Exploiters and ideologues
0 comment Thursday, June 12, 2014 |
Over at the Cambria Will Not Yield blog, CWNY reviews a book, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead.
I haven't read the book, although it sounds interesting. For those who don't know the story behind it, it's about the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her study of adolescence in Samoan culture, which was the basis for her book Coming of Age in Samoa.
The writer of the book himself is also an anthropologist, and apparently had been a follower of Mead:
And indeed, Freeman admits, he himself was a Mead enthusiast when he began his follow-up research, until he discovered that Mead�s research was flawed and inaccurate. He even includes, in the book, a letter from Mead to himself in which she concedes that her research was inaccurate.
What Freeman unearths is that Samoa was not the uninhibited sexual paradise that Mead described in her book. Mead spent most of her time "researching" the Samoan culture in a Navy hotel and never really lived with the Samoans. She got her information about the sexual practices of young Samoan girls from two girls, who, Freeman reveals, were just indulging in the Samoan custom of telling tall tales. They never dreamed that Mead would take them seriously.
But Mead, who had studied under the cultural determinist Franz Boas, was determined to give her mentor the research he wanted. And the liberal world wanted to believe that there was a tropical paradise devoid of Western cultural guilt about sexual matters.''
I remember years ago when I took several anthropology courses in college; I briefly considered an anthropology major until these courses disabused me of that idea. But at the time I studied anthropology, Mead's research in Samoa was still considered valid; apparently the truth had not yet been revealed. But the fact is that the liberals who dominate the anthropology field were quick to believe Mead's findings and to pass them on as gospel -- because they wanted to believe. They came with a preconceived image of 'primitive cultures' as being superior, because natural and unspoiled. They fully believed in the Rousseauian idea of the 'noble savage', of primitive tribal beings as the naive but pure children of nature.
And they particularly wanted to believe that the noble savage embodied all the things they wished for Western society, including 'free love', unbridled sexuality, polymorphous perversity, a lack of inhibitions. So they seized on Mead's research as just what was needed to preach that modern Western society needed more of the above; only thus would we be really healthy and 'integrated' people, once we were freed of our silly Christian European puritanism.
Mead, plainly and simply, was a leftist ideologue, who brought certain preconceptions to her work. She no doubt wanted, even if only unconsciously, to find certain things which would corroborate her ideology. Most often, I found this to be true among those that work in the 'social sciences'. It may be unconscious, or it may be conscious, but they bring biases and an agenda to their work.
During my feminist days, I remember that Mead was very much lionized by feminists as being a role model and a pioneer in exposing the falseness of sex roles.
The kinds of ideas she promulgated have been very influential in much of the currently pervasive liberalism:
In subsequent field work, on mainland New Guinea, she demonstrated that gender roles differed from one society to another, depending at least as much on culture as on biology, and in her work in Bali with her third husband, Gregory Bateson, she explored new ways of documenting the connection between childrearing and adult culture, and the way in which these are symbolically interwoven.
She affirmed the possibility of learning from other groups, above all by applying the knowledge she brought back from the field to issues of modern life. Thus, she insisted that human diversity is a resource, not a handicap, that all human beings have the capacity to learn from and teach each other.
In a society becoming increasingly pessimistic about the human capacity to change, she insisted on the importance of enhancing and supporting that capacity. She believed that cultural patterns of racism, warfare, and environmental exploitation were learned, and that the members of a society could work together to modify their traditions and to construct new institutions. This conviction drew her into discussions of the process of change, expressed in the slogan, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."
And we have all seen just how much a relatively small group of 'committed' liberal ideologues have managed to change the world to their liking, even despite the fact that Mead's research has been shown to be dubious at best. The fact that her Samoan informants probably lied to her and told her what she wanted to hear has not apparently fazed her supporters, or caused the anthropology world to recant their enthusiasm for the Noble Savage ideal. So what if her research is discredited, and her subjects lied or spun stories? What's the liberal word -- truthiness? The particulars may be inaccurate but the overall 'truth' is there underlying it, and besides, the ideology is what matters, not the trivial facts.
And this incident was not the last time the anthropological world was hoaxed. Another story we heard in college was about this wonderful tribe that had been discovered in the remote wilds of the Philippines, the Tasaday tribe. Our wide-eyed anthropology prof told us how these people were peaceful and childlike; they did not know war or violence. Why, they had no word for 'war'!
Later it was revealed that this tribe was not what it seemed.
According to this story, the hoax was perpetrated by a Filipino official
Now the question was, who organized this incredible hoax? All roads led to Elizalde. Some of the Tasaday came forth and admitted conspiring with him. One man gave this revealing account:
"We didn't live in caves, only near them, until we met Elizalde...Elizalde forced us to live in the caves so that we'd be better cavemen. Before he came, we lived in huts on the other side of the mountain and we farmed. We took off our clothes because Elizalde told us to do so and promised us if we looked poor that we would get assistance. He gave us money to pose as Tasaday and promised us security from counter insurgency and tribal fighting."
It became evident that Elizalde had been manipulating the Tasaday for his own personal gain.
Also, when Marcos's dictatorship ended, Elizalde was the first crony to leave the Philippines, taking with him $35 million dollars from the non-profit PANAMIN organization that he had started specifically for the Tasaday.
Elizalde ended up in Costa Rica. He squandered all the money, became addicted to drugs, and died impoverished in 1997. Instead of a hero, he is now known as the perpetrator of the greatest anthropological hoax since piltdown man.''
And this paragraph, though amusing in a sad way, shows the dilemma of the liberal anthropological world in dealing with primitive tribes:
The Tasaday Hoax led many anthropologists to reconsider how they deal with indigenous tribes. It is a situation full of dilemmas. Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief, after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, "Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us..." Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.''
So preserving these tribes in a museum-like setting, with their cultures intact, is more important than saving their lives, or helping them to improve their conditions?
This only illustrates, though it does not explain, the liberal mindset.
However, even the impulse to preserve the primitive cultures in their traditional setting is more laudatory than the current craze among the liberal do-gooders and government elites: bringing stone-age people to Western countries, where they will both encounter culture shock and engender it among their hosts, as they try to enter a 21st century culture.
The social sciences' adulation of primitive cultures, and the more primitive and 'other' the better, is at the heart of our current policy of allowing mostly Third World immigration to the West. Of course there are the cold-eyed corporate elites who want these people here for exploitation and possibly to foment discord, but hand in hand with them, in a strange alliance, are the starry-eyed academics who idolize the noble savage ideal in their minds. This latter group of people will stop at nothing in trying to remake the world to conform to their ideology-driven image of what should be. We see this partnership at work in the story about the Tasaday and the collusion between the exploitative politician and the utopian anthropologists.
Liberals, it's clear, should never be allowed near the levers of power, or attain any position of authority or influence until they have proven themselves capable of interacting with reality instead of trying, as is their wont, to conform reality to their utopian ideologies. We are now seeing, in the deteriorating society around us, the fruits of their harebrained social engineering.

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