It is a durable, ubiquitous, specious metaphor, that one about veneer (or paint, or pliofilm, or whatever) hiding the nobler reality beneath. It can conceal a dozen fallacies at once. One of the most dangerous is the implication that civilization, being artificial, is unnatural: that it is the opposite of primitiveness… Of course there is no veneer, the process is one of growth, and primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing. If civilization has an opposite, it is war.
from the Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin
(One of the most fascinating and thoughtful novels ever written by one of the most civilized people who put important ideas into words, I already miss her.)
From Synthetic Zero