Future of remote tribes/others

  1. I know about some in South America, Australia, Middle East, Asia, and North America.

    It looks like in most cases, they are coming under extreme pressure to integrate into developed societies (e.g. Australia and N.A) and also are subject to discrimination (Australia for sure) and low life styles.

    If they and their culture should be left alone or if their culture will/should survive?

    P.S. I was reading about Australians last month and now came across these Papuans:
  2. jcsd
  3. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Interesting topic since I happened to be listening last night to an interview with Dr. Gregory Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.


    Their concern is that "half of the world’s languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years. Minority languages are being increasingly replaced by various politically, economically, or socio-culturally dominant (or more aggressive) ones."

  4. If they are not kept isolated and primative, think of the enormous amount of knowledge that will be lost. Whole civilizations lost forever. Think of the mounds of research grants lost from exploitation.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  5. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Individuals have the right to survive, cultures have not.

    (unless the culture is upheld by individuals wanting to keep that culture "alive", and that culture does not include oppressive treatments of individuals.)
  6. What's a right?
  7. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Well one could debate or argue such a point indefinitely.

    Some examples of right (rights) from Merriam Webster's online dictionary.

    1: qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval
    2: something to which one has a just claim: as a: the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled <voting rights> <his right to decide> b (1): the interest that one has in a piece of property —often used in plural <mineral rights> (2)plural : the property interest possessed under law or custom and agreement in an intangible thing especially of a literary and artistic nature <film rights of the novel>
    3: something that one may properly claim as due <knowing the truth is her right>
    4: the cause of truth or justice

    A right in the context given by arildno would be some inherent entitlement granted by some authority. Said authority is often described as a supernatural entity, e.g. a god, or some secular authority, e.g. government.

    Ultimately one's right comes down to mutual agreement and consent, i.e. a matter of choice.

    Many people observe the right of others to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
  8. It's a word casually thrown about. Depending on the mode of the author, it could be legal, metaphysical, or ethical.
  9. Comes to think of Taliban. Most primitive cultures/tribes are extremely outdated with respect to western culture. But, can we compare cultures and call some oppressive...?

    There was a middle aged British traveler (a tv show) who traveled all different cultures. I only saw his journey to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Himalayas and Tibet. He was really good at blending in different people and so was able to provide a view that made all outdated cultures look beautiful and unique as such.
  10. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    So what if primitive tribes/cultures are outdated compared to the west. They exist, and they certainly have the right to exist as they wish. Why should they change their ways, or have changed imposed upon them.

    Or do aggressive individuals/groups assume a right to impose upon others, as in 'might makes right'? That is the main issue in human conflict.

    I've always assumed might incurs the obligation to protect those not as strong.

    Taliban is not a monolithic group. There are clan and tribal relationships that supercede the Taliban.

    As far as I can tell, those in the Taliban (or anyone) who exert violence and cruelty are misguided and mentally deficient.
  11. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    A culture is not outdated as long as there exist individuals willing to uphold it.

    People from other cultures have no business to classify a culture as "outdated". But they are, as it happens, qualified to determine whether oppression of individuals occurs within a particular culture.
  12. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Perhaps 'outdated' is a subjective judgement.

    Perhaps - if a community cannot provide for itself, then it is outdated.
  13. So far I've been instructed as to what my businesss is, and, I am aparently subject to an obviously personal view of 'cultural rights'. Is this what passes for social 'science'?
  14. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Why/based on what? People throw around statments that things are rights all the time, without basis. I'd like to hear an actual argument for this.
    Population growth makes contact unavoidable. It isn't even a question of having change imposed on them - you can fence them off into a little wilderness preserve if you want, but they'll still know the outside world exists and ultimately the choice will be theirs.
    The world has moved beyond "might makes right" to "right makes right". We have a set of laws now that are universal. I'm not sure what that has to do with the issue, though...
    Protect them from what, exactly? Protect them from modern life? I don't see that in the constitution anywhere. In the US, we have the Amish, but living in an isolated culture is their choice, not something the government must actively protect for them. It is not a right and not something the government must provide them.
  15. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    They have their opinions, but on what basis should we care about dying languages? My grandfather (deceased last year) learned one of those dying languages at home when he should have been learning English. As a result, he did poorly in school and didn't advance past 8th grade (they didn't have ESL classes back then). He resented it for the rest of his life.

    Where is the virtue in their pursuit? Why should we care? More importantly, why should we be compelled to actively protect something that has no tangeable value and in reality often harms those who hare forced to continue with the culture? IMO this and the subject in the OP are misguided attempts to force people to live in the past - to force people to be living museum pieces.
  16. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Since speaking a particular language in no way can be regarded as an infringement upon other people's rights, we have the moral duty to let the speakers speak the language of their choice.
    (Violations of that duty have not been uncommon, for example here in Norway up till the 1950's, where Lapplander children were forbidden to speak their tongue at school, under threat of the cane)

    However, in no way are others morally obliged to contribute any of their wealth for the preservation of any particular language.
  17. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Your example disproves your premise: speaking a particular language is not a right and we do not have a moral duty to protect it. The government of the US is required to "promote the general welfare", not actively support every specific desire of every individual. In particular, speaking languages in school other than the one official language is a detrement to the general welfare of the other students (by making it harder for them to learn) and the public who must pay to support the practice. It most certainly is not a right.
  18. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Hmm..so you think it is okay that Lapplander children were forbidden to speak their tongue in the playground in the breaks, during the meals and so on?

    That's what they were forbidden, they wouldn't have dared to speak it in class..
  19. It's good if everyone speaks one language and shares same values - lot less problems!

    But, the government shouldn't be taking kids away from parents and forcing them to learn English culture (if you are also talking about past or forgetting these practices):


    It doesn't happen now for good.
  20. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Heck, I'll take this a step further: if we are to believe our own Constitution, it is morally wrong for us to not intervene and modernize these cultures in certain ways because some of these cultures have practices that are illegal/morally wrong. I live in a state (Pennsylvania) where this sort of thing is common. We have the Amish, and the Pennsylvania German, but we also have a number of fundamentalist religions. A common belief of these religions is rejection of parts of modern religion that subvert faith. That includes forsaking medical treatment. Now for an adult to choose not to see a doctor if they have cancer is allowed. But it is not acceptable to not provide medical treatment for your kids. People get arrested for this in Philadelphia about once a year and there have been a number of prominent cases. The law is clear.

    Now for unconnected tribes in the jungle in Brazil, the logic seems to be 'out of sight, out of mind'. But this view/practice is a contradiction and Brazil cannot rightly be called a moral, lawful country if it does not enforce its laws evenly and protect its people evenly.
  21. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    There are places where it is ok and places where it isn't - in recess is ok, in class is not.
    Well then I don't see how this example is relevant to the OP. I have not seen anyone argue that people shouldn't be allowed to speak whatever language they want to each other in private. If that's what happened, then it's wrong. But if that's the example, then it doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Similar discussions for: Future of remote tribes/others