Re: Racism and ancient history

Dr. Doug (
19 Jan 1997 08:59:25 GMT

In <5bn0fh$> (Michael
James Dean) writes:

>: divisions. However, nature provides us with plenty of examples of
>: groups not using violence against other groups, even competing
>: No bonobo chimp has NEVER been known to kill another bonobo chimp.
>: They settle their differences usually with SEX. Even between
>: groups. Actually, when you examine them, they appear to be much
>: similar to humans in many ways than regular chimps. Check out that
>: fascinating article in Scientific American, March 1995.
>I'm not trying to be a jerk, but the obvious reply to this is that we
>aren't bonobos. Not that I wouldn't mind trying to solve all my
>problems through sex :)
Bonobos are jsut one example of conflict being resolved non-violently
in nature. (I will initiate a fuller discussion of the bonobos later,
from the anthro ng.)
>: The BaMbuti people (pygmies) of the Ituri rainforest in Zaire are
>: isolated gatherer/hunters, and according to Turnbull in "The Forest
>: People," never make war, even on other BaMbuti people competing with
>: each other for honey or hunting grounds. They just yell at each
>: until one group has had enough noise. But afterward, these groups
>: no problem interbreeding and interacting with each other.
>does never mean NEVER or does it mean not within the timeframe in
>they were observed? Just because they don't currently make war, or
>if they haven't made war for a hundred years, this doesn't mean they
>never done it or will never do it in the future. Not only that but
>saying that they don't make war doesn't explain why they don't. There

>could be myriad reasons why this is so. You state that the preceeding

>examples show groups who don't engage in violent behavior, but the
>paragraph only relates to making war. Shouting matches are certainly
>violent aggressive behavior which, in other groups, might preceed
>physical violence.
The BaMbuti have no institutions for war or domination. No warrior
societies, no slavery or servitude, no conquering hero myths, no
institutions for the domination of women. They are also very isolated,
and thus, not threatened. I think when a culture becomes regularly
threatened, sexism and war begins to be institutionalized.
>: Yes, it is not strictly economics, but I do believe that racism has
>: economic foundation, an economic FUNCTION. Imagine if you will, a
>: reserve army of labor, a whole group of people who believe
>: inferior, who will work for less wages, poorer working conditions,
>: join unions or organize to fight back. What would the existence of
>: these needy people do to the wages and working conditions of all the
>: other wage-earners? Would this racist discrimination not serve to
>: everyone scared, insecure, knowing that if one did not toe the line,
>: person from a disadvantaged minority is waiting in the wings, ready
>: take that job for less money?
>: Which tiny minority of people would benefit from such a situation?
>: Dr. Doug
>When you start talking about lower wages, unions, etc. it seems to me
>are taking a modern perspective. From that modern perspective, I
>tend to agree with you on the economic basis of racism. However, if
>want to talk about the roots of racism, which surely preceed the
>era, I think the economic analysis falls flat. Why did the Crusading
>Christians hate the Moslems so much? Surely not because Arab tribesmen

>would work for lower wages back in Europe.
The Crusaders STOLE FROM and PLUNDERED the Moslems, and needed to
justify that plunder to home audiences. And the Catholic Church needed
to maintain it's economic stranglehold on Europe, so it fanned the
fires of religious bigotry. It worked!
>I think this is a very interesting thread and look forward to reading