A little while ago I made it through David Graeber and David Wengrow’s ambitious The Dawn of Everything. It’s an exciting book for a variety of reasons, one of which is its approach to indigenous North American thought.
Graeber and Wengrow want us to rethink our assumptions about political philosophy, in which we assume that a centralized state is necessary to govern human affairs above a certain scale. They cite the archaeological evidence of various indigenous cultures in support for this claim. Philosophically, they turn to the ideas they attribute (circa 1700) to a Huron-Wendat leader named Kandiaronk, defending a system that avoids many features taken for granted by Europeans:
You have observed that we lack judges. What is the reason for that? Well, we never bring lawsuits against one another. And why do we never bring lawsuits? Well, because we made a decision neither to accept or make use of money. And why do we refuse to allow money into our communities? The reason is this: we are determined not to have laws – because, since the world was a world, our ancestors have been able to live contentedly without them. (Graeber and Wengrow 54)Continue reading