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So the question I ask is this- scince Mongolia has a very relatively low population density, and much of the land is not specifically owned by any one person, does that mean that Mongolia is up for grabs? (my personal opinion is no, it is not up for grabs)

First off, Mongolia is a (very iffy) democracy, with a rule of law and some private property rights so comparing it to a collection of competing tribes is not gonna help you. You should've picked a much worse place, like Somalia or the Congo. So, if Mongolia were a collection of competing tribes (instead of what it is), or a tyrannical Empire (as it used to be):

The parts of Mongolia that are not owned (meaning in use) by someone, are up for grabs. If some settlers had the ability to put to use and military force to claim the vast unowned land in Mongolia, and then defend against Mongolian tribes or a government which would no doubt try to kill a settler who did not violate anyone's rights, and establish a free state in its place, then yes, Mongolia is absolutely up for grabs.

Why the Hell would you not want Mongolia to become a country that is free for all (including any potential settlers who would want to put to use the vast resources that are left unowned), instead of the hellhole it is now, to most of its citizens, and to any outsiders? In the name of what? The Mongolian Government's (or some tribe's) right to do whatever it wants? They have no such right, that is a right collectivists made up.

Now back to reality, and completely off the subject of the tribal, primitive Indians: Since Mongolia is a democracy, military force against their (pretty bad) government is not justified. Instead, it would be much easier for a group of new settlers to try and resolve any conflicts through negotiations and the spreading of ideas, convincing the population that can then elect a better government. Obviously, the settlers should still be ready to defend themselves (and perfectly in the right to do so) against any aggression, if talking fails. (as it did on the territory Israel is now on) The government of Mongolia (or some Arab country, in Israel's case) does not have the right to prevent strangers from claiming any land that is not used, or owned, by individuals.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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The reason that I chose Mongolia was simply because it is a nation with a low population density, and because Mongolia is a fun word to say. :lol: Canada would have worked just as well.

Your basic argument (as far as I understand) is that if an area of land is unused and unowned, it may be rightfully taken. Although, by whom may the land be taken? May it be claimed by an individual, a family, a city, or even another nation?

In your view, if there is an unused, abandoned warehouse in Toronto, may it be rightfully annexed by the United States?

Also, is that a picture of Charlie Chaplin, Hitler, or Mark Twain? Just wondering.

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Ok I've been debating with my coworkers about the native Americans. Specifically were the white men justified in running them off their land. I've argued that to run someone off of their land those being run off would have to have a concept of property rights. Does anyone disagree? I'd like to hear rational arguments not emotional appeals which is all I get at work

Here's the ammo I have stockpiled together when I was having a discussion with a Polish nationalist girl not long ago (this quote is also on that thread someone else provided a link to for you, but the two that follow it aren't) :

"They didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using . . . . What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent."

(Ayn Rand from her Address to West Point, 1974)

Thomas A. Bowden:

Before Europeans arrived, the scattered tribes occupying North America lived in abject poverty, ignorance, and superstition--not due to any racial inferiority, but because that is how all mankind starts out (Europeans included). The transfer of Western civilization to this continent was one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history, affording Indians almost effortless access to centuries of European accomplishments in philosophy, science, technology, and government. As a result, today's Indians enjoy a capacity for generating health, wealth, and happiness that their Stone Age ancestors could never have conceived.

From a historical perspective, the proper response to such a gift is not resentment but gratitude. America's policies toward the Indians were generally benign, aimed at protecting them from undeserved harm while providing significant material support and encouragement to become civilized. When those policies erred, it was usually by treating Indians collectively, as "nations" entitled to permanent occupancy of semi-sovereign reservations. Instead, Indians should have been treated as individuals deserving full and equal American citizenship in exchange for embracing individual rights, including private ownership of land.

