Re: Chariots of the gods? (fwd)

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Wed, 2 Oct 1996 17:24:36 -0700

On Mon, 30 Sep 1996, Jesse S. Cook III again replied:

>On 29 September 1996, Matin Cohen responded:
>>MC>>Depends. From the middle class life of an academic, maybe not, unless I
>>>>wished to follow some of my more romantic notions. If I lived in certain
>>>>forms of inner-city poverty or certain types of modern rural poverty, in
>>>>fact if I were one of the millions of more serverly impacted victims of
>>>>modern world market capitalism, I would switch in a minute.
>>JSC>Only if you were ignorant, as you apparently are, of the real conditions
>>>under which those to whom you say you would switch lived. Even those
>>>"severly impacted victims of modern world capitalism" have a more humane
>>>lifestyle. You are idealizing what you are ignorant of, as did Rousseau of
>>>"Noble Savage" fame.
>>MC>Our spieces has a great capacity for violence and "inhumanity".
>JSC>Do you know of any species that doesn't?

Of course there are species with less of a capacity for violence. I am
afraid that by definition, all other species are not "human", making the
second point moot. And in the tradition of discourse that you have
mastered, I will just leave my answer at that!
>>MC>This is as true today as it ever was.
>JSC>Trivially true but of what value?

YOU are the one making a great diachronic distinction here!

>>MC>BUT - I would rather live in a
>>cohesive tribal society that has some set of beliefs that make life
>>meaningful than under the grinding poverty and oppression of many poor
>>urban populations today, or many rural and peasant peoples today.
>JSC>Only because, in your ignorance of their true conditions, you are
>>idealizing the "cohesive tribal societies".

Can you really generalize about their TRUE conditions? It is not that I
nobilize the savage, I just don't place us on the top of the heap. Perhaps
you are ignorant of the true conditions of modern life on this planet
because you live in a little fragile middle class bubble?
>>MC>What would you prefer, Jesse Cook, famine as a displaced sub-Saharan
>>African farmer, or small band life in a relatively lush environment? How
>>about a society with a high suicide rate (ours), or with a high murder
>>rate >>(ours), or high rates of infanticide

>JSC>You don't know anything about infanticide or you wouldn't have included it
>in this litany. As for murder and suicide, how about tribal warfare and
>human sacrifice? How about slavery?

OK Jesse. Infanticide in various forms is not that uncommon in MODERN
urban slum life. Espcially in countries where abortions are outlawed or
socially prohibited. As for murder, I am afraid that while it does occur
in tribal life, and no doubt did in the past, we are the leader.

Tribal warfare? Varies tremendously from place to place. So I don't want
to generalize too much (that seems to be your habit). But usually it
involved a low number of causalties compared to what state level societies
have been cabable of. And nothing compared to what we CAN and DO today!!!
(Perhaps we ARE the top of the heap!)

Just how common was human sacrifice? I know it has occurred in a number of
places and times, but gosh, it seems to be much more common in comic books
than in either the ethnographic or historical record. In fact, you whole
view of human ancestry seems to come from Conan the Barbarian. At least,
it all makes sense to me.

>>MC>Or is modern consciousness only something found among the elite?
>JSC>Modern levels of consciousness are found among those who have them,
>including yourself!

Aristotle would be proud of that one!
>JSC>So what? I should think it would be obvious that not everyone has the same
>level of consciousness at any given time.

That depends on what you mean by level of consciousness. You still haven't
told us. Although your diachronic listing implies it has to do with
communication technique and technology. OK, the people I described in the
now cut section, which brought on your last statement, speak, are familiar
with moveable type, and are able to use a computer, TV, Radio, etc.
>>MC>>What is modern consciousness? Is it what led to the destruction of Native
>>>>American peoples who lacked that consciousness? Did it lead to the
>>>>Holocaust? To Pol Pot? Bosnia? ... ad naseum? Are we really that
>>>>special or advanced?
>>JSC>Modern *history* has included all those horrors, but modern
>>>*consciousness* has not. Your consciousness, for all its lack of clear
>>>thinking, is a modern consciousness. Those responsible for such horrors did
>>>not have a modern consciousness. There was a time when such horrors were
>>>taken for granted; for many, if not most, people today, in our culture at
>>>least, they are not.
>>MC>Was modern *consciousness* in hiding? The Germans of the Nazi period had
>>as great a grasp on modern technology as any people on earth!
>JSC>Technoology is a manifestation of consciousness; it is not
>consciousness itself.

