Re: seeking refs on comparative work

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 19:38:01 +0000

At 04:56 PM 8/1/96 +0000, Arthur L. Baron wrote:
> (snip - I hope the context is not altered)
>R. Snower writes:
>> Now you are talking evolution. Evolution
>> means higher and lower, hierarchy, and that means dominance, racism, and
>> imperialism.
>Do you mean food chain hierarchy?
>> Since evolution presupposes competition, you have got to
>> embrace collectivism, and you have got to condemn the culture whose soul is
>> competition, namely Western culture, or you are necessarily an evil man who
>> endorses dominance, racism, and imperialism.
>> Cultural relativism deletes the time dimension. It taboos the great
>> anthropologists--Frazer, Jane Harrison, Jessie Weston, Cornford, Shapiro,
>> others--as evolutionists. It puts sociobiology in the closet, and even
>> intellectual journals rail against Darwin, in this day and age. It condemns
>> objectivity, extols subjectivity, turns empirical observation into wishful
>> thinking, and talks about the Sociology of Science. It condemns the free
>> market, and sometimes, the democracy of self-interest.
>> Now this might be all well and good, it might be argued, because it is being
>> done in a good cause: to eliminate dominance, racism, sexism, and
>> imperialism. But this is a delusion. There is a catch-22. Cultural
>> relativism is making a huge error. Its condemnation of competition at the
>> individual level in favor of ethnic collectivism creates a very dangerous
>> situation. It automatically lifts the competition to the group
>> level--ethnicism, I call it. And this is what really equates to racism,
>> sexism, and imperialism, i.e., the wrong kinds of competition.
>> Best wishes. R. Snower
>I agree that relativism has some failings but it does provide the benefit of
>the doubt, or a type II error (release a guilty person, which is better than
>convicting an innocent person - type I error). Relativism could be one reason
>why anthropologists are seldom asked to establish or participate in a "choose a
>side" foreign policy. Is this what refexivity is supposed to address? (I'm a
>pomo novice)
>Does science choose the simpler theory when two competing theories try to
>explain the same phenomenon? Is natural selection still the simplest theory
>explaining evolution and adaptive processes? Competition is good for products
>in the market place, not for people. Competition between and among people
>tends to create casualties - war, ethnic cleansing, etc. Competition among
>people is dehumanizing, creating social classes of the haves and the have nots
>(the subhuman population) - it's only another way of rationalizing or
>justifying an action.
>I really think the analogy of natural selection and evolution gets muddled with
>political aggression. Yes complex societies need different political systems
>from band leaders and chiefdoms - each has its own set of problems and
>prejudices, none are perfect by any definition. Western politics has more
>weapons at its disposal to go about dominating those least able to defend
>themselves. I can't equate political choice with the terms used to explain
>natural selection and evolution, namely, heirarchy, dominance, and competition.
>Or am I misinterpreting your recent posts?
>arthur baron

We are not living in a world in which we have the option of competition or
no competition. We are living in a world in which we have the option of
competition on an individual basis, or a competition between ethnic groups.

Best wishes. R. Snower