- Date published:
3:00 pm, May 21st, 2008 - 74 comments
Categories: articles, racism, workers' rights - Tags: economics, im/migration, workers' rights
Economist Greg Clydesdale has released a report in which he says Pacific Islanders are a drain on the New Zealand economy (exhibiting “significant and enduring under-achievement” and “that can contribute little to economic growth” in his words). I accept Clydesdale’s cry that he is not a racist. No, he is just a fool who is encouraging racism.
How is he a fool?
He equates ethnicity with economic conditions. Pacific Islanders are more likely to be unemployed, in lower-paid work, and higher levels of other negative social statistics because Pacific Islanders are disproportionally working class. It’s not Pacific Islanders that are low paid, more likely to be unemployed, less healthy etc, it is working class people.
He disregards history. New Zealand’s immigration policy towards the Pacific Islands since the 1950s and continuing today has been to see the Islands as a source of cheap, disposable labour. Given Pacific Islanders were brought to New Zealand do working class occupations, it is not surprising they are overwhelmingly working class.
He shows no understanding of how an economy operates. Doing manual labour and other working class jobs, getting paid little for your work does not mean you are not contributing to the economy in an important way. Someone has to clean the offices, someone has to do manual labour, someone has to do rest home work, and all those other low paid occupations – they are vital to the functioning of the economy. Clydesdale is saying that if all the working class left New Zealand tomorrow we would be better off for it because we would no longer have this ‘drain’ on our economy. He is saying we would all be richer without poor people. He thinks we can be a nation of marketing executives and researchers and that we don’t need anyone to clean the toilets. He is a fool.
Clydesdale’s work is lazy and prejudiced. He displays a complete ignorance of class conditions and the realities of a modern economy. A disgrace.
UPDATE: A thoughtful analysis over at Jafapete’s blog.
Disclaimer: I haven’t read the study, nor am I likely to.
A workmate pointed out the following quote:
“And because of high fertility and current immigration levels, New Zealand will have a significant population that can contribute little to economic growth.” (from http://www.stuff.co.nz/4553798a6000.html)
The important word here is `can’. This denotes potential. What he’s saying with this quote is that the people in questions cannot contribute to society; not just that they are not or have not in the past. On the basis of just this quote, it seems he’s arguing that Pacific Islanders are beyond economic hope. That’s quite incredible and doesn’t bode well for the rest of his findings.
Captcha: `another Emerson’. Yes, please.
Despite your best efforts it’s difficult to call Dr. Clydesdale a fool and not to take him seriously.
The PC brigade has come down hard on him for articulating a view from data gathered from Statistics NZ and other public sources. Among his findings:
P.I. people are less productive/less likely to contribute to economic growth (highest unemployment in every age group, less likely to start businesses and lower rates of self-employment);
P.I. people are over-represented in crime stats and have higher rates of convictions and prosecutions;
P.I. people are more likely to need Government assistance for housing and income;
P.I. people’s children show low achievement in literacy on entering school and perform poorly throughout their education.
Those are facts SP and cannot be denied. The data should be used to improve the lot of our fellow P.I. Kiwi citizens.
The ostrich policy you appear to promote DOES NOT work. The problem will not go away.
Some very well-made points Steve.
Also, what’s the point in him saying
“exhibiting “significant and enduring under-achievement'”
What does he hope to achieve by saying that? As you say, all this will achieve is greater prejudiced directed against PI people. And with more prejudice, employer are less likely to hire PIs, and their socio-economic position is worsened. So his rant is, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy. As you say, he’s not only an idiot, but he’s harmful as well.
Perhaps the issue is not so much ethnicity but culture. Traditional Pacific Island culture like Maori culture is primitive. Of course Pacific Islanders can and do achieve at very high levels but to do so they have to move beyond the limitations of a culture that is thousands of years out of date. It really makes no more sense for a Pacific Islander to remain limited within their culture than it would for me to remain limited within the practices of my cave dwelling German ancestors.
