Wrap your head around this.
Someone asked the Aborigine:
Would the slave Kwakiutl aborigine about to be burned alive in a potlatch ceremony not desire to be rid of a culture without the notion of human rights, or is this an egoless representative of his tribe willing to die so that the wealthy sponsor of the ritual could display his superiority over rivals while singing “I sneer at the chiefs under the true great chief, I am the great chief who makes people ashamed” (see Ruth Benedict Patterns of Culture)?
Would the pregnant woman whose cervix will not dilate because of structural malformations not desire life for her child and herself through a c-section, or would she consider herself an evolutionary weakness who, along with her innocent child, must resign herself to death to preserve the genetic strength of the species? Aborigine still has not adequately answered the medicine question.
Would the Ilongot headhunter (of the Philipines) who has just experienced the death of his child, not consider that maybe there are other ways of expressing grief than hunting an unrelated human being, running him through with a spear and beheading him as a way of purging the rage he feels in his grief, effectively creating a new cycle of grief and rage? Or would thinking alternative thoughts mark him as a rebel against the One True Way, the Way the People do it, which is, of course, in Harmony with Nature. (See Renato Rosaldo Culture and Truth.)
Would an Arctic Utku man not believe that there must be more psychologically healthy social structures than the premium placed on the total repression of anger within his culture, because to express such anger at people (abusing the dogs is acceptable and habitual) would upset the cooperation and harmony of his social group absolutely needed for survival in the sub-zero conditions of his environment? (See Jean Briggs Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family)
Would the Aborigine care to address, using the reasoned argumentation of the Western world (after all, he has access to Western research) and without resorting to ad hominem attacks, how the individual human need for life and psychological health, under pressure from constraining social forces, would not seek alternatives? Does the Aborigine believe that these are all “acceptable” losses as long as catastrophic environmental loss isn’t threatened? It is the privileged few, the Black Elks and Chief Seattles, who see and act out of the highest spiritual consciousness. Others need more basic fulfillment.
My world, although troubled, even fundamentally so, can at least define these as problems and has given direction for improvement. We declared slavery inhumane and have a concept of human rights (although sweatshops still exist and our government violates the rights of “others”); we have developed surgical method so that mothers do not have to die in childbirth (although we have de-naturalized and chemicalized the birthing process); we have increased awareness of psychological health and helped many arrive at greater consciousness of their drives and conflicts (although we have created a lifestyle of stress under capitalism and misguidedly over-medicated its symptoms). We are hypocritical, yes. We are destructive, yes. But we have the possibility for change, which a slave, a dying woman, a wrathful mourner, and a
repressed man would find hope in.
If you were a marginalized aborigne in your own culture, (like us) you would join us for the possibility of awareness and redemption from ourselves.
To which the Aborigine responded:
Hehehehe, yes, it’s always fun in logic either to create a Straw Man or, in this case, a frightening exception that poses as the rule. As if the lurid anecdote of the inhuman torching of a slave defines the general matrix of hunter/gatherer life.
One wonders if the slave would prefer to be a nuclear shadow burned onto the wall of a melted building in Hiroshima, now a memorial in Japan to the “cool” ideas Western Civ has come up with.
The inherent racism here is the implication that the aboriginal world is rife with this kind of sub-human practice, while the IW (industrialized world) perks happily along, following the adventures of Homer Simpson and the New York Yankees. Of course, just the opposite.
In fact, it is the industrial world that has brought torching, melting, and the frying of humans to the level of Satanic chaos. The IW melts cities. Has melted cities. Will continue to melt cities, or, even nations.
“I sneer at the chiefs under the true great chief”? I thought George Bush said that? I stand corrected.
The subject of child birth is an intriguing one and has been debated by medical paleontologists and other researchers. First of all, there is now the consideration that trouble in childbirth took a critical swing toward increased natal deaths as humans converted to agriculture and left their more traditional hunter/gatherer diet.
However, more to the point, the illogic of arguing the case of one undilated cervix should be addressed. Stump The Aborigine doesn’t argue the success or failure of any single social, political, medical or human rights issue. STA argues freedom of choice through sensibility.
While it APPEARS that somehow modern medicine is a panacea that calms all worries and saves all bodies, nothing of the sort is true. While it is inarguable to state that millions more people have died and die in a world presided over by the AMA, it is more fun to challenge the percentile realities of modern versus hunter/gatherer medicine.
While there is no final figure to quote, I dare say that a higher percentage of people suffer and die within the embrace of modern medicine than did in steady state hunter/gatherer nations. There are many reasons for this, of course, including absence of the kinds of diseases that raged through the agricultural poplulations (fowl and swine were thrilled to give us their diseases, one of the great rewards of animal domestication [see Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond]); massive warfare versus local scale low-tech conflict; sorry-ass nutrition due to the monocropping mentality via the domesticaion of plants; medical imcompetence; and even the clever revenge of evolution itself as the human gene pool experiences dilution due to the SUCCESS of the presence of anti-biotics and the overuse of same by the same medical incompetents.
Again, the point of STA is to point out that there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to live. The idea of freedom of choice and diversity would not occur to Industrialist culture. If it did, the idea of diversity and choice would emerge, and that is a no no. For instance, why don’t you learn from our lifestyle? Our sense of natural and diverse nutrition? Our sense of exercising our bodies? (heart disease was relatively absent in our world) Our sense of recognizing what insults the integrity of our health and the subsequent effort to avoid it, YES, even through sacrifice. God forbid!
But that cannot be allowed, as it would be based on the conviction that there is more than one right way to live, the industrial way, and that would tear apart the very comforting fabric of master race presumption.
