Wednesday, July 05, 2006


It's always better somewhere, or sometime, else.

You remember that graffiti from Paris, 1968? Life is elsewhere. One of the saddest affirmations ever made. Not least because you are sure that the writer didn't know where elsewhere was, and would have felt the same wherever he was. Nothing else for it. Out on to the streets!

Of course, many on the streets then and since have known where elsewhere was ('elsewhere' being defined as NOT-whatever, be it capitalism, sexism, imperialism, oppression in general). Depending on where you started, it was at one of several removes. I was in Australia, so the first remove was in any non-Anglo-Saxon country since it was generally accepted that evil entered the world, not on the tongue of a snake, but on the proboscis of a WASP. At the next remove, we rid ourselves of the West, and, at the following, of all the extent of capitalism. Finally, the wide earth comprehended and found wanting, one last refuge for the eternal discontent remained: the primitive - the ancient matriarchy, the unalienated child of nature, the Edenic harmony of long-gone eons.

We all need a past that we've lost. It might as well be a good one.

It seems not.

Two billion war deaths would have occurred in the 20th century if modern societies suffered the same casualty rate as primitive peoples, according to anthropologist Lawrence H Keeley, who calculates that two-thirds of them were at war continuously, typically losing half of a percent of its population to war each year.

"... they did not take prisoners. That policy was compatible with their usual strategic goal: to exterminate the opponent's society. Captured warriors were killed on the spot, except in the case of the Iroquois, who took captives home to torture them before death, and certain tribes in Colombia, who liked to fatten prisoners before eating them."
The article is here; it moves on to reflections of a more general nature. (Via Instapundit)


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