By Robert Tonkinson, Ronald M. Berndt

A suite of self reliant checks on a number issues when it comes to the social anthropology of Aboriginal reports.
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Extra info for Social Anthropology and Australian Aboriginal Studies

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These protagonists offer various explanations, but one of the commonest runs as follows: these seemingly absurd and really mistranslated assertions are not really statements about the physical environment at all. They generally occur in a ritual context, and they are "really" statements about the social order of which the native is a member. The apparent empirical content is really a re-affirmation of the social order. It just so happens that they employ local terms equivalent to "cucumber" or " b u l l " which, in other contexts, may indeed have just this kind of simple empirical reference.

But he wanted to absolutize and universalize the work ethic, by finally separating work from any reward and turning it into an end in itself, the ultimate fulfilment: " . . in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for m e . . to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner .. without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or c r i t i c " .

Some of them write in an age when a late industrial counterculture has come to repudiate aristocratic display and bourgeois industriousness alike. Liberals loathe force and socialists detest greed, and some of our rebels claim to hate both, and see an early man untainted by either. It is worth looking further at this other end of the spectrum, at those who are eager to enlist primitive man on the far left. Marshall Sahlins' Stone Age Economics is probably the most influential and important recent work of this kind.

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