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DawgBone On March - 3 - 2011

I watched Dances With Wolves again last night.  Has it really been 21 years?  Costner and McDonnell have aged a bit since then.  Boy, I’m glad that hasn’t happened to me!

What a fabulous movie!  Winner of 7 Academy Awards.  Unbelievably beautiful photography.  Dialogue largely in the Lakota language with English subtitles.  And a dawg with a major role.  (Okay, it was a wolf)

Avatar affected me in the same way, and James Cameron has acknowledged the influence. One critic even called them the same movie!  A fascinating tribal society threatened by western culture.  Beauty and tradition and community destroyed by western greed.

Oh boy …

And of course we are still mining unobtainium in Afghanistan.  We are still destroying the planet the way we destroyed the buffalo.  We are still demonizing other cultures and traditions to justify the killing fields of imperialistic wars.

But you know all that.

What I want to talk about is social organization.  We need a new plan for our species.   Our social organization is based on the pyramid.  It is hierarchical.  A few people at the top control all the rest of us.  Pyramids lead to an elite class.  They lead to exploitation and manipulation.  They lead to wars.

Are pyramidal structures necessary?   Are there alternatives?  Both the Sioux  and the Na’vi had leaders, of course.  Perhaps the difference is in the size of the community.  The Sioux leaders and the Na’vi leaders personally knew their people.  When societies become huge, when leaders don’t personally know the people they govern, everything goes bad.

Take Republicans, for example.  Could the pathological indifference demonstrated by many Republicans exist in small societies?  Could a leader really vote to eliminate social services when he personally knew the widow next door trying to raise her children?

You’re right.  Republicans probably could and probably would …

Or maybe the problem is with professional politicians.  Anyone who is attracted to the power of government is arguably suspect.  If a person really wants to be a senator, that should probably disqualify him.  The Athenians chose their leaders by lottery.  I have often argued that if we chose 500 Americans at random, they would do a better job than our current government.  Probably a MUCH better job.

So, do I think that we can somehow reorganize our republic?  Not a chance!  The American Republic is largely an illusion at this point.  Our government is in fact a soft form of corporate fascism.  The United States will continue to decay and eventually be absorbed by one-world government.

Oh boy …

But I must say that peaceful, small, even tribal societies do appeal to me, and it could be argued that the tribe is our natural form of social organization.

Planet is a digital tribe.  That is part of the appeal, as opposed to certain other hugh websites that we shall not mention. { spit }

If you haven’t watched Dances With Wolves or Avatar lately, head on over to NetFlix and remind yourself of the way we should be living.  If anyone wants to start an alternative society, let me know.

Categories: Society, Speakers' Corner

23 Responses so far.

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  1. Smedley Butler says:

    If Avatar is considered to be son of Dances with Wolves would Little Big Man be it’s grandfather?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Fantastic movie, one of my favorites!

    • KillgoreTrout says:

      Without a doubt Smedley. While I did enjoy Dances, Little Big Man was the best. What a great job Hoffman and Chief Dan George did. Not to mention the very funny performance of Faye Dunaway.

      • Smedley Butler says:

        Chief Dan George was a naturally gifted actor and a writer as well. According to Clint Eastwood many of his performances where off the cuff improvisations. The director would tell him the gist of the scene and he would supply his own dialogue in response the other actors lines.


        • KillgoreTrout says:

          I really liked him. He had a great sense of humor. Very ironic.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          His answer to Dustin Hoffman, when asked why the white men do such terrible things, could have been said about the Republican legislators:
          “Because they are strange. They do not know where the center of the earth is at.”

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            wts, that was a truly prophetic line. He also said, “when the white man takes over the center of the Earth will be lost.”

            • whatsthatsound says:

              KT, absolutely!

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              wts, I wish we could know the same spirituality that Native Americans have/had.
              To them, the Earth was sacred. As it should be. It’s our HOME!

            • whatsthatsound says:

              yes, so prophetic. We HAVE to turn that around, NOW, but things can look so hopeless. We need to learn to perceive through the eyes of hope, not despair.

  2. Artist50 says:

    I just wrote a post and my phone went dead -- urgg

    I wanted to mention two things. The elderly have some lovely assisted living facilities that are expensive but they have intellectual stimulation, a variety of activities and a real sense of community. It seems that perhaps that model -- a central living and dining area with private bedrooms in some sort of communal facility could be something in the future. It would certainly seem cheaper than individual homes.

    Also, I lived in northern Indiana around the Amish which live very much like our original settlers. The don’t believe in electricity or cars because they want to live a simple life. The usually pay cash for their farms, they don’t believe in insurance but go to the hospital and refuse government handouts. They will make payments. The first thing settlers did was to build a church and school and that is the center of the Amish community. If a barn burns -- the neighbors pitch in and rebuild it! The sense of community is amazing.

    My sons played their high school in basketball and every winter they would ride their horse and buggies to the games and their huge, strong farm boys would kick their ass. They were the best sports -- really lovely people. I was just thinking what a good example they set.