(from this)

More from Ayn Rand from the Ayn Rand Answers book on her Q&A through the years:

They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you're a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn't know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights--they didn't have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal "cultures"--they didn't have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It's wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you're an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a "country" does not protect rights--if a group of tribesmen are the slaves of their tribal chief--why should you respect the "rights" that they don't have or respect? The same is true for a dictatorship. The citizens in it have individual rights, but the country has no rights and so anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in that country; and no individual or country can have its cake and eat it too--that is, you can't claim one should respect the "rights" of Indians, when they had no concept of rights and no respect for rights. But let's suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages--which they certainly were not. What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existnece; for their "right" to keep part of the earth untouched--to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it's great that some of them did. The racist Indians today--those who condemn America--do not respect individual rights.

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Your basic argument (as far as I understand) is that if an area of land is unused and unowned, it may be rightfully taken. Although, by whom may the land be taken? May it be claimed by an individual, a family, a city, or even another nation?
An individual has the right to claim unowned property, but specific individuals can exercise that right jointly. That right is an aspect of the individual's right to exist and survive, according to his own judgment. A government does not have such a right: its purpose is to exist solely to protect the rights of individuals.

A nation does not properly "claim ownership" of newly discovered or newly populated land, rather, the individuals living there -- in an uncivilized, frontier mode of existence -- recognize the objective benefits of a civilized society, and they form a government (they may also wish to join with an existing nation, but let's say that's not possible). Now, you have to distinguish how land claims are dealt with in the context of civilized society versus in a barbarian context. In a civilized society, you have the benefit of the rule of law, where objective procedures exist for the recognition and enforcement of your rights. So when the Tim Horton's warehouse is officially abandoned by the owners (and assuming no liens on the property), the government publishes information regarding how claims to take the property will be decided. I assume the procedure would be something like a lottery drawn from applications made within 72 hours or something like that. On the other hand, in lieu of a civilized society, or when civilization is expanding to new territory -- before a government is established -- a few hardy souls will take possession of unowned, unoccupied land, stake out their claim (make the boundaries known and definite), and defend their claim the best they can. Their first order of business should be establishing a civilization and the rule of law.

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Basically, this all boils down to: He with the most advanced weapons wins. If one encroaches upon territory already occupied, one has to hold what is taken by force of arms.

My question is: If individual rights are inherent, does that not mean that the Native Americans also had those same rights? Taking territory that is not yours by force is just that - violating the rights of one group by the initiation of force. Justifying it by couching it in terms of "they are not using the land, they have no written laws or deed, therefore I have every right to simply take it and they can suck wind" seems to be a flawed concept. Calling a group "primitive" or "savages" also seems to be a means of dehumanizing the group in order to further one's justification for displacing them. The way of life for a majority of NA nations was that of a hunter-gatherer culture, which requires large tracts of land. By no means was the land simply "empty," but rather, it was being used for a different purpose than European concepts of agriculture allowed for.

Also, the fact that there was warfare among the various NA nations does not necessarily mean that they were "savages," witness the numerous instances of religious and secular warfare between European nations, which spilled over on to this continent as well with the expansion into the New World. History well recounts many instances of barbarity and torture on the part of Europeans, such as the Albigensian crusade, the various pogroms against the Jews, the dissolution of the Templars and the witch trials.

One always assumes the superiority of one's culture over that of another, and in many ways Western Civilization has many superior tenets, But the maltreatment of a less advanced people by a superior military power and numerous broken treaties (which, constitutionally, are the law of the land) cannot, in good conscience, be justified.

Just my two cents worth as a mixed-blood Cherokee.

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Just my two cents worth as a mixed-blood Cherokee.

To build on what Maximus said, the problem I have with both Rand and Bowden's arguments on this matter is that they are historically, i.e. factually, incorrect with regards to how Native Americans lived. Especially east of the Mississippi, there were many sedentary and agricultural tribes even AFTER they were decimated by disease, and to suggest that all tribes were like the nomadic tribes of the Great Plains hunting bison from horseback is simply not true. Even west of the Mississippi, many of the tribes on the Pacific Coast had sedentary societies based around aquatic and marine foraging, and in the desert Southwest numerous permanent settlements were built, sometimes right into the cliffside. Many still exist today, vacant of course.

