Friday, November 27, 2009


The Pursuit of Progress

A recurring tool of justification for making war on third and fourth world societies is the promotion of backward practices of tribal peoples toward women. Sometimes the assertions are true, sometimes they are not, but mostly they reflect an arrogance of the first world based largely on ignorance of either history or politics. At worst, the accusations are part of a pattern of psychological warfare aimed at undermining third world independence and fourth world sovereignty.

In critiquing the fourth world, one has to be careful not to create the impression that patriarchal traditions are a customary practice of all indigenous peoples, or that because of gender role practices assumed to be backward by modern states, that indigenous systems of law and order are justifiably abolished in the pursuit of progress. Indigenous societies have not been untouched by the prejudices of colonial powers, any more than they have by corporate invasions. While, like us, they have their problems, they did not create such things as global warming or nuclear war. As such, a little humility on our part might be warranted when criticizing them.

Still, when we read about gender discrimination in tribal societies or indigenous cultures somewhere in the world, it is good to first ask ourselves how much we really understand about their world, and whether the news outlet we obtain this information from is a reliable and knowledgeable source on the subject. Chances are that our education and media integrity will also be found lacking.


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