Saturday, August 15, 2009

186. An Overwhelming Question -- Part 5

So, leaving aside the question of bows and arrows, let's ask a few questions that go more deeply into the nature of the human psyche. And let's start with something very simple: is it reasonable to characterize BaAka pygmy society as, in the words of Alan Lomax, "[sexually] complementary, chiefless, egalitarian, and pacifist, [with] men and women, old and young, . . . linked in close interdependence by preference and not by force. . . "? All the evidence, including the testimony of Kisliuk herself, in the face of her own deep-seated skepticism, as well as Barry Hewlett, who can hardly be dismissed as a "romantic," would seem to indicate that indeed they are. Next question: can the same be said of the Mbuti pygmies? Given Kisliuk's corroboration, in spite of herself, on almost every point, of Colin Turnbull's supposedly "romantic" view of Mbuti culture, our answer would, once again, have to be: yes.

Next question: can the same be said of the bushmen groups described by Richard Lee, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and William L. Ury, as referenced in my earlier post? While the history of such groups, and their identity as "authentic" indigenes, has been bitterly disputed by the revisionists of the "Great Kalahari Debate," there is no reason to dispute the testimony of so many independent observers who have thoroughly studied contemporary bushmen groups at first hand over a great many years. While their history and their identity may be in dispute, there is no dispute regarding their behavior over the last one hundred years or so. The answer, in this case too, must also be: yes.

So, therefore: on the basis of what we know about the striking commonalities in behavior and values of representatives of the three groups carrying what appear to be the oldest and deepest lineages of any contemporary populations, is it reasonable to conclude that their common ancestors (which, according to the Out of Africa model, would have been the common ancestors of every human now living) shared essentially the same culture? If the answer is yes, then, finally, we would be in a position to seek, with some degree of confidence, an answer to the most overwhelming question of all:

(to be continued . . .)

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