We can only gage a quality by its manifestations!
>>JSC>They could follow complex philosophical argument, appreciate poetry,
>>psychology, etc!!!
>JSC>Good! Now, how many "primitive peoples" can do that?

Well now Jesse, if "primitive peoples" can't, but the Nazis can, then by
your defintion, the Nazis MUST have had a "modern level of consciousness."
However, if "primative people" have this capacity (and they do), then there
is no difference in level of consciousness. On which point are you wrong?
>>MC>The average Serb is as at home watching music videos as we are.
>>Why do you deny them modern consciousness
>JSC>Their action speak for themselves. I can't deny them what they don't have.

>>MC>because it is inconvienent to your argument?
>JSC>Nothing is inconvenient to my aguement; its all jist for the mill. You are
>the one who is denying reality.

It might surprise you to realize that I am not so much dismayed by your
denial of common "modern" humanity to tribal peoples, past and present, as
you illusory belief in how wonderful this "modern consciousness" is. So
wonderful, that when modern humans engage in less than wonderful behavior
(as they do at an alarming scale) you note them as exceptions, modern
people without modern consciousness. Up until this post, I have ignored
you insults, but now I must say that you are the one that exhibits fuzzy
thinking, internal contradicions, and the inability to define your own
>>JSC>With your lack of objectivity, you blind yourself to the other side of the
>>>coin. The humane side of the coin is so obvious to anyone who can be
>>>objective that I don't need to spell it out.
>>MC>This is not an agrument, that is ducking out of an argument. If you can't
>>explain it, perhaps you don't understand it yourself?
>Understand what?

Exactly my point.
>>MC>>As I have told my students, an Eskimo or a !Kung may have had far less
>>>>technology to learn and understand, but a single !Kung or Eskimo could know
>>>>it all, with the same intellectual capacity as any of us.
>>JSC>As I said above: "True, but they would have to have our level of
>>>consciousness to do so."
>>MC>Ah, but they did so! So, according to you, Eskimos and !Kung have "modern
>>consciousness" and the Germans of 1935-1945 didn't? OK...?
>JSC>That is not according to me. You seem to be a bit confused here.

Now wait. You said that the Holocaust while a modern event, was not
carried out by people with "modern consciousness." You also said that for
Eskimos and !Kung to have had the kind of handle on their own technology
that has been reported by ethnographers would require them to have our
level of consciousness. So, you have in fact implied the above statement.

>>MC>Where was our modern consciousness during Desert Storm? We may have set
>>the record in for the Persian Gulf in killing more people in a six week
>>period than any other time in their rather blood-soaked history! All
>>without passion or threat!
>JSC>What does that have to do with anything that we haven't already covered.
>Why don't you come up with some new arguments that I can demolish.

Answer the question! I know people who were involved in Desert Storm. They
stand by what they did. They are as intelligent and compassionate as
anyone else I know, perhaps moreso than you. Yet what they stand by was an
uncessary military action that killed at least 100,000 helpless conscripts
and perhaps as many as 500,000 civilians of all ages. OUR side dropped
fuel ignition bombs; straffed and filled in trenches, and engaged in other
forms of mass destruction of life; cutting off all opportunity for either
surrender or retreat. Plotted out and coordinated with computers (the
"electronic level", pal).
I have cut the rest, because it consists only of Jesse S. Cook responding
to questions with insults and non-sequiturs. Too bad.

Martin Cohen