(Investigator 130, 2010 January)


In #128 I described how belief in the "noble savage" – the romanticizing of primitive culture – helped institutionalize violence in remote Aboriginal communities.

Nicolas Rothwell (2001) wrote: "This country’s remote Aboriginal settlements have become broken sociopathic ruins … because of a culture cult supported for the past 30 years by the nation’s policy makers."

The glorifying of indigenous culture as good and noble so that it must be preserved is, I showed, contrary to the Bible.


Rothwell was quoting Roger Sandall (anthropology lecturer at Sydney University for 25 years) and his book The Culture Cult (2000).

The Culture Cult traces Western fascination with primitive society from Rousseau (1712-1778) who popularized the notion of "noble savage", to anthropologists such as Franz Boaz and Margaret Mead, and through philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, T S Eliot and Isaiah Berlin. These intellectuals "exalted an idealized picture of communal, tribal cultures" and contributed to "romantic dreams running deep through the fabric of modern philosophy, social criticism and political thought."

"Romantic Primitivism", said Sandall, had a devastating effect on Aborigines, but "because of the mandatory silence imposed by the culture cult, no one dares say a thing."

Sandall's book was a "bomb thrown in the face of the intelligentsia" and politicians and publishers ignored it. But the mood changed as child abuse, rape, petrol sniffing, drunken brawls, property-destruction, untreated sickness, and victims silenced by threats increasingly made news.

In 2007 the Government began intervention in remote Aboriginal communities.


In August 2009 James Anaya, a US professor of human rights and UN representative, criticized the intervention. He claimed that income management and restrictions on alcohol are "discriminatory" and "breached Australia’s international treaty obligations." (The Weekend Australian, August 29-30, 2009, p. 16)

It's self evident, however, that the rights of children to food, housing, medical care and education, and the rights of women and children to safety, have priority over any supposed rights of drunken men to abuse and rape in the name of culture.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York in 2007. The Declaration sets out the rights of indigenous peoples to culture, identity, language, employment, health and education and their rights "to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions..."

Australia voted against the Declaration because it legitimized practices "not acceptable in the modern world" and gave indigenous people veto rights over a "democratically elected government."

Even the UN, however, does not endorse all cultural practice. Paul Raffaele (1994) describes some violent and bloody examples of Australia's ancient "payback justice", and efforts by its advocates to revive it. He says they "must never succeed". His reason is that: "ritual spearing, clubbing and flogging are clearly in breach of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlaws torture and cruel or degrading treatment or punishment."


The world's most-educated people often cannot distinguish right from wrong, but make harmful decisions in ethics and science when they ignore the Bible.
I've demonstrated this for decades. And if the most brilliant are often wrong what about ordinary people? Are they as right as they feel they are or is their rightness a delusion?


Rothwell, N. Noble Rot, The Weekend Australian, April 14-15, 2001, p. 25.

Raffaele, P. Tribal Punishment The Brutal Truth, Reader’s Digest, July 1994, pp 17-22.

Sandall, R. (2000) The Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays, Westview Press, USA.