Re: Racism and ancient history

Michael James Dean (
19 Jan 1997 18:13:31 GMT

Dr. Doug ( wrote:
: 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
: groups.
: >
: >: No bonobo chimp has NEVER been known to kill another bonobo chimp.
: >: They settle their differences usually with SEX. Even between
: competing
: >: groups. Actually, when you examine them, they appear to be much
: more
: >: 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 point I was trying to make was that, although nature provides
examples of animals who resolve conflict non-violently, it doesn't do us
much good because we do not have the same hard-wiring as they do. We
would most likely not do too well trying to emulate them.

: >: The BaMbuti people (pygmies) of the Ituri rainforest in Zaire are
: very
: >: 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
: other
: >: until one group has had enough noise. But afterward, these groups
: have
: >: no problem interbreeding and interacting with each other.
: >
: >does never mean NEVER or does it mean not within the timeframe in
: which
: >they were observed? Just because they don't currently make war, or
: even
: >if they haven't made war for a hundred years, this doesn't mean they
: have
: >never done it or will never do it in the future. Not only that but
: just
: >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
: above
: >paragraph only relates to making war. Shouting matches are certainly
: >violent aggressive behavior which, in other groups, might preceed
: actual
: >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.

This is very interesting. I would enjoy reading about such a society.
Could you perhaps get me started in the right direction? Turnbull's "The
Forest People" you mentioned, where else might I look?

The question in my mind is whether or not aspects of this culture could
be adapted to our own. I sincerely doubt anyone would be willing to
regress to primitive hunter/gatherers in order to eliminate war, strife,
racism, etc. We see the example their society provides, but what can we
learn from this example and how can we use this knowledge to improve our
own condition?