NOBLE SAVAGE — THE LESSON
(Investigator 130, 2010
In #128 I described how belief in the "noble savage" – the
romanticizing of primitive culture – helped institutionalize violence
in remote Aboriginal communities.
Nicolas Rothwell (2001) wrote: "This country’s remote Aboriginal
settlements have become broken sociopathic ruins … because of a culture
cult supported for the past 30 years by the nation’s policy makers."
The glorifying of indigenous culture as good and noble so that it must
be preserved is, I showed, contrary
to the Bible.
Rothwell was quoting Roger Sandall (anthropology lecturer at Sydney
University for 25 years) and his book The Culture Cult (2000).
The Culture Cult traces Western fascination with primitive
Rousseau (1712-1778) who popularized the notion of "noble savage", to
anthropologists such as Franz Boaz and Margaret Mead, and through
philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, T S Eliot and Isaiah Berlin.
These intellectuals "exalted an idealized picture of communal, tribal
cultures" and contributed to "romantic dreams running deep through the
fabric of modern philosophy, social criticism and political thought."
"Romantic Primitivism", said Sandall, had a devastating effect on
Aborigines, but "because of the mandatory silence imposed by the
culture cult, no one dares say a thing."
Sandall's book was a "bomb thrown in the face of the intelligentsia"
and politicians and publishers ignored it. But the mood changed as
child abuse, rape, petrol sniffing, drunken brawls,
property-destruction, untreated sickness, and victims silenced by
threats increasingly made news.
In 2007 the Government began intervention in remote Aboriginal
In August 2009 James Anaya, a US professor of human rights and UN
representative, criticized the intervention. He claimed that income
management and restrictions on alcohol are "discriminatory" and
"breached Australia’s international treaty obligations." (The Weekend
Australian, August 29-30, 2009, p. 16)
It's self evident, however, that the
rights of children to food,
housing, medical care and education, and the rights of women and
children to safety, have priority over any supposed rights of drunken
men to abuse and rape in the name of culture.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was
the UN General Assembly in New York in 2007. The Declaration sets out
the rights of indigenous peoples to culture, identity, language,
employment, health and education and their rights "to maintain and
strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions..."
Australia voted against the Declaration because it legitimized
practices "not acceptable in the modern world" and gave indigenous
people veto rights over a "democratically elected government."
Even the UN, however, does not endorse all cultural practice. Paul
Raffaele (1994) describes some violent and bloody examples of
Australia's ancient "payback justice", and efforts by its advocates to
revive it. He says they "must never succeed". His reason is that:
"ritual spearing, clubbing and flogging are clearly in breach of the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlaws
torture and cruel or degrading treatment or punishment."
The world's most-educated people often cannot distinguish right from
wrong, but make harmful decisions in ethics and science when they
ignore the Bible.
I've demonstrated this for decades. And if the most
brilliant are often wrong what about ordinary people? Are they as right
as they feel they are or is their rightness a delusion?
Rothwell, N. Noble Rot, The Weekend Australian, April 14-15,
Raffaele, P. Tribal Punishment The Brutal Truth, Reader’s Digest,
1994, pp 17-22.
Sandall, R. (2000) The Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other
Essays, Westview Press, USA.