  3. KillgoreTrout says:

    “Human beings will be happier -- not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.”
    Kurt Vonnegut

  4. whatsthatsound says:

    You are so spot on about the problems that arise when there become so many people under a “leader’s” jurisdiction that he/she can’t know them and doesn’t care about them.
    We have become so successful with our technology, particularly agriculture, that we have a planet of “extra” people. The world’s mechanisms of farming, transportation, finance, etc., run fine with a very small percentage of the population. So people have to find things to do. Their best qualities are not properly cultivated. All over, people fall through the tracks. In so many ways.
    Like you, I wish we had societies where each person was fully valued and honored, each gift was used to the fullest, and people lived together in the spirit of harmony and cooperation.

    • KQuark says:

      “Extra people” you effing nailed it WTS.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        It’s almost like a distortion of mother nature. For example, frogs produce thousands of eggs so that just a few can survive. The others just become digestible protein. We don’t have the same need for fecundity, but we have given ourselves the power to reproduce at will, almost. So the “extra people” end up almost as badly off as the frog eggs. Short lives, lives that are exploited by the upper classes, undernourished lives, poorly educated lives, all truncated in one way or another.

        • KQuark says:

          Of course doesn’t the existence of extra people necessitate the need for various levels of social classes with a relatively few at the top. If almost 7 billion people were even middle class wouldn’t that just accelerate our species’ assault on the planet.

          I watch a few episodes of a Science Channel series about plate tectonics. The narrator had stated Kathmandu had gone from a city with a pop of 300k to 3M in less than 30 years. The whole city is built on a fault zone with substandard buildings. Then they moved to the Ganges River delta where even thought it’s one of the most polluted river in the world hundreds of thousands still bath in it.

          Believe me if I were master of the universe I would give every human the dignity and respect they deserv. You know I don’t believe in any religious type of end ties nonsense. But I’m pretty pessimistic about our species if we don’t address the root cause of all our problems.

  5. PatsyT says:


    It would be wonderful to see that 500 person theory tested out.
    Hey the tea party is after John Boehner …. so thats one!

    DWW is on my fantastic list!
    Like you I love the doggy/wolf.
    That John Barry score is scrumptious

  6. KQuark says:

    DawgBone great post. I was just commenting last night that I thought Avatar was perhaps one of the best movies in a couple decades.

    Speaking of tribes one of the most unique experiences in my life was meeting some Kuna Indians on vacation. An anthropologist who had been living with them for a few decades briefed us on their social structure before we got to sit down and meet the chief for a little while.

    They live on the coastal islands of Panama and have been in contact with western culture for about 500 years however they never mingled biologically and just a little culturally with the west. Their families are matrilinear and the groom takes the name of the brides family. In fact I think they had one recorded murder in 500 years. Even though the ceremonial chief and counsel are men, women really run society. Men really just manage trade with the west. The way woman control society is though managing marriages between tribes. The way it works is young men are sent to tribes on different islands to marry. They do this because their gene pool is already relatively small, in fact that have one of the highest rates of albinoism. By sending young men off to other tribes to marry it in effect keeps men from creating very strong social networks through blood lines. The anthropologist believed this was a big part of the reason their culture is devoid of serious violence.

    Meeting the people was truly our pleasure though it made us feel like giants. First we were amazed at how humbly they lived. They augmented their subsistence based life style with very little technology. They lived in huts with no running water. They used the ocean as their bath and toilet. But did have electric generators and even a village TV.

    We did saw a little albino child stick his head out of his hut to observe us but albino Kunas don’t dare get out in the sun much and many tragically develop melanoma anyway. Their lives are pretty tragic I would imagine.

    Probably the most surprising thing we saw was they had a basketball hoop. I gotta admit I think I could have beating the 4’11” chief in one on one. We still have a piece of their cultural art which is a brilliantly coloured textile design.

    Actually the whole cruise was very unique. We visited some of the traditional tourist islands like Curacao and Aruba but we also had a day in Cartagenia, Columbia (which was hella insane) and went through the locks of the Panama Canal.

  7. intotheabyss says:

    DawgBone, great post. I’ve given this subject much thought. I believe that our best hope for long term survival, regardless or even in spite of what elites decide to do in their greedy short term self interest, is to re-establish community culture. We can begin this process by supporting local farms and other businesses, especially co-ops. Employee owned businesses won’t ship jobs over seas. There are many other ways to bring people together for the betterment of all. Whether it’s child care, elder care, ride sharing or working in a food bank, getting involved in community helps us feel connected to each other. That’s what is missing in this corporate culture. People who feel connected to each other don’t abandon each other.

    It will take a lot of effort to rekindle the community spirit. We’ve been fed a steady diet of it’s all about me, who cares about the other guy for a long time. Divide and conquer has been a successful strategy for the plutocrats. It will require a few brave souls in many locations to break down the barrier of fear that has been built up.

    Places that have the strongest sense of community will weather what ever calamity awaits us better than the rest. Change comes from the bottom up. We need to start now.

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