Re: Social Engineering (was: Different patriarchy Model)

PioneerTom (
24 Jan 1995 00:32:47 -0500

John Cook writes:

"Newton's three laws of motion are a norm that oppresses someone who has
trouble understanding them and using them."

This, and the other opinions accompanying it in John's post, are prime
examples of why anthropology stands a good chance of becoming an unfunded
"discipline" as the next millenium starts. When the basics of how the
physical universe works, and those three laws are just that, are touted by
any group of people as arbitrary "norms" that can be paid attention to or
not as the spirit moves you, then that group has begun the proceess of
detatching itself from a society that must and will live in and with the
constraints and opportunities described by those laws of motion. Those 3
laws have never been superceded, simply expanded upon by subsequent

John also said:
" The successful mathematician is undermining the cultural
articulations of the other children."

This is the most extreme example of zero-sum strategy I've ever heard of!
Increasing the capacity of society to generate wealth (in this case
through mathematics)did not, in my case or the black-on-black case
mentioned earlier in this thread, undermine anyone's long-term
"articulation" of their culture. In the short-term it did show up people
who hadn't put out the same number of hours studying as I had, and as I
suspect most other successful math students have, of any race. It isn't
the racial characteristic that has influence, it's the willingness to tell
anyone who would take up your study time with other things to take a hike!
This was what got jocks to beat me up, not "articulation". They wanted
me on the football field, "being a real man". I suspect it's similar for
the black students, successful in math, who got abused for their focus on
academic studies.

John also said:

"There is a continuing conflict in this thread with contributers both
wanting to insist upon how "black" are essentially different, and at the
same time insisting that they assimilate totally with the norms of
mainstream America."

I have seen no one in this thread say that there is any essential
difference between blacks and any other ethnic group. I certainly
haven't, and don't believe there is any such difference. I have seen much
assuming, by people who give John's type of arguement, that this is
implied. The only assimilation that is required is the same as that for
all who would enjoy the benefits of an industrial society. One must
assimilate _industrial_ culture, of whatever origin, to survive in an
industrial environment with any ease. Both those who assaulted me, and
other's assailants described earlier in this thread show evidence of
refusing that sort of culture from whatever source.

Of course you can choose to continue the "articulation" of the old peasant
cultures, from whatever source, but you should be prepared to accept the
level of wealth supported by such cultures for most adherents. That level
of wealth is so low that few really wish to maintain it for the rest of
their lives. By the way, my abusers were lily white, not black, and
racially indistinguishable from Newton. It's not a racial problem, it's a
problem of general cultural change, and those who resist it.

John finished with:

"The fools who beat you up were probably far from loopy, beating you up
was probably one of the only avenues left to them as a way of saying who
they were in relation to say, capitalism, as a social order. Go read some
Marx Tom."

I was reading Marx before those fools pounded me, 30 years ago, and
neither experience was very impressive. Not surprising, since I ended up
more libertarian than anything else. In return, may I suggest that you
read Gross and Levitt's "Higher Superstition", about the way that too much
of the social sciences have been degraded by the "post-modernist",
"cultural constructivist", and other marxist-left wing tag ends. It also
notes the foolish attempts to critique the physical sciences without an in
depth stuudy of them (That's a Hint!).

I continue to believe that a real and rigorous science of anthropology can
make excellent contributions to all our futures.

Tom Billings