[you call a people or their culture primitive again and you’re gone for life. You can take that kind of racism to Kiwiblog. SP]
[lprent: tell you what I’ll drop you in a unihabited polynesian island for a year or so. Then see how you survive. For that matter if I dropped you in amongst guru level programmers, your culture would probably be pretty useless. Cultures are specialised tools for their environ’s. ]
Clydesdale and eritker don’t get that working class jobs are less ‘productive’ in that the output for labour input ratio is lower. That doesn’t make them any less vital.
“Perhaps the issue is not so much ethnicity but culture”
Two overlapping concepts. Perhaps you’re confusing ethinicity with ‘race’?
The Double Standard strikes again!
This is exactly what I was getting at two days ago when the ‘racism encouragement’ (as you put it SP) was directed at white middle class men. (Oh but of course they are a legitimate target for bigotry aren’t they).
Tom S had said;
“Middle aged white males were enraged when the South Auckland vote came in and got Labour over the line in 2005. The idea of the Pacific Island women who cleans their loos thwarting their God given right to a big tax cut has driven them to distraction over the last few years, because its shaken their belief system that tells them they have a patriarchal entitlement charge, the rich white men in the castles and the brown brown folk at their gate, as the Lord almighty ordained. They will never accept a system that gives those they consider their sexual, racial and social inferiors as much say in the running of the country. And looking at the massively white, old and male National Party one can see that their peers in Parliament agree with them.”
I later replied that;
“Tom S’s bigotted racism went virtually unchecked by other users so … Challenging racism where it lurks Iprent. Just trying to imagine the response if Tom S’s post had been similarly dismissive and nasty about gays, whales or equal-rights activists, to use some old terms.”
So Tom S spouts a bit of racist shit about white men and the silence is deafening.
And a ‘lazy academic’ spouts a bit of racist shit about brown men and not only is there a loud holler BUT THERE IS AN ENTIRE THREAD DEVOTED TO IT!
I shake my head…
[lprent: You’re welcome to object to it within the rules of the site. Other people may or may not. What TomS chooses to believe is his problem, just as what you choose to believe is yours. All you can really do is try to convince, not coerce.
So long as it doesn’t become my problem, then I don’t care.]
The warning bells went off for me when he started complaining to the papers about “PC whingers” and the like. Anyone who employs that kind of ignorant rhetoric I can’t take seriously.
VTO – Racism only applys to to a certain class of people. Middle class white men are only capable of being racist not being victims of it.
There’s a huge difference in the examples you give.
The danger of prejudice is informed by historical, and present relationships of social and economic power.
PI people, as a group, are in about as much of an economically and socially subordinate position in society. They have historically, and still do suffer greatly as a result of prejudice (surveys show that, all things being equal, people of colour get hired less than white people).
Middle aged white males are probably the most socially and economically empowered group in society. They don’t have a history of suffering subordination as a result of prejudice, and they certainly don’t now.
mike. Is that the best you can do?
vto: several years ago I completed a fine arts degree at Auckland University. I found it interesting that many of my fellow students criticized through their art the middle aged white males whose taxes substantially paid for their education. This work was applauded by the lecturers whose salaries were of course being paid by the long suffering middle aged white males. Reverse racism is alive and well in our academic institutions.
Some people just don’t get it.
Mike, vto, mawgxxxxiv: If you actually care to examine your biases, read the following two papers about Pakeha conceptions of racism. They’re old, but not dated:
Nairn, Raymond G and Timothy N McCreanor, â€˜Insensitivity and Hypersensitivity: An Imbalance in Pakeha Accounts of Racial Conflict’ Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 9 (1990), pp. 293308.
Nairn, Raymond G and Timothy N McCreanor, â€˜Race Talk and Common Sense: Patterns In Pakeha Discourse on Maori/Pakeha Relations in New Zealand’ Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 10 (1991), pp. 24562.
Findings in a nutshell: (1) Pakeha are hypersensitive about racism they perceive toward them and insensitive about the reverse. (2) Pakeha use a bunch of pseudo-logical justifications to convince themselves that they’re not racist, when an objective analysis of their behaviour and discourse indicates that they are.
But I suppose you’d argue that this is just lib’rul academics who are out of touch with the real world.
Steady on Clinton I don’t think Maw was being racist at all.
The reality is that traditional Polynesian and Maori culture can be termed primitive in respect to general western mores, that does not mean the culture is in any way inferior or bad. Primitive doesn’t have to be taken as a term of abuse.
