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#644#645#646#647 Episode #648 - The Monoculture of Modernity
(Reflections on The Many Ways To Live)



Sat 13 April 2013  Jared Diamond, Augustin Fuentes
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week, we hear a variety of alternatives to the ideas and practices of modern materialist monoculture, noting that historically speaking, it has existed only for the blink of an eye. Our main speakers are author academics Jared Diamond and Augustin Fuentes and we hear a compilation of research on spanking put together by Stefan Molyneux.
Jared Diamond speaks on his recent book "The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?". This he describes as his most personal book, and the one of greatest practical value. He begins by trying to give some context to moden 'civilization' - a period of only a few thousand years out of the millions of years that humans have lived as a separate species. Any attempt to understand human nature which relies only on evidence of humans in a 'civilized' setting is therefore suspect. Evidence of humans in hunter gatherer bands is therefore helpful to understand the human condition.

The main focus of Diamond's talk is the attritudes towards and treatment of old people in contemprary USA as opposed to in traditional societies. While old folks in USA have better material provision (e.g. of medical care), he suggests that there is not a lot else to be said for the way in which modern society treats its old people, and that we should learn lessons from traditional societies -- many of which value and respect their old people as repositories of wisdom and sometimes continue to use their greater expertiese at crucial skills. After half an hour we hear a couple of questions from the Q & A section, during which Diamond notes the complete absence of spanking in some traditiona cultures.

Then we hear the soundtrack of a video put together by Stefan Molyneux, "The Facts About Spanking", which reads a selection of snippets from academic research papers that highlight the dangers of spanking. Reminiscent of arguments made by Alfie Kohn, the video's message is that and obedience secured by spanking children comes by endangering their relationship with those who spank them -- and ultimately the children's long term mental health. It suggests spanking is associated with lower IQ, higher stress levels and greater tendency towards use of violence in conflict resolution as well as a greater tendency to spank one's own children.

We conclude with a July 2012 interview of biological anthropologist Augustin Fuentes whose recent book, Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You:- Busting Myths About Human Nature' comparing humans with other primates. He encourages us to challenge popular beliefs, and notes how a simplistic understanding of 'evolution' has been fostered for use by those with economic and social agendas. Are men somehow 'hard-wired' for agression by millennia of experience of hunters? Are women naturally monogamous?

Do human races have inately different characteristics and tendencies - is the human population even made up of distinctly different races in any meaningful sense? Why do people continue to think in such simplistic terms in the face of such wide actual variation.
Thanks to Sasha Lilley of Against The Grain for the Augustine Fuentes interview
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