alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

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Salmoneus
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Re: alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

Post by Salmoneus » 16 Nov 2018 19:52

Ahzoh wrote:
16 Nov 2018 17:14
Salmoneus wrote:
16 Nov 2018 13:42
Creyeditor wrote:
15 Nov 2018 12:30
So it was claimed that it's okay to colonize Papua/Africa/etc because they are just spear-chucking, constantly warring societies that would pillage, rape and kill each other if the Europeans would not pacify them. Which is kind of ironic if we look at European history.
Well, factually speaking, they WERE spear-chucking, constantly-warring societies that would pillage, rape and kill each other if the Europeans didn't pacify them. Papua New Guinea was orders of magnitude more violent than Europe! If you want to argue that it was wrong to stop them, you have to argue that it's wrong to prevent bloodshed when the perpetrators are from another culture - not argue, against the facts, that there was no bloodshed. [and then you have to explain why it's wrong to interfere to stop, for instance, headhunting and child abductions, but right to interfere to stop, for instance, genital mutilation. Or else abandon the absolute position and instead argue that that these things should have been stopped in a different way, although of course any other way would also have come with a cost in lives].
Oi, what are you saying? This sounds like the usual colonialist, racist narrative that everywhere else was uncivilized and violent
It may be 'usual', but it's also factually unimpeachable - everywhere else WAS uncivilized and violent. Well, not literally 'everywhere' - India, the middle-east, and parts of the far east were probably only moderately more violent than Europe at the time, and some places may even have been on level terms. But undeniably, the new world, almost all of africa, most of australasia and much of asia was far more violent than Europe. This has been established time and time again through history, archaeology and anthropology. Civilised (i.e. urban agricultural) societies are less violent than early agricultural and horticultural societies, which are less violent than hunter-gather society, which are usually less violent than pastoralist societies. Likewise, modern societies are far less violent than pre-modern societies: every rural village in Europe in 1300 had the murder rate of a modern narcowar. (violent crime began to plummet in Europe after around 1600, through to about 1950). Which in turn looks like a paradise compared to most non-agricultural societies - around 15% of people in non-civilised societies, going both by contemporary anthropology and by archaeology, appear on average to have been murdered (/executed/sacrificed/killed-in-war). For comparison, other than the genocide of the herero, the 20th century's worst periods of barbarity - the regime of the Khmer Rouge, the Congo Free State, the fate of Poland under WWII and the Holocaust - have each killed around 20% of the affected population. Primitive societies were in the the middle of WWII everywhere in the world, every year, year after year. That 15% figure is of course in practice tilted toward much higher violent death rates for young men. In the most violent societies recorded - some native american tribes and some cattle-herders in east africa, iirc - more than 50% of the adult male population died violently. [there's a reason why polygyny, which relies on men having a calamitous death-rate, has been the default marital arrangement for three-quarters of human societies...] Papua New Guinea, as I'm sure you know, was legendarily violent (indeed, some parts of it still are) - headhunting (i.e. ritual murder-raids), wife-stealing, child-stealing, entirely war-oriented social structures, slavery and human sacrifice all occurred (and cannibalism, although iirc that was mostly with those who were dead anyway).

Any time you find yourself saying "that's can't be right, that's the usual..." or "this is politically terrible so the facts must be wrong", you're not thinking, you're just posturing. Responsible political opinions are not the source of empirical theories - responsible political opinions respond to empirical facts.

(and, incidentally, this noble-savage myth that everywhere outside Europe was NOT violent is fundamentally just as racist as those who assume the opposite due to prejudice...)
and that European colonists somehow had moral authority
Ah, now that's an unrelated question!

The question of whether Papua New Guina was very violent is an empirical question; the question of whether Europeans should have intervened to stop it is a moral question. You're free to give whatever answer you want to the second question, but there's a clear and objective right and wrong answer when it comes to the first. And you'll note I did not offer an opinion on the second. Although I do think that the non-intervention answer at least raises some difficult questions, particularly as it's held by people who are often moral interventionists in every other issue. [as an extreme example, I've literally seen the same person 'argue' that "the British colonialists should not have attempted to impose their values and culture onto India!!" and yet also "the international community needs to step in to end the mistreatment of women in India!!" - both of which positions are prima facie plausible, but which are of course incompatible with one another]

There's then of course a third question - if Europeans should have intervened, did they do it in the right way? That's the most complicated of the three questions, as it combines fact, theory and moral judgement all in one.
Yea, it's important to stop bloodshed and practises that are harmful to others... but it's quite arrogant to think... that colonial subjugation/invasion was in any way ever justifiable.
Just pointing out that this is incoherent. Any time person A "stops" person B from carrying out their cultural practices, they're to some extent subjugating them - you can't change a culture unless you have power over it (that's not an empirical observation, that's basically a definition). So if it is sometimes 'important' to stop bloodshed, then it cannot never 'in any way' be 'justifiable' - you can't have it both ways. Either we sometimes have the right to intervene (and in the process at least temporarily subjugate others to our will), or we do not. Both are prima facie reasonable positions, but they are not compatiblw!

[you can, of course, debate the relative virtues of intervention and non-intervention in specific cases]. One example I think most people would agree with today, for example, is the subjugation of Germany and Japan and the erection of colonial administrations over those nations - most people would agree that the cost of subjugating those countries, fundamentally altering their societies and trampling on their right to self-determination, is much smaller than the cost of permitting the extensive atrocities each regime was perpetrating. On the other hand, I think most people can also agree that the subjugation of the congo - in which nothing was done to reform harmful cultural practices, provide education or infrastructure or economic development, but instead people were made to pay taxes using the severed hands of civilians as currency, so that an entire continent-wide industry of violent "hand-farming" developed, all for no purpose beyond the personal enrichment of a single man - was unambiguously reprehensible. Most imperial interventions lay somewhere between these two extremes (and, of course, varied considerably across time and space, given that 'colonialism' spanned hundreds of years and the entire globe).]


