- Capitalism and Alternatives -

'Tribal' is a meaningless definitionism

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( The Tribe of bostonians, Massachusetts ) on April 07, 1999 at 10:31:21:

In Reply to: Thanks . . . for completely leaving my post unanswered posted by Joel Jacobson on April 06, 1999 at 11:05:59:

You are falling into exactly the same fallacy that you incessantly accuse other people of, using a term that has no objective meaning and attributing certain properties to it. Define "tribal", please. Teh peoples you refer to had very little in common, and to group them all under the category "tribal" is to construct a mental construct with no meaning whatsoever. Waht is teh term "tribal" supposed to convey? that they were technologiclly backward? OK, then exactly what is the dividing line between non-tribal andtribal- teh invention of the wheel, teh industrial revolution, what? Is it supposed to convey some sort of political organization? Some tribes are monarchical, others are theocratic, otehrs are democratic or communistic, still others are run by businessmen, etc. Some form of social belief? the social customs between "tribes' vary immensely. The fact is, "tribal" is an adjective created by colonial powers in odrer to derogate the people in colonized countries. It ahs no objectivve meaqning, so I'm surprised taht you of all people should be using it.

Socialism and capitalsim, do , by teh way, have defined meanings. They refer to specoific, actually existing states in teh external world. instead of going on about how they are meaningless, why not try debating these ideas on their merits, or defending teh capoitalist system as it currently exists. Or if you prefer not to, then conceded that teh system we have in teh industrialized West and taht has been now introduced into eastern Europe, teh system that supposedly "won" the cold war, is horribly flawed and brutal.

: a) my post was about the complete misunderstanding of those in this room carelessly throwing around the word "commons". They are taking the old version of "commons" where specific people owned specific property (collectively, but still discrete property) and somehow comparing it to a utopian future where everyone has completely free access to everything without any sort of restraint but "manners".

No, it's a scaled up version of teh old communal ownership. It's analogous, but merely on a larger scale. I have doubts myself, and advocate something between small communes and state socialism. But there is no a priori reason why small communes can't work, after all, in much of Africa and pre-Columbian America the resources were sued in common by many different small communes. People did not personaqlly know the people in other communes, but still they magnaged to coexist and share resources. If it worked then, it can work today.

:I'm pointing out that manners come in a specific form and are exercised toward a miniscule, insignificant fraction of the human race, and a concrete fraction comprised of people who we personally relate to. We cannot compromise with those whom we are not intimate and this utopian dream of compromise with the whole human race is a complete and utter fantasy. It is devoid of any social meaning.

The market and political systems are both methods of compromising amongst disparate idnividuals who don't knwo each other, why can't interanational communism do the same thing.

: b) I fully agree with you that surviving tribes considered themselves affluent; they were so as there were few differences of opinion within small bands taht almost never competed for any resource.

No, wrong, they didn't CONSIDER themselves affluent, the "affluent society" quote is inetneded to shwo taht tehy were affluent ina n OBJECTIVE sense. Protein is often considered to be one of teh mosrt important resources and a basic measure of well-being: communal, hunting societies had far greater intake of protein tahn the heirarchical agricultural ones taht succeeded them. Affluence is an objective term.

:But with the comparitive affluence and relative ignorance of the hunter-gatherer

What is this supposed to mean, you try living in teh West African bush.

: the number of people living in a particular region would increase, thus, requiring expansion, as resources that once seemed unlimited began growning painfully finite. Eventually, expansion began to diminish as livable terrain became less and less available and as people began settling down. These settlements and the property delineations occured as a result of people discovering ways to cultivate the land, which allowed for a more stable and certain way of life.

No, wrong, you might be surprised to knwo taht agriculture spread exceedingly slowly and was rejected by a great many societies. Hierarchy created scarcity, which created war and conflivct.

: True, when resources seem unlimited we can have "full and free access". But as soon as our wishes and desires occur opposite of the wishes and desires of others we have to begin finding solutions to this, what economists call, scarcity. When people here call for "socialism" it doesn't even mean anything, as they are simply expressing a warm and fuzzy feeling within themselves. Like Marx, only few have ever attempted a comprehensive analyses of how such a world could come about and what it would look like. the few who have attempted such (ala Lange-Lerner) have pretty much re-invented what they themselves label "capitalism".

I don't know who Lange et al are, but plans for the ideal society have been drawn up by many including Confucius, Lao Tzu, Marx, the Hindu sages, Plato,
Jesus Christ, etc...

: c) Affluent is relative in this case. Human beings, until Augustine, did not consider themselves as anything other than a part of their society.

Erm, no, Jesus Christ as well as major currenst of throught in India and Taoism also recognize the inherent worth of the idnividual. Many of these writings, sermons, etc. stress the heroic individualk's conflict with society, or idealize the hermit who withdraws from society.

: It has been well under 15 centuries when individuals have really begun refering to themselves in literature and stories as self-aware. Even Plato only talked circumspectly about himself as a person. Thus, human sacrifice was considered completely acceptable and there is evidence that not only did people willingly allow themselves to become sacrificed for the "greater good", but it was actually considered an honor to be chosen for this deed.

What the hell? this is why "tribal' isa meaningless phrase, it lumps together groups who used human sacrifice with those who didn't. "Tribal" is a mental construct if i ever saw one. You are totally ignoring the differences, say, between the Aztecsand the
Pyg,mieswho had no concept of crime., punishment or coercion. This is disingenuous at best. Please know what you criticize, or read some anthropology.

:This is all part of tribal culture,

What the hell is tribal culture? Nothing. Saying "tribal culture' isabout as vague and meaningful as saying "human eye color.'

:situations taht Lark, Deathy, et al, have no conception of and would recoil at the idea of these coming about.

: But, ancient tribes definitely could reconcile things such as human sacrifice with considering their tribe well-off.

1) Which ancient tribes? Whsat about the Pygmies, theSan, the Lepchas, etc.
2) What is tribal culture. Please give some definitions.
3)Modern culture doesn't have its barbarisms/ How about crime, prostitution, exploitation, rape, usury, terrorism, nuclear wra, sweatshops, prostitution, the slave trade, colonialism, ozone depletion, forest destruction, pollution, toxic waste,machine guns....
4) are yous eriosuly arguing taht bringing about communism woudl eladto human sacrifice
5) what about the death penalty, as RD argues.

:Remember, no competition for resources means that you can pretty much do whatever you want.

Yes, that's why true freedom si possible only under socialsim.

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