Wednesday, October 17, 2007

like no others


After Captain James Cook first sailed into Botany Bay in Australia, he noted his impressions of the Aborigines he encountered. Apparently most hardly paid any attention to the large and strange ship sailing into the bay. He wrote in his journal: "They may appear to be the most wretched people on earth, but in reality they are far happier than we Europeans. They live in a tranquility which is not disturbed by the inequality of condition: the earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary for life...they seemed to set no value upon anything we gave them, nor would they ever part with anything of their own...All they seem'd to want was for us to be gone." If only all those to settle Australia shared Cook's sensibilities.

Perhaps these Aborigines somehow knew what their destiny would be with the arrival of the white man, and they generally ignored the strangers in the hope they would become disinterested and simply leave. But of course that's not how it worked out - ahead was disease, intentional poisonings, mass slaughter, hunting for sport, and cold-blooded murder (among other atrocities). The Aborigines were to be treated as subhuman, and at least on Tasmania, would be completely eradicated in a matter of decades. What's remarkable about these native people is just about everything. They lived almost as anarchists, typically with no chiefs or governing councils, possessed very little sense of property, had no clearly traceable ancestry to other people of Australasia, and were full of mysterious and unique traditions. We don't even know exactly how and when they came to Australia. It is almost as if they came from another planet...

5 comments:

Foulweather... said...

"They lived almost as anarchists, typically with no chiefs or governing councils, possessed very little sense of property..."

This is an increasingly relevant discussion within the anarchist milieu. More and more anti-authoritarians are beginging to realize that a non-hierarchal, mutually cooperative yet-ecologically sound 'society' can only exist in this primitive form. We have so much to learn from the aboriginals and indigenous peoples the world over. I only hope we can, before we destroy their cultures further.

Thanks for bringing up this discussion. Now let's throw the computers out the window and learn how to hunt wild beasts with boomarangs!

Gazelle said...

Not a day goes by where I don't think about throwing the computer out the window and starting a life more connected to the natural world. Few of us would even know how to stay alive and healthy in our respective wild environments. Sad, really.

When I first saw the film "The Gods Must Be Crazy" I used to daydream about living the life of a Kalahari Bushman. Apparently they spend on average around 2-3 hours per day on subsistence activity and the rest is spent with children and family. That sounds far preferable to our current set up...

nm said...

Excellent pic.

I too have contemplated pitching the ol' Dell.......one of these days.

ras said...

Good read Gaz. I keep coming head on with the fact that we are just plain over populted. Unless a whole heap of us dies, there's no way we could return to that life -a life without farming or specialization -a life where you'd know how to do a little of everything instead of becoming the master one task. Did you ever read Walden Teo by BF Skinner?

Gazelle said...

Ras - you're right, I'm afraid. We are too overpopulated for everyone to participate in this kind of life. But the Walden Two/commune idea is intriguing. I need to read the book. Apparently it inspired a few experiments in community that are ongoing.

My intuition tells me that the planet and humans will survive our lifetimes, but I often wonder how much longer this increasing absurdity can continue...