But none of this has anything to do with what I said, which was that PNG was violent. That's a fact - what, if anything, could (morally or practically) have been done about it, is an entirely different question. When you begin with a position on the latter question and use that to invent answers to the factual question - automatically dismissing facts that lead to "terrible takes", you're not being responsible.



But let's return to the regularly-scheduled discussion now...

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Creyeditor
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Re: alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

Post by Creyeditor » 16 Nov 2018 20:05

Salmoneus wrote:
16 Nov 2018 13:42
Creyeditor wrote:
15 Nov 2018 12:30
So it was claimed that it's okay to colonize Papua/Africa/etc because they are just spear-chucking, constantly warring societies that would pillage, rape and kill each other if the Europeans would not pacify them. Which is kind of ironic if we look at European history.
Well, factually speaking, they WERE spear-chucking, constantly-warring societies that would pillage, rape and kill each other if the Europeans didn't pacify them. Papua New Guinea was orders of magnitude more violent than Europe! If you want to argue that it was wrong to stop them, you have to argue that it's wrong to prevent bloodshed when the perpetrators are from another culture - not argue, against the facts, that there was no bloodshed. [and then you have to explain why it's wrong to interfere to stop, for instance, headhunting and child abductions, but right to interfere to stop, for instance, genital mutilation. Or else abandon the absolute position and instead argue that that these things should have been stopped in a different way, although of course any other way would also have come with a cost in lives].
As Ahzoh pointed out, I have to question your facts here. The idea that the precolonial Island of New Guinea was filled with isolated violent cannibal hunter-gatherer has been discredited by a lot of recent research. Urban agricultures have existed on the island before the arrival of the Europeans. Addtionally, this narrative is still used by the Indonesian government nowadays to excuse human right abuses by the military. It is pretty obvious that no headhunting etc. is attested in West Papua nowadays. But more importantly, even if we accept that assumption (that people were just killing each other without reason), I would not say that this excuses the practices of colonialism. Colonialism involved a lot of killing (as is probably clear to everyone), so even from an utilitarianism standpoint your argument does not go through. I firmly believe that, there are other ways to convince people of a universal concept of pacifism than just becoming a violent ruler over these people.
Edit: You have posted an answer in the meantime that is much more considerate than your first post and I guess I could agree with most of what you say there. I would still say that one should use tribal in the sense it is used in modern social sciences, if you are a writer, i.e. referring to small social groups and so on. The reason is that the spear-chucking, warring sense is nowadays used to excuse discriminatory and violent practices against certain societies which are said to be tribal, irrespective of any of their actual cultural practices, in a kind of essentialist way. I guess I just don't want to support such a use.
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Re: alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

Post by Ahzoh » 16 Nov 2018 21:39

I fear this might be split into another thread even though I don't think it's worth being its own thing.
Salmoneus wrote:
16 Nov 2018 19:52
It may be 'usual', but it's also factually unimpeachable - everywhere else WAS uncivilized and violent.
This is factually impeachable. The actual historical, anthropological, and archaeological evidence shows a far more nuanced position on all of the civilizations of the world. The only thing you're presenting here is your interpretation of historical facts and it's a racist and colonialist interpretation.
All human societies were violent but some were less violent than Europe and some were more violent. Even so, you can't really base civility on how violent or non-violent a society is. The European historical and material conditions should not be used as a measuring stick for morally and hierarchically comparing the world's societies throughout history. That's ethnocentrism and the very bane of the human sciences.
But undeniably, the new world, almost all of africa, most of australasia and much of asia was far more violent than Europe. This has been established time and time again through history, archaeology and anthropology.
Citation needed for this and the paragraph below it. It might also do to qualify your use of "violent" here. Is it solely wars? day to day violence? etc?
Any time you find yourself saying "that's can't be right, that's the usual..." or "this is politically terrible so the facts must be wrong", you're not thinking, you're just posturing. Responsible political opinions are not the source of empirical theories - responsible political opinions respond to empirical facts.
A lot of people throughout history have tried to hide racist and colonialist views behind science and history, citing so-claimed "facts" at the time which were later proven wrong. It's not about "political correctness". I have reason to believe that empirical theories do not, in fact, support your interpretation of history.
(and, incidentally, this noble-savage myth that everywhere outside Europe was NOT violent is fundamentally just as racist as those who assume the opposite due to prejudice...)
You're quite quick to mention this when I wasn't anywhere near implying it. I'm not denying that they weren't violent (as I said, all human societies are), however I am disputing the narrative you're portraying here that only Europe was civilized and relatively peaceable. The rest of the world was not "uncivilized and barbaric", not even most of the world was.
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Re: alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

Post by fruityloops » 19 Nov 2018 18:30

all i jsut wanted was to find a less questionable term for me setting. really sound that i brought that up. [:|]

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Re: alternate ways to say "tribal fantasy"

Post by Ahzoh » 20 Nov 2018 01:36

fruityloops wrote:
19 Nov 2018 18:30
all i jsut wanted was to find a less questionable term for me setting. really sound that i brought that up. [:|]
And less questionable terms have been suggested, e.g. stonepunk
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