Deming: The Nobel Savage

“The Noble Savage is the myth that man can live in harmony with nature, that technology is destructive, and that we would all be happier in a more primitive state.”

David Deming writes at Lew Rockwell:

…Even the conception of primitive societies as egalitarian is flawed. In Sick Societies, anthropologist Robert Edgerton documented that all human societies make distinctions based on “sex, age, and ability.” Groups also tend to treat people differently based on distinctions of “wealth, power, or kinship.” It should not be surprising, for example, to find that the chief of a tribe will advance his own interests “at the expense of lower-status people.”

All of this would be of academic interest only, were it not the case that the modern environmental movement and many of our public policies are based implicitly on the myth of the Noble Savage. The fountainhead of modern environmentalism is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The first sentence in Silent Spring invoked the Noble Savage by claiming “there was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.” But the town Carson described did not exist, and her polemic, Silent Spring, introduced us to environmental alarmism based on junk science. As the years passed, Rachel Carson was elevated to sainthood and the template laid for endless spasms of hysterical fear-mongering, from the population bomb, to nuclear winter, the Alar scare, and global warming.

Human beings have not, can not, and never will live in harmony with nature. Our prosperity and health depend on technology driven by energy. We exercise our intelligence to command nature, and were admonished by Francis Bacon to exercise our dominion with “sound reason and true religion.” When we are told that our primary energy source, oil, is “making us sick,” or that we are “addicted” to oil, these are only the latest examples of otherwise rational persons descending into gibberish after swooning to the lure of the Noble Savage. This ignorant exultation of the primitive can only lead us back to the Stone Age.

Read the entire commentary.

2 thoughts on “Deming: The Nobel Savage”

  1. If you ever have a desire to get nightmares, look up a video of a dozen Japanese hornets attacking a beehive. A thousand bees against a dozen hornets, and it was a slaughter. At the end, the hornets walked calmly over piles of still-twitching bee carcases. Even half the cameras were obscured by the mounds of the dead and dying. The hornets walked over, grabbed a dozen or so larva, ate them, Grabbed a dozen more and carried them off. That was it. An entire hive was brutally slaughtered so that the hornets could eat just a small fraction of the larva.

    After that scene, you will understand that there is no serene “nature” out there. It is a dog eat dog world that makes our civilization look quaint. Humans aren’t the only ones to kill their own kind. Humans are the only ones with the decency to think twice before doing it.

  2. We have always been puzzled by violent, naked, savages trampling heedlessly over the ruins of some former very advanced civilization. We are now seeing how it happened.

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