I don’t think I’ll bother to read the paper either but it seems self evident that if someone from one culture attempts to integrate into another that their original culture and life experiences will have an impact on the success and happiness in the culture they are moving to.
Your post in reply may well have some merit – as an irrelevant side issue. The issue I posted on specifically is the practice of selective racism, which is simply racism, by certain sectors of NZ society (generally liberal left).
I see other posters notice this too. And much of the public. Hence the end of this labour govt. People have had enough of double standard bullpoop.
“But I suppose you’d argue that this is just lib’rul academics who are out of touch with the real world.”
Lew – I would have said it a bit differently. Same concept less words
Lew: “But I suppose you’d argue that this is just lib’rul academics who are out of touch with the real world.” No I wouldn’t argue this as I am sure there is some truth in this. But I would argue that you are more likely to be looked upon favorably by academia in this country if you subscribe to & express the “heterosexual white male ” as oppressor ( of women, racial minorities,homosexuals etc etc) world view. I never experienced any reverse racism directed towards me at Auckland University but I did observe racist points of view and positions directed at ” middle aged white males” as a class.
Higherstandard: thanks, I certainly did not intend my initial comment as a form of abuse, unfortunately some words have an emotive content and I could perhaps have chosen more wisely.
Sorry I missed it – what is the bias that you accuse me of again?
vto – the fact that you view it as an “irrelivant side issue” shows that you just don’t get it. And probably never will.
vto – stop taking one commentor’s quote as a founding basis for The Standard, and everyone who writes here.
And just quietly, there’s a difference between TomS’ comment on a thread and a published work in academia…
I mentioned at the time that I didn’t support his comment, but you can’t take general silence for tacit acceptance either.
roger nome – irrelevant to the issue I posted on. Of course what you post is not irrelevant to a wider racism debate. I thought that would have been clear.
Mr Pilott – general silence compared to the devotion of a whole thread speak volumes.
Why is so difficult for some of you to accept that reverse and selected racism by certain groups exists? It’s like the American south in the 60’s in trying to get the issue raised.
“general silence compared to the devotion of a whole thread speak volumes.”
Yes they do vto – because one was a comment on a thread and one is a published academic report. Good spotting.
Can I get you to state explicitly the following for posterity:
“I, vto, believe that everyone who read TomS’ comment but did not write in opposition to the comment believes eveything contained within the comment is fully accurate, and represents their views in entirety.”
I read a lot of bad comments on this site that you don’t respond to, vto, but I’m not ignorant enough to believe that your silence represents acquiescence as you’re implying.
Who is the ‘some of you’ you’re talking about? I haven’t commented either way so I assume the comment is not directed at me.
Findings in a nutshell: (1) Pakeha are hypersensitive about racism they perceive toward them and insensitive about the reverse. (2) Pakeha use a bunch of pseudo-logical justifications to convince themselves that they’re not racist, when an objective analysis of their behaviour and discourse indicates that they are.
But then, these studies are racist too. If one study on PI can be racist, than, by the same logic, two studies on stupid white men can also be racist.
I don’t see what the big deal is about. If you believe in tolerance and free speech than this sort of study on the PI community should be welcomed as a point for debate about the conditions of PI, not another chance to shut it out and bury out heads in the sand. Its like the Brash Race Relations speech which caused so much controversy, but very little actual debate. The left don’t like debate. Here at The Standard, we worship authoritarianism and pseudo-individualism, not freedom of speech or values of any kind.
The thing is that the whole ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusive’ bullshit is truly unsustainable, because eventually you have to draw a line. What tolerance really means is “Believe what I believe or you’re a bigot.”
Gee, I should watch what I say for fear of Pierson banning me for life.
vto: Your post exhibits some indications of `hypersensitivity and insensitivity’.
Dr Clydesdale’s report sounds like a load of rubbish.
This is actually quite sinister to my eyes. It’s a bit like James Watson’s theory that africans are less intelligent. He seems to be saying that Polynesians are incapable of education. I guess that’s the kind of academic drivel you get when you study “international business and management”.
Get real mawgxxxxiv – you seem to forget that your (and my) German ancestors were busy being extremely primitive between 1933 – 1945.
