Re: what exactly do anthropologists do?

Gerold Firl (
12 Jul 1995 13:40:26 -0700

In article <> (ra) writes:
>In article <>, (Gerold
>Firl) wrote:

>The bourgeoise classes of Europe have a history rooted in conflict with
>the existing feudal order. Monarchy tried hard to suppress the growth of
>the capitalist class. The 'struggle for freedom' referred to here
>pertains to the struggle between an infant capitalist class and the
>existing monarchic feudal order tied to imperial Rome.

Not at all.

The frisian maritime provinces of the netherlands enjoyed *traditional*
liberties which had passed to them, unbroken, from the hunter-gatherer
prehistory of the indo-european peoples. The individual rights for which
holland has been famous throughout even the worst excesses of the middle
ages, and which contributed directly to the creation of entrepeneurial
capitalism, are the direct descendant of the kind of anarchic social
organization commonly found in h-g societies. Those rights are usually lost
as cultures evolve into larger and more complex civilizations; holland is
very unusual, in that those rights were never usurped. Not through lack of
trying; the war of independance which began in 1566 was long, savage, and
bitter. The wealth which was generated by the free-market efforts of free
men was a tempting prize for tyrants. They tried, but they couldn't take

Switzerland is another example; it was remote, relatively defensible, and
there was no population of helot/slaves which had to be held in thrall by
despotic measures. The swiss also established, and defended, their liberty
by force of arms.

Republican governments sprung-up naturally throughout the european world,
but only in certain protected environments could they survive. It is
somewhat puzzling that only in the european cultures did democracy persist
beyond the tribal level. Democracy is a clear extension to larger
populations of the common organization of h-g bands observed around the
world, but nowhere else was the extrapolation to larger societies made.

>While you call this a struggle for freedom which somehow is 'far from
>over,' I have to retort that, the 'far from over' cliche points to the
>ideological megalomania in capitalism which speaks about slavery in the
>language of liberation, even going so far as to claim that European
>capitalists, by engaging in four hundred years of barbarism, only did so
>because they were moved by the higher principle of 'liberating' others
>from the shackles of 'primitivity,' which going back to an earlier point,
>is another word for 'traditional.'

Don't be silly. Dutch society was very free, in holland, but dutch rule in
the east indies was just as repressive as any other empire. European
expansion was motivated by the desire for gain, of course. No one seriously
argues otherwise. It is only very recently that european societies have
renounced the traditional rights of conquest. European empires were not
created for the purpose of liberating anybody. However, that doesn't change
the fact that these empires have all been liberated now.

The struggle for freedom is indeed continuing. Transplanting the idea into
cultures which have no *tradition* of freedom is very difficult, but I
think progress is being made. Even your juvenile tirades are part of it.
You want freedom, or think you do, but you don't really know what it is. You
might even figure it out someday.

>> and just who are the oppressors of the indian people?

>the same international capitalist system and its local and global agents,
>that destroys all peoples for profit and promotes slavery in the guise of
>'free markets,' and 'free enterprise,' .... <etc etc etc ...>

Are you suggesting that india would be better-off if it withdrew from the
global economy? Keep in mind that participation is voluntary. The IMF
attaches strings to *loans*, raja. Those loans, that *capital*, is vital
for the future of india, if there is ever to be an end to the cycle of
poverty and suffering. That is clear to just about everybody. What would
you suggest as an alternative?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf