Savagely indigenous environmental nobility

Fri, 23 Sep 1994 01:08:45 +0000

Fellow anthropoids,

I rather like this thread, hence I feel the need (as I often do) to add my
two cents.

1. It is simply silly to think that small-scale, "primitive," (only using
this term in its euphemistic sense, hence the quotes, hence the lack of
desire to resurrect debates about its (in)appropriateness), "non-Western"
(likewise), or "Fourth World"/"indigenous" societies are somehow
*intrinsically* more in harmony with nature. Humans in any technological
setting can make misjudgements and errors with regard to their environment,
natural or social. However,

2. The IMPACT of their mistakes is likely to INCREASE with technology.
Hence, Wilkr's point that while any small-scale society can ruin the
ecology of a region, Exxon, and other multinationals, et al., possess the
capability to ruin the ecology of a PLANET. Which is precisely what they
are doing now, regardless of the outcome of this debate.

3. The fact that small-scale societies have never lived in any sort of
mystical union with nature, and have degraded their environment or perhaps
even eradicated their particular ecological niche on various occasions,
should NOT lead us to judgemental attitudes about them being "sick
societies," which is purely polemical, and besides the point. The fact
still remains that with regard to the question of DEGREE, which is always
the point, Western technological processes (nuclear weapons, fossil fuels,
etc.) are more likely to cause long-term GLOBAL degradation, pollution,
climactic change, etc. than the deforestation, etc. resulting from
swiddening, et al.

4. I'm glad that somebody brought up the minute (Caironic) matter of
POPULATION. As anti-Malthusian as I am, I also recognize that exponential
population growth of any society, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th world, is likely to
result in severe environmental damage, the DEGREE of which being dependent
on the resource consumption of individuals in that society (which is
highest in the 1st world.) No small-scale society ever expanded AS
exponentially AS the way in which some urban Third World centers (Mexico
City, Cairo, for example) are doing today.

Curmudgeonly Yours,

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