Having said that though, all people are born equal and all are equally capable of racism, regardless of their ethnicity.
Hoolian, your entire comment makes no attempt to debate the substance of the post. A tad disingenuous, don’t you think, to pretend it’s the left that doesn’t like debating when you proclaim “you’re wrong and Authoritarian”?
Hoolian: Of course they can be. I’m not aware of any cogent argument that nairn & McCreanor’s papers are, though; and I’ve made no statement either way about Clydesdale’s paper.
What I’m responding to is people’s somewhat too-loud protestations that white men are given a hard time.
Mr Pilott, sorry gotta fly. I realise I am drawing a bow but its my opinion, based on too many years on this planet. Said my piece and stand by it.
The ‘some of you’ would include roger nome and lew.
Ok, vto. I expect you to comment on every single comment you see here – and if you don’t, I’ll assume that you’re agreeing wholehertedly.
Ok, I don’t expect it and I won’t, but that seems to be your thinking.
Lew, sure some hypersensitivity. The nature of being accused of being racist since I can bloody remember.
No insensitivity – not sure where you see that. My post was very specific.
Will try to return to this thread later.
Funny that. White male peers and brown cleaners. Now the brown cleaners are being said to be unproductive. Lets change places then. Let the brown peers employ white male cleaners. When those cleaners fail to clean (unproductive see) lets see what the brown peers say. Stupid me, that’s not going to happen, cause brown people don’t want to get ahead, they are born cleaners see. First they cleaned their villages then we let them clean our houses. Just in case they thought they could actually live in those houses we sold them drink and smokes (deducted from their wages – can’t count see). Now they are poor, unhealthy, dysfunctional, unproductive, threatening, but in one curious sense very productive of a whole industry of brown watchers who create things like careers, statistics, literature, degrees, theses, blogs and received wisdom. So really, in the end the browns are very productive.
vto: Fair enough. I grouped them just as in the title of the paper, which I probably shouldn’t have.
The simple fact is that there are certain sectors of the community that can be criticised and other sectors that can’t.
Pointing to empirical evidence on the situation for Pacific Islanders or Maori is racist â€” or breeding racism â€” according to some people. As erikter said, this guy has used Statistics New Zealand data for his research. People can use statistics to manipulate things, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Another sacred cow is single parents â€” usually mothers. The simple facts are that children from single-parent homes are less likely to succeed in school, more likely to commit crimes in their teens, more likely to get pregnant in their teens, more likely to do drugs etc etc. But if you say that, you’re “hating” on single mothers.
Statistics that point to inequality or disparity are an important step in looking for ways to fix those inequalities. If only some people could see that.
“He equates ethnicity with economic conditions. Pacific Islanders are more likely to be unemployed, in lower-paid work, and higher levels of other negative social statistics because Pacific Islanders are disproportionally working class. It’s not Pacific Islanders that are low paid, more likely to be unemployed, less healthy etc, it is working class people.”
The question then is how do they compare to other working class immigrants from Asian, India and elsewhere?
One of the points the study seems to focus on is educational achievement. Asians actually outperform Europeans, despite often arriving here not even speaking the language. It is also clear that Asians outperform Europeans and other groups on intelligence tests, particularly the non-verbal component.
In terms of culture, which I suspect is the main factor here, if you’ve visited Samoa you’ll see the vastly different village type lifestyle where the Church plays a big part in their lives. They come to NZ & live in a cramped concrete suburban area & experience disclocation from the Church & the wider community supports they normally have. There are increasingly fewer low skill job opportunities so people struggle financially.
Instead you can see LA style gang culture filling the void with devastating results for those communities.
[lprent: dropped the multiple copies]
“They have historically, and still do suffer greatly as a result of prejudice (surveys show that, all things being equal, people of colour get hired less than white people).”
This is no doubt true. But, other groups such as Asians, Indians & historically Jews have faced overwhelming prejudice. Nonetheless, they’ve managed to do relatively well academically, & aren’t overrepresented in terms of violent crime?
when was the last time clydesdale got of his bum and talked to a real working class pacific islander? I am willing to bet the answer to that question is never.
the difference between Indian immigrants and PI ones is that the Indians are predominantly skilled middle class professionals so there is no comparison. NZ needs skilled immigrants but it also needs people to do the jobs other people don’t want to do. Look at the US – when Hispanic workers went on strike recently over immigration policy, it became obvious how much the world’s most advanced economy relies on their “unskilled” but vital work.
