‘Primitive’ Life vs. Modern ‘Development’ – excerpt from POLEMOS: The Dawn of Pagan Traditionalism

Excerpt from POLEMOS: THE DAWN OF PAGAN TRADITIONALISM, by Askr Svarte, coming soon from PRAV Publishing:

Today, belonging to a tradition is considered by modern man to be a declaration of primitiveness. If previously this was thought about the ancient pagan traditions, then in the consciousness of the man of Modernity such is embodied in images of African tribes, Polynesian Indians, and Papuans who, it is believed, will never be capable of achieving the modern level of development and consciousness.

But in the 20th century, the preeminent anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss rose against this progressivism directed against archaic societies and argued that “primitive” societies are in fact just as complex as developed civilizations or, in other terms, represent a complexity of a different kind. We have already encountered this complexity in our discussion of the span of public attention and how modern knowledge supersedes and takes the place of traditional knowledge. Claude Lévi-Strauss and the structural anthropology which he developed have proven that the difference between archaic tribal societies in the Amazon river basin and modern industrial societies lies only in the configuration of structure. The quantity of international connections, the complexity of language, interpretations of reality, culture, and logic are approximately equal in both cases. Thus, it was revealed that Modernity’s declaration of its exceptionalism is based only on the grounds that Modernity is Modern, a point which we have repeatedly spoken to in terms of the fundamental parity of the levels of the languages of Tradition and Modernity and their fundamental irreducibility to one progressivist theory of development. Modernity insists on the latter, but behind this mask lurks the titanic element.

Treating a tradition as ‘primitive’ or ‘more civilized’ is unacceptable, since this approach views tradition from the point of view of Modernity, and thereby automatically entails a value-judgement. The very expression ‘good primitive tradition’ is an oxymoron, since for the man of Modernity the primitive nowhere and never can be good. It is obvious that pagan philosophy’s treatment of different traditions can in no way proceed from this logic. The sacred is not characterized by primitiveness or development in any way. Categories of ‘development’ are relevant only to the quantitative, material principle of matter.

What happens to a ‘primitive’ society if it does not develop as do the modern ‘civilized’ states? The answer is very simple: society does not develop, it lives. Its life is rich, complex, pulsating, and in motion just as the circle of the year, and its life is absolutely not obliged to follow any strategies of development, quantitative growth, or expansion.”

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 2.10.40 AM
A Kalash school in the Chitral valley of Pakistan (AFP Photo/Farooq Naeem)