Sure, I would love to visit your hospital if you might be able to circumvent my wife’s undilated cervix. You ought to visit us. You’d learn about how your wife’s skeletal structure, hip size, and dental plate might be less malformed if she didn’t eat Wonder Bread and Twinkies.
The Ilongot headhunter would certainly love George Bush and the boys, eh? Fourteen of the nineteen highjackers were Saudis. Therefore, lets melt the Sunnis of Iraq.
Surely you are not suggesting that irrational vindictiveness is some kind of madness monopolized by a south Asian tribe? You’re not having trouble including hunter/gatherers in the category of human beings are
Vengeance brought on by grief is hardly a behavioral pattern found only in the aboriginal world. It is a human heartache. Sorry to bring up Hiroshima again, but evidence now greatly supports the conclusion that Truman’s melting of tens of thousands Japanese women, children and elderly was vengeful, not strategically logical. Eisenhower, Halsey, even McArthur argued against it. Of course, it was also intended to scare the shit out of Stalin. Hmmmm? You mean like shaking his spear at
his enemy? Jumping up and down and threatening to melt him? Not in a cooking pot of course. That’s small scale and a fright from which recovery is viable.
I’m sure that the 2 MILLION Filipinos who were massacred by the U.S. Armed Forces AFTER WWII because they made a break for political freedom would find your question interesting.
I’ve already addressed the issue surrounding the example of the Arctic Utku man and his culture’s expectation of the suppression of anger. But I’ll comment on it. The emergence of adaptation behavior which is derived from the demands of the natural environment is PRECISELY how and why the human race has, until now, successfully evolved. I’m stunned that you bring this up as a negative!
What would you prefer? An unrestrained freedom to play out and indulge our every angry whim, regardless of the jeapardy into which it throws the entire nation? Well spoken as an industrialist.
Your world is not “troubled” it is doomed. Not today, not tomorrow, but gradually, like a frog being heated up in a cooking pot. It simply dies slowly, as its cold-blooded metabolism succumbs to the rising temperature. You find “troubling” the now-confirmed melting ice caps?
You find the presence of 7 billion (soon to be 10) MOSTLY ill, poor, violent, struggling, human bodies “troubling”? I suppose the few who sit atop the carnage do find it inconvenient, but, of course, they have medical coverage and a full plate waiting for them at the table. They have a checkbook ready to hire an attorney to defend their dwindling civil liberties. But most don’t. The J Curve is now roaring upwards.
“Improvement” as you call it is an illusion. Progress is a rhetorical reality, not an evolutionary one. It is political and nationalist jive, not an honest interaction with the law of equilibrium, nature’s language. Bringing the earth to a crisis of mass despeciation and organic dissolution isn’t exactly improvement. It is poking nature in the chest, and starting a shoving match. Nature is now poking back. With the force of melting continents, fouled air, population versus land mass crisis of unheralded and undocumented proportions, and misery for most.
Your (IW) latest hilarious idea for the solution to the insane practice of burning dinosaurs (carbon combustion) is typical of the unresolvable dilemma your world is in: the fuel cell.
The fuel cell purportedly is our combustion buddy. It’s final product is water vapor. Lovely! Guess what the main bugagoo is in global warming? You guessed it! Water vapor. So let’s make lots more.
Let’s use billions of internal combustion engines to displace the presence of fresh water on the planet. Hey! It worked by cutting down the rainforests, its gotta work here.
Needless to say, the IW declared slavery inhumane in word only. Any adolescent can just put his sneakers up on your desk so you can see what the slaves are producing on the multi-national corporate plantations these days. Or they’ll loan you their headphones and cell phones, made in prison factories in Asia, under the aegis of corporations, or you can just go fruit picking with the migrants in the Americas.
Slavery, in myriad forms, is an essential social and economic pillar of the IW, and has been from the beginning. True, the IW gives lip service to its eradication, but eradication of economic slavery would mean the collapse of the profit pyramid structure, the scarcity economics process on which sits the very socio-economic management of the IW.
I appreciate the question regarding psychological health, viz a viz hunter/gatherer versus IW mental health. Most anthropologists have addressed this, from Margaret Mead to Stanley Diamond. Even Erich Fromm has jumped on the band wagon, theorizing that the IW is, collectively, quite mad.
Please don’t think I am attempting any ad hominem tactics when I tell you that I am shocked that you presume that IW thinkers can “define” and address cultural problems troubling their existence, but hunter/gatherers cannot. This is sheer nonsense. If that were true, we wouldn’t be here, because they wouldn’t have evolved. Surely you understand that there is a connection between the presence of the apple on the ground and the tree which stands not far off?
As a final observation, I agree with you that human culture cannot become healthy and functional without the opportunity, as you point out, to change. And at the risk of repeating myself, I ask you again how the human race could have survived and evolved without this quality? To state that we are successful adaptors and changers while claiming hunter/gatherers were not is, once again, to admire the lovely fruit while disdaining the tree that grew beautifully strong, despite the winds, the droughts, the vermin, the seasons.
I submit, in fact, that this is PRECISELY the danger confronting the IW. It cannot adapt, it cannot roll with the evolutionary punches now. It believes that there is only one right way to live. It is committed to that principle, like a blood-letting doctor (Western medicine I believe?) who just lets more blood if the patient doesn’t recover.
Frighteningly, should the IW perceive its own tragic arrogance and WANT to change, it will most likely be unable to do so. Like an airplane that now desperately needs to return to its point of origin, it has gone too far and does not have the fuel.