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Hunter-Gatherers: Noble Savage or Savage Nobles

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Message Robert David Palmer

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his early writing contended that man is essentially good, a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature" (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society), and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as "artificial" and "corrupt" and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man.

Put another way, in the beginning civilized humans were hunters and gatherers, when we started wearing clothes made out of cotton, using deodorant, living in houses and using toilet paper we became savages.

The only difference between civilized "savages" and 20th century man is we used our opposing dumb to conquer Mother Earth.

The indigenous populations knew Nature was not "wild' and hostile but was a benevolent friend. Then, by a twist of organized religious dogma, many began to think humans are the greatest and most important part of creation and they saw Nature as "fallen' and sinful. Since the end of the "dark age" man has attempted to divorce himself from Nature to the detriment of all creation.

A comet was responsible for the Pleistocene extinctionsnot the Clovis hunter

[Note: The following is either summarized or taken directly from "The Woolly Mammoth and the Noble Savage", by Louis Proyect]

The characterization of the indigenous populations as being just as wasteful as a modern corporation is a popular notion among progressives and evolutionary psychologists.

The American Indians, according to this theory, are responsible for driving the bison off cliffs, killing the woolly mammoth and a number of other Pleistocene megafauna.

Paul S. Martin, geosciences professor emeritus, began writing about Pleistocene extinctions and Clovis people's sole responsibility for the "blitzkrieg" in 1967. (The Clovis were "paleo-Indians" named after the archaeological site in New Mexico where a characteristic spear point was discovered.)

Jared Diamond, wrote "The Third Chimpanze", where he embraced the Pleistocene overkill scenario with enthusiasm: Primitive man was nothing more than a marauding ape in Stanley Kubrick's "2001" who discovered that a bone can be used as a club. [1]

In chapter 17, "The Golden Age that Never Was", Diamond begins by scoffing at Rousseau's noble savage and proceeds to demonstrate that the Maori was able to "exterminate" the moa, a flightless bird, that like the mammoth did not understand that man was their enemy.

Diamond writes, "Like the naà ve animals of the Galapagos Islands today, moas were probably tame enough for a hunter to walk up to one and club it." It should be pointed out that probably is a word evolutionary psychologists often use when trying to describe events that took place centuries ago. In the absence of hard evidence (how else can it be otherwise), speculation reigns supreme.

In the next chapter Diamond turns his attention to the New World:

Among the startling discoveries about Clovis people is the speed of their spread and the rapid transformation of Clovis culture. Around 11,000 years ago Clovis points are abruptly replaced by a smaller, more finely made model now known as Folsom points (after a site near Folsom, New Mexico, where they were first identified). The Folsom points are often found associated with bones of an extinct wide-horned bison, never with the mammoths preferred by Clovis hunters"

Despite Diamond's characteristically triumphalist tone, scientists are by no means unanimous that the first hunters to emerge from the ice-free corridor at Edmonton thrived and multiplied, because they found an abundance of tame, easy-to-hunt big mammals. PBS recently aired a show that put forward a new theory, namely that a comet was responsible for the Pleistocene extinctionsnot Clovis hunter. [2]

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