I think what this argument needs, in general, is a healthy reexamination of the facts and how people on both sides of the conflicts, both native and European, actually lived and what they actually did. It is not as simple as it is often made out to be on this board. That said, if it were my country, there would be no modern-day reservations and although tribes could own land together if they chose to, for example by forming a corporation, they would be encouraged to integrate with society generally as they'd be a lot better off that way. Preservation of a way of life is not guaranteed to anybody.

One other thing - to suggest that Native Americans had no technology or advanced knowledge is ludicrous. Putting the clearly advanced Mayan and Aztec civilizations aside as I believe we're focusing more on tribes found in the modern-day US and Canada, there were many things Native Americans knew that Europeans didn't that could have benefited Europeans if they'd listened. An excellent example is the way the Great Plains were settled and over-farmed, eventually culminating in the monumentally disastrous Dust Bowl (to be fair, government encouragement of rapid settling also caused the Dust Bowl). The tribes knew that the late 1800s, when everyone was rapidly gobbling up the Plains, were a period of above-average rainfall and had warned that the land was, in general, more arid than was currently the case. This turned out to be true and in reality that area is not nearly as good for farming as previously believed. Countless homesteaders were probably foreclosed on and ruined as a result.

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If individual rights are inherent, does that not mean that the Native Americans also had those same rights?
Yes, they had the same rights as any human. But there is no racial right to the generic, so by no stretch of the imagination did "the Indians" own North America. The Europeans who claimed unowned land also had the right to that land.
Taking territory that is not yours by force is just that - violating the rights of one group by the initiation of force.
True -- when in fact the land is owned by someone else. When the land is unowned and you rightfully claim it, you also have the right to defend your property. The question then is, in what instances was there proper ownership of land by particular Indians, and when was it improperly taken by force by others. This question can be asked way many times, for example you can ask whether the Hopi have a right to the land that they took from the Navajo, or whether the Iroquois have a right to land that they took from the Algonkian. Concretely, I conclude that the Lakota did not have a right to the land claimed by American settlers, and that the Cherokee did have a right to the land that they were forcibly evicted from by the US government. I conclude that the Spanish conquest of the Incas was a case of evil against evil -- a pox on both their houses. I also conclude that few if any Objectivists believe that the eviction of the Cherokee was a rightful act. And finally, it is an interesting academic-historical exercise, with zero actual contemporary relevance, but in fact as we know these claims have been perverted in contemporary politics to being a claim against the property rights of innocent Americans.
By no means was the land simply "empty," but rather, it was being used for a different purpose than European concepts of agriculture allowed for.
Well, the point is that without a well-defined notion of ownership of something specific and without an objective means of detecting such ownership, there is no basis for morally condemning a man who plants corn and wheat on land across which some other man has trodden.

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No need to go that far, most of the Western USA isn't owned by any one person.

Yeah, it's owned by "we the people." :lol: You know, offering it all up for sale could probably pay off some of our debt, if not all.

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In this debate, I must agree with themadkat and Maximus against Rand's and Bowen's misconceptions. Attempting to declare an entire hemisphere as barbarians, primitives, and savages with no conception of law or humanity is patently ludacris.

Native Americans did not live in a pristine wilderness, untouched by human hands. They actively molded and shaped their world to suit their needs, just as all other humans do. In the Pacific Northwest, due to an abundance of marine and forest sources of food, and lack of practical crops to grow, farming was rarely neccesary. In some eyes, this may be deemed primitive, but it was the best way of life they were able to build given their geography.

To claim that Western European culture was simply superior to Native culture is also a misguided, silly notion. Although some Natives believing that rocks had souls seems silly, at the same time in England, bathing was considered superflurious and it was belived that witches were casting spells on them.

Also, why did Bowen put the word nations in quotation marks? I assume it denotes sarcasm, as if he were claiming that there were no Native nations or countries, another dangerous and foolish misconception.

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To claim that Western European culture was simply superior to Native culture is also a misguided, silly notion.
Tell me about American Indian developments in philosophy, mathematics, literature, physics, economics, engineering, biology, music, politics.