“NZ needs skilled immigrants but it also needs people to do the jobs other people don’t want to do.”
Greg Clydsdale actually reported last year that low skilled immigration adversely affected Maori. This was supported by Pita Sharples:
“Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says unskilled immigrants are competing with Maori for social services.
He’s endorsing the findings of Massey University economist Greg Clydsdale, who claims current immigration policies are bad for Maori.”We are in fact importing now, and 40 percent was the figure, of unskilled people from different ethnic groups and they are going to make it even more difficult for Maori to get state housing, social services and jobs when the squeeze comes on at different times,’ Dr Sharples says.”
Sharples is talking the talk that leads to race riots like South Africa. The problem isnt unskilled migrants competing for scarce resouces. That’s an unfortunate symptom of artificial scarcity. The real problem is political privilege that goes with parliamentary salaries but accepts that houses have to be rationed, like everything else that workers need. What about John Key’s house? What about occupying all the flash flats and lawyers offices? Just like there’s more than enough food to go round except that its being horded by speculators, there’s plenty of houses, its just that theyre occupied or owned by parasites like John Key that live off the backs of peoples misery. If the former arch rightwinger Jeffrey Sachs can have a road to Damascus conversion and talk about the ‘commonwealth’ and state investment to save the planet we can take back some of the commonwealth that the rich pricks pretend is their private property.
Dave are you advocating some sort of revolution along the lines of Russia in 1917.
I think you may possibly have lost the plot best you pop over to TravellerEve’s website!
I’m not sure how this research constitutes Clydesdale as being lazy and/or showing ignorance. I think it is your interpretation of his study that reeks of these qualities.
Could child discipline methods be part of the problem? Cindy Kiro has pointed out how smacking may teach people that violence is a way to deal with problems.
From NZ Medical Journal 2007 Dec 14;120(1267):U2860:
“CONCLUSIONS: Smacking is a widespread form of discipline administered to Pacific children, and hitting with objects is common. If the use of objects constitutes a consequential assault in the newly ratified Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 then many parents within this cohort are in breach of this law. We believe that guidelines for corporal punishment which is legally acceptable needs to be made explicit to all, and widespread culturally sensitive efforts to teach parents positive parent management strategies is urgently required.”
Lost the plot? No I’m still back in the 80s. I just watched a vid on Maori TV on Two Cities made in 1982. Two cities divided in South Auckland, Otara and Howick. In Otara it was community self-help and racial pride, in Howick it was driving to ‘town’ to ‘compete’ and rising property values. Class mate. Stuck out like dogs balls. We’ve gone backwards since then. Living standards have gone up, but the class divide has gone underground. We now have an economist throwing us “coloured” language that would have had him lynched in the 80s. Weve had a revolution didnt you hear – Rogernomics – the rich pricks revolt. Now we need a revolution from below to remove the rich pricks. Cullen’s fiddling while Rome burns. What this country needs is a good dose of taxing the rich pricks and big lift in wages for the poor. If they want leave good riddance. As Muldoon said they need an IQ lift over there anyway.
Regardless of the Clydesdale Report’s merits or lack of it, it’s been name-checked by some shady characters:
Heh those are the same guys that were singing the praises of Paul Holmes after his “cheeky darkie” comments.
CAPTCHA: White constant
“What this country needs is a good dose of taxing the rich pricks and big lift in wages for the poor.”
Dave, you showed a very poor command of economics.
If we follow your suggestion, how many rich pricks will be left to pay for the increased wages you propose?
You appear to know little about the realities of capitalism and the marketplace.
Lazy or just out of his depth? I’m inclined to the latter, as I argue elsewhere.
If the NZPA report is to be believed, the conference paper — and that’s all it is — says that, “Pacific Islanders’ poor education and low employment [are] creating an underclass and a drain on the economy.’ Interestingly, the words “underclass’ and “underachievers’ used in the news report are not direct quotations, so it is unclear whether they appear in the actual conference paper.
