World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday’ racist

January 30, 2013

Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday’ slammed by Survival

Tribal rights organization Survival International has launched a vigorous critique of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?’, labelling it ‘dangerous nonsense,’ which, if believed, risks ‘pushing the advancement of human rights for tribal peoples back decades.’

In an article published by the US publication Daily Beast entitled ‘Savaging Primitives: Why Jared Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday” is completely wrong’, Survival’s Director Stephen Corry attacks two of Diamond’s main messages: that today’s tribal peoples are a model of how everyone lived until a few thousand years ago (in a ‘world until yesterday’); and that tribal societies are more violent than industrialized societies.

Diamond argues that tribal peoples (he calls them ‘traditional societies’), while partly modified by contact, are best thought of as living more or less like humankind did until the ‘earliest origins of agriculture around 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent’. But the idea that today’s tribal peoples live anything like humankind’s ancestors has been contested by many scientists. Like all societies, tribal societies change constantly in order to survive, and are just as much part of the 21st Century and ‘modern’ as everyone else.

Diamond argues further that tribal societies are considerably more violent than industrialized societies and that ‘most small-scale societies [are] trapped in… warfare’. His conclusions advocate the imposition of state governments, stating that ‘the biggest advantage of state government is the bringing of peace’.

But Corry questions the validity of Diamond’s data and concludes that the idea that tribal societies are more violent than industrialized ones is ‘dangerous nonsense’, and his conclusions akin to colonial ideas of ‘pacifying savages’.

Not only is Diamond’s argument based heavily on the work of a few anthropologists such as the widely discredited Napoleon Chagnon, it is the imposition of nation states which kills, rather than saves, tribal peoples. While most of Diamond’s research findings stem from his time in New Guinea, he ignores, for example, that the Indonesian invasion and occupation of the Western part of the island (by the Indonesian state government) has been responsible for an estimated 100,000 killings of Papuan tribal people.

While Diamond does not label tribal peoples ‘primitive’ or ‘savages’, some of his reviewers do. The British Sunday Times and American Wall Street Journal happily talk about what can be learnt from ‘primitive’ tribes and Germany’s popular Stern magazine splashed ‘savages’ in large letters over its pages when describing the book.

Stephen Corry writes, ‘The principal cause of the destruction of tribal peoples is the imposition of nation states. This does not save them; it kills them. Were those of Diamond’s persuasion to be widely believed, they risk pushing the advancement of human rights for tribal peoples back decades. Yesterday’s world repeated tomorrow? I hope not.’

Note: Napoleon Chagnon’s ethnography ‘Yanomamö: The Fierce People’ argues that the Yanomami are ‘sly, aggressive, and intimidating’ and engaged in ‘chronic warfare’. This has been widely discredited.

Survival International helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Founded 1969.

www.survivalinternational.org/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Palestine: Border Police Extremely Close When They Shot The US Activist

New testimony at final hearing in Tristan Anderson's trial indicates Border Police were extremely close when they shot the US activist in the head More>>

Palestine: Ni’lin Demonstrators Met With Violence

International Solidarity Movement On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep ... More>>

ALSO:

UN Envoy Says Yemen On 'Rapid Downward Spiral'

Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned today as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition. More>>


Continued International Support As Vanuatu Recovers

Damage seen on Saturday 14 March 2015 in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, after Cyclone Pam moved through the Archipelago. Photo: UNICEF Pacific More>>

UNICEF Rushes Emergency Supplies For Cyclone-Affected Tuvalu

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in Tuvalu as part of its efforts to assist communities in the Pacific region that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam, with nutrition and hygiene kits arriving today. More>>

Vanuatu: Regenvanu Expects 50% Of People Struck By Pam To Be Homeless

Vanuatu Minister of Lands Ralph Regenvanu says more than 50 percent of those hit by super Cyclone Pam at the weekend are now homeless. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news