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Also, why did Bowen put the word nations in quotation marks? I assume it denotes sarcasm, as if he were claiming that there were no Native nations or countries, another dangerous and foolish misconception.

Nations were developed and conceptualized in Europe, in the 18th and 19th centuries, as a result of the nationalist movements there. Before that, the idea of "nation" (which is a body of people who share a common history, language or ethnicity, culture and inhabit a particular country) would've been met by blank stares. The Indians had tribes, not nations, they had no concept of what we understand a nation to be. That of course has nothing to do with Objectivism, it is just a fact I learned back in history class.

I would guess that's why Bowen put nations in quotes. To point out that piece of history, and his opponents' lack of knowledge of it.

To claim that Western European culture was simply superior to Native culture is also a misguided, silly notion. Although some Natives believing that rocks had souls seems silly, at the same time in England, bathing was considered superflurious and it was belived that witches were casting spells on them.

If that's your best attempt at comparing the two cultures, there really is no way for us to explain the difference to you. But I assume it's not, you're instead being dishonest.

So, instead of you coming up with descriptions of both cultures and comparing them (you obviously can't do that objectively), let's turn this into a nice contest, the kind kids like to play. I'll bring stuff the West achieved, and you bring up something your side achieved in response, or point out any one of the things I mentioned, if your guys also achieved it:

In the 19th century, the West was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, and less than a century later it had sent people to the Moon.

At the same time, the Europeans who came into conflict with the American natives established a nation that was the first to value the individual and protect his freedom above all else, and lead the World to the following:

Westerners have a life expectancy of 80 or so years, and have cures for many diseases Indians thought were punishment from gods or spirits.

We live in a society of rights, where you are free to hold any religion or be an atheist, express any views, have any kind of sex you wish to have, marry anyone you want and divorce them at any time.

We understand the origin of our planet, the solar system, the Milky Way and the entire visible Universe. We have mapped the human genom and split the atom. The list is endless.

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If there were a super free society and it invaded America, I think I would welcome it today, because then we would end up much freer and more prosperous.

I think the Indians were in the same boat, only much more pronounced.

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Mr. Ellison- a tribe, as a political entity, (I will use the definitions used by Jared Diamond, in his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel", which I highly recommend you read) is a group of a few to several hundred people living in one or more fixed settlements sharing a common language, history, religion, and relation, while lacking in a central government, bureaucracy, and formal political offices. Non-tribal Native American nations and countries include, but are not limited to, the Haudenosaunee Confederation (Iroquois), who have the worlds second oldest continually functioning parliament in the world (after the Althing of Iceland), the Wampanoag Confederation, the Aztecs, the Inca, the various Mayan kingdoms, the Cherokee (their first unified, central government came about in 1794), etc. They existed. Just a fact I learned in my history classes and from reading.

No, I was not comparing them. I was simply pointing out fun facts about 16th and 17th century England. I happen to enjoy fun facts.

So, instead of you coming up with rather rude insults and writing in a condescending manner, let us turn this into a nice conversation, the kind kids and adults both enjoy. I'll talk like a human being with a functioning brain, and invite you do the same. For example- I would say "Have you ever read the book 'Guns, Germs, and Steel'?" to which you would respond "Yes, I have" or "No, I have not" or something of the like.

The Industrial Revolution, NASA, Human Genome Project (genome has an "e") and the other wonderful testaments to our modern technological advancement that you mentioned, came about through European advantages in geography/ after European-American supremacy in the world. For example- Euorpe is home to swine, cattle, horses, oxen, and a host of other large, domesticated animals. The Americas had the llama, turkey, dog, and guinea pig. Due to the Euorpean habit of living in close proximity to livestock, diseases jumped from animals to humans. Over time, each generation became more and more resistant to the diseases, whilist the Natives had no cantact with European livestock and thus had no immunity.

I thought that the Athenian Assembly (a direct democracy) was the first to value the individual and protect his/her freedom above all else, many centuries before the Declaration was written.

