Re: `capitalist' character values

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Fri Jul 27 2001 - 16:01:06 MDT

Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 20:32:02 -0400
From: Mike Lorrey <>
Subject: Re: `capitalist' character values

> "Smigrodzki, Rafal" wrote:
> MIke Lorrey wrote:
> back to the Heidelberg/Neanderthal period. Tribal cultures are
> actually
> far more socially and economically egalitarian than most any other
> social system
> ### Can you name examples? How about the enormous power of village
> chiefs (which translates into most of the offspring being produced by
> them, not differences in material wealth) in some Amazon Indian
> tribes?

MIke Lorrey wrote:

Take eskimos, which up into the 20th lived the same existence as in eons
past, and which rarely gathered in concentrations greater than an
extended family or clan (primarily to harvest the salmon runs), and
never had the need for 'chieftans'.

In the case of your amazon chiefs, if they did in fact father most of
the offspring, then the 'tribe' is little more than a polygamous family.
How much 'enormous power' do they exert? Did they do so before they
acquired metal technology?

### Well, it's quite a power if they can control access to females. Most
tribes are extended families, with a much higher level of consaguinity than
we find in modern societies. Inca rulers (the "Incas") would have 500 - 800
wives, if I remember correctly, well before contact with Europeans brought
them steel.


Cheiftans typically gain power where population pressure due to technology exceeds local ecological capabilities and conflict for resources results.

Also look at the early Icelandic culture, which had no chieftans, yet lived a herder / fisherman lifestyle without nomadism and retained a hyperdemocratic proto-libertarian form of government

### I agree that the way a so called "primitive" society develops can be pretty varied, with large differences in the frequency of violent behaviour, at least as described by anthropologists. Sometimes, uncommonly, a more egalitarian culture forms (Icelanders, but then they were a select population - emigrants from a land where kings emerged to rule a previously free tribal culture, people who hated being ordered about in the first place, were literate and had a strong tradition of independence), sometimes it's a violent, man-eating (literally) tyranny (Anasazi, Asmati, Assyrians - just to start with the first letter of the alphabet). The latter is indeed more likely to develop wherever there is population pressure - that is, almost everywhere. Only after a long period of barbarism do the nicer ideas develop.

The natural state of humanity is a life nasty, brutish and short, going all the way back to the Neanderthals (with many archeological sites showing presumptive evidence of cannibalism).

Rafal Smigrodzki MD-PhD Dept Neurology University of Pittsburgh

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