Primitives & Savages – It’s All Culturally Relative Right?

A Different Sort Of Savagery

Marriage Among The Australian Aborigines – 1870

19th Century Australian Marriage Ceremony

We see that marriage by capture, either as a stern reality or as an important ceremony, prevails in Australia and among the Malays, in Hindostan, Central Asia, Siberia, and Kamskatka; among the Esquimaux, the Northern Redskins, the Aborigines of Brazil, in Chile and Tierra del Fuego, in the Pacific Islands, both among the Polynesians and the Fijians, in the Philippines, among the Arabs and Negroes, in Circassia, and, until recently, throughout a great part of Europe.

In Australia little real affection exists between husbands and wives, and young men value a wife principally for her services as a slave. In fact, when asked why they are anxious to obtain wives, their usual reply is, that they “may get wood, water, and food for them, and carry whatever property they possess.”

The position of women in Australia seems indeed to be wretched in the extreme. They are treated with the utmost brutality, beaten and speared in the limbs on the most trivial provocation. Few women, says Eyre, will be found, upon examination, to be free from frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman who, from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds. If at all good-looking their position is, if possible, even worse than otherwise.

Excerpt and illustration taken from:

The Origin of Civilisation And The Primitive Condition Of Man – Mental and Social Condition Of Savages by Sir John Lubbock, Member Parliament, Baronet, Fellow of the Royal Society. Author of Prehistoric Times, etc. Vice President of the Ethnological Society, Fellow of the Linnean, Geological and Entomological And Other Societies. London: Longmans Green and Co. 1870

You have just read  a small sample of historic inhumanity not unique to Australia. Europe, Asia and the America’s furnish abundant examples of similar behavior in uncivilized societies.

The frightening aspect of this, is that the reality of cultural relativism has been conveniently forgotten.

You can blame that on today’s under-educated masses. They are taught that every culture and civilization has merit based upon the context from which they derived. It goes without saying that primitive society inhabitants were moral, noble and just throughout the world.

That is not true.

Actually reading history books might startle and horrify the snowflake generation.

Savage (dated, offensive)

Prior to industrialization, a fair portion of the world was filled with actual savages. Yes, it is politically incorrect to say that. Pity the person who reminds us of the past or calls any group of people savages. The dictionary defines savage in this context as- dated, offensive: a member of a people regarded as primitive and uncivilized.

Bringing up historic perspectives risks stamping the chronicler as racist. Sir John Lubbock, his ilk and myself are all at risk here. But many primitive populations lived in ways that according to modern sensibilities would be considered uncivilized, abhorrent and inhumane by all standards. That is unless one considers human sacrifice or cannibalism as a proper civil function; not the act of savages.

Before being supposedly tainted by Europeans and colonization, many parts of the world already held barbaric customs, rites and ways of life. Not that Europeans didn’t commit atrocities as well.

The story of mankind, an oxymoron if there ever was one, is warfare and conquering.  Since prehistoric times slavery has flourished in communities all over the world. Throughout history women and children within their social order have possessed few or no rights.

Has much changed?

Not really. All over the world mankind still exhibits its savagery in practicing new forms of cruelty. Even in allegedly “civilized” countries. The weapons have evolved, not the people.

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