Westerners also have a cure for Ergotism, which many Europeans thoght was spells cast by witches. Salem, anyone?

By the way, you never did answer my question about your picture.

Mr. Thales- Which super-free European society were you refering to? Oliver Cromwell's military dictatorship of Irish massacre fame? The monarchies of France or Spain? Or perhaps the Russian feudal system?

Mr. Odden- A long question, but I'll do my best to answer it.

Philosophy- a book called "American Indian Thought: Philisophical Essays". I have not read the book, but I assume that it is a collection of essays by Native philosophers.

Mathematics- the Mayan calendar and independent invention and use of zero demonstrates a deep understanding of mathematics.

Literature- Many Native myths and legends hve great literary merit. The Sauk chief Blackhawk, along with many others, published autobiographies. There is a Native American Authors Project online, listing writers and playwrights.

Physics- There is a book by F. David Peat called "Blackfoot Physics". I have never read it, but I assume it has someting to do with the topic.

Economics- Many Native cultures used currency, such as the Iroquios wampum.

Engineering- Mexico's Pyrimid of the Sun and Serpent Mound in Ohio are great feats of engineering.

Music- The Navajo had complex music, often making use of repetition (similar to the Gregorian chant) and wide ranges in pitch.

Politics- As I stated above, the Iroquois have the second oldest running parliament. Many groups, such as the Cherokee, elect their own government. Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) is a member of the Chickasaw nation. Former Vice President Charles Curtis was 1/8th Osage. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D/R-CO) served in the U.S Senate.

Also, there are bound to be modern people of Native ancestry holding degrees in the aforementioned subjects.

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Also, there are bound to be modern people of Native ancestry holding degrees in the aforementioned subjects.
So to summarize your replies, then you agree with me that Western European culture was, simply, superior to Native culture, and that this is a fact about the culture and not a genetic fact about the people? Good: that is what we have said all along. Because you'll notice that the modern people of Native ancestry holding degrees in the aforementioned subjects, etc., adopted Western culture which then led them to realize their potential.

A comparison of Indian and Western culture is supposed to explicitly compare for example the works of Shakespeare or Homer with the works of the greatest Indian "authors". In comparing Mayan mathematics, you need to compare their achievements with Western achievements. Who are the economic theoreticians that rival Adam Smith? In what sense is the Serpent Mound comparable to the Roman Aquaducts or any classical European cathedral as a work of engineering?

The idea that Indian culture was even comparable to Western culture is, to use your own words, a silly, misguided notion. "Fun facts" are evil, and I hope you abandon their use quickly. "Fun facts" are based on a denial of man's nature, to use logic. We don't operate at the perceptual level, accumulating a set of disjoint and uninvestigated "fun facts" which magically give us knowledge. So don't claim that there were any Indian philosophers without verifying that they were operating in Indian culture, not Western culture. Evaluate these claims you're making: take personal responsibility.

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By the way, you never did answer my question about your picture.

It's Chaplin.

You're continuing to ignore what the concept nation means, even though I pointed out when and where it originated, and are instead playing word games with it. And you're refusing to play the game you initiated, by calling the idea of superior European culture silly, and bringing up some old English superstition. Go ahead, what achievements did the Indians have that rival those of the West?

And no, the Athenian Democracy did not value individual freedom above all else, the American Republic was the first to do that. Democracy and freedom are not one and the same.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Mr. Thales- Which super-free European society were you refering to? Oliver Cromwell's military dictatorship of Irish massacre fame? The monarchies of France or Spain? Or perhaps the Russian feudal system?

I didn't say there was a super free society then. I said that if there were a super free society today, I wouldn't mind it taking over America, because we are headed toward dictatorship now. The Indians were in a comparable situation.

The Indians were primitive and barbaric and the West brought to them a far, far more advanced civilization, which propelled them to much greater heights. That is an awesomely good thing. It's a massive improvement. Europeans at their worst were as bad as anyone, but at their best they were far and away the best.

If not for the West, today the Indians would still be living as savages.

