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Foreign Affairs

Uncontacted People

Power Line notes the amazing story of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon which has been untouched by outside influences. Survival International claims that 150 million "uncontacted" tribal people live in more than 60 countries around the world. "Isolated" is the politically-correct term, apparently - as many of these people have been contacted, but have sought to remain insular.

The status of these people is extremely interesting. One cannot avoid the paternalistic role demanded of states within whose borders these people live. Well-intended activists wish to create a legal mandate that nations recognize and enforce these people's isolation. But this seems, in itself, a somewhat egregious form of evolutionary control. It is a peculiar accident that these people have been excluded from the progress of the entire human species. Surely it is an authoritarian act to decide that they must remain in such a state until they sua sponte develop a social instinct to the contrary. One may suggest with equal validity that they should be contacted immediately with a reader's digest update on what they've missed over the last several millenia or so. Who knows, they might like football, pizza and the Beatles.

Whatever the answers, that these people must obviously be treated differently than others people in their respective countries is a notable commentary on the equal application of laws (they aren't paying taxes on their war paint and spears, after all, and I assume they are administering their own "cruel and unusual" forms of punishment). One cannot help but to draw back from this extreme example to more mundane social perplexities, such as religious and cultural minorities which might seek similar accomodations. Muslims might well ask: if them, why not us also?  

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Discussions - 8 Comments

I am curious to know how Survival International came to the conclusion that there are 150 million people (i.e. 4% of the world's population) living this sort of existence. (My guess would be that they made the number up to improve their fundraising prospects).

How would anyone know how many uncontacted people there are, considering that they are uncontacted? There could be any number, anywhere. World census numbers are bad enough. Would you be a door-to-door world census-worker? Even the US has a hard time, especially in the densely populated urban areas. Hence the Census Bureau wishes to estimate numbers.

Justin Paulette, that video would suggest that uncontacted people have usually been contacted by the rapacious and ill-intending -- what do the latter eat, watch or listen to? That's not the worst of it. Disease might be. The complaint about contact in the Amazon is by loggers, people exploiting natural resources. In some ways we are naturally sympathetic, but the cost hidden people groups is a destruction of their peace.

These people are not really so isolated. They are not the human version of Lake Vostok. They are being filmed and the man who is filming says he has been watching them like that for twenty years.

We do not let well-enough alone because for humans self-interest and "progress" are both inevitable and linked. It would seem that such isolated people would consent to be governed if the state would leave them alone. Maybe that is paternalistic, yet, there are worse ways of being un-"Enlightened" than to pursue natural rights far from the madding crowd.

I figured the blank video was a kind of metaphor for the lack of contact with primitive people.

No, it worked the other day. Try this, Richard: from">from">">from the website

Thanks, but this is what I got at NLT:

"We're sorry but we can't find the page you're looking for. We've recently redesigned the site so the page may have moved. Try using the search feature in the top right corner return to the homepage and browse from there."

And then the site appeared on my screen. Computers are weird, no?

Yes, yes computers are weird. Wonderful, though: I love mine (except when it doesn't work).

Note I write that last bit as if whispering. As if I don't want my computer to know about my sometime dissatisfactions with it. This is chronic and absurd anthropomorphism.

The link works for me now. For you? Perhaps it is magic, or miraculous healing, or perhaps Justin Paulette or someone else fixed it.

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