Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Call of the Primitive

I'm usually a pretty relaxed, easy-going kind of guy, but certain things annoy me. For example, I don't like it when cultures are labelled primitive. What does that mean really? Just that they use primitive technology, well, maybe, that could be acceptable if all of the people in the culture use primitive technology (which is not the case except for a few very isolated peoples, most cultures have integrated advanced technology into their society even if they are too poor to use it widespread, a few use it and the effects ripple throughout the culture). But usually what people imply with that is that the culture is not very developed and is closer to the cultures of hundreads or thousands of years ago. What those people are forgetting is that while culture is often changed by technology, culture also changes on its own. The very interaction of thousands of people with thousands of ideas and their interactions with the outside world can create massive cultural change. New religious movements, new songs and stories, new philosophies and ethics, none of these things require advanced technology (although perhaps advanced technology can help). Even when you encounter a culture whose tech level is equivalent to the stone age, that doesn't mean that their culture is the same as it was in the stone age, between then and now they might not have had any great technological leaps but they had thousands of years of cultural evolution changing deeply their ways of thinking and acting so that you can't simply observe the stone age in stone age tech people. Moreover, with people whose technology hasn't changed much in the last several thousand years you must assume that they are in their history, culture, resources or whatever are somewhat different than the other people who were in the stone age, because they stayed in the stone age (Most historians of pre-history simply assume that this is because of differences of resources but it could also be due to differences of culture or even differences of chance). So really any culture that has survived to the modern day is advanced. If one wants to label cultures primitive using tech as a criteria doesn't make much sense. Thus don't call those hunter-gathers primitive, because their culture might be a whole lot more developed through rituals, thoughts, ideas, traditions, and songs than yours, perhaps at least, I'm not claiming that low-tech people are necessarily more developed in culture I'm just saying they're not necessarily less developed. Anyways, that's about all I have time for for now. I know I haven't had a good chance to get a good full session in for a while now, but I can't do that right now. So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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