Re: Propriety of demythologization (was: Replacing babies (was Re: PROPOSAL: Alt.terriorism.american

Richard Spear ()
Sat, 6 May 1995 07:38:49 PST

In article <3odqlu$ph@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM> claird@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM (Cameron Laird) writes:
>From: claird@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM (Cameron Laird)
>Subject: Propriety of demythologization (was: Replacing babies (was Re: PROPOSAL: Alt.terriorism.american))
>Date: 5 May 1995 13:27:10 -0500

>>Just because it was anthropology that supplied the vast majority of the
>>information that discredited so many of these heirarchical, linear
>>models of existence, does this mean that we must always be sent the posts
>>which contain fresh argument about it?
>Different question: why is anthropology
>so ineffective (or is it more effective
>than you credit it?) at communicating
>these falsifications to the larger society?
> .
>Follow-ups narrowed.
>Cameron Laird
> +1 713 267 7966
> +1 713 996 8546

The value of a bit of information to any particular culture will depend upon
how well the information supports the ideological superstructure of that
culture and/or how well it contributes to its technological base. Western
societies are by and large capitalist and knowledge contributions are
ultimately considered for their (present or future) ability to make money or
for their usefulness in propping up the status quo of rankings and roles.

Anthropology does not often achieve either of these goals. In fact, all of the
social sciences frequently do exactly the opposite ... they strip away facades
and expose latent relationships. Few members of the capitalist elites are
interested in funding or promoting research and results that challenge their
status. The wider population (in a stable social environment ... that is, a
culture with a mostly united elite) will rarely challenge that same status
quo. After all, they are educated in its schools and derive their livelihood
from its institutions ... challenging it requires courage and a disregard for
one's own future.

There *have* been times when anthropologists have been listened to but almost
alwayas when they present ideas in line with mainstream thought. Ruth
Benedict's WWII stuff about Japanese culture ("The Chrysanthemum and the
Sword"?, not sure of the title), the popularity of sociobiological trends in
anthropology (nice when biology supports the status quo, eh?) or Morris'
earlier stuff on territoriality and primate behaviors have supported the
status quo and made lots of money at the same time.

There's no reason to focus on capitalist economies, either - the general
principles of resistance to change in relationships of power and support for
existing conditions exists in all cultures.

So, in answer to Cameron's question, falsification of heirarchical analyses
will not be listened to until there is a sufficient support for it among a
segment of the ruling classes ... and that is unlikely until they can see how
to extract either money or power from the new ideas.

Regards, Richard