The Age of Reason was an historical period in human history in which the old superstitious beliefs, steeped in the mysticism of the middle ages and dogmatic religion were openly challenged – both verbally and in written form. As such, man in this new age, was inclined to find truth through rational analysis and intellect as opposed to passivity and complicity inherent in biblical spiritualism. It was incidental that perceptions shifted to focus on the mundane and worldly in contrast to the heavenly and immaterial. Earth and emphasis on nature became the new dogma; miracles, prophecy, and religious rites were mere superstitions (Age of Reason, 2017). This period of Enlightenment was responsible for demystifying and elucidating universal truths, far removed from the authoritarian dictates of organized religion. As a result, Secret societies—the Freemasons, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Rosicrucians—flourished, offering European men new modes of fellowship, esoteric ritual and mutual assistance (Revolution, 2017). It would appear that the birth of such radical and newfound philosophical ideas concerning human nature, the universe and humanity’s place was both precarious and alarming for the status quo.
Several hundred years later, this appeal to reason and rationale would seem to resurface in the United States, manifesting under surreptitious and elusive means. However, unlike the European 18th century movement which produced such prolific philosophers such as Locke, Hume, Rousseau and Voltaire – contemporary 21st century adherents of reason and logic decided to remain nameless and undisclosed. Their sole testament and solicitation to the unenlightened masses was the enigmatic and covert construction of a monument which is 19 feet 3 inches (5.87 m) tall, made from six granite slabs weighing 237,746 pounds (107,840 kg) with an additional astronomically aligned capstone which rests at the top (Georgia Guidestones, 2017). The monument erected in 1980 in Elbert County, Georgia, in the United States, is commonly known as The Georgia Guidestones but is equally acknowledged as the American Stonehenge.
The cryptic and apocryphal nature behind it’s construction is matched only by the esoteric and arcane written content and subsequent message. Ten unique guidelines or principles are inscribed on the structure in eight contemporary languages. Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian (Ibid). In addition, a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient languages using the original script: Babylonian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Classical Greek and Sanskrit. The official State of Georgia website has even created a page dedicated to the Guidestones as a testimony to the consistency of it’s popularity which is reflected by increasing interest among tourists and curiosity seekers. Further compounding upon the obscurity of its source, the official website exclaims, The Guidestones are mysterious in origin, for no one knows the identity of a group of sponsors who provided its specifications.
Regardless of the speculation surrounding the identity of it’s patrons and benefactors, or the motives and purpose – The Georgia Guidestones are indicative of a contemporary artifact that has Anthropogenic connotations. This becomes strikingly evident when examining the written content inscribed on the four central slabs which comprise the core foundation of the monument. Each concrete slab contains ten guidelines or principles, reflecting Enlightenment conventions and perceptions. Closer analysis of these ominous guidelines will yield a collective message which represents an appeal to reason and the intellect as opposed to the emotional laden and impassioned judgement which has influenced human history to this point. Specifically, the first and last principles outlined are explicitly linked to the human causal element. There is an obvious emphasis on nature in conflict with human collective action in it’s current state.
Principle 1: Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
Principle 10: Be not a cancer on the earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.
It is apparent that the patrons who commissioned the construction of the monument as well as the textual content, believed humanity as having an adverse impact on the natural world, resulting in endless historical conflict creating perpetual imbalance and devastation. This would coincide with views central to defining humanity’s role in exacerbating the effects of the Anthropocene. Human activity is now global and is the dominant cause of most contemporary environmental change (Lewis & Maslin, 2015). In addition, Marsh (1867) states, The ravages committed by man subvert the relations and destroy the balance which nature had established between her organized and her inorganic creations. This clearly places emphasis on the conflict between man and natural world. Especially relevant is the focus on modernity. As Castree (2014) notes, modern humans have altered Earth’s natural history, such is their collective power over the non-human world.
The remaining guidelines urge reproductive restraint based on tempered reason in an effort to unite humanity while seeking harmony with the infinite.
The latter being reflective of the ecosystem, The Earth and nature as the infinite provider and sustainer of universal life.
In addition, the impetus for human conflict is addressed through an appeal for globalized unity and comprehension.
Does the answer for human conflict in contemporary times adhere to collectivized solutions as the only recourse?
The collective appeal for a unification through a globalized egalitarian legislative, language and universal truth is indicative of the conflict Gowdy & Krall (2013) attributed to imperialistic empires and group selective forces. The transition from the neolithic to agrarian state societies was a bioeconomic process subjected to cultural mechanisms-hierarchical religions, deference to authority, bureaucratic structures of redistribution and reciprocity reinforced these societies (p. 142). The patrons of the guidestones seemed to be keenly aware of the conflict inherent in human post-neolithic history as protocols stressed fair laws and just courts in accordance with balancing personal rights with social duties. This would coincide with the notion of any large-scale interventionist public policies being a necessity in order to bring the superorganism such as global market economy, under human control (Ibid p. 145). This would seem like a natural progression considering the continued urbanization in modern times. As a result, the collective impact of human activity on the geological process has been more pronounced. As Zalasiewicz, Waters, Williams, Barnosky, Cearreta, Crutzen & Oreskes (2015) state, it was from the mid-20th century that the worldwide impact of the accelerating Industrial Revolution became both global and near-synchronous.
Urbanization can often be associated with rapid industrialization. In addition, economic incentives are historically the primary cause of migration from rural environments to urban cities, further exacerbating the human modification of the global environment (Ibid). Contemporary trends, intensified by modern global economic instability correlate with the historical evidence of the past. Since 1945 the proportion of people living in cities climbed from ~27% to ~53% today; in absolute numbers from ~730 million to ~3.7 billion and in 1945 there were only 2 megacities (>10 m population) and now there are ~25 megacities (Zalasiewicz, Waters, Williams, Barnosky, Cearreta, Crutzen & Oreskes, 2015 p. 198). The increase in urbanization is also an indirect component of population growth. Since economics and migration based on upward mobility is a frequent reason for family expansion and sustainability, patterns remain both consistent and predictable.
It is interesting to note, that the interaction between population growth and concerns over Anthropogenic issues are also closely interrelated in terms of collective response. As KC & Lutz (2014) note, the changing size and structure of human populations enter into our concerns about climate change at both the beginning and the end of the causal chain (p. 3). This disturbing cycle in which humans trigger climate change through various industrialized activities while in turn, climate change sets in motion forces that can threaten humans’ well-being (Ibid). This synchronous relationship seems to provide the justification which inspired many of the guidelines in which the patrons of the Georgia Guidestones wished to convey to the masses. This is especially true concerning the first and most controversial guideline, namely a reduction of the population to almost pre-industrialization numbers. This guideline would also closely correlate with the final principle which stresses balance in terms of the natural world thriving and existing in spite of human cancerous activity. The loss of biodiversity and rapid increase of species extinction is a major consequence of the Anthropocene. As Mckee, Sciulli, Fooce, & Waite (2004) state, there is an undeniable relationship between human population density and threats to other species. Furthermore, as Grossman (2012) acknowledged, decreasing human population growth is one of the easiest and most effective actions we can take to approach sustainability. It would appear from the above statements that the patrons of the Georgia Guidestones, shared many perceptions with academics and scholars who viewed humanities collective behaviour as a primary cause of Anthropogenic effects.
Irrespective of the identity of the patrons or the secrecy surrounding their collective motivation, The Georgia Guidestones are representative of a modern artifact in relation to Anthropogenic concerns over humanity’s historical role as a principal causal agent. All of the ten guidelines emphasize change in order to restore and preserve, maintain and rebalance humanity in accord with the natural world. Utilization of language, both contemporary and ancient serves to reiterate the historical impact of human civilization. The capstone which rests above the four granite pillars boldly proclaims, Let these be guidestones to an age of reason. As Berkhout (2014) appropriately notes, the future is not a stable object of study – awareness of it leads immediately to changed expectations and behaviour, changing the stream of events that shape the future (p. 156). It appears that these Guidestones and the patrons who commissioned the construction are in complete agreement.
Perhaps the mystery surrounding the Guidestones origins are at best a distraction considering the central premise and message. Is the solution against the growing collective hive which dominates human civilization a drastic reduction in the species? If not, how long can the culture of individuality and sovereign existence survive when faced with the unending onslaught of the herd mentality. The pressure to conform within culture of consumerism and materialism demands complicity from outliers. One must ask as a sovereign, critical thinking individual, can Camp 38 even exist today as an experiment amidst such social, political and cultural cohesive forces.
This final video depicts aerial coverage of The Georgia Guidestones with abundant narration covering all aspects of the monument from construction to its astronomical phenomena such as its alignment with various celestial bodies (North Star), orientation with the summer and winter solstices as well as details concerning the dubious time capsule buried six feet below with unmarked dates inscribed on the surface.
Age of Reason. (2017). AllAboutHistory.org. Retrieved 13 January 2017, from http://www.allabouthistory.org/age-of-reason.htm
Berkhout, F. (2014). Anthropocene Futures. The Anthropocene Review, 1(2), 154–159. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019614531217
Castree, N. (2014). The Anthropocene and the Environmental Humanities: Extending the Conversation. Environmental Humanities, 5, 233–260. Retrieved from http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol5/5.13.pdf
Georgia Guidestones. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 13 January 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Guidestones
Gowdy, J., & Krall, L. (2013). The ultrasocial origin of the Anthropocene. Ecological Economics, 95, 137–147.
Grossman, R. (2012). The importance of human population to sustainability. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14(6), 973-977.
KC, S., & Lutz, W.(2014-08-28). Alternative Scenarios in the Context of Sustainable Development. In World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 Dec. 2016, from http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703167.001.0001/acprof-9780198703167-chapter-12.
Lewis, S. L., & Maslin, M. A. (2015). Defining the Anthropocene. Nature, 519(7542), 171–180. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14258
Marsh, G. P. (1867). Man and nature; New York, C. Scribner & co. Retrieved from http://archive.org/details/manandnatureorp00marsgoog
Mckee, Sciulli, Fooce, & Waite. (2004). Forecasting global biodiversity threats associated with human population growth. Biological Conservation, 115(1), 161-164.
Revolution, S. (2017). Enlightenment – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com. HISTORY.com. Retrieved 13 January 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/enlightenment
Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C. N., Williams, M., Barnosky, A. D., Cearreta, A., Crutzen, P., … Oreskes, N. (2015). When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal. Quaternary International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045