Re: Cultural Survival?

Brian Michael Howell (bmhowell@ARTSCI.WUSTL.EDU)
Tue, 16 Jan 1996 10:29:09 -0600

I wrote back to critique a message posted by B. Diamond before reading
this. I want to say that I in NO WAY ascribe to this kind of "hands off"
thing. When talking about people instead of deer, we cannot let it go to
the "survival of the fittest." The idea is disturbing to say the least
and ignores the centuries of exploitation, domination and power
inequalities that mark global contact. This kind of relativism is far
from morally neutral.

Brian Howell
Washington Univ.-St. Louis

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, Anthony Dauer wrote:

> I agree with in the sense that we shouldn't do anything to destroy or harm a
> culture, but I do not feel that we should interfere either. Cold as it may
> seem, I tend to believe in the idea of the survival of the fittest and feel
> as well that where we have interfered (there are exceptions to this) to save
> something we ended up causing a new problem. What comes to mind is the
> perservation of deer in Penn. The number of deer has risen to the point
> that now there is starvation within the herds and yet there are those who
> oppose a hunting season in order to trim the herds out. The logical
> solution to this is to introduce a predator to the area and help the balance
> come back. Since Science Fiction has the nasty habit of becoming reality, I
> think the concept of the Prime Directive of the fictional universe of Star
> Trek is a good one. Now, if we are able to determine a way to intervene
> without tipping the balance of the system envolved I would like to. But are
> we really that wise yet? The biggest crime we could commit though is by not
> recording the particulars of these cultures ... creating an epitaph for
> those who follow.
> At 10:13 AM 01/08/96 -0800, Bret Diamond wrote:
> > As I pass into the new year (and the new semester), I find myself
> >pausing to reflect on the purpose of the discipline of Anthropology and
> >my respective place within it.
> respectfully, Anthony
> "Each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ration
> ... each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during
> each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to suffer
> great destruction ... The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and
> multiply." Charles Robert Darwin, 1809-1882, The Origin of the Species,
> 1859, Chapter 3.