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How does anthropology relate to anarchism?

+4 votes
Is your anarchism informed by anthropology? Does the past matter at all? Does your conception of anarchy rely on well researched studies of historical anti-authoritarian cultures?  Does anthropology limit our vision of the future (if the future matters to you)?

Sorry, this is jumbled, I'm just trying to throw some starter questions out there

The fact that humans have lived without all of the bullshit we live with today, for much, much longer than we have with it, is pretty powerful to me. It sort of urges me on, looking to build those old relationships again, but it also unnerves me, that I'm looking for some lost perfection (of course, not total perfection) only accessible through papers and articles. I suppose that's what happens, when something is lost. You have to find it..
asked Sep 12, 2014 by formyinformation (2,500 points)
Is there some vein of utopianism that runs through some schools of anthropology/-gists?  That 'lost perfection', or at least the delusion of living 'in harmony with nature'?
I say 'some schools' because others seemed to revel in telling us how backward indigenous peoples were and that if our ancestors hadn't exterminated them, then they would've died out on their own.  (The specific arguments may be more subtle, but they don't amount to much more than that shite.)

What anthopology feeds (to my thought) is the idea that there _is_ something _else_.  The two things that nourish our irrational Hope, are sci-fi utopias/distopias, and anthropological narratives.  The sci-fi is pretty but dances amongst moon-beams and pixie dust, the anthro may be just as delusional but it is rooted in bones and ashes.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Lol. timely question...

i would say that anthropology is the most seductive of the social sciences, but also the worst of them. Seductive for the exact reasons that you mention -- we all desperately want proof that another way is possible, and examples of what those other ways are.

there are two problems i see with anthropology.
one is that because it is an actual field in this culture (ie people want it to be valid, want to make money from it, will argue for its truth), it's easy to get sucked in to thinking that the stories we hear through it (filtered through *so many* layers of interpretation, from cultural to material to linguistic, etc) are true.
the other is that it has been an active agent in domesticating the world (whether it intended to be or not); it has been the main social science involved with defining/explaining/reifying the Other. it has moved away from that and more into sociology and philosophy, but that doesn't negate (to me), that when it is anthropology, it does ill.

not sure if that's clear anywhere but in my head. feel free to ask questions if something is overly opaque.
answered Sep 12, 2014 by dot (50,590 points)
edited Sep 15, 2014 by dot
lantz: " if absolute truth is viewed as the concrete workings of the natural world around us, science is the best way to uncover that truth to the most accurate degree."

Best way according to whom? Obviously, to you, according to the standards set by Western civilization's mechanistic view of the world, since, 'best way' ('logic,' science,' academia') seems exclusive of those lifeways which did not, nor do now, exhibit those qualities you hold so dear.

lantz: "The question is how much truth each perspective has in relation to the natural world. "

Perspective is nothing but natural, lantz. Yet, you desire to relate each perspective to something non-perspectival ('nature,' 'truth,' 'objectivity), or if it is perspectival than it's *agreed* upon beforehand what *should* constitute 'truth.'  But, you've told us truth is different/better than opinion, although such an agreement would be an opinion, eh? That's the problem here.

Again, define truth for us, because you are talking in circles. How are the axioms used to define truth, true?
Ok, you got me there. "Best" isn't a verifiable term. However, science is consistently the most accurate and reliable way of uncovering the truth in nature, because it tests all of its data and statements against nature.

Nature is truth. Perspective is natural, that is why there is truth to be found in every perspective. However, the only part of a perspective that can be evaluated for truth is that which can be measured in relation to the rest of nature. I would argue that the other aspects of perspective, such as religion and other beliefs, are not true, or false, or even opinion (though that is where they would normally belong), but rather part of the identity, the framework that focuses the perspective.

Oh, and I should add, before someone assumes it, I am NOT saying that science is the only means of acquiring true knowledge. Only that science is the primary means of acquiring testable and verifiable knowledge, which is truth (the difference between truth and true knowledge is that truth has been tested in relation to nature and shown to not be false).
[this is way way off-topic, but...]
Dot:
Sand? Sand?  The only bloody sand in this country is in the gravel ridges the glaciers coughed up.  We've ten inches of blackish dirt and then a couple hundred feet of yellow clay - good for bricks but little else.  Our spring was so wet i had to dig trenches to try and save the trees in our (nascent) community orchard - one shovel of dirt, two shovels of clay, then eight shovels to dig my boots out of the bloody muck enough to take a step back and start over.
Sand.  Ha!
that is such a more anarchist maxim: when life gives you clay, make bricks.
excellent!  ;)
well, we have to have something to throw!  :P

(I really have to weave a sling for next spring.)
...