Re: Evolution and natives of the Amazon LO98

Dr. Ivan Blanco (BLANCO@BU4090.BARRY.EDU)
Mon, 13 Feb 1995 15:53:01 -0500 (EST)

> From: Mr Crispin Hemson <> [LO73]
> Date: Sat, 11 Feb 1995 18:16:32 +0200 (SAST)
> I was very surprised by the way Ivan Blanco wrote "the natives in the
> Amazon are not changing or evolving as the rest of the world is", and then
> describes this as a negative process. Perhaps I am so used to hearing old
> White justifications of racism in terms of people being "not as evolved as
> us" that it immediately strikes me as absurd.

I am very sorry that I used "negative change" to address those who
have not changed relative to the "mpst advanced social groups." Before
anything else, I have to clarify that I am not a racist. In fact, I have
always supported Charles Brewer Carias (Venezuelan dentist who converted
into sociologist and anthropologist), who after studying the natives in
the rain forest for a long time, strongly advocated the Venezuelan
government for protection and preservation of the tribes the way they
were. No, I am not lilke some of the spaniards who first came to this
part of the world and tried to convert everybody to the christian faith,
even by force.

I think that there are important lessons for us to learn from the
balanced (or more balanced than ours) way of dealing with their
environment. They don't feel ownership over the environment (nature), but
that they a part of it. I am very proud of our indians in Venezuela, all
of them. The ones in the rain forest, the Guajiros in the western part of
the country, and lament the destruction of many of them by the spaniards.
We didn't wait to really see what we could learn from them!

> What does "evolution" mean?
> The most useful sense is that of physical evolution, in that humans and
> all other living things are in a constant state of change as species. I
> doubt if there is any more than the most marginal evolutionary difference
> between Amazonian people and the rest of humanity, and if there was I
> cannot think of any reason why they may not be more "highly evolved", if
> that is a useful way of understanding it.
Crispin, I would go even farther and ask whether it is preferable
to have had all the advances we have had, and what they have enjoyed. I
do believe that the fact that they don't develop any defenses against
deseases we carry and have defend against might an indication that they
live in a better (cleaner?) environment than we do. One of the measures
we use to evaluate civilization is based on our expploitative nature. If
others don't have it, and are in fact exploited, then they are inferior!
This is wrong, but I also think that we are too far from reaching this

> If however evolution is being applied to cultural, economic or
> technological issues, the concept becomes very blurred and prone to
> stereotyping. Does it mean being culturally or economically or
> technologically better? Would we say that Amazon Indians are further
> forward or further backward in evolutionary terms because they create less
> carbon dioxide pollution, or because they have a greater physical impact
> on their environment, or because they haven't learnt habits of individual
> isolation which characterise the dominant societies in the world? This
> forward and backward thinking is just backward. It obscures the true
> strengths of people by putting them onto some linear scale. It may well
> be, for all I know that Amazonian Indians are better equipped for a
> society based on interactive technologies than the people who live in the
> societies that produced those technologies.
Crispin, you are absolutely right! Yes, you are right on that one
too! Yes, I give up!!!

You are right. As I said, we evaluate natives in general as
savages because they don't what we do! Even if what we do is super wrong
or bad, and what they do is right or more beneficial. A similar
situatuion exists between western medicine and Chinese medicine, or other
medical forms! And we are the big losers in this because we are not
learning, we are only forcing others to do things the way we do them and
not looking at what they do, why, etc.! This in fact, has been one of my
favorite themes of conversation in classes and everywhere else. I just
got a card from a former student who is visiting the hilltribes of
Thailand, and says "I think that modernization maybe isn't the best for us
as human beings." When I go to the country in Venezuela, on in any other
place, I generally feel the same way!

> Certainly in South Africa the people who thought of themselves as "further
> evolved" have demonstrated their inability to handle societal change, and
> are largely still stuck in the common stereotypes of the 1920's. The
> present society requires constant communication and negotiation of
> difference; they were trained to find ways around it. Many of the people
> who were "less evolved" in the Social Darwinism that we inherited from the
> 19th Century are demonstrating their abilities in handling modern society
> with admirable skill.
I am teaching a Cross-Cultural Management course, and one of the
books I am using is "Transcultural Management" by Albert Koopman. He
describes so well how the western culture (the first wolrd), has gotten it
all wrong when it comes to dealing with the third world cultures! BTW, the
whole setting of the book is in South Africa, and the author describes the
confrontation of the Africaner's understanding of organizational life
(rather individualistic), and the Black's organizational forms (communal).
I don't know about my students, but I am learning a lot in this class. I
think that they are too, because I have a small U.N. in my class!

> Evolution is an exciting and very meaningful way of thinking about
> genetic change. When it moves into other areas it becomes a mirror
> for some woeful confusion.
Crispin, and the rest of the group, I am not a North American
although I always speak as if I was. I am a Venezuelan, a product of a
almost totally mixed society. I have lived in the U.S for almost 18 years
now. I can't really be a racist, because my family group (extended
family), my friends, my leanring (social and otherwise) have all been
raceless! There is some discrimination in the country, but is basically
based on social and economic status, with education as the great

I also know that human learning, and this includes organizational
learning, is limited or cut short when we are racist! And this attitude
creates ignorance, because the racist notion is always a highly incomplete
one. An learning organization cannot exist when there is discrmination of
any kind; race, sex, religion, etc.


R. IVAN BLANCO, Ph.D. Voice 305 899-3515
Assoc. Prof. & Director Fax 305 892-6412
International Business Programs
Andreas School of Business _________E-Mail Addresses________
Barry University Bitnet: Blanco%bu4090@Barryu
Miami Shores, FL 33161-6695 Internet:
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"Las naciones marchan hacia el termino de su grandeza, con
el mismo paso que camina su educacion." "The nations march
toward their greatness at the same pace as their educational
systems evolve." Simon Bolivar