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I didn't say there was a super free society then. I said that if there were a super free society today, I wouldn't mind it taking over America, because we are headed toward dictatorship now. The Indians were in a comparable situation.

The Indians were primitive and barbaric and the West brought to them a far, far more advanced civilization, which propelled them to much greater heights. That is an awesomely good thing. It's a massive improvement. Europeans at their worst were as bad as anyone, but at their best they were far and away the best.

If not for the West, today the Indians would still be living as savages.

This may be part of the disagreement in perspective, then. To your point, Thales, if someone were to invade America today, regardless of who it is or what their motives are, I would fight them to the death, taking up a rifle on a rooftop if I had to. This is my home and I intend to protect it from any foreign invader, regardless of how "well-intentioned" they are. I suspect many other people, in many nations around the world, would and do make this choice as well. Now, in an extreme dictatorship I might question that logic, but in any country with even a modicum of freedom I do not think it is irrational to repel a military invader at the risk of your own death.

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This may be part of the disagreement in perspective, then. To your point, Thales, if someone were to invade America today, regardless of who it is or what their motives are, I would fight them to the death, taking up a rifle on a rooftop if I had to. This is my home and I intend to protect it from any foreign invader, regardless of how "well-intentioned" they are. I suspect many other people, in many nations around the world, would and do make this choice as well. Now, in an extreme dictatorship I might question that logic, but in any country with even a modicum of freedom I do not think it is irrational to repel a military invader at the risk of your own death.

Let me rephrase my point. If we were in a dictatorship, then I would invite such an invasion. Now, in truth, I don't think a super free country would invade America today. I would definitely move to such a country, however!

If you are much freer, then life to you and those you love is much more possible.

Anyway, my point was to analogize between what the Indians face and what we face in order to concretize the values that are at stake.

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Mr. Thales- could you please explain to me how Native Americans were headed to a dictatorship/ comparable situation? Please define "primitive", "barbaric", and "savages", and explain to me how an entire hemispere of people can be catagorized like insects as displaying these qualities. Your definitions are surely different than mine, and I am very interested.

If Europeans had not made contact with the Americas, do you truly believe that in over five centuries, no developments could have been made?

Since Natives are from the Western Hemisphere, shouldn't your use of the word 'West' include them, or were you simply refering to the European-Unites States-Canadian sphere of influence and culture?

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Mr. Thales- could you please explain to me how Native Americans were headed to a dictatorship/ comparable situation? Please define "primitive", "barbaric", and "savages", and explain to me how an entire hemispere of people can be catagorized like insects as displaying these qualities. Your definitions are surely different than mine, and I am very interested.

The term “insects” is absurd. Men aren’t insects, but they can be tribalistic and savage.

Second, the Native Americans were not "headed to a dictatorship". They lived lives on the tribalistic level. They were primitive. This is how all men started out. Living a tribalisitic, superstitious existence is not a good life. I'd MUCH rather live in American than in a tribalistic Indian society. This is what any rational human being would prefer.

Now, it amazes me how little you understand just how awesomely more advanced the West was. If you don't know that, then you have been terribly mis-educated and you don't appreciate what had been achieved in the West.

Mankind has been around for about 90,000 years as home sapiens, sapiens, and much longer than that if you consider prior ancestors. Men didn't start to really advance much until four or five thousand years ago. That's a very small chunk of those 90,000 years. Then 2,500+ years ago you had the Greeks. The American Indians weren't any where near as advanced as the ancient Greeks and who the hell knows when things would have changed. So, it is a near certainty that the Indians would still be barbaric tribes roaming the wilderness today, and they would be for who knows how many thousands of years.

Think about that, for 85,000 years all of mankind were roaming around like savages. Thank goodness we’re out of that mess.

If Europeans had not made contact with the Americas, do you truly believe that in over five centuries, no developments could have been made?

Ah, yeah. Innovation in tribal societies is insanely slow, because they aren't real world oriented. It gets back to epistemology.

