The purpose of this article is to examine certain inconsistencies in the thinking of political conservatives and libertarians with respect to the property rights of the American Indians.
The term "libertarian" is defined as "one who holds to the doctrine of free will" and "upholds principles of liberty."1 There is a proliferation of libertarians at present, ranging from conservatives to Christian libertarians to Objectivists to anarcho-capitalists to autarchists to anarcho-socialists. Even William Buckley claims to be a "libertarian," in spite of the fact that he supports the military draft, which is one of the worst violations of individual liberty. Libertarians in general, however, believe in the individual right to life, liberty and property, and they desire either (1) to reduce the government function to protecting these rights or (2) to establish a system of multiple, competing governments or (3) to abolish formal government entirely and establish individual self-rule.
The term "conservative" does not refer to any explicit, consistent political philosophy but designates merely support of the status quo. Since the status quo has a way of changing over a period of time, so, too, does the position taken by conservatives. In European history, conservatives were originally royalists or monarchists and came to be termed "rightists" because of the practice of seating monarchists to the right of the presiding officer in the legislature. Liberal or radical members were seated to the left of the presiding officer and so became known as "leftists." Thus, at that time, conservatism stood for support of "benevolent despotism" (a contradiction in terms), and liberalism stood for democratic or republican thinking. In late 19th Century politics in the United States, Liberal Republicans advocated laissez-faire (complete separation of government and economics) and wished to abolish such special privileges as protective tariffs, subsidies, inflation, and land grants, while conservatives favored the continuance of government manipulation of the economy.
At the present time, conservatives profess to believe in individual rights (especially property rights) and "free enterprise" (a euphemism for "laissez-faire," which has become an emotionally-laden word for most people). The conservatives generally base their belief in individual rights on religious ideas—rights are "God given" or are based on natural laws designed by God. They usually also believe in free will, since without the freedom to disobey God, there would be no logical explanation for the existence of evil and no basis for personal salvation or damnation. (Note: One does not have to believe in God to believe in free will, but it is true that free will is the necessary theoretical foundation of morality.) There is an inherent contradiction in the use of the term "conservative" to designate the above set of beliefs: One cannot support the status quo and laissez-faire at the same time, since we do not live in a laissez-faire society. Indeed, radical changes would be needed to bring about a laissez-faire society, if such were desired. Conservatives apparently fail to recognize this contradiction, however, and so go on calling themselves conservatives and not admitting that what they really support is far from laissez-faire.
Law and Order
One symptom of the conservative's commitment to the status quo is an over emphasis on "law and order"—the strict enforcement of law because it is law, without reference to whether it is right. Conservatives place the preservation of order above considerations of freedom and justice. An unusually explicit statement of this position was contained in a recent article by a young conservative:2
"Order is the primary consideration in political science: it is needed for human existence. Anarchy is a contradiction of reality and is soon ended by the re-establishment of order. Order and precipitate change are enemies; or order and chaos are opposites. Change, if slow and gentle, and in the right direction, will enhance order; if rapid and harsh and in the wrong direction, will precipitate chaos. It is by appealing to tradition, by saying that this is the way public affairs have always been handled, that conservatives seek to preserve order and conserve what is. It is by scorning tradition that those who wish to accomplish revolution begin…
"The need for a stable, unchanging public order is in the nature of things, and where that order is not preserved by reverence for the Fathers, by "pious awe" and "trembling solicitude," it will be enforced by naked power." (Emphasis added)
Note that this writer has completely abandoned the order of natural law (human freedom, individual rights, free trade) in favor of public order (i.e. government), which is to be preserved by force (if brainwashing fails) in order to maintain whatever is, not what morally ought to be. It is in this spirit that, during the recent Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island, another young conservative wrote to the Stockton Record (Dec. 7, '69), "The fact is that a band of long haired renegades has illegally seized federal property, has blatantly defied the law of our land…" When it was pointed out to him by private correspondence that the land originally belonged to the Indians, had not yet been paid for, and therefore was still rightfully their property, he asked, "By whose legality is this assertion being made?"
