar variables, there is a sequence of similar events. If we look at human history, it seems to follow the same pattern over and over again: population increase means an increased level of production, which means crisis. This is the chain of events that has driven human history, as opposed to it being a result of the free will or moral choice, either of individuals or of society as a whole.