A society is civilized to the extent it is rational and observes the rights of men (implicitly or explicitly.)

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If Europeans had not made contact with the Americas, do you truly believe that in over five centuries, no developments could have been made?
The only possibility would have rested on the Olmec / Maya tradition which had some of the technical prerequisites for advanced civilization (some form of writing, a system of government), and it is certainly not possible that any actually advanced culture could have developed from that, given their brutality which far exceeds anything in the West for millenia.

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DaveOdden- I am utterly and competely baffled when you say that Fun Facts are evil. When I say "Fun Fact" I am talking about a tidbit of information that I happen to find interesting and/or amusing, and I am not at all saying they operate by magic. And no, when I state a fact like the fact that many modern Natives hold degrees, I am not saying that one culture is superior to another. Modern Naive American culture has adapted to the modern world, not completely assimilated by Western culture.

You stated that the Olmec/Maya tradition was the only Native culture that could have developed. And the Inca or Iroquois culures couldn't? A system of government isn't a prerequisite for an advanced society, it is a hallmark. You seemed to imply that the Native cultures were inherently more brutal than any European culture, until relatively recently. Well, I suppose that the Roman practice of decimation (one-tenth of an army dies) wasn't that brutal. Also, Socrates regularly drank hemlock smoothies, and the Spartan practice of killing any deformed, weak, or bodily imperfect infants (usually by cliff tossing) was only a fun game. Each human has the capabilities to be cruel and brutal.

How many Native Homers were lost to plague?

Jake Ellison- Thank you for answering my picture question. I never said that democracy and freedom were one and the same. I am, however, confused by what you said, since you implied that I was simulaneously playing word games and refusing to play them. Could you please elaborate for me? The Pyrimid of the Sun in Mexico, in my opinion, rivals the magnificent Notre Dame cathedral. I am not saying that it is superior, but merely that they are both great engineering feats of the human race.

Thales- I understand completely that humans are different from insects. I employed the use of a simile (comparing two things using the words 'like' or 'as'). I was not comparing humans and insects, but rather, I was merely musing on the striking similarities between your casual classification of a whole hemisphere of people as primitive savages, and the way that a taxonomist might classify butterflies into species and subspecies. I am not disparaging the fine field of taxonomy, nor am I suggesting that I believe that you are a taxonomist, unless that is actually your occupation.

In an earlier post you said that the United States is headed twords dictatorship, and that the Native Americans were in a comparable situation, and I was wondering if you could elaborate.

Now, it amazes me as to how little manners you have/ how little you know about the topic at hand, since despite an earlier answer of mine to Jake Ellison describing several Native countries (not mere tribes), you continue to say that they were "tribes roaming the wilderness", as if repeating it makes it true.

Yes, I do understand how advanced the West is, as evidenced by my use of this computer.

The Aztecs built temples on a scale that rivaled those of Greece, and the Inca built a road network that rivals that of Rome.

Edited by Peripeteia

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I am utterly and competely baffled when you say that Fun Facts are evil. When I say "Fun Fact" I am talking about a tidbit of information that I happen to find interesting and/or amusing, and I am not at all saying they operate by magic.
I understand that. I'm talking about a serious cultural problem, which is actually responsible for a serious political problems, namely the destruction of rational epistemology. Man survives by forming a rationally-based understanding of reality, which means having a constantly active and focused mind. Fun Facts trivializes knowledge and the nature of reasoning. I'm not criticising you for your appeal to Fun Facts, I'm telling you that as you develop your skills at reasoning, you must abandon Fun Facts in favor of a purposive, integrated and non-contradictory knowledge of the universe. Fun Facts will have to give way to serious use of reason.
And no, when I state a fact like the fact that many modern Natives hold degrees, I am not saying that one culture is superior to another. Modern Naive American culture has adapted to the modern world, not completely assimilated by Western culture.
Well, my point is that Indian culture is, factually, inferior to Western culture, and that the only way that there can be advanced philosophers, physicists, politicians or doctors who are ancestorally Indian is if they adopt western cultural principles. I'm not saying that Indians are evil for not having discovered capitalism, steel, formal mathematics, the screw; I'm saying that it's sad but a predictable result.
You stated that the Olmec/Maya tradition was the only Native culture that could have developed. And the Inca or Iroquois culures couldn't?
No, since neither developed any system of writing, which is a prerequisite for any serous advanced culture.
You seemed to imply that the Native cultures were inherently more brutal than any European culture, until relatively recently.
That was a comment about the Maya culture (also the Aztec but who cares). It is not an inherent fact, it is an objective fact. I would say that the Salishan culture was comparable to generic western European culture of the 15th century. So let's pay attention to whay I actually said. I was explaining why the Mayan culture could not have resulted in anything approximating average medieval European cultures. You have lost perspective on history: the level of brutality in Mayan culture was many orders of magnitude greater than that of any Western culture (excluding Hitler and Stalin, who were good matches for the Maya brutes).