If they do, then that is very unwise. They are loaded terms, and nothing in the news report suggests that the requisite analysis has been carried out to justify this categorisation of Pacific Islanders. The issues are far to complex for conclusions like that to be drawn from analysis of selected indicators, as the news report suggests.
“Lazy or just out of his depth? I’m inclined to the latter, as I argue elsewhere.”
How can you say this without having read the paper? As you say, those aren’t direct quotations.
Isn’t the point that there is a special quota for Pasifika people, so the outcomes of that policy should be looked at?
“the difference between Indian immigrants and PI ones is that the Indians are predominantly skilled middle class professionals so there is no comparison.”
Indian immigrants began in working class, low wage positions too. They also faced quite blatant discrimination, despite that I’m not aware of them being overrepresented in crime statistics etc:
“Leckie points out to the change in occupation and class of Indian migrants. She says, “The original Indian settlers mostly worked as labourers, hawkers and bottle collectors, cleaners and cooks and then moved on to establish fruit and vegetable businesses and small farms. Many continued to be relatively low-waged workers.
“Today, this has changed with access to higher education and tertiary qualifications, many Indians are in professional, technical and clerical employment or in business.”
Whether or not Clydesdale is ‘trolling’, it raises an interesting point: Should immigration policy be based solely on merit? Or do we continue to let the bad in with the good simply because they have family here and there are ‘quotas’ to fill?
Considering the large number of people in the world who would gladly move here, and the onerous restrictions on migration, IMHO it makes no sense to accept ‘undesirables’ from anywhere. Choose the young, healthy, motivated ones who speak english and contribute economically, wherever they come from. Those with chronic health conditions and criminal records should be last on the list unless they can support themselves.
Another aspect is the sheer numbers- will there be any people left in the Islands in another few decades!? They must be suffering a huge brain drain. Is this good for the health of their societies? Are we dooming those still living there to a lower quality of life by such mass migration?
Anyone that is in principle:
1) in favour of free trade or ‘globalisation’
2) opposed to government interventions in the market or ‘social engineering’
should be in favour of open borders with regard to migration.
You are a racist. Just because someone comes from PI doesn’t mean they are necessarily:
old (what’s wrong with that anyway?)
Also not being able to speak English does not imply any of the above either.
Don’t try to cover up your racism by trying to say you’re only concerned with PI brain drain either.
“Should immigration policy be based solely on merit?”
Well the Government has talked about NZ catching a Knowledge Wave. Perhaps IQ tests should comprise part of immigration applications? People say they’re culturally biased, but Asians actually outperform Europeans on them. This also correlates with academic performance.
In theory that’s right. In the US you see that Big Business is in favour of allowing basically open borders with Mexico. They get to drive down wages & an endless supply of labour.
Unfortunately, the flip side massive demands on the healthcare, and education system. Between 1993 and 2004 84 hospitals in California went bankrupt, and the number of illegal immigrants who couldn’t pay was a major reason for this.
If you did the same in NZ you’d have the same problem. http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalrelease.html
I like this bit
“Auckland lawyer and Tongan community leader Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki said the paper had an element of truth but ignored the successes of Polynesians in New Zealand society.”
That is the crunch
I totally reject that- my preference is a meritocratic approach to immigration; based on what a potential immigrant can bring to NZ, in terms of cash, work skills, length of tax-contributing years left, and ability to integrate peacefully and successfully into NZ.
I would equally not want white Europeans moving here either if they had expensive-to-treat chronic illnesses or had a criminal history. It boggles the mind that you would.
BenR “Lazy or just out of his depth? I’m inclined to the latter, as I argue elsewhere.’ How can you say this without having read the paper? As you say, those aren’t direct quotations.
BenR, Fair question. I note that, “*nothing in the news report* suggests that the requisite analysis has been carried out to justify this categorisation of Pacific Islanders. The issues are far to complex for conclusions like that to be drawn from analysis of selected indicators, *as the news report suggests*.
So I was making it fairly clear that what I said was on the basis of the news account. Over on my own blog [major ups to the Standard people for the link] I note in respect of Steve’s critique here, “He’s probably right, but we shall have to wait and see what’s in the “study”. If we can be bothered.”
