Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 :::

AFP reports that there are still a few "uncontacted" tribes of people living in the Amazon basin. These groups of people have actually been contacted, but activist groups want legislation to protect them and their way of life.

It occurs to me that, in an earlier era, charitably minded people would have sent in missionaries to convert them, teachers to educate them, and doctors to treat their diseases. We would have provided them with clothing and perhaps even modern shelter, with conveniences like plumbing. We would have shared and/or imposed the rule of law and tried to integrate them into the rest of the world, where they could benefit from knowledge and trade -- and where we could benefit, however slightly, from their joining the community of mankind.

In the present state of Western Civilization, however, activists and governments want to make sure that these people remain isolated and their Stone Age way of life remains unchanged. They want to condemn these people to ignorance, poverty, and illness. They want to preserve them as specimens of some sort, relics of a bygone era.

This is neither Romantic nor charitable. Westerners have long celebrated the ideal of the Noble Savage, but, aside from a few cranks and certifiable lunatics, no one with access to modern conveniences and the achievements of civilization willingly abandons them. (Walden Pond, you say? Ah! But he had pen and ink and did not surrender the achievement of literacy, did he?)

Can we doubt that these poor souls in the Amazon basin would embrace literacy and medicine, were they given the option? While I will grant that the strange policy of isolation is superior to pre-modern practices of extermination or removal, it is also clearly inferior to sharing our blessings with them and welcoming them as our friends and brothers.


::: posted by Eric at 7:45 PM

I haven't read "Walden", but my understanding is that Thoreau had quite a bit more than a pencil and paper. I've heard that his mom took in his laundry during his time there.
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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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