Sunday, December 10, 2006

comparative geopolitics

The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying "this is mine" and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors might the human race have been spared by the one who, upon pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow men, "Beware of listening to this imposter; you are lost, if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth belongs to no one."
-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1754)

Colin Turnbull in the Ituri Forest, 1951, Photographer unknown, Courtesy of the Avery Research Center, everything goes well in our world. But at night when we are sleeping, sometimes things go wrong, because we are not awake to stop them from going wrong. Army ants invade the camp; leopards may come in and steal a hunting dog or even a child. If we were awake these things would not happen. So when something big goes wrong, like illness or bad hunting or death, it must be because the forest is sleeping and not looking after its children. So what do we do? We wake it up. We wake it up by singing to it, and we do this because we want it to awaken happy. Then everything will be well and good again. So when our world is going well then also we sing to the forest because we want it to share our happiness.
-- Moke, elder BaMbuti pygmy of the Ituri rainforest (Zaire), in Colin Turnbull's The Forest People: A Study of the Pygmies of the Congo (1961)

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