In fact, the Aztecs did not build temples that rivaled those of Greece. The Aztecs built temples that rivaled those of ancient Persia.

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DaveOdden- Would you care to start a Fun Fact debate with me? I would really like to elaborate.

Your use of the word 'inferior' is vague. Terms such as 'inferior' and 'superior' are opinions. What exactly about Native culture do you find inferior, and at what time period are you refering to?

Couldn't someone of Native ancestry become a philosopher or politician through their own cultural principles? There were plenty of Native philosophers and politicians (keeping in mind that my use of 'politicians' means anyone involved in politics and/or government). And couldn't Native philosophers and politicians have come about through adopting, say, Japanese, Chinese or Korean cultural principles?

It is true that the Inca did not use writing. However, instead of storing information through symbols on paper or stone, they stored information on strings and knots. In my opinion, this is, in someways, superior to the Western book. If a book gets wet, the paper is ruined, but a quipu gets wet, it is not. And how is writing necessary to an advanced culture? What is your definition of advanced?

How coud the Mayans not have approximated that of Europe in the Middle Ages?

How were the Mayans brutal to the point that no European could match them save for Hitler and Stalin? I have never heard of Mayan acts of trying to wipe out an entire race of people. Yes, they fought brutal, frequent wars with each other, but so did the Greeks, and just about every other group of city-states. Cesare Borgia seemed pretty brutal.

My definition and use of 'rivaled' is probably different from yours, but now that I think about it, Mayan architecture seems closer to Persian than Greek architecture, although I think that in terms of basic design, Sumerian or Babylonian architecture seems even closer.

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Your use of the word 'inferior' is vague. Terms such as 'inferior' and 'superior' are opinions.
They are judgments, of the facts. "Superior" is a positive term, "inferior" is a negative term. I see no vagueness.
What exactly about Native culture do you find inferior, and at what time period are you refering to?
All aspects and all times, up to the point at which Indian culture ceased to exist (having morphed into Indianized Western culture). That would be the 17th century for the East Coast, and the 19th century for the West Coast -- and the modern era for parts of Amazonia.
Couldn't someone of Native ancestry become a philosopher or politician through their own cultural principles?
I don't see any evidence that this is possible. Clearly there is no way that they could have developed even a comparable system of philosophy, given that they were 2500 years behind the West. All advanced cultural developments require writing.
And couldn't Native philosophers and politicians have come about through adopting, say, Japanese, Chinese or Korean cultural principles?
Or, simply, genetic Indians could abandon Indian culture in favor of western culture, and study Aristotle and Locke. Which a number have done, by exercising their ability to judge and recognize objective value.
If a book gets wet, the paper is ruined, but a quipu gets wet, it is not.
How about if you tie your last post into a kipu and send it to me for me to read? There is no evidence that the kipu was a general-purpose method of language representation.
And how is writing necessary to an advanced culture?
Writing enables a culture to preserve multiple values in a very compact form, for ease of dissemination. It is an tool essential to developing a hierarchy which is still grounded in perceptual facts -- you can report an experiment and present a theory of what caused the results, so that others can see and judge your work. At any time of day.

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