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Excerpt from The Myth of Human Supremacy

Refrigerators (p. 181)

From chapter "The Seamlessness of Supremacism"

The third reason it’s ridiculous to say that inventing refrigerators is a sign of intelligence and superiority is that if it is, what does that say about those Indigenous human cultures who never invented refrigerators (or cameras, telephones, or perhaps more to the point, iron blades, war chariots, galley ships, steel breastplates, tall ships, muzzle-loaders, breech-loaders, long-range artillery, machine guns, tanks, bombers, aircraft carriers, nuclear attack submarines, predator drones, and so on)? Does this mean they were less intelligent, because they didn’t invent backhoes and chainsaws? Does this mean they were inferior? Are those really arguments you want to make? If so, are you really that racist? Because the belief that the invention of any of these “solutions” is a sign of intelligence and/or superiority implies that the failure to invent any of these “solutions” is a sign of a lack of intelligence and/or superiority, which means that it implies that those who have invented these “solutions” are more intelligent and/or superior to those who did not. This means the civilized are superior to and/or more intelligent than Indigenous peoples. Another way to put this is that they are higher on the Great Chain of Being than are Primitives.

I don’t believe Indigenous peoples are less intelligent than the civilized, which means that the invention of refrigerators can’t by itself be a sign of intelligence. I believe the Tolowa, for example, never invented chainsaws, backhoes, or refrigerators at least in part because they had such a different social reward system and such a different way of perceiving and of living in the world, that many of the problems that led to these solutions may not even have been perceived as problems. If you’ve not exceeded your local carrying capacity, and you rely on salmon for food, and you ceremonially smoke them, and if you recognize that your life is tied up in theirs, and if the salmon stay as common (and delicious) as they have been forever (as they should if you don’t exceed local carrying capacity, either through overconsumption or overproduction or overpopulation), there’s really no reason to invent refrigeration. The meat stays freshest in the river. And if you’re not planning on conquering your neighbor, there’s really no reason for you to invent chariots or steel breastplates or machine guns, is there?