The issue, of course, is not one basically of legality but of morality. Legality changes from time to time depending on the lawmakers. But morality is based on objective reality and does not change at the whim of politicians and judges. The Indian issue ought to be viewed from the standpoint of man's natural and unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. Indians are human beings and have the same rights as Caucasians. The American Indians, by virtue of being the first users and occupiers of the continent, were its rightful owners. The Europeans, including Spanish, French, English, and others, invaded the American continents, initiated force against the native inhabitants, stole their land, took many lives, and deprived the survivors of liberty by slavery and confinement to reservations. Whenever the Indians resisted or retaliated, they were put down by superior force of arms. Fraud also was used by the European invaders to obtain land that they could not obtain by voluntary consent.
Even from a legal standpoint, however, the Indians have a valid claim to their lands. The United States officially recognized Indian ownership of the lands in the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787, which stated: "The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress…" The United States further made treaties with the various Indian tribes. In California, treaties were made in 1850 at the time of admission to the United States, and the Indians were promised payment for their lands. They were not paid at that time and still have not been paid to this day. After many years, the Indians were finally given permission to sue the federal government for payment on their treaties, and in California, a settlement was recently made for 47¢ an acre. (Where in California is there an acre of land worth only 47¢?) Even this amount, however, has not yet been paid, so there is a legal basis for maintaining that the California Indians still own Alcatraz. From a strictly legal standpoint, there is also the Fort Laramie Sioux Treaty of 1868 which provides a legal basis for Indian reclamation of surplus federal land. From any standpoint, the Indian claims are based not on past ownership alone, but on present ownership.
Strictly speaking, even payment on the treaties will not clear government or other non-Indian title to Indian land, since contracts made under duress are not binding. For example, if a man held a gun to my head and forced me to sign over the "pink slip" to my automobile, with or without compensation in any amount, this would not be a moral or legal transfer of ownership, and I would be entitled to reclaim my property at the first opportunity. Ownership does not change when property is taken by force. If this same man who stole my automobile were to give it to his son, it would still be my automobile. And if possession passed to his son's son and so forth, it would still be my automobile, even though from a practical standpoint it might become difficult to trace and claim. Possession is not ownership. Possession can be taken by force, but ownership can be transferred only voluntarily.
Origin of Ownership
There are, of course, some conservatives who would go so far as to deny that the Indians ever actually owned the land that they inhabited for some 25,000 years or more. In some cases, this is again the result of narrow legalistic thinking, as, for instance, when I was once asked whether the Indians had a deed to North America! Who should have issued them one, I don't know, unless it was the buffalo. More often, however, denial of Indian land ownership is based on a false idea of how original ownership should be established. Ownership, according to the champions of advanced technology, is established by cultivation of the land. This is a theory that was expounded by John Locke (1632-1704) in his Two Treatises of Government published in 1690. Because Lock's writings are the very pillar of Anglo-American libertarian thinking, his chapter on property will be quoted in length here:3
"God, who hath given the World to Men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of Life, and convenience. The Earth, and all that is therein, is given to Men for the Support and Comfort of their being. And though all the Fruits it naturally produces, and Beasts it feeds, belong to Mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of Nature; and no body has originally a private Dominion, exclusive of the rest of Mankind, in any of them, as they are thus in their natural state: yet being given for the use of Men, there must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other before they can be of any use, or at all beneficial to any particular Man. The Fruit, or Venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no Inclosure, and is still a Tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e. a part of him, that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his Life.
"Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men. For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.
"He that is nourished by the Acorns be pickt up under an Oak, or the Apples he gathered from the Trees in the Wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself…We see in Commons, which remain so by Compact, that tis the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state Nature leaves it in, which begins the Property; without which the Common is of no use. And the taking of this or that part, does not depend on the express consent of all the Commoners…
"But the chief matter of Property being now not the fruits of the Earth, and the Beasts that subsist on it, but the Earth it self; as that which takes in and carries with it all the rest: I think it is plain, that Property in that too is acquired as the former. As much Land as a Man Tills, Plants, Improves, Cultivates and can use the Product of, so much is his Property. He by his Labour does, as it were, inclose it from the Common. Nor will it invalidate his right to say, Every body else has an equal Title to it; and therefore he cannot appropriate, he cannot inclose, without the Consent of all his Fellow- Commoners, all Mankind. God, when he gave the World in common to all Mankind, commanded Man also to labour, and the penury of his Condition required it of him. God and his Reason commanded him to subdue the Earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of Life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. He that in Obedience to this Command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed away part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his Property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him…
"God gave the World to Men in Common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest Conveniencies of Life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the Industrious and the Rational, (and Labour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quarrlesome and Contentious. He that had as good left for his Improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's Pains, which he had no right to, and not the Ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his Industry could reach to…
"The same measures governed the Possession of Land too: Whatsoever he tilled and reaped, laid up and made use of, before it spoiled, that was his peculiar right; whatsoever he enclosed, and could feed, and make use of, the Cattle and Product was also his. But if either the Grass of his Inclosure rotted on the Ground, or the Fruit of his painting perished without gathering, and laying up, this part of the Earth, notwithstanding his Inclosure, was still to be looked on as Waste, and might be the Possession of any other…
"Men, at first, for the most part, contented themselves with what unassisted Nature Offered to their Necessities: and though afterwards, in some parts of the World, (where the increase of People and Stock, with the Use of Money) had made Land scarce, and so of some Value, the several Communities settled the Bounds of their distinct Territories.…yet there are still great Tracts of Ground to be found, which (the Inhabitants thereof not having joyned with the rest of Mankind, in the consent of the Use of their common Money) lie waste, and are more than the People, who dwell on it, do, or can make use of, and so still lie in common. Tho' this can scarce happen amongst that part of Mankind that have consented to the use of Money."
Note that Locke's argument is based not simply on use of the land for livelihood, but on cultivation, on taking it out of the "state of Nature". Note also his references to God's injunction to man to subdue the earth. This comes from Genesis 1:28, "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (This one Bible verse was to have disastrous effects not only on the whole race of American Indians, but on other native races as well.) Note further Locke's reference to uncultivated or unharvested land as "waste" and his assertion that "wasted" land might be taken possession of by others. Note finally that Locke made ownership conditional on there being "as good left" for others.
John Locke was not the first to use Genesis as an argument for expropriation of land. Even before him, John Winthrop had written:
"The whole earth is the lords Garden & he hath given it to the sonnes of men, with a generall Condition, Gen: 1:28. Increase & multiply, replenish the earth & subdue it, which was againe renewed to Noah, the end is Double morall & naturall that man might injoy the fruites of the earth & god might have his due glory from the creature, why then should we stand hear striveirig for places of habitation…and in ye mean tyme suffer a whole Continent, as fruitfull & convenient for the use of man to lie waste without any improvement."
On the other hand, it was the viewpoint of that radical libertarian of the colonial period, Roger Williams, that, although the Scriptures command the tilling of the earth, they contain no statement whatever that the agriculturist has the right to expropriate those who do not till it.5
Washington Irving, in Knickerbocker's History of New York, pointed out that the "savages" could have pleaded that "they drew all the benefits from the land which their simple wants required…and that as Heaven merely designed the earth to form the abode, and satisfy the wants of man, so long as those purposes were answered, the will of Heaven was accomplished." But the counterargument attributed to the Puritans by Irving was that "this only proves how undeserving they were of the blessings around them—they were so much the more savages, for not having more wants." Accordingly, then, the white Christians "were but taking possession of what, according to the aforesaid doctrine, was their own property—therefore, in opposing them, the savages were invading their just rights, infringing the immutable laws of Nature, and counteracting the will of Heaven."6
In a brilliant and entertaining chapter on "The Destined Use of the Soil," Albert K. Weinberg has traced the history of this set of ideas through the expansionist, or imperialist, period of the United States—which is to say, throughout its entire history up to the New Deal period when his book Manifest Destiny was written. Regarding the need for a rationale such as has just been described, he points out that:7
"…an expansionist society 'never admits that it is doing violence to its moral instincts' and is least disposed to do so when this violence is condemned by others. Thus in a congressional debate of 1830 an advocate of Indian removal contended with apparent sincerity that he had 'advanced no principle inconsistent with the most rigid morality.' So little, indeed, had the principles advanced appeared immoral to their exponents that the ultimate authority for them was ascribed to God. The principles centered in a philosophy of the soil. The white race seemed to Senator Benton to have a superior right to land because they 'used it according to the intentions of the Creator.' The theory that a use of the soil was ordained by God or morality figured not only in the entire history of Indian relations but also in all issues in which Americans found themselves desiring soil occupied by an 'inferior' race."
The hypocrisy underlying the "use of soil" rationale for expropriating the Indians was in no case more clearly revealed than in the removal of the Cherokees from their homes. By 1830, the Cherokees had taken up farming, invented their own written alphabet, set up public schools, adopted a written constitution providing for a government with legislative, judicial, and executive branches, and made great improvement in their condition. Following the discovery of gold on Cherokee land and the election of President Andrew Jackson, famed as an Indian fighter, the State of Georgia passed a law "annexing" all Cherokee lands within the state, nullifying the laws of the Cherokee Nation, and prohibiting Indians from testifying in court against white men. The apologists of expansionism were hard put, however, to come up with an acceptable rationale for this action. As ex-President Madison wrote to William Wirt:8
"The plea with the best aspect for dispossessing Indians of the lands on which they have lived, is that by not incorporating their labour, and associating fixed improvements with the soil, they have not appropriated it to themselves, nor made the destined use of its capacity for increasing the number and the enjoyments of the human race. But this plea, whatever original force be allowed it, is here repelled by the fact that the Indians are making the very use of that capacity which the plea requires…
At this point, historian Weinberg comments as follows:9
"It may seem that, despite the extraordinary talent of homo sapiens in justifying his desires by his reason, there must certainly be some few issues in which moral reason is so strongly against him that elementary logical integrity will force him to relinquish his desire, or at least to admit that the gratification of it is without moral justification. Doubtless even the history of expansionism contains such instances; but, contrary to natural expectation, we have not at this point come upon one of them."
What possible argument, then, could the Georgians invent? It is revealed in part by the following excerpt from Gov. Troup's message to the Georgia Assembly:10
"…with regard to the territory of Georgia…this right of use can only be construed to mean, what in all the treaties it did mean, the right of use for hunting. When, therefore the United States, by changing the mode of life of the aboriginals upon the soil of Georgia, changed essentially this right, and caused her lands to be separately appropriated for the purpose of tillage, and gave every encouragement to fixed habits of agriculture, they violated the treaties in their letter and spirit, and did wrong to Georgia."
The Georgia Assembly, in a fit of altruism, followed up with a statement that "a dispersed and wandering people are not in a condition to become the object of the benefits of civilization," whereas their removal to western lands would "give to these sons of nature a wilderness congenial to their feelings and appropriate to their wants." One Senator even urged that a wild Indian had more "nobleness of character" than a half-civilized Indian.11
The Cherokees twice appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the 1832 decision in Worcester vs. Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall affirmed that the Cherokee Nation was a legitimate political community, with clearly defined territories, where "the laws of Georgia can have no force, and which the Citizens of Georgia have no right to enter" without Cherokee consent by law or treaty.12 On hearing of this decision, President Jackson, a champion of state's rights, made his famous remark, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." The outcome was that Cherokee lands were overrun by whites prospecting for gold. The United States exacted a treaty from the Cherokees at a meeting attended by only 400 of the tribe's 17,000 members.13 Three years later, the Cherokees were forceably removed by General Winfield Scott with 7,000 troops. According to John Collier,14 "Cherokee men, women and children were seized wherever found and without notice removed to concentration camps. Livestock, household goods, farm implements, everything went to the white camp-followers; the homes usually were burned. After this the long trek to Arkansas in mid-winter was begun. An eye-witness in Kentucky reported, 'Even aged females, apparently nearly ready to drop into the grave, were travelling with heavy burdens attached to their backs, sometimes on frozen ground and sometimes on muddy streets, with no covering for their feet.' Of about 14,000 who were herded onto this 'Trail of Tears' as it came to be called, 4,000 died on the way." President Van Buren, according to Collier, reported to Congress that, "The measures…have had the happiest effect…The Cherokees have emigrated without any apparent reluctance."
Only last year. Van Buren's cheerful opinion was echoed by a new conservative writer:15 "As for Our Treatment of the Indians, never…in the 39,000 generations of mankind has a native people been treated with more consideration, decency and kindness." Let the reader judge for himself the perceptiveness and character of the man who wrote that.
Ideas die hard, especially if allowed to go unexamined for three hundred years. Thus, we find Jarrett Wollstein, a thoroughly radical libertarian of the present day and certainly the furthest thing from an exponent of imperialism, reiterating the ideas of John Locke:16
"An individual comes to own previously unowned property (physical or intellectual) essentially by use—in the terminology of John Locke, by 'mixing his labor with it.' If a person uses an entity without lasting alteration of its form, the individual may then be said to own it during the time of use. For example, when an individual walks across an unowned field or throws a rock into a pond, he may be said to own these entities respectively during the time it takes him to walk across the field and the time it takes him to throw the rock. If a person in using an entity causes lasting alterations in its form which are of value to him, the individual then owns such entities in perpetuity. For example, when a farmer tills a particular tract of land, and builds a house and barn on it, he comes to own it permanently—he has caused a lasting alteration in the property."
We also find Ayn Rand, founder of the radically libertarian philosophy of Objectivism, enthusiastically stating, "Americans have known how to erect a superlative material achievement in the midst of an untouched wilderness against the resistance of savage tribes."17 I have dealt with Miss Rand's denial of Indian property rights at length in a previous article (The Indian Historian, Spring, 1968) and wish only to comment here on the irony of Miss Rand, an ardent atheist, basing her concept of ownership on a rationale historically derived from the Book of Genesis.
The crux of the matter, of course, is the failure of these theoreticians to make a distinction between use and cultivation (alteration, improvement, taking from the state of Nature, subduing, etc.). The land in its natural state, contrary to the theory of John Locke, is not held in common by mankind.
How can people establish original ownership of land they have not occupied and, in some cases, do not even know exists? Given, then, that the land is originally ownerless, it becomes the property of whoever first occupies and uses it. Use is decided upon according to the condition and natural resources of the land, the level and particular type of technology of the occupants, and the desire of the owner. Once original ownership is established, it is retained whether the land is used continuously or not. The only exception would be in cases of actual abandonment, where the owner leaves with no intention of returning, in which case the land would become ownerless again and open to claim by others. Nor is the establishment of ownership conditional on leaving "as good" for others, as Locke claims, otherwise the last parcels of land could never be claimed.
It is exactly by the method of occupancy and use that the American Indians established ownership to their lands. According to the prevalent theory of anthropologists, and it seems reasonable to me, the Indians migrated across the Bering Strait about 25,000 years ago. Over a period of thousands of years, they moved progressively southward until both continents were populated. Whenever a tribe became too large, a band would split off and move on to new land. Many of the tribes were, in fact, agricultural, contrary to the belief of the layman, and some had highly developed technologies even by European standards at the time of "discovery". Others depended primarily on hunting and gathering for survival, but there is no reason why this should have given them less claim to ownership than the others.
For those who have difficulty thinking in terms of Indian land and Indian culture, consider what would be the consequence if Locke's theory were applied today. In the first place, any land which has never been brought under cultivation would have to be considered ownerless, regardless of who holds a deed or paid money for it. One cannot purchase that which is unowned, and, by definition, uncultivated land has never been brought under ownership. All forest land, desert land, open range, and so forth would be ownerless. I have no figures, but I suppose this might be about one-third of the land in the United States, and most of Canada. Also, the Africans would own very little of Africa. I happen to own an uncultivated, unoccupied lot myself, and I wish to tell Mr. Wollstein, in all good nature, that if he tries to move on and cultivate it, I won't hesitate to point a rifle at him.
In the second place, according to Locke's theory, if any farmer let his land go fallow, someone else could take it over, cultivate it and claim ownership.
In the third place, a man could not use his own land as a game preserve, rifle range, area for motorcycle hill-climbing, or anything else that did not "improve" the land without risk of losing ownership.
I think I have made my point. There is another argument, however, which is sometimes used against Indian ownership of land, and this is the notion that property cannot be owned collectively. The following is an example of this implicitly racist line of thinking:18
"What, then, is ownership? Ownership is a concept, a theory relating to man's relationship to things around him which can be either tangible or intangible.
"No other living thing is capable of this concept. It is possible only among advanced members of the species. Although many of the lower orders and also many of the primitive tribes are capable of accepting the idea of tribal proprietorship, only individual man is capable of grasping the significance of individual ownership.
"The desire to own land privately does not arise in primitive individuals. Savages are content to claim a particular territory in a collective sense. They will war over it to drive out an encroaching tribe.
"It takes a relatively higher type of man to recognize the desirability of land as an item to be owned. In short, private ownership of land is a latent development in the human species and does not occur until certain members of the species have been sophisticated to some degree by economic understanding.
"Many will dispute this. They will state that man has no 'right' to own the natural resources since man does not and, indeed, cannot, create these same resources. The argument runs that the resources were placed here for ALL THE PEOPLE and in consequence it is immoral for any one person to claim for himself that which properly belongs to all.
"This, of course, is the argument of savages. It is precisely the type of reasoning, if so it can be called, which would be anticipated from individuals who have evolved only far enough to recognize a sort of tribal primacy and who are incapable of recognizing individualism as having larger validity.
"In actual fact, it can be demonstrated by hosts of illustrations that when the resources (land, water, minerals, metals) are collectively owned, the extent of use made of these resources will be meager.
"But it should be noted that ownership, while it must begin with the private claim of natural resources, goes beyond this point. Since all tangible property is composed of some type or types of natural resources, it must follow that it would be impossible for private ownership of anything to exist in fact, if it is impossible for the natural resources of which the tangible item is made, to be privately owned."
Before explaining the various kinds of property and systems of ownership recognized by us "savages", I should like to take a moment to refute this writer's assertion that primitive individuals are less highly "evolved" and incapable of the degree of conceptualization that is possible to "a relatively higher type of man" (meaning, no doubt, himself). Although it is true that the degree of technological development and scientific understanding of nature varies greatly from culture to culture, I know of no evidence that any race, as such, constitutes a less highly evolved group of individuals than the rest of the human species. Attempts are sometimes made to establish something of this sort on the basis of "scientifically designed" intelligence tests. As a former vocational counselor with three years of experience in using such tests with a client group of over three hundred people, I feel safe in saying that results vary greatly with motivation and education. There is no intelligence test that measures pure potential ability, exclusive of achievement.
Ludwig von Mises, founder of the Austrian school of economics and a man highly respected by all segments of the laissez faire movement, has dealt with this very question in his masterpiece Human Action:19
"It is a general fallacy to believe that the writings of Lucien Levy-Bruhl give support to the doctrine that the logical structure of mind of primitive man was and is categorically different from that of civilized man. On the contrary, what Levy-Bruhl, on the basis of a careful scrutiny of the entire ethnological material available, reports about the mental functions of primitive man proves clearly that the fundamental logical relations and the categories of thought and action play in the intellectual activities of savages the same role they play in our own life. The content of primitive man's thoughts, differs from the content of our thoughts, but the formal and logical structure is common to both.
"It is true that Levy-Bruhl himself maintains that the mentality of primitive peoples is essentially 'mystic and prelogical' in character…However, Levy-Bruhl's distinction between prelogical and logical thinking refers to the content and not to the form and categorial structure of thinking…
"Levy-Bruhl relegates the essential teachings of Christianity to the realm of the prelogical mind. Now, many objections can possibly be raised and have been raised against the Christian doctrines and their interpretation by theology. But nobody ever ventured to contend that the Christian fathers and philosophers—among them St. Augustine and St. Thomas—had minds whose logical structure was categorically different from that of our contemporaries…
"Explorers and missionaries report that in Africa and Polynesia primitive man stops short at his earliest perception of things and never reasons if he can in any way avoid it. European and American educators sometimes report the same of their students…
"No facts provided by ethnology or history contradict the assertion that the logical structure of mind is uniform with all men of all races, ages, and countries."
(to be concluded)
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "America the Beautiful: On Whose Land?".