Frankly, I’m not sure that I can be bothered. I think I’ll wait to see if this “study” can make it through a rigorous refereeing process before I spend any time looking at it.
“You are a racist.”
The aptly named Bill Brown came up with the above gem. People like him are a prime example of those who want to stifle discussion on topics they consider “taboo”.
Like it or not, UK_Kiwi is entitled to voice his opinion. The only way to progress is to debate the issue, despite the Bill Brown’s of the world.
[lprent: And bill brown is entitled to his opinion as well, especially as he went on to detail why he thought thought the opinion of uk_kiwi was wrong.]
you call a people or their culture primitive again and you’re gone for life. You can take that kind of racism to Kiwiblog. SP]
I recall professor Kenneth Cumberland (Landmarks) saying Maori had a neolithic (polished stone) culture when Europeans arrived. I guess that would have got him banned from Standard?
[lprent: So – would you give me your ethnic origin and I’ll calculate when your most likely cannibalistic ancestor. It is usually freaks people out how recent it was. All it takes is a famine. Or tell you when it was likely that your ancestors were living in hill-forts.
Tell me, where exactly are the locally accessible copper, tin or iron deposits in New Zealand? Do you know how to smelt them or are you culturally illiterate enough not know how to do it? I suspect that if I dropped you into an island without significant metal deposits, that you’d be incapable of making effective stone tools. There is an art to doing it – but of course you first have to find the right types of rocks. Do you know what they are? How would you recognize flint, chert, or even greenstone in their natural states.
I’m politely (for me) saying that you are an idiot.]
Anyone read The Culture Cult by anthropologist Roger Sandal?
jh. Not having metal tools does not make a culture ‘primitive’ or worse than other cultures. Cultures are an outcome of the bio-geographical environment and political history of a people, not some innate deficiency or superiority.
jh: You cite anthropological works, but you’re out of step with the gargantuan majority of anthropoloical thinkers. How `primitive’ a culture is is strictly a matter of situational utility.
The question the book asks doesn’t seem manifestly evil, but I can smell a cover.
“The main theme of the collection is that all cultures and civilisations need to be judged by much the same set of standards, allowing for a tolerable amount of pluralism. This means that the violent and cruel initiation ceremonies of the Australian and New Guinea natives need to be viewed with the same jaundiced eye as the sadistic rites of passage in some military academies. It means that the revival of the notion of the “noble savage”, originally popularised by Rousseau, is nothing short of disastrous”
That book (from the amazon reviews) seems to address some interesting points, particularly the misleading idea that people have ever lived in some peaceful utopian state.
Have you read Steven Pinker’s book ‘the Blank Slate’? He’s also written some interesting articles on how people have a universal innate moral sense, and that violence has actually decreased through modern institutions.
“The idea that the moral sense is an innate part of human nature is not far-fetched. A list of human universals collected by the anthropologist Donald E. Brown includes many moral concepts and emotions, including a distinction between right and wrong; empathy; fairness; admiration of generosity; rights and obligations; proscription of murder, rape and other forms of violence; redress of wrongs; sanctions for wrongs against the community; shame; and taboos.” http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/The%20Moral%20Instinct%20-%20New%20York%20Times.htm
“The doctrine of the noble savage–the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern
institutions–pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like JosÃ© Ortegay Gasset (“War is not an instinct but an invention”), Stephen Jay Gould (”
is not an evil or destructive species”), and Ashley Montagu (“Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood”). But, now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have
discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward:”
Dr Clydesdale has made available his original press release. He never said Polynesians were a drain on the economy. That was media sensationalism.
He said immigration is fueling an underclass and that’s probably true.
Ben R / jh: [From the blurb] “all cultures and civilisations need to be judged by much the same set of standards”
Therein lies the problem.
Modern values: Modernity?
jh: Modernity ended in the 20th century.
The idea of the White Man’s Burden – that the `civilised’ nations must drag the `uncivilised’ nations kicking and screaming into the future – began to decline in the 19th Century.
The idea that one culture or civilisation has a monopoly on answers has been dead for much, much longer than either of those.
This refers to primitive (original)? culture.
