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Thu Jun 29 16:40:59 MDT 1995

with Novell_GroupWise; Thu, 29 Jun 1995 16:39:05 -0600
Message-Id: <sff2d729.043 at EMAIL.STATE.UT.US>
X-Mailer: Novell GroupWise 4.1
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 16:39:34 -0600
To: marxism at
Subject:  "tribal peoples"; "we the people"; "primitive democrats"

Every anthropologically catalogued population I've heard of calls
itself "people", "true people", "real people", "the people," etc.
Everyone else is "foreigners", "devils", "barbarians", "savages"
[these have all been applied to euro-whites!!] and such, or a
descriptive term such as "black" [that's what the !Kung call the
Bantu who are indeed much darker than the !Kung], but usually it is
something pejorative.

Hence the recent anthropological trend of politely calling each tribe
by their own name for themselves, rather than what their neighbors
call them.  For instance, the Navajo are really the Dine' or Dineh,
[pronouce in Eng. dee-neh] which means? [ready for a pop quiz? you
should all know the answer...]??  "The people", of course, in the
Dineh language.  However, they are already so well known publicly by
the name Navajo that the tribe actually voted down a recent
referendum on officially changing the legal name [Navajo Nation] to
Dine'.  [I suspect that they don't want to confuse the whites, or
change all the signs and letterheads.]

There are several peoples in Africa which are known for great average
height and several known for shortness.  These differences are not
due to dietary differences.  No matter how much you feed the Aka or
Efe, they will not approach the height of the euro-descent, and none
of them will approach the Masaai and their warring but related
neighbors.  [This is put a bit simplistically, but I'm well aware of
the distribution of heights within each population, and the overlap
between populations, so go easy on me.]

How these genetic differences came to be, or what the possible
benefits might have been under which circumstances, I've never heard
an hypothesis.  Come to think of it, this could be one of those rare
situations where genetic drift, or more specifically "the founder
effect" might have played a significant role.  Today, wherever it's
been studied, it is found that people mate assortatively, i.e. short
people tend to marry short people, blonds marry blonds, talls marry
talls, etc. which would contribute to the founder effect that I am
imagining.  But, I digressed.

A great number of small-scale societies have been characterized as
"democratic" or "socialist", hence Marx' "primitive communism."  I
always find the picture more complicated than that, at least.

I think it could be an interesting and useful topic, or discussion,
to take anthro. examples and think about the ways that people resolve
conflict, allocate land and other resources between co-members, the
division of labor [how does that work, why does it happen], issues of
produce transfer [food-sharing], variation in work effort, work time
and task between people [patterned by age and sex], patriarchy,
gerontocracy, etc. with a marxian eye.  It might be a great source of
ideas to those who wish to imagine a feasible "utopia".  I mean, one
way to look at it is that every society is full of experiments and
solutions.  There are as many ways to live as there are societies or
cultures.  Some of these we might learn from, including those
students of fictional utopias.


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