Stephen Corry is the director of Survival International, a human rights group that specializes in issues involving indigenous people. He has written a long, thoughtful critique of Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday, a book that presents itself as an appreciation of tribal wisdom but by Corry's account recycles a lot of imperial myths. In particular, Corry complains, Diamond takes the paternalistic position that "'traditional' societies do nasty things which cry out for the intervention of state governments to stop."
An excerpt from Corry's response:
The fanciful assertion that nation states lessen [violence] is unlikely to convince a Russian or Chinese dissident, or Tibetan. It will not be very persuasive either to West Papuan tribes, where the Indonesian invasion and occupation has been responsible for a guessed 100,000 killings at least (no one will ever know the actual number), and where state-sponsored torture can now be viewed on YouTube. The state is responsible for killing more tribespeople in West Papua than anywhere else in the world.
Although his book is rooted in New Guinea, not only does Diamond fail to mention Indonesian atrocities, he actually writes of "the continued low level of violence in Indonesian New Guinea under maintained rigorous government control there." This is a breathtaking denial of brutal state-sponsored repression waged on little armed tribespeople for decades.
Read the rest here.