In the first major synthesis of Pacific prehistory in 20 years, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that, before Magellan ever set sail in the Pacific, human settlement and, in some cases, overpopulation on many Pacific islands disrupted the ecological chain, sending some island societies into collapse.
“French philosophers of the Enlightenment saw these islands, especially Tahiti, as the original natural society where people lived in a state of innocence and food fell from the trees. How wrong they were,” said Patrick Kirch, professor of anthropology and director of UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
“Most islands of the Pacific were densely populated by the time of European contact, and the human impact on the natural ecosystem was often disastrous – with wholesale decimation of species and loss of vast tracts of indigenous forest.”
Moreover, he pointed out, Tahitian society was engaged in endemic warfare, with ritual human sacrifice to a blood-thirsty god named Oro, when French explorer Louis de Bougainville came for a two-week trip in 1769 and thought he had arrived in paradise. Bougainville’s description of Tahiti became the basis for Jean Jacques Rousseau’s concept of l’homme naturel, the nobel savage.
jh: I’m not sure what your point is. Perhaps rather than simply quoting largely off-topic third-party matter, you could try to sketch out an argument? All you’ve actually done so far is appeal to authority, and questionable authority at that.
Edit: For what it’s worth, I’m under no delusions that Pacific Islanders, or American Indians, or the Maori, or anyone else ever actually lived in harmony with nature, or such romantic bollocks. The fact is many civilisations just didn’t have the technology to undertake the sort of large-scale exploitation that industrialised civilisations have; and in case where they did, they’ve suffered largely the same sorts of general resource-depletion effects as we’re experiencing now.
Arguing against the notion that a `non-primitive’ culture is intrinsically superior to a `primitive’ culture isn’t the same as the a `noble savage’ line, so that whole angle of yours is a straw man. In addition the entire `primitive’/`non-primitive’ framing of this argument is bogus.
The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t take an assimilatory approach to cultural difficulty or conflict. It simply doesn’t work without one part of the population being subjugated to another, which returns us to the question I asked above: which part gets subjugated to which other part, and on what grounds?
“The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t take an assimilatory approach to cultural difficulty or conflict. It simply doesn’t work without one part of the population being subjugated to another, which returns us to the question I asked above: which part gets subjugated to which other part, and on what grounds?”
How about the liberal approach nicely set out in this article by Johann Hari?
“There is a better way for the state to understand and regulate human differences, beyond the old oppositions of Tebbittry and multiculturalism. It is called liberalism. A liberal society allows an individual to do whatever he or she wants, provided it doesn’t harm other people. You can choose to wear PVC hotpants or a veil. You can choose to spend all day praying, or all day mocking people who pray.
Where a multiculturalist prizes the rights of religious groups, a liberal favours the rights of the individual. So if you want to preach that the Archangel Gabriel revealed the word of God to an illiterate nomad two millennia ago, you can do it as much as you like. You can write books and hold rallies and make your case. What you cannot do is argue that since this angel supposedly said women are worth half of a man when it comes to inheritance, and that gay people should be killed, you can ditch the rules of liberalism and act on it.”
Ben R: Better, but still not very good. This is a fairly slack article on the topic, though. Hari constructs a somewhat crude and false duality between `individualism’ and `liberalism’ on the one hand and `multiculturalism’ and religious murder on the other. This sort of thing doesn’t help matters.
Liberalism is ethnocentric primarily because it rests upon the presumption that the individual must be privileged over other social units (families, for instance). This makes sense when talking orthodox economics and in many fields of our currently very individualistic society, but it’s far from a universal truth, and in principle shouldn’t be forced upon others.
The extent to which a culture must adopt aspects of another culture in order for the two to coexist is a matter of ongoing negotiation, and this is where liberalism (and other creeds) are most valuable: in providing frameworks for negotiation and bedrock principles such as goodwill and tolerance. THey’re not, as too many people think, a prescription to cure society’s ills.
We should introduce a academic testing systems for all the Pacific Islanders in New Zealand. Those who score low on the test would be deported back to the Islands. Those who score well, will be allowed to stay.
[Tane: I was going to delete this comment for its appalling racism, but I think I’ll leave it up so others can judge for themselves.]