Vaarwel aan etnosentrisme*


In this article the author deals with the problem of ethnocentrism within the framework of the larger problem of primitivity and modernity. Ethnocentrism strats from the premise of a normative comparison between primitive and modern cultures on the basis of inter-cultural criteria which are determined by the idiosyncratic cultural situation. This comparison must inevitably culminate in a self-centred glorification of the idiosyncratic national and group traditions and values This dilemma may be avoided, according to the author, should primitivity and modernity not be regarded as two normatively different ways of life (in the sense that the latter should necessarily be better or higher than the preceding one), but as alternative cultural strategies. Primitivity and modernity are cultural strategies oriented in and directed at totally divergent value systems. It is methodologically incorrect to measure the one in terms of the other. There are no logical or ethical grounds to regard the technical and scientific develop­ ment of Western civilization (that is, in terms of cultural values more highly than the so-called primitive cultures. In fact, Western (utilitarian) value orientation is in itself suspect. The motif of technico-scientific control underlying this goes hand in hand with control and stewardship of man himself. Western man has in fact come into the point: where he himself is becoming the victim of his own uncontrollable urge for power.