Some cultures deserved to die out

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Wed, 2006-02-15 02:11

Not every culture is worth saving or preserving. There are some cultures that deserved to die out -- the Maya were just one, and on this as so much else Jared Diamond's book Collapse has it wrong again. As a tragic loss, they weren't, and Roger Sandall is right on the money. "I don’t care if the Maya civilization did collapse," says Sandall. "I don’t think we should shed a single retrospective tear":

The ripples of Greek civilization spread globally, and deserved to. There were no ripples from the Maya. No enlightenment. Nothing. Just art and masonry [some of it above] and the dried blood of long-dead sacrificial victims. That is not nearly enough.

Inca culture was another blot on the landscape of history, and Tibor Machan is one who sheds no retrospective tears over its demise. Under the Inca for instance: "As many as 200 children used to be killed to please some god or another. And sometimes the sacrifice would involve cutting out the heart of a living individual." Nice culture that, the Incas. It brings to mind my favourite quote from Thomas Sowell:

Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives.

Too true. As Tibor concludes:

The only thing that can be done that will make a difference is to stop all this collective praise and blame and to recognize that justice requires looking at and judging all human beings individually, based on their own choices to act well or badly.